Tuesday, 15 March 2016

I thought Deadpool was just another typical Marvel superhero film

You know the drill: man is faced with a personal crisis where some arch nemesis is to blame, so in order to get the girl and his life back, he goes on a quest to destroy this enemy - all while saving the world. I do like a good old fashion superhero story, but was blown away by Deadpool’s twisted version of it.  

Some critics called Ryan Reynolds antics in the movie raunchy and it was in some parts. But, for the most part it was actually full of clever fourth wall breaking, awesomely awkward point of view camera angles, and great cinematography action scenes. It reminded me a little of the film Guardians of the Galaxy, but way more awesome and edgy with sarcasm. I also think Reynolds deserves a special shout out for superb comedic acting. He was so good I forgive him for making Green Lantern which he even pokes fun at the flop in this film.

What I liked most about Deadpool was when the typical cheesy parts in a superhero movie were happening they found way to make it more enjoyable with humour. The best example is when Deadpool’s love interest Vanessa takes off his mask to see his deformed faced for the first time and instead she sees a picture of Huge Jackman’s Wolverine stapled to his face. This moment cuts the awkward cheesy tension and allows the audience to giggle at Reynolds' twisted sense of humour.

Thanks to the Farris Buller parody scene during the end credits there is hope for a sequel. I'm sure it will be even more bizarre and twisted than the first - I can't wait.

Friday, 22 January 2016

The End of the Tour is a Work of Art

I saw on social media a posting listing the must see films of 2015 that were snubbed by the Oscars. The End of the Tour was one of them starring Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg.

Totally blown away at how amazing this film was and the superb acting by its lead, Jason Segel. He is the master at creating the perfect disastrous image of a man and I mean that as a compliment. 

I'll admit I never heard of David Foster Wallace or David Lipsky until I saw this film, but I don't think that matters. For me the film was about two writers trying to express themselves: one seems like he succeeds while the other envies him for it. A line from the film sums up this concept for me.

“He wants more for himself and I want what he has” – David Lipsky

What consumed me about this film was the conversations between the two main characters. I found myself wishing I was sitting in the back seat of the car, so I could chime in with a "Ya but" or "Don't you think". Instead I sat quietly on my couch listening tentatively with awe. 

David Foster Wallace in the film and I’m assuming in real life displayed the typical characteristics of all great writers like Hemmingway and Fitzgerald- tortured souls who wrote to release the demons that haunted them. Mr. Wallace seemed to be in a constant struggle between wanting to succeed with his writing, but fearlessly protecting himself from the letting the world in.  

Writing like all art is a vulnerable form of expression of one’s emotions. I can relate to Mr. Wallace’s struggle to find balance, because to truly express yourself means to expose yourself to the good, the bad and the ugly of the world. It reminds of a war and in a battle, some people thrive in chaos while others retreat to safety. To triumph completely is rare. 

If David Foster Wallace was still alive today, I would write him a fan letter thanking him for giving the interview to David Lipsky. Instead I’ll do him the honor of reading his works of art. 

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Matt Damon turned my beat around

Christmas is a time for me to catch up on seeing movies from the year before award season begins. I was busy, so instead of writing a post for each one that I saw I have condensed my personal reviews into this one post. Below you will see my brief thoughts of each film and I also ranked them from worst to best.

The Lobster
Weird…I usually like weird, but this was over the top and pointless.

Awesome action scenes with lots of suspense. Where it went wrong was Emily Blunt’s lack of character development which was a shame because her character at first seemed complex and interesting, but the ending fell flat as a result and she came across as weak.

Bradley Cooper's performance did a great job at keeping my attention for the full 1h 41m. It was a good film that was full of heartache, romance and triumph. It also made me hungry.

Fantastic story with an all-star cast, so I was expecting more than what I saw. Don’t get me wrong it was good, but I was hoping for more of a connection to the characters. I will give props to Mark Ruffalo’s stellar performance, great character acting.

Star Wars: the Force Awakens
Finally a Star Wars movie that I can connect with. I’m a 80s child so it was nice to see this film. It reminded me of all the reasons why I love the franchise.

The Martian
Hands down the best film I saw all Christmas. Which was surprising since I had no desire to see it after viewing the trailer. I thought it would be another Gravity, but I was mistaken. Matt Damon was awesome and hilarious. He definitely deserved the Golden Globe for his performance. This film had all the things I love humor, superb acting and a great plot.

