Starting at 2pm Atlantic on Monday, November 7, drop by www.bittenbybooks.com for the Tesseracts Fifteen launch party. You can post questions for the authors (like ME) and editor to answer. Every question you post earns you more chances to win a $50 Amazon gift card, which will be awarded at 2pm Atlantic on Tuesday when the event ends.
If you go there between 9pm and midnight Atlantic on Monday night and ask wierd questions about helicopters and wind turbines and brain surgery or whatever, I’ll be there to answer them. And you might win a prize. Fun! Yay!
The following other authors will also be dropping by at various times during the event:
Michele Ann Jenkins
So be there or be the square loser who can’t win any free stuff! FREE STUFF!
I really liked the first Cars movie because thematically it was very tight – friends are more important than winning. Cars 2, while fun, doesn’t really have anything new to say. It focuses on Tow Mater, Lightning McQueen’s best friend, as he is mistaken for an international spy and bumbles his way through an investigation like Inspector Gadget. The message is supposed to be something like “just be yourself”, except Tow Mater never had a problem being himself. It looks cool enough that kids will like it, but it lacks the resonance of other Pixar films. You can read my full review of Cars 2 here.
I ike this movie a lot. It’s based on a popular novel and stars Robert Pattinson as a young veterinarian hired by a cut-rate circus to look after their elephant. It’s set in the 1930s, so when he falls in love with the boss’s wife and starts agitating for elephant rights, things get hairy because the circus is owned by Christophe Waltz, who is essentially the same character as in Inglorious Basterds. The elephant is a real elephant and it can really act. That’s the reason you should go and see this movie. You’ll also like it if you’re a fan of Big Fish, as they’re pretty similar in tone and use the same framing device. You can read my full review of Water for Elephants here.
Too many romantic comedies are unfunny phone in jobs, and too many dramas about midlife crises are boring and pretentious. This movie is neither. It’s a romantic comedy-drama that manages to walk the fine line between these two pits of failure without falling in. Steve Carrell stars as a man who’s just gotten a divorce and turns to young stud Ryan Gosling for help re-entering the dating scene. In an ironic twist, said young stud falls in love and need help from the old married guy to win his lady. A good movie for date night or girls’ night, especially if you’re older and looking for something less flighty than the norm.
Every once in a while, I’ll get sick of watching the same old American movies and rent something that focuses on a completely different culture, like Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. It’s a story about two women in 19th century China who are laotong (like best friends from birth). They struggle with things like food binding and pressure to find husbands, which is interesting, but there’s also a parallel storyline of two friends in modern China that kind of takes away from it. Rent it if you’re not expecting to be greatly moved, but if you are, you’re better off with the book version.
I’m a sucker for underdogs, World War II, science fiction, and airplanes, so I loved Captain America. It’s the last Marvel comic book movie before The Avengers and it follows a shrimpy but determined soldier as he gets artificially pumped up and takes on an evil Nazi science division. It’s got the same sort of tone as the movies from that period, but with more depth of character and of course, humor. Rent it. Now. You can read my full review for confirmation of its awesomeness and pictures of Chris Evans in tights.
A lot of older cartoon franchises have been rebooted so they can incorporate modern CGI and 3D and pop culture references (Transformers, Smurfs, Ninja Turtles, etc.) but thankfully Disney resisted the urge to go that route with Winnie the Pooh. The animation is still 2D and the tone is the same. They went back to the original books for the story, which features Pooh and friends having a contest to replace Eyore’s lost tail. This one is good choice for young kids or nostalgic adults, or both.
Attack the Block is like a cross between Alien vs Predator Requiem and Home Alone. In it, a bunch of London teenagers pit their gang against a horde of invading fangy dog type aliens in the ultimate “turf war.” It’s produced by the people who did Shaun of the Dead, so it’s a good choice if you like that dry, British approach to blood and comedy… and you’re a teenager. Their accents are pretty thick, though, so if you’re North American you may find yourself watching it with the subtitles on.
