May 8th, 2013

So last night (with much anticipation) I headed out to see The Place Beyond the Pines.   This has an impressive cast with Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes, Bradley Cooper and Ray Liotta.
Oh Roger, where are you to provide some insight into this film and save me some money?!  Roger on the other hand sometimes relished writing about movies that wasted his time and would take great pains to ensure that the film makers felt his wrath for having stole a couple hours of his life that he will never get back.   In this instance it was closer to 2.5 hours.
What an unmitigated mess this movie is.  It is all over the place with themes that start, stop and others utterly abandoned.    What starts out as a story focusing on the Gosling character who is a stunt motorcycle driver in a travelling circus (so they even have these anymore?) who finds out that he is a new father and feels obligated to provide for his child and woman.   She never told him about the son, and has a boyfriend who has taken her in and her Mother.   She is trying to put her life together.   He soon realizes that working minimum wage isn’t going to cut it for coughing up dough for baby stuff.   He starts robbing banks and taking off on his motorbike.   Bradley Cooper is a cop that is a judge’s son who went to law school but decided to work the street.   He ultimately chases Gosling down from a botched bank attempt and there is an issue here taken.
Now fast forward just a little and there is a Serpico like storyline with Bradley in the midst of a police corruption issue.   We know this because he was inexplicably asked to be part of a shakedown of Eva Mendes.   This gives very little away and was predictable.   So much of this was predictable and eventually went WAY beyond suspending your movie belief.   So one disjointed and presumably unrelated theme jumps over into another.   Then we fast forward 15 years.  15 years!!   Bradley who looked freshly clean shaven, more than I have ever seen him, kind of looks aged, while other characters also do too.   The Serpico corruption issue seems to have resolved itself, but to what end?   It dangles on the screen as an unfulfilled issue that is brought out in the light and left to rot.
The movies carries on into the surreal as we have a twist that not many could anticipate, but once you are there, you know exactly where it is going.   Yes, that sentence is confusing as read – but it will make sense should you choose to see this mess.   Without giving anything else away, the ending couldn’t be less satisfying.   If there was a Magnolia moment for a movie – it should have come here.   It didn’t.  As the credits roll this becomes the WTF review moment with head scratching and no idea about what I had just finished seeing.    I turned to my date.  We looked at each other and laughed with the exact same stunned look on our faces and a reaction of time lost in a theatre.   Here’s a movie on cheap Tuesday in Waterloo that had us pay $12 together.   The small popcorn and drink were $11.18 and made a LOT more sense than the movie.
I can see now why this movie although filmed before Gangster Squad was not released until after Silver Linings Playbook.  Bradley Cooper has garnered some good buzz and respect and they decide to throw this out after that.  Sadly the Hangover III will arrive and wipe out all the good will for Bradley who has shown that he can, in fact, act.   And Ryan Gosling, buddy, you are one of the best young actors in the business.  You best find material that is worthy of you and your talents.   Your agent needs to make some better suggestions for you after Gangster Squad and this.   Finally, there was a review that suggested that this was Eva Mendes’ best work in her career.   If it was, then this is a very low water mark for excellence.   There is not a stretch performance here.
Richard Roeper, you are no Roger Ebert.  I will take this as a sign that you and I should not be commiserating on films together.   One strike.   I miss Roger.

