Knocked Up

Just got back from seeing the new Judd Apatow movie “Knocked Up”. I really enjoyed it. It made me jealous because it’s exactly the kind of movie I’d like to make. Smart, funny, grown up. I would have made it 15 minutes shorter, though.

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Rob’s Film Rankings for 2006

Below is a pretty complete list of all the year-2006 movies I watched:

These first ten movies are the ones I enjoyed the most.  They are ranked from favourite down.  Of course, a “Favourites” list is always a fluid thing, so the order would change from day to day.  Still, I think these top ten would remain in my top ten, even if the order might change, whimsically.


The following list are movies that I quite liked, but not quite enough to make my Top Ten.  They are not ranked.


The next list are movies I more or less enjoyed, but were nothing special.


This list are movies I watched and liked okay.  Some of them I had to search harder for likability than others.


These final movies are 2006 movies that I didn’t really enjoy very much.


50 Films To See Before You Die

The Sunday Mail offers a list of 50 movies to see before you die.  If I don’t watch them all, then does that mean I’ll never die?

Without debating what’s missing, what shouldn’t be listed, it’s a pretty good list of films.  The ones I’ve seen are in bold.

1 Apocalypse Now

2 The Apartment

3 City of God

4 Chinatown

5 Sexy Beast

6 2001: A Space Odyssey

7 North by Northwest

8 A Bout de Souffle

9 Donnie Darko

10 Manhattan

11 Alien

12 Lost in Translation

13 The Shawshank Redemption

14 Lagaan: Once Upon A Time in India

15 Pulp Fiction

16 Touch of Evil

17 Walkabout

18 Black Narcissus

19 Boyzn the Hood

20 The Player

21 Come and See

22 Heavenly Creatures

23 A Night at the Opera

24 Erin Brockovich

25 Trainspotting

26 The Breakfast Club

27 Hero

28 Fanny and Alexander

29 Pink Flamingos

30 All About Eve

31 Scarface

32 Terminator 2

33 Three Colours: Blue

34 The Royal Tenen-baums

35 The Ladykillers (I assume they mean the original?  Either way, I’m covered.)

36 Fight Club

37 The Searchers

38 Mulholland

39 The Ipcress File

40 The King of Comedy

41 Manhunter

42 Dawn of the Dead

43 Princess Mononoke

44 Raising Arizona

45 Cabaret

46 This Sporting Life

47 Brazil

48 Aguirre: The Wrath of God

49 Secrets and Lies

50 Badlands.

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Faster Than A Speeding Bullet Review of Superman Returns

  •  Brandon Routh was great as Superman/Clark Kent.
  •  I didn’t care for the woman who played Lois Lane.  While I have no complaints about her quality
    of acting, I didn’t believe for a moment that her character was a journalist.  She needed to be someone a bit older looking,
    less coiffed and more world-weary looking, I think.  What’s-Her-Name from the Mummy movies would
    have been great, if she was younger.
  •  I wanted to hear some of her Pulitzer Prize winning
    article “Why The World Doesn’t Need Superman”, and was disappointed that they
    didn’t give me anything from it.
  •  I hated the scene in the airplane where Lois Lane was part of the gaggle of
    journalists, and the lone camera kept panning back from her (when she asked a
    question) to the person holding the press conference.  Wouldn’t the camera remain focused on latter,
    rather than pan between the two?  That
    really bugged me.
  •  Kevin Spacey’s Lex Luthor was a disappointment to me.  I wanted him to be either more campy, or less
    campy.  The amount of camp he gave the performance
    was too middling and ended up being un-noteworthy. 
  •  I also found his “evil scheme” to be beyond ludicrous and
  •  Parker Posey had a great amount of camp to her character, but
    since nobody really rose their bars to her level, it seemed kind of out of
    place with it.
  •  I appreciated the performance of Lois Lane’s husband.  Lots of subtle things happening there, I
    thought, and he ended up being a super kind of guy, too.
  •  I didn’t appreciate the performance of the kid who played
    the son.  And I didn’t like that “surprise”
    plot-twist that I never saw coming a million miles away (all the way from
    Krypton, perhaps?)
  •  I began to get really bugged when, after surviving
    catastrophe upon catastrophe, each time Lois Lane would end up back at the Daily
    Planet offices, looking refreshed and absolutely raring to go again,
    unconcerned with the psychological ramifications of the near-death experiences
    she had just gone through.  A little bit
    of realism in this respect (from all the characters) would have really helped me
    enjoy it more.
  •  The plot seemed to move as slow as the rough beast that
    slouches towards Bethlehem. 
  •  Far too frigging long.  And too slow-paced

 All that being said, I still enjoyed it okay.

