Sunday, December 28, 2014

2014 Best Movies of The Year

My Glib List of the Best Movies that I saw in 2014

As usual, the last few years, the sheer volume of DVDs that I watched has fallen off. This year may be my steepest decline since I started U of M film studies in 1984. The up side of this is that almost all the movies I saw this year were at least pretty good, worth a watch. I don’t recall turning anything off part way in, but maybe that happened. 

I definitely fell asleep in a few viewings, including two films on many folks best of lists.  There were a few very disappointing films, some so ridiculously bad, that they are in my own personal “so bad its good” category.

Also, as is my wont with these lists, the categories are my own vague loose categories, and I include links to my own earlier in the year reviews, where there are also trailers for each flick. My current opinion of the films may be warmer or colder, depending on whether I have re-watched them, or just thought, discussed and worked out a better or worse,  or just different opinion. Most of them I haven’t rewatched, so have no idea if I would like them as much on further viewings, which for me is the real test of a piece of art, can you go back to it.

(*Links are to my original reviews)

Big Hollywood Blockbuster Tentpoles, that were actually as good as the hype. (No, really.)

The second Captain America movie from the current Marvel slate is a big step up from the good first film, Captain America: the First Avenger. I have yet to re-watch it, but I really enjoyed how it tied into and radically improved the so-so Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Tv show. Something that could work, could have failed, the small bit of plot crossover, or fallout from the Universe of the film, energized the TV Show. It deserves kudos for being innovative in melding the media that mostly rip each other off more than co-operate to tell bigger better stories.

Definitely worth a rental or two. Your worry that Robert Redford would be wasted in a ‘comic book’ movie is unfounded. He takes it seriously, and makes a great corporate villain. (oops spoiler) and the film introduces  or reintroduces the character of the Winter Soldier in a far less convoluted and effective way than he was ‘returned from the dead’ in the comics.

To say that GOTG is this year’s Iron Man, or Avengers is an apt comparison, more so maybe Iron Man, as this film has a tongue or two firmly in squirmy alien cheeks. It is also grounded enough in the comics lore to give the ever critical fans lots of easter eggs, in the form of cool cameos (When is Thanos going to get out of that damned chair? the New Cosmic Laz-y Boy is just that comfortable) from Stan Lee Howard the Duck, among others. Lots of great dialogue and inexplicable chemistry between cgi characters. A fun quick witted, evenly paced script and direction give this movie a gravitas that the silly cosmic plot doesn’t really have on screen. Best “boss battle” of any Superhero movie yet.

The “Tom Cruise Groundhog Day” does indeed inherit the mantle of very good example of how to do a movie about someone caught in a seemingly endless time loop kind of movie. It takes itself just seriously enough to let you suspend your disbelief, and go with the how can we kill Tom Cruise this time plot. Aside from one cliche too many at the end of the picture, I felt like this is a textbook example of how to do a sci fi movie with big fx, a convoluted plot and the always important Tom Cruise driving a motorcycle scenes. Seriously enjoyable flick.

Best Movie that I wanted to hate going in, but loved instead.

When I saw the trailers for this, I kind of thought, maybe Wes Anderson is starting to eat himself with all the artifice in his films. I was both right and wrong. The set pieces are gnawed on by an insanely huge cast, with so many cameos that you might watch it twice, just to do a count.
The movie mostly charms it’s way around it’s ridiculously Technicolor sets and characters. Somehow this evokes Arsenic & Old lace, Dinner at Eight, Grand Hotel, and maybe, We’re No Angels (original obviously) in it’s joyful slightly updated with more irony, take on 30’s screwball comedy. Lubitsch on Angel Dust, but in a good way? Aside from the inexplicable and gratuitous animal cruelty of a throw away scene, the film is joyful, and gorgeous. The ensemble is too huge for anyone to outshine anyone else for long. watch and watch again.

Best Comeback by one of my Favourite Directors and one of my Favourite actors

Directed by David Gordon Green, “Joe” follows perennial recidivist small town angry man Nic Cage as he tries really hard to resist his urges to just beat the crap out of everyone. Cage is at his best in maybe a decade or more as this bottled rage of a human being. The cast, many of whom are non-actors give stellar performances all round, and the film is a tight coil of what the fuck is going to happen next.... Green is back on his ‘indie form’ of his first five or so movies. Stoner comedies are nice and all but I missed the edge in movies like this, or “All the Real girls”, and my favourite of his “George Washington.” A pleasant surprise.

Best Movies Most Cineastes had in their top picks last year, that I never saw until 2014

 Won all the awards last winter. I missed it until it came out on disc, and then kicked myself for not seeing it on the big screen. A swirling confidant masterpiece with lovely nods, homage to not only Fellini, but also Bertolucci. I saw it last april, and still think of it often.

Another film I kind of wanted to hate before seeing it for some reason, maybe how much everyone was raving about it. It couldn’t be that good? It is/was that good. One of the best scripts from a Hollywood movie in ages. Perfectly cast and poignant, to a fault maybe, if that’s a fault. I want to watch it again, just talking about it.

James Gandolfini’s last big role if I recall correctly, and it’s a doozie. another very good script that plays with your expectations of plot, and character development. Julia Louis Dreyfus has dramatic chops that bear equal weight. a very grown up ‘rom-com’ so called. 

A German film that I watched because friends and co-workers had it on their best of lists last year. Almost a one-hander, it is touching poignant and gorgeously shot every step of the way. so much is said with the camera, the actions rather than the dialogue. The silly sci-fi conceit of the picture becomes deeper and more complex as the story unfolds. One of my favourite movies of the decade so far!

The Two best Xavier Dolan movies from 2014 are also the two best Quebecois movies that I saw last year.

I haven’t yet seen that “1987” everyone is on about, but Xavier Dolan’s two projects
“Tom At the Farm” & “Mommy,” are also two of my favourite films maybe of the last few years. “Tom...” was from 2013 I believe, but didn’t hit video in Vancouver until recently, “Mommy” is the only film on this list, I think, not on disc yet. Both films are likely not everyone’s cup of tea. Tom at the Farm got a lot of “Hitchcockian” praise, but I think think you might look more to French Directors such as Chabrol, or Techine as well as a very large nod to Truffaut’s darker stuff like The Bride Wore Black. the most obvious recent refernce is the belgian “Calvaire.” Whether in PQ or La France, travellers should be wary of hanging out and getting to nosy in the countryside. bad things happen, and the dancing is tres creeepy.

Mommy is a different animal all together more of a slightly in the future Ken Loach filtered through 80’s-90’s PQ culture. A family drama that takes huge risks and pays off every time. I was pretty shaken up when the film ended, as was everyone in the theatre. So many tears, heart wrenching. Bring les tissues.

Best Creepy Jake Gyllenhaal Performance That I Saw.