April 15th, 2013

Friday I rented with youngest son and daughter Five Year Engagement.  It was daughter’s choice.  I had thought that she chose Snow White and the Huntsman but she changed her mind!!   Imagine that!
Here we have a film starring Emily Blunt (being very British here) and the all-american big dopey guy, Jason Segal.  He was good and better in She’s Out of Your League, and likely the best film with this casting of characters.
Rom-com regular stuff here;.  Quirky and unexpected couple meet at a New Year’s Party – they make cute as Ebert used to say, and then have a relationship.  Engagement follows.   Then issue happens and the decision is made to make a change.   One party heading into a contrived new situation where she at first does not realize that she is with a cad.   He suffers through seemingly endless winters in Michigan here, and never seems to find summer.   They have a revelation, a fight, a break up and then you know the rest.
There is an effective scene here with the two sisters speaking in Muppet speak, one as Elmo and another as Cookie Monster.   Beyond that there was a fair bit of unnecessary language (young son was watching) and some sexual scenes that were more aerobic than truthful and not very enlightening.   How many people do you know who sleep together with clothes on?!   Where is Kate Winslet when you need her??!!
This was predictable and contrived but it boils down to whether you like the main characters or not.  I liked Emily Blunt in The Adjustment Bureau with (Maaaaatt Daaaamon) and not as much here.  Is this really what a post graduate study group in psychology would have been like?   Okay.
Can’t recommend it.  Jason Segal has had funnier days and there’s a part of me that thinks he’s trying too hard to be Vince Vaughn.  Maybe not.  But for me this was more formulaic.
As a BONUS I re-saw Silver Linings Playbook on Sunday night in the theatre and re-enjoyed this once again.  I picked up on the plot some more and enjoyed the manic episodes better.  They are scary and they show how serious that they can escalate.   There is a hint of medication earlier and then it dies off.   The Lawrence performance is excellent and she makes the film.  She is out there, and funny and intense and on edge and the right mix for the role.   True that she is young for it, but she pulls it off.   Bradley Cooper is 38yo.   She is but 22yo.   *Sigh*
And DeNiro is really good here as he drops back into his superstitious and manic behaviour.   Throwing his son under the bus quickly if things turn (like the fight at the game) and not listening to him at all.  His poor suffering Wife who makes her “crabby snacks and homemades”.   Priceless!!
This is a movie that I will own.  It’s better as a date movie than seeing it alone, just sayin’!!

February 11th, 2013

This past snowy Friday when I couldn’t get out to a movie, I ended up
hunkered down and doing a movie on demand.  I know, I paid for it, as
opposed to pirating it over the internet, but I like movies.   Anyway
I rented Premium Rush and I was glad that I did!  I had heard many
positive things about this movie but had not a chance to go see it
yet.   Arbitrage will be next on the On Demand hit parade.

To borrow Roger Ebert’s assessment of Speed when he reviewed that for
At the Movies; “…this was fun!”.  And it was.  Not only is there the
rush (no pun intended) of seeing this guy, and people like him, ride
bikes like maniacs around the city of New York, there is a compelling
story here.   I like the time travel done to put things in context and
fill in the holes.   The real treat for me here was the role of the
gambling addicted cop.  He is funny, and he can’t seem to buy a break
and has one bad thing after another happen.  Still like the Energizer
bunny, he keeps coming back and finding new and ingenious ways to
bring the slip of paper back to himself.  I also like the little duel
between the policeman on bike along with our hero.    He certainly
goes through a LOT for a $30 payment!!   There are some great chase
scenes and some good thinking that had some funny moments (I laughed a
few times with the cop) and the predicaments of the hero that he is
put in.

A fun ride.  I recommend if you haven’t seen already.  The acting
talents of JGL are not really challenged here, but the physical
aspects of the role are.  Yes, there are stunt riders I am certain,
but it was believable and a good use of my time on a snowy Friday

Well here are the Ebert picks for the Oscars.

We can have our own little side bet if you so choose.  Despite his
protests, I do not believe that he got them “all right”.  Quite the
contrary, I think that he missed out in the Best Supporting Category
entirely.  I also believe that Best Director may fall elsewhere as
well.   Just how many Non-Americans are part of the Academy?   Because
to me, Lincoln speaks to Americans and Americans only.   No one else
cares.    Despite all that Daniel Day Lewis wins, just simply because
he IS the Best Actor these days (where the heck did Edward Norton fall

[Alison disagreed entirely on Premium Rush and found it silly and sophomoric]

I laughed at the over-the-top cop with an addiction and laughed out
loud a couple of times.  It was a mood I was in perhaps.  I wasn’t
looking for great acting, and what I got was a fun story.  It moved
along well.  Discarded the crap, and put a simple bike rider in a life
changing situation all for the fee of $30.   He is a much better
actor, and deserves better scripts, and he will get them from Looper
and Dark Knight Rises and other films he makes with Christopher Nolan.

Argo did a fabulous job at creating tension for sure.  A great job all
around and shocking on the snub for Affleck here on the Directing.
He isn’t a great actor.  He is becoming a very good director with The
Town and Argo under his belt.

I did rent On Demand Arbitrage last night and enjoyed that.  It was an
interesting view of how one can manipulate and use people and then in
end smell like a rose with all smiles and bliss.   Good performances
and Gere was in good form.

