Reviews

38 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
8/10
Pet Owners will definitely relate
18 December 2017
Not a Great Classic by any stretch, but SECRET LIFE OF PETS is still a pretty awesome achievement, both from a story, design, and animation point of view. There are moments in the film when you wonder how the animators pulled off scenes of such dazzling complexity, such as the one on the Brooklyn Bridge towards the end - and speaking as a 3D artist, watching the hair dynamics pf the various characters was. at times, truly jaw dropping.

But the most fascinating aspect of this was how the film moves from how we see our pets to hoe they see the world. The writing is especially clever during these moments.

All in all, a film I will probably watch again, simply because so much happens that you cant take it all in in one viewing. And if you're a pet owner, the final montage (no spoilers) will grab you by the heart.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
6/10
It's big, it's messy, it's.... not that bad
22 November 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Pluses: great production design, as one should expect from a Luc Besson film. Great CG work: beautifully integrated and almost sprawlingly wonderful. Some interesting nods to Fifth Element. A decent enough story, even if not very well told. Some nice eye candy in the opening school bus foray.

But...

Negatives: the two leads were... well, not dreadful, just... meh. He didn't come anywhere near to being the supposed hot stud, and she certainly had her Valley Girls moments. They both got seriously annoying after a while. Couple that with a script that felt like a first draft, with one enormous plot hole... I mean, we're talking massive here (see below), and you get something that's, while great style, has little substance to back it up. It's mindless fun, but you'll probably get everything you want in one sitting.

SPOILER: Okay, that plot hole... Where did the last remaining Converter come from? Everyone who survived was trapped inside the capsule. This little guy was outside and no doubt was wiped out along with everything else... so where did he come from? We know the bad guy somehow got one, but given that this species never even developed space travel, did someone drop by and take one home as a souvenir? That right there dropped a rating point for me.
0 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
Delivers exactly what you would expect
4 November 2017
Production design? Check.

CG work? Check.

Good 3D? Check.

Chris as Thor? OMG check. (loved the fan service scene)

Some mindless humour along the way? Check.

Stan Lee cameo? Check.

It's a comic book, folks. A great big, dressed up, very glossy comic book — and if you get that wrong, then there's something terribly wrong with you.

Now, a couple of minor cavils: the appearance of Doctor Strange at the beginning and Thor not recognizing him? Sorry, had trouble believing that — and the whole scene, while fun, seems more than a bit gratuitous. ("Hey, we can put in another Marvel character here!"). The Hulk's appearance seemed likewise contrived, with no real reason save to move the plot along a bit. Yes, he plays a big part later, but how we got him there in the first place wasn't really explained any more than "Hulk crash here!" Equally WTF was how a certain other Asgaardian shows up. It was like this planet was Grand Central Station for the universe.

That aside, it's a fun, mindless movie with a lot of great eye candy. Cant go wrong with that.
1 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The Guardians (2017)
6/10
It's so wonderfully Russian
28 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I'm being generous with the rating, I know, because in its bones this thing is terrible... but in a dementedly fun kind of way.

I wont rehash the plot — it's all there. Instead, let's focus on the thing that provides the most laughs: the Chris Hemsworth lookalike who transforms into a bear. IN a film that has a much CG work as this, his human/bear appearances are about as lame as the first CG crack at the Hulk. But when (1) he gets KOs with a single punch from the Bad Guy and (2) finds himself on a wire that's taking him on a ride above Moscow, the expressions are pricelessly hysterical.

Of course the villain probably lives at the end. And the final line, suggesting there will be more to this franchise, is delivered with the excitement of a Sears catalogue.

But thing is, it's genuinely funny, perhaps for all the right reasons — an over the top Bad Guy, a bear with identity problems, a TV commentator who assures us that everyone who lost their home during the big dust up will be provided housing while their homes are rebuilt by the government... I mean, what's not to love in a film that cares so much about millions of people we never get to see?

Put the popcorn in the microwave and the brain in neutral and watch it. Grand idiotic fun.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
1/10
Here's what you learn from DRESSED TO KILL
7 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
— Sexual pickups always end badly

— Transsexuals are mentally disturbed people

— Black men on subway platforms are dangerous

— Nerdy guys can build anything

— If you really put your mind to it, you can wear anything and it will fit just fine, even a nurse's uniform clearly four or five sizes too small.

