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Hot Rod
Hot Rod
11 used & new from CDN$ 6.96

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Stupidity Prevails!, April 4 2008
This review is from: Hot Rod (DVD)
Not long ago I wrote a review for the funny and creative Mike Judge film, Idiocracy. Although I found it's seething commentary agreeable, I must admit that just because the film may be right, it does not suddenly make me any less vulnerable to finding humor in any of the many silly and cheap gags that persist in the undeniably hilarious Andy Samberg feature film debut, Hot Rod. Stupidity is was it is and to me at least, what it is, at times, is comedy gold.

Rod (Samberg) is a grown man who lives with his mother, his step brother, and his step father. He longs to earn the respect of his step father by defeating him in hand-to-hand combat. Rod, like his late father was assumed to be, is a stuntman. He wears a silly outfit and a phony mustache to extenuate his showmanship. His stunts are silly dramatic jumps he does on his moped. So far it sounds like a weak story setting the stage for a fictionalized version of the shenanigans one may see on Jackass. It is not far from that of course. Rod's step father has a bad heart and his insurance company won't cover his high risk heart operation. No matter, because Rod is going to raise the money by jumping seven buses so he can save his step father and subsequently defeat him in hand-to-hand combat, and therefore become a man. No, it is not an existential film, nor is it a sharp commentary against the crumbled American health care system. It is just a vehicle to make teenage potheads laugh, and although I'm not a teenage pothead myself I still laughed...loudly, and often.

Sometimes, I prefer my comedy straight forward and without any other obvious motives. I like to have something in the background that makes me laugh without being attached to the film. I like the three stooges. I loved Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I like Zucker movies and I like Farrelly movies. I loved Ron Burgundy and Billy Madison makes me laugh harder every single time I see it. I even liked Norm MacDonald in Dirty Work and Chris Farley's brand of humor is exactly the brand for me. If you think most of the above is silly and not funny to you then I suggest you pass on Hot Rod.

It's important to note that Hot Rod is more derivative then most similar comedies. It is a lot of the same silly humor recycled or used with an even more extreme spin. It pulls some punches in spots where I would've hoped for more. It is also only PG-13 and I must admit that sometimes I prefer my humor a bit dirtier. Either way, it isn't a real movie per se and I would never give a movie created in this mold a perfect rating no matter how much it made me laugh. So Hot Rod doesn't get a whole-hearted recommendation as it is fundamentally lacking some key elements it needs to tell an actual story, but if you like this kind of thing and want a good laugh then I'd strongly suggest you pick it up.

Eyes Wide Shut / Les yeux grand fermés (Bilingual) [Blu-ray]
Eyes Wide Shut / Les yeux grand fermés (Bilingual) [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Blu-Ray
Price: CDN$ 11.99
6 used & new from CDN$ 11.99

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kubrick's Final Film is Worth a Look on Blu-Ray, April 4 2008
Not to suggest that you can expect to see Kubrick's last film in a stunning new light on Blu-Ray, and although like any Blu-Ray it is certainly beautiful, by comparison to some other Blu-Rays, it is not an exceptional transfer. I've had a Hitachi 1080i plasma on my wall for about a year now and I finally got a Playstation 3 so I can buy and enjoy Blu-Rays. Unlike the switch from video to DVD, the upgrade to Blu-Ray doesn't necessarily mean I will have to start my movie collection all over again as I can play all of my DVDs as well, but I was prompted to buy Eyes Wide Shut (a DVD I do own) when I realized it was the unrated version only previously available in Europe. I thought that might mean it would be closer to what Kubrick intended Eyes Wide Shut to be, but the additional footage is really just some extra sexual content. I should clarify that it isn't really extra footage at all, it's just that a bunch of robed figures blocking our view from some naughty behavior in the American release were actually removed in this version so you can see the naughty behavior. I didn't even realize the figures were there and now I have to get my arms around the reasons why they were included to begin with. I don't know, perhaps if Mike Huckabee becomes president those mysterious robed figures will make a dramatic comeback. That might verify my suspicions.

