Does It Float?: A Haunted House 2

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By: Addison Wylie

The Haunted House films have their haters.  But, these comedies also have those happy-go-lucky appreciators who laugh like hyenas with each crass joke.  The difference between those two audiences is that the haters will openly vent about how these movies stink, while the others are too embarrassed to admit they chuckled.

A Haunted House was a guilty pleasure of mine.  It was a minor comedy that found success during its theatrical run, and featured Marlon Wayans fully throwing himself into the role of the film’s scaredy-cat lead.  The jokes were juvenile, but the audacity in their deliveries was what made us laugh.

The jokes are cruder and more graphic in A Haunted House 2, which turned plenty of giggles into groans.  Most of the jokes worked (especially those aimed at Sinister’s found footage), but a fair amount of them expired from prolonged immaturity.  A scene where Wayans has sex with a doll inspired by The Conjuring should not be as long – or as disturbing – as it is.  And, how did it make it past the MPAA!? Continue reading

Guardians of the Galaxy

By: Addison WylieGOTGposter

Guardians of the Galaxy plays as a gnarlier, more rugged version of The Avengers.  But, only will that thought hit you after the credits have rolled.

You won’t be put off by it though; Guardians of the Galaxy is a boatload of fun nonetheless.  It’s only worth bringing up because when a generic formula is paired with this much originality, the combination can’t help but flare.  Then again, I sort of expected this mould.  It’s a formula these Marvel yarns will follow until their popularity starts to dwindle.  That will happen…never.

It’s a pleasing narrative layout, and it allows each hero and villain to shine.  It also gives exciting fights time to appropriately build leading to spectacular outcomes.  Most importantly, there’s enough wiggle room for the assigned filmmaker to add their hints of creativity. Continue reading

Swearnet: The Movie

By: Addison WylieSwearnetPoster

Swearnet: The Movie follows three chowderheads trying to figure out where they  fit in after their long time claim to fame.  The three douchebags: Robb Wells, John Paul Tremblay, and Mike Smith.  Those fucking tools that we’ve seen bumble around on television and star in this year’s jag-off road comedy Trailer Park Boys: Don’t Legalize It.

They can’t be associated with anything that has to do with that fucking landmark in Canadian television, but they want their careers to follow in a similar vein.  Y’know, swearing, smoking, and shit, while making the crowd fall down on their ass in hysterics.

The problem is an annoying occurrence of tomfuckery.  Networks have strict censorship rules, and what TV producers want is entirely fucking bogus to how the boys want to do things. Continue reading

Going In and Coming Out: The November Man

By: Anthony KingVVS_TheNovemberMan_PromoPoster.indd

GOING IN:

Pierce Brosnan is back and he seems pissed off.  I don’t know where he went, but I know I haven’t seen him in a while. So, initially I was excited to see him in a new trailer.

I’m not a huge Bond guy, nor do I particularly like Pierce in the role for a few reasons.  Firstly, his Bond movies get increasingly more stupid and unrealistic as they go on. And secondly, I never thought he could kick the crap out of anyone let alone be a renowned international spy.  But he does look tough in The November Man;  perhaps with the added miles on that face of his he can be more intimidating.

Although the film looks like it might be a lot of fun and have exciting action, the story itself leaves a lot to be desired.  It’s not even close to the realm of original.  The old spy/cop/badass has to go toe-to-toe with his pupil who is arrogant and thinks he’s better than his teacher.  Ultimately he can’t, but along the way, they realize they are on the same side and they learn to appreciate and respect each other and then they kiss.  Ok, usually it doesn’t go that far, but I hope they do something fresh with the formula. Continue reading

To Be Takei

By: Addison WylieToBeTakei poster

Jennifer M. Kroot’s documentary To Be Takei is cheesy and cute.  Then again, so is her subject: actor and activist George Takei.

Takei, most notably known for his work on Star Trek as Lieutenant Sulu, is a busy man and yet we never hear him complain.  When he’s not acting, he’s passionately speaking to crowds about homosexual orientation and the deserved right for same-sex marriage.  After years of withholding his sexual preferences in order to better himself in the entertainment industry, he openly fights for gay advocacy.  Takei is such a friendly, rhapsodic individual, we actually have an easier time picturing an elephant taking flight over Takei losing his temper.

He’s anchored by his life partner Brad, and the two share a sweet relationship with each other.  Brad is a good sport but while George is a charismatic jokester, Brad (who accompanies George on tours and guest appearances to handle finances and business) has a more thorough, methodical charm.  Those in the documentary have a clever time describing Brad as “detail oriented”, which is just a nicer way of saying Brad can be a fussy stickler.  Nonetheless, Brad’s input and his own personal allowance to share stories about him and George are enamouring strides. Continue reading

God’s Not Dead

By: Addison WylieGodsNotDeadposter

God’s Not Dead – one of the many mainstream films to be released this year that central around religion – is a project that’s easy for select opinionated movie goers to pile on.  With its earnest ambitions and its obvious preferences as to who the film is geared towards, some are ready to stamp Harold Cronk’s movie as manipulative pap just by viewing the trailer.

