Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Now Playing: Hansel & Gretel, Witch Hunters

A wee bit of a break from the Oscars saw us taking in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters this past Saturday.  I wasn't expecting too much and Jadek reminded of the disappointments that were The Brothers Grimm and Van Helsing so I was primed for meh.  Perhaps this was a good thing, because, I gotta say, I was entertained. 

I loved the brother/sister dynamic – a rarity; well-executed, scarcer still.  And while Jeremy Renner is usually pretty amazing, he was phoning it in compared to Gemma Arterton (could she be a Wonder Woman candidate? possible, possible.)  The baddie is very ably played by Famke Janssen - very ably, indeed.  In fact, I quite enjoyed her acid tongue that almost literally dripped sarcasm and condescension. 

The plot is what you would expect from a fairy tale / action flick (no way to make a cute bifucate with that ... faiction? and the script is a nice balance of eye-rolling corn and witty one-liners.  Also, well set-up for a franchise (I do hope we see that serpent witch, she sounds neat). 

Finally - it was in 3D.  Usually, the 3D is silly and misused.  I must say, they did it really well.  It wasn't over-the-top; in fact, it wasn't until I semi-ducked an arrow that I realised just how immersive it was.

With all the competition in the theatres at the moment, you'd be hard-pressed to make time for H&G; if you have it though, it's fun.  a solid 3.5 out of 5 stars on the blockbuster scale.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Now Playing: Silver Linings Playbook

The second half of the double-feature was Silver Linings Playbook.  Let me just put my prejudices on the table: I do not think a romcom should ever be on the Best Picture list. Then again, I do not think that VicLit is actually literature, but just the Victorian version Gossip Girls. I think romcoms are fluff and sugar, the cotton candy of the movie industry.  Sometimes delicious, but never nutritious.  So, take the rest with the same grain of salt.

Enter SLP, a romdramedy (tm!) starring the usually bland Bradley Cooper, the usually amazing Jennifer Lawrence, the increasingly surprising Robert DeNiro, and the not-in-enough-movies Chris Tucker. On paper, could be a drama dealing with mental illness and depression, but sadly billed and filmed as a romantic comedy in which crazy people happen to feature. There are good performances in the movie, with Cooper finally actually acting. Ms. Lawrence is so very talented that it’s easy to brush off the creepy yawning age gap between her and her male lead (there’s FIFTEEN years between the two and it really really shows – can you believe they’ll be pairing up again?). And the rest of cast really sells whatever little they’re given (including a great, almost cameo, role for Chris Tucker – put him in more movies!) So, I guess, it’s a 3 out of 5 stars kind of movie.

Spoilers below

Monday, January 21, 2013

Now Playing: Zero Dark Thirty

This weekend, Jadek and I decided to try and catch up on our Oscar noms. So, on Saturday, we did a double feature. It’s not like we planned to do this, but we ended up seeing the two polar opposites of the lineup back-to-back.

First up: Zero Dark Thirty.

So, I have a soft spot for Kathryn Bigelow ever since she wrested the Academy award away from James Cameron that one time. Also: Point Break; need I say more? Maybe it’s not fair, but there you have it.

Cinematically, 0D30 was good. It had a great cast, excellent plotting and Ms. Bigelow has something that many directors (even the greats) can sometimes screw up: a knack for pacing. Clocking in at 157 minutes, this is no short movie; it’s also got a lot of waiting around, something that can get very boring. But it never does. It’s a deserved member of the Best Picture club this year, for sure.

Politically, I’m a uncomfortable with the implied pro-torture stance. Let me be clear: no one ever actually says “yay torture!” but they do say that without the detainee program, they would have no evidence. Many people are asking whether torture works or not; I think Rula Jabreal said it best (I’m paraphrasing): “the question should not be ‘does torture work?’; the question is ‘should you use torture?’” I’m not sure if that’s the kind of question Hollywood is equipped to answer.

Great film – worthy of discussion. 4 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

2013 oscar noms

I know, I know - the nominations were announced like days ago.  Honestly, it's been a busy week in what is, let's face it, a disappointing promotion.  Maybe more on this later.  Actually, probably not.