Nevertheless, I'm not convinced this is what Kubrick intended Eyes Wide Shut to be, but contemplating what he did intend is fascinating to me. I actually consider Kubrick among my favorite directors, so this fascination is probably not as applicable to non-fans. Of his films, Eyes Wide Shut is, along with Barry Lyndon, his least appreciated and most criticized, although not by me. Eyes Wide Shut is actually one of my favorite Kubrick films. Even though it is not as cohesive as his others; it is, on the surface at least, among his most stylized. The interactions characters have are slow and deliberate and it gives the meaning behind each word and each frame more clarification. Many call this quality dreamlike and it is. Expressing reality doesn't seem to be a priority in Eyes Wide Shut and I wonder if the film was ever meant to be reality in the first place. Although the film is dreamlike per se, there is nothing at all to indicate that any of it was a dream. In fact, the presence of the cult mask on Alice and Bill's bed verifies the exact opposite. Still, I for one believe the style is absolutely intentional and that is supported by the meticulous photography in the film. Almost every shot seems like it was mulled over again and again. It is no wonder Kubrick had the reputation for doing almost a hundred takes. He was a perfectionist and, at least visually, Eyes Wide Shut has more moments of perfection than not. The acting is good too but really, the control Kubrick has is so evident that it is hard to credit the actors. However, Nicole Kidman is particularly strong.

With all that said, Eyes Wide Shut may seem otherworldly, but its psychological commentary on marital fidelity from the male perspective is very real. Dr. Bill Harford (Tom Cruise) is told by his wife Alice (Nicole Kidman) that she had at one time thought about having an affair. The paranoia, possibilities, and the trials he endures psychologically and in terms of his fidelity to her, are tested as he walks around New York City and guides us through his many surreal and outwardly sexual encounters. It is an exhibition of his gradual psychological breakdown after his wife shared her secret and all of his encounters seem to be taunting him in his fragile state. There's more than enough here to make it a great film and to connect almost all of the dots, however, some interesting conspiracy theories exist about the orgy cult that becomes the center of the film's climax. I'd recommend checking those out if you like this movie but I'm not going to reveal my opinion of them one way or the other.

With all of that said, I thought the characters themselves are normal and well-adjusted, so the commentary itself is even more significant. They are actually good people in a film about doing what is all too often perceived as bad things (i.e. sex). I'm sure there are good reasons not to like Eyes Wide Shut, but for the most part I thought it was unfairly reviewed because of the sexual content and the sexual commentary. We are so used to seeing nudity strictly used gratuitously, that it was easy to be cynical of its consistent use here, and that is just the visual sexual elements never mind what the film's deeper intentions are overall. I'm not surprised I guess because if the film has a flaw, it is that it's too cryptic at times. Either way, I think it's a great movie and it's nice to see this version released on the best technology we have.

The Seventh Seal: The Criterion Collection
The Seventh Seal: The Criterion Collection
DVD ~ Max von Sydow
Offered by MusicMoviesAndMore
Price: CDN$ 39.99
16 used & new from CDN$ 21.25

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Release of Bergman's Masterpiece, April 4 2008
Crusader, Antonious Block (Max Von Sydow) and his squire Jöns (Gunnar Björnstrand) have returned home after ten years. Unfortunately, thorough chaos and the black plague await them. Block himself comes face to face with a human manifestation of Death (Bengt Ekerot). Death has come for him and during Block's trials over the last ten years he has felt his faith in God diminish. Block challenges Death to a game of chess that plays on throughout the entire film. We wonder if his expectations are to actually outwit Death and survive. During his many interactions with Death he asks for true knowledge of God's existence and therefore some guidance as to his own. He is conflicted and to some degree he views the concept of God as merely an idol created to pacify fear and doom. These are just a few of the many insights that make their confrontation so enticing. Block's squire Jöns seems to acknowledge and exist in this oblivion and acts as humanity's voice of helplessness to Block. Block likely knows his death is forthcoming but is playing his game of chess as a way to delay the inevitable. The delay allows him to reunite with his wife and to further ponder on the existence of God. But most importantly, it is all a way for him to express and examine his utter dissatisfaction with the possibility that life has absolutely no meaning at all.

