Tuesday, 28 June 2011

DVD Releases for June 28, 2011

Time to take a look at a selection of DVD releases for Tuesday June 28, 2011!

  • Wake Wood (DVD Review) Freaking brilliant UK/Ireland horror film that has a great story, small cast, huge creep factor and awesome pagan feel. This is exactly the kind of horror I love. (US Release Date: July 5, 2011)
  • Season of the Witch (DVD Review) Really fun adventure flick which to quote my brother has a total dungeons and dragons feel to it. Set during the Crusades & with a story involving a witch I found myself surprzed to enjoy it, and I did ...a lot.
  • Barney's Version (DVD Review) Multiple Genie winning film based on the Mordecai Richler starring Paul Giamatti.
  • Sucker PunchLikely one of the most ripped apart films of 2011 this highly stylized Zack Synder (Watchmen, 300) film starring Emily Browning as Baby Doll a young girl institutionalized after a violent crime. Great opening and it kind of digs at it's target market, but I still think there is something interesting going in it.
  • Beastly (DVD Review) urban fantasy based on the book Beastly by Alex Flinn, which is a modern day a re-imagining of Beauty and the Beast following a high schooler who has everything Kyle (Alex Pettyfer of I Am Number Four) but miffs off the wrong girl.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy (BluRay) The super, ultra, ultimate edition for LOTR fans and very likely the reason it's a pretty quite week of releases. Smart timing too as there is lots of excitement around The Hobbit which will be out in 2012 & 2013 and just we started to see images from it. To Middle Earth!
  • Cyrus: Mind of a Serial Killer This one looks pretty brutal as it's been banned in several countries as well as being based on true events, it's actually inspired by serial killers such as FritzHaarmann, Henry Lee Lucas and H.H. Holmes. Too creepy for me!
  • Warehouse 13: Season Two I really want to check out and catch up with this series that I've heard described as people that check into relics like you'd imagine in an Indiana Jones film
  • The Royal Wedding: His Royal Highness Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton A 90 minute documentary including official wedding footage. Although Amazon.com has oodles of Royal Wedding options, this particular version being released by eOne I only see on Amazon.ca
Titles on Amazon.ca(Canada):

Titles on Amazon.com (US):

Season of the Witch (DVD Review)

DVD of the historical set supernatural adventure film Season of the Witch with starring Nicolas Cage, Claire Foy & Ron Perlman

Image: Courtesy of Alliance Films

Dir: Dominic Sena (Whiteout, Gone in Sixty Seconds, Swordfish)
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Claire Foy, Ron Perlman, Ulrich Thomsen, Robert Sheehan, Stephen Campbell Moore, Stephen Graham, Christopher Lee
USA, 2011

Reason to see: I tend to like historical adventure type films, although the shift in release date from 2010 to 2011 had me a bit leery.

It's amazing to think back on how Season of the Witch was the first film I saw theatrically in 2011 during a freaking snowstorm, and what an interesting way to start off the year. My expectations were low as the film was pushed from 2010 to January 2011 (I can't remember another film pushed *to* a January releases). Plus, it's set during a time of witch-hunting and the plot is centred on that activity, and I'm not a big fan of that in general. But, there was just something about it that kept me being curious about the film and I really like the cast so I was going to give it a chance. I'm glad I did.

The film is centred on Behmen (Nicolas Cage) and his buddy Felson (Ron Perlman), both Crusaders more keen on battles and fighting itself over whom or what they are fighting for. But the light eventually does dawn on considering the morality of their actions, which creates conflict in their tasks of delivering the supposed plague-causing witch to stand for her 'crimes'.

Many things about the film surprized me, I loved Ron Perlmas as Felson who is often the comic relief of the film and I loved how they didn't make him simply a brute because he can (and is) much more. I was thrilled to see Ulrich Thomsen (Fear Me Not / Den du frygter), who plays the regal widower Eckhart and fits in perfectly in this setting. Claire Foy is also great as The Girl, who had a challenge of limited mobility during the film but worked very with those limitations. I liked how the film given the setting, didn't exclusively present the angle of 'witches are evil!', and which was very refreshing. It's certainly has that tone from a lot, but not all, of the characters.

There are also lots of horror influences here, and a fair amount of disturbing images, actions and ideas, but it still maintains the structure and tone of an adventure films with a 'quest-like' task and band of travellers, and those are two things I almost always enjoy in stories and I certainly did here. Although it's easily Nicolas Cage's film, it's rounded out with a great supporting cast of new and familiar faces that bring it all together.

Is the film perfect? No, nowhere near. The dialogue is in particular can be bit off, even though the blending of 'historical' and current day language often was entertaining, it also fall flat. I did love Ulrich Thomsen as Eckhart, enjoyed seeing Ron Perlman as the sidekick character and enjoyed the quest-like story. Overall it was fun, kept me engaged and would easily be a film I'd watch again.

