Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The 8th Wonder of the World!

Kong is here!

Thursday, June 23, 2005


This film was on my list of movies I'm looking forward to this year for one reason only: Cameron Crowe. Crowe made one of my alltime favourite films with Almost Famous. Jerry Maguire, and even Vanilla Sky are all films I like a lot, so I'm very excited about this one. Crowe's soundtracks are also usually amazing too. I think I once said on Ewan's blog that I would have Cameron Crowe direct the movie of my life. Anyway, check out the "Internet Exclusive" trailer for Elizabethtown at the official website.

It's nice to see Orlando Bloom moving away from the 'epic' movies, because he's getting pretty typecast. And the ladies in this one? Kirsten Dunst has always been a favourite of mine. And I actually have a thing for Judy Greer (she's been in lots of small roles and also played "Kitty" on Arrested Development), so I'm happy to see her in this too. She's looking great.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

"Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out)"

It's taken me a long time to get around to buying The Arcade Fire - Funeral, partly because some people that whose taste I respect thought it was overrated, but also because when an album is as hyped as this one has been it's rare that it lives up to expectations and often leaves me thinking, "It's ok, but is that really what they were so excited about?" The same is true for movies; but like movies there are the rare exceptions (Silence of the Lambs comes to mind as a movie that lived up to and exceeded my expectations). Funeral is one of these too I feel.

I loved the single, "Rebellion (Lies)," but it doesn't give a really full idea of what the album as a whole is like. It's a concept album (built around the rather meloncholy theme of deaths in the family), but also just a solid piece of music that really pushes the idea of a band in the opposite direction of the two-member rock duos, and incorporates multiple instruments and singers. It might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it's a great listen and definitely was work picking up.

I like these little guys.

The new video for "Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out)" is up on Much Music's website now, under "High Rotation" (it's this weeks "Big One" and you may need Realplayer to view it). Check it out. I agree with the little write up on the Much website that the video doesn't really reveal the unique personality of the band, but at the same time it's a wonderful little piece of animation that while it serves as a perfunctory video (basically following the lyrics pretty literally) it is very pretty to look at.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Disappointed In Film Goers

I checked the weekend results this morning at Box Office Mojo, and the sad result is that Batman Begins, a film that is possibly the best superhero film ever made only managed to bring in a mere $46.9 million over the weekend (unfortunately not the $70 million total that Luke reported on his blog here, which was the 5 day total). Batman Begins is a film that deserves to make at least as much as Spider-man or Harry Potter, unfortunately with a weak opening like that it will struggle to pass $200 million total, and probably not break the record for even a "Batman film," (held by Burton's Batman (1989) at $251 million).

The saddest part is that even the relatively mediocre Mr. & Mrs. Smith made more ($51 million) in its opening weekend. This really shows that the truth is that movie goers are stupid and actually like the camp of the Burton/Schumacher series better than the quality that Christopher Nolan (Memento) has given them. They want a Big Mac with their Bat-fries rather than a nice juicy steak. I only hope that this relatively moderate opening doesn't mean that Nolan and company aren't invited back to continue the story (Christian Bale is signed on for two more films).

Reasons why Batman Begins might have fizzled at the box office:

  • people are stupid and didn't realize that this wasn't a prequel to Burton's films and instead a complete reboot of the series from scratch
  • people don't know who Christian Bale is despite the fact that he's a brilliant actor who's managed the transition from child star to adult better than anyone
  • the more "realisitic" take on the project might have turned off casual fans whose only memory of Batman is the Burton film or the 60s TV show
  • the film was sandwiched between Revenge of the Sith and War of the Worlds, and people might instead be more interested in those films and are saving their few visits to the theare for those
It's really too bad. I guess people just don't go to the theatre that much. Myself, I've been to the theatre nine times in the last 32 days (7 of those viewings on Batman and Star Wars). And I plan to go again this weekend (possibly Land of the Dead if it opens here) and again next Wednesday for War of the Worlds.

Either way, I want to encourage people to go see Batman Begins. It's a fantastic film with amazing acting (Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman are the consumate pros), dark and suspenseful direction from Christopher Nolan (check out Memento too if you haven't seen it) and action scenes that are kick ass (the Bat-tank is amazing and fast!). If you think you know what can be done with comic book source material, you're wrong. Check this out now. If there's any justice, it will be getting some award nominations next winter.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Hard to believe that I've been doing this blog thing for over a year now. Still, I haven't been as regular in updates as I should be. I'm going to blame it on every one else who hasn't been regular (except Caitlin who has an excuse, what with being in England and Luke who actually has been very regular). When there's nothing new for me to read, it doesn't really encourage me to blog.

Still, I said I was going to get back to you in the morning after seeing Batman Begins. I didn't. And for that I'm sorry. It was good. I've seen it twice. You can all forget that Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher's films exist, as this films sets a new precedence for all comic book based films. This is a legitimately great film with a compelling story, great acting (Christian Bale IS Batman; Caine, Freeman and Neeson are fantastic; Holmes is cute and Cillian Murphy is creepy) and a top notch director in Christopher Nolan. Go see it. Even if you think you don't like Batman.

