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Cinema Scoop

New out on DVD/Blu-ray this week

New out on DVD/Blu-ray for Tuesday February 19.

     Argo

Based on true events, Argo chronicles the life-or-death covert operation to rescue six Americans, which unfolded behind the scenes of the Iran hostage crisis - the truth of which was unknown by the public for decades. On November 4, 1979, as the Iranian revolution reaches its boiling point, militants storm the U.S. embassy in Tehran, taking 52 Americans hostage. But, in the midst of the chaos, six Americans manage to slip away and find refuge in the home of the Canadian ambassador. Knowing it is only a matter of time before the six are found out and likely killed, a CIA "exfiltration" specialist named Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) comes up with a risky plan to get them safely out of the country. A plan so incredible, it could only happen in the movies.

Nominated for 7 Academy Awards, Argo is easily one of the best films of the year and it may even be the front runner for the Best Picture award.

Ben Affleck once again pulls double duty as director and star of Argo and he does an absolutely superb job with both. He has already made two exceptional films in Gone Baby Gone and The Town, and with Argo I think he really hits his stride in becoming one of the better directors working today. Channeling his inner Sidney Lumet or Alan J. Pakula, Affleck expertly crafts a film that is a masterwork of tension and drama while at the same time infusing it with just enough humour to create moments of levity and make it thoroughly entertaining. The film is paced just right also as Affleck lets the story unfold with constant tension mounting until the gripping, edge-of-your-seat finale where you wonder whether they are really going to make it out of Iran alive.

There are some great performances in Argo as well, with Affleck, John Goodman, Alan Arkin and Bryan Cranston being among the standouts in a film that has a huge host of supporting characters.

Argo is an exemplary example of a smartly written political thriller and the fact that it is based on a true story makes it all the more compelling and riveting. I really do think that Affleck has knocked this one out of the park. He has fashioned a film that is technically accomplished with a meticulous attention to detail and a storyline that still feels relevant today.

I loved this film and urge everyone to seek it out as soon as possible.

     Sinister

Ethan Hawke plays a true crime novelist who discovers a box of mysterious, disturbing home movies that plunge his family into a nightmarish experience of supernatural horror.

From the producer of the Paranormal Activity films and the writer/director of The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Sinister is a terrifying horror thriller that is sure to make you jump in your seat a few times. It's a film filled with copious amounts of tension and suspense, mostly due to a very ominous and foreboding score, but also because of some great eerie atmosphere and creepy imagery. I really appreciated the slow burn with the suspense mounting and the mystery deepening as to what the heck was going on.

If you enjoy getting the pants scared off of you then I would suggest you check out Sinister. It's a fun ride for horror movie fans.

     Holy Motors

Over the course of a single day, Monsieur Oscar travels by limousine around Paris to a series of nine appointments, transforming into new characters at each stop. He is a captain of industry, a gypsy beggar, a digitized ninja warrior (and reptilian sex god!), a gibberish-spewing troglodyte, the melancholy father of a teenage daughter, a shadowy assassin, a dying old man, and a thwarted lover reuniting with a past flame.

This French film from Leos Carax is easily one of the weirdest and strangest film experiences I've had in quite some time. The funny thing is though that I still found it to be oddly mesmerizing and compelling nonetheless. This is definitely not for the average movie watcher who has certain expectations on how a story should be told. This is clearly an art film and as such will be appreciated by those willing to be challenged. If you are a true film buff then you may find this to be quite the rewarding experience as I felt that it was an homage to many facets of classic cinema, the majority of which are international films. The true meaning of the film is completely open to interpretation and I think that this is one that will likely demand repeated viewings to really understand everything we are being shown.

This is a film that sticks with you days after as you try to make sense of it all. It would be the perfect film to watch with a bunch of film geeks and then go for coffee afterwards to discuss and dissect it for a few hours.

While not for everyone's tastes, I found Holy Motors to be a fascinating film.

Also out this week is the 19th century costume drama, Anna Karenina, starring Keira Knightley and Jude Law, the teen comedy, Fun Size, the bleak and disturbing Australian crime drama, The Snowtown Murders, the right-wing propaganda film, Atlas Shrugged: Part II, the British horror thriller, Citadel, and the 2nd season of the incredible HBO series Game of Thrones.