DVD Extras:
  • 2 Featurettes: Featurette 1 (8 minutes) film clips, behind the scenes, interviews with producer Alex Gartner, Tippett Studio, Art Director Nathan Fredenburg, Tippet Studio, computer graphics supervisor Aharon Bourland, Tippett Studio, Animation Supervisor James W. Brown, Tippet Studio compositing supervisor David Schnee on creating the effects for characters in the film including, the complicated nature of characters and what they go through that's represented by the effects, different design ideas, creative problem solving from re-shoots to changes of changes along the way, plus showing some of the scenes and how they were designed shot-by-shot with the effects. Featurette 2: On a Crusade (6 minutes) film clips, behind the scenes, rehearsals, storyboards and interviews with producer Alex Gartner, stunt coordinator Andy Armstrong, 2nd unit director Vic Armstrong on the appeal of action and battle scenes, the motivation behind including the epic battle scenes, and how to show the passage of time thought the crusades, signature movements for Ron Perlman & Nicolas Cage's characters and how they maximized using a small number of people and ending up with it looking like thousands. I loved this featurette - it was so cool see it go from idea to rehearsal to the final sequences, it really beautifully comes to life.
  • Deleted Scenes (7 scenes, 10 minutes) combination of deleted and extended scenes including a 'explainy' opening scene/character introduction with voice over, extended prologue, additional scene with Christopher Lee, and some really great atmospheric scenes. I loved that they are all finished and easily could have been incorporated into the film with full effects, costumes, lighting, etc.
  • Alternate Ending (9 minutes) Wow, really long alternate ending and hard to share without over sharing! I liked getting to see a different interpretation but I like what they decided to go with in the actual film.
  • Theatrical Trailer
Season of the Witch is available on DVD & BluRay as of June 28, 2011. Check it out over at Amazon.ca (DVD) & Amazon.com (DVD)

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I'll watch it again
I'd recommend it as light adventure flick with some horror tones

Return to Film Reviews or see more DVD Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2011
Originally reviewed for Theatrical Release - January 24, 2011

(Left to right) Nicolas Cage and Claire Foy star in SEASON OF THE WITCH, an Alliance Films' release. © 2010 Season of the Witch Distributions, LLC All Rights Reserved. Photo Credit Egon Endrenyi

Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman star SEASON OF THE WITCH, an Alliance Films' release. Photo Credit Egon Endrenyi

(Left to right.) Stephen Campbell Moore, Nicolas Cage, and Ulrich Thomsen star in SEASON OF THE WITCH, an Alliance Films' release. © 2010 Season of the Witch Distributions, LLC All Rights Reserved. Photo Credit
Egon Endrenyi

Wake Wood (DVD Review)

DVD review of the awesome Irish/UK Horror film Wake Wood starring Aidan Gillen, Eva Birthistle, Ella Connolly and Timothy Spall

Image: Courtesy of eOne Films

Dir: David Keating (The Last of the High Kings)
Cast: Aidan Gillen, Eva Birthistle, Ella Connolly, Timothy Spall, Ruth McCabe, Amelia Crowley
UK/Ireland, 2011

Reason to see: Horror with creepy kid and pagan potential

Wow, wow, wow! I loved Wake Wood. LOVED it. I can be hesistent when the first time I'm hearing about a horror film is when it's being released on DVD, but I always remain hopeful and Wake Wood is reason to keep up hope for horror.

In the film we follow a family who is relatively new to the quiet rural neighbourhood of Wake Wood including veterinarian Patrick (Aidan Gillen of "The Wire" and "Game of Thrones") and pharmacist Louise (Eva Birthistle). The town has a very quaint and has a bit of a sleepy quality to it, which fits the sombre tone of the couples relationship and gives the audience a 'something amiss' idea.

This 'somethings amiss' is one of the many things I love about the film, which very successfully portrays tone and style without revealing too much at any given time. You always slightly unsettled and looking for more, which is exactly where I like to be with horror films. And it is, without a doubt, a horror film. Although it can be quiet and quirky, it's also dark, shocking and grisly. I think I might have even had to look away from the screen, which is a very rare thing. Add that it's got a haunting minimalist score, delves into ritual, binding and nature and you can't help but get creeped out. The cast is filled out by Timothy Spall who in a refreshing turn as a oddly-normal-give-it's-horror role of the local leader of sorts Arthur, and Ella Connolly who is very strong as Patrick & Louise's daughter Alice.

Wake Wood is a great horror film with restrained but potent visceral imagery that's disturbing, but always fitting to the moment in time. It's well acted, has a great human story and haunting ideas that are easy to embrace for both the characters and the audience. It's smart, creepy and atmospheric and that is one of my favourite mixes for horror. I highly recommend checking it out.

: disturbing imagery, grisly imagery

DVD Extras:
  • Deleted Scenes (8 scenes, 14 minutes) really nice selection of deleted scenes, many are short and not-so-sweet and a few have a really nice high creep factor, others can either add to the mystery and strangeness of the setting and story. Most are short deleted but there is also 1 long extended scenes included.
  • Trailer
Wake Wood is available on DVD & BluRay as of June 28, 2011. Check it out over at Amazon.ca (DVD) & Amazon.com (DVD)

Shannon's Overall View:
I loved it
I'll watch it again
I highly recommend it horror fans

Return to Film Reviews or see more DVD Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2011

Ella Connolly in Wake Wood

Timothy Spall in Wake Wood

Beastly (DVD Review)

DVD Review of urban fantasy film Beastly, starring Alex Pettyfer and Vanessa Hudgens based on the book Beastly by Alex Flinn, a modern day a re-imagining of Beauty and the Beast.

Image: Courtesy of Alliance Films
Legal Line © 2011 CBS Films Inc. All Rights Reserved. Distributed exclusively in Canada by Alliance Films. All Rights Reserved. © 2011 CBS Films Inc. Tous droits réservés. Distribué exclusivement au Canada par Alliance Vivafilm. Tous droits réservés.

