Sunday, December 21, 2014

My Thoughts on The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

TheHobbitTheBattleoftheFiveArmiesIt is time for the concluding chapter of Peter Jackson’s three part adaptation of The Hobbit.  After the defeat of Smaug the Dragon, the company of thirteen dwarves, along with Bilbo (Martin Freeman), reclaim their mountain home of Erebor.  However, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) is inflicted with "dragon sickness" and is driven mad inside the mountain.  Thorin refuses to assist Bard (Luke Evans) and the survivors of Laketown, which puts the dwarves on the brink of war with Thranduil (Lee Pace) and his army of elves.  However, the three sides are forced to put aside their differences when Azog the Defiler’s Orc army comes on the attack.

The decision to split J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel The Hobbit into a full trilogy of films has been controversial since the start.  This whole trilogy has been working backwards and creating a series of films that are meant to tie-in with The Lord of the Rings.  This includes the addition of characters and events that did not exist in the original novel, including the inclusion of Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and the new character of Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) and her romantic subplot with the dwarf Kili (Aidan Turner).  While I thought this worked pretty well for the first two films, this third film is definitely much weaker.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

BITS 2014 Interview: Patricia Chica on Serpent's Lullaby


We are heading into the final stretch of interviews from the 2014 Blood in the Snow Film Festival.  Next up is my interview for the short film Serpent’s Lullaby, which had its Toronto Premiere at the festival.  Via a Skype conversation arranged by executive producer Byron A. Martin, I talked about the film with director Patricia Chica, who was in Los Angeles at the time of the festival.  Please note that this interview features some majors SPOILERS.

Monday, December 15, 2014

My Thoughts on Force Majeure

ForceMajeureA split-second decision drives a wedge between a married couple in the Swedish drama Force Majeure.  Tomas (Johannes Kuhnke) is on a ski trip in the French Alps, with his wife Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli) and two children Vera and Harry.  On the second day of their trip, while having lunch at a mountain restaurant, the family watches as an avalanche speeds towards the restaurant.  With the avalanche appearing like it’s going to hit them, Tomas ends up running for his life, leaving his wife and kids behind.  Even though everything turns out to be alright, Ebba has major issues with Tomas’ act of cowardice, as well as his reluctance to admit that he did anything wrong.  Over the course of the remainder of the ski trip, the couple re-evaluates the state of their relationship.

My Thoughts on Top Five

TopFiveChris Rock writes, directs, and stars in this dramedy about a comedian, who wants to be taken more seriously.  Andre Allen (Rock) is considered the funniest man in American, whose claim to fame was a trilogy of Hammy the Bear buddy cop films, in which Allen performed in a bear costume.  No longer wanting to be typecast as Hammy, Allen stars in the serious art film Uprize, about the Haitian revolution.  While promoting Uprize and preparing for his (live on TV) wedding to reality star Erica Long (Gabrielle Union), Allen is interviewed by New York Times journalist Chelsea Brown (Rosario Dawson).

Top Five is the third film to be directed by Chris Rock, following 2003’s Head of State and 2007’s I Think I Love My Life.  While I haven’t seen the other two films, I think that it’s safe to say that Top Five is a much different type of film.  The film is obviously a reflection somewhat on Chris Rock’s own career, as well as the public perception of comedians.  Andre Allen is a funny man, who does not want to be funny anymore.  The problem is, no matter how hard he tries to be a serious actor, everyone will always equate him with the character of Hammy the Bear.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Listen to Me – The Dew Over, Episode Twenty-Five: 2003


I’m becoming a regular on this now aren’t I?  I make my fourth appearance on The Dew Over podcast talking about the Best Picture nominees from 2003, which is the year The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King swept the awards for Best Picture.  I’m a little more in the background this time around, though I do end up making a somewhat controversial decision during the podcast’s central question.

Click here to listen to the episode

Friday, December 12, 2014

BITS 2014 Interview: Kyle Hytonen, Dean Young, and Nigel Grinstead on Massacre at Femur Creek


It’s two weeks later and my interviews from the 2014 Blood in the Snow Film Festival are still rolling out.  Today, I have my conversation with writer/director Kyle Hytonen, producer/actor Dean Young, and actor Nigel Grinstead from the 1980s slasher homage Massacre at Femur Creek, which had its Toronto Premiere as part of the Short Film Showcase and also won the award for Best Poster.  Before moving on to the interview, I thought that I should mention that, even though I ended up being personally a bit underwhelmed by the tone of the film (which I saw before the interview), I still still had an enjoyable time talking to these guys about their inspirations behind it.  Also note, that the interview might include a few SPOILERS for the short.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

My Thoughts on the 2015 Golden Globe Nominees


Is it really that time again?  The nominees have been announced for the 72nd Golden Globe Awards, which will be taking place on Sunday, January 11, 2015.  While it has become apparent over the last few years that the Golden Globes is much more of a popularity contest than other award shows, I am pretty certain that most of the nominees on this year’s ballet will also show up come Oscar time.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

My Thoughts on Wild

WildFrom director Jean-Marc Vallée (Café de Flore, Dallas Buyers Club) comes this drama based on the memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed.  Cheryl (Reese Witherspoon) is a young woman desperate to escape her troubled life of drug use and promiscuous sex.  As her way to find herself, Cheryl decides to hike the thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail on her own.  As she faces the many challenges on this trek into the wilderness, Cheryl flashes back to the events that lead her on this journey, much of which is centred on Cheryl’s relationship with her mother Bobbi (Laura Dern).

It is probably safe to say at this point that Quebecois director Jean-Marc Vallée has broken through into the mainstream.  Becoming known in Canada for films such as C.R.A.Z.Y. and Café de Flore, Vallée finally hit it big last year with Dallas Buyers Club, which ended up winning three Oscars, including Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor.  Wild continues this career transition for Jean-Marc Vallée, as he directs this Nick Hornby-penned adaptation of the memoir by Cheryl Strayed, which is produced by and stars Reese Witherspoon.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Blu-Ray Review: Frank


Magolia/Video Services Corp.
95 Minutes
SKonMovies Review

1080p High Definition 16x9 (2.31:1)
English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio

Release Date: Dec 9, 2014

Purchase on Blu-Ray from Amazon
Purchase on DVD from Amazon
Rent/Purchase on iTunes


Arriving on DVD and blu-ray is the dark comedy Frank. Jon (Domhnall Gleeson) is a wannabe musician, who stumbles upon a band called "Soronprfbs," who are trying to stop their keyboardist from drowning himself in the ocean.  Needing an extra man for their performance that night, the band’s manager Don (Scoot McNairy) asks Jon if he can play keyboards at the show.  It is at the concert where Jon finds out that the Soronprfbs is lead by a man named Frank (Michael Fassbender), who inexplicably wears a giant papier-mâché doll’s head.

Monday, December 08, 2014

BITS 2014 Interview: Darryl Shaw and Dana Tartau on Greater Than


The twisted crime romance Greater Than had its Toronto Premiere as part of the 2014 Blood in the Snow Film Festival’s Short Film Showcase and it also won the award for Best Short.  At the festival, I sat down with writer/director Darryl Shaw and lead actress Dana Tartau to discuss the film.  Please note that this interview features some major SPOILERS for the plot of the film.