Mar 12, 2013 / 11:00 am
New out on DVD/Blu-ray for Tuesday March 12.
Life of Pi
A young man who survives a disaster at sea is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While cast away, he forms an unexpected connection with another survivor... a fearsome Bengal tiger.
Based on the highly acclaimed 2001 novel by Canadian author Yann Martel, Life of Pi is a thought provoking and captivating tale of survival and adventure that is heavily steeped in spirituality and human faith in God.
Directed gorgeously by Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Brokeback Mountain), who deservedly won an Oscar for his efforts, Life of Pi is a stunning achievement in the art of visual storytelling, while at the same time having an emotional center to it that is both impactful and inspiring. Some of the shots in this film are exquisitely breathtaking and truly magnificent so it is no wonder that it took home the prize for visual effects at the Academy Awards this year.
This film is likely to affect each individual differently depending on your particular beliefs or convictions, but there is no denying the masterful storytelling at work here. It's a powerful and compelling film that is likely to make one ruminate on the very nature of our existence in this vast and beautiful world that we inhabit.
Make sure you seek out the absolutely wonderful Life of Pi.
Hitchcock centers on the relationship between director Alfred Hitchcock and his wife Alma Reville during the making of Psycho, a controversial horror film that subsequently became one of the most acclaimed and influential works in the filmmaker's career.
While I would have preferred a full blown bio-pic of Alfred Hitchcock, who just happens to be my favourite director of all-time, I still found enough entertainment out of this film to recommend it to anyone who is interested in a behind the scenes peek at arguably the most important horror film ever made.
The film is a bit lightweight and uneven at times, but it is infused with just enough of Hitch's trademark macabre humour that I still enjoyed it for what it is.
The great cast is led by Sir Anthony Hopkins as the Master of Suspense, Helen Mirren as his wife Alma, Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh (infamous victim of the notorious shower scene), Jessica Biel as Vera Miles, James D'Arcy as Anthony Perkins (Norman Bates), and Toni Collette as the director's trusted assistant.
I think that anyone interested in classic cinema should give this one a look. It's mostly lighthearted fun.
Rise of the Guardians
Jack Frost (Chris Pine) is a carefree boy who has no responsibilities in the world aside from bringing winter wherever he goes. But everything changes when Pitch (Jude Law), the Nightmare King, begins his plan to engulf the world in darkness. The Guardians, Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman) and the Sandman enlist Jack to join their group to stop Pitch and protect the children of the world.
The latest animated fantasy adventure from DreamWorks Animation is based on a series of books by William Joyce called The Guardians of Childhood. The idea for the Guardians came from Joyce's daughter, who asked him "if he thought Santa Claus has ever met the Easter Bunny."
I haven't had a chance to see this film but from what I've heard it is an action packed, thrilling adventure that children are sure to enjoy. It currently holds a score of 74% on Rotten Tomatoes, so that's encouraging.
If you need a good film for family night with the kids then I'm sure Rise of the Guardians should do the trick.
A Late Quartet
A drama about members of a world-renowned string quartet who struggle to stay together in the face of death, competing egos and insuppressible lust. Inspired by and structured around Beethoven's Opus 131 String Quartet in C-sharp minor, it pays homage to chamber music and the cultural world of New York.
Even though this film moves rather slowly and is heavily steeped in morose melodrama, I still found enough emotional depth to the film due, in large part, to the exceptional cast that includes Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken, Catherine Keener, Mark Ivanir and Imogen Poots. The performances are very solid all around and they really elevate the material here.
This is a film that should appeal to those who enjoy emotionally charged, character driven dramas. I thought it was pretty decent.
Also out this week is the romantic comedy, Playing for Keeps, starring Gerard Butler, Uma Thurman, Jessica Biel, Dennis Quaid and Catherine Zeta-Jones, the drama about alcoholism, Smashed, starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Aaron Paul, the oddball comedy, This Must be the Place, featuring Sean Penn and Frances McDormand, the documentary about NHL enforcers, The Last Gladiators, the animated French comedy, The Suicide Shop, and the docu-fantasy, Cirque Du Soleil: World's Away.
Blast From the Past
With the release of the film Hitchcock this week I thought it fitting that I pay tribute to the "master of suspense", who not only is my favourite director of all-time, but who also happens to be one of the most influential filmmakers in the history of cinema. He made over 50 films in a storied career that spanned over 50 years, and I've seen almost all of them. Here is a small sample size of his work with the films I feel are most essential for any budding classic film aficionado to have to check out. If you want to discover the wonderful world of Alfred Hitchcock, start with these quintessential films.
The Lady Vanishes (1938) - Margaret Lockwood and Michael Redgrave star in this fast-paced, witty comic thriller about the search for a kind old lady who disappears while on board a moving train. The wonderful Dame May Whitty plays the titular character. The success of this film is what prompted famous producer David O. Selznick to bring the British filmmaker over to Hollywood.
