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REVIEW: The Dark Knight Rises

July 20, 2012 1 comment
Tom Hardy and Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Returns

They both talk.
You can’t understand either of them.

I have crafted the perfect sentence to describe The Dark Knight Returns. Here, read this: The Dark Knight Returns is a worthy and satisfying end to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight saga, a reimagining of the beloved hero Batman as a dark, tortured avenger in a bleak, cynical world. That sentence is absolutely perfect. I’ve been saying it for 22 hours now, and everyone I’ve said it to has immediately said, “Oh. That makes sense. I guess I’ll go see it!” What I’m not mentioning when I say that The Dark Knight Returns is the worthy and satisfying end to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight saga is that I hated every second of it from the opening gambit to closing “twist”. I was bored out of my skull from beginning to end as I watched characters new and old alike run through the motions of closing this series out.

Every single scene in this movie feels like it’s specially crafted from beginning to end. Not in a good way. It feels like all the individuality, personality and anything that might be cool or fun or different has been sanded down like an edge on a sphere. It opens with Bane robbing a plane. He’s robbing the plane of the scientist that’s on it. That would be pretty cool if you didn’t see it coming from having watched The Dark Knight that one of the masked men in the criminal’s crew is Bane himself. This was the first time of many that I found myself muttering to myself, “I get it.” Read more…

REVIEW: The Avengers

The Hulk in the Avengers

Third actor in three movies. Who’s looking forward to actor #4 in Avengers 2?

If I can keep one person on this planet from seeing Disney presents a Paramount Picture’s production: Marvel’s the Avengers, I will consider my life not wasted. If you’re looking for a fair, balanced review from the point of view of someone who will end up telling you it’s a light, fun, humourous outing into the new Marvel Cinematic Universe, look elsewhere. And if you think I’m here to bait for fanboy reactions to my review, I’m not. I’m here to tell you what I saw, who made it and my best guess as to why the people who made what I saw made the things that I saw the way they did. That’s what a review is. But the experiences I’ve had coming into this movie likely make me more than the worst person to go to for an “unbiased”, “neutral” opinion. Cos I goddamn hated this movie. Picture start to shawarma out, I hated it. And I’m going to spoil the everloving crap out of this movie to tell you exactly why.

I started being a fan of Joss Whedon around fifteen years ago. In truth, it was probably closer to ten years ago, but it was fifteen years ago that Joss Whedon first charmed his way into our television sets with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, an entire series based on the simple subversion of the helpless blonde girl not actually being helpless at all, and actually instead being the conqueror of all things that go bump in the night. It was around ten years ago that I can first say I was watching Buffy on basic cable, loving every moment of it. It was a show with genuine heart, that took risks with its storytelling and did a ton of stuff I have never seen before. He continued doing that on Buffy-spinoff Angel, which was darker and more mature. Then he took his gig to space with Firefly and Serenity, then took it to the internet with Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. And you know what? I watched it all. I watched every single project he put out. And along the way, I learned a few things about Joss Whedon that I wish I could forget. Read more…

Categories: Movies, Reviews

REVIEW: The Hunger Games

March 24, 2012 1 comment
Jennifer Lawrence onset for The Hunger Games

May the camera be ever in your face.

To be honest, I’m not sure if I can review The Hunger Games. I mean, I saw it last night among friends and a packed theater on a pretty big screen with fairly astounding sound. I watched a movie I thoroughly enjoyed and would have no problem recommending to everyone I know. The Hunger Games is a really good dystopian science fiction action adventure for the whole family that, if incredibly profitable, will lead to at least two more movies adapted from the popular Panem Trilogy of books by Suzanne Collins. It’s a great movie and is well worth the ticket price to see if you can. But it has one problem that I hope somebody else is mentioning. Cos every reviewer on earth is going to talk about all the great things about this movie–and there are a lot of great things.

Jennifer Lawrence plays Katniss Everdeen, a coal-miner’s daughter from District 12 of Panem. The world has ended in a nuclear holocaust and now all that is left is the nation of Panem, divided into 12 districts. They go from 1 to 12, richest to poorest, most populous to least. In order to maintain oppressive power, the Capitol forces each of the 12 districts to offer up two Tributes–a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18, inclusive. These Tributes fight to the death on live TV throughout the entire nation in an annual contest called Survivor. … I’m kidding, it’s called the Hunger Games. When Katniss volunteers to save her 12 year old sister from being sent to her certain death, she’s sent to the 74th annual Hunger Games alongside Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), a boy she is loath to kill because he saved her life and she’s yet to thank him for it. Read more…

REVIEW: Silent House

March 23, 2012 Leave a comment
Elizabeth Olsen in Silent House

Spoiler alert: the only good actors all have only x-chromosomes.

I’m gonna be honest straight off the top here: I’ve never seen Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope. Being even more honest, I expect the kind of people who obsessively cruise film blogs to understand what I mean there and why I’m saying it now, but I don’t expect that of people I actually want to write for–so I’ll explain myself. Rope is a film that takes place in real time over 80 minutes as actions unfold and suspense builds and everything gets worse. At least, I assume all that last stuff after the word “minutes”. The point is, it’s shot, cut and projected in such a way as to give the illusion of being a single 80 minute reel of film unfolding before your eyes. Silent House, from the couple who brought you Open Water, is also shot and cut to present the illusion of being one uninterrupted take. It’s also being marketed with the gimmick of being the 88-minute, one take horror movie. Don’t tell anyone else, okay? It’ll be our little secret.

