December 15th, 2014

My 17yo daughter saw the Fault in Our Stars and did not like it.   She felt as though she was being manipulated.  She was not a fan of Shailene Woodley.  As a result my expectations were low.   I must have been coming to this picture from a different place I suppose.   First I like Shailene and liked her work in The Descendants a great deal.    I think that she has an edge to her and that she has a presence.    Second I am a parent of a young child who had cancer.   Early on in the film I felt as though the relationship with the parents to the daughter here was given short shrift, I think that as the movie progressed it improved.   We dove more deeply into that relationship.    This was a good thing as Laura Dern was good here.    She carries and shows that uncomfortable balance that the adult as when dealing with a child who has cancer;  you stay strong, remain positive, and then support the child as fully and best as you can.

Here the daughter is justifiably depressed at her condition and Mom looks to have her improve her attitude and life.   She attends a cancer support group run by a Bible thumping guitar playing hippie.   Then she meets the ex-basketball star who lost a leg from cancer.   The rest explores their relationship.    They explore a book together written by a guy in Amsterdam.   They learn and grow and become attached.   Then things happen for which I won’t proceed further.   There is indeed some manipulation here.   If you haven’t reached for a tissue a little past midpoint, then there is a couple more belts to your tear ducts.   They are ALL after all, so very young.   The adult in me wishes that young people didn’t have to face such moments as this.  But they do.   My time in Sick Kids Hospital showed that time and again.    There is a good message here though, on why are we all here?   And what is important and what does it mean to leave an impression and make a difference?   I like the answer.     Maybe because I agree with the perspective I liked the film more than my daughter.   But I did like it.    I like the young man here and find he was more interesting than Shailene.

December 17th, 2014

I don’t need any more trips to Middle Earth.  I have decided this.   As Monty Python would say it” ‘Tis a silly place”.

It’s silly because it is slow and meandering and takes forever to get from one place to another, like the books.    The books delve far too much into song and poetic prose, the movies linger aimlessly on get-togethers in the Shire and just having a pint or two.

The third, and mercifully last, installment of The Hobbit which comes out today, I saw Monday night courtesy of a free preview from me being a proud VW driver.   The movie was on them!

It is yet another long movie at 2.5 hours.   But it takes 2.5 hours to tell, and finish, what is a simple tale.    Add to this the already supplemented story so that this ties more directly into Lord of the Rings and it’s overwrought and tiresome.

The most interesting aspect of the story as I remember it was the dragon, and the battle with the dragon.   Here our dragon who prattled on incessantly in the second movie about how all knowing and all powerful he was nary stays for a spot of tea before being dispatched.    I trust I am ruining nothing to divulge that gem of the plot.    Best so since it’s over in the first 25 minutes.   Then we have endless squabbling and battles amongst the various “armies”.  From dwarves, and elves, and orcs and others.   All in enormous numbers.    Then they fight in massive battles shown at a distance with CGI.    Impressive CGI I suppose, but graphics that don’t carry any emotional weight for me.  It becomes a video game.    And then it’s remarkably silly.   Silly because itty bitty dwarves who ride pigs (yes pigs) are taking down scores of huge and ferocious orcs all dressed in heavy steel armour.   Some orcs are felled by someone throwing a stone at them.  Really?   Where did it hit them?   Then other elephant-sized creatures are taken down by an arrow or two as they fall backwards and crush those behind them.   This goes on and on.    It is ridiculous.    Add to this, Legolas (Orlando Bloom) running up a falling stone bridge to fight a battle, and the ridiculous becomes the hilarious.   One always needs to suspend the level of disbelief in fantasy movies, but there is a tipping point where it’s just too much.     I think it was Roger Ebert who wrote about certain CGI and how it didn’t work because the characters had no weight to them.   It might have been a superhero movie like Spiderman.      Again here, I lose the emotional attachment and grow weary of the sword play and little people (dwarves and hobbits) deciding the fate of so many.    There are swings in momentum, like a sporting event, reminiscent of Star Wars, but still I was shifting in my seat and had seen enough.

