Saturday, December 22, 2012

This is 40: Movie Review

Dragging out unfunny comedy with rude characters.

The supporting characters of “Knocked Up” (2007) have matured. Married couple Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) are turning 40. This does not mean that writer, director Judd Apatow has matured. It’s a bit more of a dramedy than some of his other comedic adventures but it’s still his typical low-brow humour spread out for over two hours. The characters are older, more assured in who they are, but their responses to life are less cultured. 2012

Directed by: Judd Apatow

Screenplay by: Judd Apatow

Starring: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Maude Apatow, and Iris Apatow

Friday, December 21, 2012

Hyde Park on Hudson: Movie Review


Through one affair, one perfect friendship is formed at the beautiful Hyde Park on Hudson.
In 1939, King George VI (Samuel West) and Queen Elizabeth (Olivia Colman) made the trek across the ocean to visit American President Franklin D. Roosevelt (Bill Murray) at “Hyde Park on Hudson”. It was the first trip of its kind and tensions were high. First Lady Eleanor and Mother Roosevelt expected perfection, and the Queen (the eventual Queen Mother) also expected perfection. Roosevelt was in no shape to deliver perfection. 2012

Directed by: Roger Michell

Screenplay by: Richard Nelson

Starring: Laura Linney, Bill Murray, Samuel West and Olivia Colman

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Looper: Movie Review


Struggles to find anything to ruminate on when using time travel to go from action to drama.
“Looper” has supposedly redesigned the science fiction genre. Maybe it’s just me but I don’t think it’s unusual for such a film to highlight style over substance. Time travelling has been done before, the battle between current self and future self has been done before, and wanting to choose the love of a good woman over a violent career path has been done before. Maybe the style is better, but that is for somebody else to debate. 2012

Directed by: Rian Johnson

Screenplay by: Rian Johnson

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Cabin in the Woods: Movie Review


Twisting the horror genre to make it smart and funny as well as gory.
First disclaimer: I don’t like horror movies. Second disclaimer: I had no intention of watching this until it picked up a few original screenplay nominations and under the “comedy” genre. A horror-comedy, now we’re talking. “The Cabin in the Woods” is not just a comedy in the vain of going over-the-top with the horror; it’s a comedy in the sense that they’re insulting humankind, horror filmmakers, and what humankind is going to become because of horror filmmakers. 2011

Directed by: Drew Goddard

Screenplay by: Joss Whedon, Drew Goddard

Starring: Kristen Connolly, Fran Kanz, Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford

Friday, December 7, 2012

Anna Karenina: Movie Review


A beautiful production that transforms Anna Karenina into a modern woman.
Ladies and gentlemen, please take your seats; the play is about to begin. And thus, with the curtains drawn back, the ingenuity, creativity and brilliance of Joe Wright's “Anna Karenina” begins. By taking it out of an unforgiving landscape and placing it inside a theatre to unfold on an infinite stage, but keeping it in 1870s Russia, we have a true-to-source story that can be adapted for our modern enjoyment. 2012

Directed by: Joe Wright

Screenplay by: Tom Stoppard
Based on the novel by Leo Tolstoy

Starring: Keira Knightley, and Jude Law

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Cloud Atlas: Movie Review

Three hours with one bad idea and six boring stories does not add up to a good movie.

“Cloud Atlas” is one of those epic movies interweaving completely different vignettes into a seemingly harmonious whole. To me, the big problem comes with the fact that these six stories are not connected by a related, comprehensive story. They are only connected by an idea - a single, religion based, uniformed idea. And that cannot carry an entire movie, let alone a three-hour long movie. And it’s not harmonious. The cutting back and forth of the stories is very uneven. 2012

Directed by: Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, and Lana Wachowski

Screenplay by: Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, and Lana Wachowski

Starring: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, and Doona Bae

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Killing Them Softly: Movie Review


Disguising a brilliant take on the American economy with a convoluted gangster plot.
Set after the 2008 presidential election between John McCain’s “Country first” and Barack Obama’s “Change we can believe in” platforms, “Killing Them Softly” is about living the American dream, the downfall of the American economy, and the difference between a country and a business. But you would be forgiven if you didn’t find that storyline very evident. Those are just ideas not plot lines. 2012

Directed by: Andrew Dominik

Screenplay by: Andrew Dominik

Starring: Brad Pitt, and Scoot McNairy

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Silver Linings Playbook: Movie Review