Rebecca (1940) - Hitch's first American film ended up winning the Best Picture Oscar that year. This amazing gothic melodrama starred Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine as newlyweds who try to make a life for themselves in a very foreboding English country mansion. A stunning film full of atmosphere and tension.
Shadow of a Doubt (1943) - Hitchcock's personal favourite film is about a young woman who suspects that her beloved uncle is a serial killer. Teresa Wright and Joseph Cotton star in this excellent psychological suspense thriller. This is one of my faves also.
Notorious (1946) - This brilliant tale of intrigue and espionage set in post-war South America is considered by many to be one of the greatest films of all-time. You can never go wrong with Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains. This is unquestionably one of Hitch's best.
Rope (1948) - Hitchcock's first colour film is a tightly woven thriller that takes place in real time and is noted for appearing like it was done in one long continuous shot. It's also the first of four collaborations with the wonderful Jimmy Stewart. Based on the famous Leopold and Loeb murder case of the 1920s, Rope is a cleverly done, taut thriller that keeps you going right until the final credits. An under-appreciated gem.
Strangers on a Train (1951) - This story of "criss-cross" murders has been redone several times and even famously spoofed in "Throw Momma From the Train" with Billy Crystal and Danny DeVito. Nothing will ever compare to this incredible original though which is full of suspense, twists and turns. This one is easily in my top 5 favourite Hitchcock films.
Dial M for Murder (1954) - Ray Milland plays a real louse who schemes to murder his wife, played by the stunningly gorgeous Grace Kelly. Things don't go quite as planned though and thus sets in motion a chain of events that are classic Hitchcock. This is the first of three films in a row that Hitch worked with Grace Kelly, whom he reportedly became somewhat obsessed with. I can't really say that I blame him.
Rear Window (1954) - Jimmy Stewart plays a photographer confined to a wheelchair, who spends his days looking out the window of his apartment and watching his neighbours daily activities, until one day he thinks he spots a murder being committed. Throw in suspense, mystery and Grace Kelly for good measure and you have all the elements you need for one of Hitch's best. Variations of this story have been redone umpteen number of times since, but none are as good as Rear Window.
Vertigo (1958) - Another classic Jimmy Stewart performance in a twisted tale of mental illness and obsession. Vertigo was just named the greatest movie of all-time, beating out Citizen Kane, according to Sight & Sound magazine. There's no doubt that it is a landmark film but I wouldn't go as far as to say it's the greatest. It's not even my favourite Hitchcock film. Don't get me wrong though, it is a phenomenal movie.
North by Northwest (1959) - Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint star in what is probably one of the best mistaken identity spy thrillers ever made. This one has it all; action, romance, wit, intrigue and some of the most iconic set pieces ever filmed including the famous crop-duster scene and the climactic chase sequence atop Mount Rushmore. North by Northwest would easily find a place in my top 100 movies of all-time list.
Psycho (1960) - The film that Hitch is most associated with is also the most influential film of its genre. The idea of a psychotic, knife wielding individual who kills for no particular reason was something that just wasn't shown to audiences at that time. Psycho created a huge sensation back in 1960 and while the level of violence on display is tame by today's standards, there is no denying the terror created by the infamous "shower scene" when Janet Leigh is killed off. It, along with the accompanying Bernard Hermann musical key, is one of the most iconic moments in the history of film. Without this film we wouldn't have gotten the majority of the films in the slasher genre, including one of my personal faves, Halloween. Psycho truly is a note perfect masterpiece.
Frenzy (1972) - Nearing the end of his career Hitchcock returned to England to make this dark and wickedly funny film about a man who is mistakenly the prime suspect in a series of grisly "necktie murders." This has plenty of the trademark Hitchcock twists and turns and even includes a touch of profanity and nudity which was a first for the director. This one gets criminally overlooked most of the time but it's a really fun and clever film. Seek this one out.
New out on DVD/Blu-ray is brought to you by Leo's Videos, 2680 Pandosy St. (250) 861-8437
Read more Cinema Scoop articles
- Movie Review: The Internship Jun 8
- The Internship on the verge of a 'Purge' Jun 7
- New out on DVD/Blu-ray this week Jun 4
- 'Now You See Me' all smoke and mirrors Jun 1
- Your weekend movie guide May 31
- New out on DVD/Blu-ray this week May 28
- 'Fast & Furious 6' delivers the thrills May 25
- Vehicular destruction vs. drunken chaos May 23
- New out on DVD/Blu-ray this week May 21
- 'Star Trek Into Darkness' a thrilling ride May 17
- Star Trek fans prepare for 'Into Darkness' May 16
- New out on DVD/Blu-ray this week May 14
(Click for RSS instructions.)