So I am thankful that I saw this for free.   I truly wish the free tickets were for The Imitation Game (Bennedict Cumberbatch voices the dragon, but the better film of his is where he acts).    But alas, it was not to be.   I saw this with a non-LOTR fan nor watcher of the earlier Hobbit films.   She was brave.  She sat through it, and I could sense and feel her waver in interest.    When the short story gets chunked into three pieces, there is much lost in terms of plot and moving forward.   She is a trooper and I will be happy to see other movies to her liking in repayment for her patience.     I cannot recommend this film.   I was thankful that it was over, and we can move away from Middle Earth finally.

December 11th, 2014 – bonus posting

What makes for a good romantic comedy movie?    The memorable movies that are quoted and speak to relationships for many?   Classics like When Harry Met Sally, The Princess Bride, Four Weddings and A Funeral all have likeable people that are also funny.  There is chemistry of course where you need to feel that these people really like each other and should be together.  But for me, it is the writing.   Good dialog between the main characters and how they interact.    A playful repartee that often has keen insight into relationships in general.   Often too, there is the supporting characters that provide this insight and also more comedic relief (like in Notting Hill for example with the bizarre roommate).

On Tuesday I watched The F Word with Daniel Ratcliffe and Zoe Kazan, in IMDB and the US they are now calling it “What If”…what-ev-ah!!  I enjoyed this film a great deal.   It is also a really good showcase for the city of Toronto.   Memorable places like the Bluffs and downtown and the parks near the DVP.   The premise is simple.   A guy with a broken heart meets a girl at a party and they have a good conversation.   They end up walking home and she announces that she has a long term boyfriend as they say goodnight and exchange phone numbers.     Then there is an exploration of whether men and women really can be friends.    And can you remain friends with someone who you are romantically attracted  to?   Harry and Sally explored this.   Now these two do as well.    I liked that there wasn’t an effort like in some films (Wedding Singer comes to mind or Serendipity) to make the current boyfriend out to be a clutz or a dick or an unappealing cad.   Where no one sees why the two characters would ever be together.    Here it is handled better and more realistically portrayed.   There isn’t a villain.   There are people sorting out their lives and where they feel most comfortable.  There is the supporting cast with Adam Driver and Mackenzie Davis who are very good at pressing at trying to get the two principals together.    In the end you enjoy this movie based upon the characters and the situations.    And so I can recommend this film as light entertainment and some insight into relationships when you are looking for an evening to decompress.

I would not say that this movie is a “Classic” like those mentioned, but it was fun and I laughed more than a few times.

A colleague, to put it in perspective, hated this film.    So your mileage may vary!
I do like the banter and the banter well delivered.   Radcliffe was very good at that….but then so was she….

December 1st, 2014

Life in the Old West was hard.  It was especially hard for women.   Full stop.  Roll credits.

These two statements could sum up what took Tommy Lee Jones two hours to explore and state in the movie The Homesman.   For all he has claimed to have learned from working with Clint Eastwood on other films (like Unforgiven and Space Cowboys) may I state categorically, and borrowing heavily from Ronald Reagan, “Mr Lee Jones, you are no Clint Eastwood…”  Stick to acting, and stay away from screenwriting especially.

This is a dark, slow and tiresome story that enlightens somewhat in showing the Old West for what it probably really was moreso than the Hollywood glamourization of it in other films.    Yet, oh man, it is painful to watch.

Here we have a small town (and town is being generous) in rural Nebraska.   For various reasons three of the local women folk have lost their minds.   “Somebody” has to take them to a place in Iowa, so they can seek help.   Turns out, the only somebody who has the cajones to ante up is a single woman.  Played by double Oscar winner, Hillary Swank, she is a straight laced, practical and no nonsense woman.  Single. “Bossy”.  Living and working a farm that could be a ‘family farm’ but that is not clear.    My main objection about her is the premise, since as a woman in the 1800s, she did not have any legal standing and could certainly not own land.   She seeks a husband and looks for any bloke that breathes to fill that role but she is unsuccessful.   She volunteers to assist these women who need a driver.