This is another one of those movies where the sequels (or prequels in this case) are more like remakes, since generally speaking no one other than the villain is left alive at the end of any given outing. To continue the story, replace the characters and possibly the setting and repeat. In this one, they changed the vehicle, characters, and season. A group of friends get lost on snowmobiles and take shelter in an abandoned sanatorium (I think I’d rather freeze). Naturally, they are set upon and killed. For horror fans only.
Choosing a movie to see this week was tough, because all three of the major studio offerings looked less than stellar. Paranormal Activity 3 looked unscary, Johnny English Reborn looked unfunny, and The Three Musketeers looked unoriginal. In the end I eliminated Paranormal Acivity because I had done a horror movie last week and I decided to give Three Musketeers the benefit of the doubt, because aren’t all movies based on classic novels a little bit unoriginal? After all, we’ve known the story for ages.
A young swordsman aiming to join the king’s elite guards joins his three heroes in rescuing the queen’s jewels from England to thwart a plot against the monarchy by the evil Cardinal Richelieu.
The trick with an adaptation is not necessarily to follow the book’s storyline exactly (Alexandre Dumas’ novel is rather more complicated than that) but to add something new to the mix that makes it worth seeing over again. Unfortunately, by this rule, this new version of the Three Musketeers is utterly worthless, as I don’t think that there is one original scene in the whole movie.
Ever since The Blair Witch Project, horror filmmakers have been aiming for that holy grail of cheapness plus enormous box office returns. Like the “diary” fad in popular fiction, filming that looks like cheap home movies from the 1990s is supposed to lend a sense of realism. I don’t find it makes much of a difference to me because it’s totally obvious when they’re cutting back and forth between angles that there’s more than one camera in the mix. I liked Blair Witch but I’ve never been interested enough in the Paranormal Activity franchise to bother going to them. This one, which purports to be even prequeler to the prequel Paranormal Activity 2, is unlikely to change that. There’s way too much obvious manipulation going on. These films are supposed to be subtle, but I guess them abandoned subtlety once it was no longer a budgetary requirement.
Another musketeer movie? Really? They must have seen the Pirates of the Caribbean and said to themselves: swords are big right now. Swords and one liners. Where can we get a sword story that we can put some one liners into? Because I’m sure as hell not buying a script. I know – The Three Musketeers! And then Matthew MacFadyen complained to his agent that Johnny Depp got to play all the crazy, bulky-clothed men with swords, and the rest is history. I bet that’s how it happened. I can’t entirely discard the notion of going to see it though, mostly because I do (really really) like Pirates of the Caribbean, and it seems tonally similar to both that and the recent update of Sherlock Holmes, which I also love.
JOHNNY ENGLISH REBORN
I guess this week it’s going to come down to which movie I don’t want to see the least. Paranormal Activity 3 looks only mildly scary, Three Musketeers looks only mildly original, and now there’s Johnny English Reborn, which looks only mildly funny. I don’t know what possessed them to make a sequel after eight years – perhaps that’s how long it took to find a script Rowan Atkinson could live with, or maybe they had the script all that time and had to wait eight years to get on his schedule. Either way they were beaten to the punch of relaunching the hilarious spy movie genre by Get Smart, which was actually smart comedy-wise. This movie looks disappointingly dumb. I mean, getting kicked in the nuts jokes in the trailer? Really?
A DUMMER’S DREAM
I wasn’t going to mention this one because it’s a small time documentary that’s only playing on Thursday in a couple of theaters, but I have to do a brief mention because my musician brother might be interested. He doesn’t play drums himself but one of his friends would probably eat a baby if it got him a ticket to a camp like this. And that concludes my mention of this film.
DOWN THE ROAD AGAIN
And because I am a Cape Bretoner, I’m morally obligated to feature this film about Cape Breton. I admit it does look mildly funny and the acting’s not too bad, but frig, that old guy is annoying. I don’t think I could stand to watch him for two hours without wanting to leap through the screen and strangle him with those stupid things hanging from his windscreen.
