On The Road (2012)

Directed By: Walter Salles

Written By: Jose Rivera (Screenplay) & Jack Kerouac (novel)

Starring: Garrett Hedlund, Sam Riley and Kristen Stewart

Synopsis:

If your best friend takes advantage of you, write a book about them and get wealthy off their misery.

Musings:

Finally, the great fable of travel and youthful exuberance hits the screen. This poetic journey leaps off the pages and fits quite nicely into a period piece wrought with old cars and young adults rebelling against the old guard with their loud music and Jazz cigarettes, their juke joints and alcohol soaked nights and their irresponsible lascivious behavior. What a group to keep company with, the beat poets, speaking in elongated prose and large hand gestures. The hangers-on could only observe but not penetrate the wall of the gentleman who sought truth in being wanderers, bound only by their imagination and ability to steal the occasional automobile.

Who were these young actors that walked a mile in shoes so big only an elephant could wear? Garret Hedlund? Sam Riley? (Actually, he is amazing and also played Ian Curtis in Control). The acting was an immaculate attempt at reeling in personalities that live in legendary status, but who aren’t alive to confirm the reality of their being. Because of the beauty of the book, every audience member will indeed scrutinize their performance as the images jump off the screen and are processed through firing synaptic transmissions. I give all the actors a V for valiant.

I was instantly transported to my early 20s when I read this tale and took my own journeys through uncharted waters and for this I am happy to have seen this film. The director Walter Salles seems to have a decent grip on the biographical road trip. An interesting niche to have, that seems to lend itself to immaculate cinematography, although in this go-round he seemed to focus more on the cities as points of interest rather than the enchanting American landscape.

Maybe this film will get the book into the hands of another generation although somehow it landed into mine 43 years after it was written?

Problem: Not enough of the rails

Mood for watching: Nostalgic

What to eat and drink: Salt Peanuts and rye

If I made it: There would be more landscape

Why watch: The Bee and the Bop

Advertisements

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)

Directed By: George Lucas

Written By: George Lucas

Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Alec Guinness and Carrie Fisher

Synopsis:

The hardships of moisture farming amidst a complicated political galactic landscape.

Musings:

This is a very difficult movie to review. It is a beloved favourite of many, but also has a strong cultish opposition to those who prefer a more complicated style of Science Fiction. So, right off the bat I’m going to say that I am in the “Star Wars is rad” category.

In the 70s, there emerged a new style of American cinema, the Hollywood Blockbuster. Although Star Wars is not the first, I think it exemplifies a grandeur that had not been seen at that point. That is why everyone lost their shit when it came out and why many continue to watch it and loose their shit.

This film really has it all. Strong acting, amazing special FX for the time, a larger than life soundtrack, crazy sets, a palatable story and beautiful cinematography.

What struck me this time around was how great the soundscape was. I recommend watching it with good speakers blasting in surround sound.

I’m not saying that George Lucas was at all original with anything in this movie. The Jedi philosophy is all too similar to Buddhism and John Williams definitely ripped a lot of his famous score from Gustav Holst’s planets. That being said, he took all of these unoriginal ideas, including the story line and mashed them together to create something so amazing and creative.

Problem: The newer episodes couldn’t live up to the old

Mood for watching: Forceful

What to eat and drink: Wamp Rat and Yoda Soda

If I made it: There would be a few more Vader scenes

Why watch: To connect with your inner child

Savages (2012)

Directed By: Oliver Stone

Written By: Shane Salerno, Don Winslow & Oliver Stone (screenplay)

Starring: Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch, Benicio Del Toro and Blake Lively

Synopsis:

Stoners vs. Mexican drug cartel. A new take on “The Tortoise and the Hare”.

Musings:

*&#*$%!

I keep going to Oliver Stone movies hoping that I’ll get to see another Natural Born Killers or Platoon. Is the Oliver Stone that directed Savages the same guy who directed those beauties or is this Oliver Stone, the used car salesman with the same name and mistakenly was asked to direct a piece of schlock, filled with attractive Hollywood B-listers and only a sprinkle of actual talent (Benicio Del Toro) to try to legitimize this piece of shit movie? I’m not even exaggerating, it‘s excrement.

The script is filled with dialogue that is fit for an imbecile. The 3 main actors that deliver the script stink of imbecility. Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch (forever Tim Riggins) and Blake Lively are a disgrace to the craft acting, but not to the eyes, that’s for sure.

The cinematography is pretty damn good and has all the polished elements of Hollywood. The violence in the film keeps the audience’s attention because we all like to see gunfights and asses being kicked. This is the Hollywood machine at its finest – lacking substance but looking pretty. Thanks for nothing, Ollie.

I will patiently await his next biopic, “Obama! Don’t Get Any On Ya”.

Problem: Tim Riggins

Mood for watching: Asleep

What to eat and drink: Carne asado and Tecate

If I made it: I would have written a protagonist that could actually fight a Mexican cartel

Why watch: Don’t

The Avengers (2012)

Directed By: Joss Whedon

Written By: Joss Whedon (screenplay) & Stan Lee & Jack Kirby (comic book)

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Ruffalo and Scarlett Johansson

Synopsis:

Two powerful forces battle for control of a powerful energy source. Sound familiar?

Musings:

I’m not going to lie, I had a great time watching this light hearted comic book romp, filled with heroes and villains a plenty. I don’t have much of a personal connection to any of these characters (like I do with Batman) so I let myself have fun, which sounds strange given my history of ripping on movies.