Off she goes in a paddy wagon and gets the women.   Then she adds, by happenstance, Tommy Lee Jones, who is a little wacky himself but he would be the Homesman who assists with horses, directions and keeping the women in line.  There is a journey.  Long and hard.   Tough weather.   For days, and days.   Not much happens.   And then a little more doesn’t happen.    Then the plot turns and ultimately the destination is reached.   There is an interesting side story with Lee Jones finding himself some food with a side order of revenge with an innkeeper but otherwise that is it.

Even as a character story and not about the plot, I am not engaged.    I care about and have some sympathy for the Swank character.    I have sympathy for ANYONE who lived in that time, and in that place.   I certainly could not live then or there.   Yet, I don’t really feel the need to experience it for more than ten minutes.   Nor spend two hours with these people, who are in one form or another a little crazy.

I do not understand the 3 ½ star review from ebert.com.    And even though I saw this rather than Horrible Bosses, I really wish I had seen Birdman or Foxcatcher instead.   I struggle with the buzz over this film and it would be a great surprise to me to have any of these fine actors nominated for what was a forgettable film for me.  Meryl I have to expect you took on this role to give your daughter (one of the three crazy women) another role.

Incidentally, I also rented Sin City: Dame to Kill For and it was (generally) pretty to look at but also more of a pointless exercise.   This is a loose sequel to the previous film, which was better and you see Bruce Willis more in dream sequences.  Talent like Rosario Dawson is mostly wasted while Powers Boothe is likely the best.  Others like Joseph Gordon Levitt is wasted and Mickey Rourke.   I cannot in good conscience say anything negative about Eva Green as she is for the most part topless in her time on screen – but she plays a highly manipulative women who deserves all that she gets.   In the end it was FREE, as it was a Thursday promo event at RedBox….free movie every Thursday.   So I was only out my time.

I also watched Maleficent and enjoyed this more than I expected to;  expectations can be a marvelous thing.   I had heard that the CGI was excellent but the story only so-so.   I agree with the CGI, especially in the fairy world.   As for the story, I liked the take that they spun here and the journey is goes on.   The actress who plays the princess to me was a little wrong for it – but she interacted well with Angie.   I cared about the people.   Funny that buddy from District 9, where he was a hero is playing a baddie now (like with Elysium with Maaaaaatt Daaaamon).   I always found the animation and the story surrounding Disney’s Sleeping Beauty was weak.  Here gives it more colour and more context to better understand the motivations of the characters.    In all, a much more enjoyable evening in front of the TV than Sin City.
Finally I decided to re-watch 2001: A Space Odyssey given my recent experience with Interstellar.   I can see where Nolan borrowed heavily from the look and feel of 2001 with the music and ballet around the moving spacecraft.   2001 leaves far more to the imagination and leaves you more puzzled.   There is less closure and more interpretation as to what it all really means.   Still it is an iconic film and still holds the test of time (remarkable in this day and age of CGI) and there are some stunning scenes.  I am glad that I own this film so that it can be re-visited time and again.

November 7th, 2014 – Interstellar edition

I saw Interstellar at IMAX last night in a surprisingly crowded but not sold out theatre.   I am thinking that the 9PM start time on a Thursday with an almost three hour movie scared some people away.

This is a long movie but for a review one cannot disclose too much without giving too much away.   In short, I liked this film.  It is still with me this morning and I expect for a while to come.    It is ambitious and explores some very high level themes (where I wonder if Nolan could have an intelligent and reasoned discussion with an astrophysicist on the theory of relativity).   I suspect that he likely can.
The story if you have not gleaned from the trailer is that futuristic Earth is changing and there was past catastrophic event that lead to billions dying.  Dust storms rise and farming (feeding the people left) is more challenging.   Matthew is a single father to two kids.   He ultimately is asked to assist in going on an expedition to find a new home for humanity, the species.   Then he has an adventure that takes you ambitiously through his journey.
There are some stunning visuals here.  Many borrow heavily from 2001: A Space Odyssey.   I feel as though this movie requires a second viewing to put it all in perspective.    This is not unusual for Christopher Nolan with Memento and Inception amongst his films.   Once you know the premise and ultimate result, then you can piece together how it got there later.
At almost 3 hours, this movie is long and can feel long in places.  There are some scenes to me that could have shortened.  This is a big theatre movie.  It has emotion too, and a heart.    The cast and acting are first rate.  I somehow suspect that this film could suffer from being too smart for the general audience.   Those who seek out Pacific Rim and Transformers are likely to walk away scratching their heads and wondering what they just saw.    It remains a film worth watching.

