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Trailer Reviews for October 12, 2012

ARGO



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.

SINISTER



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.

SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS



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.”
“No.”
“But I got a gun!”
“I don’t care.”
Priceless. Too bad we probably won’t get it here.

ANTIVIRAL



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.

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DVDs for October 2, 2012

Dark Shadows

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.

Buy Dark Shadows on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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People Like Us

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.

Buy People Like Us on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Red Lights

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.

Buy Red Lights on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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The Princess Bride

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.

Buy Princess Bride 25th Anniversary Edition on Blu-Ray.
.

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Looper Review

poster from the Endgame Entertainment film Looper

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.

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The Odd Life of Timothy Green Review

poster from the Disney film the Odd Life of Timothy Green

This week there were two movies with an equal chance of being pretty good: Paranorman and The Odd Life of Timothy Green. I get extra Disney points for seeing Timothy Green on opening weekend, and it’s got Joel Edgerton in it, so it won the coin toss (yes, it was rigged). There was a kind of Pay it Forward feel to Timothy Green, though I hoped it would dispense with the sad ending.

A couple buries their dreams of having a child in the garden only to have them magically morph into a ten year old boy who is part plant.

With a blurb like that, you’d expect it to be some kind of Plants vs Zombies expansion pack, but it’s actually your standard “being different is okay!” kids’ movie. As for whether they did away with the sad ending – only kind of. So although I did like The Odd Life of Timothy Green, I just didn’t love it.

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The Watch Review

poster from the Twentieth Century Fox film The Watch

This week was a terrible one for movies. I wish it had come just one or two weeks later so I could use being on vacation as an excuse for not seeing anything at all. Alas it’s the weeks of Total Recall and The Bourne Legacy that I’ll be away for, so I was stuck with seeing either The Watch or Step Up Revolution. They looked equally unappealing to me, so I let my friend Angella choose, and she picked The Watch.

Four guys join together to form a neighborhood watch to defend their sleepy town from invading aliens.

It sounds like a decent idea in theory. I like aliens. I like comedy. Theoretically I should like the movie. And my friend Angella did. But I didn’t. I may have smiled a few times and laughed out loud once, but that’s not acceptable for a movie that bills itself as a comedy.

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Dark Knight Rises Review

poster from the Legendary Pictures film Dark Knight Rises

Batman Begins is one of my favorite movies of all time, but The Dark Knight disappointed me. With a 2 hour 44 minute running time, I was worried the third and final entry in Christopher Nolan’s Batman reboot would be more of the same convoluted rambing that put me off of The Dark Knight. It didn’t help that the trailers were maddeningly tight lipped about the plot, which usually means it’s too complicated to sum up.

The city of Gotham falls prey to a masked villain named Bane as it anxiously awaits the return of the vilified vigilante known as the Batman.

But of course I went to the movie anyway because it’s Batman and I love Batman. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this movie was far superior to The Dark Kight and almost on par with Batman Begins: simple, direct, tight – The Dark Knight Rises was the perfect end to the trilogy.

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Magic Mike Review

poster from the Warner Bros. film Magic Mike

There are a lot worse things to do on a Friday night than go see The Channing Tatum Stripper Movie (as it is known to the masses). Apparently half the female population of my town (and two men) agreed with me, because the show sold out. The real point of the movie is for a bunch of hot guys to take their clothes off, but they had to put SOMETHING in the blurb, so writer Reid Carolin and director Steven Soderbergh gave it a bit of a plot:

A male stripper who dreams of making custom furniture is inspired to change his life when he meets the sister of the young stripper he’s mentoring.

It sounds like a story, but I wasn’t kidding when I said it was a bit of a plot, because most of the movie takes place at a strip club. I thought I would be cool with that but I guess I’m a bigger snob than I realize because I found myself wishing there was more… plot that is.

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Rock of Ages Review

poster in the Warner Bros. Pictures film Rock of Ages

Like most people, I enjoy fun things. In fact, I might even go so far as to say I seek out things that are fun. Rock music is fun (though I couldn’t play any to save my life). Movies are fun too. So put them together into Rock of Ages and it seems like the most fun ever! The movie is based on a Broadway musical (which I haven’t seen) with slight tweaks in the plot (because it’s not on a stage) and sex (because the MPAA is stuffy) departments:

A young singer moves to LA to start a career and gets a job at one of the most popular clubs on the strip when she falls for a young rocker.

There’s more to it than that of course, but the plot is not important. The important thing is whether or not it’s fun. And it totally is! The dialogue is hilarious, the songs will make you nostalgic for the 80s (music is the only thing that could make a person nostalgic for the 80s) and you’ll be happier when you leave then when you arrived.

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Dark Shadows Review

poster from the Warner Bros. Pictures film Dark Shadows

I know I said I wouldn’t be able to review Dark Shadows this week, but: surprise! It worked out that I could. And I’m glad – Dark Shadows is an updated version of a horror soap from the 1960s and 70s. The words “horror” and “soap” don’t really go together except in a universe where everything is crazy, so naturally it’s screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith (who wrote Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) and director Tim Burton (who did Corpse Bride) who bring the classic to life (again).

Cursed by the witch whose love he spurned, a rich canning company heir turned vampire spends two hundred years in a box then returns to restore his family’s prosperity.

I really enoyed Dark Shadows because after a decade of supernatural fiction moving further and further away from the vampires-as-monsters model and toward an ideal where vampires are broody sparkly bunny munching boyfriends, it’s refreshing to see something that calls back to the good old days where vampires were scary. Scary and hilarious.

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Trailer Reviews for May 11, 2012

DARK SHADOWS



I’ve been really looking forward to seeing this movie. Alas, I won’t be able to review it for you this week because I promised my friend Angella we would save Dark Shadows to see on her birthday, which is next Friday. You can understand that she might not want to end up seeing the horrible abortion that is Battleship: the movie. Anyway, Dark Shadows is based on a TV show from the 60s and it looks completely hilarious in a bonkers Addams Family sort of way. Johnny Depp (I have no idea how they managed to make him look that young) is priceless. “Reveal yourself, tiny songstress!” Unsurprisingly, Tim Burton is directing and the script can be attributed to Seth Grahame-Smith (he of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies fame). I’m counting the days until I get to see this!

THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL



A friend of mine recently returned from India – not in an ambulance, but close – so I would never imagine India would be a good place in which to retire unless your idea of a relaxing day is to spend it on the toilet. However, I can totally see a bunch of stogy old Brits falling for the tourism poster version of the country, which is still slightly dodgy due to misspellings and promises slightly too good to be true. Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Judy Dench, and Tom Wilkinson are all fantastic and hilarious in their dry British way and we also get Dev Patel, the boy we all loved from Slumdog Millionare! What’s not to like? I really want to see this movie, like, right now. But it’s a limited release – boo.

CITIZEN GANGSTER



I was already turned off by the word “gagster” in the title, and by the poster, which features a guy in a fedora waving two guns around, but I am required to push through and watch the trailer, so I did and it wasn’t bad. Scott Speedman is a good actor (and cute) so of course that helps, but there’s also a vein of comedy here that I appreciate… or I did, until it disappeared about 50 seconds into the trailer and it became as depressing as the rest of the criminal-as-hero movies I dislike. That said, it still looks better than about 99% of the Canadian movies I’ve ever heard of, which is an accomplishment.

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