Well, curiosity got the best of me and I watched God’s Not Dead.  It’s not what I would call a terrible movie, but it’s a scatterbrained misfire.  There’s enough fishiness amongst its proud intentions that stops it from seeing any redemption.

For one, I wouldn’t label it as propaganda.  Cronk is being really nice about the good word, but the film isn’t out to recruit or prove Christianity is the best religion around.  God’s Not Dead is actually more of an inspirational story about standing up for what you believe in when the cards are stacked against you and threatening your scholastic fate. Continue reading

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

By Parker MottSinCity2poster

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For seems to almost prey on our memories (and, for some, admiration) of 2005’s first Sin City by reintroducing many of the same shadowy characters in the same grim, gutless city and not providing a narrative motor to make the return worth it.  The film not only wastes the audience’s time, but the characters’s as well.  Without injecting urgency to each plodding minute, A Dame to Kill For wades in murky visuals that only serve to reinforce the film’s muddy themes.

“A Dame to Kill For”, a hyperbolic line from the original graphic novels that emphasizes the potency of a femme fatale’s beauty, is made less hyperbolic by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller’s grim and ultra-violent depiction of a fictionalized, nocturnal city torn apart by sadistic crime, corruption, and all-out lawlessness.  Rodriguez and Miller, who co-directed the picture, choose not to effectively challenge such amorality through the vengeful motivations of their antiheroes.  Instead, the film sinks in its own nihilism and refuses to get fun.  The movie isn’t only empty; it’s entirely joyless.

A Dame to Kill For, solely written by Miller, is not without the occasional punchy riffs of voiceover and dialogue, which often describe disturbed psychological states and moments of unimaginable pain.  But since Miller is, as usual, crafting his narrative with fixed archetypes, the descriptions are at the service of a stylistic exercise, which only imitate the cool elements of film noir and don’t add genuine dimension to the story.  It’s Tarantino’s same problem – always will be, methinks – but at least that man is at his best when he gets charismatically, and casually, irreverent towards the pushing of genre tropes. Continue reading

Señoritas

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By: Addison Wylie

As soon as I found out Señoritas was the feature debut for filmmaker Lina Rodriguez, everything started making sense.

Señoritas reminded me a lot of Krivina and Tower, two indies I caught at TIFF two years ago.  Both films featured up-and-coming filmmakers taking on character studies and applying a drawn out pace.

What separates those two independent films from Señoritas is that they were building towards something.  Krivina applied a twist that completely changed an otherwise boring saunter into a product dealing with supernatural elements.  Tower ended abruptly, but it was oddly fascinating watching an antisocial loner convince others he was accomplished. Continue reading

Life of Crime

By: Addison WylieLifeOfCrime poster

In an attempt to be complementary, but at the same time seem unintentionally inconsiderate, I enjoyed Life of Crime because it lacked a notable visionary’s presence.  It didn’t feel the need to impress the audience with any sort of pizazz.  It has a solid story, an array of interesting people ranging from low-lifes to the pompous rich, and a good time period to reference through lavish art direction and a sensational score.

With a lot of these crime comedies, a filmmaker is usually determined to slather their own stamp on just about every frame.  The genre is vulnerable to these snafus because pretty much anyone would want to take a collection of manipulative characters and see how they live within a particular energy that filmmaker can bring to the table.  The admirable yet restless David O. Russell and his award winning American Hustle is the most recent example.

Some directors can get drunk on power, however, and end up overloading the film with visual finesse.  Soon enough, the style is trumping and smothering the substance behind the illegal activities and those brave characters willing to execute the plots. Continue reading

Boyhood

By: Addison WylieBoyhoodPoster

It’s been about a week since I’ve seen Richard Linklater’s much anticipated Boyhood.  I don’t usually give myself that amount of time to conceive a write-up.  Boyhood’s different though.

Boyhood’s an ambitious project that had Linklater shooting scenes over a 12 year period capturing his young lead Mason (played by Ellar Coltrane) mature into a strong-willed individual.  He, along with his cast, crafted a story around that filmmaking method and then – I suppose – Linklater put the finishing touches on key dialogue and motives.  I read an interview where the conductor asked what would’ve happened if Coltrane developed into a burly aspiring football player.  Linklater responded by saying the film would’ve been about a burly aspiring football player.

It’s that improvisational attitude that makes Boyhood an accomplished feat for most of its beefy duration.  The scenes where the cast are learning within moments are a wonder to watch. Continue reading