Dir: Daniel Barnz (Phoebe in Wonderland)
Cast: Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Hudgens, Mary-Kate Olsen, Neil Patrick Harris, Peter Krause, LisaGay Hamilton
USA, 2011

Reason to see: It was on my Most Anticipated Films of 2010 List (before it got shifted to 2011 release).

Based on the books Beastly by Alex Flinn, the film Beastly is a modern day a re-imagining of Beauty and the Beast following a high schooler who has everything Kyle (Alex Pettyfer of I Am Number Four) but miffs off the wrong girl and then he has to face the challenge of his own ugliness come to light.

I was a little leery when the release date of the film shifted from 2010 to 2011, and I remained leery going into the film but always hold out hope for seeing urban fantasy come to life on screen. The film certainly had it's challenge, the primary one of the story and film is the representation of 'ugly' in the context of vanity and social acceptance in contrast with love and inner beauty. Perhaps I'm showing my 90's club card when I say that the look of tribal tattoos and lack of hair is more unattractive than not, but the addition of scars that look like burns kind of creep every one out. Speaking of creepy, there is a very high creep factor in the films that does carry over from the book and original story involving entrapment that I think you just can't accept in the modern day. The blending of urban and fantasy was unfortunately not very successful, and although I could often buy into the fantasy of the transformation I never bought into the urban realities presented, especially anything involving city living, safety or general out and about behavior. The film also had huge pacing issues, which is tragic considering the story is so strongly centred in the passage of time and although I like how they threaded some of the time overall it felt unbalanced with certain moments coming to quickly and others having no sense of build up when that was desperately needed to gain potency over time.

There were a few unexpected surprizes of enjoyment in the film including performances from Mary Kate Olsen as Kendra and Neil Patrick Harris as the Kyle/Hunter's tutor, both of whom are involved in some witty dialogue that genuinely make me laugh. But with the logic issues and creep factor it overall was a bit of a painful watch. The biggest challenge when taking on this kind of transformation story it feels like the message is that it's all about what you do and who you are, but there still seems to that note of 'but also be attractive too'. Maybe that's intrinsic to the fantasy element of the film, but it just didn't sit right with me. Even with a sweet romance and good chemistry between Alex Pettyfer and Vanessa Hudgens at the heart of it, I wasn't feeling the logic behind the love, and I think you need that just as much.

DVD Extras:
  • 2 Featurettes: A Classic Tale Retold: The Story of Beastly (10 minutes) film clips and interviews with director/screenwriter Daniel Barnz, novelist Alex Flinn (author of Beastly), actors Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Hudgens, Mary-Kate Olsen and Neil Patrick Harris, on the book, the message, the effect and focus on looks and vanity, the setting of starting in high school, the casting, the characters of Kyle, Lindy, Kendra & Will, symbolism, themes, the development of Hunter & Lindy relationship and seeing the beauty of life. Creating the Perfect Beast (5 minutes) concept designs, behind the scenes on filming and images of the process, film images, film clips and interviews with director/screenwriter Daniel Barnz, special make-up effects and prosthetics Tony Gardner, actor Alex Pettyfer & Vanessa Hudgens on the design of the beast, decisions and consideration of what would be considered ugly, the process of creating the look, the effect of being in the make up and a time delay of the 3 1/2 hour process of make up application
  • Alternate Ending (10 minutes) Lengthy and quite a different feel this alternative ending takes, which manages to be more dark as well as kind of corny. It has some pretty cool effects and there were some things I like better, but I think they went with the right choice with the theatrical version. Maybe a combo of the two would have been perfect.
  • Deleted Scenes (3 scenes, 4 minutes) combination of extended and deleted scenes, these actually have some quite nice moments in this selection of scenes several of which have Hunter waling around town and I actually think that most of these should have been kept in the film at least in part but there are a few moments that are way to familiar moments reminiscent of other films so I can see why they wouldn't be included.
  • "Be Mine" Music Video by Kristina & The Dolls (3 minutes)
  • Plus: Limited Edition Magnetic Picture Frame
Beastly is available on DVD & BluRay as of June 28, 2011. Check it out over at Amazon.ca (DVD) & Amazon.com (DVD)

Shannon's Overall View:
I was very disappointed by it
Oddly, I would watch it again
It's hard to recommend, only for die-hard fantasy/romance fans and/or fans of the book I think would get something from it

Return to Film Reviews or see more DVD Reviews, Beastly reviewed on the Movie Moxie Podcast

© Shannon Ridler, 2011

Vanessa Hudgens as Lindy and Alex Pettyfer as Kyle in BEASTLY, an Alliance Films release.

Alex Pettyfer (as Hunter) and Neil Patrick Harris (as Will) star in BEASTLY, an Alliance Films' release.

Mary-Kate Olsen stars as Kendra in BEASTLY, an Alliance Films' release.

Barney's Version (DVD Review)

DVD Review of the Genie winning film Barney's Version, starring Paul Giamatti based on the Mordecai Richler

Image: Courtesy of eOne Films

Dir: Richard J. Lewis (Whale Music)
Cast: Paul Giamatti, Rosamund Pike, Minnie Driver, Scott Speedman, Rachelle Lefevre, Dustin Hoffman, Bruce Greenwood
Canada/Italy, 2010

Reason to see: One of the big heavy hitting Canadian films from 2010 and winner of 7 Genies.