This really has to be one of the worst films I've ever seen, with the one star given it for the cinematography. Everything else — acting, writing, direction, even the freaking music — is so bad that it becomes almost unwatchable halfway through. Never mind that the film starts and ends with naked women taking showers (and no, author of synopsis, Angie isn't taking a shower while her husband is shaving: that entire sequence is a fantasy she needs to get off while her husband is screwing her in the next sequence) with plenty of way over the top shots of naked breasts and vaginae. Never mind that the film's twist that the doctor is actually the killer is glaringly apparent looooong before anyone in the movie figures it out. Never mind tat the music score makes it sound like something from the Hallmark Channel. This thing is just a sad, sad, sad piece of work: misogynist, transphobic, far too sadistic in its use of close-up violence to inform the audience that sex is bad, no matter how it's being carried out.

Appalling.
1 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
5/10
Fabulous visuals, but...
6 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
OK, let's start with the obvious one for some viewers: Chris Pratt has put serious time in at the gym. Wow. That man can guard my galaxy any day of the week.

The visuals are extraordinary in design and execution, but Ego's planet looked a bit fussy and overdone for someone who's supposed to be a lower-case-g god. I'm not sure what style the designers were going for, but it felt messy.

The writing... okay, here's where things start to fall apart — especially in the second half where it's One Major Reconciliation Scene After Another. Sisters are united, sorta. Boy gets a dad, kinda. Bad guys find solace in each other, more or less. It all felt like Hallmark did a fast rewrite of the script before production started.

I dunno, folks. I really wanted to like this (especially after seeing Chris and... well, never mind). Maybe since this is a trilogy, this is just a bridge setting up things for the Big Conclusion (before, of course, they see the profit margin and change their minds and this becomes a monster franchise with pointless sequels, like STAR WARS). But it just felt sloppy and awkward and forced — and damn but there was a lot of questionable language for something that's supposed to be family-friendly. I'm no prude, but this doesn't come across as a PG film, not with some of the things our friends have to say,

Meanwhile, back to Chris's abs.........
1 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
Nicely done
27 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I picked it up from the DVD section on a whim, and I have to admit, I wasn't all that disappointed. Yes, it's cute and obvious and at certain points utterly illogical (He hires the evil villain and the evil villain's girlfriend? Seriously?)... but if you just ride with it and see how they pull off some of the plot points, it's rather goofy fun.

The only place I wish they'd spend more than half an hour writing the script was during the school scene, where what was supposed to be reality seriously turned into fantasy, all the way up to the concluding knock out. There was no tension with the kids inside: that might as well not even happened. But aside from that, it's a lovely little charmer when you want a feels-good kind of flick.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
Worth the two year wait
6 May 2017
Just to get the big complaint from everyone out of the way... yes, the CG work has a cartoonish edge to it. Know what? Don't care. It's a big ol' fantasy film with flying swan ships and elephants running amok and soldiers being slung like cannonballs.

I loved every second of it.

It's big and loud and full of eye candy — both in the production design and the obvious hard work put in by the two male leads. The cinematography is gorgeous: every frame, bar none, is a painting. Even the musical numbers feel almost organic to the plot. It's a stunning achievement, and I'm sure someone in Hollywood is thinking about an American remake.

Go see it. You will not be disappointed. But see the first one before you do. The only thing that prevents a full ten star on this was I got a little confused by the timeline. But once you figure that out, you see it as even more of an achievement because of the artful way the director ties them back and forth.
12 out of 35 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
4/10
I was hesitant to see it...
7 April 2017
Warning: Spoilers
... just because of the hype. Too many times, I've been fooled by movies hyped out of all possible limit — and this felt like yet another.

Don't misunderstand: it's beautifully filmed. Every member of the cast is spot on in capturing their various characters. The production design walks a great line between gritty reality and just barely there haze of memory.