Darth Vader (nee) Skywalker

Here’s a question that I have had for awhile, and don’t have the desire to go to the source and find an answer for.  Maybe someone who reads this will know the answer.

In Star Wars, Episode 4 (you know, the first Star Wars), is there an on-screen moment when Darth Vader learns that the kid (in which the Force is strong) is named “Skywalker”?   And, if so, does Vader react in any way that would indicate that the name Skywalker has special meaning for him?
Anyone know?  Or speculate?

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Butch, Sundance & Pamela Anderson

You may remember a couple of months ago, I was approached by a sort of grassroots marketing company and asked if I’d be interested in reviewing the newly released DVD of Pamela Anderson and posting it to my blog.  Of course you remember.  This blog is very important to you.  Anyway, I said I’d be delighted to do that (no qualms here about being a shill for the Hollywood machine).  So they sent me the DVD and I watched it, and posted what I thought was a fairly un-shill like review.  I’m not going to bother to find the post and provide a link to it, because somehow that implies these posts have worth.  And while I suspect a number of readers get disconsolate if I don’t post something fresh for them to read each day, and they would argue that these posts do have worth, at least to them, I prefer to think of these posts as empty vessels.
So, I reviewed it and that was that.  Until today, when the same company emails me and asks if I’d be interested in presenting another review.  Whereas last time I had to trek through the sludge of comedy that focused far too much on Miss Anderson’s gaping beaver (alleged)  (Alleged gaping, not alleged beaver, because I think we’re all pretty sure she’s not got dangling participles down there), this time I may have struck gold.  I’ll be sent a DVD of a new collector’s edition of one of my favourite movies:  Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

And just now, having re-read those last couple of sentences, I realise how sad and pathetic it is to create a post about how one is excited about the anticipation of receiving a free DVD in return for being something of a corporate whore.
No.  I will not allow myself to fall for that kind of talk.  I am a valued member of the critical press.  My opinion is cherished.

It is also for sale.  If anyone else wants to send me stuff in return for my honest opinion of it, I’ll gladly listen to your offers.  Perhaps you have a photo you took, and you have no idea if it’s Art.  Send it to me, and I’ll tell you.  Maybe you’re in charge of soliciting low-ranking bloggers for their opinions on how well the latest video iPod works.  Send me one, and I’ll tell the world what I think.  Maybe you sell frozen beefsteak from the western provinces and are trying to get a foothold here in Eastern Canada.  Ship some steaks my way and I’ll cook ’em up and eat ’em.  Then I’ll tell the great multitudes of readers (conservatively estimated now at at least tens of ones) whether they’re worth purchasing.

A Professor Van Helsing Movie Quiz Answered

My pal, DaveS, pointed me towards this interesting movie quiz.  If you like movies, and feel so compelled, how about filling out your responses to the questions (I’ll post them in order at the end of this post so you can copy and paste, if you want) and putting them in the comments section here?
You don’t have to, but you might enjoy it.  I found I got more enjoyment in coming up with my responses than I thought I would.

It can be found here:


     1) What film made you angry,
either while watching it or in thinking about it afterward?

One film that made me angry as
I watched it was Waiting…  I could only
take a couple of minutes of that shit.   Another teeth-clencher was Master of
.  I couldn’t leave, because my
son was enjoying it.  Ugh.

A film that I tolerated as I
watched it was Crash, but then really, really grew to dislike it afterwards, as
I thought more about it, and as I saw the praise that was heaped on it.

2) Favorite sidekick

While I don’t think of them as
films, because I’ve only seen them on TV, Warner Bros. shorts are, I believe, acceptable
fodder for this quiz.  Therefore, I’d
say, without question, my favourite sidekick is Daffy Duck.  Although, I suspect he’d take issue with
being labeled as such.

