Mr Right Review | TIFF 2015

Mr Right

The hitman comedy seems like something that is so played out. Even in the case of Paco Cabezas’s Mr Right, it appears that way too. With a script from Max Landis (ChronicleAmerican Ultra), everything just feels super conventional and safe. But a by-the-numbers screenplay does not automatically mean the film is garbage, especially in the case of Mr Right. Utilizing great comedic performances from all of its actors, the film is a gleefully violent time hurt only by its need to be unique.

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The Lobster Review | VIFF 2015

With Dogtooth, Yorgos Lanthimos created a new wave of filmmaking that is still rarely seen from anywhere outside of Greek cinema. After an Oscar nomination for best foreign language film and another acclaimed film in the warped Alps, Lanthimos has crafted another dark comedy in his English language debut, The Lobster. Audiences familiar to his style will expect the deadpan sense of delivery and pitch-black humour from the director, but it is hard to understand and, in some cases, may be seen as impenetrable emotionally, but this strips The Lobster down to its essential message and tone. Anyone that is worried about the jump from Greek to English should be put at ease. Continue reading

Paper Towns Review

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When it comes to horror films, the subtle subversion of a trope is a good start to make me appreciate your film a little more. Maybe you didn’t stick the landing, but at least you did something new and didn’t back off from it. Horror isn’t the only genre where this rule applies, though. Romantic comedies, spy films, political thrillers, and so on are all welcome to changing elements of their formula up just a little bit. When it comes to Paper Towns, it attempts the minute formula change to a rather run-of-the-mill coming of age story. In its attempt to do so, it also backs itself into a corner where it becomes forced to acknowledge and then dismiss its one interesting hook.

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Far from the Madding Crowd Review

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In a year that has already seen multiple movies that empower women, it is refreshing to see a period film that not only follows suit, but does so while still adhering to traditional period tropes. Thomas Vinterberg’s Far from the Madding Crowd is a film all about independence and at what point it should be sacrificed for something more dependent. Using a strong female character, played effectively by Carey Mulligan, the film takes issue with historic expectations and toys with what it means to be a woman in 19th century England.

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The Wedding Ringer Review

Kevin Hart;Josh Gad;Affion Crockett;Jorge Garcia

One gross-out joke. A moment of bonding. Some debauchery. Random reference to an older television show. Two likeable leads, which may or may not have chemistry together. I’ve basically summarized both The Wedding Ringer and any bromance film you can think of. In terms of films about men being friends with other men, this isn’t the worst of the films, and actually has some genuinely interesting elements to its set up. But like most films of its kind, The Wedding Ringer is just a vehicle for two actors to make you laugh. Which even this film has a tough time doing.

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Blue is the Warmest Color And Is Also Kind of Depressing [VIFF 2013]

The Vancouver International Film Festival has begun again, and just like last year, I intend to cover most of the films that I see. However, because I am busier than ever at the moment, reviews are going to be short and to the point. On the upside though, I am seeing a lot more movies than last year, so there should be an abundance of reviews coming over the next couple weeks. 

Blue is the Warmest Color Poster

Blue is the Warmest Color Poster

TitleBlue is the Warmest Color
Genre(s)Drama, Romance
Director(s)Abdellatif Kechiche
Release Year2013

Blue is the Warmest Color is one of the most ambitious and intimate romantic dramas that I have seen in recent memory. It may also be the most elaborate depiction of a lesbian relationship in film, with a 3 hour runtime that goes through all of the complexities and nuances of finding your sexual orientation and realizing who you really are. Anchored by the strong performances of its two lead actresses, Lea Seydoux and Adele Exarchopoulos, Blue is the Warmest Color is a well-made film that is hindered by its ambitious and far-reaching look at the intricacies of a romantic, same-sex relationship.

Following Adele (Exarchopoulos), the film looks at her character primarily as she tries to find her sexuality and break out of her shell. It is when she falls in love with Emma (Seydoux) that the film’s complex character moments come into focus. Director Abdellatif Kechiche makes every moment feel authentic, as characters wrestle with emotions and decisions that feel like genuine concerns within the diegesis of the world. Adele’s attempts to discover herself are blatantly difficult for her, and she seems angry at how difficult it is for herself to feel comfortable. These are the moments in Blue is the Warmest Color when it is at its finest, as Adele explores herself and tries to find her own path through life. The movie’s raw poignancy is accentuated by lengthy and very explicit sex scenes that help to chart Adele’s sexual awakening, but at times serve to dampen the pacing, as the plot slows for an extended period of time.

It has already been getting tons of praise, but Blue is the Warmest Color really is an exceptional piece of work. Its lengthy nature is a byproduct of its ambitious examination of every facet in a same-sex relationship and unfortunately holds the movie back for me from being a film that I would want to watch again. The pacing is a bit off-kilter as well, but overall, the film is definitely a memorable experience and has moments that will stick with me for a long time to come. Those moments came to life through the great performances by the two lead actresses and the incredible attention given to feeling honest and raw, that is assisted by some beautiful camera work. It would be a disservice not to at least see this film, even if it won’t warrant any repeat viewings.

Screening courtesy of the Vancouver International Film Festival.

The Great Gatsby Beats On Against Luhrmann’s Bombastic Current

The Great Gatsby Poster

The Great Gatsby Poster

TitleThe Great Gatsby
Genre(s)Drama, Romance
Director(s)Baz Luhrmann
Release Year2013

Say what you will about Baz Luhrmann, he has a distinct style – one that may very well be a bit too much for many to take in. Regardless, it’s this eye for flair and the over-dramatic which makes Luhrmann a perfect choice to tackle another adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (a book with which I have been enamored since first reading it). Perhaps what the previous adaptations were always missing was this hyper-stylized world that perfectly embodies the lavish lifestyle of Jay Gatsby (played exceptionally well by Leonardo DiCaprio). Though sometimes distracting, both aurally and visually, The Great Gatsby is in many ways the most faithful adaptation of Fitzgerald’s classic tale of the American dream, but also almost too literal for every theme to land.

Who Gatsby is, and what makes his story so extraordinary is one of the reasons Luhrmann is such a perfect choice to adapt this novel. His stylistic flourishes, and eye for the melodramatic is what makes his adaptation work so well. Through the perspective of Nick Carraway, our faithful narrator (though we learn early on he, like any decent writer, is a degenerate alcoholic), we learn all about the story of Jay Gatsby, and why he lives the way he does. Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan), the “beautiful little fool” that is married to Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton), is the focus of Gatsby’s attentions but I can’t help but feel that the film lacks in hitting the emotional resonance which Gatsby’s motivations are supposed to conjure.  The unfortunate thing about The Great Gatsby is that Luhrmann and Chris Pearce wrote a very literal adaptation that sometimes misses the mark on delivering the emotional goods. Is this a problem with remaining too close to the source material, or is it that the often times pretentious visuals and soundtrack take away from the impact of scenes? In my opinion, it’s the former, because the latter half of this film feels like a calmer version of the crazy parties that litter the first half, proving that the visuals are not always the problem.

Read the Rest of the Review After the Jump.