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Showing posts from September, 2016

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets review

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is often seen as one of the weakest in the series, due to similarities to the first film and a storyline that doesn't have a lot of relevance to the series overall arc. And they're kinda right. Why then is it one of my favourite Harry Potter movies?

Back to the Feature: Seven Samurai (1954)

With the new Magnificent Seven movie a big hit, for this month’s classic review I’ve decided to see the original for the first time. No, not the 1960 film, the real original: Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai
          Considered by many to be the crowning achievement of an already pretty impressive filmography for Kurosawa, Seven Samurai tells the story of a town in feudal Japan that every harvest is pillaged by bandits who come to rape, kill, and make off with the people’s crops. Looking for protection, the townsfolk hire seven ronin (samurai without masters) who ready the town for a defence against the invaders. This plot’s become such a staple of cinema that numerous films have adapted it including The Magnificent Seven, The Three Amigos, to even Ocean’s Eleven and A Bug’s Life.
          But I can completely understand why. The assembling of heroes to take down a larger threat is a really appealing concept. Hell, it’s even become a common device in comics. I doubt ideas li…

Lucky Number Seven

The Magnificent Seven is a remake of two films, both classics. The 1960 Magnificent Seven, its closer relative, was one of the landmark films of the western genre: an action-packed, thrill ride that could still be corny at times. But it was already a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 masterpiece Seven Samurai, an epic trailblazer of a film about heroism and honour. Antoine Fuqua’s current remake of the latter thus has a lot to live up to. The question is, does it even come close?
          The story is very simple: a crazed California official Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) invades the mining town of Rose Creek, killing many civilians in the process, and lays claim to the land, promising to return and reap its profits. Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) the wife of one of the killed men, hires a bounty hunter Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington) to protect the town. Unable to do so alone, Chisolm recruits six other men: lethal gambler Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt), Mexican outlaw Vasquez (Manuel …

John Candy Month: Canadian Bacon (1995)

So, let’s end John Candy Month with Canadian Bacon. Yes, Canadian Bacon. I don’t care, I like it! It was John Candy’s final released film, much better than his last made film Wagons’ East. Yeah, it’s made by the insufferable Michael Moore, and while the premise is great, the execution isn’t quite what it could be. There’s definitely more that can be done with this set-up. But there’s enough in it to really enjoy that I think makes it worth talking about. 
          In an effort to boost his sinking popularity in the years following the end of the Cold War, the U.S. President impulsively declares a new cold war on Canada. While Americans buy into the fearmongering, a patriotic sheriff called Bud Boomer in Niagara Falls, New York, being on the front lines, prepares his friends for a preemptive strike.
          The movie is obviously sending up among other things America’s post-Cold War identity, Canada-US relations, and overt, sometimes radical patriotism. It’s clearly also t…

Disney Sundays: Chicken Little (2005)

So Home on the Range was really bad, how did Disney redeem themselves? Well they didn’t, they gave us Chicken Fucking Little
          Unlike cows, chickens can possibly work as leads for an animated movie, if Chicken Run taught us anything.  However it’s obvious when Disney decided to adapt the famous fable about the chicken who thinks the sky is falling, they had no idea what to do. What they eventually decided on was a lowest common denominator comedy that doesn’t come close to getting a laugh, makes almost no sense, is a giant sell-out, and is pretty mean-spirited a lot of the time.
          A year after young Chicken Little causes a local panic by claiming the sky is falling, townsfolk as well as his own father are still unwilling to forgive him for the humiliating incident. In order to make things up to his dad, he joins the school baseball team and against all odds actually manages to do well. But soon, a strange panel in the sky hits him on his head and he and his…

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone review

Most people my age loved the Harry Potter films as kids. That series was the great phenomenon of our generation. But were those movies as good as we remember? Objectively, do they stand up on their own. 
          Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them comes out November 18th and for the eight weeks leading up to it, I’m going to be reviewing each of the Harry Potter films to discover just how good they really are.
          So, where else to begin but Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone! Is an adventurous and genuinely magical story enough to make up for some poor pacing and terrible child acting?

John Candy Month: Cool Runnings (1993)

Growing up, my family could never agree on movies. We just all had different tastes and though for a couple of us they intersected once in a while, there was nary a film we all really enjoyed. Except for one. Yeah, it was Cool Runnings. I don’t care that Candy’s not really the focus, he’s only one of the main characters, but I just really wanted to revisit this movie.
          I freaking loved Cool Runnings as a kid. It was the only sports movie I ever really enjoyed. And though it’s really goofy, campily written, and is in fact a heavily fictionalized interpretation of the actual Jamaican bobsled team it’s supposedly based on, I can’t help but love it even to this day. But is that just nostalgia, is there anything that makes it legitimately good?
          After being tripped up during a run to qualify for the summer Olympics, Jamaican athlete Derice Bannock unable to wait another four years, seeks out Irv Blitzer a disgraced former American bobsledder who won two gold meda…

Disney Sundays: Home on the Range (2004)

