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Showing posts from June, 2017

Baby Driver Takes You For an Exciting Ride

Edgar Wright makes movies so infrequently, we often forget he’s one of the best directors working today. From his days on Spaced through the Cornetto trilogy and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, he’s set himself apart as a very unique director with a stylish eye for comedy and action. His latest film, Baby Driver, while having plenty of those, goes a little beyond while still remaining a thoroughly fun and original movie.
          Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a talented getaway driver in the employ of a crime boss called Doc (Kevin Spacey). He constantly listens to music as a way of drowning out the tinnitus he contracted during a childhood car crash that killed both his parents. After his last heist, he begins to settle down, striking up a romance with a local waitress Debora (Lily James). But when he’s coerced into one more job with a collection of the more dangerous robbers he’s driven for, he determines to abandon this life forever by driving off into the blue with Debora without …

The Animated Tolkien Trilogy: The Hobbit -Rankin/Bass (1977)

Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy is my second-favourite movie ever made (yes I count them as one, much like Tolkien’s original book was a single novel in three volumes). I also like The Hobbit movies fine, more than most. But in light of how popular these films are, how acclaimed, it makes you forget they weren’t the first adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic fantasy novels. Three animated movies, one theatrical, two for television, were made in the late 1970s that adapted both great stories. So I’ve decided to see them and discover how they compare to Jackson’s versions, and whether there’s anything they do better even on a much smaller production scale and shorter run-time.
          We begin with Rankin/Bass, the studio most famous for their stop-motion Christmas specials like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Little Drummer Boy, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, Jack Frost, and the traditionally animated Frosty the Snowman. However they’re also the producers be…

Back to the Feature: The Philadelphia Story (1940)

There was a time when a comedy could win an Oscar. The Philadelphia Story didn’t itself (Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca earned that), but it was nominated and won both Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actor for James Stewart. It is also the film that revitalized Katherine Hepburn’s career after years of poorly received movies, and her being the first dubbed “box office poison”. She was in fact responsible for this comeback herself, having procured the rights to the Broadway play, sold them to MGM, and personally selected both writer Donald Ogden Stewart (related to David Ogden Stiers?), and director George Cukor, fresh off of being replaced by Victor Fleming on Gone with the Wind. Hell in a modern age, she would’ve been able to write, direct, or at least produce the movie herself. So this is a pretty important movie in the career of one of the most important actresses who ever lived. Exactly how good is it really?
          Snooty Philadelphia socialite Tracy Lord (Hepburn) is pr…

Doctor Who Reviews: "World Enough and Time"

I really love the science fiction device of time differential environments. That is, when between two spaces, time moves at a much more rapid pace in one than the other. And it’s especially interesting when someone from one of these temporal planes crosses into the other. When done right, it allows for heavy existential ideas and can also produce wonderful drama. It’s one of the reasons why “The Inner Light” is my favourite episode of Star Trek, and in my opinion, a masterpiece of science fiction. And when I saw that “World Enough and Time” (which as a title doesn’t make much sense) was going in that storytelling direction, I was immediately excited. And without venturing quite to the heights stated, for the most part, I wasn’t let down.
          The episode opens with what will obviously prove to be a red herring with the Doctor beginning to regenerate on a snowy peak (Capaldi’s signed through the Christmas special so unless that’s tied into all this, I’m pretty sure he’ll …

Rough Night is a bit of a Rough Watch

Raunchy comedies need a certain degree of intelligence behind them in order to work. Otherwise it’s no different than high school students making dirty references to shock each other or drawing obscenities during class. If you’re making a comedy for adult audiences, be adult, even when it comes to juvenile humour. Because without a clever means of presentation, that’s exactly what the movie becomes: juvenile. And not worth your time. 
Rough Night, co-written and directed by Lucia Aniello of Broad City, toes that line with a very notable dark element thrown into the mix.
          Ten years after graduating college, four friends reunite for Jess’ (Scarlett Johansson) bachelorette party: Alice (Jillian Bell) the overzealous, insecure planner, social activist Frankie (Ilana Glazer), and her former girlfriend Blair (ZoĆ« Kravitz), who’s going through a rough separation. They’re also joined by Jess’ friend from her semester abroad in Australia, Pippa (Kate McKinnon). Things take a t…