October 14th, 2014

Saw Gone Girl on Monday afternoon in a packed theatre at Yonge and Eglinton during the afternoon.   Seems everyone wanted to digest their holiday meal at the theatre on a gloomy day.

This movie is much hyped and won the Box Office this weekend and last.   The buzz was all over this one, and yet it seemed to fall prey to all this anticipation.
Here we have the arc of a relationship between Ben Affleck and his Wife.   From the beginning at a party where he begins to chat her up, to the the passionate stage and then to marriage and the elements of life.   She is the best thing in the movie.  The performance by Rosamund Pike is very good with a woman who is many things.   Cool, intelligent, calculating, organized, ruthless, beautiful and eccentric.   She is a woman with a Plan, and also a Plan B.   There are her parents who have made a living off books created around her persona.   Then there is the falling apart of the marital relationship and her disappearance.   We have the media getting involved, from the Fox news-like commentary where cases are decided based on how someone looks and acts that day.   Judgments, assumptions and the life evaluation that no one would ever be ready for.    I won’t share anything further on the details of what happens.   Suffice it to say that the film takes a premise and then puts it into overdrive.  Taking it places that you simply would not have expected.   For many that alone will push it over the edge of reason and they will lose their enthusiasm.
I look upon this as a good mirror into the world of today.   Doing everything for the cameras and perception.   Is this really a search for the “truth”?   Or what people “perceive” to be the truth?    Does it really matter if there is a difference?
The media, the “public”, the neighbors – all can be manipulated.  All can have their attitudes swayed.  We are after all a fickle bunch who are quick to make snap judgments and like having neat and clean buckets in which to put people and situations.   But the world is rarely black and white, and there is a whole lot of grey.  Some people just see that form of reality better than others.
I can see a nomination for Pike here.   I do not think that Ben has enough range for a role like this.   The casting of Neil Patrick Harris does not seem to make a lot of sense.
I’ll let you decide.

August 26, 2014

The Lunchbox – I watched this last night.  I thoroughly enjoyed this film.  It is a mature romance with some good comedy.

Both main actors are very good (adult actor from Life of Pi), and I like that they are people and not caricatures.  Had this been a Hollywood film, they would have made it pretty with a bow and resolve it with a Happily Ever After.

Real life isn’t always that way.    It’s an adult film too in that it doesn’t spoon feed you the ending.   This is a simple premise, well told and I am glad that you brought it to my attention.   I would see this again.

There are good supporting characters here, and a glimpse on the surface into life in Mumbai.    Doesn’t make me really want to take a trip there anytime soon.   At the same time, you care about these people.   It shows you how some of the simplest things (the daily task of eating lunch) can become a springboard into another whole new world.    It makes me hungry for naan bread and peas and cheese and curries.

Calvary – not sure if I talked about this one, but it was a furry, smelly mess.   A story with such promise that is derailed by secondary characters who were quality comedians left with nothing to play with.    I am pleased that I avoided the cost of a movie theatre on this one.

Grand Budapest Hotel – a great cast wasted once again.   I am not clear what all the hype was about.   Good to see people like F Murray Abraham again, and Edward Norton and Tilda Swinton.   But OH!   I simply do not get it and the love given to it.

47 Ronin – rented just a couple nights ago.  Keanu being himself in a story that is interesting.  I am still shaking my head at some of the old traditions and the value of “Honour”.   Why risk your life to one who can be so capricious like an Emperor or Ruler?    Why beg for the right to end your life “honourably”?    I need to read Shogun I guess.    Some buddy tells me, I will “let you” take your own life with honour – I would tell him where he could shove it.