I was first exposed to some of Ingmar Bergman's work when I was in my teens. Back then I only thought I understood Bergman. I was wrong; with Bergman there is always some new guidance to provide further appreciation for life. Unfortunately, this outstanding director passed away in July of 2007. I felt obligated to buy Criterion's release of Bergman's masterpiece The Seventh Seal. I've seen the Seventh Seal three times. The first time without really paying attention but just kind of suspecting it was something special, this was years ago in my late teens. The other two times I watched it alone and both times I became consumed by it; once as a pious Christian and once as a skeptical agnostic. I saw the film in a dramatically different light with each viewing but yet it was still a great experience. Needless to say, if you've seen The Seventh Seal and not felt that your faith or lack thereof is being questioned and tugged at then you may need to watch it again. In the end, I found a satisfying resolution either way and the film is both personal and universal in it's commentary, so you may too. It is interesting to note that The Seventh Seal never tries to directly answer Block's questions and almost anyone could walk away satisfied with the conclusion. The Seventh Seal isn't necessarily about God and faith directly, but really just the aspects that produce them. The experience of life and finding comfort in our own personal existence is something only the ignorant or indifferent could look away from, and they may be the only ones unsatisfied with The Seventh Seal's conclusion. As a character Block is anything but ignorant or indifferent. He is more alive and passionate throughout the film because he knows full well he is in Death's grip and he wants to know if his actions in life are worth anything. This is a hugely significant film that tackles hugely significant subject matter and does so without preaching at us. It even uses some humor in doses at just the right time. I'm hopeful that one day a film like this could be produced again but somehow I see cinema going in a very different direction.

The DVD release itself is a very good one and I definitely recommend the Criterion release. The film has been restored enough to appreciate the cinematography for the time and budget, and there are also some great extras that really help to put Bergman's film career in perspective. I can honestly say that no film affected me like The Seventh Seal and I am a Bergman fan for life, with still much of his filmmography left to discover and enjoy. He will be sorely missed.

The Pillow Book [Import]
The Pillow Book [Import]
DVD ~ Vivian Wu
Offered by thebookcommunity_ca
Price: CDN$ 83.78
3 used & new from CDN$ 71.82

4.0 out of 5 stars One of Greenaway's More Accessible Movies, April 4 2008
This review is from: The Pillow Book [Import] (DVD)
I've always viewed Peter Greenaway as a bit of an outlaw of sorts. There was a time where I tried to appreciate his movies but found them pretentious, boring, and even somewhat gratuitous. As I've matured I've begun to understand that the depth in most of his pictures is real and the meaning behind the visuals worthwhile, though sometimes I wished it would come with a guide. In other words, it isn't always easy to understand Greenaway's movies. Also, so very few of them are on DVD and I can't figure out exactly why. One of his most notorious movies of all time; The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover, is on DVD but it's a hard one to get your hands on. Probably his most notorious movie to those who have seen it and know what it is, is the hate provoking Baby of Macon, and that one we may never see on DVD. My favorite films of his are Prospero's Books and Drowning by Numbers and they are not available either. That leaves me to review one of his movies that is on DVD, isn't always appreciated among Greenaway fans, but is probably his most accessible film yet. Accessible, probably because it stars the hugely talented mainstream actor Ewen McGregor.

