Film Reviews

Pitch Perfect

Finally watched this movie! Months and months of praise surrounding this release definitely sparked my interest with this film. However I must admit, when I first saw the previews, I definitely didn’t think this would be my type of movie, somehow I thought it would be a mix between the campiness of glee with the cheesiness of from Justin to Kelly (was I the only one that actually watched that?). Did this movie have its cheesy parts? Yes. However it also had parts that made me gag as well as moments where I literally laughed out loud; something that rarely happens for me with film and television.

The true star of this film is Fat Amy, played by Rebel Wilson. I had previously seen her playing a similar role in Bridesmaids and , and I must say she plays this part extremely well. Its always refreshing to see an over-confident plus sized character as opposed to the shy, self-concious type that is typically portrayed in the media. All my favourite moments of this film include a Fat Amy one-liner, and Rebel Wilson definitely stole the stage whenever she was on screen. I would without hesitation go and see a Fat Amy spinoff movie, her one-liners make the movie (such as the one quoted below) and she provides the much needed comedic relief , rounding out the film.

I’m gonna kill him! I’m gonna finish him like a cheesecake!

 

This film was almost a ‘can you guess who that is’ game, With actors such as Brittany Snow and Anna Camp having roles. Released on October 5th of this past year, Pitch Perfect is directed by Jason Moore (of Avenue Q fame) while the screenplay was written by Kay Cannon, a co-producer over at 30 Rock. The film is about a freshman girl named Beca, played by Anna Kendrick, who dreams of becoming a DJ and moving out to LA but at the moment is forced into high education by her father, an English professor, at his place of work. Beca is almost ambushed into joining the schools female acapella group, The Bellas, who are ravenous for redemption from an embarrassing incident at last years finals. Beca grows increasingly fonder of the Bellas and adds modern music and interesting mixes into their repertoire.

I’ve heard this film mentioned as one that you’d go back to as a pick me up on a bad day, while i’m not saying this is a bad film in any way you won’t be hearing me singing its praises to everyone I meet. The writing and witty one-liners elevated this film from your typical teenage-high school fare; however I found myself wanting more of that witty writing and less of the stereotypical teen angst and hot-and-cold attitude that Beca exuded throughout the majority of the film. However if you’ve got 112 minutes to kill I was pleasantly surprised by the writing and heart of the film. How else could I end this post than another Fat Amy one-liner:

I can sing, but I’m also good at modern dance, olden dance, and mermaid dancing which is a little different. You usually start on the ground.

It’s a lot of floor work.

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Film: Looper

Released on September 28th of this past year, Looper is a film that has been getting a lot of attention. Initially I wasn’t planning on watching this film, the trailer just didn’t grab me in, however after a review mentioned that those who liked Inception would like this movie, it quickly became a must see. I love movies that have depth; go in an unexpected direction and leave you questioning at the end, something I loved about Inception. However Looper left me feeling lack-luster.

Written and directed by Rian Johnson, this film stars Joseph-Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis as the young and older version of Joe. The film centers around the idea of loopers, a group of killers who work for the mob. Their victims are sent back in time, blindfolded where the hired gunman awaits. However the loopers soon learn that the Mob Boss is looking to ‘close the loops,’ meaning hiring a man to kill his older self. One looper recognizes a victim as his future self and hesitates killing him, thereby letting his older self get away, resulting in a series of events. While I must admit the concept of this film is intriguing, I really couldn’t get into the film until the last 20 or so minutes when there was a final twist. Mind you I really enjoyed those last 20 minutes.

Joseph Gordon-Lovett and Bruce Willis both did an admirable job playing Joe, however I for one had a hard time believing they were the same person. While this didn’t detract too much, since I wasn’t already engrossed by the film it was another notch against it. I have friends who loved this movie and other who are like me who found it ‘meh’ for lack of a better word. I would say if you are a hardcore action-movie buff, you’ll probably enjoy this movie; however if you’re looking for a film similar to Inception, for me this missed the mark.