Edge of Tomorrow – you may not like Tom Cruise and his movies but I enjoyed this one.   I think that the premise was an interesting one, with a hard reboot every time that Tommy dies.   We avoid the romantic stuff with Emily Blunt, and stay focused on the task at hand; the extinction of the human race.    Pretty high stuff.    And there is Tom acting as an initially scared Recruiter/Promoter of the Good Cause who gets assigned and order to be on the front line offensive.   His reaction is good and the transformation in him is all the more fun.    A movie that stuck with me.    Emily Blunt showed more range here, as not just the pretty face, and they were wise to avoid the romantic attachment that could have been done very poorly (and take away from the serious story).

July 31, 2014

Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.   Shakespeare said that in Henry IV.  And he could just as well be talking about Caesar;  that would be the Ape Leader Caesar in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.    The new film is a marvel of technology and filming in CGI.   Having re-watched Rise of POTA, before seeing this, it is quite remarkable how the stories continue on but are stand alone entities.  You do not need to see one really to watch the second.    Some characters are interactions, true, and stem from the first one (Caesar who freed all the apes from the testing facility) but otherwise a fresh story.     Fresh but not new.

As a story we have a leader of a fledgling society who looks to want peace and harmony.   Family and a life of calm is the desired situation.   Caesar is the leader of the apes in the redwoods outside of San Francisco.   The virus started at the company where his “father” worked has spread throughout the globe and killed most of human kind.    There is a small group of human survivors who have a settlement there.   They are running quickly out of power and need to get their technology working again.   They set out to turn on a dam in the woods and run into the apes.

From there the story gets Shakespearean with the two leaders and underlings trying to work an uneasy truce, where many are suspicious and distrustful and have their own agendas.   Leaders cannot always control their underlings, nor know what they do.   There is family here too, and the son of Caesar who is influenced by others around the leader who have their own life experiences to rationalize and operate under.

I liked this film but I confess that I had a pre-disposition to WANT to like it.   Still it also means that I have higher expectations and hope that they don’t “screw it up”.   In fact, I think that they have done an admirable job here.   Worthy of a second viewing.   Part of me wishes that MORE of the original series and intent would get translated here but that simply is not the case.

Originally Caesar (the son of Zira and Cornelius) is a leader of apes who had been made slaves by the humans.  They were initially pets, because dogs and cats inexplicably died off,  that eventually became slave labour.   All of this began of course when astronauts went out into space and returned to a planet ruled by apes.   As we later found out, the planet had been destroyed by nuclear war by the same humans.   There was plenty of political satire and the judiciary (a court case with ape laws ruling “humans have no rights”) as well as the Minister of Science who doubles as the Minister to Keep the Faith (Dr. Zaius).    I also miss the music of the original.     There is more of an adventure feel with more gun fights and battles.   That’s not necessarily a good thing, but here it works.

Of the movies I have seen so far this summer, this is the one that I like the most.   I am pleased that it lived up to the hype and expectations.

This weekend it was the RedBox rental of The Hobbit 2: the Desolation of Smaug.

I purposely had avoided this movie in the theatres and chosen to wait for when my investment would not be as harsh as a theatre ticket.  Spending $2 for Mr Jackson’s second installment of the slim book was better than $12.

