Tag Archives: sex

Jack Reacher: Taking it back to the 80’s

Tom Cruise is JACK REACHER. Courtesy of Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions

Tom Cruise is JACK REACHER. Courtesy of Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions


Remember the good-old days when 80’s action movies were a barrel of fun and laughs? There were no concerns with winning awards or receiving critical acclaim. Instead, entertainment was the highest priority as is the case with Tom Cruise’s latest investigative action film, Jack Reacher.

Cruise plays a funny, smart-mouthed ex-army cop who comes out of hiding to track down a mass murderer.

Jack Reacher 4All of the 80’s clichés have been thoughtfully checked off by director Christopher McQuarrie (The Way of the Gun), who adapted Lee Child’s book, “One Shot”. There’s a wise-cracking detective, a sexy woman, clashing of personalities, a foreign bad guy with a heavy accent, and buckets of action. McQuarrie also was kind enough to keep any gore out of the movie’s action, so those with weak stomachs won’t have to bring their trusty barf bucket.

Jack Reacher 7The recently divorced Tom Cruise gives us nothing we haven’t seen before. Truth is, I love that character and so do you (don’t deny it). The person who deals out the best performance is Joseph Sikora, who made the biggest impact with less than five minutes of screen time.

JACK REACHERFive-time Academy Award nominated cinematographer Caleb Deschanel does an amazing job of lighting every scene to complement McQuarrie’s fantastic shooting style. There’s also some excellent audio design with the sound of firearms having incredible lifelike impact.

Jack Reacher 3Bottom Line: If you enjoy the older action flicks as much as I do, you’ll have a blast with this one.

Grade B-

Runtime: 130 minutes
IMAX: No
3D: No


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


360: Blu Ray Review

360 is available to own on Blu Ray, November 6, 2012. Courtesy of eOne Entertainment


Infidelity makes up such a large portion of entertainment in our society. Soap operas, movies and even reality TV are riddled with some form of adultery.

Fernando Meirelles’ latest film, 360, connects the lives of various sexually corrupt people from different areas of the world.

The crippling factor in this film rests in the story. Unlike brilliant films such as Closer or Little Children, this movie tries especially hard to tell far too many stories (I stopped counting at 7), without ever fully developing any of them.

Luckily, the performances are solid. The star studded cast including Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, Anthony Hopkins, Jamel Debbouze, Lucia Siposová, Gabriela Marcinkova, and Ben Foster showcase their abundant talents commendably. Foster’s performance as the paroled sexual offender in particular, is fantastic, albeit chilling.

The Blu Ray release delivers the solid cinematography and thoughtful score nicely; however, the special features are fairly thin. Both The Making-of 360 and A look at 360 featurettes feature the cast and filmmakers synopsising the story and its characters. Behind-The-Scenes, however, actually lets you stand behind the camera and watch scenes being filmed or hear discussions between the actors and director Fernando Meirelles. Very cool stuff!

Bottom Line: Unless you’re a fan of the film there isn’t any reason to add this Blu Ray to your collection.

Movie Grade C+
Blu Ray Grade B+

Runtime: 110 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.4:1


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


Moonrise Kingdom: Blu Ray Review

Pick up your copy on Oct. 16th. Courtesy of eOne Media


With the Oscars only months away, Moonrise Kingdom, with its quirky and affecting appeal was a solid contender. While the movie is definitely worth watching, the Blu Ray/DVD release could have used some tweaking.

In Wes Anderson’s latest film, Moonrise Kingdom, he collaborates with Roman Coppola to tell the tale of a young couple’s escape from the watchful eyes of their guardians in order to be with one another.

This straight-faced, off-beat film tells its story in a very minimalistic fashion. Instead of being attacked with endless details, Wes Anderson and co-writer Roman Coppola unassumingly ask the audience to decipher this decidedly interpretive story.

Every member of the cast brought their A-game, delivering performances both eccentric and memorable. The young first-time actors playing the love-struck couple, Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward, both displayed a very natural, youthful innocence.

Despite all of its romantic naïveté, Moonrise Kingdom is not a perfect film. Firstly, Wes Anderson clearly neglected necessary (some might say obvious) emotional reactions from the actors, both young and old, which will certainly alienate a large demographic of movie goers. There’s also the lack of enunciation from both Hayward and Gilman; something Anderson should have caught during the shooting process as it was difficult to understand the youngsters during multiple scenes.

