Saturday, December 29, 2012

Now Playing: Django Unchained

Trying to squeeze in as many movies as possible before going back to work.  Today, as a family bonding exercise, we watched Django Unchained - that's, Mom, Dad, LilBro, Jadek, and myself.  Good thing we got there 45 minutes early too - the theatre was sold out. 

Anyway, Django  (the D is silent).  I'm a fan of the QT's work, and am a great fan of Christoph Waltz (even when I don't care for the movie). I love Waltz so much, I've chosen his poster over the conventional one.  Not saying everyone else sucked - far from.  Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio and Mr. Samuel L. Jackson pretty much rocked it  Rawked. It.  And what about Don Johnson?  I did not see that awesomeness coming from him.  While a potential lynching should never be funny, watching a bunch of bagheads complain about the size of their eye-holes is nothing short of hilarious ("it's not that we don't appreciate Jenny's hard work, but these could have been done better"). 

Of course, the plausible historicity of Django is sometimes a bit stretched; and that's okay.  It's honestly nothing like you'd think it was.  And you can learn interesting facts too.  Sure, an abolitionist German risking his life reunite a runaway slave with his wife pretty much never existed - but no one really cares.  There's plenty of blood, laughs, suspense, and horror to make up for that.  Totally, totally worth watching.  4 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Now Playing: Jack Reacher

Poppets, I am not a fan of Tom Cruise. I think he’s more than just crazy, I think he’s a dangerous influence on people. Many of his previous movies for which he gets much praise (Jerry Maguire, I’m looking at you), I easily dismiss as boring or trite. It hasn’t been until recently that we’re seeing a real change in his movie roles/choices. And even the last Mission Impossible movie was, well, good. Honestly, he must have the hardest working agent in Hollywood because even though everyone know he’s crazy, he doesn’t make bad movies (Battlefield Earth, I’m trying really hard to forget you ever existed*).

Enter: Jack Reacher.

This could have easily become a Bourne or Die Hard rip-off, it could’ve degenerated into a Cruise-pandering vehicle that became vacuous and shallow. And it wasn’t. What the heck? Jack Reacher, as a character, is the best example of a badass hero. He’s mean, crude, and poor but all his actions are driven by a core or justice that most of us can understand (but do nothing about). Best of all, he’s funny: “if he died, it’s from shame, cuz I was bein’ gentle”. This is the beginning of franchise, no doubt. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

(I wanted to see Killing Them Softly, but it’s already out of the theatre. If you, too, are looking for a break from the holiday crazy, but can’t wait until Christmas Day, this could be a good distraction.)

*Edit: it has been pointed out to me that perhaps I didn't realise that Tom Cruise wasn't in Battlefield Earth.  I know this; as I said, he doesn't really make bad movies, like his friend and fellow Scientologist, John Travolta.  Who was in Battlefield Earth.  Which was a very bad movie.)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Now Playing: The Hobbit (an unexpected journey)

Caught The Hobbit: an unexpected journey at a noon showing on opening day (pre-ordered tickets and everything; needn’t have bothered as the theatre was far from full). I’m going to be up front: I didn’t like it. I mean, the acting was good and the story is classic, but everything else was just… overkill.

First of all, I was a little wary of the fact that a single book would get more screen time than all of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. That sounded counter-intuitive to me. Once I understood that there were going to be scenes from other Middle Earth books as well, I was ready for much more content and a much slower pace (I mean, there’s a reason no one reads the Silmarillion. I guess I just wasn’t ready enough. Jadek said it best: it felt like a Director’s Cut. Indeed – like a pampered director who has made too much money for his own good.

The next thing I heard was that this was going to be filmed and presented in 48 fps (or HFR) format. What does that mean, you ask? Basically, it’s super-high-tech. I already knew what this looked like – I had seen this treatment first for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in a big-box store. I hated it. It looked unfinished and cheap. In fact, I distinctly remember saying “if this is what Blu-Rays are going to look like, I’ll stick to DVDs.” Thankfully, Blu-Rays continue to have a cinematic feel to them. Jadek warned me that I might not like it; even suggested we see a traditional 2D version. But I didn’t want to be a luddite, so I said no. I should have avoided it completely. The 3D added almost nothing to the story (heck, the Star Trek trailer used 3D more effectively!) and it meant having to sit perfectly upright for three hours in order to avoid blurring. I mean, sure, the action scenes were really crisp but since when is that realistic? Having a worg streak by you at close-range should be a blurry disorienting experience… that’s realistic.