First off, I find this very slow.  It takes forever to get things moving.   As much as the first one drags, and lingers far too long in scenes that could be characters putting on their shoes or cleaning out ear wax, this one continues in the plodding nature of the plot.    There are interminable scenes of walking again.  Or riding horses.   Moving from place to place.   The added bonus was the barrel ride in a rapid river with Orcs all on the sides shooting arrows and trying to kill these dwarves riding on a barrel (I can foresee the amusement park ride already!!!).   Yet amazingly I remember none of this, or even much in this film from the book.   There is much added.   Backstory to tie this one more to the LOTR (the albino Orc talking with the Master and speaking of impending war).    But also the Romeo and Juliet budding romance of dwarf and wood elf!   Poor Orlando Bloom (Legolas), he simply just can’t get the girl and will lose out to a guy half his size (now there is a blow to the ego!).    It is an overblown couple of hours, including the distracting part in the seaport with the slovenly leader who has overseen the erosion of a great City which the dragon took down years ago.   Ah, and then there is Smaug, who FINALLY shows up in the film after 90 minutes.   I never recall him speaking in the book.   But here he is full of conversation and bravado!   The visuals are impressive, but the conversations are not.     I do note an inconsistency in the story where Bilbo when wearing the ring, can hear the spiders talking in English amongst themselves, but not when he takes it off.   Curiously, he can hear the dragon with and without the ring.    In the end, an unsatisfying middle frame with the dragon heading off to destroy the sea city once again and Bilbo saying “What have we done?”    Suffice it to say that I will not rush out to see Hobbit 3.   I really preferred the book over the book series LOTR.  It was everything that LOTR was not; short, and moved along well, with a plot that was focused.   Sadly, it has been made slow and overly descriptive with unimportant sidebars that make it clumsy and weighed down.

Getting back into TV.   Can’t say that I feel the same compulsion as you.   Yet, you always seem  to find these quality foreign series that are intriguing and interesting.    Can’t say that much on this continent is worthy of that.   After Breaking Bad and seeing that in a marathon of sorts, I have not been back to TV, although I would like to catch up on HomeLand, which I do enjoy.   I also would like to follow up (if it has been produced) to the UK series with Gillian Anderson about the serial killer (The Fall).    I did catch the first episode of Turn with Billy Elliot and enjoyed that.  Missed episode 2.   NHL Playoffs are consuming much time!

You mentioned X-Files, and I saw quite a few of those episodes.   I think it was well put together with intriguing stories.  I think that Anderson and Duchovny both were excellent in it.  Played their roles well and were convincing.   There are people not doing enough work (Daniel Day Lewis, Edward Norton, Ryan Gosling) and Anderson comes to mind as well.    She is likely reaching that “over 40” mark which usually means an end to a career for an actress (unless your name is Streep or Dench).   Paging Debra Winger!

On to the review.  I went to see Transcendence in the theatre on Saturday night.   This is the Johnny Depp movie where he plays a brilliant computer engineer (A.I. prophet of sorts) and then has someone take an attempt on his life.   Turns out this person (a small cameo role by the Dumbo-eared actor kid from Witness) is part of a group that has led a well planned terrorist attack on A.I. labs and facilities.     Depp’s close Wife and friend eventually are determined to save him by “uploading” his brain waves/consciousness/thought patterns onto a powerful computer that he had worked on.   The rest is the developing story that pits the competing forces in this modern technological life examination that was explored in Her.   What is consciousness?   Can a computer become self-aware?    What makes us human?   Is there another level of evolution or development available for the human race?     The story is muddled and not terribly focused.   There is a romantic aspect of what is going on, but the real trouble for me is that you don’t really know who the “good guys” are.     Perhaps that’s the point in that there are no black hats to be worn, and all well-intention people who can take a good thing is morph it into something more sinister.    Sinister from a status quo point of view.    One group’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter.   People fear what they do not understand, and after the credits role here, perhaps most people should fear this movie.

There were unexplored and unexplained aspects of this film.  For the most part you had an existing government that turned a blind eye to what was occurring, even when they were offered an open invitation to come inside and look at what was occurring.   But like About Time, there is a point at which that level of disbelief and looking for rational and reasonable explanation should be turned off.    It hurts the brain too much.

Post movie I read some of the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and have to concur.   This is a subject matter clearly worth exploring (Her, Terminator and now this) yet I think it deserves a better story.   The issues are real.   They are timely.    And despite the movie, they shouldn’t be as confusing nor boring at times.

