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K. Gordon
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The Boxtrolls [Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD] (Bilingual)
The Boxtrolls [Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD] (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Elle Fanning
Price: CDN$ 22.99
9 used & new from CDN$ 18.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent blend of the silly and sophisticated., Feb. 24 2015
Delightful, funny, wildly inventive and politically astute, "The Boxtrolls" is like what you might have gotten if Monty Python had made a kid's stop-motion animated fable that was tremendously adult friendly. (Indeed, Eric Idle penned a very funny song for the film). It's full of good puns, bad puns, witty lines, and trenchant but not overbearing social satire about class, rich people, greed, stigmatizing of anyone 'different' and ugly mob mentality.

It was made with wonderfully original, painterly, sometimes beautiful and always playful visuals, that give it a unique look and feel.

The story is simple, a gang of Boxtrolls, odd little creatures that live in abandoned boxes the way hermit crabs take on abandoned shells, is terrorizing the small English town of Cheesebridge, where – for some odd reason - many are obsessed with cheese. The town reacts to these ugly ducklings as dangerous, but really they're more resourceful and sweet then most of the town's inhabitants, who would gladly exterminate these 'pests' without a moment's thought. The Boxtrolls are blamed for kidnapping and eating a young human boy, but really they've raised the child as one of their own, and now, as an adolescent, 'Eggs' tries to bridge the gap between the worlds.

The voice acting is all excellent, with Ben Kingsley earning special note as a terrific villain, his voice unrecognizable.

Critical reaction to this was somewhat mixed, but it all worked really well for me. A lovely blend of silly and sophisticated.

Inherent Vice / Vice Cache (Bilingual)
Inherent Vice / Vice Cache (Bilingual)
Price: CDN$ 18.88

4.0 out of 5 stars Even after 2 viewings, this is the Paul Thomas Anderson film I've struggled most with., Feb. 18 2015
I think Anderson is amazing, one of the few directors of our time who can touch film-makers like Kubrick. But while the film is full of wonderful camera-work, production design and performances, and there are some very funny scenes, I couldn't quite get my head around the thing. I get that's the point, and that while Thomas Pynchon's novel has the outer form of a detective story, it's not really about plot but about mood and playful mind-games, details and surreal moments. But somehow the lack of tonal focus made it hard for me to get lost in it's rhythms.

Feeling like a goofy comedy one minute, a subtle satiric elegy for a hippie age that was never quite as fun as we'd like to remember the next, and a story driven detective noir the next, I found myself not getting engaged in the way I kept wanting to.

Given the talents involved, my huge admiration for Anderson, and the generally great critical reaction, I'm open to the idea that I'm missing something. And there are a lot of moments that echo with me, from Josh Brolin's truly gonzo, but yet also somehow understated performance as an uptight, straight-laced cop who is a lot more complex and messed up then he'd like to admit, to the very long single take seduction scene between Joaquin Phoenix and Katherine Waterston that is uncomfortable, sexy, repellent, real, a fantasy and beautifully acted all at the same time.

It's certainly a film worth seeing, but for the first time with an Anderson film I felt locked on the outside looking in, feeling a little sheepish and a little dumb.

Boardwalk Empire: The Complete First Season (Bilingual) [Blu-ray] (Sous-titres français)
Boardwalk Empire: The Complete First Season (Bilingual) [Blu-ray] (Sous-titres français)
DVD ~ Steve Buscemi
Price: CDN$ 42.49
2 used & new from CDN$ 42.49

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully made series, Feb. 9 2015
While it doesn’t have quite the depth, and emotional power of The Wire, Breaking Bad or The Sopranos, its epic view of prohibition era Atlantic City is a wonderfully acted and directed, beautifully production designed and photographed and intelligently written.

It takes a different tack than The Godfather or The Sopranos; it doesn’t focus on the gangster experience as the dark side of the struggling US immigrant dream, the outgrowth of trying to care for your family in a society that places material wealth above all. Steve Buscemi’s Nucky Thompson is already at the top, and he’d rather stay on top through political smarts and manipulation than violence when he can. He’s not an everyman, not a family man. He’s a loner who tried to bury his humanity when his wife died, and now focuses on growing his position as the real power in Atlantic City. He’s not obsessed with honor or codes. He’s more interested in being behind the throne than the focus of the headlines. A man of immense practicality. A charming, smooth, sophisticated businessman who happens to be utterly corrupt and utterly powerful. He’s a great anti-hero for now, when the villains of society are running the corporate-political machinery, not the neigborhood.

It’s also different from it’s predecessors in that its truly an ensemble piece. Nucky may be at the center, but we get to know a huge number of fascinating and well-drawn characters in surprising depth. The series is more mosaic than character study (one of the reasons it’s not really an emotional experience).