Showing us the silver linings of life with funny, entertaining and inspirational results.
Pat (Bradley Cooper) has just been signed out of the Karel Psychiatric Facility by his mother in Baltimore, Maryland after an 8-month court-ordered stint from bipolar disorder with mood swings. But it’s okay, he’s good now (at least he insists that he is). He has a plan for his life — his “Silver Linings Playbook”. He thinks he just has to get in shape, read Nikki’s entire high school syllabus, get his job back, and then he’ll get back together with his ex-wife. 2012

Directed by: David O. Russell

Screenplay by: David O. Russell
Based on the novel by Matthew Quick

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Jennifer Lawrence and Jacki Weaver

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Sessions: Movie Review

An adult man coming-of-age with sex therapy, personal guidance and false sympathy.

Crowned as the King of Independent Cinema, John Hawkes is starring in what was supposed to be the indie movie of the year. “The Sessions” is about the true story of Mark O’Brien a man left debilitated after suffering from Polio as a child. He works as a journalist, spends his time being taken care of by a personal nurse and goes to church for spiritual inspiration and guidance. And in 1988, decides it’s the year he’s going to lose his virginity. 2012

Directed by: Ben Lewin

Screenplay by: Ben Lewin

Starring: John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy and Moon Bloodgood

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Life of Pi: Movie Review

Telling a life story with imagination and visual entertainment.

Life of Pi is better than “this year’s Hugo”. It has a story. A simple story but a global one that pulls you in and then lets you marvel at the epic cinematography and impressive visuals. Pi (Irfan Khan), as a middle-aged man, retells the story of how he became the man he is today, and how he got the name “Pi”. He was named after a swimming pool in Paris, the Piscine Molitar. This has brought him both grief and happiness. 2012

Directed by: Ang Lee

Screenplay by: David Magee
Based on the novel by Yann Martel

Starring: Suraj Sharma, Irfan Khan and Rafe Spall

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Flight: Movie Review


Character study boldly blurring the lines of life, happiness and right and wrong.
Beginning Awards Season with a crash (in a good way), “Flight” eschews the general desire to turn a plane crash into either a dramatic sob-fest or a suspenseful thriller. What we have here is a character study, plain and simple. It doesn’t cower under the idea that your lead character needs to be sympathetic. He’s not. It’s dramatic but it’s also ambiguous without ever purposely leading the audience astray. I can’t say the same about the trailer. 2012

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis

Screenplay by: John Gatins

Starring: Denzel Washington, Kelly Reilly and Don Cheadle

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Lincoln: Movie Review

Reducing the impact by drawing out history with false sentimentality.

“Lincoln” focuses on the months leading up to the historical vote on the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to ban slavery. This is of course during the curtain call of the Civil War. This being a Steven Spielberg movie means that he has decided to frame the entire movie with war shots — just because he can, and probably because it adds a few million dollars more to the budget. The production design really was epically beautiful contrasting the closed in nature of the attempts to procure votes. 2012

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Screenplay by: Tony Kushner
Based on the book by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, and Tommy Lee Jones

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Paperboy: Movie Review

In southern Florida where a racial murder case turns into a coming-of-age character study.

“The Paperboy” has received some harsh criticism, not just divisive but mostly negative reviews. I’m happy to provide an opposite perspective but it is worth mentioning that most critiques seem to come from a superficial point-of-view. Anita (Macy Gray) as the narrator takes us down to small town life in Florida in the late 1960s where she worked as a maid for the white, upper class Jansen family. Nothing is as it seems. 2012

Directed by: Lee Daniels

Screenplay by: Lee Daniels, Peter Dexter
Based on the novel by Peter Dexter

Starring: Zac Efron, Matthew McConaughey, and Nicole Kidman

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Smashed: Movie Review

Deteriorating relationship drama with realism and questionable humour.

“Smashed” stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Kate a twenty-something alcoholic who has finally had enough of her drug and alcohol-fuelled lifestyle. The good thing is that it’s not presented as a superficial inspirational drama. The bad part is that that means that Kate is pretty unlikable from beginning to end. She goes to work as a school teacher while hung-over and concocts a lie about being pregnant when she can’t keep the contents of her stomach down. 2012

Directed by: James Ponsoldt

Screenplay by: James Ponsoldt

Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aaron Paul, and Nick Offerman

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Arbitrage: Movie Review

Intelligence of a character study and the intrigue of a thriller.

