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Showing posts from August, 2017

The Animated Tolkien Trilogy: Ralph Bakshi's The Lord of the Rings (1978)

Let’s talk about Ralph Bakshi. He’s essentially the father of American animation for adults, beginning his career by making movies like Fritz the Cat, Heavy Traffic, and Coonskin, all raunchy politically incorrect urban satires. Nevertheless, these movies were fairly well-received for their surreality and unconventional boldness, if vulgar subject matter and unappealing animation. After transitioning to the fantasy genre through an incredibly weird film called Wizards, Bakshi became intent on making an animated film out of one of his favourite books, The Lord of the Rings. The issue being, “a” film singular. Though Bakshi initially wanted to make at least two films, the second never came to fruition, and so he frustratingly wound up adapting The Fellowship of the Ring and half of The Two Towers, without getting to finish the series.
          But he completed the film regardless, and in 1978 one of Tolkien’s stories hit the big screen for the first time. And while I feel an a…

You'll Find Cold Truth in Wind River

Though it’s an American production, I don’t know how impactful a film like Wind River would be in the States. But here in Canada, with our epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women, it’s really relevant and hits close to home.
          While visiting the Wind River Native American Reservation in Wyoming during the dead of winter with his son, Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), a wildlife service tracker, comes upon the body of Natalie Hanson from the reserve, barefoot, frostbitten, frozen to death, and with signs on her of a violent sexual assault. Joining Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen), an FBI investigator out of her element, and Tribal Police Chief Ben (Graham Greene), he sets out to find whoever is responsible for the murder, motivated by a similar tragedy in his past.
          Taylor Sheridan directed this film, and he’s mostly known as an actor and the writer of acclaimed films like Sicario and Hell or High Water. And like Hell or High Water, this film has a lot of at…

Game of Thrones Reviews: "The Dragon and the Wolf"

So this has been a turbulent season to say the least. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss decreased the length of the last two seasons presumably because they didn’t have enough material to get through full-length ones. This seems partially true as they have all their major scenes, but they don’t have enough material for the scenes between major scenes as it were. This has caused season seven to feel rushed, and will likely impact season eight as well. But “The Dragon and the Wolf” includes some satisfying developments which arguably should have already happened, and concludes the arcs that aren’t important. But how good is it as the final episode to leave us on before the last season?
          Well, we begin in Kings’ Landing (there is a brief scene at Casterly Rock between Jamie and Bronn, but it’s pretty pointless. Dany’s team arrives there to meet with Cersei and discuss truce in light of the threat up north. Brienne and Podrick have also arrived (I guess that letter wasn’t a r…

Pixar Sundays: The Incredibles (2004)

Brad Bird was already a master by the time he came to Pixar. Not only did he hone his craft as an early director on The Simpsons, but he directed a little animated film for Warner Bros. in 1999, that though not a box office success was loved by critics and quickly grew a cult following. The Iron Giant is now among many people’s favourite animated movies. Likewise, Bird’s feature debut at Pixar, The Incredibles, his own variation of a superhero movie, is often considered one of the studio’s best. And for very good reason, as the most talented director at Pixar shows. 
          Superheroes were once the world’s greatest crime-fighting force until several lawsuits for collateral damage (and in the case of Mr. Incredible, a hilarious suicide prevention), outlawed their vigilantism. Fifteen years later Mr. Incredible, now living as Bob Parr, has a family with his wife Helen, the former Elastigirl. But Bob, in a combination of mid-life crisis and nostalgia for the old days, is dra…

Back to the Feature: Midnight Cowboy (1969)

Whether you like it or not, Midnight Cowboy was a very important landmark of a film. Not only was it the first and only X-rated movie to win Best Picture (now it would be a tame “R”), but it had a major impact on the film industry that came after. A staple film of the counter-culture movement, it arguably brought the X or R-rated film into the mainstream, and with it, a kind of adult movie that Hollywood usually tried to avoid or de-legitimize And it did so without being exploitative or pornographic, and I think that’s what really shocked audiences when it came out in 1969.
          It’s the story of Joe Buck (Jon Voight), a young man from Texas who’s come up to New York dressed as a cowboy to make a living as a male prostitute. He’s a fish out of water until he meets “Ratso” (Dustin Hoffman) who befriends him and shows him the ropes. As his prospects get worse, Joe struggles to make it in the seedy environment of urban New York as Ratso struggles with his own health.
       …

Ocean's Eleven: The White Trash Edition

Steven Soderbergh not too long ago decried Hollywood for not giving directors creative freedom in their films, and it led to a hiatus from filmmaking for about four years. He had severe problems with how studios interfere in the process, so when he returned to the directors’ chair with Logan Lucky, he made sure to make it outside of the studio system. I really admire his principles here, but it’s a shame that the creative freedom he earned didn’t result in a lot of creativity. 
          Don’t get me wrong, Logan Lucky is certainly a departure from a lot of the movies its playing against, but it’s not quite the great comeback Soderbergh was hoping for.
          After a lifetime of bad luck, a fired construction worker from West Virginia Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum), teams up with his handicapped brother Clyde (Adam Driver) and sister Mellie (Riley Keough) to pull off a heist at a major NASCAR race. To do this, they recruit an incarcerated former schoolmate Joe Bang (Daniel Cr…

Game of Thrones Reviews: "Beyond the Wall"

First off I want to apologize for forgetting to make the obligatory Magnificent Seven, A-Team, or Suicide Squad joke at the end of the last review. In lieu of that I would like to point out however, that much like the movie Suicide Squad, all but the most expendable character survived. Funny that.
          The penultimate episode of a Game of Thrones season has gotten the reputation of being the big one of that season. Both Ned’s beheading and the Red Wedding took place there, as did the Battle of Blackwater, the Battle at the Wall, and the Battle of the Bastards. But this season is a little different as it’s already had a few battles and it’s three episodes shorter than the seasons preceding it. “Beyond the Wall” may be disappointing in that it’s not the best of the season, though there are moments where it really could be.
          There are a few problems in the ‘beyond the wall’ storyline, but let’s start off with the real shit, a.k.a. what’s going in Winterfell. Arya rel…

Pixar Sundays: Finding Nemo (2003)

Each of the Pixar movies up to now have had a relatively common formula, in that they were based on a central gimmick for the characters and world. With the possible exception of Toy Story 2, they all began with a selling point, be it toys, bugs, or monsters, and the story clearly came second. And while most of these managed to be good movies, there was only so long this trend could work. Finding Nemo, while still bearing some of the previous conventions, was the first Pixar movie without a bland marketing title like “ Fish Tale”; and it was only their second movie that’s plot was not inextricably linked to the fact the characters are fish. However unlike A Bug’s Life, this time, it worked.
  Finding Nemo is a remarkable movie. I feel like it was a kind of watershed for Pixar. When it came out, it was the height of their storytelling and animation prowess -Pixar was bigger than Disney Animation, where films were beginning to falter, and Finding Nemo was certainly their best l…