The Pillow Book is a loose modernized telling of the memoirs of the same title written a thousand years ago by a woman who lived to serve a Japanese Empress. It follows Nagiko (Vivian Wu), a Japanese model exploring her cultural and sexual surroundings in modern Hong Kong. Jerome (Ewen McGregor), an English translator, is her favorite of multiple lovers. The two share their common interests in calligraphy, art, poetry, and mutual attraction. The betrayal they experience and the love they share is the superficial template for the first part of the film, but there are far more interesting things that develop as the film goes on. Talking about how the film progresses would reveal too many surprises but the story changes gears and focuses more on Nagiko's passion for her writing, which is really what she is most intensely devoted to at this point in the movie. Her father (Ken Ogata) influenced this passion back to when she was a child and her writings remained unpublished after being rejected by her father's rival, who, as the story treads forward seems to know how great her writing is. Greenaway's ability to understand and play with multi-cultural symbols is a key factor to the success of Nagiko as a character and his ability to mend her passions by the film's conclusion is a success in terms of the film's resolution.

Some filmmakers make confusing and cryptic movies (i.e. Jodoworsky, David Lynch) but for the most part it doesn't seem like it is as intentional as it is with Greenaway's movies. He is a very imaginative director that seems to want to challenge the viewer to understand where he is coming from, for better or worse. If you like that kind of film and the summary I've provided above sounds interesting to you then I would recommend The Pillow Book. Some would say Greenaway's movies are an acquired taste and I would agree. However, if you find yourself enjoying one of them then almost all of them are worth checking out.

Cloverfield [DVD] (2008)
Cloverfield [DVD] (2008)
Offered by Tons of Clay Music
Price: CDN$ 7.54
38 used & new from CDN$ 1.02

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely Compelling Monster Movie, April 4 2008
This review is from: Cloverfield [DVD] (2008) (DVD)
There are many things being said about Cloverfield and most of them are good. I don't want to retread many of the points other people have made, but because I saw this last night and absolutely loved it I'm probably going to cover some things that have already been said. Suffice to say, Cloverfield, along with perhaps the South Korean monster movie gem The Host, is without a doubt the best monster movie to come a long in a very long time. Were it not for the persistent "shaky" camera work criticisms it's getting, I would expect Cloverfield's reputation to enter the Jaws echelon in the coming years. It had reached that degree of horror and suspense for me but time will tell.

Cloverfield is intentionally framed in a very unique way. The audience becomes aware that what they are watching is supposed to be real recovered footage taken on the film's main character's camera. His name is Rob Hawkins and some of the earlier footage on the camera shows him with his girlfriend Beth. The more recent footage shows a surprise going-away party in Manhattan that Rob's friends and his brother Jason threw for him after he got a promotion. He is ultimately relocating to Japan. We find that Rob is no longer with his girlfriend at the time of the party, and just as Rob's friend Hud (the guy filming most of Cloverfield) and his brother talk him into patching things up with Beth, something goes very wrong in Manhattan. What happens after we meet these people, and maybe even begin to care about them for 84 minutes, is where the horror begins. I'm not going to say anything else about the film, because it is entirely worth seeing without knowing anymore than I have already revealed.

The comparison's to the William Castle-like marketing gimmicks of the Blair Witch Project a decade ago are fair comparisons in many respects, but given that movie's long-term unpopularity I think it is important to step in and acknowledge that Cloverfield is far different in many ways as well. I firmly believe it will have great longevity. It uses this sort of Cannibal Holocaust/Blair Witch Project style not as a way to market it to us as if it is real, but to merely place a monster movie in as realistic a frame as possible. For that, it does work. I don't think great acting was as necessary here for me because I wanted to believe it was real, so some of the acting that may have been bad was forgivable enough to forget. Although, Lizzy Caplan who played one of the main characters Marlena was actually very good. Call me a thrill-seeking cinephile searching hard for a scare, but I wanted to buy into Cloverfield and I was sold to it very quickly and very easily. No reason to be cynical when all I came to see was a fun monster movie. It is more than fair to say I got what I wanted.

