Just us, the cameras, and those wonderful people out there in the dark...

Monday, April 30, 2012

Review: Sleeping Beauty (2011)

* * *
Director: Julia Leigh
Starring: Emily Browning

My first thought after watching Julia Leigh's Sleeping Beauty: "... What?" My first thought after sleeping on it and allowing it a little time to sink in: "No, seriously: what?" Loosely based on Yasunari Kawabata's The House of Sleeping Beauties, Sleeping Beauty is the kind of uncompromising and challenging film that people who hate art house fare use as justification for hating art house fare, and that people who love it use as justification for loving it. Where you fall on the spectrum will probably determine how much you admire this film, which I imagine will continue to be an incredibly polarizing piece of work for years to come.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Review: Senna

* * *

Director: Asif Kapadia

It's a measure of how good a sports themed movie is when it can hold the interest of someone who has absolutely no interest in the sport itself. Asif Kapadia's documentary Senna, about the late Forumla One driver Ayrton Senna, is one of those films. Making use of home videos, interview footage, and sports cast footage, Senna is a film that will speak to racing fans and non-racing fans alike.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday's Top 5... Diane Keaton Performances

#5: Something's Gotta Give

The film itself is a bit flawed, but Diane Keaton's performance is winning, brave, and just generally perfect. When Keaton and co-star Jack Nicholson have their late in the film showdown, in which she tells him that she's heartbroken, it's difficult not to feel your own heart breaking for her, too.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Canadian Film Review: A Dangerous Method (2012)

* * *

Director: David Cronenberg
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen

It was probably inevitable that David Cronenberg would one day make a movie about Sigmund Freud, given his career-long preoccupation with the psychosexual. What wasn't inevitable was how tame that movie would be when he finally made it - well, tame for a movie where one of the central relationships centres on sadomasochism. Elegantly mounted but somewhat lacking in spirit, A Dangerous Method is a fine film, but ultimately minor Cronenberg.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Review: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2012)

* * *

Director: Lasse Hallstrom
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Amr Waked, Kristin Scott Thomas

A film with a title like Salmon Fishing in the Yemen might sound like a story with limited appeal, but it's actually a delightful surprise, a film with plenty of heart and no shortage of charm. A political/romantic comedy that finds just the right balance between comedy and drama, and between political satire and realistically drawn characters, this is a definite hit in the somewhat hit-and-miss career of director Lasse Hallstrom.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Review: We Bought A Zoo (2011)

* * 1/2

Director: Cameron Crowe
Starring: Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson

"All you need is twenty seconds of insane courage." If ever a single movie line summed up the ethos of its filmmaker, it's that one with respect to writer/director Cameron Crowe. In a realm of dreamers (which film, by its nature, is), his protagonists are the most relentlessly optimistic. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't; often the results are a little bit mixed. But, hey, the soundtrack is always good.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Review: Clash of the Titans (2010)

* *

Director: Louis Leterrier
Starring: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes

Given how scathing its reviews were when it was in theaters - not to mention how critically reviled its sequel, Wrath of the Titans is currently - I was expecting Clash of the Titans to be a much worse film. Maybe it's because I saw it on TV rather than in the theater and converted to 3D, but I found it to be a perfectly watchable (although not particularly good) action adventure.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Review: The Adventures of Tintin (2011)

* * *

Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig

Although I didn't really take much notice when The Adventures of Tintin was released theatrically (that will happen when a film is released directly in the middle of Oscar season madness), it would appear that it was a somewhat polarizing. Loved by many critics and recognized by many awarding bodies, the film was all but shut out by the Academy, gaining a Best Score nomination but not even showing up in the Animated Feature category. It was a huge success overseas but had a somewhat lacklustre domestic box office ("lacklustre" given the director, the fact that it was 3D, and it's family friendliness) and just generally seems to have been met with a bit of an "eh." It's a bit of a shame because, while I don't think the film is by any means a masterpiece, it's a fun and very ambitious movie.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Review: The Hunger Games (2012)

* * * 1/2

Director: Gary Ross
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth

It may be a story about teenagers, featuring an imperilled female protagonist and a love triangle, but The Hunger Games is about as far from Twilight as it gets. A slick dystopian action film complete with terrific performances and great production values all around, The Hunger Games is an instant classic of its genre.