The problem is the writing. I was with the film until the very end. I wanted to see a conclusion to Chiron's character arc. Had he learned anything along the way? Would he find any kind of resolution?... Well, we just don't know. Everything seems to be headed for that, then it just... stops. Incredible build up of all kinds of sexual tension between him and Kevin... and it just... stops. Tearful cuddling scene and go to credits.

I like films that leave themselves open to interpretation. But there has to be something to interpret, and this seemed to lack that. Maybe I missed a few things along the way, but it was just empty. Chiron doesn't really learn anything. Kevin's turned his life around, as far as we can tell, but it's difficult, if not impossible, to know for sure because when everything is left vague, then nothing is really resolved.

Best Picture? Sorry, no. I don't see many movies these days, but when I finished watching this, my first reaction was, Oh? Are we getting a Moonlight 2?
4 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
3/10
Disappointing would be an understatement
7 March 2017
Three stars only for the sequences that actually came from the book, as the stop motion work is quite beautiful and well executed.

But the framing story, which seems to think we need the message pounded on us with a twenty- pound sledge hammer, was totally unnecessary and — as I"m afraid it might be — put in a sop as part of the "empower little girls!" campaign currently running through almost all media. (Let me add, I have no problem with empowerment, but it doesn't need to be slathered over *everything*.)

The Little Prince isn't about empowerment. It really isn't about the power of imagination, although the marketing might like you to believe that. Rather, it's a meditation on life and death, on love and loss — and the filmmakers here completely missed the point in their rush to create this mangled view of a book whose message comes from a more delicate and thoughtful place. I applaud the art, to be sure — the CG work is nice... just not for this particular story. It needs its own story to tell, not tailgating on the back of something else.
2 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
3/10
A Missed Opportunity
6 January 2017
Anyone who knows much about anime knows about Hetalia, this insanely charming series in which countries are person-fied and portrayed with as much stereotype as possible. It's garnered a huge online presence, woth other folks providing Hetalia versions of their own country... or province... or state.

As such, the idea of a Hetalia movie just seems ideal, but this one was essentially just a mash-up of a rather weak storyline involving aliens, coupled with pieces of animation from the old anime series. The latter gave everything a strange, disjointed feel because the extracts really didt go anywhere with the plot of the film (such as that was). And while it was fun seeing countries outside the core group — like Cuba — they were just walk-ons put in, I gather, for fanboy service.

It's a pity because the original series if so wonderfully whack. Instead it got appended to this rather lame storyline.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Burnt (I) (2015)
8/10
A wonderfully quiet little film...
24 December 2016
I"m sure some people will scream and yell that "this isn't how it is in a real kitchen!" — to which I say, go work in one and see how well you fare. This is one of those films where it's not the destination (We know where it's going soon enough), but the journey... which is handled quietly and with understatement. I've never thought of Cooper a dramatic actor, but he handles himself well in this. It's not an Oscar performance, but the material doesn't demand one — rather, it asks for everyone to underplay to the point of appearing bland... and yet none of them are. The handling of the maitre d' subplot was quite lovely, by the way. Like so much in this movie, you didn't need everything plastered onto the screen in 10-foot-high letters. You just had to sit back, think a bit, and appreciate.

Kudos to all involved.
0 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Game of Thrones (2011– )
5/10
Let's see who we can kill off this week...
17 November 2016
Lots of points for production design: the costumes are uniformly magnificent, from the lowest peasant to the highest king. The sets get a tad monotonous after a while: big, colonnaded halls of dark beige and grey and lots of oversized statuary, but even those can be breathtaking in their own way. The CG work just gets better and better with each season: tighter, cleaner, more layered and intricate. Many of the performances are quite good, even after six years, and the photography is outstanding.

That's the good stuff.

The bad? OK, I"m halfway through season 6, binge-watching the DVDs, and the sins of the series are becoming so obvious that the writers are in real need of a walk of atonement. Having not read the books, I don't know how closely they're adhering to them at this point — or if indeed they even are anymore, since I understand much of this season was planned in expectation of the next book which Martin has yet to finish. But increasingly, each episode is a combination of (1) some characters wandering around the countryside in the snow, (2) some characters getting killed off for no particular reason, and (3) one really big CG-laden scene somewhere towards the end to keep you coming back to see what happens next.

