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Cinema Scoop

New out on DVD/Blu-ray this week

New out on DVD/Blu-ray for Tuesday November 6.

     The Amazing Spider-Man (released on Nov.9)

Like most teenagers, Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is trying to figure out who he is and how he got to be the person he is today. Peter is also finding his way with his first high school crush, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), and together, they struggle with love, commitment, and secrets. As he discovers a mysterious briefcase that belonged to his father, he begins a quest to understand his parents' disappearance - leading him directly to Oscorp and the lab of Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), his father's former partner. As Spider-Man is set on a collision course with Connors' alter-ego, The Lizard, Peter will make life-altering choices to use his powers and shape his destiny to become a hero.

Directed by Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer), The Amazing Spider-Man is a highly entertaining and action-packed thrill ride that is sure to appeal to most fans of the superhero genre. It features some spectacular visuals and solid performances all around, including some really good supporting work from Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben, Sally Field as Aunt May, and Denis Leary as Captain Stacy.

If I have any gripe about this film, however, it's that it spends far too much time retelling the origin story, which I am so familiar with having just seen it within the last decade in Sam Raimi's version. Sure, there are some variations to it in order to change it up slightly, but virtually the entire first half of the film deals with this... and I just wanted them to expedite matters and get him into the red and blue suit already.

Overall though, I still had a lot of fun with this film and for a comic book movie it surprisingly had a fair amount of emotional weight and depth to it.

If you are a fan of superheroes then you'll definitely want to check out The Amazing Spider-Man.

     360

Directed by Fernando Meirelles (City of God, The Constant Gardener), 360 is a dramatic thriller that weaves together the stories of an array of people from disparate social backgrounds through their intersecting relationships and various affairs.

It features an ensemble cast that includes Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, Anthony Hopkins and Ben Foster, but they all have small roles in the film.

You would think with all of the quality talent involved in this film that it would be a compelling drama worth seeing, but sadly it isn't. 360 meanders very slowly with no place to go and nothing about it is even remotely interesting. This is an utterly boring snoozefest that I wouldn't recommend to anyone unless you want a cure for insomnia. It's absolutely pointless.

All I can say is if anyone suggests you see 360, to do a 180 - and run.

     Arthur Christmas

Arthur Christmas reveals the incredible, never-before seen answer to every child's question: So how does Santa deliver all those presents in one night? The answer: Santa's exhilarating, ultra-high-tech operation hidden beneath the North Pole. But at the center of the film is a story about a family in a state of comic dysfunction and an unlikely hero, Arthur, with an urgent mission that must be completed before Christmas morning dawns.

This is some animated holiday fun for the kiddies.

Also out this week is the mystery drama Fire With Fire starring Bruce Willis, Josh Duhamel and Rosario Dawson, the Swedish romance Kiss Me, the documentary about dinosaurs called Dinotasia and the Spanish drama Even the Rain starring Gael García Bernal.

     Blast From the Past

Continuing on with my lists, here are my top ten films of 2002.

10. The Bourne Identity - Matt Damon is superb in this spy thriller about an amnesiac trying to figure out his true identity amidst a clandestine conspiracy within the CIA. Based on the Robert Ludlum novel, it spawned a series of sequels due to its immense popularity. This is smartly done, high-octane action at its finest. The Bourne Identity is great!

9. Catch Me If You Can - Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks star in this wonderful Steven Spielberg film which tells the true story of Frank Abagnale, who was one of the most successful con men in U.S. history. This movie is full of laughs and intrigue and it is just endlessly entertaining. The performances are stellar as well. Catch Me If You Can is not the typical film you would expect from Spielberg but it is a really solid piece of work. Great stuff!

8. Talk to Her - This Academy Award winning film is one of the best from the brilliant Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar. He has such a knack for creating beautiful films deeply rich in character development. This is a heartbreaking and emotionally resonant film about two men who are holding vigil over two different women who happen to be in comas. The story unfolds in flashbacks, giving details of the two relationships and you never really know where it's going to go. This is an expertly crafted and riveting film that should be seen by anyone who loves international cinema.

7. Chicago - I've always been a big fan of the movie musical when done right, and Chicago delivers the goods in spades with its superior production quality, set designs and toe-tapping musical numbers. It won the Oscar for Best Picture that year and a huge credit has to go to the cast that included Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, John C. Reilly and Queen Latifah. Chicago is all about pure entertainment and the jazz music is superb in it. If you enjoy musicals then this is a must see. Fun stuff!

6. Bowling for Columbine - Michael Moore is undoubtedly a divisive filmmaker and one can't ignore his partisan stance on certain issues but you can't deny the power and effectiveness of this documentary about the nature of gun violence in America. I happen to really enjoy his style of filmmaking, as it's entertaining and funny but also brings to light important issues that people should definitely think about. Of course I'm part of the choir that he's preaching to and you may not be. To each their own. Either way, this is still a superb film.

5. Rabbit-Proof Fence - This Australian film is a heartbreaking but ultimately inspirational true story of three mixed-race Aboriginal girls who escape from an internment camp in order to reunite with their mother. They embark on a harrowing journey as they walk along 1,500 miles of the Australian rabbit-proof fence all while being pursued by an Aboriginal tracker. You are sure to shed a few tears at this incredible tale of survival but the experience is very rewarding and well worth it. If you haven't heard of this movie be sure to seek it out. Rabbit-Proof Fence is a fabulous film.

4. Adaptation - This is a hard movie to describe to someone but suffice it to say that it is truly an original and clever piece of work. Directed by Spike Jonze (maker of the brilliant Being John Malkovich) and written by Charlie Kaufman, Adaptation features Nicolas Cage playing a dual role as Charlie and Donald Kaufman. This is sort of a semi-autobiographical film about the process Charlie Kaufman had to go through to adapt a book called The Orchid Thief into a film. Of course he starts to inject fictional elements even inventing a brother that doesn't really exist but it was so convincing that the Academy Awards nominated both he and his fictional brother for Best Adapted Screenplay which marks the first time in history that a truly fictitious person was ever nominated for an Oscar. This is an offbeat and funny film that also has great performances from Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper. Adaptation is totally unique and wonderful.

3. Road to Perdition - An exceptional gangster film set during the depression in 1931. Tom Hanks plays against type as a mob enforcer who, along with his son, seeks vengeance against a mobster who murdered the rest of their family. Expertly crafted by director Sam Mendes (American Beauty and the upcoming Bond film Skyfall) this gorgeously shot film is ripe with style and atmosphere. It also features great performances by Paul Newman, Jude Law, Daniel Craig and Stanley Tucci. If you like your gangster movies to have style and panache then there aren't many better in recent years than Road to Perdition. It's excellent!

2. Spirited Away - This magical and enchanting film is one of the best in the great career of Japanese icon Hayao Miyazaki. It's a beautifully drawn piece of work filled with wonderful characters and it is arguably one of the best animated films of all time. It tells the story of a 10-year-old girl who, while moving to a new neighbourhood, enters an alternate reality inhabited by spirits and various odd creatures. Spirited Away is a special film featuring immense creativity and depth to it. It is the most successful film in Japanese history and it deserves to be hailed as a classic. It is simply dazzling!

1. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers - Basically everything I said about The Fellowship of the Ring applies to this film as well. The second chapter of Peter Jackson's epic trilogy is an incredible mix of fantasy and action, ramping up the stakes with the immense Battle of Helm's Deep and giving us a lot more Gollum as well as introducing Treebeard the Ent. This is filmmaking at an absolutely monumental level and I for one worship at the alter of Peter Jackson's LOTR trilogy, so it was an obvious choice for #1.

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