Many critics are also mentioning the parallels with the attacks on 9/11. I think it was Ebert who said the film "evokes" 9/11 and that is right on point. It does evoke feelings during those attacks and I'm not sure if Cloverfield would have been filmed the same way without it. For many young American's the only similar large scale tragedy we have seen was thru the lense of a news camera on the day of those attacks, and Cloverfield uses that effectively to force us to empathize with a city under attack by a gargantuan monster. In Cloverfield we get the news coverage, the exploding buildings, the frantic behavior in not knowing what is happening and what could happen next, the poisonous dust from collapsed buildings filling the streets, and perhaps most iconic of all was the destruction of another New York landmark, the Statue of Liberty, which is handled by this monster in the exact same way Conan The Barbarian handled Thulsa Doom.

So there is more than one way to put this monster movie formula into a convincing paradigm and the makers of Cloverfield are quite resourceful in doing so. The film also somehow managed to tell a nice little story. There was a lot happening in Cloverfield and certainly more than enough to keep you very entertained for an hour and a half. It was a great cinematic experience and I offer my highest recommendation.

Eastern Promises / Les promesses de l'ombre (Bilingual) (Widescreen)
Eastern Promises / Les promesses de l'ombre (Bilingual) (Widescreen)
DVD ~ Viggo Mortensen
Offered by DealsAreUs
Price: CDN$ 14.69
39 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Less Than Mediocre Gangster Film, April 4 2008
It is always an uphill battle to criticize a great filmmaker like David Cronenberg (A History of Violence, Dead Ringers). Especially when he has two of the brightest actors around in Viggo Mortensen and Naomi Watts to work with. But somehow Eastern Promises managed to be a disappointment for me and I'm quite sure my negative opinion of it will not be popular, so I will defend it as effectively as I can. First though, let me provide a brief overview.

Anna Khitrova (Naomi Watts) works at a hospital in London. She oversees the death of a pregnant 14 year old Russian girl. The child survives and Anna is left with the girl's diary. It leads her to a restaurant owned by Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl), a Russian crime boss. Anna wants to track down this girl's family so she can find a safe place for the baby that survived. Anna's uncle helps to translate the diary and they discover some key secrets regarding Semyon and his son Kirill's (Vincent Cassel) crimes against the baby's dead mother. Kirill's sidekick is Nikolai Luzhin (Viggo Mortensen). Nikolai is enigmatic and cold but his potential has him rising quickly in rank for protecting the often irresponsible Kirill. Obviously there are some key plot points that are better left unrevealed.

The twists in Eastern Promises have been praised but really, place the film in New Jersey and make the gangsters Italian-Americans and sorpresa!, a predictable and formulaic mafia film. Although, the twists are certainly worth keeping secret and many viewers will probably find them to be enjoyable, they didn't work for me. I didn't predict them outright but it wasn't difficult to see the intentions that undermined each character and a twist seemed inevitable throughout. I actually felt a twist or two looming over the film the whole time. I also thought the major twist in the film's climax to be unconvincing altogether after it happened. And it wasn't just the twists that seemed like an ethnic proud mafia film all over again. The different cultural things Russian gangsters hold dear was no doubt an education to some but I was only a little interested and there is a scene at the restaurant were Semyon is enjoying some live music that was just too reminiscent of the tired clichés repeatedly borrowed over the years from the Godfather and other such films.

As far as the performances go, Viggo is great and so is his accent. Naomi Watts has never been bad in anything she has done, even when she was Jet Girl. I thought the remaining supporting cast was absolutely disposable despite what many others have said, and unfortunately I include Vincent Cassel here, who I really like. On a positive note, Cronenberg's pacing is strong and he once again enlists his favorite cinematographer, the incredibly talented Peter Suschitzky, to help the film look great.

Now, about the controversial naked Viggo fight scene. Cronenberg definitely wanted this scene to stand out and it does, but perhaps for the wrong reasons. Of course there is a double standard and that is almost forgivable, but if it were Naomi Watts in the naked fight scene the film would unquestionably have gained an NC-17 rating and earned a hardcore exploitation label right down there with the likes of Ilsa the She-Wolf of the SS. I'm probably guilty of adhering to the double standard too as the film might have received a higher rating for that. Not to knock the authenticity of the fight scene though, it was certainly compelling and original. I won't forget it for some time, that's for sure. All in all, I'm taking the high road from the status quo here. Eastern Promises did not work for me but it certainly may for some.