My biggest complaint with GOT S1 was that it felt like the old TV show "Dynasty" with a lot of fur costumes: lots of rich, powerful people going after each other in a somewhat pointless way. S2-4 gave it a bit of a rise above that, but S5 and (thus far) S6 have almost completely reverted to type: Fantasy Soap Opera with Furs. At this point, I'm not sure why the show has lasted this long: the story lines seem to be running on auto-pilot. There hasn't been much with the same visceral impact as the Red Wedding. By now I would have hoped to see at least something of where the series hopes to wind up, but instead it's just wandering in the snow.

I understand that it's been contracted for two more seasons. I'm starting to wonder if any of the major characters will even be left by then, that perhaps they're bringing it to a close because no one will be left alive to sit on the stupid Iron Throne. That would be almost as disappointing as the ending of LOST, but at this point, certainly not outside the realm of possibility.
2 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Black Sails (2014–2017)
9/10
Shockingly, a series genuinely for adults...
14 November 2016
I'm hedging on the 10 only because of very minor things that other commentators have noted, like everyone's perfect teeth... but even that is forgivable in this utterly amazing piece of work. I can understand why there's so few episodes in each season and why the seasons are so far apart: these things took work, and every effort shows — from the sets to the costumes to the photography to the writing to the acting to the direction, every episode is a movie unto itself, done with nearly impeccable style.

To that end, it's almost laughable — in a sad sort of way — to read some of the negative reviews for this. "Not enough sword fights!" "Too much gay sex!" (I'm trying to remember just one, but then perhaps that reviewer was watching SPARTACUS?) "Too much talking!" — as though simple communication is a bad thing. Get over it, folks. This is a show with action, adventure, *and* a whole bunch of moral ambiguity about things. Almost every character, from Captain Flint to Eleanor to John Silver to the lowest crew member has some kind of wonderful personality flaw, which is one of the things that makes this show so *genuine*. The writers have taken characters from literature and made them fully developed people: not an easy task when you consider how much baggage people would bring to a series that's a prequel to Treasure Island... and they do it with amazing skill Just watch how things shift in the final episode of Season 3: a conversation at night in the jungle that, at first, we cant quite put into the chronology, until it starts wending its way through the climactic battle to follow. Brilliant writing and extraordinary performances all around. I cannot recommend this thing too highly/
4 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
3/10
One of those "Huh?" movies
12 November 2016
Warning: Spoilers
The only reason for the 3 is that the photography was well done. Everything else? Hmm... not much...

Lots of spoilers ahead.

The film becomes pretty predictable about halfway through, from the point where Mio tells the ex-detective "He's not my father", but there are some holes large enough to drive a semi through with room for a few compact cars besides. Like...

-- if Mio was so concerned about the fate of her mother, why didn't she go to the police?

-- if we assume the junior detective was killed by the deranged psycho, how did the body wind up in the torched house next door?

-- why was the ex-detective's wife unwilling to tell her husband about the psycho getting her hooked on drugs?

-- when she had the opportunity, why didn't Mio kill the psycho?

It's almost like the film just went nowhere and stayed for a brief visit because it had nothing else to say. When killing a dog provides the moment when everyone pivots back on the psycho — a moment, by the way, that was far too long in coming — you have to wonder what film all these critics went to see instead of this one? It's long, repetitive, leaves itself wide open, and has characters whose motives are just as muddled and confused as the greenlight given this thing in the first place.
25 out of 36 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
4/10
Not aging well
10 September 2016
The "silver screen" edition, which takes the film back to its pre-CG roots (and was indeed the first version I'd seen), is currently available (for the moment anyway) on YouTube. Wanting to see if it was as good as I remembered, I sat down one night and watched it.

OK, yes, most successful franchise in movie history. Got it. Great soundtrack. No doubt about it. But strip away the layers upon layers of CG work, and what do you have left? Not a whole lot.

