Shine a Light

A Movie ReelShine a Light: 6 out of 10.

I should preface this review by admitting I grew tired of the Rolling Stones long ago. As a younger man, I adored Hot Rocks, essentially their greatest hits from 1964-1971. In the late 80s, I was still a fan, and actually bought Steel Wheels and left my post managing a game at the CNE to listen to their concert from outside the old Exhibition Stadium gates.

Then, around the time they sold "Start Me Up" to Microsoft, I had had enough. I was done with the Rolling Stones. Sure, I still dig "Paint It Black" and "Gimme Shelter", but I had no interest in seeing them in concert or delving into their catalogue. Keith is still cool, but the whole band just seems so corporate. The best Stones song from the past 25 years belongs to The Verve.

I love Scorsese, and my wife is still a big Stones fan, so last night we watched Shine a Light. I wanted more archival footage but instead it's 95% comprised of a recent Stones concert with a few special guests, including Jack White. It was kind of boring.

Stones fanatics will probably love it.


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Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten

A Movie ReelJoe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten: 8.5 out of 10.

If you're a fan of Joe Strummer, this is a documentary you absolutely have to see. Even if you're just a casual fan of The Clash, I'm suggesting you set aside a couple of hours for Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten.

There's awesome detail, and out of nowhere, sitting around a campfire, are a few of the coolest actors in Hollywood. I'm talking Steve Buscemi, John Cusack and Johnny Depp. But don't see this doc for those guys... see it for Joe.

joe strummer

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The Killing of John Lennon

A Movie ReelThe Killing of John Lennon: 6.5 out of 10.

Using Mark Chapman's own words, this is a dramatization of the months leading up to and following his murder of John Lennon outside the Dakota Hotel. Jonas Ball actually does a pretty good job in the lead role.

It's not bad, but it's not guilt-free viewing. The tag-line is "I was nobody until I killed the biggest somebody on earth." Now we're spending two hours in his head, listening to his writings and statements. It doesn't glorify Chapman, but it's all about Chapman, who was nobody until he killed Lennon.

It seems he got what he was after and we all got screwed.


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The Wrestler

A Movie ReelThe Wrestler: 8 out of 10.

I was blown away by Darren Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream back in 2000. I was less impressed by his follow up, the awfully confusing The Fountain, but he strikes a near perfect chord with The Wrestler.

It's super low budget and delightfully raw, but the success of The Wrestler lies squarely on the shoulders of Mickey Rourke. I don't know how he did it, but the Mickster played The Ram perfectly. He's a completely sympathetic character, despite being a natural born screw up.

Due to the film's modest budget, Axl Rose donated the use of Guns 'n' Roses' "Sweet Child O'Mine" free of charge. It's The Ram's theme song, and just one nugget form the '80s you'll spot in this film. See it in all it's 8-bit glory.


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A Movie ReelFlightplan: 4 out of 10.

I hardly remember the release of this Jodie Foster movie from 2005. It was available at our local library, so my wife picked it up in the hopes it would be Hitchcocky.

I thought the whole thing was rather boring and predictable. But then, I'm not really much of a Jodie Foster fan. I'm probably the only one who can say that. She was okay in The Silence of the Lambs, but that's about it as far as I'm concerned.

Today I'm going to see The Wrestler.


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Drillbit Taylor

A Movie ReelDrillbit Taylor: 5 out of 10.

Judd Apatow has produced some very funny films. This isn't one of them.

Sure, there are a few chuckles in the mix, but at 109 minutes it feels awfully long and it's a mere shadow of the comedy Superbad was. In fact, save yourself 109 minutes and just watch Superbad again.


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Slumdog Millionaire

A Movie ReelSlumdog Millionaire: 9 out of 10.

Because my team won the company softball tournament last summer, I won two free passes to a movie at any Empire Theatre location. The thing is, there really is no Empire Theatre near my home, but when I saw Slumdog Millionaire was playing at the Square One location, I knew a little trip west was in order.

This film received some wicked free marketing back in September when it debuted at our film festival. As I wrote back then, Roger Ebert, who can't speak after battling thyroid and salivary gland cancer, tapped New York Post film critic Lou Lumenick on the shoulder asking him to move over so he could see the screen. Without knowing it was Ebert doing the tapping, Lumenick turned around and whacked Ebert on the head with a big festival binder.

Ebert and I agree that Jamal Malik's story of suspense is full of energy, a compelling story and a great soundtrack. The scenes of "the real India" are eye opening and difficult to watch, but it all adds to Jamal's personal triumph. I loved Slumdog Millionaire.


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A Movie ReelDisturbia: 5 out of 10.

This is a modern spin on Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window. A better spin on Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window was that episode of The Simpsons when Bart breaks his leg and starts to believe Ned Flanders has committed murder.

Disturbia isn't terrible, it's just not particularly good. It made good money, and they'll likely make a sequel, but I hope they don't bother. When your favourite part is the use of a System of a Down song, you know you're not watching Hitchcock.


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A Movie ReelControl: 7 out of 10.

I watched the Joy Division documentary a couple of weeks ago, and this was a great follow-up. It's an Ian Curtis biopic and it's an ideal feel-good flick for this holiday season.

I kid, I kid. This black and white Anton Corbijn film will make you want to slit your wrists, but it's good. Great music, on point with what you see in the doc and well acted. I recommend it.


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Charlie Wilson's War

A Movie ReelCharlie Wilson's War: 7 out of 10.

I liked Charlie Wilson's War. Tom Hanks was very good and Philip Seymour Hoffman stole the show, but everything that damn Julia Roberts showed up, it started to piss me off. I just don't like Julia Roberts.

But Philip Seymour Hoffman... damn, this guy is worth his weight in gold.

Charlie Wilson's War

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