Eastern Promises (Full Screen)
Eastern Promises (Full Screen)
DVD ~ DVD
Offered by Warehouse105
Price: CDN$ 10.00
12 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Less Than Mediocre Gangster Film, April 4 2008
It is always an uphill battle to criticize a great filmmaker like David Cronenberg (A History of Violence, Dead Ringers). Especially when he has two of the brightest actors around in Viggo Mortensen and Naomi Watts to work with. But somehow Eastern Promises managed to be a disappointment for me and I'm quite sure my negative opinion of it will not be popular, so I will defend it as effectively as I can. First though, let me provide a brief overview.

Anna Khitrova (Naomi Watts) works at a hospital in London. She oversees the death of a pregnant 14 year old Russian girl. The child survives and Anna is left with the girl's diary. It leads her to a restaurant owned by Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl), a Russian crime boss. Anna wants to track down this girl's family so she can find a safe place for the baby that survived. Anna's uncle helps to translate the diary and they discover some key secrets regarding Semyon and his son Kirill's (Vincent Cassel) crimes against the baby's dead mother. Kirill's sidekick is Nikolai Luzhin (Viggo Mortensen). Nikolai is enigmatic and cold but his potential has him rising quickly in rank for protecting the often irresponsible Kirill. Obviously there are some key plot points that are better left unrevealed.

The twists in Eastern Promises have been praised but really, place the film in New Jersey and make the gangsters Italian-Americans and sorpresa!, a predictable and formulaic mafia film. Although, the twists are certainly worth keeping secret and many viewers will probably find them to be enjoyable, they didn't work for me. I didn't predict them outright but it wasn't difficult to see the intentions that undermined each character and a twist seemed inevitable throughout. I actually felt a twist or two looming over the film the whole time. I also thought the major twist in the film's climax to be unconvincing altogether after it happened. And it wasn't just the twists that seemed like an ethnic proud mafia film all over again. The different cultural things Russian gangsters hold dear was no doubt an education to some but I was only a little interested and there is a scene at the restaurant were Semyon is enjoying some live music that was just too reminiscent of the tired clichés repeatedly borrowed over the years from the Godfather and other such films.

As far as the performances go, Viggo is great and so is his accent. Naomi Watts has never been bad in anything she has done, even when she was Jet Girl. I thought the remaining supporting cast was absolutely disposable despite what many others have said, and unfortunately I include Vincent Cassel here, who I really like. On a positive note, Cronenberg's pacing is strong and he once again enlists his favorite cinematographer, the incredibly talented Peter Suschitzky, to help the film look great.

Now, about the controversial naked Viggo fight scene. Cronenberg definitely wanted this scene to stand out and it does, but perhaps for the wrong reasons. Of course there is a double standard and that is almost forgivable, but if it were Naomi Watts in the naked fight scene the film would unquestionably have gained an NC-17 rating and earned a hardcore exploitation label right down there with the likes of Ilsa the She-Wolf of the SS. I'm probably guilty of adhering to the double standard too as the film might have received a higher rating for that. Not to knock the authenticity of the fight scene though, it was certainly compelling and original. I won't forget it for some time, that's for sure. All in all, I'm taking the high road from the status quo here. Eastern Promises did not work for me but it certainly may for some.

Superbad: Unrated Extended Edition / Supermalades : Édition prolongée non classifée (Bilingual)
Superbad: Unrated Extended Edition / Supermalades : Édition prolongée non classifée (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Michael Cera
Price: CDN$ 4.88
28 used & new from CDN$ 1.23

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gratuitously Filthy and too Silly at Times, but Still Hilarious, April 4 2008
For the most part Superbad is full of comedy shortcuts and some language intended to shock. In other words, it didn't blow me away with its creativity and I suppose that is one reason I was very perplexed to see this film so widely praised by critics (i.e. Richard Roeper put this in his top ten of 2007). Another reason would be the fact that it is a pure comedy feature and films like that are skewered by critics of all kinds more often than not.