Last weekend I ended up see The Impossible with Naomi Watts and Even MacGregor.   An interesting side story there – we have a guy working at the Bank who has done work in Hollywood (acted in Honey I Shrunk the Kids, and done plenty of stage and screen work.   He hates Donny Osmond from working with him on Joseph and Amazing Dreamcoat.  He says that McGregor and Nicole Kidman got it on during a filming and she got pregnant from it – while she was with Tom.   Then she later had “a schmush-mortion”)  For what it’s worth!  Here in this movie we have the true story based upon a Spanish family, parents and three kids who survive the Tsunami in Thailand at Christmas time a few years back.   I was amazed to see that they used ‘real water’ and not CGI for it.  Impressive and wild getting that on film.   Quite a story – incredible that Buddy would leave his two boys with strangers to watch over while he looked for his Wife.   Remarkable!!  It is a compelling story with some major coincidences.   Still I wonder why the acting couldn’t have been done with Spanish actors?    Why on the Extras do they say that Naomi was “perfect” for the role of the Mom??!

Last night I rented About Time.   This is the (somewhat) romantic comedy about the red headed young man who has men in his family that can travel through  time.   His Father tells him matter-of-factly on his 21st birthday.   It is a casual conversation that trivializes the gift that he has been given.   In many ways you would think that the gift would be better served on something better than “getting a girlfriend”.    There are some decent comedic moments (one in particular is an Extra that was cut from the film about Abbey Road).   You need to suspend your disbelief almost from the beginning.   Things like the Butterfly effect doesn’t get explored – one little change in one place significantly altering everything that happens around it.    Not sure about the chemistry between the leads here with Carrot Top and Rachel McAdams.   Perhaps there is a part of me that thinks she is still with Ryan Gosling.    Anyway.   The last 30 minutes of the film get more serious.  There is an exploration of helping out other family members in various forms.   Ah the troubles with time travel and what happens if you mess with things, or try and press the reset button.   Even if it just for a few moments.   I think that you will find that last section fairly compelling.    The overall message is interesting, yet I still think that such a gift could be better utilized for the greater good.

Last night I saw Lovelace, with a cast that deserved a better movie.   $1.50 rental at Red Box.   Amanda Siefried willing to go topless.   Peter Skaarsgard playing Ike Turner pretty well as the young charmer who turns out to be an abusive controlling guy.   Ironic twist in cameo role with Eric Roberts playing a guy giving Linda a polygraph (Star 80 anyone) and his issues with Hugh Hefner.    Sharon Stone is almost unrecognizable as Linda’s Mom.    Robert Patrick plays the Father.    Other notables sprinkled throughout the cast.    Here is a muddled story that jumps around from  time to time and then back again.  Almost playing itself out as the fairy tale and then the more deep and dark and sinister bits thrown in.   Porn is an ugly business where only the top of the house is making money.   Others would argue this is the same for the entire movie industry.   Here we have darkness and this story, yet no real showing of the BJ ability that had everyone aghast (but no kidding on that front).     Can’t recommend this.   I am going to seek out Senna and see about maybe seeing Noah tomorrow.   Unsure if that is a good idea or not.

As an aside, Traynor in the movie who was married briefly to Lovelace, was later married to Marilyn Chambers who was almost as famous as Lovelace in the same industry.   He must have quite the connections in the business.     Certainly he did not take his own life after Lovelace left him.

Divergent.  I went and saw this last night.  To say that it is looking to springboard off the successes of Twilight and the Hunger Games would be entirely accurate.   Take a young female lead and put her into a futuristic story that involves worldwide domination.   Here, more like Hunger Games it is a futuristic world, where there is Big Brother/1984 organization for a post-war New World where conformity is the societal mantra.

Star Shailene Woodley is very good, but here she has very little to work with.  I like her and think that she was excellent as the eldest daughter to George Clooney in The Descendents.    The story here is pretty basic, yet unexplained for the most part.  As in many situations, you have to put aside logic and just go with it.   Or you are left with questions like:  so they put a wall around Chicago and set up this secular society (in houses much like Harry Potter, here called Factions) but then you don’t have yourself as the leader of all these factions.   Much of the history is foggy.   Or, why as part of this coup that is being undertaken is it necessary to wipe out an entire faction who has shown no weapons nor any aptitude for aggressive tactics?   Where are the adults in the more aggressive and protective faction?