Barney's Version follows the story of Barney Panofsky, played by Paul Giamatti, who over the years has many great friendships, falls in and out of love and also has a few tragedies along the way. His life Based on the novel by Mordecai Richler of the same name, you can certainly feel the love of the story and characters run strong in the film, with the care taken to create rich settings at every turn from bars to television studios to cottage homes on top of several weddings from simple to all the bells and whistles.

I knew going in to the film that it was going to be focused on Barney (from the title), but when I saw the trailers I didn't really connect to him and seeing the film and was primarily because it's Canadian and it did well, and I like to be on the up and up of Canadian film as much as I can. Even though I didn't always agree with Barney's actions along the way, I found myself very surprized to empathize with him at almost every turn. He doesn't have the hardest life or the easiest life, but it certainly throws him more than a few curve balls along the way and he really tries to deal with them as gracefully as he can. It's no surprize that Paul Giammati has won awards for his performance here, as he gives us depth and range and he makes Barney as hard to hate as he is easy to love.

As the film is a winner of 7 Genies, including 3 in acting categories of Paul Giammati (Actor in a Leading Role), and both supporting acting categories (awarded to Dustin Hoffman & Minnie Driver), it does sometimes make me a bit miffy when big Canadian films have non-Canadian in all the big roles. They are great performances though so I can't, and won't, fault them or the film because it really hits all the right marks. I will say in addition to the acting awards it won, I would also give big kudos to Scott Speedman who gives an absolutely fantastic performance as Barney's friend Boogie, and was easily one of the highlights of the film for me. Rosamund Pike is also wonderful as the calm, cool and collected Miriam, who Barney is taken with at first sight.

It's a drama that works it's magic over the test of time, following Barney through thick and thin. While watching I was impressed when it got me, which was more often than I had imagined but for the praise not as much as I hoped. I think keeners of dramas with longevity characters will definitely get a lot from it.

DVD Extras:
  • Feature Commentary with director Richard J. Lewis, writer Michael Konyves and producer Robert Lantos Wow, you can really feel the love for the story and the cast as they discuss the film and reminisce over casual in jokes, the process, Canadian-isms, the meta-level of several of the references, changes from the book to the film, iconic things about the Barney character, shooting on location, the transitions in time throughout the film, the actors, musical themes, cameos, shooting on location in Montreal and Italy, the make up research for the characters, the importance of capturing Montreal at the time in which the film is set, and changes, different version and choices about the film along the way. The commentary starts with director Richard J. Lewis & writer Michael Konyves, and producer Robert Lantos comes in at about 24 minutes.
  • Interview with Mordecai Richler (3 minutes) discussion about the novel Barney's Version, the first person nature of the novel, shared point of view and differences between him and the character of Barney and also includes reading of excepts of the novel.
  • Deleted Scenes (9 scenes, 27 minutes) combination of extended & deleted scenes, mostly conversational and most deepening relationships with Barney and other characters in the film as well as more insight into Barney himself. I quite enjoyed the scenes with Paul Giamatti and Rachelle Lefevre and a couple of great additional scenes with Rosamund Pike & Bruce Greenwood.
  • 92nd Street Y Q&A with Paul Giamatti & Annette Insdorf (61 minutes) Q&A really in depth Q&A included here which goes over a lot of discussion about the film and the role, how he became involved with the project, on if he had any reservations on the role, the character of Barney, the draw to the role, what it was like playing a character that ages throughout the film as well as questions from the live audience.
  • On the Red Carpet (4 minutes) on the red carpet with director Richard J. Lewis, producer Robert Lantos, actors Paul Giamatti, Dustin Hoffman, Minnie Driver, Jake Hoffman and AFI Fest director Jacqueline Lyanga discussing the draw of the film, what the film is about, casting, working together and believing in love at first sight, true love and craziest thing they have done for love.
Barney's Version is available on DVD and BluRay as of June 28, 2011. Check it out over at Amazon.ca (DVD) & Amazon.com (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)

Shannon's Overall View:
I didn't love it
It's not likely I'd watch it again
I'd recommend it fans of character-driven dramas that focus on the depth of one person over time

Return to Film Reviews or see more DVD Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2011

Scott Speedman,Paul Giamatti, Rachelle Lefevre in BARNEY'S VERISON Photo Credit Sabrina Lantos Courtesy of eOne Films

Paul Giamatti and Minnie Driver in BARNEY'S VERSION Photo Credit Takashi Seida Courtesy of eOne Films

Rosamund Pike and Paul Giamatti in BARNEY'S VERSION Courtesy of Sabrina Lantos Courtesy of eOne Films

Monday, 27 June 2011

Poll Results: What Subgenre of SciFi Do You Enjoy?

You have voted and the results are now in for What Subgenre of SciFi Do You Enjoy? It was a multiple click poll so lots of folks choose lots of choices but reigning supreme was Time Travel with 62%! Yay! We like Time Travel, or at least more than 1/2 or use really really like Time Travel. In second was a tie at 43% between Aliens & Utopic/Dystopic Societies (one of my personal faves).

Lots of the categories got lots of love, so it seems clear that we love our SciFi in many of it's Subgenres. Here are the complete results:

62% - Time Travel
43% - Aliens
43% - Utopic/Dystopic Societies
37% - Classic SciFi
37% - Monsters
37% - Post-Apocalyptic
37% - Space Travel
31% - Mutation
25% - Conspiracy SciFi
25% - Disaster SciFi
25% - Futuristic SciFi
25% - Realistic SciFi
25% - Robots
18% - Virtual Reality

Thanks for voting!

