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Cinema Scoop

New out on DVD/Blu-ray this week

New out on DVD/Blu-ray for Tuesday October 23.

     Magic Mike

Set in the world of male strippers, Magic Mike is directed by Steven Soderbergh and stars Channing Tatum in a story inspired by his real life. The film follows Mike (Tatum) as he takes a young dancer called The Kid (Alex Pettyfer) under his wing and schools him in the fine art of partying, picking up women, and making easy money.

Alright ladies, here's the film you've been waiting for - hunky beefcakes prancing around with barely any clothing on. If that sounds appealing then you will definitely want to rent Magic Mike.

It's actually not a bad drama with some decent performances in it. Soderbergh deftly directs these characters, showing the highs and lows of being in this particular industry. It's not all fun and games, that's for sure. It attempts to work somewhat as a cautionary tale but the conclusion of the film wasn't overly satisfying, at least not to me.

I would still give Magic Mike a mild recommendation though.

     Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, discovers vampires are planning to take over the country. He makes it his mission to eliminate them.

Based on the popular novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, this ill-conceived mess of a film is directed by Russian filmmaker Timur Bekmanbetov (Wanted) and stars Benjamin Walker (looking eerily like a young Liam Neeson) as the vampire hunting Lincoln.

I didn't care for this movie at all, with its over-the-top action sequences and overuse of the clichéd slow-motion-then-speed-up stylized fight scenes. I'm so tired of these kinds of films as there is nothing creative about them. The bad CGI was kind of a joke as well. This movie is just beyond ridiculous.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter also stars Dominic Cooper, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rufus Sewell and Anthony Mackie.

I don't recommend this cartoonish misfire at all. Ugh!

     Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

As an asteroid nears Earth, a man finds himself alone after his wife leaves in a panic. He decides to take a road trip to reunite with his high school sweetheart. Accompanying him is a neighbour who inadvertently puts a wrench in his plan.

Starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is an odd little movie that doesn't quite know what genre it wants to fit into. It constantly shifts in tone from comedy to drama with some romance thrown in for good measure. I'm not saying that it's a bad film, in fact I enjoyed a fair bit of it, but it isn't a film I would rave about. I will say that the two lead performances are quite good and this is definitely a more subdued and understated Carell than we're used to seeing most of the time.

Overall I would recommend this to people who enjoy character driven films and that want a comedy that is more subtle rather than broad.

Also out this week is the love story A Little Bit of Heaven starring Kate Hudson and Gael Garcia Bernal, the Spanish horror film Rec 3 Genesis, the animated kids show Secret of the Wings and the latest Tyler Perry film Madea's Witness Protection.

     Blast From the Past

Continuing on with my lists, here are my top ten films of 2001

10. The Royal Tenenbaums - This Wes Anderson directed gem is about an eccentric family and all of their issues. It's off the wall, hilarious and filled to the brim with offbeat, original characters. Featuring a wonderful cast, The Royal Tenenbaums is exactly the type of absurdist comedy that I enjoy. One of Anderson's best!

9. Ghost World - Directed by Terry Zwigoff, who previously made the superb documentary Crumb, Ghost World is a whip smart comedy drama filled with wry deadpan humour and a real acerbic wit. Thora Birch, Steve Buscemi and Scarlett Johansson give great performances in this character study that is actually based on a graphic novel from comic artist Daniel Clowes. This is a really quirky original.

8. In the Bedroom - This is a heartbreaking and insightful drama about the nature of dealing with grief. Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson are fabulous as a couple who lose their son to murder and the toll this tragedy takes on their lives. The film builds slowly but the patient viewer will be rewarded with a taut and gripping drama that is absolutely top notch. In the Bedroom is powerful stuff!

7. Sexy Beast - The main reason this film ranks so high is the scintillating performance by Sir Ben Kingsley. He plays a loathsome beast of a gangster that is desperately trying to recruit Ray Winstone to pull off a bank heist, but trouble is Winstone's character has retired from his life of crime and wants nothing to do with it. Playing the utter antithesis of his role in Gandhi, Kingsley huffs and puffs (to put it mildly) and won't take no for an answer. You won't believe the results - needless to say this is not for the faint of heart.

6. Monster's Ball - A truly powerful drama that netted Halle Berry an Oscar for Best Actress for her portrayal of a woman whose husband is on death row and the relationship that develops between her and a prison guard played by Billy Bob Thornton. The material is fairly dark here but it's a rewarding journey nonetheless. Also featuring excellent performances from Heath Ledger and Peter Boyle, Monster's Ball is well worth seeking out. It's simply superb!

5. Shrek/Monsters Inc. (tie) - I cheated a bit here placing two films at no. 5 but what the heck - my list, my rules. The fact is I love both of these animated gems equally and I couldn't choose between them. They both represent the best of the computer animation world and they are films that can be enjoyed by all ages. They will make you laugh relentlessly and touch your heart as well. Just wonderful entertainment all around. Embrace your inner child and watch both Shrek and Monsters Inc. again.

4. Mulholland Drive - This brilliant film is one of David Lynch's masterpieces. He originally shot this to be a pilot for an ongoing TV series but when it was rejected he decided to shoot an ending and release it as a feature film. While the narrative structure of the plot may make you scratch your head you can't help but be mesmerized by the dreamlike quality of this. It's simply intoxicating. You're likely never going to see anything quite like this again. Mulholland Drive is pure Lynch at his finest.

3. Memento - Long before the Batman trilogy and Inception it was this intricate psychological thriller that really put director Christopher Nolan on the map. Guy Pearce plays a man with no short term memory who is trying to piece together the events surrounding the murder of his wife. What's unique about Memento is that it plays out backwards revealing one piece of the puzzle at a time. This expertly crafted film is a twist filled mystery that keeps you guessing until the end. It is an incredible piece of work.

2. Amélie - Audrey Tautou is simply delightful as a shy waitress with a wild and vivid imagination who decides to better the lives of those around her. This French film directed by the über creative Jean-Pierre Jeunet is a whimsical and heartwarming tale of romance and fantasy. The visuals are beautiful and sumptuous and the film is full of laughs as well. Virtually everything about Amélie is enchanting and it's just one of those films that made me smile non stop throughout. I adore every minute of it.

1. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - The majority of the time when a movie is made based on a classic novel the consensus opinion is that the book is always better. This is the rare instance when I thought that the film far exceeded the source material. Peter Jackson made a fantasy film that is so epic in scope and size that it was simply mind blowing. The fact that this was only the first part of a trilogy and that it wasn't even the best one of the three is even more amazing since this one is a 10 out of 10. I truly believe that this trilogy will stand the test of time and be regarded almost in the same esteem as the original Star Wars trilogy. That's how important and landmark TLOTR is. One of my favourite film going experiences of all time!

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