Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Now Playing: Legion

So, it should come as no surprise that Legion was not a good movie. I mean, it wasn't a bad movie, but it wasn't really good either. I don't even think I'd recommend renting it. I had high hopes for Paul Bettany (with whom I fell in love when he played Chaucer) but there's only so much one man can do. Two things really annoyed me:
1) Holy Plot Holes, Batman. I didn't understand how Michael could blatantly disobey God and not be punished.
2) Obvious scripting. I mean really, I called all the dead guys.
...Truly, it was a waste of the acting talent. 2 out of 5 stars.

PS: was pleasantly surprised to see American Gothic alumni Lucas Black's career still alive and kicking - he should be in more, better, things.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Now Playing: The Book of Eli

I actually watched The Book of Eli on Wednesday and was unimpressed enough to not have to run home and review it. This may actually be one of those times when the blog graphic is longer than the review! It was a well-shot movie, with some interesting plot twists; and Gary Oldman, of course, who could sell me sand in the desert. You know, the acting was good too, with Kunis and Washington really giving it their all. I suppose, in some ways, I felt like the movie was... incomplete somehow? I don't know. I think it may be a pretty good rental, but that's it. 3 out of 5 stars.

Also: it touched on a lot of the same themes (post-apocalypse, literacy, cannibalism) as The Road, so this may be a good comparator movie night idea.

Monday, January 18, 2010

not-so-golden globes

After seeing all 10 of the movies nominated for best movie (in either the comedy/musical or drama category), I made two statements:
1) the Hangover doesn't belong in such a list; and,
2) if Avatar wins, I'm never watching the Globes again.

Well, I'm never watching the Globes again.

I really did not think the Hangover deserved to beat Nine; and even if we're talking pure comedic gold, I thought It's Complicated was a much smarter film. It certainly does seem like the Globes are pandering to the masses (and the box office revenue-generators) as opposed to actual cinephiles. I'm not sure if this is a good or bad thing yet - I mean, I guess awards should reward the films that made the most people happy? I don't know - I'm pretty disappointed. And I 'm fairly certain that those who saw Avatar (maybe even more than once) haven't seen the other four nominations in the catageory. Ditto for Hangover. The only categories I was pretty happy with were Best Actress (comedy), Best Supporting Actress (drama) and Best Supporting Actor (drama). le sigh. I don 't even know why I watch these things. I'm never happy about them.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Death: a life, by George Pendle

What can I say about Death: a life by George Pendle that isn't summed up in one eloquent word? Bwahahahahahahahahhaha!

I loved it. Okay, so not as laugh-out-loud funny as Moore's Lamb, but definitely a fun worthwhile read, especially if you're into the irreverent poking of God. or GOD. or Dog. Written as an autobiography, it's complete with a prologue, an acknowledgement list and a plethora of mythic characters. Here's a book that takes the archetypes of religious (and not-so-religious) figures and answers questions like:
1) what were the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse like when they were young?
2) how does Jesus envision the Second Coming?
3) how many times can you die?
4) which is the cutest animal ever?
5) can Death fall in love?
6) do Sin and Satan have a functional relationship?
7) what's Heaven really like?

No, really, fun. I loved it! Oh, if you're uptight about God and stuff, you may want to skip it.

DVD: The Hurt Locker

You know, I've made a pretty hard and fast rule about not blogging individual movies I watch on DVD/BD. I mean, I would spend my life on here if I did. However, what's a rule without exceptions? This one is a good one: The Hurt Locker rounds out my Golden Globe noms list and I thought, for completion's sake, I should do a quick review.

I liked it. Normally, I find war movies essentially disturbing (perhaps I was a flower child in a previous life?) and this was no exception. Acting and directing were particularly solid (what's with Guy Pearce doing all these fantastic tiny roles?) Camera-work was really tight. All in all, a great movie and worthy inclusion in the GG nom list. I did find it overly cynical: I mean, what's the one thing a soldier could love in a world full of suicide bombers and cell-phone terrorists while holding his infant son? Anywho, a quick 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Now Playing: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

I was intrigued when I saw the trailer for The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus... how could I not be? Christopher Plummer is one of my favourite actors plus Ledger, Depp, Law and Farrell are playing the same character? Sold.

First of all, let's talk about the good stuff.
1) Sets were very cool: I felt like I was in a cross between an acid trip and a Beatles hallucination and it all sort of worked.
2) Lily Cole: she should play every pixie, fairy and Aeneid in every Hollywood production for at least ten years. She has the perfect ethereal quality, in both looks and acting style.
3) Did I mention Ledger, Depp, Law and Farrell?

The movie as a whole didn't really work. I kept feeling like I'd missed a scene or three or maybe that I had lost some dialogue or something. I mean, I watch a lot of movies and I rarely lose the plot entirely. I have no idea what's really happening (except that it's pretty) and, more importantly, why it's happening. The inter-mixing of modernity with Victorian elements was pretty neat, at first, but then quickly led to a lot of unanswered questions.

I would save this for a library rental, if you're curious. 2.5 out of 5 stars.

PS: It was a little creepy to watch Ledger playing an entirely different character, but then have glimpses of The Joker bleed through. Want an example? Watch the trailer.

Friday, January 08, 2010

The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill

The first Book Club pick of year, in preparation for Black History month, has me loving The Book of Negroes by Canadian author Lawrence Hill. It is a work of fiction written like an autobiography, bringing us the story of Amanita Diallo, a girl ripped from from her village in the interiors of Africa and sold into slavery. In an extraordinary epic that takes Aminata from Africa to America to Canada back to Africa and finally to England, the slave trade comes to gross life, replete with sight, sound and horrific smell.

