Planes: Fire & Rescue

By: Addison WyliePlanes2Poster

The Planes franchise is not for me.  However, I’m not a seven-year-old boy who’s obsessed with airplanes and other miscellaneous aviary vehicles – the demographic these films are so clearly for.

That’s not to snub the seven-year-old boy who likes to play with toy airplanes in his parents’ living room.  Being a kid is a great time and should be cerished.  There’s a lack of responsibilities, you have no dire worries, and the world is yours.  The most critical task of the day is trying to fool your Mom and Dad into thinking you ate all those brussels sprouts.

There’s nothing wrong with those youngsters liking a movie like Planes: Fire & Rescue.  Those kids need escapist entertainment that’s light on crass humour and stays energetic.  The problems only come into play when Disney is trying to use an innocent vehicle like Planes: Fire & Rescue to shell out merchandise and collect plenty of moolah from Mommy and Daddy’s bank account. Continue reading

Moms’ Night Out

By: Addison WylieMomsNightOutposter

Moms’ Night Out is a tame movie.  It’s tamer than tame.  If movies were made from the fabric that makes those mattresses they drop bowling balls on to show you how soothing your sleeping habits will be, Moms’ Night Out would be the ideal prototype.

The film isn’t worthy of being labeled “bad”.  That status goes to movies that try to achieve something, and flounder in spectacular ways.  Moms’ Night Out doesn’t really “do” anything, and thus, you can’t really feel any disdain towards it.  You just sort of wait patiently for it to end.

Andrew and Jon Erwin – the directors of this flaccid flick – are either too scared to offend or too frightened by failure.  What an unfortunate attitude to inherit when making a comedy. Continue reading

It’s Good to Be the King: Dracula: Dead and Loving It

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By: Addison Wylie

Mel Brooks hasn’t directed a film since 1995′s Dracula: Dead and Loving It.  After watching the comedy for the first time, it’s quite possible this is where Brooks may have fallen out of love with filmmaking – a tragic end to our coverage of TIFF’s retrospective.

Now, of course, I could be speaking out of school.  Brooks has served as a producer on numerous projects (including some upcoming work in 2015), and he’s lent his signature  voice to some animated features.  So, it’s possible he still loves movies and being apart of the moviemaking process.  But, in my opinion, his horror spoof shows Brooks realizing his absurd knack had a time and place in the past.

Dracula: Dead and loving It starts off on an awesome roll, and quickly lets the audience know that the next 90 minutes will contain lots of mugging.  Lots and lots of mugging.  However, when the correct actors can successfully work exaggerations to their favour, the jokes end up working – such is the case for Peter MacNicol and Leslie Nielsen.  The two gifted actors know how to perform a perfect prat fall and how far to stretch and contort their reactions.  That said, Brooks obviously knew how to direct these skilled performers through practical physical comedy. Continue reading

The Congress

By: Addison WylieTheCongressposter

The Congress has been made by Ari Folman, and I would go as far as to say the filmmaker is a visionary.  When watching The Congress, it’s clear the filmmaker has a wide load on his mind, and he expresses those thoughts in various artistic ways.  Folman’s imagination may have been the leverage that earned his Waltz With Bashir an Oscar nomination in 2009.

The downside with being a visionary, however, is figuring out how not to get ahead of yourself.  Creative integrity could likely become less of a high-end quality as it embodies more of an artistic sanctum.  Folman may have the ability to propose grandiose ideas with noble imagery, but he’s unable to include his audience in on the breakthroughs.  It’s a shame since a lot of this balderdash probably bares ideologic honesty about the work this film is based on (Stanislaw Lem’s short novel The Futurological Congress).

The Congress has trouble from the get-go.  The premise has actress Robin Wright playing a heightened version of herself in an overly heightened reality of greedy Hollywood.  She’s referred to as a falling star, someone who is flakey and unreliable, as well as untalented at her current age.  Wright takes these blunt negativities without flinching, but a couple of these jabs has Folman’s screenplay sounding harsh and too personal.  I wonder if real life Wright found this experience to be cathartic or defeating.  Maybe she’s a masochist. Continue reading

Wylie Writes on the Red Carpet: ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’

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The Canadian premiere of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies took place in Toronto and Oscar-winner Peter Jackson, co-star Lee Pace (Pushing Daisies, The Fall), and screenwriter/producer Philippa Boyens hit the red carpet at the Windsor Arms Hotel. Continue reading

It’s Good to Be the King: Robin Hood: Men in Tights

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By: Addison Wylie

Last time we checked in with TIFF’s Mel Brooks retrospective, it was to recover old memories of his classic Blazing Saddles.  Another reason why It’s Good to Be the King is a useful look back at Brooks’ filmography is that it allows audiences to see how the filmmaker’s sense of humour has aged.