I haven’t seen “Nightcrawler” and everyone is raving about old Jake in that one. If you saw that and liked it though, I ask you to watch “Enemy”, directed by another PQ director, Denis Villeneuve, who also gave us Polytechnique, Prisoners, and Incendies. So light happy go lucky stuff? not so much. Though there is some nice humour in this, and a lot of things that creep you out and confuse you at first. the atmosphere of paranoia and confusion in this film simmers to a boil with an ending that you may love or hate, but it will freak you the fuck out either way.

Best Independent Sci Fi Low Budget Ensemble Film Of The Year

Recommended by one of my former co-workers, I likely would have passed this by, not having heard any buzz about it. Coherence is a master class on getting together your actor friends and workshopping the heck out of your twisty, sci-fi script at your house, and filming it. The biggest names in this piece are Xander from Buffy, and Amanda from Highlander (Raven). But damn if they and the others "whose names are not as familiar as their faces" ensemble pull out all the stops. The sci fi aspect sounds more confusing explained in the review. Just watch it. masterful exposition as action. maybe my favourite non Xavier Dolan picture this year.

Movies that only a few people cared about that have the word Zero in their titles, that I loved

People seem to really hate the newer Terry Gilliam movies. I am kind of baffled by this. Even Brothers Grimm had some fun parts. I am usually pleasantly surprised when I catch up on his post 12 Monkeys output. This film is like Brazil done on a budget of 28 Euros or so.(yet has arguably better SFX) Christoph waltz is crazy good in this film, chewing dialogue and scenery like a champ. There are lots of terrible conceits in this movie, and a lot of the CGI is creepy, and I think a lot of folks wish that Brazil could have had more of this look than it did. I love Brazil, and this movie is no Brazil, but what is? I personally think it is worth taking a chance on. If you hated Tideland, you may hate this. I loved Tideland. Team Gilliam.

Zero Charisma is the other little Indie movie that completely took me by surprise with it’s gentle handling of a certain kind of nerd, The DM or Dungeon master, who runs the table top RPG games in his mom’s house, with fellow nerds. In this movie, a hipster joins the gaming group, and all hell breaks loose. a great case study of arrested adolescence and the tools some of us use and overuse to deal with it. 

Possibly the most down to earth, and definitely the smartest movie about these kinds of gamers, of which I count myself. The characters start out as nerdy cliches but turn out to have all the usual drama everyone else does, without maybe all the tools at their disposal to deal. Such a smart little ensemble piece that is more ambitious than it seems at first glance.

Best Horror Comedy Sequel of the Year

For some reason I never saw the first “Dead Snow” movie (probably because I hardly watch any horror, comedy or otherwise) until just before watching the sequel, at a friend’s house just last week. The first one is pretty hilarious, but Dead Snow 2 has a bit more of a budget and a bigger greenlight, thus they go full Evil Dead 2 in it. Not retelling the story like Evil Dead 2 but amping up the Horror cliches, and tongue in cheek gruesomeness. Funniest movie I saw all year, maybe.

Best Documentaries

Jodorowsky’s Dune
Finding Vivian Maier is a film that had its beginnings as an internet meme, almost. A photographer who had/has an auction/hoarding problem of his own, finds thousands of undeveloped photos taken by said Ms. Maier, and made a website, investigaing, trying to find out who she was. The photos are really good, fred Herzog good. Stunning candid street photography for the most part. The film has a great pace as it reveal who she was and as much as the folks involved can guess, who she was. The reveals of her good and bad sides is done better than in most fictional narratives. Very much worth checking out.

Jodorowsky’s Dune is another great revelatory picture. His version of Dune may never really have had a chance of being made, but there is so much amazing material created and saved from the pre production, that that in itself becomes a narrative. Jodo did more pre-production than most pictures get from start to finish. So detailed, and best of all those involved are great storytellers of each others stories, how they were involved and what they did. A better film, than Dune ever would have been, this doc about almost making it.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Reviews! Dead Snow 1 & 2!

Glib Movie Reviews of Zombie movies on DVD

I went to a Friends house for a birthday celebration afternoon of watching funny Zombie Movies. 

 - Directed By Tommy Wirkola

Dead Snow, a film I had convinced myself I had seen, from having seen the trailer so often, and had customers assuming I had seen it, had gone over the story and it’s many gory, funny, gory & funny moments. But looking through my old reviews I realized I hadn’t actually watched it.

I’m glad I realized it as I watched it yesterday, along with the sequel Dead Snow 2 Red Vs. Dead. Which is the Empire, or Evil Dead 2, perhaps more obviously of however many sequels of this series end up getting made. It really is. But the first one occupies slightly gruesomer, but just as darkly funny a space as that other great Norwegian Horror Comedy: Trollhunter.

Dead Snow starts off with that cliched horror movie trope of the young students on school break (30 year old Medical interns, who are not all “hollywood” beautiful, any of them really, subverting the trope somewhat) going to a remote cabin, with no phone service. The gal who own the cabin is hiking there on her own, being the sportiest of the gang. The movie buff of the gang (the fat guy) makes reference to their status were they in a horror movie, and all laugh along. Ha ha ha, what’s the worst that could happen.

Something horrible happens to the girl alone, not much of a spoiler, I mean they are self aware of the horror movie, kind of. All the tropes get used, as they hook up, and act very oddly inappropriate and sometimes creepy with each other. Darkness fall, and the zombies come. The blonde who has sex does she go first? whaddya think, maybe. The zombies are really really into entrails and crotch grabbing, biting. the gore is like live actionItchy and Scratchy from “The Simpsons”. The movie only breaks genre in that these zombies who turn out to be cursed nazi Zombies don’t play by the movie rules very often.

The first Dead Snow plays with the conventions of your zombie movie with a reverent irreverence, whereas the sequel Dead snow 2 Red Vs. Dead should garner a lot of comparisons to the evil dead 2, though it is less of a remake of the first one as it is a continuation of  the story of the first one. I am going to glibly reference the Godfather parts 1 and 2 here. as having watched these two movies back to back, I doubt then whenever i re watch them, like GF 1 & 2, i will have to watch them both, but maybe no further sequels. There is definitely a hilarious post credits scene that leads me believe there will be a Dead snow 3 with a shorter gap of time between movies.

Dead snow 2 has a bigger budget, a far bigger cast and is a more ambitious and even more cartoonishly, garishly gruesome than its predecessor. Not to spoil too much, but tool using zombies change the whole game. Also Zombie Squad. Wait for it. So over the top ridiculous and gory that it makes the first one look like a quiet talkie art film next to it.  I am not going to spoil the plot, but the title might hint to you that the Zombies end up battling Soviet Zombies, and they do. More entrails than ever. 

As a trans woman, I had a bit of weird discomfort sitting in a room of cis gendered men, watching so many dicks being bitten off jokes. But it was passing, as the whole thing speeds along at a great pace of comedy and gross out horror. 

