Category Archives: November 2012

Killing Them Softly: Potential slaughtered by director

Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins, and Ray Liotta star in Killing Them Softly. Courtesy of Alliance Films


Amazing movies have that uncanny ability to feel as if time just flew by. I’m sure we’ve all experienced a movie that seems intriguing on the surface but in execution falls short forcing us to check our watches every five seconds. Sadly, Killing Them Softly is one of these films.

Not all is lost as there are some positives in Andrew Dominik’s (The Assassination of Jesse James) latest film.

In Killing Them Softly, a couple of young knuckleheads rob a mob protected poker game only to find themselves hunted by a hired enforcer.

The adapted story has a great deal of promise, but Andrew Dominik’s direction seems to belay the entire film’s plot. Subtlety is clearly not one of Dominik’s strengths as he endlessly beats us over the head with the political speeches of Bush and Obama in an attempt to provide poignant social commentary. It just doesn’t work.

The cast is solid with Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy (Argo), Ben Mendelsohn, and James Gandolfini putting forth a great combination of dramatic and comedic performances.

The brutally, vivid violence was given a great deal of thought behind shooting at interesting angles and variable framerates.

In the end, the slow pace and lack of tension throughout most of the film forces the audience to nitpick on the faults rather than rejoice in the otherwise thought-provoking story.

Bottom Line: Not worth a trip to the theatre. However, there’s enough potential to give this a chance as a cheap rental.

Grade C

Runtime: 97 minutes
IMAX: No
3D: No


Anna Karenina: Never-ending drama

Keira Knightley and Aaron Taylor-Johnson star in Anna Karenina. Courtesy of Alliance Films


Leo Tolstoy’s first official novel (according to Tolstoy), Anna Karenina, is regarded as the greatest novel of all time (2007 “The Top Ten in Time”). In its thirteenth film adaptation, director Joe Wright gives the story a staged theatrical spin. However, all the glamorous theatrics cannot spark life into this endless melodrama.

Anna is an upper class socialite in 19th century Russia whose affair with an affluent Count defames her among society’s highest ranks and throws her life into disrepute.

Whether it was the director’s or the writer’s idea to have the movie’s scenes transition from stage to the cinematic world – It just doesn’t work. It acts purely to bring the audience out of the fantasy world they are attempting to draw us into.

The story itself is a drawn out soap opera that seldom features a thought provoking moment outside of the infidelity and flashy wardrobes and sets.

The cast makes due with what they are given. No performances stand out or are even worth mentioning. It all felt very… adequate.

This is the first Joe Wright film I did not enjoy. In fact, I downright detested it. Unlike past treasures of his, such as Pride and Prejudice and Atonement (both period pieces), this film fails on every count outside of costume design.

Bottom Line: Unless you are a diehard fan of the novel, stay miles away from this heap of pretentious babble.

Grade D+

Runtime: 130 minutes
IMAX: No
3D: No


Lincoln: Has Oscar written all over it

Daniel Day-Lewis stars in Steven Spielberg’s latest film, Lincoln. Courtesy of Disney Pictures


With the USA battling through election pangs this year, it’s fitting that we take a look back to what a great president like “Honest” Abraham Lincoln can do for their country. In Steven Spielberg’s latest historical epic, we follow Abe as he fiercely battles the confederates and most of the nation to rid the United States of Slavery.

Daniel Day-Lewis is absolutely brilliant as the 16th president. His performance is packed with a special blend of both subtlety and power – The kind of which only great actors can deliver. The supporting cast keeps close to Lewis’ charisma, with Sally Field leading the charge.

Spielberg has nothing left to prove in his career, yet shows no complacency in his direction of Tony Kushner’s excellent adapted screenplay. There is a constant tension throughout the film that is perfectly broken with rich comedic relief from the statuesque president himself.

As far as cinematography is concerned, this is some of the best the Hollywood has offered this year.

My only minute criticism is toward the sheer quantity of names being thrown at you. It can lead to confusion when you’re trying to decipher whom the characters are referring to scene after scene.

Again, that is just a tiny blemish in this phenomenal film that will light up the Academy ballots come 2014.

Bottom Line: Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis are a winning combination in this must see taste of American history.

Grade A

Runtime: 149 minutes
IMAX: No
3D: No


Skyfall: Already a classic

Daniel Craig and Javier Bardem are brilliant in Skyfall! In IMAX and theatres November 8, 2012. Courtesy of Sony Pictures


Sean Connery brilliantly embodied Britain’s most famous fictional secret agent 50 years ago. When Daniel Craig took the reins as James Bond in 2006, all of his skeptics were thoroughly proven wrong. Craig’s confident, modern, suave portrayal of Bond rivaled Connery’s iconic performances of the 60’s and 70’s. Then there was the writer’s strike of 2008 resulting in the poorly written sequel, Quantum of Solace; an all-around flop. Four years later, we have what may be the best Bond film yet!

In Skyfall, Bond’s loyalty to M is tested when a terrorizing computer genius unleashes his vengeful plans upon them.

The main cast of this film are nothing short of spectacular. Daniel Craig delvers everything we’ve come to expect from his rugged yet composed portrayal of Bond, and Javier Bardem (No Country For Old Men) is easily one of the all-time greatest Bond villains. His charismatic performance brings a multitude of layers to the surface just waiting to be explored by the audience.

These great characters all stem from the wonderful minds of Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, both of whom worked on Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. Together with John Logan (The Last Samurai, Gladiator) they crafted an intriguing, original story, while remaining faithful to the original flavour of our favourite MI6 agent.

Academy Award winning director, Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition), was the perfect choice to captain the 23rd Bond film. This isn’t a nonsensical mash-up of endless action scenes. Mendes makes this a methodical film with heart-stopping action woven into a gripping story.

There is absolutely no reason the Academy should not recognize this film as one of the year’s best.

Bottom Line: Don’t miss the ride. This is one film you’ll want to watch over and over and over again.

Grade A+

Runtime: 143 minutes
IMAX: Yes
3D: No