For Best Picture, we did really well this year, already having watched almost two-thirds of the list:

0d30 really just came out this weekend; Beasts I think is available on video (but where does one rent these things any more?); Silver Linings is already on its way out, so maybe that should be ingested first (though I do not believe it to be a contender); and Amour is only at the Varsity.  
 ...In in order to cover Actors/Actresses, I also have to watch The Master, Flight, The Impossible, and The Sessions.

A good crop of movies this year, must say.  Needless to say, I'll be busy for a bit.  Want to play along?  Here's a handy dandy ballot.  And check back here mid-Feb for my predictions... I know, you wait every with bated breath for them.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Now Playing: Les Misérables

T.O. 2012. NYE. 1745.
After (excellent) AYCE Sushi.
Before the big 5-4-3-2-1.

Settled down to watch one of my most anticipated movies of the year (fitting that it was done last): Les Misérables, starring Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried (and Eddie Redmayne and Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter and and and…)

I did not worry about the singing chops on this cast, especially since I had seen Mr. Jackman in concert last year. I did not worry about the acting chops either (so many Oscar contenders, present and past). I certainly did not worry about plot or casting. I did worry about directing (this was the guy who did The King’s Speech (after all). I needn’t have. All of it was so brilliantly put together.

I think my favourite part was near the end, with Jean and Fantine. It was poignant and beautiful. In fact, Ms. Hathaway was really quite excellent. Her version of “I dreamed a dream” is the way I think it should have always been sung – without bravado and full of the deepest heartache possible, not controlled at all. Whisper-soft and still so powerful. I have heard many versions of this song over the years – I think this is the one I like the best.

Of course, you should go see it. It’s sure to be an Academy favourite and it seems a puzzle-perfect fit for a bitingly cold January. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, January 03, 2013


(countdown of LilBro's biggest fans - as ranked by Facebook)

YAY! You made it! FIREWORKS AND STREAMERS! Now could you just please stop pestering about this, okay? Look, I know you're my sister, and your interest in my stuff is always welcome, but you got to give me some slack here! 25 people to gush over is a daunting task. I mean, I had to somehow compress the importance of A and L's work, and then expand on the importance of drinking with the twins, and make them seem equal, which they aren't! Clearly A saving lives far outweighs how many shots K and I can do in one sitting (no offence buddy). I realize the irony of giving myself a task that I am now complaining about, trust me. Can I move on now? Thank you.

But I wouldn't be her brother if I didn't come in kicking and screaming. And really, that must have been her first memory of me, kicking and screaming.

I'm not going to bore you with our life story, it would be unfitting for such a large and dense story to be made here on a Facebook status. So instead of trying to get into it, I'll speak in metaphor as best I can.

Once, there were two people. One was older, smarter, logical, with an appetite for knowledge, and who would not be stopped by flaws or social trends. The younger one was more rowdy, reckless, humorous and would not be stopped by reason and social law. They were forced to somehow relate and feed off each other's strengths. In the beginning, they most certainly did not get along. It was not until years later that the finally found true kinship and complimented each other's life.

M--- is definitely the archetype for "Older Sister". If there was Oscar for who played the part the best, M--- would win. She's kind when she has to be, she's strict when she needs to be. She's saved my life about 4 times now, and real-life saving, not that bullshit "Oh she got me out of a rut, she's my emotional rock" thing, I mean saved my life from the possibility of Jail, Drug Addiction, being Seriously Injured for doing something dumb, and yes, Death. That's a big four. And yeah, she'll probably take all the kudos and praise she can for it, maybe a little cocky about it too, but that's okay, because deep down, M--- does these things because it's her reflex to do so. It's in her bones to save people. This is a girl who grew up on Thundercats, Batman, Buffy and Star Trek TNG. And that's just TV, I won't even count the books. So now you understand why it's in her.

It's her nature, it's a sense of duty that she carries through all aspects of life. I seent it, y'all. She is my number one fan of all my hard work, she recognizes when I've put work into something. I have tried my best to be a good little brother. That means washing her car from time to time (because I borrow it a lot), painting her house (because I crash on the couch), and whatever little favours she asks of me (because I was, and still can be, an annoying little shit). But really, I can't repay all the times I got ice cream money from her as a kid, it's impossible. And that really is a microcosm of our relationship: M--- rewards me with ice cream if I've been good and haven't annoyed her that day. Sweet deal, I say.

So Cheers to the #2 spot, my sister. I love you THIS much.