Definitely the best zombie movies I have seen (as a non zombie movie fan, really) maybe since the easy to compare to Evil Dead series.

Dead Snow & Dead Snow 2 both get

8.99999 times you have to watch your entrails being tied to a truck bumper by a Nazi Zombie outta 10

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

My review of Coherence

Glib Reviews Of Recent DVD Releases

Directed By James Ward Byrkit 

Coherence starts out as a typical old friends with the usual complicated personal histories getting together for a big dinner kind of movie. Then the lights go out, and the movie becomes quickly a suspenseful sci-fi alternate universe flick. It does so extremely well with a whip smart script and great acting from an ensemble of familiar actors mostly of the guest star, third banana variety according to imdb. But that shows you how much talent there is out there, as everyone in this is solid. One of the best ensemble pieces I have seen in a few years, is Coherence. 

The biggest name actors in the piece are in chronological hipness, Elizabeth Gracen - Amanda from Highlander Raven! (nerd swoon), Xander from Buffy The series (Nicholas Brendan,) who plays an actor named Mike who says he was in Roswell for four years in one of the best meta moments of the movie. Also on board is Max (Maury Sterling) from Homeland

The other actors all have good tv, movie resumes, and their characters all have interesting believable relationships with each other, and as a group. Sometimes you wonder if in these ‘friends trapped in a house movies’ these people really would be friends, or why the movie forces them together. Nice dialogue and moments from actors make this gang of underachieving approaching middle agers work.

The pacing and unfolding of the plot, basically that a passing comet has created a local blackout, and a zone with some sort of portal to random alternate worlds, that are almost like the one we are shown. The group we start with very subtly morphs into a different group as people pass through these portals and end up in different slightly different versions of their world. 

The Science-y end of what is going on is well turned exposition, as the group look for clues as to what is up with what they think at first is just one duplicate of their house, and themselves. This is a film that definitely merits a second viewing, and perhaps some discussion. It’s not too heady, in its understanding of parallel universes, but rather, approachable and believable while depicting of the kind of things people might think or do when confronted with alternate versions of their world and themselves. The ending plays out exactly as I was hoping it would. I highly recommend this film as well as an example of what you can do with almost no budget. Great low budget film making master class to be had watching and dissecting this film.

8.5 ketamine laced rescue remedies outta 10

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

OMG a book review (from my goodreads page)

The Slow Regard of Silent Things (Tales from Temerant)The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Patrick Rothfuss' new book takes place in the world he created for his Kingkiller chronicles. Fans of which are almost as rabid in their hurry up and write the series as GRRM fans are with a song of fire and ice.

This slim volume is a very different story that that of Kvothe, it's a story of peripheral character Kvothe recalls fondly, a sort of wild girl who lives under the magic university where much of the early part of the story Kvothe has told within the books thus far. The girl Auri appears from what she calls "the Underthing"... The bowels of the ancient school grounds, mostly abandoned. There are only hints in the series as to who she is, why she is there.

In this book We continue to suspect, maybe even know that she was once a student, and that now she lives as the main moving part of the rundown forgotten tunnels, rooms below the school. The language and structure of the story are as airy and robust as Auri herself is with her almost innate sense of where all the list objects she finds should go.

The action is minimal at best, the biggest set piece being the making of soap. Gorgeously written without, much like Auri herself, a beginning, middle or end. You assume the person she is hoping will come visit her is Kvothe, but even that is not explicit.

This small novel is really an interesting bit of character development of a side character in a series. If you want a plot, or even a plot point, this may not be the book for you. But if you are looking for gorgeous prose and character development, and are a fan of the KingKiller books, like me, then I feel this is a must read. Lovely.

View all my reviews

Friday, November 28, 2014

My review of 20 feet from Stardom

(not so) Glib Reviews of (not so) recent DVD releases

Directed By Morgan Neville

I finally got around to watching “20 Feet From Stardom,” as it was suggested as ‘homework’ for the choir I sing in. And it was a great bit of homework. You can’t help but gain a real appreciation of what it means to sing back up vocals. A wide range of singers, almost all of whom started in choirs, are interviewed pretty thoroughly about the whole of their careers, a few front-folk like Mick, the Boss, and so on offer their own appreciation for the art and how much the backing singers bring to their songs.

Some of the people have had okay lead vocal careers, but mostly, they have just kept singing behind the big stars. Pretty much everyone though is pretty humble about just getting to sing. Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, and so many others, may be familiar names that maybe should or could have been household names. Phil Spector may have given a lot of these gals their breaks, but he also ripped them off, and ruined their careers by strangling when and where they could sing. He should be in jail for that as well as his later crimes. 

Have some tissues handy, as the stories these folks have to share might be sad, but more than that, they are relatable, and poignant for anyone who has had any kind of dream that is as elusive as Musical “success.” Many of the singers, like Lisa Fischer have had some real critical and small solo success, but have come to prefer being part of the group, part of the sound. There really isn’t anything negative to say about this doc. Not at all. I wouldn’t have minded a few more performances really, but the whole thing was very well crafted and lovingly presented.

Youtube I will be checking out girl groups, and great songs by these (mostly) women for ages to come. Inspirational and wonderful, the whole movie. Happy tears.

9.5 times you got up in the middle of the night pregnant, hair in curlers, and sang a hit song or two, that you got very little credit for outta 10

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

My review of the harrowing and brilliant 'Mommy" directed by Xavier Dolan.

Glib reviews Of recent movies - Theatrical release edition.

- Directed By Xavier Dolan

Holy cow, my second Xavier Dolan directed film in less than a week. This one in a very different way is just as intense as “Tom at the Farm.” Dolan is not acting in Mommy,” but young actor Antoine Olivier Pilon is mesmerizing as a charismatic and good hearted but violent and very troubled modern teenager. 

Anne Dorval, a veteran of all of Dolan’s directorial efforts (and more Quebec TV than Roy Dupuis) except the aforementioned Tom at the Farm deserves recognition beyond Canada and Quebec. This is one of the great performances in recent cinema; her crusty hard bitten single mom (recent widow) trying to keep a sense of self while raising her larger than life son, whose enthusiasm is only slightly more infectious than the violence that follows him around like a smiling but feral puppy.

The odd conceit, given to us at the beginning of the film is that it takes place a few years from now, where a new law allowing parents of such troubled youth can legally give their children to the state to ‘look after.’ This chilling bit of ‘realistic in Canada’ fiction sits in the backseat of the entire ride the film takes you on, and pokes you in the back of the head. How far will ‘Mommy’ (Diane, nicknamed “Die” rather than Di.) let things spiral out her grasping control before she has no choice but to ‘give away’ her parental rights to the government.

The direction and script are self assured and keep you glued to the screen as your eyes leak pretty much of their own accord. A visceral hard to watch kitchen sink drama, easily compared to the work of Ken Loach or Joseph Losey, (or maybe more appropriately, Claude Jutra) but with a very modern French sense of style and pathos. The characters have so much pathos in fact that those moments of beauty that they each manage to have make you cry almost as easily as the inevitable loss upon loss.