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Book to Film Club June 2011 Book: On the Road by Jack Kerouac


On the Road by Jack Kerouac

The classic road trip novel of the Beat Generation which is also apparently largely autobiographical. I think this really will be the most guy-ish of the year and easily just 'one of those you have to read' types of book. It was my most hesitant choice for the club but curiosity as well as being such a well-known and well-loved title made it make the cut in the end. Personally, it's my least fave of the Book to Film Club, but I don't want to rain of the parade of those who enjoyed it so I'll keep my opinions separate (you can read my review of the book here).

Things to ponder on the book:
  • Did you enjoy reading it?
  • Was it what you were expecting?
  • What did you know about the book before reading it?
  • What did you think about the writing style?
  • What did you take away from reading the book?
  • Is there anything you would change about the book?
  • Who would you recommend the book to?
About the upcoming film adaptation:
  • How do you feel about the casting of the film (Sam Riley as Sal, Garrett Hedlund as Dean)?
  • What do you hope to be the focus of the film?
  • What do you think is essential to keep from the book in the film?
  • What do you think they can trim away from the book to the film?
  • What do you think the challenges of the adaptation may be?
  • Do you have any hesitations on the adaptation?
  • What are you most looking forward to about the film adaptation?
If this was a re-read:
  • How did reading it this time compare with your previous time reading it?
  • Did you notice anything different this time round?
  • Did your interest and focus stay on the same stories, places and moments, or did it shift?
If you choose to shelf this out one:
  • Was there a barrier (genre, focus, reception) ?
  • Have you already read it?
  • Would you consider trying it later?
  • Will you join us again in July for The Help?
Reviews by Book to Film Clubbers:

Film Adaptation
Film version stars Sam Riley (Control, Franklyn) as Sal, Garrett Hedlund (Tron: Legacy, Country Strong) as Dean, Kristen Stewart (Twilight, Adventureland) as Marylou and Kirsten Dunst (Bring it On, Interview with the Vampire) as Camille; directed by Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries, Central Station). Specific release date is still to be confirmed, but it still is listed at 2011. I'll be keeping tabs on it for the Book to Film Club and certainly will share when a confirmed release date has been announced.

We are half way through the year in the Book to Film Club, but you can join our journey at any time. Sign up for updates here.

On the Road (Book Review)


Book: On the Road by Jack Kerouac

Reason to Read: June Book Selection for the Book to Film Club, and just 'one of those' that is on many to-read lists.

On the Road
was a huge challenge to get through, and if it wasn't for the Book to Film Club I would have stopped reading it pretty soon after starting. I will admit that at about the half way point I sped-read the remaining half, which didn't feel all that different from the first half. I sense that it must be very much 'of it's time' and represent ideas and experience that people may want to have, but it just didn't do anything for me.

The book follows Sal and his friend Dean in the 1940's who have several cross country adventures (and misadventures) around the US. Sal is the protagonist, but it feels like he always puts himself in the shadow of Dean, and in a way I always felt the book put itself in the shadow of something else. The focus and energy is almost about what they could be doing or would be doing, and rarely enjoyed what they were actually doing. They seemed to want crazy experiences, but then when they had them never seemed to be happy - at least Sal, as the book is from his perspective. I also felt like they were presented as friends, but they weren't really even nice to each other. It was all about chasing the dream, and I prefer stories about living the dream.

Oddly, the book was pretty much as I expected. I had hoped to connect to it more but in all honestly it's not a book for me - I'm sure I'm not the target market and I doubt any woman is. It's easily the most male of the titles on the Book to Film Club and although I always try to see things from different perspectives and I find reading is a great way to understand different people and different points of view, but in this I couldn't find any way to relate and eventually became disinterested.

I will give it that the casting for the film is absolutely perfect with Sam Riley (Control, Franklyn) as Sal and Garrett Hedlund (Tron: Legacy, Country Strong) as Dean. No real comment to the casting of the women in the film, although I like both Kristen Stewart and Kirsten Dunst but the women characters seemed so undimensional I could barely tell one from another. The film version is directed by Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries, Central Station) and a specific release date is still to be confirmed, but it still is listed at 2011. I'll keep you up to date when we get confirmation of a release date and I'll certainly see it being the completist that I am and loving the cast, but that's the draw for me over the subject or story.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Film Fan Fridays for Friday June 24, 2011

Hello Film Fans and Fanatics!

Welcome to Film Fan Fridays for Friday June 24, 2011!

In limited release this week we have just two release this week starting with The Future is Now! which is a documentary-style film exploring the importance of art and it's connection to us and society through the eyes & journey of skeptic and we also have The Beginning of the Great Revival which boast having 150 stars in it (wow) and is a chronicle of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party.

In wide release this week we have 2 releases this weekend with animated automotive sequel Cars 2 along with Bad Teacher which stars Cameron Diaz as a teacher who decides to save up for implants to snag a man to take care of her. We also have in wide release mid-next week revving up for the holiday weekend with Transformers: Dark of the Moon as a Wednesday release and it's the third film in this TV to film series adaptation about robots in disguise from director by Michael Bay.

Have a great weekend!


