The premise of Chernobyl Diaries was good – a group of idiot tourists decide to visit the irradiated site of a Ukrainian nuclear reactor meltdown and (surprise!) have horrible things happen to them. But instead of letting the debilitating radiation sickness have its day, Chernobyl Diaries feels the need to fill the abandoned town with radiation mutants, turning it into just another crappy monster flick (and insulting radiation victims while they’re at it). You can read my full review for more detail or just trust me and skip it.
Madagascar is not my favorite cartoon franchise, largely because the incessant use of the “Move It Move It” song makes me want to drill into my own brain. This same crippling flaw is also what most appeals to kids (especially the under 5s) so this is an ideal movie to rent for your kids… as long as you’re going to be out of the room. It picks up from where Madagascar 2 left off: which four zoo animals trying to get home to New York. This time they join a European circus and are hunted by the French police equivalent of Cruella DeVille.
This is one of those movies where you either love it or you hate it. You can guess whether or not you will love it or hate it by consulting your feelings on Wes Anderson’s other movies. If quirky, awkward characters, slow pace, and subtle, very dry comedy make you squirmy, bored, and irritated, this is not the movie for you. If, on the other hand, you liked The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Darjeeling Limited, or The Life Aquatic, you will probably find this tale of an entire town searching for 12 year old lovers who ran away from scout camp charming and original.
As a Girl Guide leader, the worldwide women’s equality movement is something I support, so rather than forcing myself to talk about James Cameron’s latest money grab (Avatar 3D) or the atrocity that is That’s My Boy, I’m going to tell you to watch this documentary series, which features stories from women around the world about how much go they can (and have) done for their communities with a few micro loans and a little more commitment to human rights. Watch this doc, seriously. I guarantee it’ll make you rethink who you donate your money to.
I think Ben Affleck is a great director (and a pretty good actor, too, though not a lot of people seem to agree with me on that one), so I was excited for Argo. Argo is based on the memoirs of a CIA officer who engineered the rescue of several American embassy workers from the Canadian ambassador’s house during 1979 Iranian hostage crisis – a story that was only recently declassified and is almost too crazy to be true:
A CIA agent creates a fake science fiction movie as a cover to extract six escaped embassy workers out of hostile Iran.
My excitement was dampened a bit when a Toronto Film Festival reporter wrote an article about how some Canadians were so upset by the portrayal of Canadians that Ben Affleck actually changed one of the closing title cards, but now, having seen it, I can say that those people were overly sensitive and that Argo is terrific.
I’m looking forward to Argo and have been ever since I saw this first trailer. I love war movies, spy related thrillers, and real life events that are almost too crazy to be to be true. Argo hits all of these points. Who would have thought of filming a fake sci-fi movie to get hostages out of Iran? I do have some concerns about how Canadians are portrayed, because from what I heard the Canadian government was a big part of this but the movie pretends they were just tagging along like someone’s little brother (it’s based on an American memoir and didn’t consult any other sources). I may be able to overlook this on account of dramatic license, and if any director can do it I think it may be Ben Affleck (weirdly enough). I guess we’ll see.
HERE COMES THE BOOM
This movie seems oddly familiar. Perhaps it’s because they just ripped out the back story for Joel Edgerton’s character in Warrior and turned it into a dorky movie starring a dork who stars in terrible movies like The Zookeeper. So imagine all the gut wrenching emotionality of Warrior, now imagine it dorky, awkward, and cliched, and you’ll probably have a good idea of what watching Here Comes the Boom is going to be like. They try to force some feelings into it by setting the trailer to a 30 Seconds to Mars song and giving Kevin James a pretty, thin girlfriend to earn (of course – didn’t you know that fat, funny men always end up with thin, pretty wives?) but it just doesn’t work. I’ve seen it before, and done better at that.
It’s too bad this movie opens the same week as Argo, because it looks half decently scary. It’s not often that a movie is able to creep me out, especially in the trailer, but this one does. It doesn’t start off very promisingly: “ooh, new house, I bet it will be PERFECT” and “gee willikers, I wonder if this old crap in the attic belonged to the dead family who used to live here!” but then they pull the Sunshine trick where they flash things at you really fast with screechy violin music and you almost fall out of your chair. I suppose that’s more “startled” than scared, but it’s not often a movie manages to startle me, either. And Ethan Hawke shows good survival instincts by ACTUALLY LEAVING THE HOUSE when things get scary. That bodes well.
I haven’t heard much about this one, but I like it! Any movie that combines Colin Farrell, Abbie Cornish, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, and Woody Harrelson can’t help but at least be pretty good. Add in the dognapping thing (what a hilarious and original way to be a movie criminal!) and the dry smart-ass humor and we may have a winner.