Suzanne Clement also shines as the stuttering (and very realistically so) neighbour, a teacher from Quebec City with a dark secret of her own, who becomes the best friend that either Diane, or Steve have ever had. She fights her own battles with each, but doesn’t give up her own darkness as she experiences theirs on top of it. 

We are left wanting more of her story, as if Die, and Steve’s journey isn’t harrowing enough. Bring tissues, and a friend to cry/talk about this film with if you get to see it. 

As I said in my review of ‘Tom at the Farm,’ Dolan is at the top of his game. I cannot recommend this film highly enough, but be warned, it is heavy beyond belief almost.

9.5 French swear words that are both beautiful and horrible to hear 10

Monday, October 20, 2014

My middling review of "Night Moves" by Kelly Reichardt

Glib reviews of recent DVD/Blu Ray releases.

- Directed by Kelly Reichardt

This is not your father’s ‘Night Moves,’ that one is an under appreciated Arthur Penn flick with Gene Hackman. Both do crucially involve boats though.

I wanted to like this film a bit more than I did. As a big fan of Reichardt’s films in general, I was looking forward to this quite a bit. It may be though my least favourite of the bunch, but that by no means says it’s a bad film, just not quite as good as the previous three films. If you like creepy atmospheric slow paced gorgeously shot in Oregon kind of movies, you will dig this.

Jesse Eisenberg is at his broodingest best, here, you barely ever see under his hooded eyes, he only ever really expresses emotions over the things he perceives with horror, like the dead deer he moves from the edge of the highway to save the dead doe the dignity of not getting run over again and again, at least. The basic plot has Jesse (as Josh, commune living organic farmer by day, eco-activist -the rest of the time) meeting up with slightly peppy-ier Dakota Fanning (Dena) but just as angry at the way the planet is being destroyed. They are joined by older beerier activist and former marine demolition guy and all round Bro, Peter Sarsgaard (named Harmon.)

They plan to blow up a dam, (and garner some sympathy for their cause?) and the three of them sip beer, brood and drive the Oregon countryside a lot. Fanning has a nice couple of scenes with fertilizer salesman and cameo maestro James Legros. All the actors do their best with the very minimalist scenario and dialogue. The film is more about how people deal or don’t deal with the repercussions of their actions, and of course blowing up a dam has repercussions.

The whole thing doesn’t quite have the sense of gravitas it might have, as the third act gets more predictable than I was hoping for. That said, what does happen, not to spoil it, is done with  a great creepy dark chase scene in a bath house. It’s a weirdly claustrophobic movie for a picture that mostly takes place outside, or in farmhouses. I am kind of of two minds about rating the film. There was a lot to like, if like me you dig slow moving thoughtful, poetic, literary flicks; but, it just didn’t quite deliver the story beats it needed along with the atmosphere.... Definitely worth a rental for Reichardt fans, but not a good entry point into the canon, I’d go with wendy and Lucy, to introduce folks to Reichardt.

6.8888 great driving scenes at the end, that convey character growth much better than the previous murderous cliche anti-climax in the final act outta 10

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Xavier Dolan's Tom At the Farm - best film I have seen in 2014

Reviews Of Recent DVD/Blu Ray releases

- Directed by Xavier Dolan

I haven’t watched the last couple of Dolan films, but damn this kid knows what he is doing. Tom At The Farm is a director at the top of his game, there is nothing flashy, but so much that is effective. Dolan plays the title character, Tom, whose boyfriend has just died somehow that we are unclear of at the beginning. 

He goes to the small Quebec farming community where the BF is from, for the funeral, to grieve with his partner's family. He quickly learns that the family not only didn’t know who he was, but that the mom at least didn’t know he was queer. These are not spoilers, but the description from the box.  The description, though is just that, it does not convey the so perfectly paced small town horrors that await Tom as he gets to know his dead lover’s family. There are so many Hitchcock, Truffaut references and transgressive twists to the story that it has a suspenseful creepiness that never leaves. In quiet scenes it is there, hanging over everyone like the dead son/lover/brother.

The film very much comes not only from a Hitchcockian suspense place, but has a lot in common with recent French, from France, or Belgian pictures, something from Francois Ozon, or Fabrice Du Welz. The latter’s film Calvaire if you have seen it, will be sitting at the edge of your memory throughout. There are a great many masterfully realized sequences, including one in a cornfield that utilize changing the film’s aspect ratio seamlessly and add to the suspense and drama, rather than seem like a gimmick.

Based on a play, the language is robust, and the characters deep. Dolan has translated the staginess of small scenes with few characters, rarely more than two, by maintaining the constant sense of suspense, something bad is going to happen any second, and sometimes does, though it is not ultra violent. Much of the ‘horror’ is off screen, or in the dark, or simply implied.

I can’t recommend this film highly enough. The best film I have seen in 2014, so far.

9.75 creepy farm families welcoming creepy city folk to funerals outta 10

Days of Future Meh

Glib Reviews of Recent DVD/Blu ray releases

-Directed by Bryan Singer

Can it be that a person who reads several X-Men comics a month can be kind of bored by the X-men? Apparently. 

This movie was probably the best looking, best shot movie of all the X-Men movies, and it tries very hard to tie them all together as much as possible. Perhaps a bit to hard, as I felt like there was just too much exposition, too much handwringing, despite some great action set pieces, and some of my favourite X-Men being included, like Kitty Pryde, Blink, Iceman, Storm, and so on. 

You can’t blame a superhero movie for being contrived can you? I think you can. This movie has a better pace, and script than the ‘First Class’ movie, but for some ineffable reason it was not nearly as entertaining, for me at least. This may sound like a negative review, and it’s not really. 

I liked a great deal of the movie, up to the latter part where Magneto goes all arch villain again, kind of out of left field. The whole ending didn’t work for me, the story was too bloated by the whole Xavier/Mystique/Magneto triangle not working at all.  

The bromance chemistry between McAvoy and Fassbender was weirdly absent,as to me they had more of an angry sibling bromance vibe going... meh, and it the whole Wolverine arc really felt like a set-up movie for the next chapter. Which, I guess is what it is. 

Days of Future past, The comic was far less convoluted, and a way better time travel, alt future story. As usual, the book is better than the movie. There just wasn’t anybody to root for in the movie, and no surprises in how the story was bent for movie audiences. Young Hippy like Xavier needs to lose his hair and gain some gravitas. Magnet became a much more interesting character in the comics when he gained nuance and was occasionally empathetic even to humans. Exciting and fun, but kind of a heartless let down in this comic book nerd’s opinion. I bet it is more fun to watch with friends, than alone, though.

6.9 horrible  apocalyptic alternate futures that a bunch of selfish mutants have created for us outta 10

Monday, October 13, 2014

All You Need Is...