And finally, the Cape Breton Film Series is showing Submarine. It’s yet another indie movie about a teenager from a broken home trying to get laid. But you shouldn’t necessarily hold that against it, because it’s British and it’s a comedy. Check out the trailer and decide for yourself. The show is at 7pm on Thursday at the Empire Theaters in Sydney.
I haven’t seen the original Thing, but I have seen the episode of The X-Files that was based on it. It was pretty creepy. I’ve always found other people to be scarier than monsters, so this is kind of the perfect scare: people that ARE monsters. But is that really how they figure out the monster has taken someone over? “Oh, there’s some blood, but no one is bleeding. OBVIOUSLY someone was killed and then reanimated as an alien monster!” I dunno about you, as a rational person that would not be my first guess. I hope they just shortened that sequence for the trailers. Oh, and if they let the monster eat that dog, I’m going to be mad.
Hey, look, both of the major movies coming out this week are remakes from the 1980s. That’s… terrible. Actually, it’s probably a sign of things to come. Pretty soon there will be no new movies – only remakes. That in itself will be a horror movie. Anyway – Footloose. Now, I have not seen the original Footloose. I keep thinking I have, but that’s only because I keep getting it confused with Dirty Dancing. Having said that, I don’t remember there being any explosions in the original Footloose. Perhaps that, too, is a sign of the times. You can’t even make a dancing movie without blowing something up.
THE BIG YEAR
Jack Black’s character in this movie is the quintessential college grad having a quarter life crisis, farting around trying to figure out what do do with his life, except for the fact that Jack Black is like 40, which pushes him into creepy pathetic loser territory. I think he just forgot to stop playing those roles when he got too old and everyone was too nice to tell him to get a life. After that first big flock of birds, they seem to forget that the movie is about bird watching. In fact, they seem to forget that the movie is about anything other than Jack Black, Steve Martin, and Owen Wilson throwing out jokes. There is a plot (they’re competing to spot rare birds off a list) but you would never know it from the trailer. I suspect you’d never know it from the movie, either. It’ll just be the three of them competing for audience attention like the big hams they are.
I shouldn’t really count this one, because it’s coming out on DVD at the same time, but I had to, because oh my God, the William Shatner self love just NEVER ENDS. Captain Kirk died (several times) in the show, but that has not deterred William Shatner. He successfully had Kirk resurrected for Generations. He writes books about Captain Kirk. He pushed J.J. Abrams to bring old Kirk back for the new Star Trek movie like they did for Spock. Thankfully they didn’t listen, but that didn’t stop Shatner from accepting the Scream Award on behalf of the film. Now he’s directing a film about himself! I bet they only added the other captains into the mix to try and disguise the fact that Shatner’s in love with himself (note: it didn’t work). I won’t see this movie, because after about fifty seconds into the three minute trailer, I was bored. That does not bode well.
THE MAIDEN DANCED TO DEATH
This movie is a co-pro between Canada, Hungary, and Slovenia that takes place in China and Ireland, judging from the music. Maybe they’re going for some sort of international relations award. Apparently it’s filmed in several languages too so everyone has to take a turn at reading (now that’s fairness for you). Despite that the fact that the trailer is way too long (three whole minutes, practically an eternity) I still have no idea what the movie is about, or even what the tone is. There are two brothers (one of whom is incredibly blank-faced), some dancing, (but no one seems to die of it) and a couple of guys with sticks. None of it makes any sense. I hate it already.
And in other news, the Cape Breton Film Series is showing Life Above All. It’s a depressing/uplifting drama about a twelve year old girl in Africa who has to handle everything on her own. Looks pretty good. Click here to watch the trailer and decide for yourself. The show is at 7pm on Thursday at the Empire Theaters in Sydney.
Normally, I love science fiction and superhero movies, but Green Lantern was a big letdown. Ryan Reynolds plays a jerkoff Air Force test pilot who inherits a ring from a dying alien that makes him a member of an intergalactic police force that’s trying to stop a giant pyroclastic cloud of evil from enveloping Earth. His powers enable him to make anything he can think of out of green energy, which is exactly as stupid as it sounds. Easily the dumbest superhero movie this year. Check out my full Green Lantern review for more details.
