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Showing posts from March, 2014

Desolation of Smaug review

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Glib Reviews Of DVDs that are Coming Soon!
No, really.
The Hobbit 2: The Desolation of Smaug Directed by Peter Jackson
Working in a video store, the movies show up a few days before you put them on the shelves, so that you can have time to enter them into your inventory, and more importantly, for staff to view a few flicks to give people recommendations, which is a big chunk of your day. Some folks know exactly what they are looking for at the video store. But, a lot of people come to the store, because they don’t know what to watch, they check out the staff picks, and they ask for recommendations. So you have to keep up at least a little bit with the new releases.
Due to some inventory days at the distro warehouse, The Hobbit, Desolation of Smaug showed up well early, and I got to end my weekend of watching movies about D&D nerds with the 2nd movie adaptation of the really short book that got many of us into D&D in the first place. I’m in the camp, that Tolkien’s The Hobbit does…

Nerd-Sploitation Weekend continues

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Glib Reviews of New Releases
NerdFest Day 2
Continuing my Nerd-Sploitation festival with the almost traditional tale of of the out of control Game Master. Earlier examples of this sort of the tiny Nerdsploitation genre includes Gamers, (and it’s sequel) or any of those movies that I don't watch, that involve video games.
Zero Charisma - Directed by Katie Graham, Andrew Matthews
Is a surprising solid portrayal of the aging Nerd, or Fan. The main character is in many ways a painful reminder of what its like to be so obsessed with a game (or any fantasy) that it ruins the rest of your life. 
Scott The GM in question ( Sam Eidson), may in fact be a triggering presence for many gamers, or ex gamers. Be warned, the interplay of the players and GM struggling through a ridiculously overlong campaign is more realistic than the things the players do ‘in game.’ People being talked over, outside noise causing havoc with the flow of the game, the omnipresence of snacks. All that stuff was bang on…

Knights Of Badassdom, my review.

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Glib Reviews of Vaguely New DVD Releases
Before I do my next Mini-film fest, (Swashbucklers) starting Monday, I am having a new release Nerd fest. Movies about gamers have a tiny niche in the quick to video world of modern indie cinema. My favourite is the film “The Wild Hunt” an indie film from Quebec a few years ago. It was funny, serious, and a bit of a kitchen sink drama. Hidden Gem, it is. 
On Saturday I plan to watch Zero Charisma, and will have a review of that, Sunday morning, or I may watch The Desolation of Smaug, and watch Zero Charisma, on Sunday. Either way, those two movies, and a third - The Knights Of Badassdom, make a little mini-D&D-esque movie weekend, punctuated by my afternoon Sunday actually playing in a tabletop RPG.
My game logs for that game can be found on my RPG/FIC blog. My character’s name is Rosie Ramses.
But on to the movie which was much more likeable than I thought it would be. A decent Nerd Comedy.

Knights Of Badassdom.
Unlike a lot of the review…

Last Days On Mars Review

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Glib Review of vaguely new release DVDs
Last Days On Mars - Directed by Ruairi Robinson
I’m really glad that there are so many Sci Fi movies getting made these days, speaking as a big fan of all (well maybe not 'all') things Sci Fi (and Fantasy) ... I just wish that more of them lived up to their potential. The thematically similar recent Europa Report does a better job despite using the so hackneyed found footage trope. 
There are no such conceits in this gritty thriller that wants to be an Alien, The Thing kind of movie. Bacterial life is found, and what could possibly go wrong. There are some good characters in this film, and the premise is solid if predictable. There’s not anything wrong with predictable, if it is done with style. 
Last days On Mars has some style, but not enough to keep it from making me almost nod off occasionally. I especially enjoyed Olivia Williams playing the Ice Queen Scientist as well as we all know she can. The ending, not to spoil it, I think that w…

47 Ronin Review

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Glib Reviews Of New DVDs (Blu Ray in this case)
47 Ronin Directed By Carl Rinsch
Not the update of a classic story that I was hoping against hope, for. After being pleasantly surprised recently at Keanu’s solid directorial debut with the cliched in all the best ways, old school Kung Fu movie, Man Of Tai Chi. Where that movie exceeds expectations , this one falls short. Sad Keanu shows up for monosyllabic action, and scenes of being tortured, not the cool and hard as Agent Smith Keanu from Man Of Tai Chi.
Maybe it’s unfair to compare the two. 
But on its own 47 Ronin still is a so-so effort in the Let’s get our honour back genre. Far too long is spent setting everything up, the fantasy elements are okay, and the CGI is really good, but it doesn’t make up for the odd pacing and complete lack of snappy dialogue. The whole point of these movies where you have several anti-heroic types banding together, is to showcase some of those actors. There should be some actual banding together moments…