Glib Reviews of Recent DVD/Blu Ray releases

- Directed by Doug Liman

Apparently the book is called All You Need Is Kill, The movie in the theatre was called Edge Of Tomorrow, the Disc release is Live Die repeat: Edge Of Tomorrow. I am not sure why there is a lack of confidence in any of the whacky titles, It’s a pretty solid sci-fi action flick, with a good sense of humour as well.

All the Groundhog Day comparisons are pretty spot on, right down to the tacked on cheeseball ending, which works better in Groundhog Day. Cruise is very well cast in these Sci-Fi action flicks, Like in Oblivion, he gets to ride at least one motorcycle, and fly a copter, there are few surprises in the film, except the solid sense of when to cut, when to let the story progress. 

Director Doug Liman, maybe most famous for Swingers, or The Bourne Identity is at the top of his game here. Bam bam bam, the show moves along like an action movie should.

Scenes are not repeated so often as to slog the story down, as the two leads eventually find each other and figure out how to keep eking a few more minutes out of the day, until finally they have the big confrontation with the ‘Boss alien’. having a sort of hive mind, bacterial villain works well in this very much what it would be like to live in a video game where you keep ‘dying’ over and over, til you figure out how to move forward in the story.

A very good ensemble of soldier types, including a great unrecognizable Bill Paxton as the sergeant major who is not American, rather, but from Kentucky, who likes to march up and down the square. And Brendan Gleeson as the general in charge of everyone.

The only real beef I have with this very entertaining, and gorgeously designed film is the Top Gun/Officer & A Gentleman ending that you can see coming, once the film passes the ‘natural ending’ by. Emily Blunt’s freaking Kick Ass character does not need a boyfriend, formerly smarmy or otherwise. Oh Hollywood, Love is not all you need, all you need is Kill.

8.88888 convenient mad scientists and their almost forgotten super weapons outta 10

Sunday, September 21, 2014

My Review of Filth, the movie that wasn't that filthy after all. just predictable.

Glib Reviews of Movie Recently released on DVD, Blu Ray

- Directed By Jon S. Baird

Filth is one of the few Irvine Welsh books I haven’t read. But I feel like it is safe to say the  book has a bit more visceral “filth” than the movie, which tries (and doesn't quite do it) to capture the frenetic yakkety yak and horrorshow stuff that usually fills up a Welsh novel, and hopefully the movie adaptation.

Trainspotting for example is a great adaptation, but strays further from the source material. ( as I said I haven’t read Filth, but other reviews seems to say that this flick doesn’t stray so far in terms of the story. If that’s true: then, it’s too bad.) There is very little flare, guts to this supposed depravity. It's to my mind, a pg 13 version of an Irvine Welsh novel. But then again so was Trainspotting, actually. So maybe I am being too critical. Like a friend of mine said in his review, the movie pulls it’s punches more than revels in its depravity, as the book no doubt does.

All the tropes are there to make for a good Cop going round the bend, crossing the line etc, kind of flick, but none of the supporting characters, save his “best mate” who he treats like dirt have quite enough screen time to really grab hold of the types they are playing. McAvoy is ‘givin’ ‘er,’ but it is not enough. The beats are all predictable in an eye rolling way. Especially from my point of view, the Transphobic bits at the end. The only way anyone is a cross dresser, or Trans* in movies like this is always the same: they are insane. Sigh. The climax was a CSI (some of the most transphobic characters in TV or anywhere, all on that show) level cliche, with a “dark ending” that left me wanting to spit.

It had potential, and some great actors, all of whom except the lead James McAvoy weren’t much more than plot devices. The pace was weird and it was very paint by numbers as far as the Direction went. Almost a pilot for a horrid Scottish Cop show. Meh.

4.555  transparently expositional, racist, sexist rants that have no weight and no teeth outta 10

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Two Reviews from Double Feature Night

Glib Reviews Of Recent DVDs, Blu Rays.

Double Feature Night

- Directed by Jeff Maloof & Charlie Siskel

Finding Vivian Maier is one of those modern docs that probably would have been impossible to make before the internet, computers being what they are these days. I have followed this story since Maloof first put some of Maier’s photos online, and they went viral. It was extremely interesting to find out actual information and hear from people who knew this often mysterious Nanny with a Rolliflex. She was doing selfies way back in the day, and her street photography is up there with the greats like Fred Herzog, or Walker Frank.

The film makers, I felt did a great job of unravelling Vivian’s secrets, which every single person who knew her confirms, she would have hated. Hated all the attention to her and her story. Which is very interesting: She left a lot of audio tapes, and 8mm/16mm film as well. 

Giving both more oblique, and more obvious insights into who this photographer who should have been famous really was. There is even a debate whether her vaguely French accent is real, with speech pathologists denying it. Interestingly she has basically an Ingrid Bergman accent though, to my ear. Listen to her with your eyes closed, its like hearing Bergman in Casablanca, or her daughter Isabella Rossellini putting on airs in a Guy Maddin film, with her own voice. I think that says a lot about the woman. 

A well done job of getting grown up kids she nannied to talk about both her good and bad qualities. She was a human being, with foibles, and a lot of neuroses, hoarding being the biggest thing that she kept doing her whole life. Thus the thousands of undeveloped pictures, and film we haven’t even seen yet. An entire lifetime’s art all exposed mostly for the first time, after her death.

Something that amazes me is how many great documentaries there are about outsider artists, people who have more rep than show, or no rep as artists, are of course/it turns out, just as interesting as Andy Warhol, or Picasso. People have interesting and varied lives, and like many of us, she probably thought hers was not nearly as interesting or inspiring as it really was. I grok that.  I also grok that the art really does speak for itself, if you get a chance to see, experience the art. 

I’ll be checking this out again along with other recent similar artist docs, like Marwencol, The Woodmans, and Cutie  & the Boxer to name a few. Maybe a little outsider art fest for my blog! Will update.

9.1111 screaming kids being dragged to slaughterhouse to pose with dead sheep outta 10

-Directed By Jim Jarmusch

The second film in my artsy double feature was a swirling droney vampire movie; Only Lovers Left Alive, directed by cult grandpa Jim Jarmusch. This film was heavily hyped to me, but like the majority of Jarmusch’s later output I found it beautiful, but sleepy and kind of lazy. I loved Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston as the titular lovers/vampires. They drop a lot of historical figures as old pals/enemies, so you know they are old. I enjoyed the film visually, but it had very little tension, nothing pulling at the frayed edges of the ‘story.’

The droning soundtrack, aside from a really thoughtful bluesy pop tune selection of Wanda Jackson and such made me kind of nod off, occasionally, so I’m not sure I was able to give my full attention to the mumbly mix of dialogue and drone. 