“Put your hands up.”
“But I got a gun!”
“I don’t care.”
Priceless. Too bad we probably won’t get it here.
This is a condensed version of (several) real conversations:
ANGELLA: Hey Kat, I wonder if Brandon Cronenberg is as creepy and gross as his dad.
ME: He can’t be. That’s not possible. That one movie of David Cronenberg’s had a gun that shoots teeth in it (eXistenz). *Angella and I watch the Antiviral trailer.*
ANGELLA: Well, I guess that answers that question.
ME: Ugh. I need a shower. And possibly a frontal lobotomy.
ANGELLA: What’s that movie even about anyway?
ME: I dunno. Face herpes contracted from the Hannibal Lector cafe? And a guy who likes to stuff matchbooks in his face?
ANGELLA: Well I’m not going to that movie.
ME: Me either, my friend. Me either.
Also, if you’re in Sydney on Thursday, October 11 at 7pm you can catch the Cape Breton Film Series showing of Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, a sprightly documentary about a Chinese artist and protestor. You can see the trailer on their website.
This movie is awesome. Seriously. It’s the best movie I’ve seen all year – and the year’s almost over. It’s a prequel to the Alien movies, where some scientists and an android check out some strange ruins on a planet far away, touch some things that should be left alone, and find (surprise!) things that want to kill them. There’s a ton of back story on how humans got to Earth, why we exist, and where aliens come from, plus the acting, plot, and effects are amazing. Watch it. Right now. For more, you can read my full review.
I love musicals, even though I don’t watch all that many of them. And Rock of Ages is a fun one. The songs and the outfits will all make you nostalgic for the 80s and you’ll discover (to your great surprise, probably) that Tom Cruise sounds just like Bon Jovi when he sings. The plot is pretty standard – two attractive young people move to L.A. looking for their big break, fall in love, yadda yadda. But it’s really funny, especially superstar rocker Stacee Jaxx, club owner Alec Baldwin and his pal Russell Brand. Watch it. And/or read my full review for more details.
This movie is about a serial killer in the mid 1800s who uses the works of Edgar Allan Poe as his inspiration, forcing the investigating detective to team up with the author (sort of like a turn of the century version of Castle). This sounds like a great idea in theory, but I don’t know what they were smoking when they cast John Cusack as Poe. His face is like the human version of a bloodhound and he’s got a squeaky voice, which totally ruins the horror atmosphere. The planned Ewan McGregor/Jeremy Renner pairing would have worked so much better. You can skip this one.
Season 7 carries on from the “we hugged once and now we’re pregnant” fiasco of Season 6, and I have to say I think the show has gone downhill since Booth and Brennan stopped beating around the bush and just got together already. They still try to replicate the “intuitive FBI agent paired with practical forensic anthropologist” banter of previous years but it just doesn’t work as well. On the plus side, the cases are still really cool and I love all of Brennan’s rotating lab assistants, so it’s still worth watching… for now.
Just in case you thought there weren’t enough movies that were exactly the same as Taken, here’s Taken 2, which is exactly the same as Taken 1. If you think it’s slightly ridiculous that the same person would have family members kidnapped multiple times, clearly you have never worked in a movie studio, because if there’s one thing studio mavens know, it’s that if something ain’t broke, you don’t fix it. We paid to see Taken, ergo we’ll pay to see it again in a different city with less Liam and more annoying, too-young-for-her-age daughter (hooray). Though it may seem sophisticated that Liam and his fist of death have to face up to the consequences of their actions in the last film (slaughtering a bunch of dudes) the fact that he goes up against the same guys as before means that they (and the writers) are too dumb to take the hint that they cannot win against him. One Taken was enough for me.
Like so many of Tim Burton’s animated movies, Frankenweenie looks vaguely disturbing despite being aimed at children. It’s just something about the way the characters look and move – the dark shadows under their dead staring eyes, the pinched flesh, the rotten wood look of Sparky’s tail… it’s so different from other Halloween-ish movies, like Hotel Transylvania, which came out this week, or the ever popular Hocus Pocus. I like to be creeped out by movies – I go to horror movies looking for that unsettled feeling – so I’ll definitely be checking Frankenweenie out. It also helps that it looks really funny – the kitty cracks me up and so does young Igor – Igor is one of my favorite comedic characters ever.
THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER
This movie is based on one of those skinny emo boy novels. My friend has been trying to get me to read it forever, but the whiny adolescent “waaaa I’m so different why doesn’t anyone appreciate that I am u-neek” thing has never really appealed to me, at least not on it’s own. To some extent all teen characters are like that, but at least some of them, like Katniss Everdeen or Harry Potter, at least DO stuff while they’re whining. The Perks of Being a Wallflower just looks like another one of those “nothing” coming of age plots where the character just goes to school, gets bullied, and ends up with a girlfriend, but the “passive aggressive” joke made me laugh, so I might check it out someday on DVD when I get bored.
Oh yes, I remember seeing this trailer ages ago and thinking it was funny. Apparently it dropped off the edge of the Earth for a while as it toured all the festivals and is finally getting released now. Carving butter is weird. Not so weird that I doubt anyone out there actually does it, but I do wonder how they keep their sculptures from turning into greasy melted puddles under all those lights. Do they mix the butter with pasticine or something? Anyway, that’s not the point. The point is that this movie looks funny. It cracks me up to see Jennifer Garner acting like a butter contest is the presidential election, and I love that “I get pregnant like once a month” line. It reminds me of Idiocracy. I will see this movie, but probably not until I get around to subscribing to Netflix.
This movie describes itself as a “nonverbal, guided meditation” (read: load of New Age bullsh**), so if you’re looking to put yourself to sleep and you’ve got no one to flash back issues of National Geographic at you while you listen to Yanni on your iPod, watch this film. You might want to wait until it comes to DVD, though. I don’t think the theater will look kindly on you spending the night in your seat.
Also, if you’re in Sydney on Thursday, October 4 at 7pm you can catch the Cape Breton Film Series showing of Compliance, a disturbing drama about a fast food manager who violates an employee on the orders of someone pretending to be a police officer. You can see the trailer review here.
Based on a 1960s TV horror soap, Dark Shadows stars Johnny Depp as a vampire who breaks out of his coffin in order to help his eccentric descendants defeat the evil witch who is squeezing their canning company out of business. It’s a vampire story, but it’s nothing like the broody, sappy Twilight, except for one irritating teenage family member. It’s hilarious and dark, much like The Addams Family, and well worth watching, especially the part where a 200 year old vampire tries to figure out TV. Check out my full review for more.
If you missed this one in theaters (and you probably did, because it didn’t get round to all of them), you should check it out on DVD. It’s a family drama (about families, not necessarily for families) about a guy (Chris Pine) who discovers he has a sister and a troubled nephew (Elizabeth Banks and some boy) he never knew about while handling his dead father’s estate. He doesn’t tell them who is is because he’s looking for money from his father’s death, but he discovers that what he really wants/needs is a close family. It’s really sweet.
At first glance, this movie looks like something that would appeal to fans of The X-Files. It’s about a pair of paranormal debunkers (Cillian Murphy and Signourney Weaver) who decide to go after a renowned psychic (Robert DeNiro), which turns out to be more dangerous than they realize, given that he may or may not really have psychic powers that allow him to disappear his doubters. But the movie relies on you to know a little too much about paranormal debunking and tries to jam a crazy twist in where it doesn’t really fit. I wouldn’t bother with it.
If you’ve never seen this movie, buy it right now, because it’s amazing. It’s the story of Buttercup, a princess engaged to a jerk prince who is kidnapped and falls in love with a farm boy turned pirate. It’s such an iconic tale that your friends have probably quoted it at you without you realizing (e.g. “as you wish,” “inconceivable!” “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, you kill my father, prepare to die.”) This is the 25th anniversary edition, so it’s loaded with special features, including featurettes on the famous swordfight scene, the Dread Pirate Roberts, and Billy Crystal’s make-up.
It was hard to decide what to see this week. I wasn’t keen on Looper, since it was a time travel movie and it would probably stop making sense at some point. But I was hearing great things about it and not so great things about my other two choices: Hotel Transylvania and Won’t Back Down. So in the end, I did see Looper. The trailer didn’t give me much of the story, which is actually quite a lot like The Terminator, with the part of Skynet played by mobsters.
To save his own life, an hit man must track down and kill his future self, who has come back in time to kill a child who will grow up to be a powerful mobster.
I wasn’t expecting much from Looper, and not just because it’s a time travel movie. It also stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis (two of my not favorites) and is set in a world where mobsters control time travel, yet use it only to dispose of bodies. But it actually turned out to be pretty cool. It even made a bit of sense.