I resisted the show the first time through, because it lacked the kind of strange empathy that anti-hero shows like Breaking Bad and Sopranos traded in, But on second viewing, knowing that it was doing something closer to “Nashville” in it’s brilliant if distanced overview of a moment and place in America, I was able to be completely caught up and absorbed in its tremendous attention to detail, and richness of character

Boardwalk Empire: The Complete First Season [Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy] (Sous-titres français)
Boardwalk Empire: The Complete First Season [Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy] (Sous-titres français)
DVD ~ Steve Buscemi
Price: CDN$ 50.99
17 used & new from CDN$ 45.95

5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully made series, Feb. 9 2015
While it doesn’t have quite the depth, and emotional power of The Wire, Breaking Bad or The Sopranos, its epic view of prohibition era Atlantic City is a wonderfully acted and directed, beautifully production designed and photographed and intelligently written.

It takes a different tack than The Godfather or The Sopranos; it doesn’t focus on the gangster experience as the dark side of the struggling US immigrant dream, the outgrowth of trying to care for your family in a society that places material wealth above all. Steve Buscemi’s Nucky Thompson is already at the top, and he’d rather stay on top through political smarts and manipulation than violence when he can. He’s not an everyman, not a family man. He’s a loner who tried to bury his humanity when his wife died, and now focuses on growing his position as the real power in Atlantic City. He’s not obsessed with honor or codes. He’s more interested in being behind the throne than the focus of the headlines. A man of immense practicality. A charming, smooth, sophisticated businessman who happens to be utterly corrupt and utterly powerful. He’s a great anti-hero for now, when the villains of society are running the corporate-political machinery, not the neigborhood.

It’s also different from it’s predecessors in that its truly an ensemble piece. Nucky may be at the center, but we get to know a huge number of fascinating and well-drawn characters in surprising depth. The series is more mosaic than character study (one of the reasons it’s not really an emotional experience).

I resisted the show the first time through, because it lacked the kind of strange empathy that anti-hero shows like Breaking Bad and Sopranos traded in, But on second viewing, knowing that it was doing something closer to “Nashville” in it’s brilliant if distanced overview of a moment and place in America, I was able to be completely caught up and absorbed in its tremendous attention to detail, and richness of character

Archer: The Complete Season 3
Archer: The Complete Season 3
DVD ~ Judy Greer
Price: CDN$ 9.99
33 used & new from CDN$ 9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The season where the show started hitting it's peak, Feb. 7 2015
This has some of the absurdist, insane feel of 'Sealab' or 'Venture Brothers', but also grounds it in richer characters.

By nature this kind of wild, raunchy, ribald, gross, un-PC, very clever joke a second romp is going to be a hit or miss affair, but the batting average in 'Archer' is surprisingly high, and a lot of the wordplay is really sharp.

The show grows each season, getting ever funnier, and having the characters and situations branch out in some great unexpected ways. From what started out in season 1 feeling like it would be a one joke idea that would quickly wear out, this somehow found a way to transcend and use the audience familiarity with the characters not to just repeat the same jokes, but to walk a great tightrope of giving what is expected, but then finding a way to just push it one step further. By season 3 the show is really consistently full of surreal hilarity.

Another big plus here is the voice acting. The whole cast is terrific, as are the many guest stars that show up. The fun they all seem to be having doing the show is infectious, and they manage to give their characters a surprising amount of range. Special credit has to be given to H. Jon Benjamin, along with the writers, for making the egotistical idiot of a lead not only very funny, but somehow also likable enough that he never wears out his welcome.

If you like animated insanity, this is very much worth checking out to see if it's for you.

Archer: The Complete Fourth Season
Archer: The Complete Fourth Season
DVD ~ H. Jon Benjamin
Price: CDN$ 21.98
27 used & new from CDN$ 17.20

5.0 out of 5 stars Often extremely funny animated spy spoof. A great season., Feb. 7 2015
This has some of the absurdist, insane feel of 'Sealab' or 'Venture Brothers', but also grounds it in richer characters.

By nature this kind of wild, raunchy, ribald, gross, un-PC, very clever joke a second romp is going to be a hit or miss affair, but the batting average in 'Archer' is surprisingly high, and a lot of the wordplay is really sharp.

The show grows each season, getting ever funnier, and having the characters and situations branch out in some great unexpected ways. From what started out in season 1 feeling like it would be a one joke idea that would quickly wear out, this somehow found a way to transcend and use the audience familiarity with the characters not to just repeat the same jokes, but to walk a great tightrope of giving what is expected, but then finding a way to just push it one step further. By season 3 the show is really consistently full of surreal hilarity.

Another big plus here is the voice acting. The whole cast is terrific, as are the many guest stars that show up. The fun they all seem to be having doing the show is infectious, and they manage to give their characters a surprising amount of range. Special credit has to be given to H. Jon Benjamin, along with the writers, for making the egotistical idiot of a lead not only very funny, but somehow also likable enough that he never wears out his welcome.

If you like animated insanity, this is very much worth checking out to see if it's for you.

Archer: The Complete Season Two
Archer: The Complete Season Two
Price: CDN$ 9.99
31 used & new from CDN$ 6.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Often extremely funny animated spy spoof series, Feb. 7 2015
The creator of this series called it 'Arrested Development meets a spy spoof'. a pretty good sun up. This has some of the absurdist, insane
feel of 'Sealab' or 'Venture Brothers', but also grounds it in richer characters.