Unfortunately, Robin Hood: Men in Tights isn’t exactly a fond way to remember Mel Brooks’ signature silliness.  His love for cinema and poking fun at hackneyed genre beats hasn’t left, but his ability to pace and construct a scene soured in this ode to swashbuckling action/adventures.

In older comedies like Blazing Saddles and even Spaceballs, Brooks was able to transition from each joke effortlessly.  Movie goers sometimes missed punchlines because they were laughing so hard.  It was a quality that made Brooks’ films re-watchable.  In Robin Hood: Men in Tights, the actors wait for the laugh, then wait longer.  Plenty of laughs are to be had, but don’t be surprised if their trailing finales leave you feeling impatient. Continue reading

The Decent One

By: Addison WylieTheDecentOneposter

“Pre-invested interest…pre-invested interest.  What are you doing?  Do you have pre-invested interest?”  Those words were ghostly floating around in my head as I tried to throw myself into The Decent One, a new documentary from Vanessa Lapa.

I wouldn’t consider myself a history buff, or even a history dabbler.  Honestly, I was never interested in history class nor could I memorize dates and names for crucial tests.  If my high school teacher knew I was reviewing a documentary about Heinrich Himmler and his lost diary entries, he would probably get a good chuckle out of my pain.

But, as a film critic, you have to watch movies of all walks.  And, every now and then, a historical movie comes along that engrosses me with a remarkable true story.  This time last year, movie goers received a movie based on similar subject matter titled Nicky’s Family.  You couldn’t pull me away from that fantastic documentary. Continue reading

CrowdFUNding: ‘Deep Shock’ and ‘The Date’

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By: Addison Wylie

Back when I was writing for Film Army, I would occasionally get requests from filmmakers to review their short films.  Davide Melini and Rob Comeau were two of those people, and CrowdFUNding has reunited me with them.

Melini – an Italian filmmaker with a fascination for  faith – and Comeau – a Canadian moviemaker with an eye for style – strike different chords with their work.  It’s awesome to see these two haven’t stopped thinking of the next project, and are willing to give crowdfunding a chance to accumulate a budget for their latest tale.

First, let’s focus on Davide Melini’s campaign for Deep Shock - a return to Italian giallo: Continue reading

Antarctica: A Year on Ice

By: Addison WylieAntarcticaPoster

Anthony Powell was finding it impossible explaining to others what Antarctic life is really like.  For someone who has spent extended time in the chilly climate, it was truly a daunting task trying to find the right words to describe the torrential winds and the degree of cabin fever.

Over the next ten years, Powell has made it his quest to create the ultimate tell-all about Antarctica.  He built equipment that could sustain extreme cold, found the correct cameras, and exercised patience and discipline to capture breathtaking time lapse sequences.  The result is Antarctica: A Year on Ice, and it’s absolutely incredible.

Powell is right.  After experiencing his footage, you can’t get a feel for the frigid environment through the spoken word.  You have to see nature take its course.  We watch icebergs formate and clouds swirl together as if we’re watching an art canvas come to life.  The choice to use lots of time lapse footage is wise since showing pictures of the quiet environments wouldn’t do either the film or Antarctica justice.  The scenes always have a flow to them, which draws our eyes to the gradual Arctic change. Continue reading

Nightcrawler

By: Addison WylieNightcrawlerPoster

The nightlife throbs in Nightcrawler.  When the streets are sparse and the air is humid, there’s an electricity in the air.  Lou Bloom is a lonely guy who lives off of it.

We don’t know much about Jake Gyllenhaal’s lonely Lou.  By the end credits, we still don’t know a heck of a lot about him – it’s exactly the point.

The film’s title very much fits Bloom’s personality as someone who blends into the darkness, and lurks around for contact.  He’s constantly asking others for job opportunities, and the way he articulates each request shows he’s been rehearsing. Continue reading