Festival Watch

Greek Film Retrospective
June 24 - 26, 2011 at The Royal in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

International Indian Film Festival

June 24 - 26, 2011 at various locations in Toronto, Ontario, Canada including the IIFA Awards on Saturday June 25, 2011 at Rogers Centre

Parkdale Film and Video Showcase
June 24 - 26, 2011 at various locations in Parkdale in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

ReelHeART International Film Festival
The Filmmakers Film Festival
Continues until June 25, 2011 at various locations in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Friday June 24, 2011 Releases

Bad Teacher
Dir: Jake Kasdan (Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Orange County)
Cast: Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel, Justin Timberlake, Lucy Punch, John Micheal Higgins
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer

The Beginning of the Great Revival
Dirs: Sanping Han & Jianxin Huang (The Founding of a Republic)
Cast: John Woo, Andy Lau, Wei Tang, Daniel Wu, Liu Ye, Chang Chen, Chen Kun
Limited Release
No Official Film Site Found, IMDb Page, Trailer

Cars 2
Dirs: John Lasseter (Cars, Toy Story) & Brad Lewis (feature film directorial debut)
Cast: Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Caine, Joe Montegna, Cheech Marin
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer

The Future is Now!
Dir: Gary Burns & Jim Brown (Radiant City).
Cast: Paul Ahmarani, Liane Balaban
Limited Release
NFB Site & Trailer, IMDb Page

Wednesday June 29, 2011

Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Dir: Michael Bay (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Pearl Harbour, The Island, Armageddon)
Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Tyrese Gibson, Josh Duhamel, Alan Tudyk, Hugo Weaving, Leonard Nimoy
Official Film Site, IMDb Page, Trailer

**please note this list of releases reflects first run film released in Toronto, Ontario, Canada as of June 24, 2011**

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Movie Moxie Podcast 41: Super 8 and True Legend


This week on the Movie Moxie Podcast Shannon chats about recent releases of Super 8, True Legend, shares a funny thing happened on the way from the theatre story and as always looks at DVD releases and upcoming Theatrical releases. Please don't mind the ambient sounds including thunder, rain, cat purring and a few sirens. Ah, summer living in Toronto!

You can also subscribe to the Movie Moxie Podcast here:
Subscribe through iTunes here.

0:00 - 01:30: Intro
1:30 - 5:45 Super 8
5:45 - 9:30 True Legend
9:30 - 12:00 A Funny Thing Happened....Story Time!
12:00 - 18:30 DVD Releases
18:30 - 22:30 Upcoming Releases
22:30 - 24:30 Outro

Show Notes:

Promo: Tuning into SciFi TV's Saturday B Movie Reel Podcast

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Summer of SciFi Announcement


Sad news, folks. I'm having to put a hold on my Summer of Sci Fi and epic exploration of tons of the awesome sub-genres, niche genres and genre mashing goodness. Originally I just delayed the marathon but I've realized it's just too much at the moment. I've never, ever, stopped a marathon, challenge or anything-a-thon once I've started our of the 16 I've participated in, led or done on my own over the years. Since I first announced the Summer of SciFi I've found out that I'll be moving smack-dab in the middle of summer and I know with that in mind I can't do this marathon to justice with the time and attention it deserves. I'll still be reviewing all the 2011 summer science fiction films that I see (and that's still lots!) and hope to come back to this exploration in the future.

I'll keep the original post as a home base for reviews for summer SciFi films, and it already includes X-Men First Class and the awesome film Super 8 and I look forward to Cowboys and Aliens, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and many more of the films coming out this summer.

Thanks so much for your understanding! Looking forward to getting settled in a new place soon.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Happythankyoumoreplease (DVD Review)

DVD review of the beautiful and touching drama Happythankyoumoreplease starring Josh Radnor, Michael Algieri, Malin Akerman and Kate Mara.

Photo - Courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment

Writer/Dir: Josh Radnor - feature film directorial debut
Cast: Josh Radnor, Michael Algieri, Malin Akerman, Kate Mara, Zoe Kazan, Pablo Schreiber, Tony Hale
USA, 2011

Reason to see: Had strong acclaim which got me curious.

Happythankyoumoreplease is a fantastic film following the lives of friends in New York. I almsot hesitate to open with that as it sounds so cliche or blase, but believe me Happythankyoumoreplease is neither blase or cliche, it's very honest, funny and emotionally real. I loved that it finds the truth of it's characters, and even when those truths are not the most glamourous or endearing, it still shows them with an honest and open light.

We follow Sam (Josh Radnor who also wrote, directed & produced the film) a writing working on getting his book published and making the transition from short stories to novels. He's friends with Annie (Malin Akerman of Watchmen), pseudo-cousins with Mary-Catherine (Zoe Kazan) and currently interested in Mississippi (Kate Mara). Wow, I just noticed that one of the things I loved about the film was that it showed non-romantic male/female relationships, and that's even more evident as the other guys in the film are mostly attached to one of the women's stories, not Sam's story. Furthering the drama is Mary-Catherine whose is at a tipping point in her relationship with Charlie (Pablo Schreiber) and Malin Akerman dealing with the challenges of love and work, or sometimes both with another Sam in the film, played by Tony Hale.

The cast is amazing at showing the depth and complexity to the relationships of the characters. I was particulary taken with Malin Akerman and Zoe Kazan, as well as the young Michael Algieri who plays Rasheen. I also loved that our main guy Sam (Josh Radnor) is that amazing balance of not unlikable, but so 'guy' ish, doing things that you think "He isn't going to do that.. is he?" and is believable 100% of the time. I always believed the characters in the film, their troubles and trials along the way, from their outbursts to their moments of acceptance and true friendship. The film really resonated for me on a positive emotional level, something that feels rather rare. Happythankyoumoreplease lays things bare and is emotionally real without feeling like you are being raked over the coals. I felt for each and every character in the film, whether they we doing something beautiful or being a bit of a jerk, you could always understand where they were coming from and why they did what they did. A truly masterful film and one that I highly recommend.