For the Blu Ray + DVD release, the audio mastering is perfect. However, Anderson’s choice to shoot the movie with 16mm film, rather than 35mm film, has left the high definition transfer looking like a decent DVD – not a stunning Blu Ray. The special features are also very limited to what boils down to faux “behind the scenes” advertisements for the film. Not what this fan of the film was expecting.

Make no mistake, this is a very good film, it simply is not Oscar winner worthy.

Bottom Line: This Blu Ray is only worth owning if you like the film.

Grade A

Runtime: 94 minutes
IMAX: No
3D: No


Moonrise Kingdom: Trivia and Insights


With the Blu Ray + DVD release of the brilliant Oscar Award contender Moonrise Kingdom due on Oct. 16th, I’ve decided to compile some fun trivia and insight from the cast and crew. Enjoy!

 
 


During filming, Wes Anderson rented an old mansion in Newport, Rhode Island for himself, editor Andrew Weisblum, and director of cinematography Robert D. Yeoman, in which they had a room set up for editing the film. It had been arranged for the cast to stay in a nearby hotel, but eventually some of the actors also decided to stay at the mansion, including Edward Norton, Bill Murray, and Jason Schwartzman. Murray later joked that the theory was to have everyone close by so that they could all work “ungodly art-movie hours.”
Sounds like fun to me!

Fun Fact about Wes Anderson: When asked where audiences would find the next Martin Scorsese, he said to look to Wes Anderson, the young director of Rushmore (1998).
I would cry like a big bald baby if Scorsese said that about me!

The filmmakers wanted the physical production to be focused, not bloated. Accordingly, there were no big trucks, and no actor or filmmaker trailers. Actors were encouraged to arrive camera-ready, requiring them to don their costumes in their hotel rooms before coming to set.
Nice to hear that greatness can be achieved at humbler budgets.

Bill Murray remembers, “My first day at work was on a camp set, and I realized that they didn’t have trailers and so forth. We had tents, pup tents. It was about 40 degrees outside and raining, but once you get 51 people crammed inside a tent, it gets plenty warm. We were cozy after a while.”
That must have been a giant tent to house that many people.

“The director, Wes (Anderson), he wears his pants very short. So he likes everyone in the film to wear them really short. Just a little bit like the kind of person you’d want to mug.”
– Bill Murray
Yes sir, the men all look ready for a flood in this movie.

You can find Bill Murray’s real son in the film as one of the scouts in a Native Indian feathered headdress.
Easier to spot in the special features where they point him out to you.

After an initial audition and three more call-backs over the course of six months, young star Jared Gilman remembers, “I was getting in the car with my mom on the way home from school, and I asked her if she had any news. She didn’t answer; she called up my father instead, and he pulled a Ryan Seacrest [/American Idol results buildup] on me, before he told me I got the part. I screamed, I laughed, and I cried. It was probably the happiest day of my life.”
That’s mean… I love it!

Before filming, neither Kara Hayward nor Jared Gilman had ever seen a typewriter in person. Hayward later said, “Fran (Frances McDormand) had a lot of fun with that. She couldn’t believe it. She showed me that the keys are in the same place as now (on computers).”
This, sadly, is probably the case for most every child in their generation.

As homework for his character, Wes Anderson assigned Jared Gilman to watch Escape from Alcatraz (set in 1963), starring Clint Eastwood.
Proper education.

The film opened in only four theaters, two in New York and two in Los Angeles, but earned $167,250 per screen, the all-time record for highest per-theater box office average of a non-animated film.

You’ll find the Moonrise Kingdom Blu Ray + DVD online and in stores on October 16, 2012.

Bill Murray’s overview of the movie:


All information was taken from eOne’s press notes and IMDB.com


Pitch Perfect: Funny never sounded so harmonious

(L to R) Denise (WANETAH WALMSLEY), Ashley (SHELLY REGNER), Cynthia Rose (ESTER DEAN), Fat Amy (REBEL WILSON), Stacie (ALEXIS KNAPP), Beca (ANNA KENDRICK), Chloe (BRITTANY SNOW), Lilly (HANA MAE LEE) and Jessica (KELLEY ALICE JAKLE) in ‘Pitch Perfect’. Courtesy of Universal Pictures


Let’s face it, “teeny bopper” films usually suck! Pitch Perfect looks like your run-of-the-mill, musically driven movie that only young teenage girls and hormone driven boys would enjoy. That is like soooo totally wrong.

