Month: January 2015

The Judge Review

The Judge (2014)

Dir: David Dobkin

It must be odd to be the highest paid actor in the world. That’s the position Robert Downey Jr. found himself in after striking gold as the fast-talking Tony Stark in the Iron Man and Avengers franchises (and soon Captain America’s movies as well). After a spectacular comeback that rivals any in Hollywood, Downey now seemingly has the world at his fingertips and opted to spend some of that hard-earned cachet as producer and star of the legal drama The Judge. (more…)

Documentary Review Roundup: The Case Against 8, Finding Vivian Maier & Mistaken For Strangers

Thanks to Toronto Film Scene and Bloor Hot Docs  I recently had the chance to see a slew of good-to-great documentaries. One of those was the stellar and inspiring 20,000 Days on Earth which really stretched the idea of a documentary by following a script for much of its runtime. Below are three more traditionally structured documentaries, all of which illuminate a different facet of the human condition with varying results. (more…)

American Sniper Review

American Sniper (2014)

Dir: Clint Eastwood

Based on the ostensibly true story of the deadliest American sniper in history, Clint Eastwood’s latest film proves to be another above-average entry in the burgeoning War On Terror genre (after last year’s similarly-themed Lone Survivor). A considerably bulked-up Bradley Cooper stars as Chris Kyle, a sniper so deadly he earned both the title “Legend” from his U.S. comrades and a six-figure bounty on his head from jihadist foes. (more…)

Tusk Review

Tusk (2014)

Dir: Kevin Smith

Some artists follow an elusive muse, letting their unique worldview guide their work as they freely adapt source material. Stanley Kubrick always liked to take an existing novel or short story that was mediocre (he claimed Lolita was the only masterpiece he adapted) and try to improve it. Alfonso Cuarón was struck by the unique image of a woman cradling a newborn baby amidst a raging battle, and ended up building Children of Men (another adaptation) around this one scene. And then there’s Kevin Smith. (more…)

Selma Review

Selma (2014)

Dir: Ava DuVernay

Sometimes films capture the Zeitgeist by being prescient or forward-thinking, and sometimes they simply luck into the role. Last month The Interview became an unlikely lightning rod for freedom of expression when North Korea sought to stymie its release and the public pushed back (whether the end result was worth the battle is debatable), while 12 Years a Slave proved that in 2013 race was still very much an issue in Obama’s America (and elsewhere), and there are still important and untold stories from U.S.A.’s checkered past. (more…)

Inherent Vice Review

Inherent Vice (2014)

Dir: Paul Thomas Anderson

Writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson seems of a different time; a man who has more in common with his heroes Robert Altman and Robert Downey Sr. than any of his contemporaries. Cribbing from those two masters, Anderson’s wistful, hilarious and sprawling Boogie Nights was a sympathetic love letter to 1970’s porn and the makeshift families that the lovable losers of that world formed. (more…)

Big Hero 6 Review

Big Hero 6 (2014)

Dirs: Don Hall, Chris Williams

There’s no two ways about it – there’s a glut of superhero movies right now with even more in the pipeline. With Marvel/Disney (owners of the main Marvel Cinematic Universe including The Avengers and its offshoots) announcing their plans through the next five years, Warner/DC (Superman, Batman and more) scheduling their next ten movies, and additional properties from Fox (Fantastic Four) and Sony (Spider-man) forthcoming, you’d be forgiven for feeling some superhero fatigue (here’s a handy chart to help you keep them straight). (more…)

20,000 Days on Earth Review

20,000 Days on Earth (2014)

Dirs: Iain Forsyth, Jane Pollard

In the prescient reality TV satire The Truman Show the lead character’s life is secretly filmed and broadcast worldwide as the most popular show on Earth. Oblivious to having lived his entire life in public, a seminal moment in the film occurs when Truman turns 10,000 days old (27 years and a bit), leading towards a path of self-discovery and enlightenment. In contrast, singer-writer-performer Nick Cave has lived most of his life knowingly in the spotlight but has often zealously guarded his privacy. (more…)

The Best Films of 2014

(and by “Best” I mean my favourites)

2014 was an amazing year of movies for a number of reasons. There seemed to be more quality films than any other recent year – perhaps since 2007 or even 1999 – and more surprising still was that they weren’t all released in the fall and winter, but rather spread out across a whole year of cinematic richness (for proof check out the Best of Summer 2014 Arthouse and Blockbusters, many of which appear here). (more…)