Superbad is produced by Judd Apatow, the hugely successful director of the 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up, and it is directed by Greg Mottola who previously worked on television's hilarious Arrested Development. It was written by Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg as additionally evident by the two protagonists names, Seth and Evan. Rogan also plays a local cop who adds some great laughs along with his partner played by the even funnier Bill Hader.

Evan (Michael Cera) and Seth (Jonah Hill) are high schools buddies in their senior year before going to attend different colleges. The whole story centers around their quest to illegally obtain alcohol and ration it among some peers at a high school party that Seth was invited to by his love interest Jules (Emma Stone). Seth insists that getting a girl drunk is the easiest way for him to get laid, hence the primary motive to get everyone drunk. Their friend Fogell (Chris Mintz-Plasse) has a fake ID that could help them in their quest but Fogell's ID has him with the single name of "McLovin'" and doesn't seem very convincing. Fogell is assaulted during a robbery of the liquor store where he was purchasing the drinks and the cops, played by Hader and Rogan, arrive to question him. Adventure ensues as Fogell travels around town with these two insane police officers. Separately, Evan and Seth continue their search for alcohol, assuming that Fogell got nabbed by the cops for buying alcohol underage.

I thought this film was at times intentionally dirty and overly derivative. I also didn't find the film to be remotely believable. The cops in particular were entirely too over the top and their antics bordered on cartoon-like at times, albeit still really funny. There are some really great moments of humor here but because the film goes too far now and then, the more genuine moments were in no way convincing to me and that is were Superbad falls short and it's dramatic moments essentially become meaningless. It's funny because I think Knocked Up was close to doing that too but the makers of Superbad want the viewer to suspend disbelief entirely, on their schedule, and only when it is convenient for them. That didn't really work for me but I laughed far too much during this movie to not give it a slight recommendation.

Palindromes
Palindromes
DVD ~ Jennifer Jason Leigh
Price: CDN$ 19.95
18 used & new from CDN$ 14.43

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As Provoking as it is Disturbing, April 4 2008
This review is from: Palindromes (DVD)
Todd Solondz (Happiness, Storytelling) is one of the most unique filmmakers of the last few decades and for my money, one of the most creative as well. He places American suburbia in the ugliest frame possible but manages to find some very dark humor within all the twisted sadness he portrays. He takes people we normally don't want to know and examines them intimately enough that we must chose wether we like them or hate them more than we could ever imagine. His latest film was 2004's Palindromes, and it is no exception to his style. Solondz does more of the same but it almost seems that with Palindromes he wanted to explore his themes and style with even more depth. Some viewers may think this means Palindromes is likely to be more disturbing, but really it is his style and his unrestrained creative madness that is more on display than the kind of content within his films that often justify his troubling reputation. Although, like Happiness, Solondz explores child molestation and sexual deviance further than anyone, and many will not want to join him on this ride.

Aviva (played by 8 different actors, including Jennifer Jason Leigh) is a thirteen year old girl that is profoundly sad and who has only one motivation in her life. She wishes to have a child so she may be loved by someone for the rest of her life. She decides that in order to have a child she will have sex with an unsavory family friend named Judah. Aviva's mother (Ellen Barkin) is devastated to find that Aviva is pregnant and orders her to get an abortion. The doctor informs Aviva's parents that she is no longer capable of having children after the procedure, but her parents never actually inform Aviva of this complication. She soon runs away from home to continue her quest to have a child. She has sex with a pedofile truck driver who then abandons her. Aviva's travels then bring her to a Christian fundamentalist group who cares for misfits kids without a home. The head of this group is also involved in organizing the assassinations of doctors at abortion clinics, and one of his associates is the same pedofile truck driver who Aviva had relations with earlier in the film. She is of course drawn to him again. The truck driver, whose name is eventually revealed to be Bob, despite his constant need to use aliases and try to change what he is and what he is perceived as, is assigned to kill the doctor who completed Aviva's procedure. Aviva goes with him and Bob accidently murders the doctor's young daughter in addition to killing the doctor. He feels terrible for this and expresses how stupid it was for him to think that actions like that could change what he is. By the film's end Aviva reunites with Judah, who now calls him self Otto. She has sex with him again, completely oblivious to the fact that she cannot have a child.