By nature this kind of wild, raunchy, ribald, gross, un-PC, very clever joke a second romp is going to be a hit or miss affair, but the batting average in 'Archer' is surprisingly high, and a lot of the wordplay is really sharp.

The show grows each season, getting ever funnier, and having the characters and situations branch out in some great unexpected ways. From what started out in season 1 feeling like it would be a one joke idea that would quickly wear out, this somehow found a way to transcend and use the audience familiarity with the characters not to just repeat the same jokes, but to walk a great tightrope of giving what is expected, but then finding a way to just push it one step further.

Another big plus here is the voice acting. The whole cast is terrific, as are the many guest stars that show up. The fun they all seem to be having doing the show is infectious, and they manage to give their characters a surprising amount of range. Special credit has to be given to H. Jon Benjamin, along with the writers, for making the egotistical idiot of a lead not only very funny, but somehow also likable enough that he never wears out his welcome.

If you like animated insanity, this is very much worth checking out to see if it's for you.

Archer: The Complete Season One
Archer: The Complete Season One
DVD ~ H. Jon Benjamin
Price: CDN$ 9.99
39 used & new from CDN$ 6.48

4.0 out of 5 stars Often extremely funny animated spy spoof series, Feb. 7 2015
This has some of the absurdist, insane feel of 'Sealab' or 'Venture Brothers', but also grounds it in richer characters.

By nature this kind of wild, raunchy, ribald, gross, un-PC, very clever joke a second romp is going to be a hit or miss affair, but the batting average in 'Archer' is surprisingly high, and a lot of the wordplay is really sharp.

The show grows each season, getting ever funnier, and having the characters and situations branch out in some great unexpected ways. From what started out in season 1 feeling like it would be a one joke idea that would quickly wear out, this somehow found a way to transcend and use the audience familiarity with the characters not to just repeat the same jokes, but to walk a great tightrope of giving what is expected, but then finding a way to just push it one step further.

Another big plus here is the voice acting. The whole cast is terrific, as are the many guest stars that show up. The fun they all seem to be having doing the show is infectious, and they manage to give their characters a surprising amount of range. Special credit has to be given to H. Jon Benjamin, along with the writers, for making the egotistical idiot of a lead not only very funny, but somehow also likable enough that he never wears out his welcome.

If you like animated insanity, this is very much worth checking out to see if it's for you, and hanging in past some of the slightly weaker early episodes where the show was just finding its way.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang [Blu-ray]
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Jr. Robert Downey
Price: CDN$ 8.00
38 used & new from CDN$ 6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Fun, well acted, slightly surreal comedy/mystery, Feb. 1 2015
This unfairly overlooked if sometimes uneven parody of detective and noir films (that has moments of feeling like a real thriller itself) is extremely well acted.

It's no surprise that Robert Downey is a lot of snarky-but-lovable fun as a NYC small time thief brought out to L.A. to test for the lead in a film after a series of bizarre twists. What did catch me off guard was Val Kilmer matching Downey laugh for laugh and sharp edge for sharp edge as a gay Los Angeles private detective who takes Downey under his wing. The two make an improbable but very entertaining pair.

It's also nice that writer/director Shane Black and actress Michelle Monaghan make something a little more fun and complicated of 'the girl' than simply someone who looks good while waiting for Downey to get busy and kiss her.

The plot of the mystery itself has got a number of gaping holes and silly coincidences, and it lacks a real of feeling of danger, but the film has a breezy charm and quick witted, inventive, self-mocking intelligence that just about renders the fact that the detective story doesn't really work a moot point.

Beyond the Fringe
Beyond the Fringe
DVD ~ Alan Bennett
Offered by M and N Media Canada
Price: CDN$ 197.71
10 used & new from CDN$ 99.99

4.0 out of 5 stars An important piece of comedy history, Jan. 31 2015
This review is from: Beyond the Fringe (DVD)
While some of the sketches have dated badly, and others lack the invention of the best, this is the only way to see a version of the 4 man theatrical revue 'Beyond the Fringe' which has got some inspired pieces of absurdity and satirical lunacy.

A huge success in the early 60s, 'Fringe' had a major influence on Monty Python, and by extension much of modern comedy. A very young Peter Cook and Dudley Moore teamed up with leading British playwright and screenwriter to be Alan Bennett, and Jonathan Miller, who went on to, among other things, produce and direct some stunning versions of Shakespeare for the BBC.

But here they playfully skewer many of societies sacred cows, with everything from a tremendously funny send up of Shakespeare, to Dudley Moore doing some amazing comic work at the piano, to a very, very funny interview piece with Moore interviewing Cook as a head of Scotland Yard about the Great Train Robbery. Cook is hysterical as the obviously incompetent official, and you can hear the kind of absurdist wordplay John Cleese or Graham Chapman would be doing as some officious character just a few years later.

The DVD transfer of this black and white TV special is pretty awful, hard to see at times, clearly damaged at moments, sound levels all over, etc. But it's more than worth it for the brilliant wit on display, and the opportunity to see this piece of comedy history.

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