This all sounds worse maybe than the experience was. I don’t know what would have worked to make it a better picture. Some real conflict, tension. I did like that neither of them, as secluded as they made themselves, had little idea how to handle normal interactions. They seemed alien, and were. 

But despite Jarmusch never really needing much of a plot, I feel this film needed a bit of one. The younger Vamp - Mia Wasikowska, who holds her own with these great character actors, getting to strut their stuff - comes in far too late, and the tension of what predictably happens is all kind of muted for me.

Wonderful performances, all round, Anton Yelchin channels Steve Zahn as Ian, Hiddleston’s Adam’s only human ‘friend.’ John Hurt of course, is John Hurt. Can do no wrong. the appropriate Pirandello to infer here is “Two Vampires not in search of a plot.”  I didn’t hate the film, but I definitely didn’t love it like I thought I might. It’s one that despite the nodding off here and there, I want to give it another shot, maybe with headphones, so I can hear all the mumbled dialogue. Hiddleston is literally is talking to his navel all movie.

6.66 dorky but clever historical references outta 10

Friday, August 29, 2014

Amazing Spider-man 2 Review

Glib Reviews of Recent Blu Ray/Dvd Releases.

- Directed By Marc Webb

What an odd movie is The Amazing Spider-man 2, for my money, as bleak as Man Of Steel. It has all the elements for the retelling of a seminal Spider-Man story, a superhero trope that in the comics Spider-man pretty much invented, and that Daredevil perfected. That super-dude kryptonite of not ever being able to save your girlfriend from who you are. I’m talking, yes Spoilers, indeed, Gwen Stacy: Spidey’s Karen Page. or vice versa.

This “Death of Gwen stacy Storyline” storyline is one of the very first that I remember being gripped by as a kid reading every comic I could find. It was the most adult thing I had read, and well, I deeply grokked Peter Parker’s sense of responsibility for things that are not his fault, but... One of the biggest character building arcs in Spider-history, Uncle Ben looms large in the comic, but not as much in the film.

But this version of that iconic comic book story mutes Uncle Ben in favour of building up old Dad instead. I don’t mind revisionism to characters it's inevitable. But this relationship  visa vie editing and flashbacks with his dad softens the Parker Pathos too much. It’s too much... He needs to truly be alone, despite Aunt May, who I liked with sally Field in the role more than I thought I would. Some clunky hokum, Field can do that. And make you like it. 

The weird pace and clunky dad sideline really throw a movie that had lots of great if a bit too cgi reliant action and fun characters. Maybe it is supposed to be that Harry is like Evil Peter from the 3rd movie? I laughed every time he was on screen, that hair. I liked Harry’s insanity, and a hint of Felicia Hardy maybe, and the buildup of the Sinister Six stuff, for the next movie. That I think is a good idea, still a Spidey movie, but from the villains POV? it's time for that!

KInd of entertaining, but too slick and mopey for its own good. Like the first ASM, lacking too much for the sake of style, and misguided need to ‘origin story’ constantly. The actors were fine. clunky clunky

6.11111 3 minute chase scenes that are only visually interesting in 3-D outta 10

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Noah & Jodorowsky's dune!

Glib Reviews of Recent DVD/Blu-Ray Releases.

“Aronofsky’s Noah” & “Jodorowsky’s Dune”

The last two films I have watched are Darren Aronofsky’s SCI-FI take on the story of the Ark building, “Noah,” and the documentary “Jodorowsky’s Dune,” which is the story of how a pretty crazy sounding version of that novel I can never finish reading, almost but not quite got made.

Myself, I can’t hear the name “Noah” without thinking of the Bill Cosby sketch of the same name, where God indeed gets Noah to build an ark, and gather up all the animals. The Cosby version is funnier, but just barely.

Aronofsky’s laughs though, I think are not intentional. The whole fallen angels as rock men who help Noah get this completely insane sounding task done are ridiculous, and a clever plot device. If you are looking for “biblical accuracy” (sic) this is not your movie. If you are looking for a grim kind of alternately shouty/mumbly performance from Russell Crowe, then this might be your movie. It is terrible, but also entertaining in a camp kind of way that I was really not ready for, thus, I laughed pretty much throughout, what is supposed to be a sombre piece.

Jodorowsky’s Dune unfolds much more simply, organically, as we hear from the Director himself, and many of the surviving folk who also almost made what would have been a groundbreaking work, had it been able to survive being made. There are hints that even if the studios had given the green light to a Director they knew they would never be able to reign in, it may have failed, anyway. But what these great talents put together in pre production was really awesome.

I would love to read through one of those few remaining storyboard books. Giger, Dali, Foss, all working together with Jodo! Jebus, what could possibly go wrong? This doc is like a master class in letting your subject speak for itself. just by following a chronolgy of the film maker’s life, they give you the whole picture of how much one unfinished project actually changed all these people, and Hollywood, within a few years Dan O’Bannon, Giger would make Alien, and much of fellow edgy director David Lynch copped some of Jodorowsky’s designs. 

I think The Lynch Dune gets a bad rap, though. Jodorowsky’s Dune had it been made would have had just as much interference eventually, and like Dune would have been a film that the makers are depressed about. The Unfinished Dune will always be great, just like how the book apparently is, though I can never get more than 150 pages in, so  can’t say. I like the pages I have read as much as I imagine I would have liked Jodo’s take on it.

Somehow, I have linked Noah, and this doc in my mind as a double feature. Both films are about ambition, pride and the terrible cost those emotions can have on a person, or group of people. In the end, Noah is living with a lot of death, despite the promise of his family repopulating the world with simple stoics like the sons of Seth, rather than all those biker like sons of Cain, that ruined it for everyone, by wrecking the environment.  Whack a doodle Noah.

Noah - Directed by Darren Aronofsky

5.7687 lizard dogs outta 10

8.1111 insanely detailed art books posing as film treatments outta 10

Monday, August 4, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy review!

Glib Reviews Of Recent Movies

In the Fricking theatre, yet

AKA, How I saw Guardians Of the Galaxy on the Opening weekend, instead of going to Pride.

- Directed by James Gunn

Yeah, so, after not going to see the new X-Men movie earlier this year, or Amazing Spider-Man 2, I waited until GOTG came out this weekend to brave the superhero experience known as going to the movies. So many tent-pole Super movies, so little time.

I am a bigger comic book nerd (though I don’t retain facts and continuity the way I did when I was young) than I am a movie nerd, which is saying something. I read, have read all the comics, well maybe not all, but definitely all of one my favourite 21st century reboots: ‘The Guardians of the Galaxy’. As recreated by Abnett and Lanning, the modern heirs to Jim Starlin, crafted a nice mix of old obscure to all but the biggest Bill Mantlo, Tom Sutton fans, like myself, GOTG became in the 00’s, one of the fan favourite Marvel Properties. Nobody else was really doing much “cosmic” heroics, which frankly they should be. Where is my gritty ROM, Space-Knight reboot, for example!