In “Arbitrage”, Robert Miller (Richard Gere) is a rich, successful business man and family man. Except he’s not as perfect as he seems. He’s involving his business in illegal fraudulent activities and he has a mistress on the side. While everyone is singing his praises at his 60th birthday party, and news journalists want to do reports on how smart, business-savvy and successful he is, Julie (Laetitia Casta) is complaining that he isn’t with her when she wants him to be. 2012

Directed by: Nicholas Jarecki

Screenplay by: Nicholas Jarecki

Starring: Richard Gere, Brit Marling, and Susan Sarandon

Friday, November 2, 2012

Seven Psychopaths: Movie Review


Finding the middle ground between comedy, violence and psychopaths.
Depending on how you count, there really are seven psychopaths. Also depending on how you count, there could be more, which is a good thing because Marty – the lead character played by Colin Farrell not the screenwriter Martin McDonagh – can use as many as he can find. Marty (Colin Farrell) is an alcoholic Irish screenwriter suffering from writer’s block since Hollywood’s needs and his ideals do not match up at all. 2012

Directed by: Martin McDonagh

Screenplay by: Martin McDonagh

Starring: Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Foreverland: Movie Review

Dragging out a road trip to eventually get to an interesting place in life.

“Foreverland” is a relationship drama road trip movie. And I know what you’re thinking, you’ve seen it before. Yes, pretty much, but it does have some refreshing twists even though it takes them too long to get there. It starts with Will (Max Thieriot) a young man with cystic fibrosis shopping for coffins. He has that twisted sense of humour which we’re supposed to find endearing. 2011

Directed by: Max McGuire

Screenplay by: Shawn Riopelle, Max McGuire

Starring: Max Thieriot, Laurence Leboeuf

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Art of the Steal: Documentary Review

The greatest theft ever committed.

“The Art of the Steal” is about not only the greatest art theft in the world, but probably the greatest crime ever committed. And at this point, let’s define “greatest”. In this sense, “great” means 2009

Directed by: Don Argott
comparatively large in size or number, unusual or considerable in power or intensity, and of an extreme or notable degree. It does not mean wonderful, first-rate, or good. This theft wasn’t even deemed a crime in the first place and was committed by mobsters, city of Philadelphia politicians, and educators.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Argo: Movie Review

Marriage of history and entertainment as Argo becomes a run-away hit.

“Argo” starts with the history of the Iran hostage crisis of 1979 when Islamist students and militants stormed the American Embassy in Tehran and 6 American diplomats escaped with their lives and found temporary salvation in the home of the Canadian Ambassador. It was enough history to educate us but not too much to lose viewer’s interest. Like most stories, things start getting entertaining when the film moves to Hollywood. 2012

Directed by: Ben Affleck

Screenplay by: Chris Terrio
Based on an article and book.

Starring: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Girl in Progress: Movie Review

A coming-of-age story told by the book is good, smart and enjoyable.

Coming-of-age films are a dime-a-dozen and, surprisingly, good coming-of-age films are also a dime-a-dozen – providing they have the right hook and the right leading teenager. That’s exactly why “Girl in Progress” can neatly fit itself in-line with other memorable and good, but not great, teenage girl films. Ansiedad (Cierra Ramirez) is a snarky teenager, fed up with her immature mother (for good reason) and rebels at home and at school because she’s got nothing better to do. 2012

Directed by: Patricia Riggen

Screenplay by: Hiram Martinez

Starring: Cierra Ramirez and Eva Mendes

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Perks of Being a Wallflower: Movie Review

Uplifting teenage drama with humour, heart and soul.

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is self-adapted from Steven Chbosky’s novel of the same name. While I frequently like reading the novel first to gain more insight into the art of the adaptation, and also to read good books, I stayed clear from this one since it was written as a series of letters. The protagonist writes one letter after another and such works can seem choppy at best. As a film, letter writing can be a useful tool to understand the inner turmoil of characters and here Perks feels very fluid. 2012

Directed by: Steven Chbosky

Screenplay by: Steven Chbosky
(Based on his book)

Starring: Logan Lerman, Ezra Miller and Emma Watson

Sunday, October 7, 2012

People Like Us: Movie Review

Overly dramatic people that you won't like or care for.