The acting is almost as cardboard as the sets. The screenplay is a mash-up of things that even in their day were sci-fi-movie clichés. The models are clearly that: plastic and styro models. The puppetry and stop-action work is almost unbearably bad. The pre-CG post work looks almost laughably lame. Perhaps Lucas is right: this is not the version we want to remember, because it's just a cheezy 1980s movie. STAR WARS' advantage, at the time, was that it was so different from what else was being produced at the time. But now, with the perspective of all these decades? It ain't holding up well.

It's still a great series of space operas, no discussion needed on the point. And God knows it's made a kazillion bucks.

But is it *good*? Well, sorry, no.
0 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
1/10
Why did they bother?
6 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Oh. Right. Because of the money.

If you've read the other reviews, you know the plot, so I"m not gonna rehash that. Space Cowboy tries to save the world, fails, manages to save the girl instead, and in the process saves the universe...

... to which I say, "Huh?"

OK, let's start with the animation: it's cheap and cheezy, even by Funimation standards. I've only seen a few of their films, but the others had at least some pretension of knowing what a human body looks like. The character designers here seem to have gotten their inspirations from fun-house mirrors, with impossible elongated torsos and teeny little heads.The mix of CG and cel didn't work for even a second. As for the backgrounds... well, the less said about those, perhaps the better.

The story? Well, in the extras, one of the producers points out that he and someone else kept a file of scenes from films they both enjoyed, and after watching this... well, pastiche... I can see why they followed the dictum of only stealing from the best. A little Star Wars here, a little Blade Runner there, some Alien over there, a whole whack of Starship Troopers over there... you get the idea. There's not a single original concept to be found anywhere, just a hopeless mishmash of other people's films.

The direction? Similarly dreadful. The voicing seems to come straight out of Acting 102, while the visual style relies way too much on full profile shots of clenched jaws and sad, somber eyes. Some of the action scenes are little more than a series of explosions, followed by a couple of the main characters congratulating themselves on surviving.

Cut through it all, I probably should have stopped a half hour in, as I was tempted to. But I stuck it out just to see where it was going. As it turned out, nowhere all that important.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Are You Being Served? (2016 TV Movie)
2/10
No no no
30 August 2016
I could only bear to watch the opening few minutes before it was painfully obvious this was less a reboot so much as a sad parody.

Mr Humphries? Please. Yes, he was gay in the original, but he certainly did not go around lifting men's jackets to look at their ass. From what I've read, this "reboot" is just a far cruder version, which completely trainwrecks the intent of the original.

I"m sorry, but no. This is just sadly pathetic. If it gets made into a series, then God help us all because the writers will not have anywhere near the wit of the original staff. This thing will go down in flames (real ones, not those acted by the Imam-wannabee) — and deservedly.
3 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Miles (2016)
3/10
A disappointing Hallmark movie at best
20 August 2016
Small town boy wants to run off to the big city of Chicago and cooks up a scheme to play on the girl's volleyball team in order to secure a sports scholarship to Loyola. There's about 150 subplots, none of which are all that resolved, but that's the big one.

It's not terrible; it's just pointless and bland. Every time you think it'll rise up and make some kind of statement... about life, about art, about sexuality, about anything at all... it just quietly ducks off and goes somewhere else. Molly Shannon (Mom) and Paul Reiser (School Superintendent) do what they can with what they're given, which really ain't much. You just have all these stories — the dead father's mistress, the Mom pretending to be a gay man and having an x-rated convo with a guy online (using AOL, since the film is set in 1999), the potentially lesbian volleyball coach, this, that, the other — and in the centre of it all is a manchild so terminally thin and boring that it wouldn't matter if he were gay or straight or nothing at all. His sexuality really doesn't mean anything in terms of the plot: it's a convenient character add-on no doubt to get this some visibility in LGBT film festivals. Toss in a couple of obligatory film montages — his team tryout, the team winning their games, Mom dancing around the kitchen — and the result is a treacley, tasteless movie that tries to have an inspiring message and comes across as a greeting card about personal courage.
15 out of 23 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
Convoluted but great fun
20 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I don't rehash plots in reviews: you can easily find it by either reading other reviews of the summation at the top of the page. Let's just get to the film itself.

