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Cinema Scoop

New out on DVD/Blu-ray this week

New out on DVD/Blu-ray for Tuesday December 11.

     Ted

As a result of a childhood wish, John Bennett's (Mark Wahlberg) teddy bear, Ted, came to life and has been by John's side ever since - a friendship that's tested when Lori (Mila Kunis), John's girlfriend of four years, wants more from their relationship.

If the idea of a cute and cuddly stuffed teddy bear hurling constant obscenities, doing drugs and partying with hookers makes you laugh, then Ted is the movie for you. Written and directed by the creator of Family Guy, Seth McFarlane, Ted is a rude, crude, equal opportunity offender that is often times laugh-out-loud funny, but it's also a sweet, sentimental, heartwarming tale of friendship and love.

Even though some of the jokes fell flat from time to time, Ted had me laughing a lot throughout and I was thoroughly entertained by it all.

As long as you are not easily offended then I think that Ted will make for a fun night of movie watching.

Just be sure to not let the kids see this one.

     The Bourne Legacy

The fourth film in the Bourne franchise is an expansion of the universe from Robert Ludlum's novels, centred on Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), a new hero who experiences life-or-death stakes that have been triggered by previous events. This installment is written and directed by Tony Gilroy - the screenwriter of the previous three Bourne films as well as the director of the superb film, Michael Clayton - and it also stars Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton.

I am a big fan of the Bourne trilogy starring Matt Damon and I usually always love spy thrillers, especially those involving government conspiracies, secret agents and CIA espionage and subterfuge. While The Bourne Legacy doesn't quite live up to the lofty standards set forth by its predecessors, it is nevertheless a worthy entry in the series.

I enjoyed the two lead performances by Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz quite a bit, and the film had enough action in it to keep me entertained, even if it runs a tad too long at 135 minutes. The ending wasn't entirely satisfying for me though so that was a bit of a letdown.

Overall though I enjoyed the film and think that fans of the series will definitely want to check it out.

     V/H/S

When a group of petty criminals is hired by a mysterious party to retrieve a rare piece of found footage from a rundown house in the middle of nowhere, they soon realize that the job isn't going to be as easy as they thought. In the living room, a lifeless body holds court before a hub of old television sets, surrounded by stacks upon stacks of VHS tapes. As they search for the right one, they are treated to a seemingly endless number of horrifying videos, each stranger than the last.

This is another one of those "found footage" films meant to shock and disturb you. The only thing it did for me is annoy me with its constant shaky cam editing style that induced more of a headache than any semblance of fear. I am getting so tired of these type of horror films that are trying so desperately to push the limits and be edgy. There were actually some interesting elements to the film that if developed differently and more coherently would have been pretty creepy and effective, but sadly most of it just looked cheap and low budget.

V/H/S is an ugly and violent film that is very dark, so it won't appeal to everyone, but if you are into this sort of thing then you might want to give it a look. It certainly wasn't my cup of tea though.

Also out this week is the popular kids movie Ice Age 4: Continental Drift, a new comedy starring Kelly Macdonald and David Tennant called The Decoy Bride, the latest zombie plague movie called Dead Season, and the 1st season of HBO's Girls.

     Blast From the Past

Picking up where I left off last week, here are my top ten films of 2007.

10. Superbad/Knocked Up - This was the year that Judd Apatow became the reigning king of the raunchy comedy. Both of these hilarious films were hugely successful and popular. Superbad was one of the funniest teen comedies to come along in years and Knocked Up was just a great, sweet movie in addition to being dirty and raunchy fun. If you want to laugh hard then you can't go wrong with these two gems.

9. Zodiac - David Fincher directed this exceptional police procedural about the hunt for the notorious serial killer known as "Zodiac" who killed in and around the San Francisco Bay area during the late 60's and early 70's. Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey Jr. all give stellar performances in this taut and riveting crime drama. It's a long film but I was never bored for a second. Well worth it!