After watching the Golden Globes this past Sunday, I realized I still have a lot of catching up to do. My top priorities are the Revenant, the Big Short and Creed. Stay-tuned. 

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

James Dean wasn’t moody, he was homesick

I, like many people, have a fascination with James Dean. If someone was to ask me why, I would find it hard to articulate. There is just something about him that intrigues me, so I had to see the film LIFE staring Rob Pattinson and Dane DeHaan.

I was a little hesitant, because the movie was getting mediocre reviews, but I’m glad I did. Anton Corbijn portrayed a different side of James Dean. He alter my image of him from Americana icon to human being.

The only thing lacking in this film is Rob Pattinson’s weak character development. He came across as desperate and annoying. It’s too bad, because DeHaan performance was great and could’ve been escalated to brilliant with the right partner to execute scenes.

My favourite scene is when they're on the train to Indiana and Dean tells Dennis Stock about his mother. DeHaan did it with such a genuine innocence that if you only watch one scene from the film watch this one.

It is a great segway for the final scene where DeHaan recites James Whitcomb Riley’s poem We Must Get Home, the same one Dean is reading in the famous Life Magazine photo spread Moody New Star: http://time.com/3490132/beautiful-enigma-life-with-james-dean/.

This section summarizes the entire film concept for me:  

We must get home again--we must--we must!--
(Our rainy faces pelted in the dust)
Creep back from the vain quest through endless strife
To find not anywhere in all of life
A happier happiness than blest us then ...
We must get home--we must get home again!

Sometimes when we’re lost the instinctual reaction is to go home and that is exactly what Dean did. He was on the cusp of stardom and struggling with the transition. Stock had the rare opportunity to capture that transition which makes the LIFE Magazine photo spread so special.  

For such a short career, Dean has a stellar portfolio which makes me wonder what his career would’ve looked like if he hadn’t died so young. I’ve heard people say that he was misunderstood, but I don’t agree. I think he was just like a lot of artists who struggle to balance the need to express themselves without sacrificing their ethos.

Friday, 30 October 2015

My senses came alive in ROOM

It is very rare for me to be completely consumed in watching a movie. I’m usually over analyzing each scene trying to figure out the climax before it happens. I’m almost always successful and it drives my husband nuts when we watch movies together, because I blurt out my plot predictions and spoil it for him. But not this time, for two hours you could hear a pin drop in the theatre as the audience, including me, were transfixed on the screen.

The first half of the movie felt like five minutes. I was on the edge of my seat hanging on each scene transition. The other half of the movie felt longer like a slow and steady incline of emotion followed by a steep dive into inspiration. It was one of the best movies I’ve seen in years. It was all thanks to Jacob Tremblay the actor who played Jack, a five year old boy who has never left “Room”.

The audiences knows before going in that Jack and his mom Joy, played by Brie Larson, are being held captive in a small shed in the backyard of some creepy guy that they call Old Nick. I honestly thought to myself that this is going to be your typical plot of mom and son triumphing by escaping and go on to live a normal lives, but I was wrong.

Yes they escape, but the story isn’t about that triumph. It’s about Jack’s amazing interpretations of the world as he sees it for the first time. His simply and eloquent perspective leave your psyche forever altered and wondering how Jack makes it so easy to see the beauty in it all.

In the end I felt that Joy and Jack’s experience in "Room" left them awakened to a unique bond they share be being each other’s strength to survive. That’s the beauty of great storytelling, when the audience’s expectations are altered to inflict and completely different experience. One that leaves you deep in thought as a result of its impact.

There is nothing more for me to say than for you to go and see it for yourself. I promise you won’t regret it, but my advice is to bring tissues. 

Watch the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6C6fZ-fwDws

Friday, 23 October 2015

We will remember them

I saw Hyena Road over the weekend and couldn’t find the words to explain the experience until now.

They came to me as I watched a memorial ceremony on Oct 22, 2015. It was to mark the one year anniversary of the Ottawa Shooting that claimed the life of a young Canadian soldier, Cpl Nathan Cirillo.