There are a few different reasons I think Solondz decided to use seven actresses and one young actor to portray Aviva. For one, the obvious stand against convention is a Solondz trademark. The diversity of the group that plays Aviva is also wide and perhaps more provoking for that alone. So each actor was probably cast without regard for visuals and more for their performance in their particular scenes. The primary reason I think Solondz did this though was to show that no matter what you look like on the outside you can't change what you are. Aviva will always be Aviva no matter what she looks like on the surface. Even if you spell her name backwards she will always be Aviva and Aviva will always want a child to call her mom.

Troy (Director's Cut) [Blu-ray] (Bilingual)
Troy (Director's Cut) [Blu-ray] (Bilingual)
Price: CDN$ 7.96
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hollywood's Enormous Trojan War Looks Amazing on Blu-Ray, April 4 2008
I'm really going to forgive some massive fundamental flaws and applaud this fun epic popcorn flick. Obviously, and it is assumed that like many cinephiles, I have a major problem with Troy's very existence to the core. Consider for a minute that the likes of Braveheart and Alexander are called "historical fiction" but they are based on people we know existed. Troy is based on the Iliad but it works in such a way that the audience is possibly being urged to believe these were real events. So the film in essence is based on the possible events that took place during the Trojan War. In fact, it doesn't even stay particularly true to the Iliad but it does try to capture the icons associated with the Trojan War and at the very least it keeps in tone with the Iliad, especially with regards to the violence in its battle sequences and the portrayal of Achilles' wrath. However, no gods or mythical figures to speak of and that is, at the very least an indirect attempt to steer the audience from believing that this is fiction. Maybe it is just because so many other epic films released are based on some degree of truth. Troy is based on myths and that's alright if you want to portray it that way. 2004's King Arthur had the same problem but with less CGI. Troy has a lot of CGI and it cost $180 million to make. They didn't need to stretch so far for believability but like I said, some movies are just worth forgiving. This is eye candy; it is Hollywood to the bone.

Nevertheless, I liked Troy and it looks incredible on blu-ray. The director's cut includes extra battle cuts, extra nudity, and it even has some scenes that assist in character development. The extra footage is actually seamless and makes the movie far longer but also far better and if there is an epic film made for superior visual technology like blu-ray, Troy is just that film. There is no pretending here, Troy is a true Hollywood production and I actually mean that with at least some degree of affection. The cast is great and includes of course Brad Pitt as the seemingly invincible and infinitely angry Achilles, Brian Cox as one of the film's real villains in Agamemnon, Eric Bana plays the heroic Trojan warrior Hector, Sean Bean plays Odysseus, Peter O'Toole plays Priam with fitting melodrama, Tyler Mane plays the chaotic and violent Ajax, and the very beautiful Diane Kruger plays Helen; the face that launched a thousand ships, or was it her breasts? All are good in their roles but no one seems to take themselves too seriously and for the most part their performances, or in some cases just their presence, work within the film.

The battle scenes in Troy are huge and absolutely second to none. There are tons of battle scenes within this 196 minute Director's cut and they just keep on going while getting more and more exciting and out of control. The soundtrack for Troy is clearly an upgrade from the theatrical version and makes the battle scenes seem even larger as it booms and powers in and out of great sky shots over the beginnings, middles, and ends of various battles. The cinematography and visual effects, whether the fake kind or the real kind, look absolutely amazing on blu-ray and the great shots never cease in Troy. The music is huge, the drama is huge, and the visuals are even bigger. It is visually one of the most impressive blu-rays so far and that is because it is a visually driven film to begin with. Troy truly is epic in every sense of the word. Well, except for that whole idea of it being based on an epic poem.

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