Archive for March, 2010

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Hot Tub Time Machine

March 26, 2010

Notes from the back row – March 23, 2010

Jessica Pare, Candian Hot Tub master

Hot Tub Time Machine. I admire a movie where the plot is summed up in the title. It subverts any highbrow expectations and lets us enjoy things for what they are– which in this case, is funny as hell.

Set in a ski town, Hot Tub Time Machine is about a group of middle-aged buddies on a weekend getaway to shake up their boring lives. They get wasted in the chalet hot tub and wake up in 1986, as their young selves. John Cusack stars but most of the comedy comes at the hands of Craig Robinson (Zack and Miri) and especially Rob Corddry (Semi-Pro) who takes things to Will Ferrel-esque levels and beyond (Profanity? Oh yeah. Nudity? Check. Accidentally fellating a dude?? Maybe.)

Chock full of 80’s references like Alf and a black Michael Jackson, Hot Tub Time Machine also includes Crispin Glover as a typical service-industry burnout bellman and Chevy Chase as the Hot Tub repairman who knows more than he lets on.  Aside from a few lulls (Cusack’s romance) the flick mostly hammers us with gross-out humour and genuine laughs as the four buddies rock out and party like it’s 1986 while trying not to upset the space-time continuum. Director Steve Pink (screenwriter on High Fidelity and Grosse Point Blanke) lets his actors steal the show and Hot Tub Time Machine is well worth checking out. The cherry on top is Canadian actress Jessica Pare topless. Hot tubs rule.

So do dragons. How to Train Your Dragon,the latest 3D animation from Dreamworks, the studio that made Shrek and Kung-Fu Panda, also opens Friday. Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is a smart kid who doesn’t fit into the brute Viking society of his peers and parents. Luckily, after dragons attack his village and the men go off to wage war, the young outsider finds and tames a dragon and, you guessed it, becomes an unlikely hero while teaching us to believe in ourselves and never judge a book by it’s cover. Morals aside (and an Avatar/Pochahontas plotline) How to Train Your Dragon starts a bit rough, and the animated humans are nowhere near as well done as the dragons, but then the film settles into a romping good adventure with tons of high-flying action. The 3D flight sequences work  so well they easily salvage the picture. Of course, last I heard, Whistler doesn’t have a 3D projector yet. Maybe someone should organize a bake sale– our kids are missing out up here.

If you are in the city, drop the kids off and check out Chloe, the latest from Canadian great Atom Egoyan (Exotica, The Sweet Hereafter.) It’s a heavy, sex-laden flick about intimacy, fidelity and the lies we tell ourselves and the ones we love. Find out what happens when a wife hires a hooker to test her husband’s fidelity.

The DVD of the week is Fantastic Mr. Fox the superb claymation from Wes Anderson (Rushmore, Royal Tennenbaums) that speaks on family, cussing, and the wild animal in all of us. Fantastic Mr. Fox features an amazing voice cast and is still my vote for best film of last year. Also on DVD is The Blind Side, the football movie that won Sandra Bullock her Oscar just before her life went to shit and the whole world learned her overall-wearing husband cheated on her with what looks like a botched Marilyn Manson sex-change operation. Yikes. Poor Sandra. It almost makes me wish I could take back all the bad things I’ve said about her. Better fire up my Hot Tub.

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Notes from the back row– Flicks for all the Family

March 19, 2010

lovin that hair.

Notes from the back row- march 17

Family Entertainment at the movies

The new Conan movie sounds like it is becoming a rush job. Reports claim endless script re-writes and Ron Perlman (Hellboy, City of Lost Children) apparently just stepped in at the last moment before shooting starts to replace Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler, Barfly) in the role of Conan’s father.  The film, directed by Marcus Nispel (the guy who did the Texas Chainsaw Masscre and Friday the 13th remakes) is set to be released in 2011.

Conan’s dad apparently has to cut fetal Conan out of his dying mother’s womb to fulfill her last wish– to see her child. Pretty savage, but what’s a father to do?

Actually, the role of “Father’ can be hard on actors the first time around. Not every Dad is as memorable as Eugene Levy in American Pie or Chevy Chase in National Lampoons Vacation. Sometimes it comes off shitty, like Ice Cube’s Are we Done Yet? or Steve Zahn in Daddy Day Care.

Zahn is usually pretty good but that flick was worse than winning a “balls-n-all” session at the budget waxing joint. Luckily, Steve gets another crack at the Father role in Diary of Wimpy Kid, opening Friday at the Village 8.

Based on a popular book, Wimpy Kid follows a pre-growth spurt kid named Greg as he navigates his way through the perils of middle school– bullies, legendary cheese cooties, and the shame of being outwrestled by a girl on the front page of the school newspaper. Greg’s adventures are cute and look pretty funny (there were no advance screenings of this one) but this is directed by the guy who made Hotel for Dogs so don’t go in with too high of expectations. Even Steve Zahn can’t elevate this beyond kiddie fare but your kids will probably like it.

Mom’s, on the other hand, are more likely to get into The Bounty Hunter, the latest Jennifer Aniston flick where hot-but-ueseless Jen plays a bail-jumping ex-wife of Gerard Butler (300), the bounty hunter hired to track her down. It’s a love/hate Venus/Mars crapfest and hey, do you think they patch things up in the end? This movie is playing all-day everyday on every screen in Hell right now.