Like many Canadians last year, I watched the horror unfold in real time on social media which left a nation in shock and family in mourning both military and personal. What still haunts me is that it all took place at Canada’s War Memorial for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It's a scared place that is meant for people to reflect and remember our fellow Canadian soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice. At the ceremony this week a plaque was unveiled to honour Cpl Cirillo that read He will forever be on guard.  That phase helped me write this post, because I believe the film Hyena Road is a great current explanation for Canadians to understand its meaning.

Mr. Paul Gross, the director, writer and star, did an amazing job at mirroring the realities of war. As I sat in the theatre beside my husband, I could feel the tension in us both as the intense and realistic battle scenes unfolded. But they were they easiest parts to watch, it was the intimate scenes between the action that resonated with me the most.

In media interviews Mr. Gross said he got the idea to make the movie after participating in a Celebrity Visit to Boost Troops Morale trip to Afghanistan. After that experience, he felt it was important for people, in particular Canadians, to know what our soldiers did over there and the critical role they played in fighting terrorism. He admitted that he didn’t even know the extent to which the Canadian Armed Forces were involved in Afghanistan and felt a duty to tell their story.

You get a sense of his mission to tell the Canadian soldier's story when you watch those intimate scenes between characters. Speaking as someone who is immersed in the Canadian military culture I can say that it was a very realistic portrayal. It was great to watch even the bad parts, because there seems to be a real disconnect between our soldiers and Canadian citizens. I think it is because no one have ever humanized Canadian soldiers the way the Mr. Gross did in this film.

The last scene is the most difficult part to watch, but the most important moment in the movie (SPOILER ALERT). It’s the ramp scene where the fallen soldiers are carried on the shoulders of their comrades up the ramp of the plane that will bring them home. It’s tradition for all soldiers serving on base to stand at attention on the tarmac as the soldiers' coffins are carried up the ramp in a final send off. My military friends, who have participated in them, said it is a life altering experience.  As I watched the scene in the movie, I finally understood what they meant as tears streamed down my face.

I hope people go and see this film, so they may realize that every day people just like them are the ones that go off to fight wars. They have families and dreams just like the rest of us. What separates soldiers from everyday people is the sacrifices they make believing in something that is bigger than themselves.

I understand that it's hard to related to the soldiers who go off to fight wars on the other side of the world. But the Ottawa shooting happened on home soil and Cpl Cirillo's death was just as tragic as the soldiers who have died in all wars or conflict. What bonds them are their sacrifices to protect our freedoms and nation.  My finally hope is that as Canadians, we will remember them.

Bruce MacKinnon's editorial cartoon that ran the day after Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was shot last October.

Monday, 21 September 2015

I’m in mourning…for Mad Men that is

After watching Jon Hamm FINALLY win a Emmy last night for his portrayal of Don Draper in AMC's Mad Men, I was inspired to write this post.

The first time I saw the show was in class my 2nd year of university. I had a wicked prof who made us study the show as part of understanding the history of the public relations industry. The show’s ability to portray a time where office minibars, sexy secretaries and dapper male executives were the norm was a perfect case study for the class titled Gender Equality in PR.

Beside the accurate sexual inequities we studied in class, I loved the authenticity of the sets, costumes and the writers’ clever tactics of intertwining historic events into the story-line. But, what made me continue to watch the show after class had ended was the self-destructive behavior of Don Draper. I tuned in week after week to watch his downward spiral of emotional turmoil.

He was a successful Ad man with a charming ability to sell happiness to his clients, but the irony was that he failed miserably at achieving it in his own life. What made his character appealing, despite his faults, was my desire to root for him. From two failed marriages to his melt down to Hershey, I genuinely wanted him to be happy and was sad for him every time he destroyed his chance.  

I think the evolution of my desire came from his relationship with Peggy. He was her mentor who rescued her from her own self-destruction and fraught for her talents to be recognized. It seemed their relationship was the only one Don got right. It was like they both knew each other’s true self-worth and never let either forget it. This relationship was always an underlining story that would pop up just when you forgot their profound history. Here is a clip that I think conveys that:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RTS8wODHf

Mad Men's ability to take brilliant writing, talented actors and skillful cinematography to make a show that viewers will never forget, is what I think the art of storytelling is all about. 

I not upset that the show ended, it had to. The beauty of this day and age is that I have Netflix’s where it has become the cultural norm to binge watch your favourite shows over and over again any time you find yourself mourning for its characters. I see a week full of Mad Men season one in my future.