Hmm. Well, I recognize that I probably should be excited for this movie. It’s an actiony science fiction story. I love those. However, I’m not thrilled about the Joseph Gordon-Levitt factor or the Bruce Willis factor (I think they’re both merely okay – nothing to get excited over). And I’m definitely not thrilled about the time travel factor, because 99% of movies that deal with time travel end up breaking their own rules and not making any sense. The likelihood of a screwup is even higher with this one, since he’s chasing after himself. I dunno, a friend of mine swears it’s good, but I just can’t shake the feeling that it’ll only blow your mind if you don’t think very hard.
Haha, now this one I’m looking forward to seeing. The first trailer wasn’t great – it followed that irritating Pixar practice (this is not a Pixar movie) of not giving away any hint of plot in the teasers. But the full trailer reveals the existence of the daughter and now I can see it’s actually got a story – he’s kind of like Nemo’s dad, trying to keep his kid from getting hurt in the big bad world, only with an Addams Family twist. I freaking LOVE the Addams family, and this movie looks pretty funny. I love the bingo lady monster. So I’ll probably pick this one over Looper, even though I probably should see Looper… oh well, this is why it’s great not having a boss to tell me what to review.
Call me crazy, but I actually kind of want to see this one, too. Sure, it’s the same “oh we’re a (insert activity here) team and we really need to win (insert name of competition) if only we can get our act together and get us some boy/girlfriends” plot that they use in every movie related to a sport or contest, but it just seems so… funny. The rape whistle joke is pretty clever (and spot on, if I’m remembering college correctly) and that Australian girl from Bridesmaids is HILARIOUS. I think that sets it apart from all the Step Ups and Joyful Noises out there. So I’d watch it, just probably not this week.
WON’T BACK DOWN
Dang, I wanted to see this one as well! I’ve been interested in movies to do with the (American) school system since I saw Waiting for “Superman”, and this is kind of the Waiting for “Superman” version of Erin Brockovich. It’ll make me cry. I know it. These kinds of movies all do. I think that’s probably why I go to them. Plus it’s a true story (as true as these movies ever get, anyway), and Maggie Gyllenhaal is a total ass kicking mom. What more could you want? I’d say I’ll save it for another week, but with the coming weeks stacked up with Frankenweenie, Argo, Cloud Atlas, Wreck-It Ralph, and Skyfall, it’s not looking like I’ll get a chance. Maybe I’ll have to save this one for the DVD release.
Oh my god! It’s Doctor Bashir! I need to see this movie. I don’t think I’ve seen this guy since Deep Space Nine… actually, no, that’s a lie. He was in Cairo Time, which was so boring I don’t think I even watched the whole thing, so you’ll understand if the same director’s name being attached to this movie doesn’t make me jump for joy. In fact, he may be the only person in the world who can lift the “missing daughter in another country” concept from Taken and make it boring. Which is quite a feat, when you think about how dangerous Syria can be. Lots of quiet meetings in dark parking lots, very little throat chopping, though the last few seconds of the trailer look promising. I guess we’ll see.
Wait, was that his wife he was making out with or a mistress or something? I’m confused. I guess I zoned out when they started talking about money and business and all that boring stuff I don’t really care about. Anyway so then he gets in a car crash… and runs away? Because…. why? Because he was drinking? Because he crashed the car on purpose? Because he’s afraid of cops? What is it? And what does his running away from an accident have to do with his money going missing or getting frozen or whatever? This trailer is confusing. Thankfully it’s a limited release so it’s not even going to come near me.
Ohhhh right! This is that not-Scientology movie that has all the Scientology nuts up in arms. I’d go see it just for that. But I have to say the trailer doesn’t make it seem like much. They barely even give you any plot. I feel like I have to fill in the blanks for you. There’s a guy, he comes back from World War II, he joins a cult, the cult is a stand in for Scientology, bad cult sh** goes down. It sounds good, but from what I understand it’s done in a really jumbled up style (much like the trailer) that makes it really annoying, so maybe I won’t watch the whole thing after all. Later, I mean. It’s only a limited release.
Also, if you’re in Sydney on Thursday, Sept. 27 at 7pm you can catch the Cape Breton Film Series showing of In a Better World, a Danish movie about bullying, revenge, and working in a refugee camp as well as a 12 minute short called When You Sleep by a New Waterford filmmaker.
When I heard Karl Urban was taking over Sylvester Stallone’s old role in the Judge Dredd remake, I was excited. “I love Karl Urban!” I thought. “He’s a terrific actor! This is going to be great!” Except now that I’ve seen the trailer, I don’t see any differences between the old Stallone version and this new one. The special effects are better, obviously, and the plot’s a little different. I don’t remember there being slow motion drugs in the old one. But Judge Dredd never takes off his helmet and always speaks in a gravelly monotone, so Karl Urban might as well BE Sylvester Stallone in this for all he gets to show of his talent. I dunno, maybe it’s just that the trailer is bad, but I’m not expecting much from this one other than a few hours of smashy smashy.
HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET
See, now this is a good horror movie trailer. It sets up the premise without giving away the entire plot of the movie and then teases you with a few scary glimpses. A teenage girl’s family moves in next door to a teen boy with a scary past. The teen girl falls for the teen boy and gets embroiled in his scary past. The end. The scary thing could be his dead sister, his live but traumatized sister, a demon that convinced his sister to kill their parents, the dead parents, the live but traumatized parents, the teen boy, a demon possessing the teen boy, or any one of a thousand other things. WE DON’T KNOW. And that’s the way it should be. We should not know until the movie chooses to tell us. I for one will (eventually) go and see what it has to tell me.
THE TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE
Mmm, two baseball movies in a row I wouldn’t mind seeing? (this one and Moneyball)? Maybe I don’t hate baseball as much as I thought….. *turns on baseball on TV*….. annnd nope. Still hate it. What actually happened was that someone figured out that a sports movie that was about more than just sports would appeal to more people. Moneyball had the math angle, this movie has the father/daughter relationship. Not that I believe Clint Eastwood could be Amy Adams’ father. Great Great Great Great Grandfather, maybe. He looks to be about 1,000 years old. But I can overlook it just for this movie because his character is so funny.
END OF WATCH
Oh great, now they’re taking that annoying home movie/found footage gimmick and applying it to a police movie. Which makes it… what? A glorified episode of Cops? And – oh extra joy – the plot is all about how they cross organized crime! At least they’re not involved in organized crime. That would be even more annoying. But it does seem that the more time they spend running from assassin bullets, the less time they have to remember their gimmicky home video premise. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s definitely an inconsistent thing. If End of Watch starred someone I liked, MAYBE I could be convinced to eventually rent this DVD, but I don’t care for Jake Gyllenhaal or Michael Pena, so I have no qualms about giving this one a pass. It’s a limited release, so not everyone will get it anyway.
Ugh, it’s like a bad parody of Flashdance, which was itself also a bad movie. I didn’t laugh once during this trailer, and by halfway through I was bored and wanted to turn it off. HALFWAY THROUGH A TWO MINUTE TRAILER. That joke at the end was more sad than funny, because it’s so true. Score one more success for Canadian film! Geez, I don’t know whether we just suck at making movies or if I’m just the purple penguin of Canada, but I’d be hard pressed to think of even one Canadian film that came out in the last five years that I even wanted to see. Maybe no one will give us money to make movies because they know we won’t make anything good (not that that ever stopped people funding American movies).
Also, if you’re in Sydney on Thursday, Sept. 20 at 7pm you can catch the Cape Breton Film Series showing of PINA, a formless, plotless collection of interpretive dancing scenes.
Cabin in the Woods is a somewhat overhyped horror movie that satirizes the horror genre but falls a little short in the realm of being enjoyable to watch, mostly because of the characterization and the retarded ending. It follows a group of annoying college students who decide to vacation in the middle of nowhere and are set upon by monsters as the result of their mistakes combined with a little manipulation by scientists. It’s still better than a normal horror movie, though, so check it out or read the full review.
If you don’t already watch this show, start. I love Supernatural. Season 7 wasn’t their best season, though. Hot monster hunter brothers Sam and Dean do without the help two of my favorite characters – father figure Bobby and superpowered angel pal Castiel – as they face down unkillable munchy mouthed Leviathans from Purgatory. There are some good episodes this season, including one where a unicorn gores a guy and another where you can’t see the monster unless you’re drunk, but overall it’s weaker than Seasons 6, 5, 4,3, and 2.
I love British comedies. They always seem so much more intelligent than American ones. This one, which follows a group of British retirees who find out the supposedly luxurious hotel in India they booked is actually kind of a dump, is hilarious and heartwarming. Most of the actors are famous veterans, Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, and Maggie Smith – so it’s not just another movie featuring vulgar thirtysomethings acting like they’re still in college. A must watch, especially if you’re planning a trip to India.
This is a historical comedy about the invention of the vibrator. There. Now you want to watch it, which is more than the box art is capable of. It looks like just your average boring love story, but it’s much more than that. Hugh Dancy, a doctor, is scientifically attempting to treat “female hysteria” using “pelvic massages,” which quickly makes him the most popular doctor in London. It is of course a romantic comedy too (with Maggie Gyllenhaal), but it’s so different from the usual phone-in jobs that you’ll never want to go back. Definitely watch it.