Regarding my post about Russell Crowe's newest film, Cinderella Man, some people get kind of grated by Russell's character. His recent "phone throwing incident" hasn't done much to help people's image of him. However, I encountered this interesting bit somewhere on the web. If this is all true, these people were lucky and were I in Russell's position I probably would have done something similar.

"As to the arrest itself, let's try for a few facts, just for a laugh...

"1. Russell Crowe was paying the better part of $4,000 per night for the use of a room which was supposed, among other things, to contain a working international telephone.

"2. By the time of the disputed incident he had been staying there for a week and the telephone had not worked properly in all that time.

"3. The hotel had failed to address the problem in any way, despite by this point having taken nearly $28,000 from Russell.

"4. After finding the phone to be no use for making an international call yet again Russell tried calling down to Reception to sort out the problem for the 7th time.

"5. Apparently being unable to make himself clearly understood he disconnected the phone, which he was entitled to do as its licensed user having given valuable consideration (nearly $28,000) for the duration of his booking, and took it downstairs to prove that it was not working.

"6. The receptionist was apparently unhelpful and rude, to the point where Russell lost his temper, (what on earth did the man say to get such a reaction?!), and threw the telephone at the wall, from where it rebounded and hit the recalcitrant clerk. This DOES NOT constitute assault in the 4th or indeed any other degree as again there is no evidence of intent to cause injury - an absolute prerequisite when bringing a charge of assault. What it does constitute is disorderly conduct and possibly criminal damage.

"7. Why was the receptionist so rude to a man known to have a short fuse, and at a time of day (4.20am) which repeated academic research has shown to be the lowest point of the human psyche?

"8. What if any training policy and customer service policy does the hotel have and did the receptionist comply with them?

"9. Why did the hotel make no effort to provide a working telephone after receiving complaints every day for a week? What is the hotel's equipment replacement policy and did the hotel's staff comply with it? The Mercer's contract with Russell included the use of a working telephone for which, and for other services including common courtesy from the hotel's staff, he had paid nearly $28,000.

"10. Where has the figure of $1,000,000 in damages come from? No jury, American or otherwise, is going to award such a sum for a 1" long cut, which has caused no permanent damage of any kind and which will be invisible to the naked eye in six months' time. If a jury did make such an award it would be struck down on appeal for being a perverse award, as the law requires.

"Moreover, Russell has an overwhelming case for a counterclaim of contributory negligence which could reduce any award by as much as 50%." -- Amelie Smith, London, England.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Off to a midnight screening of Batman Begins!!!!!!!!!!!!! And yes, I'm crazy and do have to be at my 8 am class. But this is a Batman movie. No one has got it right yet. I've got hope for Nolan to finally do it. I'll let you all know tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Cinderella Man

I was expecting Cinderella Man - Ron Howard's Depression-era boxing flick - to be a cookie cutter, feel-good period piece. And I was partly right. It is a fairly straight forward period piece. And it is a film that leaves you on a feel good note (sorry if I spoiled it for everyone), but given the story of James Braddock, I don't think it could be any other way. But that's not a bad thing.

While it could have been a piece of melodramatic fluff, Russell Crowe - who is perhaps the consumate actor of his generation and consistantly excellent in film after film - never lets the role fall into caricature. He portrays Braddock as a honest family man, but still a real human being. Add to it the supporting actors Renée Zellweger and Paul Giamatti, who should finally get his Oscar that's been eluding him for two years despite amazing performances in Sideways and American Splendor, and we have a real acting lovers film. Even smaller roles by Bruce McGill (Collateral) and Craig Bierko as the clowning, yet vicious Max Baer, shine in this film.

Ron Howard returns to form after The Missing dissapointed me so greatly a couple of years ago. But this is a solid delivery. Howard is not an extremly flashy director, but he never gets in the way of the story and does a solid job here.

All in all, Cinderella Man is a good, solid film that outdid my expectations, just like Jim Braddock would have.

New CD Tuesday - Coldplay, The White Stripes, and Others

Today is Tuesday. That means new DVDs and CDs are released into the wild world that is retail. Today was extra special, because CDs from two of my favourite bands came out today. Last week was the new album from Oasis. Today we get The White Stripes and Coldplay. Fortunately I had money, because of my upcoming birthday. Which means you get to hear my intial reactions and rants.

Coldplay - X&Y

I don't care what the naysayers will level at this album, but after the first listen I has me hooked more than Rush of Blood To The Head did. While Coldplay hasn't abandoned their signature sound (Chris Martin's piano and falsetto, Johnny Buckland's guitars) but that isn't a bad thing. Instead here, they take what makes them work and push it to the next level. Sure that means borrowing (stealing) from all the bands that came before them from Radiohead to U2, but it's never obvious and works well. They're trying things here that they didn't on Rush, and I give them credit for it. The opener, "Square One" tells us that they are using their previous albums as a template, but not settling, and some of the non-radio stuff like "Fix You" starts with simple piano and leads into a wonderful arena standard.

This is just my first impressions of the album, which I'll definitely be listening to a lot. I find that you have to be in the mood for Coldplay, and lately the rainy, cool weather we've been having puts me in the mood for their particular brand of Britpop.

I also finally picked up The Arcade Fire - Funeral as well. I'll try to give reviews of that album (which I know a lot of you are indifferent to), The White Stripes and and Oasis coming soon.