Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Now Playing: Knight and Day

I only went to watch this movie because I had these coupons that HAD to be used in a certain theatre during a certain month.  Time ran out.  My back was to the wall.  It was either Knight and Day or The Sorcerer's Apprentice (it's sad when someone considers a crazy person the lesser evil when compared to Nic Cage).  So, there we were.

You know, I really wasn't looking for much: a little action, a little suspense, some humour and dash of cheesy romance.  That's all they needed to live up to expectations.  And maybe the problem was that I just seen Inception and Salt; maybe those two flicks with their mind-fuckery and their serious plots left a lingering of... I don't know, expectation in my cinephilic brain. 

Sadly, K&D failed.  And not just like they came up something lame.  No, they plagiarised some of their best bits.  Cruise shooting up a warehouse full of bad guys?  See: Mr. & Mrs. Smith.  Cruise flattening himself to the top of a fast-moving truck in order to avoid being flattened by an overpass/overturned car?  See Wanted.  Running along a rooftop while cops chase you?  See Matrix.  I could go on and on. 

Really, what kinda dampened the Salt experience was watching Inception a few days before.  What ruined Knight & Day?  Every other action movie ever made!  Seriously.  There wasn't a single cool moment that didn't feel... stolen, somehow.  No wonder they replaced him with her.

The locations were nice.  Yawn.  2 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Now Playing: Salt

After last week's stellar Inception, I was kind of waiting to be disappointed by Angelina Jolie's Salt.  I'm still waiting.

Let's get the obvious criticisms out of the way: Jolie herself.  Say what you want about the woman, she is a bankable action star.  Save for Milla Jovovich and Tricia Helfer, is there another female action star who could actually carry a vehicle (or, dare I say franchise) like this?  Jovovich has Resident Evil, Helfer has BSG - but I don't think any of them can even come close to the earning of Jolie herself.  So, Jolie as Salt?  A character written with Tom Cruise in mind?  Wicked.  She has enough real acting chops (see Changeling and Girl, Interrupted) to cover the stuff that Cruise couldn't have and the no-fear attitude to sell the rest.  Too bad about Liev Schreiber though - will that guy ever catch a break?

This is a typical first-in-a-franchise kind of movie: lots of characters, back-story and things-that-go-boom.  And what an ending - jebus, could there BE more of a cliff-hanger?  The fights were well-choreographed (albeit, the cameras were a little shaky) and were fairly believable.  The disguises were really fun too!  also: no quarter given to Evelyn, just because she's a chick.  She's still tortured, beaten and gassed with the best of them.

So, Salt - a great summer action movie.  4 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Come, Thou Tortoise by Jessica Grant

Come, Thou Tortoise will hook you with its punny goodness, its charming narrators (Oddly and Winnifred/Iris) and its obviously deceptive plot. But beyond the wordplay, which at times is so clever, I'm amazed I hadn't caught on earlier, there are these characters that really make you want to know more. Even the bit parts - the Antonios, if you will - are fascinating to read about. I won't write a long gushing review; I will say that this is definitely worth the read. And an amazing summer book to boot.

Now Playing: Inception

I have a new favourite director: Christopher Nolan. Wait, scratch that. He's not really a new director… I just hadn't realised how much I liked ALL his movies before. And there haven't been that many, either. Sure, I fell in love with him for taking the Batman franchise back to its dark psycho roots, but remember Memento? Yeah, he's awesome.

So when I heard he was all Batman'ed out and that he really wanted to make something else, I secretly prayed to any goddess who would listen that they gave him whatever he wanted, as long as he finished with the caped crusader. And they did. I picture the conversation going something like this:

WB: When can we begin filming the third Batman, Chris?
CN: Well, guys, I need a break from Batman. I'm not really feeling it right now.
WB: *panic* what? How can we make you feel it? money, hookers, drugs? Whatever you want, you got it!
CN: Uh, well, I'm actually thinking of this other movie--
WB: Sure! Here's a blank cheque! Cast whoever you want! Shoot whatever you want! Just make sure you come back for a third Batman!
CN: Ummm, okay…

aaaand, enter Inception.

