Friday, January 28, 2011

The Mechanic: A movie review

Every now and then Veronica scores a movie pass to a yet to be released flick. How excited was she to not only get one, but one starring the handsome Jason Statham? While she wasn’t able to convince Ashley to come with, the pass was not to be wasted.

The Mechanic is an action packed movie about an elite hit man named Arthur Bishop (Statham) who faced a hard decision when his next job was to murder his own mentor and father figure, Harry McKenna (the irreverent Donald Sutherland). In Bishop’s quest to unravel the reason behind the hit on McKenna, he befriends Steve (Ben Foster) and teaches him the ways of a hired killer.

Admittedly, Statham is rather one dimensional and his roles never stray far from the action genre, but in The Mechanic, it works all in his favor. From his flat delivery to his insistence in doing all his own stunts, including leaping off a 30 story building, is what makes him a one of kind Action star.

This is a remake of the 1972 movie of the same name starring Charles Bronson. Hollywood is unable to come up with any new or different ideas of late so it’s not surprising that they’ve yet again re-made a cult classic with fluid and modernized stunts.

This badass movie loaded with brutal murders wasn’t enough for director Simon West (Con Air, Lara Croft), as he added in over the top explosions that were unnecessary. But he did balance it out nicely with the calm, quiet scenes of Bishop’s New Orleans secluded bayou home.

Aside from Statham’s obvious charm, this movie delivers more than what you’d expect from the trailer alone. It was a surprisingly enjoyable and entertaining ninety minutes of kickassery and macho fun.

images from google image search

Monday, January 24, 2011

DIRTY ROTTEN FUN - Dirty Rotten Scoundrels Review

Of all the productions we have seen at Hart House Theatre in the past, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is hands down the best and most entertaining show on their roster so far. Adapted from the 80’s movie of the same name, this musical pits two charming con-artists against each other in a battle of wits, cons and back-stabbing fun.

Laurence (Neil Silcox), the smart and poised veteran, has made a living out of swindling. With his trusty bodyguard Andre (Cameron Johnston), who also happens to be the Chief of Police, by his side, Laurence has mastered the art of wooing wealthy women out of their money and disappearing before they can catch their breath. Life is good.

But Laurence is bored and misses the excitement he notices outspoken amateur Freddy (Evan Dowling) gets from pulling small tricks. Freddy convinces Lawrence to show him his ways and all hell breaks loose as the two compete against each other to con the woman they have marked, Christine (Ashley Gibson), the seemingly innocent Soap Queen, a sweet girl who is pure of heart and easily likeable.

Silcox is suave and charming as Laurence and the comedic chemistry between him and Dowling is what keeps the show moving. The two produce a high energy, hilarious performance as they spin their web of lies around the other characters, including Miss Jolene (Lea Russel), who nearly steals the show with her ridiculously pink cowboy outfit and gun toting Oklahoma number.

While desperately trying to sabotage Freddy in his game of deceit, Laurence is able to keep past marks like Muriel (played by the talented Janice Hawke) at bay with the help of his trustworthy sidekick Andre, who seduces her into a frisky cat and mouse game that involves lots of champagne and handcuffs.

Full of racy comments and obscene gestures which often catch you off guard, this production has been properly modernized to include certain subtle references to today’s pop culture without jeopardizing the roots that made it memorable in the first place, a balance that we feel is necessary to stand out on stage and make a lasting impact.

Each song and dance number further enraptures you into this story of two con men playing a game of “loser leaves town”. Adapting a motion picture onto a stage is a difficult thing in of itself but to adapt a non-musical into a stage production and making it a musical is risky business. But this works, and works very well. Every character is believable and you can’t help but invest yourself in them.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels runs at the Hart House Theatre until January 29th 2011. Tickets are $25. Don’t miss out on the Dirty Rotten Fun!

Images from Hart House Theatre

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Season of the Witch - Movie Review

The one thing you can always expect from any movie that casts Nicholas Cage in the leading role is a rollercoaster ride of emotion. And we’re not talking the good kind of emotion, the kind where you’re touched by the movie or deeply disturbed by a scene, we’re talking about that flurry of confused emotion where you are sure that what you are watching is suppose to be taken seriously, but you can’t stop yourself from laughing. Or that one minute, the movie holds some hope of being more than horrible and the next something ridiculous happens to ruin any potential it had of you not hating it.

That’s what Season of the Witch gives you. Theoretically, it held potential to be a somewhat entertaining movie. There were good moments, clever lines, impressive acting from some of the supporting characters, but none of that can ever overshadow how awful Nicholas Cage is. (For the record, if you haven’t noticed, we are not a fan.)

Whether it’s his choppy delivery, his ill-timed pauses or just his overall unsettled look (specifically the unnaturally blonde and wavy hair piece he was sporting proudly), we could not look past the fact that it was Nicholas Cage and accept this character for who he was suppose to be. And to this day, we still can’t understand how he gets all the roles that he does. But we digress.

Season of the Witch takes us back to the good old days when the Church reigned power over most of the land and their army of puppets did God’s bidding by killing off masses of sinners who defied what the Church believed in. Behman (Cage) and his right hand man Felson (Ron Perlman) are knights leading the Church’s crusade until one night they are sent into a village to slaughter hundreds of innocent women and children. Disgusted with their actions, the knights desert the Church’s army and take to traveling, carrying with them guilt and vicious inner demons.