On to the movie: It’s a wonderful example of the right kind of balance of humour, action, adventure, and special effects that make good summer movies hum. Chris Pratt, makes a "star turn," as the “leader” (self named "Star Lord")of this motley band of smugglers, bounty hunters, who have enough decency to not sell planet killing technology to obviously Evil Space Monologuists, aka ‘Villains’. There is real chemistry between the gang of pretty dorky heroes and you are cheering for them quickly. 

The SFX are stellar, and the action sequences, and reinvention for movie audiences of big concepts like ‘the Nova Corps’, and all the Space Politics between them and the Blue-skinned Kree (whose Space Destroyers are some of the coolest looking ships in Sci-Fi, in a while), especially the nicely juiced up version of Ronan the Accuser, played by Lee Pace. Thanos, of course lurks, in his big chair, which for hardcore fans like me, is so awesome to see, him pulling the strings for future movies, just like in the Comics.

There are of course flaws here and there, like none of the female characters have much in the way of character development. Gamora, being a main team player, gets the Black widow treatment, ala the Avengers. A few cool fight scenes, and some gooey eyes at Star Lord, that the “real Gamora” of the comics, would cringe at. Romance, or at least sexual chemistry, is far more important in a movie than in a comic book, though. Different kind of story telling, and I’m glad there was no full blown sex scenes or anything, just some awkward tension between people with really traumatic upbringings. 

Which is all you get in the comics. Gamora’s best years for me, were when she was teamed up with Adam Warlock (who she was trained/created to kill). But maybe Adam Warlock will slip in later in movie continuity? one can hope. I would have liked a bit more of the interplay between her and her ‘sister’ Nebula, hopefully in the next movie, we will get a bit of that, as Thanos ups his game, and gets off his big Space Throne.

Very entertaining summer movie that hasn’t disappointed the comic book reader in me, just the opposite, in fact. 

9.1112346 Time wasting Evil Monologues outta 10

Monday, July 21, 2014

Zero Theorem, my review.

Glib Reviews of recently released DVDs (Blu rays too)

-Directed By Terry Gilliam

It’s a crying shame that Gilliam’s latest and most “Brazil-esque” movie in decades isn’t getting a theatrical release in Canada. I hope it does some art house or second run, it’s a shame that I didn’t get a chance to see this sumptuous cinematography and sound on the big screen. 

Am I saying it was a great film? Maybe; I definitely think it bears a second or third viewing to decide, really. There is a lot going on in between some of the best performances you will see all year. Christoph Waltz is as Oscar worthy as he usually is. Great performance of neurosis trapped in a hyper neurotic world. His character basically plays Minecraft with mathematical equations for a living. His manic portrayal of the loneliest man who ever lived in an old church, lovingly spoons with the note perfect middle manager, shift supervisor, professional wash out, ever so perfectly turned by David Thewliss. Matt Damon offers a great absurdist take on being named “Management” and wearing suits that match the furniture perfectly.

The film delves into a plethora of existential meandering, but never gets mired in it long enough to put you off (as far as I was concerned anyway.) Not to spoil it, but the ending, I think is the one Gilliam wanted, and even if the picture gets stiffed on awards, theatrical releases, like all Gilliam’s pictures, it will be remembered on whatever mediums people can have at home. Despite all the hopelessness, and black holes, I found myself uplifted and warmed byt the ending that likely kept it from playing so wide. Dark, but hopeful: Me, that’s all I ask, a teeny bit of ambiguity is a good thing. There is also a hooker with a heart of gold, who is not really a hooker, nor has an unbreakable heart.

I will be re-watching this one sooner, than later; existentially exciting thing that it is.

8.99999 singing pizza boxes delivered to Minecraft playing mathematicians outta 10

Monday, June 23, 2014

Not quite up to snuff

Glib Reviews of Recently Released DVDs

- Directed By Ben Wheatley

My expectations of this film were way too high.

One of the hottest directors around bites off a bit more than he can chew in “A Field In England.” The film is more like ‘a first film’ than his great first feature, 2009’s “Down Terrace” which is one of my favourites of the last ten years. A field in england tries really hard to capture a Witchfinder General/Cromwell era vibe. Shot in a murky black and white, the film is almost psychedelic. If they had gone a bit more over the top with the trippy stuff, I think the picture would have been more effective. 

Some folks of various stations on the battlefield, are caught up in a big battle in said Cromwell era civil war. One of them is an astrologer, who is cagey about why he is out wandering shell shocked, others are conscripts, one even something of a soldier. Eventually they find someone dressed like a musketeer, and it turns out that he is who the astrologer was sent to capture. Instead the astrologer is captured, violence and vaguely magical hijinks ensue.

There is some mushroom eating, and some trippy adventures, horrors, that are overplayed in the trailer. Interesting script, with language that feels era appropriate, most of the time, and perhaps a bit too open ended and vague. 
Sometimes, the 'what the fuck just happened,' is a rhetorical question. For me anyway; some ineffable quality was missing. The whole time, I was thinking, what more could they have done to make you more engaged, and less put off by the weirdness, that maybe was not weird enough to give the film the spooky heft it was looking for.

Definitely my least favourite Wheatley film, and the one maybe, I had the highest hopes for. Ah well. Worth checking out for fans and those with an interest in flintlock pistols.

5.89954 magic rope games that make everyone scream outta 10 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Enemy, a review

Glib Reviews of Recent DVD Releases

Directed by Denis Villeneuve

Cronenberg-tastic ode to creepy as fuck 1970’s movies. Toronto hasn’t looked so terrifying in a long time. (unless maybe you live near Rob Ford, too late, too soon?)  Director Villeneuve makes no mistakes telling the age old tale of “the Evil Twin.” For me personally, these kinds of stories where “the other” turns out to be a doppelganger, or double, these are the stories that get under my skin the most. The idea that there is another exact (or close to) duplicate of me out there, but not me or is me, either way, waaaaughhhh! I used to get mistaken for other people a lot when I was younger, it still freaks me out.

It’s no spoiler to tell you that that’s what this tale is, with many cinematic odes, or nuances borrowed from Hitchcock, Truffaut (the whole first part has a real Bride Wore Black Vibe.) Polanski, and of course there is lots and lots of Uber-Dystopic Toronto Cronenberg atmosphere, so much atmosphere, Villeneuve and his Cinematographer, Nicolas Bolduc paint the screen with frightening architecture. 

Art Film Ho! Fine by me, bring on the open ended but not in the way you thought it was going to be, endings!

There’s no gore, but lots of stuff that will turn your stomach and twist your brain. I had bad dreams, the only Times I have ever had a movie give me bad dreams were Texas Chain Saw Massacre (The new Blu ray with great headphones, try it if you dare, the soundtrack is insane) The Exorcist, and Villeneuve’s early film “Maelstrom.”