Glib Reviews Of Vaguely Recent DVD Releases: Enough Said

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Glib Reviews Of Vaguely Recent DVD Releases
Enough Said - Directed by Nicole Holofcener
‘Enough Said’ is a lovely movie. Gandolfini shines in one of his last roles, but really for me, this was Julia Louis Dreyfus’ movie. I love her on TV, but in this she really gets to act, not just be the funny dorky lady she always is on TV. She gives a nuanced, wonderful performance, and holds the film together as the most fucked up of a wonderfully fucked up cast of characters.
Catherine Keener makes the wealthy poet single mom thing believable (almost) as she rants about her ex-husband, who sounds a bit of a putz. But all the characters in this film have that putz quality show up at some point. They are all jerks to each other at one point or another. Well, Albert(Gandolfini) maybe not as much as the others, but he’s as human as they are.
It’s refreshing to have a script where people are, like in the real world, mostly nice, but sometimes not. Sometimes we are selfish, rude, thoughtless. I loved th…

Glib Reviews Of Vaguely Recent DVD Releases Man Of Tai Chi

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Glib Reviews Of Vaguely Recent DVD Releases
Man Of Tai Chi
- Directed By Keanu Reeves
Keanu took a break from being an internet meme and directed a very old school martial arts picture, with some nice modern plot points to keep it fresh. It’s no “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” though there is a bit of wire work, and the main character is named Tiger.
Keanu sets us up right away with the knowledge that he is the Big Bad in this movie, as he dons a Dr. Doom mask and kills two people himself in the first few minutes of the picture. Keanu is a Super Villain on a mission for high ratings. Tiger Chen, who is a floppy haired underdog, delivery boy and almost a Tai Chi Master gets Really Really Ultimate Secret Fight Club Billionaire really excited when he uses his almost non violent tai Chi moves to win a competition in Beijing.
The narrative twists nicely between Tiger figuring out how to weave his Tai Chi around a gazillion different styles of Martial arts, the tough Hong Kong Ponytailed De…

Crystal Fairy & The Magical Cactus, My Glib Review

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Glib Reviews Of Vaguely Recent DVD Releases. 
Crystal Fairy & The Magical Cactus - Directed by Sebastian Silva.
Director Silva was previously best known as the director of ‘The Maid,’ which is one of my favourite movies in recent years. I shied away from Crystal Fairy, though as I have/had a bit of ‘Michael Cera fatigue.’ I have heard, though working in a video store, wildly varying reports on what this movie is like. He’s closer to his self parody in ‘This Is The End,’ than he is the dorky cute Juno boyfriend, or George Michael. He’s a dick.
The movie starts with a very lively house party, in Chile, where Jamie (Cera’s character) is that guy who has always had lots of kinds of drugs, or so he just has to tell you, talking about drugs, like foodies talk about food, notes of this or that in the weed, that coke was cut with blah blah, that kind of blather that we all remember from going to house parties in our twenties.
He affects a kind of Millennial Larry David-ness, (I know, ewwww!…
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Glib Reviews of Kind Of New Release DVDs.
Europa Report -Directed by Sebastiàn Cordero
Europa Report, I approached with some trepidation, as the ‘found footage’ movie ‘genre’ has worn past thin for me. This film, though makes effective use of the technique, and it didn’t seemed as forced as most of the more recent entries in that genre. Instead of crazy jump cut found footage, we have the re-piecing together of footage thought lost, communication from an Earth space ship bound for Europa, the moon on Jupiter, that has a lot of water, and possibly life. Six people spending a couple of years in Deep Space, what could possibly go wrong?
A lot of things of course go wrong, and the film builds tension successfully despite some weak dialogue here and there. Not all the characters are evenly written. But it’s really all about the tension, in this movie; the ending was effective for me, not to spoil it, is really all about the last image sent from the ship.
There is a lot to like in this low bu…