Dads fare a bit better this week with RepoMen, a dystopian Health-Care-gone-wrong flick about a near-future where a company called The Union will sell you mechanized organs to fix any ailment. The only catch is they are damn expensive and if you miss a couple payments the repo men come calling, with a  scalpel.

Jude Law stars as the mercenary who gets a change of heart about his job after receiving his own mechanical organ.  Pretty soon his ex-partner (Forrest Whittaker) is hunting Jude down to bring him back into the fold.

RepoMen is long, full of ultra-violence (wound-fisting anyone?) and derives a lot from other corrupt-inhumane-corporation-of-the-future films but since the real world seems to be heading in this direction it’s probably wise for fathers to watch flicks like this so they can prepare their families for the upcoming Police State /Big Brother future, or the zombie apocalypse, whichever comes first.

The best flick out this week is not playing in Whistler– The Runaways, a loose re-telling of the groundbreaking all-chick rock band of the same name. Starring Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie and Kristen Stewart as Joan Jett (yes they make out at one point and sing pretty decent too) the flick rides the cliché rock-film route but mixes in decent socio-sexual themes and the contradictions of hyper-sexed teen imagery in popular culture. Unfortunately, the film’s conclusion seems to be simply that nothing has changed in over 30 years. True that– Young girls still sell and Conan still awesome.

here are the real Runaways. They rule.

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Movies– Predators Trailer!!

March 19, 2010

Predator was fantastic. Predator 2, pretty good. Aliens Vs Predators, not so much but i have high(ish) hopes for Predators, a Robert Rodriguez produced flick where earth’s deadliest killers end up on a new planet, a Predator planet. As Adrian Brody says, “This is a game reserve. And we’re the game.”

On a sidenote, Michelle Rodriguez in another  ‘butchy ass kicking chick” roles eh? She should look at diversifying a bit, it’s getting annoying.

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notes from the back row- Livin next door to Alice

March 12, 2010

Notes from the back row- march 2/2010

Livin’ next door to Alice.

Lewis Carroll’s Alice is many things to many people­– to the Jefferson Airplane she’s a drug trip gone wrong (or right?) To really geeky mathematicians she is both a reflection of the concept of numerical limits and an exploration of using different bases and positional numeral systems (I’m not making this up, I don’t even know what it means.)

To me Alice is the title character in a killer song by the Smokies and to Tim Burton she’s a chance to go balls-out crazy in his first foray into the so-hot-right-now world of Digital 3-D.

Burton’s Alice In Wonderland opens this Friday (in 2-D) at the good old Village 8 and it’s both a rabbit-punch to the eyeball and a solid kick in the raspberry tarts. Remember the old Wonderland story? Ditch it. Burton’s flick starts off with a 19-year-old Alice about to be pushed into an awful arranged marriage and what looks to be a shitty-ass life. Not remembering the last time around, she falls back down the rabbit hole and returns to the Hatter and his amazingly disproportionate world of madness.

Although Alice has a new mission this time around all the classic “underland” characters are present and the film watches like a rollercoaster ride through a funhouse of mirrors with an acid-overdosed Johnny Depp working the controls.

Johnny turns up the crazy but even still he get’s out-acted by the stunning Helena Bonham Carter, who steals the film (and then beheads it.)

Themes of escaping a suffocating reality where life seems all laid out could have been beefed up a bit, and the dream-illogic of Alice is certainly not for everyone, but if you’ve got Tim Burton and Johnny Depp collaborating on one of the most universally loved stories of all time, well, you kinda have to see it (in the city, on IMAX 3-D.)

For less adventurous movie fans, or those who haven’t watched enough TV these last few weeks, the Academy Awards are on Sunday night and the big drama is supposed to be whether James Cameron’s super CGI, 3-D enviro-epic Avatar can beat out his ex-girlfriend Katheryn Bigelow’s little indy war/bomb squad movie The Hurt Locker. The films are polar opposites and although The Hurt Locker is Entertainment Weekly’s frontrunner and the Academy might want to finally reward a woman with best director (for the first time in history) or they might do the old, “give Best Picture to one and Best Director to the other” so no one’s feelings get hurt. I think District 9 was better than both of them.

Give the Best Actor trophy to Jeff Bridges right now. Not that Crazy Heart was so fantastic, it was good, (not as good as last year’s The Wrestler) but Bridges earned a lifetime achievement award for playing “The Dude” in The Big Lebowski so this is long overdue. Clooney is the dark horse for his role in Up in the Air but that movie is a renter, a solid renter, that’s got a lot of hype.

Best Animation should go to Fantastic Mr Fox although Coraline was pretty dope as well, the 3-D might nudge it ahead and The Cove, in best documentary category, is definitely a dark horse but a must-see. I ‘ll also be cheering for Christoph Waltz, the Jew Hunter in Inglorious Basterds. The guy killed it in four languages. Give him the trophy.

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Tim Burton and Vincent

March 6, 2010

This short film was made by Tim Burton in 1982 and led to him getting the call for Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.

Burton, of course, grew into one of this era’s coolest and most unique directors.

this week his take on Alice in Wonderland hits 3D screens everywhere.