3) One of your favorite movie lines

It was kind of a bachelor party
weekend for me, and I was in Halifax
with a couple of buddies.  We went to an
evening screening of The Untouchables. 
At the end of the movie, the reporter character asks Elliot Ness
(paraphrasing): “They say they may repeal the prohibition laws, Mr. Ness.  What will you do?”  Ness says “I
think I’ll have a drink.”  At the end of
a great movie, and with the prospect of an evening of drinking ahead of us,
that line really struck a chord with me, and was a great kick-start to the

Other than that, there are at
least two-dozen lines from Raising Arizona
that I could easily list as among my favourites.

4) William Holden or Burt Lancaster?

I’d have to go with Holden,
only because I’m not familiar with much of Lancaster’s stuff.  And my memories of Burt focus more on his
more recent “old man” roles, which isn’t fair.  The few roles I’ve seen Holden in, I thought
he was good.  

 5) Describe a perfect moment in
a movie

I hate to cite a moment from a
movie I was involved in making, but I really think I have to:

The movie is Florid, about four
street people, in the dead of winter on PEI,
trying to raise enough funds to move to Florida
so they can bum there.  At one point, Ed
Rashed’s character is standing, in the cold, in front of the Arts Guild,
bumming money.  Laurie Murphy walks by,
but is stopped by Ed’s question:  “Spare
some change for a coffee?”  Laurie looks
at him in a somewhat disapproving manner. 
She knows what he’d do with any money she gave him.  So, she says, in perfect condescension, “No,
but if you come with me, I’ll buy you a cup of coffee.”  Ed gives her a bitter, bitter look and says
“Fuck off!” as he turns away from her. 
Laurie, shaking her head, simply walks off.

6) Favorite John Ford movie

Of the few John Ford movies
I’ve seen, I’d say The Quiet Man would be my favourite.

7) The inverse of a question from the last quiz: What film artist (director,
actor, screenwriter, whatever) has the least–deserved good reputation,
artistically speaking. And who would you replace him/her with on that pedestal?

I’m not a fan of the acting of
two actors:  Julia Roberts and Rene
Zellwegger.   I think they get way more praise and credit than they deserve.  And I’m not going to
replace them with anyone, because I don’t like putting anyone on a pedestal.

 8) Barbara Stanwyck or Ida

I’m not really familiar with
Ida Lupino.  I know she was a some-time
actor and some-time director, so that’s cool. 
But it’s hard to go against Barbara Stanwyck, solely for her role in
Double Indemnity.

9) Showgirls
yes or no?

I’ll say it this way:  Yes, to the question of did I enjoy watching
it once.  No to the question of do I ever
want to see it again.

10) Most exotic or otherwise unusual place in which you ever saw a movie

Not very exotic or otherwise
unusual, but I’d have to go with a little theater on the main street in Rockport, Maine.  I believe we saw Roxanne?

11) Favorite

I like M*A*S*H* quite a bit, but I think I’m going to say Short Cuts.  It had Tom Waits, too.

12) Best argument for allowing rock stars to participate in the making of

I’m going to go in a different
direction on this one, and say that Colonel Tom’s pushing Elvis Presley into
movies probably did more good in curbing future rock stars from following that
route than it did bad in ruining Elvis’s music integrity.  Perhaps it served as a cautionary tale to
others to stick to what they do best. 
Let the actors act and the singers sing. 
It’s kind of like letting one kid touch a hot flame so that the rest of
the kindergarten class can learn the lesson too.

So, the best argument for
allowing rock stars to participate in the making of movies ends up being the
one that hopefully makes them think twice before contemplating their
participation in the making of movies.

13) Describe a transcendent moment in a film (a moment when you realized a film
that just seemed routine or merely interesting before had become something much

It happens really early in the
film, and not only was it a transcendent moment of that film, but, for me, it
was a transcendent moment of Film.   The
little space ship zooms fast across the top of the screen, being chased by
weapon-fire.  What’s chasing it, you
wonder, as it disappears into the distance. 
Then, that huge, lumbering immensity of a ship appears at the top of the
screen, following the little ship, firing shots.  And it lumbers along, and grows bigger.  And lumbers along and grows bigger still.  And it doesn’t stop.  And it’s huge.  And then, finally, after what seems like an
eternity, the end of the ship is revealed, and the engines rumble and
boom.  That moment, for me, said so much
about what we, the audience in that theatre, were about to witness that

14) Gina Gershon or Jennifer Tilly?