The main character is a bit of a mess, but part of that may be because it's difficult to assess exactly how much time has transpired in this film. At some points it feels like it takes place over just a few days, while in others a few weeks. If the former, it makes this seem more like a Hitchcock film, where everyone, from the jilted ex (or is he?) to the baby-desperate lawyer (or is she?) to the hypno-therapist (or is he?) is trying to set this guy up. Think "North by Northwest", done on a smaller, more indie budget. No wonder he's such a basket case by the end, thoroughly convinced that he has indeed murdered... well, someone.

But here's the thing: after a while, you just don't care — and not for the reason you might think. You don't care because you're just having such a grand time trying to keep up with all the plot twists and turns. Maybe the jilted ex did it — whoops, no, because now he's dead. The guy who shot the TV producer? Well, now he's dead too — and we're only two thirds of the way through. The central character is hauled in for questioning on numerous occasions and finally leaves one session thoroughly disgusted... only to have the camera cut to the lawyer's sudden, enigmatic smile. Then there's the therapist, with an unstated agenda of his own, the drug-dealing best friend who looks like another possibility, and finally the tag team lesbians who manage to muddy the waters even more. So many people to keep track of!

But it's great fun: very well written (Actually North by Northwest written by Feydeau). and, for the most part, well acted and directed. The camera work was not the best, moving into the trite on too many occasions, and the eternally young, WeHo nature of the cast was a tad too relentless (My personal favourite laugh line came when the jilted ex hooks up with the therapist — yes, it's the kind of film where everyone is getting it on with almost everyone else — and dismisses him by saying he should look for someone "your own age"... which may have been about 25.

Still, see it. It's totally mindless fun.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
4/10
It's... uhm.... interesting...
13 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
It's not great by any stretch, but then again, it's not completely terrible. It just sorta... is.

I wont rehash the actors or the synopsis: there are over 300 reviews that already do that for you. My biggest complaint, above all, is the storytelling. First we're here, then we're there, then we have these new people, and they all work to save these other people, and meanwhile another group of people is running around wreaking havoc, and somehow — in this vast ménage of people — Conan manages to find himself in the middle of it all every single time.

Oh, and he gets laid. But in true barbarian fashion, he leaves her. She's smiling... and probably pregnant — but she's happy. Joy.

The story meanders like one of the gigantic war machines featured in the film. Perhaps you had to know Howard's novel first, but it seriously felt like the writers occasionally wrote themselves into the occasional corner and then said. "Plot twist!" before moving on in a completely new direction.

And the inconsistencies! The evil witch daughter can conjure up sand demons to fight Mr. Barbarian, but somehow she cant do the same anywhere else? Are her powers limited to just sniffing around virgins and creating people from sand? I would have thought she could do much more, but maybe she spent a good time out of class.

There are a few things that save it from being a complete disaster. The production design is quite good, even though Conan's giant skirt seems a bit unwieldy for a Man o Action. The women's costumes are sexy without being tacky, and the acres of leather armour are all well sculpted. Lord knows, the CG work is amazing, if pointless.Everything falling apart in the third act seemed to have mirrored the film's production — gigantic earthquakes that strike without warning or reason and a mask whose final effect was less than fearsome, a few waving tentacles and that was about it. I was waiting for the Dead to rise again when he put it on, but instead the dead seemed just as unwilling to make an appearance in this thing as I was, after a while, to watch it.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Hail, Caesar! (2016)
8/10
Not for everyone, and maybe that's a good thing...
6 February 2016
HAIL CAESAR! ("A Story of the Christ", as we are told in the title card) is one of those offbeat gems that I have no doubt grows in affection with repeated viewings. Folks here complain that it's not a laugh-a-minute farce, that it's not this, that it's not that...

Here's what it *is*: the film version of RADIO DAYS.

Just like Allen made a loving pastiche of radio at its height in the 1940s, so have the Coens done for film at the tail end of its Silver Screen era, when studios manipulated its contract players and worked the media to prevent the "unfortunate" aspects from being revealed to an audience that just wanted escapism fantasy. Josh Brolin is the tightly-wound studio "head of physical production", an enforcer who's being seduced by a potential job with Lockheed to oversee work on the atom bomb. Before he can come to a decision about whether or not take it, he has to deal with the sudden disappearance of the slightly disconnected-from-reality George Clooney (who looks like he's having a blast in this, especially in the final scene of his big budget sword-and-sandel Jesus epic). Along the way, we see the Coens' take on Esther Williams, Carmen Miranda, Gene Kelly, and a host of other stars from the era...