Finally, there’s singing. And I mean an unnecessary, Disney-movie-esque, ditty about dishes. Seriously? This may be the first movie in history that offers an abridged version for the home release, once that will actually tell only the story of the Hobbit.

I don’t know if I didn’t like it because it was badly edited or because I’m uncomfortable with the technical treatment or because it was just boring. Either way, it’s my blog and someone has to pay for my keen disappointment. So: 2.5 out of stars.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Now Playing: Lincoln

The attempt to use too many tickets in too little time is slow-going, poppets.  Slow.  Going.

This past weekend, caught Lincoln (finally!) with Daniel Day-Lewis and a few other people you may recognise.  So, let's get my biases out of the way: I've had a crush on DDL since The Last of the Mohicans.  And remember the last time we saw him?  Yeah.  Yeah.  So, obviously I had high expectations for Lincoln.  Was not disappointed.

First: holy heck, is DDL a chameleon on something?  I mean, he's pretty unrecognisable every time I see him on the screen.  And every time - good, bad, crazy - he's amazing.  When I saw the teaser a few months ago, I didn't even realise I was looking at DDL.  It's like they cloned the original.  (That makeup team had better win an Oscar...)

Second: for a story to which I knew the ending, this was downright gripping!  I can partially blame my spotty American History recall (no idea as to the details involving Emancipation, the Civil War, or Union/Confederate politics) and my general memory deficits, because I truly didn't know how and when things were going to happen.  That was some excellent screenwriting.

Third: I love DDL.  That man could sell me sand in the desert.  So, clearly he has my vote for Best Actor.  But let us not forget the tour de force performances of Tommy Lee Jones and David Costabile.  A very deep cast indeed.

So, yes, go watch it.  Like, right now.  Do it.  4.5 out of 5 stars.  (docking .5 for the sometime-slow pace.  that's a Spielberg thing though.)

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Now Playing: The Man with the Iron Fists

The Man with the Iron Fists was so bad, it's taken me ten days to find nothing nice to say.  Seriously.  Not even Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu could save it.  I may have turned to Jadek at some point and actually said "this is pretty bad, yo."  That's right.  Yo.  How did the amazing Quentin Tarantino ever get within twenty feet of this awfulness?  It's trite, corny, and (worst of all) boring.  Bleh.

No stars for you!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012


LilBro says:

"Now that Movember is officially over, I have a few sharp words I wish to share.  I'm going to try and be as placid as possible in writing this, I will attempt not to swear as it may diminish my purpose and point.

Let me take it back a few years ago. There was this "internet fad", if you will, of females posting vague statuses that went something like "I like it on the X" where "X" is any location they choose. Many people, at first, assumed it meant something to do with sex, and where they prefer to have it. However, this was a ruse, and in fact it was supposed to be where they put their purse. The point was to not share this information with my gender, and have us all in bewilderment as to why anyone would blatantly state their favourite spot for coitus on Facebook. But the purpose of this was actually rooted in, if you remember, breast cancer awareness.

I have already made my statement on the matter, and if you know it, skip this paragraph. For those of you who are unaware of my stance, it was that of unfortunate disappointment. Reason being, there was no symbolic reference to breast cancer awareness. As well, the point was to not let in half the population in on the ruse, thereby effectively cutting awareness by 50%. It was counterintuitive. It was also doing something that I've never been a fan of, and that is the sexualization of Illness. Since the breast is considered a sexual organ in the 21st century, I suppose some of us in society deem it appropriate to link the two. I do not believe in this practise. There is nothing sexy about a debilitating disease that kills over 5000 women in Canada a year. I find it much more suitable to wear a pink ribbon if you want to raise awareness, and if one wants to show support on Facebook, one can make a profile picture simply wearing pink. But that was an old point.

Fast forward to today, where the Movember movement is very much a part of our pop culture. The point is simple, grow a moustache for the month of November. The Purpose? Raise awareness for prostate cancer. Its simple enough, the meme is there, everyone understands the goal. Many men even raise money by growing facial hair at this time.

However, there is an ugly reaction that has surfaced this year.