I am not a fan of Gina Gershon,
really, and am fond of Jennifer Tilly’s performance in Bullets Over
.  So, Jennifer Tilly.

15) Favorite Frank Capra movie

It’s boring, I know, to say so,
but It’s A Wonderful Life.  So many
iconic moments for me.  So many moments
when I know I’m going to tear up.

16) The scene you most wish you could have witnessed being filmed

I haven’t given this much
thought, and there are likely others, if I put my mind to it.  Truthfully, I’d be wary to view the making of many of my favourite scenes, for fear of having their “magic” lost by seeing the process.  But this scene, I think, would be fabulous to
witness:  the “rushing the bridge” scene
in The Longest Day.  It’s a wonderful
long single-shot scene involving dozens and dozens of soldiers, all kinds of
choreography, and a real sense of “okay, let’s get this right, because we only
have one shot at this”.  I’d want to be
standing about 10 feet away from the director, and watch the whole thing

17) Robert Ryan or Richard Widmark?

Never heard of Robert Ryan, and
only vaguely familiar with Widmark.  So,
I’m just going to go with Richard Widmark, even without looking them up on

18) Name a movie that inspired you to walk out before it was finished

To my recollection, I’ve only
walked out of one movie:  Amos &
.  I, along with the group I was
with, walked out in the first ten minutes or so.  To be fair to the movie, it wasn’t given a
chance by the group I was with.  But it
didn’t start very well, and combined with the absolute dumbest pre-show
audience, we were all more than ready to leave. 
We got our money back and cursed the idiots who go to movies.

19) Favorite political movie

All The President’s Men.  In second place, some distance back, would be
the original The Manchurian Candidate.

20) Your favorite movie poster/one-sheet, or the one you’d most like to own

Never really been a poster
geek, but I’d like to have either the poster for Jaws, or The Good, The Bad,
and The Ugly

21) Jeff Bridges or Jeff Goldblum?

Bridges, because I think he
more often serves the movies he’s in. Goldblum is always, always interesting to
watch, but sometimes his acting gets in the way of, well, his acting.

22) Favorite Ken Russell movie

Honestly, I’ve only seen a
handful of his movies, but of the ones I’ve seen, the one I most enjoyed was
The Lair of the White Worm.

23) Accepting the conventional wisdom that 1970-1975 marked a golden age of
American filmmaking in which artistic ambition and popular acceptance were not
mutually exclusive, what for you was this golden age’s high point? (Could be a movie, a trend, the
emergence of a star, whatever)

The 1974 Academy Awards Best
Pictures nominations:  The Godfather part
II, Chinatown, The Conversation, Lenny, The Towering Inferno

24) Grace Kelly or Ava Gardner?

Grace Kelly

25) With total disregard for whether it would ever actually be considered, even
in this age of movie recycling, what film exists that you feel might actually
warrant a sequel, or would produce a sequel you’d actually be interested in

Totally disregarding the fact
that they’ve already been made, and that they’re prequels, not sequels, I’d
love to see Star Wars episodes 1, 2 & 3 remade with much more attention to
the script and to the quality of the acting. 
I’d love to have George Lucas totally give them over to some writers and
directors, and only provide whatever Industrial Light and Magic was asked of
him.  I would love to see those movies

Here are the questions, if you want to have them for your own:

1)What film made you angry, either while watching it or in thinking
about it afterward?
2) Favorite sidekick
3) One of your favorite movie lines
4) William Holden or Burt Lancaster?

5) Describe a perfect moment in a movie

6) Favorite John Ford movie.
7) The inverse of a question from the last quiz: What
film artist (director, actor, screenwriter, whatever) has the least–deserved
good reputation, artistically speaking. And who would you replace him/her with
on that pedestal?