DVD Extras:
  • Audio Commentary with producer/writer/director/actor Josh Radnor and producer Jesse Hara I really enjoyed the commentary which serves as a open discussion and reflection on the film and process of film from decisions of locations, casting, working with the actors and actor interaction, the timing and locations of when scenes where shot, on what was improved on the day, logistics, changes along the way, the use of music including the score and songs by Jaymay, the inspiration for moments, lines and characters plus using the red camera, being a first time filmmaker, shooting in 22 days, the challenge on independent cinema, on being festival circuit and lots of notations and shout outs to friends, extras and people that helped and supported the film along the way.
  • Happythankyoumoremusicplease - featuring Jaymay (6 minutes) film clips, music and interviews with producer/writer/director/actor Josh Radnor, music supervisor Andy Gowan and singer/songwriter Jaymay on the music in the film in terms of how the music came together for the film, the New York nature of the music and the film, the emotional honesty of both the film characters and the music and how the music interplays with the film, especially with the song Never Be Daunted
  • Deleted Scenes (5 scenes, 9 minutes) great selection of scenes here and as often with extra scenes I can see why most of them were cut but I loved having the chances to see more from these fantastic actors in the roles of great characters. I was particularly with a scene between Zoe Kazan and Pablo Schreiber that had such an emotional intensity that it blew me away. Well worth checking out.
  • Trailer
Happythankyoumoreplease is available on DVD and BluRay as of June 21, 2011. Check it out over at Amazon.ca (DVD), Amazon.ca [Blu-ray] & Amazon.com (DVD), Amazon.com [Blu-ray]

Shannon's Overall View:
I adored it
I'll watch it again
I highly & widely recommend it

Return to Film Reviews or see more DVD Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2011

Josh Radnor and Kate Mara in Happythankyoumoreplease. Photo - Courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment

Beat the World (DVD Review)

DVD review of Canadian hip hop dance film Beat the World starring Tyrone Brown, Sho-Tyme, Chase Armitage, Christian Loclair, Stephanie Nguyen, Kristy Flores, and Lil'C

Image: Courtesy of eOne Films.

Writer/Dir: Robert Adetuyi (Turn it Up)
Cast: Tyrone Brown, Mishael Morgan, Sho-Tyme, Chase Armitage, Christian Loclair, Stephanie Nguyen, Kristy Flores, Shane Pollard, Nikki Grant, Christopher Toler (Lil'C)
Canada, 2011

Reason to see: Canadian film that fuses dance with parkour? That's made for me!

I was so excited to hear about Beat the World, a Canadian dance film with a crew that decides to blend parkour with hip hop. Great place to start! Turns out that it actually follows three streetdance crews from around the world on their way to the Beat the World competition in Detroit. The crews all all have their own dramas and challenges along the way.

The film mainly focuses on the Fusion, the Windsor group that is working with fusing street and parkour including Yusan (Tyrone Brown) who actually serves as the films protagonist, Justin (Chase Armitage) the London boy who brings the parkour action, Cherry (Nikki Grant) and familiar faces to dance fans Easy (Sho-Tyme) and Deray (Christopher Toler aka Lil'C). I have to admit that seeing both Sho-Tyme and Lil'C were HUGE highlights of the film for me as I'm a fan of both of them. We also have Maya (Mishael Morgan) as a part of the Windsor folk, not as a dancer but she is Yusan's girlfriend and plays into the romance of the film and the larger story of the challenge when dance and the rest of life collide.

Circling around the globe we also have Berlin crew Flying Steps featuring loverboy/player Eric (Christian Loclair) and Nina (Stephanie Nguyen) and the Brazil crew Revolustion led by the not-so-responsible Carlos (Shane Pollard) and also includes (Olivia) Kristy Flores. These crews don't get as much screen time, but I did really enjoy seeing Stephanie Nguyen (Streetdance), she's a beautiful and versatile dancer and gets a fair amount of screen time dancing here, as well as some time with the larger story as well - and her character is fierce.

Beat the World is a dance film at heart and pretty much keeps to the formula of a competition based dance film, of having drama with romance, jealousy and the conflict of doing something new versus sticking to the tried and true. The dance and the parkour are where the film really shine, giving the viewer lots of great sequences to enjoy throughout the entire film. There are tons of talented dancers here, and it was a joy to see them, specifically Sho-Tyme, Lil'C, Stephanie Nguyen and Christian Loclair. On the parkour side of things Chase Armitage was amazing, I am always floored to see bodies so swiftly in motion - and the DVD extras have some great stuff on the parkour side of things. Truly amazing.

I do have to point out though that the pacing of the film through me for a bit of a loop, there were certainly moments where it felt like what was happening couldn't have happened in the time given or that sequences that were supposed to be over time were all filmed at the same time. But, it's a dance film at heart and the dancing is where it's at. Plus, huge added bonus was that Sho-Tyme delivers one hell of an actor performance. Who knew? He totally blew me away. Fun times.