The Soundtrack alone will mess you up, like the best creepy movies. Watch it, listen, with a good sound system, it is worth it. Jake Gyllenhaal is in full Captain Beard-o mode in this picture: brooding, being sexy, brooding, pontificating, slouching, brooding, looking nervous, slouching, being sexy.... 

You can’t give much plot without giving much away, The Double story, usually only ends a few ways, none of them happy. In mythology, seeing your double is bad luck. Oh, and your creepy/sexy mom who says a lot of weird uncomfortable stuff to you is Isabella Rossellini? That would drive even the most bearded of hunks to the edge of madness. 

Neither of the ‘twins’ is evil, but nor are they good, they are both fucked up, and freaked out, and then in the end, well it will be for you to decide. The film leaves you with lots of questions, and ideas about what the hell just happened. For me this is a very good thing. 

Highly recommended if you like creepy stuff happening to hot people in a dystopian city of some sort that looks eerily familiar.

9.456 Odes to David Cronenberg, that really are odes to David Cronenberg outta 10

Friday, June 20, 2014

My Review of DGG's "Joe"

Glib Reviews Of recent DVD Releases

- Directed by David Gordon Green

I have been a pretty rabid David Gordon Green fan since seeing his first (and my favourite, still of his films) film, “George Washington” at the Vancouver International Film Festival way back when. His more ‘Hollywood’ pictures starting with “Pineapple Express,” (which- namedrop- in a way long time ago time, and place, I gave notes on a very early draft of that script, given to me by Evan Goldberg) have been funnier, and less small town noir, or indie drama than his first four pictures.

“Joe,” his latest; that I have taken a week to getting around to reviewing, is a real return to that early form, albeit in a slicker style, and tone. Nicholas Cage gets to bring that off kilter intensity that he occasionally brings forth when he actually gets a good script. Cage really wears the character’s weariness at having to be an alpha male all the god damned time on his sleeve. A great deconstruction of male posturing and small town bravado involved in all the performances, from the real up and coming young actor Tye Sheridan, who stole the show in Mud, where he played a similar youngster looking to maybe the wrong father figure, but making the best of it, to all the women who don't quite accept being props for male ego, despite having few other choices made known to them. 

Sheridan doesn’t necessarily steal any scenes in ‘Joe” but he doesn’t need to. The quality of performances all round is stellar. The actor playing Sheridan’s alcoholic, nasty piece of work father was played by a local homeless man named Gary Poulter, and his turn is maybe the best performance in the film. He nails the sadness and desperation of the character. Poulter died living in the streets a few months after filming, making his on screen pathos even more poignant.

Cage himself is perfect as an aging Alpha dog of a man, to see him riffing with the locals that Green always populates his films with is delightful. The locals cast bring the whole movie down to earth, and give the film much of it’s charm. There aren’t many happy endings in DGG films, but despite all the horrors these testosterone driven beasts put themselves through, you get a sense of hope at the end, just a little. I highly recommend this picture to fans of cinema, and great performances.

9.11134 violent foregone conclusions hitting you upside the head outta 10

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Vermeer & Budapest

Glib reviews Of recent DVD releases.

- Directed by Teller (from Penn & Teller)

An interesting documentary that follow’s Tim Jenison, an inventor and pal of magician/professional debunkers, ‘Penn & Teller,’ as Jenison spends years and a lot of money figuring out how Vermeer was able to reproduce the photographic quality his paintings achieved. Jenison is unwavering in his belief that as many modern painters/art historians have imagined, using some sort of camera obscura or similar lensed contraption.

Jenison does a good job of proving his thesis, while including folks who wrote books on the subject, like the excellently snarky David Hockney. I would watch a reality show of Hockney and Jenison speeding through the countryside yakking about art like they do at one point in the film. Maybe they could solve art mysteries together.

Dogged as Vermeer himself must have been; Tim proceeds to figure out how to replicate a Vermeer. The creator of the industry standard 3D program ‘Lightwave’ manages in 6 months or more of painstaking work, actually produce a pretty fair copy of a Vermeer. Obsessed weirdos (and I mean that in the best fellow obsessed nerd kind of way) make for the best documentaries, it seems.

It’s a light engaging documentary, that makes you appreciate that people/artists were just as creative and innovative hundreds of years ago, in creating images as folks are now with all their fancy computers. To my mind, any one who thinks this ‘technique’ diminishes Vermeer’s artwork in any way, if it is really close to the truth or not, is crazy. It’s proof of the genius and dedication of the artist, to understand that there was a way to paint what he wanted to paint, and doing it. It still takes a genius to be a real Vermeer. The copy is just a copy.

I highly recommend this documentary for some light education and a feel good story about learning to do something.

7.5674 million-ty billion hours matching dots of colour into a coherent copy a tiny section of an Old Master

- Directed By Wes Anderson.

For a couple of years now I have been saying how everyone is making their own ‘Wes Anderson’ movies, (Richard Linklater’s Bernie, and David Gordon Green’s Prince Avalanche are the two most obvious homages to Anderson’s Nostalgia driven mise en scene, in my estimation) and I mean that in a good way usually. I mean that other film makers are adding in a bit of his artifice, his sense of the film as an art form unto itself, that perhaps might even eat itself like the fabled Ouroboros with it’s ability for cultural , and self reference. Sometimes, as in the case of many of the indie crime dramas you see, it can be hard to get away from being called Tarantino-esque. Tarantino meanwhile is riffing on all the old masters, himself, sometimes to better affect than others. Anderson, like Tarantino, riffs on old genres, and cinematic storytelling techniques.

Grand Budapest Hotel, like the best of Tarantino, or perhaps more aptly, Canadian (Winnipeg) film maker Guy Maddin. From the very start, this film felt to me like what Guy might create given 60 million dollars. It was also from the very first second, identifiable as a Wes Anderson film. What it shares more with Maddin, say than Tarantino, is the echoes of films past, cliches told so many times before, is evident in that joy of the 'in camera effect,' and the actual technique of visually telling the story; rather than Tarantino’s pastiche of eras gone by via characterization. All the characters in Grand Budapest Hotel are echoes not only of bygone stereotypes, but they have that Anderson quirkiness that is present in all his films.

M. Gustave’s small habit of calling everyone Darling is both innocent, and seductive, as are most of the roguish folks who inhabit the stories being told, within stories told by someone else. Standout performances for me were of course, Ralph Fiennes, who tore it up, every second he was on screen, the new comer, playing a young F. Murray Abraham - Tony Revolori - he holds his own with Fiennes and his all out scenery chewing. 

The usual parade of cameos from Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, and so on, is perfectly timed, and the film left me smiling as it started me smiling with it’s opening frames, and the sense of wonder at cinematic storytelling they portended, and delivered upon.

This review is a bit more slavish than I meant it to be. Loved this picture, more than I realized. My favourite film in 2014 thus far.

9.56337 Evil Willem Dafoe moments on motorcycles outta 10