8) Barbara Stanwyck or Ida Lupino?
9) Showgirls— yes or no?
10) Most exotic or otherwise unusual place in which you ever saw a movie
11) Favorite
12) Best argument for allowing rock stars to participate in the making of
13) Describe a transcendent moment in a film (a moment when you realized a film
that just seemed routine or merely interesting before had become become
something much more)
14) Gina Gershon or Jennifer Tilly?
15) Favorite Frank Capra movie
16) The scene you most wish you could have witnessed being filmed
17) Robert Ryan or Richard Widmark?
18) Name a movie that inspired you to walk out before it was finished
19) Favorite political movie
20) Your favorite movie poster/one-sheet, or the one you’d most like to own
21) Jeff Bridges or Jeff Goldblum?
22) Favorite Ken Russell movie
23) Accepting the conventional wisdom that 1970-1975 marked a golden age of
American filmmaking in which artistic ambition and popular acceptance were not
mutually exclusive, what for you was this golden age’s high point? (Could be a
movie, a trend, the emergence of a star, whatever)
24) Grace Kelly or Ava Gardner?
25) With total disregard for whether it would ever actually be considered, even
in this age of movie recycling, what film exists that you feel might actually
warrant a sequel, or would produce a sequel you’d actually be interested in

TAM Trailer Review – The DaVinci Code

Okay, so this must be one of those artsy European Movie trailers, because I’ve seen it a couple of times now, and I don’t know what’s going on.  I’ve not read the book (or was it a graphic novel?) that this movie was based upon, so I’m pretty much going to have to do a bit of deductive reasoning and look for meanings behind the scenes in order to figure out what’s going on.  But, I think that’s what this movie is supposed to be about anyway, isn’t it?  Solving a puzzle?  Kind of like a Whodunnit?

Here’s the link to the trailer that I’ll be reviewing.

With ominous and foreboding “danger this way lies” music underneath, the trailer opens on what I believe to be an amusement park.  It’s dark, so I can’t really tell.  But there is all kinds of scaffolding for what I’ll assume in a roller coaster.  It’s night, and it looks like the park is closed (doesn’t look like much of a fun-park, either.  More of the type that Cirque De Soliel would perform at.  You know, an artsy park.  Kind of like Victoria Park when the Shakespeare people take over for the weekend.
We hear someone whispering in a language that I do not understand.  I think it may be Elvish, which makes me think that maybe this could be a prequel to Lord of The Rings or Star Wars.  Probably LotR, because when we see a profile shot of the guy talking his crazy language, it looks just like the Elf King in LotR.  The next scene, though, makes me second-guess that thought (very Agatha Christie, Mr. Howard, keeping me guessing!).  This scene is a very scary one in which a guy self-flaggelates (can you believe little Ronnie Howard would ever show that in one of his movies?!?).  This clue makes me think that it might be Star Wars, because the guy whipping himself looks like what I imagine  Darth Blue-face-with-red-eyes looks like without his shirt on (that’s not to say that I’ve ever imagined what Darth Bfwre looks like without a shirt on).
After the opening credits, I realise I’m totally bewildered, because now we’re panning in on what looks to be Hogwart’s school from Harry Potter.  AND, the voice-over sounds exactly like the headmaster of that school.  AND, to add further confusion, he also sounds just like Gandalf from LotR (and, maybe the bad guy from the X-Men movies!!!), so I now don’t know what this movie is a sequel to.  Perhaps this is what the movie is about?  Perhaps the DaVinci Code is a puzzle to try and find that out?  I’m up to the challenge.
As Gandalf talks (I found his voice-over very much too expositiony) we see shots of various clues as to what movie this is sequelling. Here are my guesses as to what the Movie Sequel clues are:  one scene, the guy is crouching like Naked Arnold in Terminator movies, but he’s on top of a glass building? just like Tom Cruise in the M:i series.  Next shot is definitely a clue about Monty Python and The Holy Grail.  Next is House of Flying Daggers, then they walk into a room that looks vaguely like the set to Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, then we cross-fade to someone picking up a Catholic cross (nice editing here, by the way).
Okay, I admit it.  I am totally flabbergasted.  I have lots of clues but I cannot piece them together.
Finally, we come to a picture of The Last Supper (this must be the DaVinci element to the movie), which makes me wonder “Life of Brian”?  I don’t know.
Hey, it’s Tom Hanks!  But it looks like it might be “serious” Tom, rather than “funny” Tom.  Cut to a guy (Sean Connery?) running through a museum, looking like he really wants to get out of there  (that’s how I used to feel when we’d go on field trips to museums in elementary school).
Back to a guy in a black hooded cape (exactly like the capes the Darths’ wear!) and then a bunch of quick-edit shots as the music soars and swells.  Some of paintings in museums (a museum heist movie?), some of Tom Hanks, a woman, car chases, grafitti on The Mona Lisa, people busting in through doors, falling down wells… ending with someone tossing into the air one of those anagram keychain thingys.
Holy smokes, I am totally frigging lost!  If anyone has any clues as to what this movie is about, clue me in.