This. Movie. Is. Awesome. No, seriously. I watch a lot of nonsense in the theatre, especially during the summer season. But this. This is good. Great. Epic. Remember how Matrix fucked with your mind and left you salivating and a little thunderstruck in your seat? yeah… like that. I loved it. Leonardo Dicaprio, who continues to impress me, is a great lead with Dom Cobb. He's flanked by equally great Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Cillian Murphy. Then there's the inimitable Marion Cotillard. Is there an actress out there that can embody gentleness, terror and pity in such quick succession with such conviction? Damn. She's amazing. (I also love that Nolan chose to use Edith Piaf so prominently in the film… clever).

The special effects are pretty amazing too. I love how they play with chemistry, physics, and the concept of time in ways that literally blew my mind without degenerating into something cheesy or convoluted. I could follow the "maze" that is the plot of this movie without getting unneccessarily lost. Oh, and the plot? It was one of the most original things I've seen on screen in a long time. Seriously, in a theatre full of sequels and reboots and bad 80's TV shows, it was refreshing to watch a movie that wasn't familiar at all. In any way.

Loved it. Will watch again. Will buy Blu-Ray. You should watch it too. 5 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Now Playing: Despicable Me

I normally don't do animated films, but Despicable Me really caught my attention. I love my villians, so when I was Steve Carell was going to play one, I thought "done!"

So, the story is about Gru, an aging super-villain who is being upstaged by someone younger (less talent, more connections) and who decides to use three orphan girls to get a jump on the nerd. The three orphans are pretty cute, but not in a saccharine way - they're funny and witty, sometimes naughty, sometimes scared, ... you know, like real little girls. My favourite moment? The theme park (this version is edited, so it's even better in the movie)!

I'm sure you're going to be able to figure out how it all ends, but who cares? This one is great. Go see it, especially if you have little ones you can enjoy it with. 4 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

birthday blog

How does one celebrate a milestone? Especially one like the big 3-0? Who evens knows? I decided to lead up the day with not one, not two but three vacations (NFLD, Yukon, Stratford) plus a party on the weekend. It seems like I had covered off all the obvious things, so I left the actual day - today- for myself.
1) A leisurely lie-in, complete with historical romance.
2) A few fun errands, framing my long awaited posters.
3) Spent lunch defeating evil (I told people they couldn't win on my birthday)
4) Bought a new computer (Timmy is to be reincarnated as my mother's computer),
5) Lobster dinner and a sparkler with dessert.
...Good Day.

I feel like I should have something profound to say right about now - but really, I don't. I also feel like I should be more depressed or something - and really, I'm not. In fact, I'm kinda happy. If my thirties are nearly as good as my twenties, I'm going to be a-okay. Emphasis on the A.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

love me do

I had an interesting conversation with a cousin of mine over the weekend regarding love.

Some context: I'm about to turn thirty, am single and actually pretty happy about it. I have lots of friends, of both genders, who are happy/single, happy/taken, unhappy/single (though quickly diminishing) and unhappy/taken. I know very little about love, having experienced it in only small quantities. I do know about lust, passion and jealousy however.

With this sparse knowledge, I began listening to the tale of Ali, who's been dating someone for seven months, who's already exchanged the big L and who actually thinks she's being smothered by her too-attentive mate. At seven months? You already feel smothered? I say it's over. The first blush of romance has faded. Then, she tells me the saddest thing I've ever heard: "relationships aren't really about love; they're about 'used-to-it'ness". Every last mushy feeling in me gasps in horror. So, I share with her what I think a relationship is really based on (as if I'm some expert).

She's right, a relationship isn't based on love. It's based on:

1) Respect: out of that respect, comes all the vows that are important (truthfulness, faithfulness, acceptance and forgiveness). This is why you have to give him space to breathe and tinker and read and play (with or without you); he does the same for you.