As we grow older, our enjoyment of fairy tales are often jaded by the realities of everyday life. I mean, who still believes in Prince Charmings and Happily-Ever-Afters? Yet, in many ways, history is much like those same stories, full of heroes and villains, damsels and princes. Like most Canadian-educated children, I learned the story of Harriet Tubman and read Underground to Canada. I knew vaguely about the earlier stories of Black Loyalists and other former slaves who sought refuge on first British and then Canadian soil. I had firmly cast Canadians in the role of the Prince rescuing African Damsels in distress. I know, now, as an adult, that that is far too simplistic role. That, yes, slavery also existed here and yes, as a nation, we profited from the debasement and mistreatment of our first black immigrants. Never has that history resounded so clearly (and with so much compassion) as it did in Hill's writing.

The Book never attempts to be a textbook; instead, it is a story of one woman, like any other, whose life happens to be caught up in the tidal waves of slavery, servitude and freedom. By shifting the focus to Aminata and keeping us firmly enthralled by her, we, the readers, are able to digest the harshest conditions and cruelest torments. Were this a "real" autobiography, i doubt I would have been able to stomach past that first revolution of the moon.

There is talk of adding the Book of Negroes to the school curriculum, thereby effectively replacing Harper Lee's classic To Kill A Mockingbird. I don't see why it has to, why we can't have both? I mean, I read some really terrible books in high school, all in the name of Canadian content. Well, why not replace some of those deadly boring books with something solid, engaging, thoughtful and Canadian? Something that actually speaks to the readers and aren't some weird 70's throwback novel to which no contemporary teenager can relate?

Regardless of what the schools decide, as Canadians (and, indeed, as global citizens) we should make an effort to read this book. It is truly a fantastic piece of writing, one that echo forth long after you've put it down. An absolute must-read.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Now Playing: Up In The Air

The light, I can see it beckoning. Movie 9 of 10: Up In the Air. Okay, so I love Jason Reitman. I thought both Juno and Thank You For Smoking were just great film-making. I've also read a couple of interviews and he seems like a pretty cool guy. So, regardless of what list he makes it on, I knew I was going to watch his latest offering. ...and then I saw his main male lead. George Clooney? Really? Making a little indie-esque Reitman flick? I was disappointed, to say the least. I mean, let's get it all out there: I don't like George Clooney and I've made no secret of it. I wasn't hoping for much: just don't distract me while I try to enjoy myself here, George, and we're kosher.

You know what? He was alright. Yes, I too feel like it got a little chilly in Hell, but that's not the point. Clooney was able to check his ego at the door and, somehow, Reitman was able to bring out some warmth and charm that wasn't, somehow, covered in smarm. That scene at Alex's door? I had no idea he was capable of getting his heart broken or even acting like it could, yet... there it was. No wonder he's caught some attention.

Honestly, the movie was great. It had enough trademark clever scripting and cutting wit to keep me entertained; it had some fantastic cameo-acting; it even tugged at heartstrings in that unusual way that Reitman does. Why doesn't he make more movies? I loved it. 4 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, January 03, 2010


Wow, what a fabulous NYE/NYD. Got all gussied up and headed downtown for a neu+ral night with my favourite dj (boy, he didn't disappoint), my favourite-er friends and my favourite-est LilBro. It was a great venue, great set and had some celebrity dancers in the audience. Free champagne at midnight, followed by drunken phone calls to everyone who missed out. We partied hard until almost 0300 and then stumbled home, stopping to "revel" with fellow happy people. Two glasses of water, one slice of pizza and one blow-up mattress later, I was fast asleep. First meal of 2010? $7 Breakfast Eggs from Brownstone. First song of 2010? Tool's Schism. First shower of 2010? 45-minutes long, complete with face mask and foot soak. All good starts.


New year's resolutions are hard. I had good ones, last year, but am drawing blanks on this year. Clearly, I shall be building on the forward momentum of last year's successes; what else? I'm in a good place right now: I have a satisfying job, a nice place, great friends and attainable dreams. I don’t really know if I have any goals, outside of getting my butt to Australia/NZ/Tasmania. I often feel like I was more motivated when I had nothing. When I was a student, it was a real game to find creative ways at saving money; now, it's just a matter of an automatic transfer every two weeks. I guess, I'm feeling a little disengaged from my own life. Like everything's on auto-pilot or something. I feel like a housewife after the invention of kitchen appliances… what's there left to do now but drink? So maybe this year, instead of things to accomplish, I'll start developing my personal habits.

1) Drink more. A glass of red a day or something. Edit: Drink more, but never alone.

2) Read 50 pages a day. You know, I like reading. Really, I do. I just seem to have lost some practice. So, 50 pages a day. Hook or by crook.

3) Cook more. I am good at this, when I do it but have been woefully negligent when it comes to honing my skills.

4a) Rent more movies. As in, stop watching crap in theatres. If only there were a rental place within walking distance of me, I'd be gold.
4b) Watch more TV on DVD. I have Extras and Slings and Arrows all queued up. I really need to get through Sex and the City and The Tudors. Of course, The Sopranos is also on the list, but I need to find someone who owns them first

5) Get crafty. Surely there's something out there that I can do. I've tried knitting, sewing, drawing and beading to no avail. I really wish I had been better at knitting… I have some really great ideas for stuff but can't get my hands to execute them. Dammit. Anyway, I'm going to find something crafty and functional… basket weaving, perhaps?