Elizabeth “sister-to-the-twins” “Martha-May-Marcy-Marlene” Olsen is a young woman by the name of Sara, who is living with her father at her family’s old lake house, finishing up emptying the place out and packing everything into boxes before they sell it. She, her father and her uncle are all carrying around lanterns because the house has no power. After a visit from a girlhood friend, freaky things start happening in the house. Polaroids are left out, with both father and uncle quickly hiding them; she finds a red tin box she can’t open; there are lots of lingering shots on Things That Will Be Important Later. For a one-take movie, it sure has a lot of shots. And the house has a lot of doors that can’t or shouldn’t be opened (that will be). And while the film is getting warmed up, it’s nice to pretend it’s just a thriller, instead of a profoundly dark movie that still has me looking over my shoulders. Read more…

REVIEW: A Dangerous Method

January 24, 2012 1 comment
Keira Knightley in A Dangerous Method

She gets spanked by Magneto. Not as hot as it sounds.

In my review, kinda, of Beastly, I said there was a movie coming out this year that I couldn’t wait to see called Antiviral, as directed by a first-timer called Brandon Cronenberg. I also said that Brandon Cronenberg was the son of Canadian director David Cronenberg, who–when he was younger–had cinematic balls the size of boulders. All I have to tell you about the risks this man took is the image of James Woods pushing a betamax tape into his chest-vagina in Videodrome. This was a man who did not care less about being polite or conservative or conventional. And as Tarantino doesn’t want to happen to him, around middle age, Cronenberg the elder started reining all of that in. Either because he discovered maturity or had a family or just wanted to start being recognized for all of the courage he’d had earlier, his movies started being more about families dealing with true-to-life horrors than about Jeff Goldblum turning into a half-fly/half-human horror. He also started casting Viggo Mortensen in everything, but I think that was coincidental and a product of a good working relationship.

And so, in the Oscarbaiting twilight of his career, we have A Dangerous Method, the second movie this year wherein Michael Fassbender is compelled to have deviant sex. Only this time, instead of being a twenty-first century young man, he’s Carl Jung, the psychologist responsible for pretty much all of modern theory (statement not intended to be factual). One of his patients, later friend/mistress and fellow frontal lobe pioneer is Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley), a woman who–as a child–was sexually excited by her father’s beatings and the feelings of shame they aroused. To deal with this patient, Jung applies Freud’s theory of talk therapy. Of course, to make sure he’s doing it right, he writes to Sigmund Freud (Mortensen) personally, having him weigh in on all of his problems and discussing the issues in the field of psychology for hours on end. Read more…

REVIEW: Shame

January 16, 2012 Leave a comment
Michael Fassbender in Shame

Michael Fassbender's penis, the movie.

Shame was the other movie I saw yesterday at the most empty and dreary multiplex I’ve ever visited. Let me tell you, I drove a half hour into the depths of industrial nowhere to see these two movies because that was the only place they were being exhibited and if they’d been playing closer to home, I would’ve seen them already. Probably in a theater as full as the one out in Oakville. It’s the end of cinema, delivered to you by a Canadian theater monopoly and the disappearance of the local movie critic. But that isn’t what we’re here to talk about today, we’re here to talk about Shame, the new movie from director Steve McQueen that I’ve been told is one of the best movies I’ll see this year. Certainly the furthest pushing and most transgressive and entirely deserving of its NC-17 rating.

I’ve been told a lot about this movie, and it certainly lived up to its reputation as awkward, brilliant, minimalist, overlong, improvised and awkward. Very awkward. I was also told that I would see Michael Fassbender’s penis. Let it be known, if you have any reservations whatsoever about seeing Michael Fassbender’s penis, you should not see this movie. And I probably should have warned my girlfriend about the fact that she would be seeing Michael Fassbender’s penis. Michael Fassbender, you see, plays Brandon: a young Irish man who has carefully set up his life to support his crippling sex addiction without ever having to feel personally accountable for it. Without having to feel the shame. Read more…

REVIEW: Carnage

January 15, 2012 Leave a comment
Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Christoph Waltz and Kate Winslet in Carnage (2011)

This seems to be the agreed-upon snapshot.

Carnage was the first of two movies I saw at the most unwelcoming theater I’ve ever encountered yesterday. (Today, for the date that this is assigned.) I’ve been dying to see Carnage ever since I found out the cast, concept and the fact that it opened on a grand total of five screens last December to qualify for Oscars. It’s a four-hand screenplay based on the play The God of Carnage, as performed by Christoph Waltz, Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly; directed by controversial figure (to say the least) Roman Polanski. It’s also my first feature-length outing with Roman Polanski (aside from one ill-advised encounter with Macbeth in high school), and I can safely say that this is, without a doubt, a movie.

It’s there. It’s a movie. It’s a good movie, to be sure, but around this time of year, all the same movies start coming out. They’re the movies that all look and feel like they were made to win awards, and in most cases, they were. I’m not saying Carnage is a bad movie or a dishonest movie or any less worthy as a movie for being made as “an important movie that deserves awards”. The end result is actually quite good. It’s just that it rings a little hollow. Like a play being performed on screen for an audience of critics. But, I owe you the rest of my impressions with this movie, and that starts off with two boys, a park, and a stick. Read more…