Review: MacGruber ★★

MacGruber (USA, 90 min)
Dir: Jorma Taccome
Starring: Will Forte. Kristen Wiig, Val Kilmer, Ryan Philippe

About five minutes into MacGruber, I realized something: I really don't miss being twelve years old. I still remember the summer when my cousins, brother, and I watched Weekend at Bernie’s and Scary Movie 2 about six times a week, and I can't help but think that I didn't put those days at the cottage to better use. Back in the day, I probably would have laughed myself senseless over the "jokes" in MacGruber, but now, I can only shake my head. Based on a character from "Saturday Night Live" sketches, MacGruber stars unfunnyman Will Forte as MacGruber, a mullet-sporting and brain-dead retired crime fighter.


Review: Mother ★★★★

(South Korea, 128 min)
Dir: Bong Jong-ho
Starring: Hye-ja Kim, Bin Wan, Ku Jin_
The opening sequence of Mother highlights everything there is to love about the film. The film begins with the mother (Hye-ja Kim) as she walks in a field and breaks out in a dance. Her mash-up dance routine is strange, random, and rather unintelligible; yet, it is also fascinating. Mother thus begins with questions: Why is she dancing? Is she crazy? Is she celebrating? The dance also seems to give her a perverse pleasure, but in its ambiguity, it is also extremely pleasing to watch thanks to Hye-ja Kim's performance. Furthermore, the dance sequence is also an aesthetically satisfying scene: the golden waves of the field contrast sharply with the dull blue-grey tones of the background landscape, and the mother stands out in her red and purple wardrobe. Beginning with this scene, the strength of the film comes from an active force of sense making from the viewer, which is required throughout.


The Long Day is Over

This Monday marks the series finale of one of my favorite shows, 24. 24 ends with its eighth season and although it sometimes feels a little tired, 24 is still the most addictive and entertaining show on broadcast television. I began watching 24 on DVD as an assignment for a course I took called Television: Structure and Function. Our weekly homework assignment was to watch one episode of a series, and we would use the content from that show as an example in relation to the material taught in class. It was only a twelve-week class, yet I zipped though three seasons of the show, all in the name of academics. In fact, let me illustrate how much 24 is like televised crack: One day, I went to Blockbuster to return a disc and to rent the next one. To my horror, another customer had rented that exact DVD! I immediately became anxious as I realized that I would be forced to wait a whole day or two to see what happened next in Jack’s confrontation with longtime baddie Nina Meyers (it was in Season 3). But in a rare case of quick decision making on my part, I immediately walked from Blockbuster to the somewhat nearby Classic Video, opened a membership, and returned to watching 24. I only wish I was such as studious for some of my other courses that year…

Ones to Watch in 2010

As I stated in my previous post, 2010 has left much to be desired in terms of quality cinema. The trend will probably continue as the Summer Movie season approaches. However, recent reviews from the Cannes film festival suggest that many a good film lies ahead in the next few months (ie: Another Year), and several Sundance hits also open in limited release this summer, so things may actually be picking up…

Anyways, here are some of my ‘must see’ films for 2010:

Glorious 39 (TBA)
Okay, I’m sort of cheating with this one since I already saw it at TIFF last fall, but that’s why I’m staring with it. This was one of the stronger films I saw at the festival, so I encourage all to see it. Combining the intrigue of a Hitchcock thriller with the flowing artistry of Atonement, Glorious 39 dramaticizes the days preceding World War II. The summer of 1939 was reportedly one of the nicest summers on record, and the film plays with the idea of “the calm before the storm” as things spiral out of control for Anne Keyes (a truly spectacular Romola Garai), an adopted daughter of an upper class British family. Anne becomes entangled in the murder/cover-up of one of her friends, and the extent to which she is deceived and betrayed by her own family members paints a chilling portrait of of pre-war Britain.

The rest in order of release:


Lights, Camera, Action!

Hi! Welcome to Cinemablographer, yet another unnecessary, but hopefully useful/entertaining, entry into the blogosphere of film and popular culture. Through these entries, I hope to provide a helpful and entertaining look at the film industry. I’ll mostly offer reviews and musings on films; I also plan to highlight worthwhile Canadian features playing at a theatre near you. I also follow the Oscars religiously and plan to do so throughout the fall/winter season, although I hope to avoid the whole ‘build them up, tear ’em down’ commentary that has plagued many a film during recent awards seasons.

                           Sarah Steele and Catherine Keener in Please Give

Before looking ahead to the end of the year, it only makes sense to reflect upon what 2010 has already offered. While it is still early, this year’s batch of films has been somewhat on the weak side. However, there are a few hidden gems out there, particularly Please Give by Nicole Holofcener (Lovely and Amazing, Friends With Money). Catherine Keener stars as Kate, who runs a used furniture business with her husband Alex (Oliver Platt). The catch of the couple’s success is that they buy their furniture from people whose family members have recently died and then resell it at a ludicrous price to yuppie Manhattanites. To further complicate things, Kate and Alex desperately want to upsize their living space and are waiting for their elderly neighbor, Andra, to die so that they can join their two apartments and build their dream home. As Kate and Alex become more successful and as Andra comes closer to death, Kate develops an inhibiting sense of guilt regarding her good fortune and neurotically takes up any charity cause to alleviate this remorse. As Kate, Keener offers ones of her strongest performances and the rest of the cast is equally impressive, most notably Amanda Peet and Rebecca Hall as Andra’s two granddaughters who are a straight-talking bitch and a selfless caregiver, respectively. With its fully formed characters, sharp dialogue, and keen observance of contemporary living, Please Give is a smart and intelligent comedy reminiscent of Woody Allen’s strongest New York set comedies.