Sam (Chris Pine) is estranged from his father because he thinks he cared more about his job than his son. Frankie (Elizabeth Banks) is estranged from her father because he abandoned her shortly after she was born. When the father dies, Sam learns for the first time that he has a half-sister, a single mother who has been left more on her own than he was. “People Like Us” is Sam’s journey to connect with his new relatives after a sum of money is left in the will for Frankie. 2012

Directed by: Alex Kurtzman

Screenplay by: Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jody Lambert

Starring: Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Won't Back Down: Movie Review


Poorly marketed, received drama trying to fight the good fight.

Jamie Fitzpatrick (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is a single mother trying to hold down two jobs, struggling to afford a good education for her daughter. “Won’t Back Down” is her fight to change the public school system. Joining her is a strong, tough, independent disenchanted black teacher, Nona Alberts (Viola Davis). It’s a drama poorly marketed as anti-union propaganda and was just as poorly received. 2012

Directed by: Daniel Barnz

Screenplay by: Brin Hill, Daniel Barnz

Starring: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Master: Movie Review


Destructive forces taking us on an historical ride through the allure of cults.

Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) is a sexually-frustrated World War II Navy vet who struggles to find his place in the world when he returns to America. He excels at mixing highly-toxic liquids into consumable alcoholic concoctions and seducing women, but neither are self-fulfilling careers. Then he meets The Master, Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a charismatic cult leader perfecting his writing and theories. 2012

Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson

Screenplay by: Paul Thomas Anderson

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Pitch Perfect: Movie Review


Romance to cheer for, low-grade comedy, but musical numbers both predictable and perfect.

“Pitch Perfect” is kind of like taking “Glee” and putting it into a college environment, but is more like mixing the popularity of “Bridesmaids”-styled humour and the popularity of a cappella singing. The Barden Bellas are a struggling all-girl singing group trying to succeed with old-school female pop songs and bikini bodies, but after an on-stage meltdown, the team is left with two high-strung seniors and is forced to rebuild. 2012

Directed by: Jason Moore

Screenplay by: Kay Cannon
Based on the novel by Mickey Rapkin

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Skylar Astin, and Rebel Wilson

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Trouble with the Curve: Movie Review


One great character, good comedic chemistry, but many simple turns.

“Trouble with the Curve” starts with Gus (Clint Eastwood) and his curmudgeonly ways going about his job as a baseball scout. The jokes about being old and losing his sight and getting up to pee in the middle of the night aren’t very funny, but the introduction of John Goodman as his boss and best friend, and then Amy Adams as his daughter Mickey, help heighten the level of jokes. 2012

Directed by: Robert Lorenz

Screenplay by: Randy Brown

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

For a Good Time, Call...: Movie Review


Crass and crude but sweet and cute, this female friendship is funny and enjoyable.
Lauren (Lauren Miller) and Katie (Ari Graynor) have a mutual friend (Justin Long), but they hate each other. A humorous flashback scene is included to help explain their hatred. Essentially, they’re opposites. Lauren lives the settled conservative life with her perfect, boring boyfriend; Katie is an adventurous, flamboyant sex phone operator. And now their current situations force them to become roommates. 2012

Directed by: Jamie Travis

Screenplay by: Lauren Miller, Katie Anne Naylon

Starring: Lauren Miller, Ari Graynor, and Justin Long

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Celeste & Jesse Forever: Movie Review


A new take on a sweet and funny romantic comedy overtaken by unlikable characters.
Celeste (Rashida Jones) and Jesse (Andy Samberg) are best friends forever. They dated in high school then they got married and they love each other more than anything else in the world. Now they’re getting divorced. It’s a romantic comedy type story told backwards, kind of. It’s not about how Celeste and Jesse fell in love, it’s about how they’re going to move on. 2012

Directed by: Lee Toland Krieger

Screenplay by: Rashida Jones, and Will McCormack

Starring: Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Compliance: Movie Review


Straight-forward approach to the realistic depravity of mankind.
“Compliance” is about how far people will go to a voice of authority. Sandra (Ann Dowd) the manager at a fast food restaurant is called by an Officer Daniels (Pat Healy) and is told to interrogate and search the young employee Becky (Dreama Walker). It’s yet another example of the Milgram experiment in real life. The drama is not just based on one true event, but a true event that occurred 70 times. 2012

Directed by: Craig Zobel

Screenplay by: Craig Zobel

Starring: Ann Dowd, and Dreama Walker

Friday, September 14, 2012

Lola Versus: Movie Review


The new generation of girls who don't have anything better to do
than complain about love, sex, life and sex again.

