Archive for July, 2011


give me the benfits.

July 24, 2011

Notes from the back row- July 17

with friends like this....

It’s mid-July and the leaves across the street from my place are starting to turn yellow. I’m not even kidding— this Summer has been so lugubrious the trees think it’s Fall. Weather this dismal is really only good for two things— going out to the movies, or staying in and screwing. Or you can get a bit of both in Friends with Benefits, opening Friday at Whistler’s Village 8 and the Garibaldi 5 in Squamish.
Justin Timberlake stars as a California design whiz who gets recruited by the hottest NYC corporate headhunter ever Mila Kunis. JT moves to the East Coast and takes a dream job but in order to get her commission, Mila has to keep him there for at least a year so they quickly decide to give the old “just friends humping” scenario a go.
In real life that rarely works, in the movies—never. But despite the predictability of its premise (and the fact that Natalie Portman’s No Strings Attached offered the same premise six months ago) Friends With Benefits works better than expected. Sure, it falls prey to way too many of the standard Rom-Com clichés it tries so desperately to poke fun at, and some of the dialogue is a bit pukey, but a funny thing happens right off the start— Kunis and Timberlake display real chemistry. Kunis worked comedy for years on TV’s That 70’s Show and as the voice of Meg on The Family Guy and here proves she can act the pants off anything. Watch out Angelina there’s a new star in town.
JT holds his own and the all-time supporting cast includes the always-incredible Richard Jenkins (Say it Isn’t So), Patricia Clarkson (Easy A), Woody Harrelson, Andy Samberg, Emma Stone and more.
Director Will Gluck (Easy A) goes a little heavy on the old-style snappy banter and there are two (too many?) flash mob scenes but in a summer where the weekly movie quality mirrors the weather Friends With Benefits is worth checking out, if only to learn what not to do when your stumble upon your own golden chance at being someone’s “F*ck buddy”.
Also opening, Captian America the last Marvel Comics prequel-flick we’ll have to endure before next summer’s Avengers movie (but who cares? They were never as cool or gritty as the X-Men, kind of pansy actually, more like The Fantastic Four.)
This one is about a skinny Yankee Doodle in the Second World War who’s told he’s not fit for duty. He persists, shows a bit of gumption and gets signed up to be injected with a super-soldier serum that transforms him into something that looks like the Ultimate Warrior crossed with a Ken doll. Captain America then goes on the propaganda tour (which is what the comic character was originally created for back in the 1940s) before finally seeing some shield-tossing action and then ramping up into full-on superhero and saving the day.
If it sounds flat it’s because it is. There is no digging into the real conflict or ideologies between the Nazi splinter cell Hydra and the forces of good. There is only action and unexplained mythical laser beam weapons. It feels like a cheap set-up to get your money but i guess i am probably expecting too much from a movie based on a c-rate comic hero. No one can deny Marvel films is pretty hit and miss with adult audiences.
Speaking of super soldiers, the Download of the Week is Hanna, starring Saoirse Ronan as a teenage girl/super assassin raised in isolation and then unleashed on the world. It’s the best coming of age movie in a long time and also has that vibrant, Euro, Run Lola Run awesome energy to it that just makes Hollywood’s latest flicks seem all the more tired, soggy, damp and stupid.


The End of Potter.

July 16, 2011

Rose Byrne

Notes from the back row- July 12, 2011

Wizards rule. Sure they’re a bit nerdy— their power comes from remembering books and thinking real hard— and they aren’t usually strong enough to single-chop off an Orc’s head nor dashing enough to nail an Elf princess but Wizards are cool nonetheless. They dress for comfort with big floppy hats, robes and killer beards and Wizards don’t give a shit what other people think. They’ll turn you into a newt if you step to them.
Harry Potter however— not really that cool. Actually he appears to be wearing a bomber jacket on the poster for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II, which opens this week at both the Village 8 and Squamish’s Garibaldi 5. A bomber jacket is utterly un-Wizardly. It’s trying way too hard to look tough, and we all know it’s pretty much impossible to look tough when you’re carrying a wand. “Ooooohhhhh watch out! Here comes Harry Potter and his wand!” Ask any seven-year-old with a loose tooth, wands are for fairies.
Don’t get me wrong— the Harry Potter books are great for kids but cinematically, I’m tired of that guy. This is the eighth Potter flick, EIGHTH!! You know the best thing about Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan? You didn’t need to recall every detail of the other seven to make sense of what you were watching. Not the case with Potter’s films, the first of which came out a decade ago. Who can remember that? Kids maybe.
Anyhow, in this, the final installment, Potter fights off the evil Voldemort and it’s an balls-out Wizard war chock full of real action and battle scenes mashed together with profound messages about life, death, love, loyalty and all that other good stuff. Deathly Hallows Part 2 is actually one of the best Potter films, and also the shortest at just over two hours (many fans will call it too short.)
From giant spiders to dragons to Wizards spurting balls of magic all over each other, Deathly Hallows 2 packs a hefty punch (and a few kisses) but unfortunately the spectacle again overpowers the storytelling and unless you already know what’s going on, it’s hard to tell what is actually going on. Or why you should care.
But if you like Harry Potter, if you love Harry Potter, you’re gonna go apeshit for this one. The tale of the Boy-Wizard finally concludes and it’s a helluva ride.
For more adult tastes, especially adults who menstrate, the Village 8 is bringing back Bridesmaids, the Kristen Wiig tour-de-force about a down-on-her-luck baker who competes with a rich, well-put together bitch (Rose Byrne) to host the ultimate bridal experience for a friend (Maya Rudolph.)
Bridesmaids is entertaining (I chuckled) but certainly women are gonna dig this way more than dudes. Writers Wiig and Annie Mumolo use their feminine touch and produce a flick that’s unique and totally relatable for the fairer sex. Compare this to something like the male-written (male-fantasy) Cameron Diaz vehicle Bad Teacher and it’s easy to see why Bridesmaids has pulled in $158 million domestically and become the most successful chick-targeted R-Rated comedy ever (beating out Sex and the Shitty.)
Hopefully the film execs are paying attention to Bridesmaids’ success and will start bankrolling more female-driven projects. Judging by the crap heap of films Hollywood’s pinched out onto us this summer, they really have nothing to lose.
The Download of the Week is an overly gory, hyper-violent and super stylized 80’s exploitation homage that’s even cooler than a Wizard with a laser gun. It’s Hobo with a Shotgun, it’s Canadian-made, and it’s definitely not for the Potter crowd.