The special FX straddle a fine line between over the top and campy, which gave it a comic book feel. The Avengers isn’t dark, even though they fight evil. Rather, it just feels like a team of strong people, some with superpowers, having fun frolicking and fighting evil. They do seem like they’re having too much fun.

The standout performance goes to Mark Rufalo who didn’t say much but played a great Bruce Banner/Hulk. The rest of the cast was fine, Sco Jo and all. My only negative comment is saved for Jeremy Renner who played Hawkeye. Renner’s character is about as useless as he is. How did he crack the Hollywood scene? He’s even been given the keys to the Bourne franchise. I don’t know him personally and he may be a really nice guy but shit damn he’s a terrible actor. I will have to skip an Avengers sequel if he’s in it, so I hope he disappears quickly.

Story is simple, acting is simple, FX are good and everybody loves Joss Whedon (don’t really know why), sounds like a recipe for success. Enjoy!

Problem: Sco Jo’s accent

Mood for watching: Hyper

What to eat and drink: Caviar and Snake Oil

If I made it: Nick Fury would recite Ezekiel 25:17

Why watch: To let loose

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Directed By: Joe Johnston

Written By: Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely (screenplay)

Starring: Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Hayley Atwell and Tommy Lee Jones

Synopsis:

America builds a superweapon against the Axis of Evil.

Musings:

Not to shabby at all. Like cilantro in a batch of fresh salsa, I was pleasantly surprised by this superhero comic book flick. I’m not overly into the patriotic American bullshit but the character was created in 1941 so I give them a pass. Captain America can kick some serious ass and that shield of his is magical.

I like the casting of Hugo Weaving (Agent Smith from The Matrix) as Red Skull the super villain, he was pretty bad ass and his little sidekick played by Toby Jones was perfect. I feel like they nailed all of the characters from Stanley Tucci all the way to Hayley Atwell who looked perfect for the time period.

Truth be told, I personally have a soft spot for superheroes and supervillians. That’s not to say that I won’t be critical of them, I just give them more of a pass because they aren’t trying to be anything other than the special effects extravaganzas they are (accept for Batman because that should be perfect). I did appreciate that they didn’t go overboard on the terrible one-liners.

Problem: It was only made to set up the Avengers

Mood for watching: Patriotic

What to eat and drink: Spinach and Castor Oil

If I made it: The movie would have ended later in time

Why watch: Vibranium

Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006)

Directed By: Goran Dukic

Written By: Goran Dukic (screenplay) and Etgar Keret (short story)

Starring: Patrick Fugit, Shea Whigham, Will Arnett and Tom Waits

Synopsis:

Purgatory doesn’t sound so bad. A nice place to vacation, like the Hamptons.

Musings:

I’ve always wondered what happened to Almost Famous star Patrick Fugit? This movie is what happened to him; accept now he has a sweet five O’clock shadow.

The only thing that makes me more frustrated than watching a horrible movie is watching a movie that has potential but for whatever reason the director is afraid to take it somewhere interesting. Maybe that’s why director Goran Dukic hasn’t made anything since Wristcutters.

The clever setting in this movie provides a spark of intrigue. The journey begins and then expectations are not met. I wouldn’t be as hard on this movie if the expectations created, shifted focus and took the audience to a completely different destination, but the train was loaded and never left the station.

What’s craziest about this whole endeavor is that somehow Dukic managed to dupe Tom Waits into being part of his lackluster sideshow. Tom waits was great but neither him nor his amazing music could save this.

I completely understand that making great independent cinema is extremely difficult, but once you’re in the belly of the beast you might as well give it a go. There’s no way that good cameos and bad Russian accents are going to get you anywhere.

Poop!

Problem: It doesn’t go beyond the creative setting

Mood for watching: Cracked out

What to eat and drink: Cinnamon toast crunch and Pims Cup

If I made it: The soundtrack would only have songs by artists who committed suicide.

Why watch: Because you’ll watch anything with Tom Waits in it

Take This Waltz (2011)

Directed By: Sarah Polley

Written By: Sarah Polley

Starring: Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen and Sarah Silverman

Synopsis:

The grass is always greener, but is it really? Maybe if you put some kind of crazy ass fertilizer on it?

Musings:

I really wanted to like this movie. In theory, I think that Sarah Polley is cool, she drinks at Crooked Star and all that good stuff, but let’s face it, in reality, she’s a suck ass writer/director. Ya ya ya, she is Canada’s little sweetheart from Road to Avonlea but I can’t give her a pass. I don’t want to be a hater but I have no choice.

Somehow she landed 3 very talented people, but didn’t manage to utilize them at all. Michelle Williams was endearing as she always is, but that has nothing to do with the movie and more to do with her hipster wardrobe. Seth Rogen and Sarah Silverman were caged comedians that weren’t allowed to come out and play. I’m not sure what the atmosphere was like on set, but it seemed like nobody had any fun making this movie.

If you’re going to make a movie where the city is such a central focus (like Toronto was in this movie), then make the travel in the city realistic. Nothing annoyed me more than the incongruence in travel from point A to point B, where the hell is the Toronto continuity?

Also, using the title of a Leonard Cohen song doesn’t automatically make your movie cool.

Problem: Lame discussion on how fickle relationships are

Mood for watching: Frustrated

What to eat and drink: Tacos El Asador and an espressado

If I made it: Seth Rogen and Sarah Silverman would have 8 min to rip on each other

Why watch: For an extremely saturated Toronto look