Jan 26, 2015

Review: Nearlyweds (2013)

I just watched a bad movie about weddings yesterday, so what exactly was stopping me from watching another? Good sense apparently. Good thing I don't have any or else I would've missed out on this wonderful Hallmark production which apparently is an adaptation of Beth Kendrick's novel of the same name.

This is the second Hallmark production I've watched that features the acting talents of country singer Naomi Judd in a supporting role, the first being Christmas movie Window Wonderland which came out in the same year. Featuring some surprisingly OK acting, that distinction doesn't really include Naomi Judd though. That's mostly because she doesn't do nearly as much heavy lifting as she does in Nearlyweds.

Jan 25, 2015

Review: The Big Wedding (2013)

I hate lazy ensemble cast movies with a passion, like everyone else I should think and I should hope. There's something so inherently wrong to me about gathering a bunch of big Hollywood names who have done good work in the past and getting them to work with a lame script. It's like a Ponzi scheme. Trick people with the promise that they'll be in for a good time because the movie has a bunch of great actors and then take their money. I mean, do Robert De Niro and Diane Keaton really need to add onto their terrible recent filmographies anyway? 

The Big Wedding is interestingly enough a remake of the French/Swiss film Mon frère se marie which was written and directed by Jean-Stéphane Bron. Less a comedy and more of a drama, I wonder what he must've thought when he was initially approached to have his film remade? There's a price for everything though, even corruption of one's work.

Jan 24, 2015

Review: Skyfall (2012)

2012 was the fiftieth anniversary of the James Bond series, an incredible achievement for one of my favourite cinema staples which started with Dr. No all the way back in 1962. There are very few films that can match Bond in the escapism department and even fewer that have such an established formula. Exotic locales, attractive ladies, beautiful cars, high-flying action and crazy gadgets are all important ingredients in what makes a Bond film special and I wouldn't want it any other way.

After fifty years though, there comes a time when change is inevitable and I honestly believe that is what director Sam Mendes was brought in to do. Even during MGM's financial problems, Mendes was always involved in some capacity and he even brought in frequent writing partner John Logan to collaborate with regulars Neal Purvis and Robert Wade on the script. Change was clearly afoot during production and after seeing Skyfall for the second time now, my conclusion is that it successfully performs a fine balancing act. It brings the necessary changes the Bond series needed, but it also keeps the usual traditions intact. It's a step forward as well as a love letter to the series that has charmed so many.

Jan 23, 2015

Review: Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011)

I don't think there are many people who can brag about how good their 2011 was like Ryan Gosling can. He starred in Drive, The Ides of March and of course Crazy, Stupid, Love while also becoming one of the most talked about people in the world. Seriously, check out the graph on Google Trends if you don't believe me and check out that growth in '11: Ryan Gosling Popularity.

Anyhow, I'm not really sure how I never got around to seeing Crazy, Stupid, Love. I did manage to catch Drive and The Ides of March Though though. It seems like it was only yesterday when CSL first came out, but actually it's been almost five years. How scary is that? At least I can finally say that I've seen it, but I sure took my sweet time getting there.

Jan 22, 2015

Review: House on Haunted Hill (1999)

The original 1959 House on Haunted Hill can't really be called a scary movie. Maybe it was back then, but William Castle's cult classic is delightful campy fun that features the usual great Vincent Prince performance. There's no way that a modern remake can capture that same kind of campiness, so it's going to have to be genuinely scary.

Terry Castle, the daughter of William Castle, is on as a co-producer which I suppose is a good sign. The list of producers also includes quite a few big names like Robert Zemeckis and Joel Silver. House on Haunted Hill was actually the debut film for Dark Castle Entertainment, a production house that Zemeckis and Silver formed that pays homage to William Castle. So they must be pretty serious about all this right? I certainly hoped so before I started watching.

Jan 21, 2015

Review: Stuck in Love (2012)

Stuck in Love is Josh Boone's directorial debut before going on to direct mega teen romance hit The Fault in Our Stars. SiL was a much more muted affair, despite a loaded cast of relatively well-known  Hollywood actors. It had a limited release in the United States and never got much farther than that. Still, Boone was pretty lucky to be working with a group of actors like this for a first movie that he even wrote the script for.

One thing I noticed is that Josh Boone seems to be quite the literary guy. The family in SiL are all writers and there's of course lots of talk about books. Although it's an adaptation, The Fault in Our Stars included as one of its main plot points this invented for the screen novel that Shailene Woodley constantly read. When the opportunity to meet the writer of the book presents itself, she's of course ecstatic.Will Boone's next film Lisey's Story have literature as part of the story as well?

Jan 20, 2015

Review: Number Seventeen (1932)

Alfred Hitchcock had a long, fruitful career in film making and more than enough famous titles to his name that would make any director jealous. I wish I could say that I've seen all his best ones, but that wouldn't be true. I don't even want to admit to what I haven't seen yet. Out of what I've seen so far though, I'd say that North by Northwest with Cary Grant is my personal favourite due to its resemblance to James Bond films before a single James Bond film was even in production.

Number Seventeen is among Hitchcock's earlier efforts if you include his unfinished, uncredited or lost films and you want to call a nineteenth film an early effort. Crazy to think that it was at one time normal to direct multiple films in a year, but that's how it was. Shooting and editing has gotten a lot more complex since 1932, but it's still possible to appreciate the work that's gone into this little mystery film.

Jan 19, 2015

Review: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)

Apocalyptic movies are usually big blockbuster-type affairs with loads of CGI which is what made Seeking a Friend for the End of the World so interesting to me. It's a simple romance/drama film that just happens to take place before the apocalypse. With Steve Carell who's easily proven that he can handle more dramatic roles and Keira Knightley on board, I honestly thought there would be a market for an apocalyptic date movie in the summer of 2012 with two fine actors.

Good thing I'm not a studio executive because SaFftEotW was a soft flop. It didn't cost a whole lot to make, but it didn't quite make back its budget either. I remember actually suggesting it to my girlfriend who was stuck trying to make a decision over what we would go see next in theatres, but she didn't bite for whatever reason. I wonder why? Like me, studio executives are probably wondering too.

Jan 18, 2015

Review: Quantum of Solace (2008)

With Martin Campbell's second departure from the Bond series after having been on for reboot/savior Casino Royale, in comes German-Swiss director Marc Forster. Not a bad choice either if you ask me. He didn't have much experience at the time in directing action sequences which is maybe a bit of a concern, but he's an international man which fits in with the 007 globetrotting lifestyle who's also got some pretty good movies to his name.

The production of Quantum of Solace unfortunately ran into some trouble with the Writer's Strike of 2007. Incredibly, this actually forced director Marc Forster and Daniel Craig to re-write the script that Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade had put out. I can't even imagine being put in this kind of situation. Forster and Craig managed it to pull it off with some help from Joshua Zetumer who interestingly enough went on to become one of the writers for the RoboCop remake. QoS also holds the distinction of being the shortest film in the James Bond series, if that means anything.

Jan 17, 2015

Review: The Way Way Back (2013)

Summer is probably my favourite season for coming-of-age films to be set in. I guess there's just something special about being a kid left to one's own devices without having to go to school. All that free time is an easy way to work some self-discovery and growth in which are of course the main ingredients of any coming-of-age movie.

The Way Way Back joins the many films in that category like its 2013 stablemate The Kings of Summer as well as Stand By Me and Adventureland among others. It actually resembles Adventureland quite a bit in the sense that it takes place in a type of amusement park and it's set in the 80's. TWWB doesn't actually take place in the 80's, but it was supposed to. However it became too expensive to pull off which is why there are elements of the 80's sprinkled here and there still.