2) Passion: often confused with lust, passion is the desire to truly be with someone. It doesn't mean that you are with them 24/7 (because you should have lives outside each other) and it's more than missing them when they're not around. I think the true marker of passion is when you're having a really good time (say, drinking vodka shots at the Arctic Circle at midnight) and you think "I wish he could share this with me" - that's passion.

3) Lust: also very important. If he doesn't make your insides a little wobbly - especially when he's all dressed up and wearing that amazing cologne - he's just your friend.

4) Humour: he's got to keep you entertained, whether it's because he knows which movies to rent or what kind of game you want to play or when you just want to drink a pina colada on a patio. A sure sign that he has your attention? You've closed down the restaurant. He has to be able to make you laugh - right out of a bad mood, if necessary - or what are you going to do when you're old and feeble?

Truly, love is a childish ideal that Hallmark doesn't let us forget; it's something that made our teenage hearts melt but that doesn't really exist. There is no perfect man (or woman) and certainly no perfect relationships. Every successful relationship to which I've been exposed has one thing in common: work. Which brings me to:

5) Determination: when the road gets bumpy (and it will get bumpy), you have to have the determination to ride it out and fix the potholes. Divorce is not an option; leaving is not an option. When you are determined to work at something, the chances for success grow exponentially. Hope, faith and charity will get you started but it's old-fashioned elbow grease that will get you through. I see too many people walk away over the smallest of things.

If you experience all these qualities, then you're in Love my friend. The kind of Love that doesn't fade, but glows. The kind of Love other people can see when you both walk into a room and can feel even when you're not on the same continent. It's a good Love, a kind Love, an accepting Love. None of this RomCom bullshit. It's Love with a capital L. And I'll just bet that more than a few of us have walked away from it because it was just easier to do so.

Oh, and Ali? I give them two months. Why? See above.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Now Playing: The Last Airbender

We actually went to watch Jonah Hex (not because it's a good movie, but because of its Batman tie-in); that movie's theatre-run matches its running time. So, what to do at 0930 at the movies? We saw The Last Airbender instead.

I was... sceptical, to say the least. I mean, we all remember Shyamalan's last offering and just how un-good it was. So, when I heard he was being given the Avatar franchise (to which I had little to no exposure), I was both anxious and excited. I had also read that there was racial rewriting of the characters, making the film have more white characters than it was originally conveyed. Hmm. An Indian-American guy getting accused of whitewashing - interesting.

I liked the movie. I was expecting much less, but the story was well- set up, I'm looking forward to the second instalment and the child actors all held their own. Noah Ringer looked a hella lot like the character he portrays, (is he white? I don't know, he looked mixed to me... but does it really matter if he can act the part?); more importantly, the boy is a black-belt, so he sold it. The cast is rounded out with Nicola Peltz, Dev Patel, Aasif Mandvi and Shaun Toub. That seems like a lot of minority to me, but whatevs.

You know, I actually think this was one of the most diverse casts I've seen in a long time, with no horrible stereotyping either. I saw plenty of Inuit Peoples in the Southern Water City and lots of Eastern Asians in the Earth People and the Fire clan is very heavily Indian-influenced (though, not everyone is actually Indian). In fact, aside from the obvious "Caucasity" of Peltz and Rathbone, the other major characters are either a definite non-Caucasian or beige at best. People need to stop being so exacting and putting such a fine point of racial casting -perhaps when we stop looking at race and start just casting, I think we'll have made a great leap forward.

4 out of 5 stars.

Now Playing: The A-Team

I really resisted watching The A-Team. I mean, I wanted to, since as a child I had thought it self-evident that this Team was named after me. But the reviews were so very bad. Anyway, it was a slow Wednesday night and I thought "what the hell" so we went and watched.

Really? it wasn't that bad. Given the premise of the original show and the fact that Mr. T was not in it, I wasn't expecting a whole hella lot, but there was definitely enough. Good casting all-round. A decent enough story. Humour, action, a cheesy love story? Check check check. What else could really ask for?

Anyway, it was decent. There may have been some obviousness in the "twist," but hey, it's the A-Team, not Shyamalan. A definite rental, especially if you watched the TV show when it was actually on. 2.5 out of 5 stars.