Reviews


Friday Night Lights

A Movie ReelFriday Night Lights: 9 out of 10.

I attended several high school football games, usually my Michael Power Trojans taking on our arch rivals, the St. Michael's College Kerry Blues. What I saw then and what you see in "Friday Night Lights" are two completely different animals. In Texas, high school football is a great deal more than just a game.

This movie is shot at a frenetic pace that makes the entire experience that much more real and tense. I absolutely loved this flick - everything from the Public Enemy soundtrack to the gritty realism to the football itself. I haven't liked a movie this much in quite some time. Judging from my recent reviews, it was "Capturing the Friedmans" back in October.

Fantastic.

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The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie

A Movie ReelThe SpongeBob SquarePants Movie: 7 out of 10.

In actuality, this movie is a 5, but because it entertained me, my four year old and my one year old tonight, it's earned a bonus deuce.

I was introduced to SpongeBob in the hospital of all places. At the close of 2003, James got pneumonia and I spent five nights sleeping in a cot at St. Joseph's Health Centre. There was a little television in our room and video tapes that could be borrowed from the main nurse station. There wasn't anything decent available, but there was a few episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants and when I wasn't catching a Leafs game or Canada's Junior team we watched SpongeBob. After watching these episodes a dozen times, the little SOB grew on me.

The movie is pretty much an extended episode of the show. By the hour mark, it starts to lose steam and sort of stumbles to the 90 minute mark by milking a David Hasselhoff cameo and an homage to Twisted Sister. Still, we all enjoyed all 90 minutes and that's saying something.

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Diarios de motocicleta

A Movie ReelDiarios de motocicleta: 8 out of 10.

Known as "The Motorcycle Diaries" in this part of the world, "Diarios de motocicleta" tells the story of Che Guevara as a young man. It's well acted, funny, charming, stunning to look at and a great story about how a student travels South America and is transformed from Ernesto Guevara de la Serna to the Che we all know from those cool tee shirts.

I wasn't bored once and I was left wanting more. That's a very good sign.

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Mad Hot Ballroom

A Movie ReelMad Hot Ballroom: 6 out of 10.

This wasn't a bad little doc about several New York City elementary schools learning ballroom dancing and competing in a city wide dance competition, it's just that I was expecting more from it. I think I've seen so many good documentaries in the past few years that I expect each one to be life altering. Sometimes it's just a cute story about kids who learn the merengue.

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Capote

A Movie ReelCapote: 7.5 out of 10.

This is an exceptional acting performance in a pretty decent movie. I'd recommend it based on Philip Seymour Hoffman's performance alone, but the movie isn't bad either. I didn't think it was a great flick, but it's got some depth to it and might provoke a thought or two along the way.

On Friday, I'm listing my five favourite Philip Seymour Hoffman movies. Stay tuned!

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Team America: World Police

A Movie ReelTeam America: World Police: 7.5 out of 10.

It's funny, but I've never really taken to "South Park". I've probably only seen a few complete episodes in my life and I've never felt compelled to ensure I see more. I find this funny because I absolutely loved "South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut" and I found "Team America: World Police" hilarious.

Some of it is too good to be true. There's a sex scene in this film that's just priceless. It's so graphic and over the top it could only be shot with marionettes. Shockingly, that scene is probably why this film was rated R when it hit theatres. They're puppets for goodness sake!

I actually added the soundtrack to my collection last month and I thought it was pretty funny then. Suddenly it all makes so much more sense. Gary Johnston, the actor that is recruited by Team America to save the world from terrorism, makes a great speech at the end of the flim during the Peace Ceremony hosted by Kim Jong Il. There are plenty of swears, but if you think you can handle it, I've pasted it below.

We're dicks! We're reckless, arrogant, stupid dicks. And the Film Actors Guild are pussies. And Kim Jong Il is an asshole. Pussies don't like dicks, because pussies get fucked by dicks. But dicks also fuck assholes: assholes that just want to shit on everything. Pussies may think they can deal with assholes their way. But the only thing that can fuck an asshole is a dick, with some balls. The problem with dicks is: they fuck too much or fuck when it isn't appropriate - and it takes a pussy to show them that. But sometimes, pussies can be so full of shit that they become assholes themselves... because pussies are an inch and half away from ass holes. I don't know much about this crazy, crazy world, but I do know this: If you don't let us fuck this asshole, we're going to have our dicks and pussies all covered in shit!

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My Flesh and Blood

A Movie ReelMy Flesh and Blood: 8.5 out of 10.

I caught part of this documentary late last year but only watched it in its entirety this year. Susan Tom is the mother of 11 adopted special needs children and we're given a peak at a year in their life.

I encourage everyone to watch this doc for instant perspective. This family is incredible. It's heart wrenching and totally fulfilling all at once.

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Batman Begins

A Movie ReelBatman Begins: 7 out of 10.

I remember watching the teaser trailer for "Batman Begins" a week after Michelle's birth and thinking it looked pretty cool. I also took note of the amazing cast. They've got Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Tom Wilkinson and Ken Watanabe in this thing. Needless to say, with Christopher Nolan directing, my expectations were pretty high.

Considering the lofty bar I set for this summer blockbuster, I was pretty impressed. It looks great, at 141 minutes I was never bored and it's a dark, brooding tale the way it should be. Good stuff.

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Saint Ralph

A Movie ReelSaint Ralph: 8 out of 10.

Last night, I finally watched "Saint Ralph". I first wrote about this movie last August when I learned The Tragically Hip's Gord Downie recorded a cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" for the movie. Jeff Buckley's cover of Cohen's "Hallelujah" is one of my ten tracks and The Hip is my favourite band, so it's natural I'd be interested in this tune.

It turns out it doesn't just have a cool soundtrack but it's a fantastic little Canadian film. Adam Butcher as Ralph Walker is charming as all hell, the visuals of 1950s Hamilton are great and the story is sweet and inspiring all at once. I loved it and highly recommend it.

Now, back to the soundtrack. The use of Downie's vocals during the climatic scene are chilling. It's perfect, as if that song had been written to be sung by that man during that race. There are other great contributions from Canadian artists as well. "Dark Angel", performed by Blue Rodeo and featuring Sarah McLachlan works perfectly, "You Came Along" by Joel Plaskett Emergency is great and "Up The Road" from Ron Sexsmith is haunting. A tremendous non-Canadian contribution is "Goodnight Moon" by little known Will Kimbrough. With great tunes like these from great artists, why is the "Saint Ralph" soundtrack non-existent?

In typical Canadian fashion, a sweet Canadian movie with an exceptional soundtrack comprised of mainly Canadian acts doesn't see the light of day. It's a damn shame, but in the meantime, my Hallelujah hunt continues...

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My Date With Drew

A Movie ReelMy Date With Drew: 7 out of 10.

It's funny, but last week I watched "Fever Pitch" and mentioned in my little review that I was quietly rooting for Drew Barrymore's failure. Irregardless of this fact, this is a cute little doc. I enjoyed it.

Even Drew herself comes off pretty good in this. I suspect she was well briefed.

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