April 1st, 2013 (April Fools Edition)

This past weekend I stopped at the red box at the local grocery store to pick up Wreck it Ralph and then the Hobbit.   I was NOT going to pay money to see the Hobbit, but at $2 for a Blu-Ray and kids coming over I could not resist.  The Red Box is the greatest thing, and by far the cheapest as Rogers on Demand usually wants $8 for a rental.   Highway robbery and finding a DVD store is next to impossible,

Wreck It Ralph was nominated for Best Animated Film and I can see why it did not win.   I saw Brave and again I think that Pixar finds a way to put together quality movies.  Yes Brave was not a box office darling and quick honestly give my son fart jokes and nose picking (Jack the Giant Slayer) and you have a winner that beats them all!!   So here we have the bad guy in a Donkey Kong rip-off who “wants to be good”.  He is tired of living on a junk heap and being thrown off the building.  He meets up with a cute girl from another game (he is seeking a Medal) and she needs his help and has some issues of her own.   In the end, through some twists and turns everyone finds their rightful place in the world.  And peace and harmony are brought back.   Did I enjoy it.  Yes, it was okay.  Did SON like it?   He thought it was alright too.   So all in all, if you want some cartoony fun, and like looking at old characters that make you nostalgic for the 80s again (QBert) then this could be your movie.   Funny that they have some Super Mario characters but not Mario and Luigi.
Then I watched the Hobbit with daughter and youngest son.   Can I say that this lived up to the expectations?; it was disappointing.   I did read the book a very long time ago.  I did enjoy it MORE than the LOTR trilogy.  I like it for reasons why I do NOT like this movie.  It was a short book.   Less descriptive and moved along at a nice pace.   We have a linear plot and things happen and get resolved.  There was some clever word play and some interesting riddles and I REALLY wanted to see what the CGI dragon would look like.   What do I get?  Forty minutes of pre-cursor before they ever leave the Shire, with eating and singing amongst Dwarves.  And then finally getting on the road before anything of consequences happens.   There is much that I cannot recall from the book, nor care to go back to check on.
Here attached is a link that captures much of my issue here.  This is purely a money grab by the studio and Peter Jackson.  Shame on you all.  Much like the Eagles getting back for the Hell Frozen Over tour.  We know you hate one another, but you need money to keep that coke habit going strong (cough Glenn Frey).   But I digress.  I like his voice and these perceptions that he makes.  Truly the bunnies did make me laugh out loud.   Then there are Orcs and this White Orc dude – buddy, if you can’t slay a wee dwarf and toss him like we all would, then you’re not such a bad ass, and one of your bloodthirsty kin-folk would have your head.   Just sayin.   So there are TWO more installments here.  I will ONLY see them if I would spend more on a coffee and donut to do so.   So would I recommend that movie experience? No.  Read the book.  It will likely even take less time.  There’s an IDEA – why not put someone on camera who just reads the book to you – and you can use your mind rather than CGI!!!   Million dollar idea there.

March 4th, 2013

I had read the Ebert review of Jack the Giant Slayer and thought that
youngest son and I could have a movie night out.   I had also seen the cut outs
at the theatre advertising this, but never put much thought into it.
I did like the idea of Ewan Macgregor being in this film.  We headed
out and (not on purpose) ended seeing this in the assigned seating
fancy 3D shaking seat theatre.  Cost for two – $32!!  Egad!   Mine was
$17.99 and his $13.99 for a child.   We put on our cheesey ill-fitting
glasses and watched.

This was fun.  We had a good time.  Son of course being the typical
boy laughed at the farting and nose-picking of the Giants.  I thought
that a rather mundane and pointless fairy tale was brought to the
screen with a story that made a little more sense.   Jack here is
portrayed by the same little kid (no longer little) from the Hugh
Grant movie About a Boy.  Hell we likely reviewed that movie when he
was a 10 yo!   Damn I am old!    Anyway, in some way I couldn’t get
that boyish face out of my head, and didn’t think of him as the
dashing guy who could whisk away the heart of a princess.   But never
mind.   I also could not get over the voice for the two-headed Giant
of Bill Nighy who was, of course, the octopus faced villain in Pirates
of the Caribbean.   He is effective, it just sounds like the same
voice and was a distraction.

