October 30, 2007

Halloween Top 5 List

I'm not a huge fan of horror movies so these are mostly thrillers but I stand by this list. Happy Halloween.

5) Vertigo

An Alfred Hitchcock classic. Jimmy Stewart at his best. You're missing out if you've never seen Vertigo.

4) Signs

It's rare that a movie can pull off a storyline that includes everything from an alien invasion to a debate on faith. Along the way Signs delivers some of the creepiest scenes I've ever witnessed.

3) The Sixth Sense

If you know me then you should have expected M. Night would make my list twice. Sixth Sense is not my favorite of his movies but it is certainly his most frightening.

2) Dark City

Dark City is an extraordinary film. This is a dark movie which is shot and acted to perfection. It may not be known for being frightening but you'll know why it's on this list if you've seen it.

1) The Shining

Straight up scary. This is a great movie made terrifying by fantastic acting and imagery only Kubrick could provide.

Honourable Mentions

- Stigmata

- Constantine

- Disturbia

These are all frightening movies and each one surprised me with how well it was made.

October 25, 2007

Knocked Up - $3

Knocked Up is a needlessly vulgar, unrealistic movie with far less laughs than I expected. This may have been the most disappointing movie I've seen this year.

I went into Knocked Up with very high expectations, this was supposed to be an intelligent and refreshingly realistic comedy and almost every critic has been praising it. I am going to disagree with the critics here fairly strongly.

I'll first tell you what I liked. The performances of the four main characters are all quite good and there were certainly a few funny moments in Knocked Up. Some of the dialogue is very intelligent and witty, but this is the minority of the movie unfortunately.

My main problem with Knocked up is the lack of plausibility in the story. I know it's just a comedy but in any movie the story does need to be believable and this one is not. Basically Ben (Seth Rogan) has a one night stand and Alison (Katherine Heigl) gets pregnant. When Alison decides to keep the baby they decide to try to make the relationship work. All believability ends here.

Ben is an unemployed loser who lives with unemployed losers who are all more disgusting and vulgar guys than any I've ever met. Alison is a beautiful woman with a promising career in television broadcasting. She is about four divisions out of Ben's league and though I can believe that she would want to make an effort with the father of her child she starts to like Ben pretty quickly without much reason.

I think I was supposed to see a transformation in Ben as the movie went on to being a more responsible guy willing to do what it takes to make this whole thing work out. What I saw was a guy stay unapologetically a loser and really only at the tail end of the story does he make some minor changes in his life by moving out on his own and (gasp) getting a job.

Besides the major plot line being outside the realm of reality for me I also just didn't find Knocked Up all that funny. What laughs there were came from witty dialogue but most of the humour stemmed from pretty simplistic potty jokes.

Overall Knocked Up is really just a vulgar movie. I'm not trying to say all movies need to be polite and star PG characters but most of the humour in this one is just unoriginal.

Knocked Up just didn't work for me. I know I'm in the minority with this opinion but there you have it.

I put Knocked Up on my 'Don't Watch It' list and give it a value of $3.

October 20, 2007

Across the Universe - $7

Across the Universe is the most unique and imaginative movie I've seen since Moulin Rouge. It is highly entertaining at times and thoroughly over the top at others but that could likely be said for all musicals. Overall this is a movie worth seeing.

Across the Universe follows a few years in the life of a British dock worker named Jude who travels to America in the 60s to find his estranged father. The main storyline is rather simple actually, Jude makes a friend named Max and falls in love with Max's sister Lucy. Max is drafted to fight in the Vietnam War and mild mannered Lucy becomes an anti-war activist.

The unique catch to Across the Universe is that the entire movie centers around more than 30 Beatles songs; each one is woven into the storyline and sung by the movie's characters in the style of a stage musical. At times this was a bit of a stretch but for the most part the music was well done and the story worked.

While I found the main storyline fairly simple there are many other themes touched on in this movie. There's the love story intertwined with the anti-war movement, there are the social protests and civil rights movement, and of course the casual use of hard drugs like LSD.

I am at best a casual fan of Beatles music. I've heard it all and like almost all of it but I can't claim to be a huge fan. Those of you who are will surely enjoy Across the Universe even more than I did. I understand there are even visual comparisons to some of the Beatles movies from the 60s and 70s.

No matter what you think of musicals or this movie specifically I believe writer/director Julie Taymor should be celebrated for making this original, entertaining and truly imaginative film.

I put Across the Universe on my 'Watch It' list and give it a value of $7.

October 15, 2007

Fugitive Pieces - $9

Fugitive Pieces is a beautiful movie; it is both a tragic and uplifting story and a tremendously well made film.

This movie is an adaptation of the celebrated novel (with the same title) by Canadian author Anne Michaels. I've read parts of this extremely poetic book and going into the movie I wondered how a film would do such a book justice, but this one truly has.

Fugitive Pieces is the story of Jakob, a young Jewish boy who miraculously escapes death as child in Poland during WW2. Jakob hides in the wall of his home while Nazi soldiers ransack his house and kill his family. Later Jakob is saved while hiding in the woods by a kind man named Athos who risks his life to get Jakob out of Poland. Athos raises Jakob as his own son in Greece and later in Toronto. Jakob grows up to become a good man who never forgets his past and struggles to truly grab onto the present.

This is a well told story and a wonderfully shot film. The adaptation from novel to screenplay has to have been challenging but is done very well by writer/director Jeremy Podeswa. Podeswa is best known for his work directing the acclaimed TV series' Carnivàle and Six Feet Under and he makes an affective transition to the big screen in Fugitive Pieces.

This is a moving film with great character development and very good acting performances from each of the several main characters. Unfortunately for you I saw Fugitive Pieces at the Vancouver International Film Festival and the rest of the world will have to wait until March 2008 to see it, but see it you must.

I put Fugitive Pieces on my 'Watch It' list and give it a value of $9.