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Mission Impossible III – Trailer Review

This is the start of what may become a new semi-irregular feature here at The Annekenstein Monster – Theatrical Trailer Reviews.  It’s not very often that I go to the movies.  While I don’t find the admission price to be too much of a deterrent, the allure of the acutely-expensive popcorn/pop/etc, and the generally poor theatre etiquette of others are more than enough to keep me away.
But I like talking about movies, and since the trailers pretty much give away the whole plot anyway, I figure a smart (ass) review of the trailer should suffice.

So, here’s my review of the theatrical trailer for Mission:Impossible III, which opens tomorrow, world-wide:
As we open on a crisp, blue night-timey cityscape, it’s apparent right away that there’s gonna be some cold-blooded killing going on.  Close in on Tom Cruise, standing on top of a building.  A crisp, blue, glass-encased building, so you know it’s just begging to be broken into.  Or, jumped off of.  Tom looks angry – “Tibbets Is Tough” Angry.  But we don’t know why.  Perhaps he’s just been interviewed about Scientology again?  Maybe the placenta tasted ‘off’?  Zoom in, ever in, to perform a retinal scan of his eye.  Turns out it’s the man they call Ethan Hunt, the Mission Impossiblist, and, judging by the thing that’s burning (either it’s a fuse, or his penis) he’s angry because a) there’s not much time left until something blows or b) Katie just gave him an STD.  Maybe the plot involves trying to get an STD antidote?
Immediatley after the credits, as soon as he puts on the welding glasses, the action starts and you get the feeling it won’t let up again for the whole 2 or 3 minutes of the trailer.  BAM: get out a gun BAM: meet Truman Capote (maybe the plot does involve STD’s?) BAM: meet the girl BAM: meet Larry Fishburne, the guy they got when they couldn’t get Sam Jackson BAM: meet the explosives.  BAM: slow down for some expositional character acting, where the plot gets revealed. Something about Capote looking for some In Cold Blood Redux.  Great acting at this moment, from Cruise particularly, as he looks at the girl, looking all intense and not even moving, hardly.  Can you say “People’s Choice”?  Then, right after the sell-line “This summer, the mission, begins” (excellent work by the way, PR guys.  Top notch line-selling), out of nowhere, comes the weld-spectacled Cruise and it’s all “Explosives, meet BAM!”  And, literally, (SPOILER ALERT!!!) everything starts blowing up and things fly and fall everwhere as we see, I’m pretty sure, scenes from previous Mission Impossible movies (perhaps to catch us up?).  Helicopters zoom, boats zim, rubberized dummy heads shimmer, motorcycles motor, and people everywhere look so sexy and hot with all kinds of implements and devices in their hands.  I’ll say this for Cruise, nobody runs with more intensity than Tom Cruise.  Except, maybe, Forrest Gump.  But for Ethan Hunt, Life is Like A Box of Explosives (you can have that one, PR guys), and to avoid it all, he runs and jumps and kisses and punches, and rides and drives and jumps some more.  Wow!  I’m exhausted!  And there’s still 25 seconds to go!
Finally, we come to the climax of the trailer, and what a climax it is.  Check out this dialogue:
Cruise:  You’ll never get what you want!!!
Truman Capote:  You don’t think I’ll do it!!!!! (and it is NOT a question!  Because you KNOW he damn well will!)
Then, in a marvellous super-agent moment, Cruise is running down a bridge, and a car explodes directly behind him.  Miraculously, instead of forward, the impact waves cause him to be blown sideways (don’t think he hasn’t asked Katie for that, either) into a car.
And that’s the end.
All in all, an action packed trailer.  But, really, if you’ve seen one Mission:Impossible III trailer, you’ve pretty much seen them all.  Only check it out if you’ve got a huge Cruise Missile in your pants for Tom (you can have that one, E!DailyTonight guys)