Yeah, I’m just going to get this over with and say it bluntly, Home on the Range is awful! It’s truly a stunningly bad Disney film, maybe their worst so far. In fact Home on the Range makes The Aristocats look like the classic some think it is. Brother Bear certainly wasn’t good, but how could anyone predict Disney would sink so low with its follow-up. How? Why? 
          The story is about cows. I’m serious, fucking cows… An obnoxious one called Maggie is sold to an old farmer Pearl who shortly thereafter finds the bank is foreclosing on her and she likely will have to sell the farm. Even though she literally just got there, Maggie  and two other cows, the stately Mrs. Calloway and the dimwitted Grace, go on a mission to catch a rustler called Alameda Slim who’s bounty is enough to save the farm.
          The film opens with the Disney logo being branded on the screen and from that point on you know you’re in for a bad time. It’s very fittingly symbolic. Ironically this m…

Penny Dreadful Reviews: "Memento Mori"

You know this is the first episode of Penny Dreadful not to feature Vanessa or Chandler. After being the dominant storyline of “Little Scorpion” they are absent here and I think that was to “Memento Mori”’s benefit. Vanessa and Chandler are fine but after last episode there’s not much of interest to explore with them right now. I also feel their storyline needs an episode’s breathing room, so to focus again on the other threads, each of which developed in some really great and surprising ways here.
          Lily wakes up where we last left her, in bed talking to the body of the man she murdered. The lack of remorse over this as well as her maddening ramblings paints Lily in a new light and over the course of the episode we find she’s not nearly as curious and innocent as we’ve been led to believe. This is also evident in her next scene with Frankenstein where though he’s upset, she’s much more confident and ignorant of his strife, utterly refusing his suggestion to flee Lon…

John Candy Month: Only the Lonely (1991)

Only the Lonely is not a great movie. In fact I’d say it’s only barely good. But there is a charm to it and some very good performances. The fairly basic to the point of clich├ęd story feels very much like an old romance from the 1940s or 50s, which makes sense considering it’s based in part on Marty, the 1955 Paddy Chayefsky penned film starring Ernest Borgnine (for which he won an Oscar). But what makes this movie interesting in regards to John Candy month is its an instance of Candy playing not only a dramatic role, but a romantic leading man. And in that regard, it surprisingly works alright.
          The story revolves around Danny Muldoon, a Chicago cop in his late thirties who lives with his overbearing Irish mother Rose. He soon meets and begins dating a funeral home worker called Theresa, but before he can move forward with the relationship he has to get passed his attachment to his mum and live his own life. For her part, Rose doesn’t like Theresa, her Sicilian heritage, an…

Sully Sticks the Landing

I remember how big a deal it was on January 15th, 2009 when a passenger flight in New York ran into a flock of geese and had to make an emergency landing on the Hudson River. But even that wasn’t the most astonishing thing; it was that the captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger managed to do this with no casualties to 155 people on board. For a few weeks it was all the media could talk about, praising Sully as a hero. 
          But what many of us maybe didn’t realize, was the extensive inquest into the incident; and it’s this as well as the landing itself that’s the subject of Clint Eastwood’s new film Sully.
          The movie opens following the whole Hudson River episode with Sully (Tom Hanks) dealing with the aftermath. This includes both a series of monotonous meetings with airline officials not too happy to have lost their plane, as well as his new status as a celebrity and “hero” of New York. But through all this Sully’s troubled, reflecting on the incident as well a…

Disney Sundays: Brother Bear (2003)

Brother Bear is Disney’s first movie set in Canada, and among other things, it incorporates some Canadian Aboriginal ideas. It’s got Northern Lights, wonderful landscapes, and a pair of moose who are references to two of Canada’s proudest sons, Bob and Doug McKenzie. As a proud Canadian myself, I’m glad to see these things -which is why it hurts all the more that Brother Bear is really a bad movie.
          Set shortly after the ice age, the youngest of three Inuit brothers, Kenai is set to receive his totem, a symbol of the kind of man he’s supposed to become. He’s disappointed to receive the Bear of Love becoming the object of ridicule of his brother Denahi, but is encouraged by oldest brother Sitka. However not long after, Sitka is killed while confronting a bear (in a pretty unnecessary self-sacrifice) and on his own later quest of vengeance, Kenai kills it. But for doing this, he’s turned into a bear himself by the spirits in the Northern Lights. While being pursued by Denahi b…

Penny Dreadful Reviews: "Little Scorpion"

Well I guess I was right about this show acting on the sexual tension between Vanessa and Chandler.
          “Little Scorpion” follows up on the events of last episode, focussing mostly on Vanessa’s reprieve at the old witch house in country with Chandler to keep her company. Nothing that vital in terms of plot takes place, but some old wounds are reopened and some new romantic feelings are addressed. It’s a strangely atmospheric and interesting episode that suffers from little more than an unusual structure.
          The morning after her hallucination at the ball, Vanessa is astonished that Sir Malcolm doesn’t believe her. It catches everyone else off guard too and Vanessa resolves to get away from it all for a bit by going back to the cottage where she learned witchcraft. Chandler volunteers himself as her companion to keep her in check if need be. However she only confides in Frankenstein where she’s going. While there she and Chandler just relax and grow closer. Until…