... and this is what makes the film so damn much fun. It's not about the story, it's about how the Coens are celebrating the films we have perhaps idealized a bit too much: Esther Williams' underwater ballets and Gene Kelly in NYC for 24 hours and Gary Cooper trying to play it in a toney, high-class period drama. There are so many references to the great films of the day that if you blink, you'll miss a few — they follow fast and furious and sometimes with little more than a sly wink. If you are an old time movie buff, you will love this film to tiny little bits. If not... well, you probably wont enjoy it all that much.

But then the Coens probably didn't make it for you, did they...
218 out of 344 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
I guess some people just do not get it...
9 November 2015
Warning: Spoilers
"I didn't know this was a musical!"

"Cinderella's step mother cuts off her daughter's toe? REALLY?"

"The opening number is just too repetitive and strange!"

:: sigh ::

This is what happens when you give an audience something wonderful to think about while they're watching, and all they want is simple-minded fairy tales doled out with a large spoon.

OK, note to audience: INTO THE WOODS is a damn sight closer to the original tales than you probably know. In the oriignal Grimm tales, Cinderella's family not only goes through the hacking and cutting and blinding, but also has to dance in red hot iron shoes at her wedding until they're dead. Little Red Riding Hood and her granny are not saved by a passing huntsman. These tales are filled with death and destruction, all as warnings not to steer too far from the path... so if all you know is the Disney versions, then I suggest you go read up a bit on the originals before seeing this.

The score is a complex piece of work: if you listen carefully (I know, listening is *hard*, to paraphrase Barbie), you'll hear echoes of songs played against each other throughout the film. They way that it's done is brilliant and wondrous, because it adds another layer of meaning to everything by having characters "speak" to each other without actually talking to each other.

For all the one-star reviews of this, all I can figure is that all Americans want to see is stuff blowing up and girls with big tits, and sadly for you, you wont find a lot of that in INTO THE WOODS. It's challenging, gorgeous material, beautifully mounted, impeccably scored. Yes, they did some disservice to the original show, especially in the second act, but most of the changes are still well-founded. Rapunzel (SPOILER) running off with her prince echoes back to the central theme of the show: children don't listen. Apparently, neither do adults.
3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Bordertown (1989– )
One of the best Canadian series ever...
6 February 2015
I don't know which diety to thank, but all three seasons are now out on DVD, and I have been binge watching them and reliving my own early days as a Canadian at the same time.

I loved this show. The production values were top notch, the scripts well written, the interplay between the three leads tense without being over-bearing. Dramatic when it needed to be and wildly funny when it didn't. Historically accurate in even the smallest of details, just all around stunningly executed to the point of perfection.

And now I have all three seasons in full and can go back to Bordertown anytime I want, which will be pretty gosh darn often. Yay!!!
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
5/10
Not terrible, but not very good either
16 October 2014
Yes, the CG work is lame. Yes, the acting is far from Oscar worthy. Yes, there are incredibly gross moments when the continuity goes out the window (Hero dumps heroine in creek. Dress gets muddy. Next scene or two, dress looks great. Next scene after that, dress looks muddy. Next scene after that... well, you get the idea.). Yes, the payoff is pretty WTF, and it ended feeling like there should have been one more scene added (the much ballyhooed coronation).

Despite all that, it has a certain goofy charm that I wont try to explain. The hero is cute — although he needs a bit more time at the gym — the heroine is cute — although her acting is as dense as a page from a small town phone book. And somehow they sorta/kinda make it all work. Don't ask me to explain how. They just do. Yes, yes, I know: great big huge monstrous gaps in the plot, characters that make zero sense because no one bothers to give them sufficient backstory (Does anyone know what the "glittering" was supposed to be?), and of course those magical self-cleaning costumes. But I watched it through to the end and felt like I got every penny of the five bucks I paid for it.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
loading
An error has occured. Please try again.