Here you know the story.  Jack looking to sell the family’s only
possession (the horse and cart) ends up with “magic beans” and then
there is a beanstalk to the sky to deal with a Giant.   In this case,
MANY Giants.   And they are pissed.   There are a series of adventures
here and they are well done, and look good.   Do we need the 3D here?
No.   Does it add anything?  Not really.   But do you care about the
characters?  Yes for sure.  And you are intrigued by how the whole
thing will resolve itself when you have these Giants that clearly have
very few weaknesses.   A prickly problem and satisfyingly resolved.  I
won’t tell you how it all ends…..but the last two words are “…ever

Worthy of a viewing and good on the big screen.   These shaky seats
incidentally are not worth it.   So you throw even BIGGER subwoofers
in the theatre to have my seat actually shake…but it really adds
little.  More gimmicks to draw in people, but they are only as good as the story allows.

February 3rd, 2013

So I did end up seeing The Sessions on Thursday.  Saw it at the
Kingsway theatre which is independent small theatre on Bloor street
just east of Islington Ave.  It is SMALL.   They have the MAIN theatre
and then now (unbeknownst to me) a smaller side theatre which is a
room up in the second floor.   A theatre with around 20 seats, and
like the old Cineplex theatres in the old Eaton Centre.  Not much
bigger than a good sized room at home.   Despite the size, they still
charge $13 a pop.  Pricey.   Cheaper Tuesday at massive theatres is
around $7.50.  A bargain!!  I will go again tomorrow night.

I went in with higher expectations I think.  In the end I can agree
with you.  This was charming.  I am not completely sure what the
attraction to buddy is.   I guess the message is that you “make them
laugh” even if you have an iron lung.   Then again, perhaps women (and
attractive women) want to not have to worry about the sex thing since
buddy doesn’t even have a bed!!  But I digress.   Helen Hunt here is
effective but I am not seeing the Award nomination.  Perhaps she got
extra marks for taking all her clothes off.  Acting in the nude.
Okay.  But it was generous to offer that up to her.  William H Macy
was good and I liked his attitude.  The Catholic church would be
better off to have more caring and pragmatic Priests like him to gain
in attendance.  You could see him struggling with the concept, however
he saw the overall benefit to this.  In the end, he as a friend was
right.  We can see the transformation in him.  So a worthy movie to
watch.  Yet another victim to High Expectations for me.

This week, likely Les Mis.  And perhaps Amour.  We will see.

January 28th, 2013

This past weekend I was visiting my brother and we had a Marky Mark
double header.  I had been wanting to see Ted as it is always good to
have a laugh or two.

The Ebert review on it was decent and I wanted to check it out.  First
I can’t get over the pipes on Marky Mark – holy crap, buddy is ripped!
Massive arms.  If you do a trailer search you will see him playing
the role of a wrestler/body builder

I digress but thought that you might appreciate the beefcake!!

Anyway, I enjoyed Ted.  It was stupid.  It was stupid funny.  It had
some good product placement for 80s shows, although the Flash Gordon
stuff was a bit over the top.   The bear is funny though.  And the
language is more Southpark than Disney!  And there is a few laugh out
loud moments for me without question.  I have to say that Mila Kunis
here is under-utlized and honestly I like her and all but she really
isn’t all that and a bag of chips!   I think you have seen this.  I am
glad that I did.

Real eye candy for me comes from Contraband where Marky Mark is paired
with Kate Beckensale.  Prime!  And completely and totally
under-utilized as well here.  Here is the traditional story of the
accomplished criminal turns legit with the Wife and kids and then gets
pulled back in.  “One more job” to [fill in the blank].  In this
instance it is getting his younger brother-in-law out of trouble.
And brother in law is a dumb ass.  So there is plenty to do.
Interesting Giovanni Ribisi is the baddy in both of these different
movies.  He is great.  So versatile and he plays a really good creepy
bad guy.  This is a complicated plot to the point of being totally
unbelievable.  There is such a short window to be able to do what
happens here and you wonder about how exciting it can be a
freighter/ship from Panama to New Orleans.   This was worthy of the $1
rental (Red Box).  We all enjoyed it and made for a decent evening.
There are no Blockbusters anymore.  It is rare to find a DVD rental.
I was lucky to find the boxes.  Cheap.  And I think that On Demand is
a ripoff at $8 a film.    I rented for two nights two movies for $6.

More movies for me to check out this week.  I want to see Silver
Linings, and also Les Mis.  Maybe tomorrow.