Trailer for Mission:Impossible III

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RIFF 4 Shorts Review

I went last night to see both screenings of Reel Shorts at the Reel Island Film Festival.  That’s a lot of sitting in those City Cinema seats, I’ll tell ya!
Here, then, are my opinions on what I saw:
Pete Murphy’s “The Olde Christmas Spirit” was shown first.  Frankly, this was a rough piece of work.  Pete, I think, has an interesting eye, but this film (as well as the few other films of his I’ve seen) suffers from poor acting, worse sound and lazy editing.  The story and script, too, could have benefitted tremendously from a prudent editor.  
The acting in the first scene was, I’d have to describe as, plodding.  Very slow and deliberate.  Couple that with languid edits and the film starts off at a less than energetic pace.  And slows down from there.  The main trouble with the acting of the lead actor is that he tries too too hard to act Angst and tries to play “Cool guy” too much.  His acting gets in the way of his, well, acting.
I could go on, I suppose, but I have to live in this town.
Next up was “Snowbird” The Search for Lonestar” by Scott Parsons.  An interesting, but slightly flawed, docu-drama on the origins of Gene McLellan’s song Snowbird.  I say flawed because of too much reliance on voice-over narration to tell us what is going on.  It results in too much telling us the drama rather than showing us the drama.  The story is about this woman trying to find out about a guy named Lonestar, a former lover, who apparently co-wrote a song about her with Gene McLellan.  She’s trying to find out about the song.  Turns out the song is Snowbird.  Little things bugged me.  Like when we flashback to the woman’s younger days, when she’s with Lonestar, she’s wearing the same short denim shorts that she’s wearing in “present day”.  And there was no attempt to make her look younger in those flashback scenes.  Maybe that was a conscious decision, but to me it belied the reality of those scenes where she was supposed to be a teenager.  Especially since her “youthfulness” was supposed to be the thing that sets of the rest of the story.  Small complaints, really.
Third was Louise Lalonde’s “Courir la chandeleur”, a re-enactment of an old Acadien soiree, performed by Birchwood Intermediate French Immersion students.  This was an enjoyable film.  Yes, the acting of the junior high kids was pretty amateurish (and some of their French Immersion french was pretty rough), but their energy and enjoyment of the experience kept me interested.  Probably could have shortened the amount of time we see them dancing to a tune, though.  That seemed to go on a bit too long.
Speaking of going on a bit too long:  Jeremy Larter’s “A.J.” was a film that I absolutely hated and couldn’t wait for it to be over.  Basically, this was a masterbatory piece of shit, where one guy, Jeremy Larter, points his camera at another guy (forget his name) who plays A.J. who may or may not be mentally handicapped and gets him to do “funny” stuff.  What a piece of crap and a waste of my time!  Scene after scene of this guy doing stupid, barely interesting, things.   There was no apparent attempt at structure.  Just random scene after scene of boring “look at me and how car-aaazy! I am” bullshit.
Thank goodness for Joey Weale’s “Flagwar”.  Basically, this film documents an elaborate game of capture the flag on the streets of Charlottetown.  Very well done, it kept me interested and entertained for almost its entirety.  I say “almost” because my only criticism is that it may be a few minutes too long, and a couple of times I wanted the action to move along, rather than showing me, yet again different versions of basically the same scene or idea.  The film employed a lot of still-photos to further the action, and at first I was worried that such a technique might bog the film down.  Nobody likes a slideshow, right.  But, to his credit, Joey made it work beautifully.  He used all kinds of tricks and techniques (without making them feel simply like tricks or techniques) to keep the action moving forward and to keep the audience engrossed and it worked wonderfully.  It’s apparent that a great deal of thought and effort went into the production of film, and I was very much impressed with the whole thing.
Of the first round of Reel Shorts, Flagwar got my “viewer’s choice” vote.

