New out on DVD/Blu-ray for the first week of 2013.
In the futuristic action thriller Looper, time travel will be invented - but it will be illegal and only available on the black market. When the mob wants to get rid of someone, they will send their target 30 years into the past, where a "looper" - a hired gun, like Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) - is waiting to mop up. Joe is getting rich and life is good... until the day the mob decides to "close the loop", sending back Joe's future self (Bruce Willis) for assassination.
Looper is an absolutely fantastic, mind-bending thrill ride of a movie that combines elements of science fiction, gangster, western, and family drama pictures all rolled in to one tightly woven, intricately plotted and wonderfully conceived bit of genre filmmaking.
Director Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom) does a tremendous job of making this story all about the characters and he draws excellent performances from Levitt, WIllis and Emily Blunt. There is quite a bit of pulse pounding action and suspense in the film also, as well as some effectively used moments of visual splendour that are simply badass and awesome.
This is a thought provoking and intelligently done science fiction film filled with twists and turns that takes you to unexpected places and moves effortlessly while doing so.
I highly recommend you check out Looper.
The Words follows a young writer who finally achieves long sought after literary success after publishing the next great American novel. There's only one catch - he didn't write it. As the past comes back to haunt him and his literary star continues to rise, he is forced to confront the steep price that must be paid for stealing another man's work, and for placing ambition and success above all else.
The talented cast that includes Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana, Jeremy Irons, Dennis Quaid and Olivia Wilde are completely wasted in this boring mess of a film. The Words is so static and unengaging, and moves at such a languid pace that it was all I could do to stay awake for this lame film.
I suppose that The Words was made for the pseudo-intellectual literary types, and that would be fine if it weren't so darn bland. It lacks any semblance of cohesion or entertainment value whatsoever.
The Words is truly forgettable. Move along folks, nothing to see here.
Riding across Manhattan in a stretch limo in order to get a haircut, a 28-year-old billionaire asset manager's day devolves into an odyssey with a cast of characters that start to tear his world apart.
In a complete departure from his role in Twilight, Robert Pattinson stars in this bizarre film that is based on a 2003 novel by Don DeLillo. It's directed by David Cronenberg who is certainly no stranger to weird material. Personally I think that Cronenberg is hit and miss. He's made some really interesting films and he's made some real head scratchers. Sadly, Cosmopolis falls squarely in the latter category.
There is just nothing the least bit entertaining about this film. It's overly talky and just meanders aimlessly with seemingly not much of a plot or point to it. The dialogue and sets are very stagey and nothing could take away from the overriding sense of boredom I felt throughout the duration of this film.
This is strictly for the pretentious, artsy-fartsy fans out there. If anyone actually recommends this as a source of entertainment then I would strongly consider smacking them upside the head and running the other way.
Also out this week is the Belgian crime drama A Gang Story starring Tchéky Karyo.
Blast From the Past
Continuing on with my lists, here are my top ten films of 2008.
10. Doubt - This is an excellent dramatic telling about a pair of nuns who suspect that a priest is carrying on an inappropriate relationship with an altar boy and the consequences of the rumour that gets circulated stemming from their suspicions. It features tremendous performances from Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Viola Davis, all of whom received Academy Awards nominations for their work here. Really superb drama.
9. Tell No One - This exceptional French crime thriller is about a doctor who is being implicated in a double murder while at the same time he's receiving e-mails from his wife who was supposedly killed eight years prior. This is full of twists and turns and you never know where the story is going to lead you, but it is well worth the ride. Trust me, the less you know about this film going in the better. Seek it out though, you won't regret it. Tell No One is a fabulous film.
8. Iron Man - One of my favourite comic book films ever made. Jon Favreau really nailed it and the casting of Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark was inspired to say the least. This movie is just so much fun and it really kicked off what would be a great string of Marvel related films that eventually culminated in this past year's Avengers. The future of comic book films looks extremely bright thanks in large part to this blast of a film. Sounds good to me.
7. Man on Wire - This incredible Oscar winning documentary shows how in 1974 a Frenchman named Philippe Petit strung a high-wire between the Twin Towers of New York's World Trade Center and actually walked across. This of course was ridiculously dangerous and highly illegal and the film plays out like a caper film with Petit trying to set up this crazy stunt without getting caught by authorities. There is so much tension and suspense even though we already know the outcome. This is an exhilarating and fascinating film to watch. Simply amazing stuff!
6. Slumdog Millionaire - This wonderful drama really cleaned up at the Academy Awards that year, winning a total of eight, including Best Picture. I thought director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later) did a tremendous job transporting the viewer into the slums of Mumbai and he infused the film with so much visceral energy that I was constantly engaged. This is an excellent drama that is, at times, heartwarming, and also heartbreaking. This is fabulous entertainment though through and through.
5. Young@Heart - This is an absolutely wonderful documentary about a group of senior citizens that sing rock and roll songs and the constant efforts of their chorus director to teach them new material ranging from Sonic Youth, The Clash, James Brown and Coldplay. This will surely put a smile on your face as you witness these charming and likable elderly people have to struggle to learn music that is not in their comfort zone. I loved every aspect of this uplifting gem. There is a particularly poignant moment when a disabled gentleman must perform the beautiful Coldplay song Fix You that is sure to bring tears to your eyes. I can't hear that song now without thinking of that scene. Young@Heart is a special little film.
4. WALL-E - This is one of Pixar's masterpieces. Not only is it a wonderful film for the whole family, but it is also an exceptional piece of science fiction storytelling filled with tremendous visuals. WALL-E has a magical quality to it in that it is able to tell a story beautifully without all that much dialogue. It also has a strong environmental message behind it dealing with humans over reliance on technology and consumerism and how that will ultimately be detrimental to the sustainability of our planet. WALL-E is required viewing for all film fans.
3. The Wrestler - Mickey Rourke gives a note perfect performance in this heartbreaking and tragic tale of an aging professional wrestler who is well past his prime and, despite his failing health, still feels the need to cling to his glory years of the past. His descent into self destruction is sad to watch but it is portrayed with so much truth and honesty by Rourke that it is a shame he didn't win the Oscar for this film. I'm fascinated by the world of professional wrestling and this film really peels back the curtain on the seedy underbelly of the business and the unfortunate path that some are led to. Thankfully not everyone turns out like this. Great film!
2. Let the Right One In - Easily one of my favourite Vampire films ever made, this brilliant Swedish movie tells the story of a bullied 12-year-old boy who befriends a young girl (who is not what she appears to be) and the relationship that develops between them. This is a superbly crafted film full of creepy atmosphere that is deliberately paced, but riveting right until the end. The American remake called Let Me In was just released last year and while that one is well done also I would highly recommend seeking out this version. Make sure you watch it in Swedish with the subtitles rather than dubbed into English. It makes a huge difference. I went nuts for this film and almost put it at number 1 on my list.
1. The Dark Knight - Hands down, my favourite comic book film of all time. It was like all of the planets and stars aligned to create this piece of cinematic perfection. Christopher Nolan's masterpiece follow up to 2005's Batman Begins gains the added bonus of Heath Ledger's iconic performance as The Joker, but he's not the only reason this film worked so darn well. It is absolutely gripping from start to finish and contains so much action, suspense and drama to truly qualify this film as epic. Nolan definitely threw down the gauntlet to future filmmakers attempting to adapt comic book characters to the big screen and said "follow that." Heck, he couldn't even follow it himself as this years The Dark Knight Rises proved. It was awesome but not as good as this brilliant piece of cinema. The Dark Knight is a stupendous film that will truly be one for the ages.
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