Film: Midnight in Paris

Although I notably haven’t seen all too many Woody Allen movies, I have always enjoyed his films. Midnight in Paris is his 2011 offering and stars Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams. Owen Wilson is really the protagonist of the film. He plays Gil, a successful Hollywood who is struggling with his first novel. He travels to Paris with his fiancé Inez (Rachel McAdams) and falls in love with the romanticism of the city. Unfortunately his fiancé seems to be more wrapped up in materialistic ventures rather than taking a moonlit stroll down the parisian streets. One night when Gil takes a midnight stroll, he finds the inspiration he’s been looking for, however it seems to be taking his further and further away from his fiancé.

The romanticism of this movie is evident. It almost seems as if Allen penned a love story to Paris. The cinematography is beautiful and the story is whimsical but has a lot of heart. I’ve found this to be an interesting role for McAdams, one where she plays someone so realistically unlikable. Caught up in the Hollywood glamour of materialism rather than experiencing a city through the little things. Although I was a bit hesitant on Owen Wilson as the lead, he proved to be worthy. As a viewer I truly believed he was experiencing Paris for the first time and was desperately attempting to soak the city in while at the same time trying to find direction for both his novel and his personal life.

While this isn’t an epic love story between a man or a women, nor is it a film that will leave your head spinning for hours trying to understand it. This is a love story between a man and a city and will leave you smiling at the end.

Film: The Prestige

Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called “The Pledge”. The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course… it probably isn’t. The second act is called “The Turn”. The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you’re looking for the secret… but you won’t find it, because of course you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn’t clap yet. Because making something disappear isn’t enough; you have to bring it back. That’s why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call “The Prestige”.”

I’ve always been a fan of magic. I still remember going to this one magic show when I was a kid, maybe 5 or 6 at the time. I went with my best friend and her mom, and to say we were excited was an understatement. Now I wasn’t one of those kids who put on magic shows for their friends and family, I was the type of person that loved to watch the illusion and be confounded by my amazement of a trick. Than again maybe that’s one of the reasons why I’m pursuing science, there’s all the wonder and amazement that comes from watching a good illusion but you get the added benefit of knowing it isn’t a trick. The experiments are real, the illusion exists in reality.

The Prestige is a 2006 film, yes magic does play a role in the film however it is primarily about the rivalry between 2 magicians and their quest to become the top illusionist. The Prestige was directed by Christopher Nolan and stars Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale as rival magicians Robert Angier and Alfred Borden respectively. The film also stars Michael Caine as Cutter, a stage engineer.

I re-watched this movie this past weekend on a rainy Friday evening and I was instantly reminded why I’m such a fan of Christopher Nolan’s work. The storytelling is just brilliant, the comparison between Angier the aristocratic magician and Borden the working class magician is superb. As a viewer you are consistently reminded about the differences between the two magicians but it is subtle enough to give depth and not force the film into a ‘rich vs poor’ story. What is interesting is how similar the two magicians are, they both face terrible losses and commit a plethora of back-and-forth crimes against one another in the name of their craft. The lengths these two men  will go through to become the superior magician both astounding and terrifying.

The casting is perfect in this film. Hugh Jackson has showmanship to spare and does a fantastic job playing the role of the theatrical yet torn Angier. The juxtaposition between a man willing to go to such great lengths in the name of his craft and a man who just craves the spotlight is a thought provoking one. I’m sure a psych student would have a field day trying to analyze his actions! Not to be outdone, Christian Bale is spot on as Borden. A man who is willing to give up so much, yet struggles to hold onto what is nearest and dearest. Lastly we can’t forget Michael Caine who rounds out the  casting playing a stage engineer who wants to do what is right and is a scene-stealer to boot.

If you have any interest in magic, the human mind or to what extremes a rivalry can go I would highly suggest watching this film.

Film: One Week

Life is too short. Live each day like its your last. Always live life to the fullest. We are constantly surrounded by saying and quotes either reminding us or telling us that a single moment can change the rest of your life.