Another New release DVD review. Prince Avalanche

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Glib Movie Reviews Another “New Release”
Prince Avalanche - Directed by David Gordon Green
There is a tidy bit of clever credits meets the action in the opening moments of Prince Avalanche, a relatively recent DVD release, I watched last night. I’m a huge DGG (as I call him) fan, his only weak film in my opinion, being the stoner comedy “Your Highness.” That picture ironically left me not laughing. It all seemed so much more forced than any of his earlier work.
But since then, he’s done some good TV work: East Bound & Down, the dark Jonah Hill comedy “The Sitter,” “ Pineapple Express,” (which I gave notes for, on a very early draft of the screenplay by Evan Goldberg, back in my first video store daze in 2001, 02 or so.)  Prince Avalanche, and the upcoming “Joe” which judging by the trailer, looks like a return to the more serious vibes of DGG’s first film, George Washington, or Snow Angels, his fourth. 
Prince Avalanche, to get to the actual review, is for me, sort of wedged between…

Another New Release review (not that new)

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Vaguely New Release Glib Review of 
The Wall - Directed by Julian Pölsler
“Die Wand” is the title in German of this stark existential film. For that reason (it's existential nature) alone, I recommend watching it in German with subtitles, though on the dvd, the default is an English version. The German 'sounds right' when the main character is thinking all her deep thoughts. 
It has the barest of plots, a Woman finds herself cut off from the world, inexplicably. This is the script choice that makes the film work, that there is no time spent explaining ‘why’ this has happened. 
It is so beyond the character’s understanding, that she doesn’t spend much time at all thinking about it. She worries more a bout surviving, and helping the animals she comes to care for, a dog named ‘Lynx’ and a cat, and a cow. The entire picture is her recalling and putting down her story on paper. When she runs out of paper, the story is finished. Cut off from civilization, she has no choice but to …

Review: Inside Llewyn Davis

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Glib Reviews - The Occasional New Release
Inside Llewyn Davis  - Directed by the Coen Bros.
Oscar Isaac has a great time being miserable in this film, very loosely based of folkie legend Dave Von Ronk. Isaac, as Llewyn Davis has just the right amount of charm and neuroses to make you understand why he’s everyone’s ex-boyfriend. Though it takes awhile to get why Carey Mulligan’s character hates him quite as much as she does. The Love/Hateness of this relationship defines the movie, it’s depressing, but somehow charming while doing so, hopeful even in the face of utter despair. Mulligan’s character, Jean, is based on a real folkie, Jean Ray (of ‘Jim& Jean,’ just like the movie) who also happened to be the inspiration for Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl.” (which is in my top 5 all time songs) 
As with all the Coen Brothers pictures, the ensemble cast brings their A game, John Goodman does his best grandiose smarmy junkie jazz musician yet, Garret Hedlund is the Peter Stomare (think Fargo) …

RandomFest 2014 Film # 2

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RandomFest 2014 Film # 2
The Last Wave  Directed by Peter Weir.
Richard Chamberlin was a pretty huge star to me and everyone else, in the 70’s. He was Aramis, (in The Three Musketeers) David/Phillipe in “the Man in the Iron Mask” and (Edmond Dantes) “The Count Of Monte Cristo”, for gosh sakes. All the Dumas, all the time! “Centennial”! Anyway, he was one of my favourite actors as a kid for these reasons. 
The Last Wave, I saw on 16mm in my Intro to Film class with Gene Walz at U of M in 1984. The film blew my impressionable 18 year old mind. I knew nothing about Australia, other than what I’d seen in “The Road Warrior," and “Mad Max.” so nothing, other than what we learned in geography or Social studies along the way. The whole Dream Time thing made a lot of sense to me. I grokked. Which was a term I use sparingly now, but in 1984 when I saw this film first, I used perhaps a bit too much. 
Watching it now 30 years later for the first time, I was struck by Weir’s great use of low bu…

RandomFest 2014 - Review Of White Heat

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RandomFest 2014
So, it’s taken me awhile to get to watching movies again; I have been reading, writing and oddly: socializing so much that I couldn’t find the time until  last night. I watched the film that gave me the idea to watch a few of the films I recall seeing in Film School (University Of Manitoba 84-90, yes 6 years, I only stopped going when/because they sent me a diploma)  but not since. Maybe a snippet of one or two on late night TV, but never sat down and re-watched any of these choices. 
Raoul Walsh’s “White Heat” was this first movie. Before seeing this picture in a ‘gangster film’ class, I had seen all those great younger Cagney (the first movie anti-hero?) movies like Public Enemy, Dead End Kids, either in the class, or on my own, probably on the CBC late movie. This film plays with Cagney’s image as a Warner Bros. Gangster in a way that we now call ‘meta.’ Cagney was big, huge, and an icon in any role, but an aging crook, pulling train heists? Made for him.
And, as u…