8. Black Book - Director Paul Verhoeven, best known for films like Robocop, Basic Instinct and Total Recall, went back to his roots by making this Dutch film about a young Jewish woman in the Netherlands who becomes a spy for the resistance during World War II after tragedy befalls her in an encounter with the Nazis. Carice van Houten gives a fabulously daring performance as the woman who must infiltrate the inner sanctum of the Nazis. This is full of action and twists and turns right up until the end. This is not to be missed.

7. The Lookout - This is a great little crime thriller starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a young man that has lost his short term memory due to a bad car accident, and is being conned into participating in a bank heist where he works as a night janitor. It's the directorial debut of Scott Frank who wrote the brilliant screenplays for Get Shorty and Out of Sight. It also features good performances from Jeff Daniels, Matthew Goode and Isla Fisher. If you've never heard of this film before then be sure and check it out. It's excellent!

6. No Country for Old Men - I am a huge fan of the Coen Brothers and this dark and twisted tale is one of their best. Javier Bardem deservedly won an Oscar for playing one of the most chilling killers ever on screen in Anton Chigurh. Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones are excellent as well. It's based on a Cormac McCarthy novel and tells the tale of a man who finds a satchel full of money that belongs to a Mexican drug cartel and how he tries to avoid the relentless pursuit of a psychotic killer. It's stylish, violent and always compelling. Probably the best Coen Brothers film since Fargo.

5. Juno - Ellen Page is wonderful in this sweet natured and quirky comedy about a teenage girl who finds out she is pregnant and decides to give the baby up for adoption. This was definitely my favourite comedy of the year and one that I can watch repeatedly. It's so well written and so charming and funny. Jason Bateman, Jennifer Garner, Michael Cera and J.K. Simmons are great in this as well. Juno is a film well deserving of all the accolades it received that year. I loved it!

4. Gone Baby Gone - Ben Affleck made his directorial debut with this powerful suspense drama. His brother Casey stars as a private investigator in Boston who is hired to find a four-year-old girl that has been abducted and the ensuing corruption that he uncovers surrounding the case. Also featuring great performances from Amy Ryan, Ed Harris and Morgan Freeman, Gone Baby Gone is a film laden with tension at every turn. Great debut for Ben. This is top notch stuff!

3. Grindhouse - I had an absolute blast with this film, seeing it twice in the theater. Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez directed this homage to B movie exploitation cinema by making this double feature that consisted of two feature-length segments, Planet Terror and Death Proof, which were bookended by fictional trailers for upcoming attractions, advertisements, and in-theater announcements. The fake trailers are hilarious and definitely add to the whole experience. I prefer Death Proof over Planet Terror because the zombie storyline is kind of overdone these days. Besides, Kurt Russell is brilliant as Stuntman Mike in Death Proof. This is most definitely not for everyone's taste, but I think it's schlocky fun at its finest.

2. Once - I simply adore everything about this perfect little Irish musical. It stars Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová as two musicians who meet, compose music together and fall in love. It is so beautiful in its simplicity and my heart soared during virtually every musical number. I literally cheered when they eventually won the Oscar for Best Original Song for the wonderful tune "Falling Slowly." The soundtrack is wonderful as well. This is just a pure joy to watch. Do yourselves a favour and seek out this treasure.

1. There Will Be Blood - Simply put, There Will Be Blood is a bona fide masterpiece and easily one of the best films of the past decade. I'm a big fan of director Paul Thomas Anderson and in my opinion this film is his crowning achievement. Daniel Day-Lewis delivers one of the most mesmerizing performances you are ever likely to see as a ruthless oilman who seeks wealth and fortune during the turn of the century. This is a beautifully shot film so rich with strong characters and compelling drama that really showcases the greed and obsession of capitalism. The "I drink your milkshake" scene towards the end of the film has already become the stuff of legends. This is without a doubt a true American classic.

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