Horrible Bosses is basically 9 to 5 for the grossout comedy crowd, but since no one remembers 9 to 5, they can get away with it. Three idiots get together to moan about their awful bosses and jokingly attempt to have them bumped off, except their plans go awry when their reconnaissance mission ends in the actual death of one of their bosses. There’s a bit too much emphasis on butt jokes, but it still manages to be funny. Most guys and anyone who liked The Hangover will like it, everyone else will merely not hate it. You can read my full Horrible Bosses review for more.
I know a lot of people who wanted to see this movie but never got a chance because it hardly came to any theaters. If this sounds like you, now’s your chance to see The Tree of Life. It’s a meandering epic about a trio of boys growing up in the 1950s and their resulting disillusionment as adults. It’s written and directed by Terrence Malick (the same guy who did the unfortunately boring epic The New World) so make sure you know what you’re getting into. You’ll likely either think it’s moving to the point of genius or pretentious, boring and pointless. There aren’t many people who occupy a middle ground on this one.
Zookeeper also comes out this week, but that movie is so confused and lame that I’d rather feature Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer. Judy Moody is a very popular book series among younger girls, so if you know a girl in Grade 3 or lower, this is a good bet to entertain her. Despite the fact that it’s written for eight year olds, it’s got the same level of sophistication (i.e. not sophisticated at all) as Diary of a Wimpy Kid. The storyline follows Judy, her brother Stink, and her cool aunt as they try to pack the summer full of adventurous challenges. More installments are sure to follow if it does well.
I was up in the air as to what to see this week. On one hand there were cute dolphins and on the other hand there was an oddly enticing math-based baseball movie. In the end, Dolphin Tale won out over Moneyball, mostly because I couldn’t convince anyone to come see Moneyball with me. After hearing that it was produced by the people who made The Blind Side and directed by the guy who did Air Bud, I had high hopes that Dolphin Tale would be both cute and moving. The storyline revealed in the trailers seemed to bear that out:
A lonely young boy befriends a crippled dolphin he finds tangled in a crab trap and helps it learn to swim again with a prosthetic tail.
You’d have to try pretty hard to make a story about a cute animal overcoming a disability fail to move people – especially kids – to tears, but now that I’ve seen Dolphin Tale, I’m sad to report that it is possible. Dolphin Tale writers Karen Janszen and Noam Dromi managed to take the true story of Winter the dolphin and muddy it up with enough subplots and triteness to make it fall flat.
Call me crazy, but I actually do want to see this movie. And no, it’s not because it has Brad Pitt in it. I never really understood the whole “Brad Pitt” thing. And it’s definitely not because of Jonah Hill. I hate that guy. It’s not the baseball factor, either. It’s the world’s second most boring game (golf is #1). Could it be because of… math? After barely scraping by second year calculus in college (thanks, Jenny) I thought I was done with math, but there’s really nothing else it could be. I just want to see them make a baseball team with math. Me wanting to see a math movie may actually be a sign of the apocalypse. Call the National Guard, I think the world is about to end.
Ah, and so it begins – the attempts to cash in on the popularity of Twilight by hiring its lead actors to be in unimaginative genre films that will go straight to the $5 bin upon their release on DVD. I’m actually surprised that they waited this long. The idea behind the film isn’t too bad (it’s ripped off of The Face on the Milk Carton, a popular YA book) but the execution… so bad. You can tell just from the trailer. “Sometimes I feel different” (no sh** Sherlock, you’re a teenager) “Why would my picture end up on a missing persons website” (um, because you’re a missing person?) Apparently they didn’t think to include his NAME on said website, if he’s asking for it a few seconds later (in a flat, blank way characteristic of bad actors). Even the title is bad: “there’s an abduction in it, let’s just call it Abduction.” No thank you.
