2008 log (2)

(1 Feb) Into the Sun (2005, mink) 66
[ Um, ok. This is one of those DTV flicks Steven Seagal keeps making (and Vern keeps reviewing) but, surprisingly, it’s not all that cheap and generic. For one, it was shot in Tokyo and is sort of an American take on Asian action cinema, with Yakuza shoot-outs and swordfights. It’s no “Kill Bill”, mind, but still… And while Seagal has grown into a big poppa, he’s still pretty badass. Just that voice! On the not so good side, the plot is a bit too convoluted and there are long stretches without action, but the Japanese flavor mixed with Seagal’s persona went a long way in keeping me interested enough. Plus, there are some unintentionally hilarious bits, like Seagal’s out of the blue romantic interest, and once it really gets going in the third act, it gets pretty bloody and brutal. ]

(3 Feb) Le doigt dans l’oeil (2007, Julien Fréchette) ok
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(4 Feb) Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show (2008, Ari Sandel) 43
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(6 Feb) Hard Candy (2006, David Slade) 70
[ A disturbing premise, taut storytelling, skilful direction… Plus, powerful performances from Patrick Wilson as a molester and Ellen Page as his would-be victim, who quickly turns the tables on him and goes all Miike’s “Audition” on him. The movie kind of loses its footing eventually, pulls its punches and multiplies endings like a bad horror movie but, for the most part, it’s pretty damn solid. ]

(7 Feb) Spaceballs 2 (2008, Steven Seagal) 37
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(7 Feb) La rivière aux castors (2008, Philippe Calderon) 51
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(9 Feb) High Fidelity (2000, Stephen Frears) [ review ] 85 [ previously: 71 ]

(11 Feb) Jumper (2008, Doug Liman) 32
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(12 Feb) Adagio pour un gars de bicycle (2008, Pascale Ferland) 80
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(15 Feb) Half Baked (1998, Tamra Davis) [ review ] 63

(16 Feb) Les Désoeuvrés (1959, René Bail) 92
[ An absolutely amazing film, better even than the first features of Jutra, Groulx and Brault, which it predates. Virtuoso B&W cinematography that incorporates elements of the then nascent cinéma direct, remarkably natural non-professional actors, impressionistic storytelling… Also, unlike the seminal works of the aforementioned contemporaries of Bail, it’s purely Québécois, with little of the others’ Nouvelle Vague affectations. “Les Désoeuvrés” perfectly captures the birth of the Révolution Tranquille, when many folks abandoned religion, rural lifestyles and family values. This is lamented by the older generation, but even the young characters seem despondent about it, drifting aimlessly with no real purpose. We’re actually still feeling the aftershocks of this period today, hence the film still feels incredibly actual. Stylistically as well, it shows almost no sign of aging, feeling modern and exhilarating half a century later. I can’t believe how most people (myself included until a year ago) haven’t even heard about this picture, which easily ranks as one of the best ever made in Quebec. ]

(18 Feb) Be Kind Rewind (2008, Michel Gondry) 40
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

(18 Feb) La Ligne brisée (2008, Louis Choquette) 53
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(20 Feb) The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007, Andrew Dominik) 68
[ Amazing cinematography by Roger Deakins, an evocative score by Nick Cave, desert dry narration by Hugh Ross, a top notch cast (Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Sam Rockwell, Sam Shepard, my man Paul Schneider and in his “real girl” Zooey Deschanel)… All the pieces are there for a great film, it seems, but for storytelling that flows and a strong narrative drive. I still enjoyed the picture, but long stretches felt like it was just jerking around, all bumpy and scattered, when it should have just focused on the central, simple storyline suggested by the title. ]

(21 Feb) Penelope (2008, Mark Palansky) 61
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(21 Feb) Michael Clayton (2007, Tony Gilroy) 55
[ This was the only film nominated for Best Picture I hadn’t seen yet this year. Why did I miss it when it was in theatres? I guess it looked too conventional, like just another John Grisham-style lawyer flick, which in some ways it is… But it’s also a different beast: moody, bleak, oddly paced… It’s well shot and cut, and George Clooney, Tom Wilkinson and Tilda Swindon are fine… But it’s kinda hard to understand why this got the Best Pic nod, as so much of it is so dry and, well, not terribly exciting. Again, it’s competently put together, and somewhat intriguing, plus Clayton’s last play is pretty badass (“I’m Shiva, the God of Death!”). But does that make it one of the year’s best films? Meh. ]

(22 Feb) Le cèdre penché (2007, Rafaël Ouellet) 74
[ A looser “Once” with a touch of “Morvern Callar”, this impressionistic, semi-improvised, $5000 story of two sisters rekindling about the death of their country singer mother is elevated by the beauty of Viviane Audet, the very present and diverse music and a lot of interesting visual ideas. A small gem of a movie. ]

(22 Feb) All the President’s Men (1976, Alan J. Pakula) 90
[ I’m “just” on the film beat, but I still work at a newspaper, so it’s pretty damn inspiring to watch this, maybe the ultimate journalist movie. The phone calls, the scribbling, the late-night meetings, the tenacious typing, the coffee… I mean, yeah, Watergate, dirty politics and all that, but it’s really the “fumes” that got me, Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman pursuing their story, breaking it one little piece of information at a time… Good stuff. ]

(25 Feb) Les Ennemis du cinema: l’histoire de la censure au Québec (2008, Karl Parent) ok
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(26 Feb) Semi-Pro (2008, Kent Alterman) 33
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(27 Feb) Après-ski (1971, Roger Cardinal) 8
[ “On s’amuse pas, on JOUIT!” Gotta love those ’70s French Canadian sexploitation comedies, with their endless dumb jokes, gratuitous nudity and celebrity cameos. Here we have Daniel Pilon with a big moustache, Angèle Coutu, Pierre Labelle, Céline Lomez, Roger Michael, Janine Sutto, Jacques Desrosiers, Francine Grimaldi and even René Angélil! This is actually a pretty inept, boring flick, which makes Denis Héroux’ entries into the genre (“Valérie”, “L’initiation”, etc.) look like masterpieces, but as an oddball curiosity, it’s well worth checking out. ]

(28 Feb) The Bank Job (2008, Roger Donaldson) 19
[ Reviewed for Voir ]

(29 Feb) The Heartbreak Kid (2007, Peter & Bobby Farrelly) 72
[ Part of the Directors Series ]

January / March