Pitch Perfect tells the hilarious story of a rebellious freshman, Beca (Anna Kendrick), who reluctantly joins an all-girl a cappella group trying to win the college a cappella championships.

There is not a five minute gap to be found without a solid laugh in this mix musical/sports comedy. It all stems from the fantastic writing, direction and whimsical comedic performances by the cast.

Kay Cannon’s script is harmoniously transferred to the big screen by first time feature film director Jason Moore. Both managed to provide substance and originality to a thoroughly trodden story.

What really makes the movie shine are the side-splittingly funny performances from the cast. Nobody gets higher praise for this than Rebel Wilson (Fat Amy); the husky girl, with a powerful voice, who freely voices her opinions.

There is also much to be said about the selection and use of the music chosen for the movie. With hits ranging from the 80’s to present day, there’s something in here for everyone to jive with. Also to be appreciated is the lack of unnecessary spectacle common in most musicals.

Bottom Line: Female or male, young or old, singer or window breaker, this movie has an abundance of fun for everyone.

Grade A-

Runtime: 112 minutes
IMAX: No
3D: No


Hysteria: History meets pleasure

Hysteria is available on Blu Ray September 18, 2012. Courtesy of eOne


Injustice comes in all shapes and sizes. Hysteria examines the social injustice women had to bare in Victorian England where doctors treated women diagnosed with Hysteria (By today’s standards they just weren’t “getting any”). What resulted from all of this medical insanity was the invention of the glorious and renowned vibrator.

Director Tanya Wexler does a great job of including different facets of historical fact delivering both drama and humour. Where things fall short is in the chemistry (or lack thereof) between Hugh Dancy and Maggie Gyllenhaal, which faulted the credibility of the secondary story.

Outside of this folly, every member of the large cast delivered solid performances.

The most incredible part of the production were the brilliant sets and art direction that throw you head first into middle class Victorian England.

In the Blu Ray + DVD combo pack, you’ll find some excellent special features to accompany this beautifully shot film. They include Commentary with Tanya Wexler, “An Evening with Tanya Wexler, Hugh Dancy and Jonathan Pryce” Featurette, Hysteria: Behind The Scenes, and a set of useless Deleted Scenes. The best feature is a short documentary “Passion & Power: The Technology Of Orgasm”. This fascinating look at the history of female sexual oppression and the history of vibrators from their creation is a must watch!

Bottom Line: With an engaging film and interesting special features, this home release is definitely worth checking out.

Movie Grade B
Blu Ray Grade A

Runtime: 100 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1


Ted: Once Upon a Time… for adults

Ted (MACFARLANE) and John (WAHLBERG) in TED. Courtesy of Universal Pictures


If my toys came to life when I was a child, I would never have left my bedroom. This is the premise of Ted, a movie where the impossible becomes possible because of a childhood wish for a teddy bear to come to life.

Family Guy’s Seth MacFarlane has conjured a fairy tale no child should ever watch, but every adult can indulge in. Alongside two of his fellow Family Guy writers, the script delivers mountains of hilarious one-liners, 80’s references and gags, while adding a touch of heart to keep the mayhem from getting out of control. In his live-action directorial debut, MacFarlane looked like a veteran and the box office numbers will prove it.

Mark Wahlberg, Seth MacFarlane and Mila Kunis balance the constant, memorable humor and demanding emotional moments effectively. Mila Kunis in particular delivers some of her best work trying to reconcile the fact that she is in a relationship with a man who will not grow up.

Seth MacFarlane’s voice-over and motion capture of the adorably dirty Ted is simply, perfect. The CGI of the Snuggle look-a-like convinces you that you’re watching a living stuffed animal doing the most outlandish things imaginable.

This movie will keep you laughing well after the credits roll and you’ll want to own it when it hits shelves at your local store.

Bottom Line: Get ready to laugh… and then laugh some more.

Grade A-

Runtime: 106 mimutes
IMAX: No
3D: No