Lola (Greta Gerwig) has a hard time finding her place in the world. So does the film. What starts out as a romantic comedy-styled drama, turns into a sex comedy, and then tries to find its way as a character study. But the character of Lola will turn off some before the film gets going and bore others who have already solved her life’s problems. 2012

Directed by: Daryl Wein

Screenplay by: Daryl Wain, Zoe Lister-Jones

Starring: Greta Gerwig

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Scalene: Movie Review


Following three interesting characters until it loses its edge.

There are essentially three characters in “Scalene”. And with respect to the writers for their rather ingenious title, we can pretend there are three points of view. The first half of the film is spent with the mother, but mostly told backwards in time. She’s seeking justice and revenge for the incarceration of her mentally-handicapped son charged with rape. Then we hear from the son and then the abused girl herself.   2011

Directed by: Zack Parker

Screenplay by: Brandon Owens, and Zack Parker

Starring: Margo Martindale, Hannah Hall and Adam Scarimbolo

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Goats: Movie Review


A quirky comedy turns into a coming-of-age dramedy and gets a little lost on the way.

What starts out as a silly comedy quickly descends into a fairly average coming-of-age dramedy. But after reading an interview with the director, “Goats” is very clearly a coming-of-age dramedy; it’s just the marketers that would like to pretend that it’s a quirky comedy – usually an easier sell for indies. The change in genre is both good and bad news for the audience. 2012

Directed by: Christopher Neil

Screenplay by: Mark Poirier
Based on the novel by Mark Poirier

Starring: Graham Phillips, David Duchovny, Vera Farmiga and Ty Burrell

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Words: Movie Review

Unwrites characters who are well acted but provide very little substance.
Clay Hammond (Dennis Quaid) is reading an excerpt from his latest book “The Words”. Rory Jansen (Bradley Cooper) is accepting an award for his successful first published novel “The Window Tears”. Quaid then serves as a narrator for a movie that does not need a narrator. Mostly because nothing happens and when something does happen, we know exactly what it is because we’ve been anticipating it for half the movie. 2012

Directed by: Brian Klugman, and Lee Sternthal

Screenplay by: Brian Klugman, and Lee Sternthal

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana

Monday, September 3, 2012

Killer Joe: Movie Review


Perverted maturity and twisted humour take us through Texas and the chillingly evil plot.

A dirt road at night in Texas; the sky is dark blue, pitch black, and a streak of lightning flashes across the sky. A clunker of a car rumbles down the road and turns into a trailer park. An under-fed dog, chained out front, barks his head off, and Chris (Emile Hirsch) is banging on the door in the pouring rain, demanding Dottie to let him in. Dottie (Juno Temple) is pretending to sleep, a desire to be innocent keeping her in bed. 2011

Directed by: William Friedkin

Screenplay by: Tracy Letts

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Juno Temple, and Emile Hirsch

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Hit and Run: Movie Review


A guy's movie for girls with good action, comedy and romance.
"Hit and Run" is an action, comedy, romance, and for the first time in a long time, that's exactly what it is, and in three equal parts. The romance pits Charlie (Dax Shepard) and Annie (Kristen Bell) as a small town couple in love. She's up for her dream job in Los Angeles. The action starts when Charlie drives her to LA in his home-built classic car wtih an engine that all hillbillies desire. 2012

Directed by: David Palmer, and Dax Shepard

Screenplay by: Dax Shepard

Starring: Dax Shepard, Kristen Bell, Bradley Cooper and Tom Arnold

Friday, August 31, 2012

Take Me Home: Movie Review


Simple road trip romantic comedy taking the expected route.
"Take Me Home" is from husband and wife team Sam and Amber Jaeger and is an adult romantic comedy about hitting the road. Thom (Sam Jaeger) lives a destitute life of lies unable to get a job or pay rent and illegally drives a taxi to make some quick cash. Claire (Amber Jaeger) is a successful business woman newly separated from her husband and feeling the pain of her childhood separation from her father. 2011

Directed by: Sam Jaeger

Screenplay by: Samg Jaeger

Starring: Sam Jaeger, and Amber Jaeger