Hee hee, it’s clever because it’s called Dolphin Tale and it’s about a dolphin’s tail! Get it? In all seriousness, though, I will probably see this movie because I have a crippling weakness for cute kids and cuddly animals. It’s like Free Willy, only a dolphin, and the story is true. Winter the dolphin even plays herself! Also, it’s not from the 1990s, which means a blessed lack of neon outfits and Jason James Richter. Those Blind Side people made this movie, though, so it’s probably going to make everyone cry. Just putting that out there in case you’re one of those parental units who feel like they have to spirit their children out of the theater at the faintest suggestion of sadness. Stick around and see the happy ending instead.
In the beginning of the trailer, I was interested. I thought it would be one of those journalist expose movies about tracking down difficult truths in wartime, but funny. And then it took a left turn into nuttytown and I was like “… what?” When I saw that it was made by the Trailer Park Boys people, I finally understood what was going on. Or rather, I understood that the people who made this movie had no idea what was going on. Seriously, from watching this trailer it’s obvious that they can’t even decide whether they’re making a point or not. Serious moments, ridiculous moments, all combined into a confusing soup. At least Trailer Park Boys knew it was dumb. This movie thinks it’s smart. I doubt it is. After all, it was made by the Trailer Park Boys guy.
“You and I got a lot in common.” It’s true, they’re both unattractive British actors who star in a lot of terrible action movies. And they both look stupid with facial hair. Oh, and let’s add Robert DeNiro into the mix for extra unattractiveness and cliches. And just so everyone knows it’s riddled with cliches, let’s throw in some cheesy one liners: “This guy is good!” “You have no idea!” “The gloves are off!” “This ends today!” This trailer gives no indication as to what the story is about, so I have to assume there isn’t one. It’s just a two hour montage of terrible mustachioed one-liners and things exploding. It’s supposed to be based on a true story, but this does not seem like the type of story that gets around, if you know what I mean. As in: no witnesses live to tell the tale of how half the city got destroyed.
And in other news, the Cape Breton Film Series is showing Jane Eyre. It’s an excellent adaptation of one of my favorite classic books. It’s already out on DVD, but if you want to see it on the big screen you can go to the Empire Theaters in Sydney this Thursday evening at 7pm. Click here to see my trailer review of it. I recommend seeing it and THEN re-reading the book. It really enhances the experience.
If you want to rent an animated movie for your kids, there are buckets and buckets of them to choose from. A lot of them are stupid, but this one isn’t. It’s about a blue macaw from Minnesota who can’t fly but is the last male of his kind. He’s sent to Rio to mate with the last female of his kind, and thanks to smugglers, Carnival, and salsa dancing they actually end up falling in love. It’s your standard “tough broad, wimpy guy” setup, except blue, and there are monkey pickpockets. I had a lot of fun watching it, so get it even if you haven’t got a kid to hide behind. Read the full Rio review here.
Yes, I know The Vampire Diaries is loaded with teen angst and vampires. I realize that some of the “teens” are in their thirties. But all the same, I have confession to make: I’m totally addicted to this show. It’s far superior to the hackneyed books by L.J. Smith they’re supposedly based on, and the characters have a lot more depth than some other vampire teens I could mention. I warn you, since every episode ends in a cliffhanger, you won’t be able to watch just one. Start at the beginning and work your way forward if you have room in your TV watching schedule for some crack.
If you’ve ever thought to yourself, while watching Kyle Reese rescue Sarah Connor in The Terminator, that you wish Kyle would tie Sarah up in a barn and cut her for a while as a six year old watched, than this is the movie for you. Me, I can’t watch my hero be psychotic. Bereavement leans a bit more toward torture porn than I’d like (emotional torture, though, not blood-and-guts Saw style torture) and I cannot fathom why a serial killer would kidnap a little boy and make him witness murders, but watching this movie is a great way to lose about a week of sleep.
Of all the teen dramas that we ever made, something like 90% of them feature a prom. The others feature a homecoming dance or winter ball. The gimmick with this movie is that instead of the prom being the setting for the dramatic breakup/showdown/romantic kiss element of an otherwise unconnected plot, the prom is the entire movie. Who are you taking? What’s the decorating theme? Who’s paying for the limo? Will the pretty people kiss each other? These are the central questions. Teen girls dreaming of their own prom will love it. Almost everyone else will be bored.