One week is a 2008 TIFF film (theatrical release in 2009) directed by Michael McGowan and stars Joshua Jackson, Liane Balaban and Campbell Scott who narrates the film. Rather than a plot heavy film, in my opinion this was almost a love story to Canada. Here let me explain that a little bit. Joshua Jackson plays  Ben Tyler, an elementary school English teacher from Toronto, Ontario. The film opens with Ben receiving the news that he has stage 4 cancer with a diagnosis of less than 2 years to live. Understandably Ben doesn’t take the news all too well, and with what some would call signs from above, he tells his fiance Samantha (Liane Balaban) that he is going on a 2 day vacation before he ‘becomes a patient.’ Samantha, completely against the idea of postponing his treatment, refuses to go with him. The 2 days turn into much longer and so begins Ben’s motorcycle journey across the country.

The cinematography in this film is absolutely beautiful, demonstrating the beauty within the Canadian landscape. However with quirky nuances snuck in such as the ever so popular Roll up the Rim, this is truly a Canadian salute. I loved the way this film was set, I’m not always the biggest fan of films with narration but it really worked well here and I like how the narration aspect actually found a way to relate back to the story. Rather than having a narration just for the sake of a narration. The opening scene is just so strong and really set the tone for the rest of the movie. Cancer isn’t at all a light hearted subject matter, however the film truly carries a certain spirit. I didn’t walk away from the film feeling an overwhelming sense of purpose, neither did the film leave me toiling with my thoughts. The true star of the film was the landscapes and the scenery. I was literally awestruck when Ben had found his way to Banff (ironically I was headed in the same direction!).

I have actually been wanting to watch this film ever since it was first released, however for some reason I put it on the back-burner and as those things usually go, out of sight out of mind. Would I watch this film again? Honestly I’m not so sure, the scenes were beautiful but I didn’t feel like there was all that much plot development. Nonetheless, as a Canadian and a lover of travel I have to recommend this film. If nothing else than just for a rainy day, at 94 minutes, this isn’t a film that you’ll feel restless throughout. Here again is one of my favourite bits in the film, a final quote courtesy of Ben

When you get those rare moments of clarity, those flashes when the universe makes sense, you try desperately to hold on to them. They are the life boats for the darker times, when the vastness of it all, the incomprehensible nature of life is completely illusive. So the question becomes, or should have been all a long… What would you do if you knew you only had one day, or one week, or one month to live. What life boat would you grab on to? What secret would you tell? What band would you see? What person would you declare your love to? What wish would you fulfill?

Film: Ratatouille

Anyone can cook.

A powerful message and one that I wholeheartedly agree with. The way I think of it the phrase anyone can cook can be taken a step further. Anyone can cook, anyone can have style and anyone can be great. Its only the limitations that we put on ourselves, and the expectations that we allow to affect us that hold us down. A strong message coming from an unlikely source.

Ratatouille is one of my favorite Disney movies in general, let alone in my top pixar movies. I recently re-watched the film and thought why not do a movie review? First off a brief synopsis. Ratatouille is a typical french peasant dish consisting of vegetables; onion, eggplant, peppers, zucchini….. oh wait this is about the movie not the dish.

Ratatouille (the food), this also happens to be a great recipe!

Ratatouille (the film) is the 8th film produced by Pixar and was released in 2007. The movie is about a rat (Remy) who has a love of food and dreams of becoming a chef. He has an incredibly developed sense of smell and taste which allows him to create tantalizing flavor combinations. However since he is a rat there are (of course) certain stereotypes that prevent him from becoming a chef. Remy tries to achieve his dream by forming an alliance with a Parisian garbage boy.

Okay, so let’s think this out. You know how to cook, and I know how to… appear human. We just need to work out a system so that I do what you want, in a way that doesn’t look like I’m being controlled by a tiny rat chef – oh will you listen to me I’m insane I’m insane!

As a food lover myself, this movie really spoke to me. The artistry and cinematography are beautiful, the story is quaint and the film has that quintessential french feel. Although the concept is still a bit icky (can you imagine finding all those rats in the kitchen!) I can’t help but get warm and fuzzies whenever I watch this movie.

I will admit that I’m not the biggest fan of all of Pixar and Disney’s films however this is one of the few that I continually watch over and over again. I would absolutely recommend this movie to any food fan, Disney lover or if you just need a quick me up to get you through. 10 stars, 5/5, 2 thumbs up and all of those other rating scales; basically watch it. You won’t regret it.