     Blast From the Past

Since it is awards season we normally discuss the best movies of the past year at this time. I will be doing so in an upcoming Oscar preview article, so keep an eye out for that, but in the meantime, I thought I would shift gears and instead reveal the worst films that I saw this past year. Noticeably absent on this list will be films such as the latest Twilight installment and any Nicholas Sparks adaptations, as I try to avoid those like the plague and won't even bother watching them in the first place. So by special request, here are my top ten worst films of 2012.

10. Iron Sky - This ill conceived mess is about Nazis invading the Earth from the dark side of the Moon. It's a science fiction comedy, but any of the humour in it is completely groan worthy and the story is just plain stupid. This is a really bad and dopey B-movie. Nazis in space -  who comes up with this stuff?

9. Battleship - This stinker is based on the classic Hasbro naval combat game and it's about an alien invasion. This loud, bombastic film filled with CGI effects and numerous explosions that numb the mind is a really dumb movie that has barely any character development to speak of and a plot that is paper thin at best. It wears its U.S. patriotism proudly on its sleeve to the point where you roll your eyes at the absurdity of it all. It's overlong, mindless and a complete mess. In other words, a complete waste of time!

8. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance - Nicolas Cage returns in one of the worst comic book adaptations ever made. This piece of B-movie schlock is a special effects laden romp that failed to elicit any kind of excitement from me whatsoever. At times there are frenetically paced action sequences, but they are followed by long stretches of pure tedium and a plot that is illogical at best. This one just plain stinks!

7. This Means War - This rom-com actioner stars Chris Pine and Tom Hardy as the world's deadliest CIA operatives who are inseparable partners and best friends, until they fall in love with the same woman played by Reese Witherspoon. A career lowlight for all three involved, this piece of junk is predictable, formulaic, loud and just plain stupid. Ugh!!!

6. The Words - This ultra boring movie about a writer who steals another man's work is 95 minutes of my life that I will never get back. It's an utter waste of a talented cast that includes Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana, Jeremy Irons, Dennis Quaid and Olivia Wilde. This convoluted drama goes absolutely nowhere and it's a static and unengaging exercise in tedium. The Words is so bland and forgettable. ZZZZZZ!

5. Piranha 3DD - The only reason this crapfest isn't higher on this list is the copious amounts of nudity and hilariously bad cameo from David Hasselhoff that kept it mildly amusing, but make no mistake, this is an atrociously awful movie that is laughably bad in every conceivable way. I didn't mind the first Piranha movie for what it was, but this one - just no - so so bad.

4. Alex Cross - Based on the best-selling novel by James Patterson, Tyler Perry plays a homicide detective tracking down a serial killer played by Matthew Fox. This is a horribly inept film in every way, shape and form. It has a cliché ridden, hackneyed script and thinly drawn characters that have little to no development whatsoever. What a poorly made, festering piece of horse manure this film is. Avoid!!!

3. 360 - You would think that a drama directed by Fernando Meirelles (City of God, The Constant Gardener) and starring the likes of Anthony Hopkins, Jude Law, Rachel Weisz and Ben Foster would be an interesting and compelling film right? Sadly, 360 meanders very slowly with no place to go and nothing about it is even remotely engaging. This is an utterly boring snoozefest that I wouldn't recommend to anyone unless you want a cure for insomnia. It's absolutely pointless. I would say to you that if anyone suggests you see 360, to do a 180 - and run.

2. The Watch - A total mess from start to finish, this lame brained, unfunny comedy is just lazy and uninspired. Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade star as a neighbourhood watch group that bands together to battle aliens that have invaded their suburban town. It's bland, juvenile, soulless and lacks any sort of imagination at all. I know that comedy is subjective, but this stupid, dumb, uneven piece of junk barely made me laugh at all. What a waste of time!

1. That's My Boy - Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg star in what has to go down as one of the worst movies of Sandler's career by far. And he's made a lot of crap over the years. This monumentally atrocious film is trying to pass itself off as a comedy, but I sure as heck didn't laugh very much. It's just a really stupid, moronic and pointless film that once again features Sandler acting like a complete idiot and pandering to the lowest common denominator. How old is this guy again? That's My Boy is also a morally bankrupt piece of trash that revels in being mean-spirited, vulgar and tasteless. It should just be flushed down the toilet where it belongs.
Worst of the year by far!

Some other dishonourable mentions to avoid include, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, The Odd Life of Timothy Green, Red Lights, Cosmopolis, The Raven, Total Recall, Wrath of the Titans, Project X, Dark Shadows, and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.

New out on DVD/Blu-ray is brought to you by Leo's Videos, 2680 Pandosy St. (250) 861-8437



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