Horrible Bosses and Kevin James next horrible movie

July 8, 2011

If she is the boss i like the company's dress code.

Notes from the back row- July 5th/2011

For years I’ve been pretty hard on the Whistler Village 8 for not having a 3D projector but it turns out Whistler’s lack of 3D might also mean we are seeing our films in better quality than other places.
There’s been a bit of controversy– apparently theatre owners and projectionists have been cutting corners and projecting on the cheap, lowering the luminance to extend the lives of their bulbs. (The 3D bulbs apparently cost twice as much as regular ones, and burn out twice as fast.)
Many people have complained that the 3D films look “too dark” and apparently Michael Bay recently sent a note to all 3D theatres imploring them to screen Transformers 3 with the projection specifications he included.
But the story doesn’t end there. Apparently some theatres are also running their 2D movies through the 3D projectors because swapping out a 3D projector is a lot of work and usually requires an expensive technician but 3D projectors distort the image on 2D flicks. So we can all thank the Village 8 for at least projecting our films properly and at the best quality possible.
(Here’s a tip – if you are watching a 2D movie somewhere else and it looks like crap, turn around. If you see two beams of light coming from the projection booth it means they are using the 3D system and screwing with the way the film should look. Ask for your money back plus a free pass.)
Of course, film projection is a real art form. Both Hitler and Joesph Stalin were huge movie buffs with private theaters and personal projectionists sweating bullets to make sure they didn’t screw up. The Inside Circle is a 1991 Russian film about a bright young projectionist who gets the gig working for Stalin only to realize that any mistake, even one botched reel swap-over, would mean certain death. Stalin, it seems, was a horrible boss.
And so, apparently, is Jennifer Anniston, who plays a sexed-up dentist continually harassing her sissy male hygienist in Horrible Bosses, opening (in beautiful 2D) this week at the Village 8.
Three losers (Charlie Day, Jason Sudekis, Jason Bateman) decide that in these tough economic times the only way to further their careers is to kill their bosses (Aniston, Colin Farrell, and Kevin Spacey.) Of course, things go horribly awry.
Horrible Bosses director Seth Gordon made King Of Kong, one of the best documentaries of recent years, but he’s also responsible for the Reese Witherspoon/Vince Vaughn crapheap Four Christmases so this one could go either way. It goes kinda bad.
Unlike Office Space, a classic comedy about the emasculation of the working man, Horrible Bosses gives us characters who are such pussies it defeats the premise. We don’t care for these guys and don’t feel they deserve success. The film is mostly montages and rape jokes but other than a few bits of humour and good-girl Jen Aniston talking slutty Horrible Bosses is a misfire, a squandered chance at doing something funny with a better-than-decent cast. Stupid R-rated humour can be awesome, so long as it isn’t too stupid.
Zookeeper also opens this Friday and to call it stupid would be high praise. Kevin James, who sucks yet continues to get work, stars as a zookeeper who has a hard time with the ladies. To help him out all the zoo animals suddenly reveal their secret (they can talk!) and vow to help him get a lady using their animal-style mating advice. It’s a PG rated kids movie with talking animals trying to help a loser get some pussy. So beyond stupid you could say this movie sucks asinine.


good short film – Plot Device

July 4, 2011

Plot Device from Red Giant on Vimeo.

Hardly anyone ever watches short films because so many of them are arty filmschool garbage made by people with fancy equipment and nothing to say and little or no sense of humour. This little flick though, is worth watching. Aimed primarily at geeky filmmakers, it still holds up for regular movie folks too. Good work Seth Worley and the people at Red Giant