During their travels, they come across a small village overcome with a plague. People are dying and everyone is convinced that the cause of the illness is due to a mysterious girl (Claire Foy) who wandered into their village, wreaking horror as she went. This girl, of course, is deemed a witch and locked up in a cell for holding until she can be transported up into the mountains to the Monks temple, where the sole ancient book that contains the holy scriptures to rid a witch of her powers, among other helpful demonic remedies, remain.

Behman and Felson are enlisted by the dying churchhead of the small village to escort the witch to the temple for the monks to decide her fate. His trusty priest, Debelzaq (Stephen Campbell Moore), his best knight Ekhart (Ulrich Thomsen) and altar boy Kay (Robert Sheehan) tag along for the journey. Along the way, strange things start to happen and Behman struggles with his inner demons and desire to save the girl. The question remains – is she a witch, or isn’t she?

The answer, of course, is the climax of the movie, and we have to admit it seemed a little unexpected. Or maybe not unexpected, but definitely disappointing. The ultimate twist took the movie in a different direction that we personally felt was, well, stupid. It turned a hopeful little film into a typical Hollywood movie and it probably could have ended stronger had they remained on the path they were initially traveling on.

That said, the film did have its moments and as mentioned, the supporting characters were redeeming. Pearlman was a pleasant distraction from his counterpart, providing comic relief and the general tough guy attitude. Foy was eerily radiant as the witch, slipping between innocence and deceit too easily. She effectively kept you debating whether or not she really was a witch, and furthermore, debating whether or not you really wanted her to be a witch.

Even Thomsen and Moore proved their acting chops held more credibility than Cage. And Sheehan, well, every movie needs that wide eyed disheveled pretty boy to swoop in and eventually carry on the legacy. And he carries it well.

Ultimately, Season of the Witch proves to be more tolerable than some of Cage’s previous movies, but it’s going to take a lot more than a thrown together mystical film to ever get us to look past a Nicholas Cage performance. Or a very awful hair piece.

images from google images

Thursday, January 6, 2011

2011 Mid-Season TV Series & Season Premieres to Look Out For

It’s a new year, a new start and a flurry of new shows will be popping up vying for your attention, not to mention the return of shows that you’re already watching. Where do you even start?

Well, we’ve got that figured out. Sure, our
fall predictions weren’t exactly the most credible, considering half the shows we mentioned were cancelled and neither of us actually kept up with any of the new series we highlighted, but we have a little more faith in some of these new contenders.


The Cape
(Premieres January 9 @ 9pm on NBC/City TV)

If it hasn’t been clear through previous posts, we’ve got a little bit of nerd in us, so anything that packages together a masked hero, crime fighting, and Summer Glau with a strong comic-book aesthetic will catch our eye.

The Cape is a one-hour drama series surrounding Vince Faraday (David Lyons), an honest cop who ends up being framed for a series of murders. He goes into hiding, abandons his family and transforms into his son’s favorite comic book superhero – The Cape – to wreak revenge on the corrupt police force that has taken over the city.

The Cape also sees the creepy but awesome James Frain as billionaire Peter Fleming – The Cape's Nemesis – who moonlights as the twisted killer, Chess; and the always wonderful Summer Glau as Orwell, an investigative blogger who wages war on crime and corruption in Palm City.

It’s definitely worth looking into. I mean hey, at least it’s not about vampires.


(Premieres January 9 @ 10pm on Showcase)

Most shows these days tend to be based on something already in existence, Shameless being the American adaptation of the British series by the same name about the unpredictable every day life of the Gallaghers – unemployed alcoholic father figure Frank (William H Macy), a rat pack of four unruly kids and twenty year old Fiona (Emmy Rossum), who struggles to hold them together and play mom to the motley crew.

The witty and offbeat British version was definitely worth watching and can be credited as helping give James McAvoy his start before breaking into the American film industry (special mention to that one memorable scene with a naked McAvoy and some carefully placed roses).

It will certainly be interesting how the quirkiness of British humour will translate onto the American screen without riding on the comedic coattails of Steve Carell, but the cast does provide some potential and the existing material is proven successful.

Off The Map

(Premieres January 12 @ 10pm on ABC/Global)

Like cop shows, there never seems to be a shortage of medical shows. From the woman who created Grey’s Anatomy, Off The Map trades in the hospital setting for the rugged wilderness of South America as six doctors “go to the ends of the earth to remember the reasons why they wanted to become doctors in the first place”.

The made for tv docs include: Caroline Dhavernas, who was very funny in the short lives series Wonderfalls, discarded Twilight Vampire Rachelle Lefevre, Friday Night Lights quarterback Zach Gilford and a handful of other television veterans who will no doubt make a mildly entertaining drama filled hour.



(Returns January 20 on NBC)

If you aren’t already watching this series, we very aggressively encourage you to download/rent/Netflix/whatever each episode and catch up before this winter premiere. You will not be disappointed.

Easily one of the best comedies out there, Community throws together a diverse group of reject students who have all landed at a community college for one reason or another.

Each episode plays out like an after school special full of hilarious situations and mock pop culture comments, but what is refreshing is that it exists outside your typical comedy hook-and-sinker formula.

There is no laugh track. Things aren’t said just for a punch line to follow. It’s random and quirky and odd. And sometimes borderline risqué. And that’s what makes it great.

Do yourself a favour and watch the paintball episode and see if you can tell us we aren't right about this.

images from google images