DVD Extras:
  • Behind-the-scenes Featurette (8 minutes) film clips, behind the scenes, and interviews with writer/director Robert Adetuyi, actor/parkour choreographer Chase Armitage, actor/choreographer Sho-Tyme, actor Tyrone Brown, Nikki Grant, Lil'C on the film, their characters and often specifically about their personal connection to their characters in the film, the films theme of love and love for dance, the idea of fusing parkour and hip hop, the authenticity of portraying a streetdance crew and lots of behind the scenes on the parkour training and rehearsing.
  • Parkour Featurette (7 minutes) 3RUN: The Team Behind the Film - interviews with 3RUN co-founder Sam Parham, 3RUN director (and Beat the World actor/parkour choreographer) Chase Armitage and 3RUN athletes Cole Armitage & Mathew Kaye on parkour, free-running, martial arts and the art of movement, plus discussing how 3RUN began, how they work together, how they got connected with the film, making their own films and nice selection of test footage with really impressive selection or free running in a variety of settings from nature to gyms to urban settings.
Beat the World is available on DVD and BluRay as of June 21, 2011. Check it out over at Amazon.ca (DVD), Amazon.ca [Blu-ray] & Amazon.com (DVD), Amazon.com [Blu-ray]

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it, especially the dancing & parkour
I'll watch it again
I'd recommend it to dance film fans

Return to Film Reviews or see more DVD Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2011

Chase Armitage (Justin), Teresa Espinoza (Fusion Dancer), Sho-Tyme (Easy), Nikki Grant (Cherry) in BEAT THE WORLD Photo by Sophie Giraud Courtesy of eOne Films

Lil'C (Deray), Chase Armitage (Justin), Tyrone Brown (Yuson) in BEAT THE WORLD Photo by Sophie Giraud Courtesy of eOne Films

Fusion Dance Crew in BEAT THE WORLD Photo by Sophie Giraud Courtesy of eOne Films

Mishael Morgan (Maya) in BEAT THE WORLD Photo by Sophie Giraud Courtesy of eOne Films

Mega Python vs. Gatoroid (DVD Review)

DVD review of the awesome cheese-fest, monster vs monster SyFy flick Mega Python vs. Gatoroid starring 80's singers Tiffany and Debbie Gibson.

Image: Courtesy of eOne Films.

Dir: Mary Lambert (Pet Sematary, The In Crowd, Clubland)
Cast: Tiffany, Debbie Gibson, A Martinez, Kathryn Joosten
USA, 2011 (DVD release)

Reason to see: I listened to a review or if on Tuning into SciFi: Saturday B-Movie Reel and it sounded like bucketloads of fun.

Who could resist a monster film that stars Tiffany and Debbie Gibson and has a vs. in the title? I couldn't. No way, no how. I knew I had to see Mega Python vs. Gatoroid and since it's a SyFy original I was thrilled to see it get a DVD release so I could finally see it in all it's cheesy glory. And there is a lot of cheesy glory.

In Mega Python vs. Gatoroid we have Chief Ranger Terry (Tiffany) as the law enforcement trying to ensure the antsy locals hunters don't hunt the oddly under norm alligator population in the estuary. Enter Dr. Nikki (Debbie Gibson), animal activist who is pro-let nature take care of herself and does some of her own tampering to 'balance' things out. On paper the 80's singers feel like they would be on the same page, but nothing could be further from the truth. At odd at every step, the added vs. in the film is none other than Terry and Nikki!

The film is ridiculous and enjoyable in every way. The dialogue is hilarious, the plot is more than ridiculous and the effects are very obvious, but the film made me laugh at every turn. It's over the top at every step, and I had oodles of fun watching it. I loved Kathryn Joosten who plays another ranger Angie, and also serves as a no-fuss no muss mom-like character Tiffany and I adored her 'I'll take care of it' attitude, regardless of the ridiculousness of the situation. We also have Dr. Diego Ortiz (played by A Martinez!), as the non-local but close-enough who seems to know everything they need about the nature, science and tech side of everything - plus he can pilot a helicopter. Pretty awesome, eh?

Overall, Mega Python vs. Gatoroid is a boat load of fun. It's completely cheesy, sassy and knows exactly who it's audience is and caters specifically to them. If you like your cheese, this is totally for you and is extra special goodness for folks of the Tiffany/Debbie Gibson rivalry generation. I had so much fun watching it and easily would watch it again.

DVD Extras:
  • Featurette (11 minutes) behind the scenes, film clips and interviews including with director Mary Lambert, stunt coordinator Steve Hart, visual effects supervisor Mark Kochinski and actors Tiffany, Debbie Gibson, Kathryn Joosten and A Martinez on what drew them to the project, working together, on the characters and the drive of the characters and the fight scene, the campy nature of the film, working with real animals, the inspiration and creation of the effects, the challenge of working with effects and they even touch on the legacy of the rivalry between singers Tiffany & Debbie Gibson.
  • Trailer
Mega Python vs. Gatoroid is available on DVD and BluRay as of June 21, 2011. Check it out over at Amazon.ca (DVD), Amazon.ca (BluRay) & Amazon.com (DVD), Amazon.com [Blu-ray]

Shannon's Overall View:
It cracked me up
I'll watch it again
I highly recommend it as a campy monster movie

Return to Film Reviews or see more DVD Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2011

Debbie Gibson in MEGA PYTHON VS. GATOROID. Courtesy of eOne Films.

Photobucket Photobucket
Tiffany in MEGA PYTHON VS. GATOROID. Courtesy of eOne Films. / A Martinez in MEGA PYTHON VS. GATOROID. Courtesy of eOne Films.
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