Doctor Who Reviews: "The Eaters of Light"

So I was way off in presuming the monster of this episode was some kind of dragon based on the teaser at the end of last week’s. Maybe the similar tone to Merlin it suggested tipped me off. Regardless, whatever this thing was in “The Eaters of Light”, it was certainly no dragon.
          This is another show where you can see a really good episode within, but it’s clouded by extraneous elements.
          The Doctor and Bill, to settle a dispute go to second century Aberdeen to look for the legendary Ninth Legion, a contingent of Roman soldiers stationed in Britain (speculated to be in Scotland) who disappeared mysteriously. The Doctor believes they’ll be nowhere to be found, but Bill, who actually has some real interest and background in this story, thinks she can find them. They separate and Bill eventually finds the most diverse small group of Romans hiding in an underground cave. The Doctor and Nardole meanwhile discover the vanquished legion, killed by some strange pheno…

The Dark Universe is Mummified on Arrival

The Mummy is one of those classic monster stories that’s going to be rebooted and reshaped forever. This new film from writer turned director Alex Kurtzman and starring Tom Cruise has little in common with the 1932 Boris Karloff vehicle that began this long-running series. 
          Nick Morton (Tom Cruise), a reckless military officer, discovers an Egyptian tomb mysteriously buried in modern Iraq. When he and archaeologist Jenny Halsy (Annabelle Wallis) come upon a sarcophagus inside, they transport it back to London. But in unearthing this ancient prison they unintentionally release the cursed mummy of Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), a being determined to bring evil upon the world.
          Perhaps the most obvious problem with The Mummy is that it’s not set in Egypt. The tomb is found in Iraq and then most of the film after it takes place in England. Not only that, but there’s nothing in the films’ presentation style that suggests an Egyptian theme. It’s a very dark film, by whi…

Twenty Years Makes All the Difference

Numerous movies claim to have defined a generation, but Trainspotting is one of the few to come close to genuinely doing so. The 1996 comedy-drama from director Danny Boyle about a group of heroin junkies in the economically depressed Edinburgh of the late 1990s really captured the anxiety and zeal a lot of young people were feeling at the time. Its striking dingy imagery, Brit-Pop soundtrack, and vivid depiction of the affects of drug abuse also contribute to it being a wholly unique movie and cultural classic. 
T2: Trainspotting reunites Boyle and the cast twenty years later and is loosely based on Irving Welsh’s follow-up novel Porno. It’s very dependant on the fallout from the first film, so spoilers are ahead if you haven’t seen Trainspotting.
          Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to Edinburgh after twenty years living in Amsterdam, to the not-so-happy friends he robbed and betrayed when last he saw them. Spud (Ewen Bremner) is still struggling with his heroin ad…

Doctor Who Reviews: "The Empress of Mars"

I think it’s clear Mark Gatiss really likes the Ice Warriors. He brought them back in the above average “Cold War” (an episode that if nothing else, gets by on Liam Cunningham), and now returns to them in “The Empress of Mars”, setting it on their home planet. But I can’t blame him. The Ice Warriors were fun villains from the classic series with an interesting backstory, but who never took off like the Daleks and Cybermen (speaking of which, I miss the Sontarans too). And if Gatiss can build on their mythos, make them relevant, and tell an interesting story with them again as he did here, I’m all for him bringing them back time and again.
          After discovering a rock formation on Mars spelling out “God Save the Queen”, the Doctor and his crew go back in time to investigate where it came from. They discover a battalion of Victorian soldiers who were brought to Mars in exchange for assisting an Ice Warrior whom they’ve named “Friday”. Once they got there, it appeared Frid…