The second round of Reel Shorts was basically a display of the talents of Fox Henderson.  Five of the nine shorts were either “all credits by Fox Henderson” and one other (Jack and The Mud Queen) utilized his studio and talents (to the point where I thought it was another by him, but in fact was directed by Devon McGregor).  Rather than go through each of his films, I’ll offer a general opinion of his work.  First of all, it’s obvious that he’s a very talented guy and so much of his work is impressive.   Last year, he had a few animated films entered in RIFF 3, and my criticism then was that his films were technically interesting but failed on the story, editing and acting fronts.  This year, all that improved dramatically, and I was very impressed with practically all of his work.  Dan Caseley was very good playing Mr. Death in a couple of very funny silent movies.  One aspect of his work that I don’t care for is in his choice to re-record the dialogue in a controlled environment (just like the big movie-makers do).  While I understand the desire to want to control the sound, it can really adversely affect the performances if the actors aren’t up to the over-dubbing task.  This was most apparent in my least favourite of his films “They That Did Dream”.  The dialogue-audio re-dubbing was very intrusive to the enjoyment of the film.  But, since I didn’t like the story at all anyway, I doubt that better audio would have helped much.
I was very much impressed with the look of Jack and The Mud Queen, and the acting of the lead actor was good, but, like other films presented, this story needed to move along a lot more quickly.  Once again, plodding direction gets in the way.
Onto the non-Fox Henderson films of Reel Shorts 2:
Daniel Arsenault’s “Music Has Family Roots” was a trifling bit of music video.  Basically a single-camera, one shot thing showing two live musical performances of Michael and Robert Pendergast.  Apart from a slightly interesting projection effect, there wasn’t much of interest in this, as a film.  The music performances were good, though.
“This and That” by Richie Mitchell was a film that I ended up not “getting”.   I think it was about a guy who desired to be a gay thief, but wasn’t because of a priest in a car who followed him around.  In one reality he has a companion who may or may not be his lover, and they steal some money from a store owner.  In another reality, he is alone, with no companion, and rather than steal from, is given an envelope by, the store owner.  He then gives the envelope to the priest.  When he sees his alternate-universe companion crossing the street, he gasps, but the priest shakes his head “no”.  ???  There are also some shots of a woman walking down the street.  She has been shopping.  I didn’t like this one very much.
And the other non-Fox film was my very own, Christmas Lights.  This film, of course, is brilliant, and above criticism.  Seriously, though, I am very proud of this film and think it’s a pretty good piece of work.  It’s a tight, compact, funny piece of tragic-comedy.   The audience seemed to like it quite a bit.
I do think (not really), however, that a conspiracy was hatched to confuse the audience (perhaps in an attempt to keep me from any chance of winning “viewer’s choice”?).  First of all, on the website, my film was shown as being directed by Jason Rogerson.  That was later corrected.  Then, on the Viewer’s Choice slips of paper that each audience member was given, Driving Lights was shown as being directed by Rob MacLean.  And, the title on the actual film is “Christmas Lights” not Driving Lights, but I think that one was an honest mistake.  All the rest, though, is an obvious attempt to confuse the audience.

Of the second round of Reel Shorts, I voted Christmas Lights as my “viewer’s choice”.  If it wasn’t in the running, then my vote would have gone to Fox Henderson’s “The Last Days of Death: After Life”.  It was a very funny piece of comedy and my only criticisms of it are that it is too long and the joke doesn’t go anywhere.  Each scene is merely a different version of the same joke.  It is only too long because it’s one-joke retold again and again.  And again.  I wanted each scene to build on the previous scenes in some way, but they didn’t.  As a result, the joke didn’t have a conclusion.  It just ended.

In the past, I’ve railed against the Reel Island Film Festival for showing films that I didn’t think were good enough to be shown.  I complained that RIFF’s eyes were bigger than its stomach.  Meaning that the festival was too big for the amount and quality of films it screened.  This year’s event, due to a lack of funding, was very much paired down compared to previous RIFF festivals.  Whereas in the past, they might have tried to have two evenings of shorts screenings and would have had to “water down” the overall quality in order to fill up all the slots, this year’s festival, I think, benefitted by the single night (of shorts).  The result was an evening with a pretty solid lineup of shorts.  An impressive variety of films.
I do think they need to be careful, though, with the potential problem that the RIFF could turn into the Fox Henderson Film Festival.  Nothing against Fox, and his work is definitely worthy of being shown, but ideally, I would have liked to have seen a couple less entries from Fox and a couple more entries from other people.