Romantically, there is virtually no chemistry between our two lead performers.  He is channeling Keanu Reeves very well in playing dim and monosyllabic.    The relationship hinted at not-so-subtley early becomes more full blown as expected, and as a father of a 16yo girl I was very happy to see that our heroine actually utters that she does not want to “rush things”.   Thank God!!!   She’s 16!!!!

In the end, the movie as a first installment does not have me clamouring for more.   I feel no  compulsion to buy the books, and will let my daughter read them if she chooses.    I feel no need to see another one, except with the hope that our heroine is put through some more interesting challenges.

In the Trailers, there is the new Shailene movie called The Fault in Our Stars which mirrors it seems A Walk to Remember with a presumably dying young woman with a terminal illness who finds love when she feels it is something that she should not have.   Miss Woodley has cut her hair, but it seems like quite the tear jerker.

June 11th, 2014

So this past weekend I rented from Red Box Three Days to Kill with Kevin Costner.  This movie isn’t really sure what it wants to be.  How many movies do we need to see where the contract killer has had enough and wants to hang it up and get reconnected with his suffering family?   This genre has been done better by others.  And the story makes more sense.   Here Costner after a few coughs and sputters (a movie cliche for a hero with an illness) finds out that he is terminal.   Query whether he could even be walking around with what he is alleged to have.   Anyway, he is approached by an ‘agent’ who wants and needs his skills to eliminate a bad guy.   In exchange, he gets to have an ‘expensive experimental drug’ for his ailment to give him some more time.   And all of it really is cliche through the conversations with the long suffering (ex?) Wife and teenager.   It all comes down to a rather predictable conclusion and another $1.50 spent when I am glad it wasn’t $20.

On to Monument Men, the WWII story of American scholars who follow the war to ensure that art gets protected.  The bad Nazis and Hitler have been gathering up art treasures from all conquered countries and as the War has turned, there is a theory that they will destroy all this art.   Cue the Americans to help save the day.   This was slow.  There were some nice scenes of familiar places like Paris and Brugge Belgium and art that I have seen (like Madonna and Child by Michaelangelo) and other paintings.  Still the contrived ending with the Russians gets a little silly.   Also the female (Cate Banchett) and Matt Damon storyline is weak.   Another $1.50 that I won’t get back and I gained no real insight.   The landing dramatically on the beach in Normandy walking through the water was ridiculous as in July 1944 (a month after D-Day) they would have docked at the port and walked off.   No wet feet required.   Strolling around a park area as well with a War going on is not really a good thing to do either.

June 2, 2014

Saturday night was a chance to see a movie that I had not seen in years.

Decided to watch Clint Eastwood’s Man With No Name and the spaghetti Western The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.

What struck me on viewing was the music by Ennio Morricone and how it adds greatly to the film.   I can hear traces of other movies like The Untouchables and The Mission there which were later done by him.    But it is simply a great score and makes it a much better viewing experience.

The movie is long and you can feel it.   It takes its’ time but there is good development there and a story that moves it all along as one mercenary after another searches for one another and the buried treasure.   IMDB says that the $200K of gold that they were seeking in 2010 dollars would be worth $10MM.

Clint is very good and has some excellent one liners.   Van Cleef plays sinister very well with an unsympathetic villain who will do whatever is necessary to find the gold.   Finally there is Eli Wallach (remarkably still alive as of today!)   He is so very good here, and plays that scoundrel who manipulates and lives for himself looking to gain an upper hand somehow and somewhere.    I had forgotten how funny that this movie was.   There are some good one liners and despite the obvious dubbing for everyone but the three main characters, it does not take away from the film.

I can see how some aspects of story and filming were later borrowed by Clint as a Director for Unforgiven.     This movie shows how the criminal search for treasure film can work and be done simply.    Not fancy sets.  No extensive dialog and in fact I think that there was a motivation to have them say as little as possible.

An evening well spent for when there was no hockey on.   I will catch the latest episode of Turn tonight.

P.S. This movie was released in 1966.   Scary to think that 48 years have passed.  But it still holds up very well.