Showing posts from 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 differen…

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. 
Dead Snow & Dead Snow 2  - 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 “holl…

My review of Coherence

Glib Reviews Of Recent DVD Releases

Coherence 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

OMG a book review (from my goodreads page)

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…

My review of 20 feet from Stardom

(not so) Glib Reviews of (not so) recent DVD releases
20 Feet Feet From Stardom 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 …

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

Glib reviews Of recent movies - Theatrical release edition.
Mommy - 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…

My middling review of "Night Moves" by Kelly Reichardt

Glib reviews of recent DVD/Blu Ray releases.
Night Moves - 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 far…

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

Reviews Of Recent DVD/Blu Ray releases
Tom At the Farm - 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 le…

Days of Future Meh

Glib Reviews of Recent DVD/Blu ray releases
X-Men: Days Of Future Past -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 o…

All You Need Is...

Glib Reviews of Recent DVD/Blu Ray releases
Edge Of Tomorrow, aka Live Die Repeat, aka All You Need Is Kill.  - 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 shoul…

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 d…

Two Reviews from Double Feature Night

Glib Reviews Of Recent DVDs, Blu Rays.
Double Feature Night
Finding Vivian Maier - 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 …

Amazing Spider-man 2 Review

Glib Reviews of Recent Blu Ray/Dvd Releases.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - 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 …

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 terrib…

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.
Guardians Of the Galaxy - 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 …

Zero Theorem, my review.

Glib Reviews of recently released DVDs (Blu rays too)
Zero Theorem -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 o…

Not quite up to snuff

Glib Reviews of Recently Released DVDs
A Field In England - 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 astrolo…

Enemy, a review

Glib Reviews of Recent DVD Releases
Enemy 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, Vill…

My Review of DGG's "Joe"

Glib Reviews Of recent DVD Releases
Joe - 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 s…

Vermeer & Budapest

Glib reviews Of recent DVD releases.
Tim’s Vermeer - 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 pr…