Name: mutuel

Most Recent Reviews by mutuel

Moon

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Reviewed by mutuel

Hollywood Reviews




Home Sick!

By ROBERT WALDMAN


First time directors can be hit or miss practitioners. Talent sure runs in Duncan Jones’s family. Son of legendary rock superstar David Bowie young Mr. Jones makes an impressive debut in Moon, a space fantasy from Cinearts now opening up new vistas at TInseltown (on Pender, free parking). Not to be confused with the rousing action packed Star Trek this low budget film really becomes a case study of effects on living far afield.

Way up in the stratosphere lives Sam Bell. Married to a woman back home Sam is an astronaut extraordinaire. For three years he has been living alone in a space station and longs for home. Working for a big corporation involved in space exploration does have its advantage but something is amiss for Sam.

Only a computer with life-like abilities helps Sam pass the time, along with video messages from earth. Gerty seems to know everything and offers Sam all the help he needs. Something, however is amiss as Sam learns first hand when strange occurrences begin to cloud his mind. Whether audiences get confused by the introduction of some new characters in Moon makes this movie all the more tough to comprehend.

Sam Rockwell stars as Sam and does a good job exploring his own passions. Strengths and weaknesses abound in this man who seems tormented. New characters complicate the story which does a good job showing how easy it is for a human to get bowled over by work. I found Moon to be quite slow in developing and a bit burdensome when new characters appear that somehow affect Moon’s outlook on life.

Shots inside the space capsule are ably handled and newcomer Jones definitely has a future as a director. Because of the bland nature of the subject matter some of Rockwell’s great performance(s) may get drowned out by the somber tone. Veteran voice Kevin Spacey (21) charms his way into your psyche as Gerty. Shades of Hal from trendsetting 2001 A Space Odyssey are obviously in evidence here. You can’t really tell if Gerty is a good guy/thing or corrupted which also could have been better developed. Going through the motions comes to mind in their interplay which comes across as being stilted and not that engaging.

If you’re a space junkee and like insights into outer worlds you may find Moon a smart revelation. By all means go see this film for Sam Rockwell’s gutsy portrayal if you like this actor.

Read more reviews by Robert at www.moviereviewssite.com

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Public Enemies

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Reviewed by mutuel

Hollywood Reviews

Gang Boy!

By ROBERT WALDMAN



Gangsters are chic these days. Forget about hoods roaming the streets of Vancouver or the dreaded disgrace of turning good neighbourhoods into crime scenes as in the once friendly Yale town area. Take a look at Public Enemies, a dynamic new crime saga from Universal Films now slugging it out at Empire Studio 12, Colossus and Famous Players Silver City cites across B.C. Superstars Johnny Depp and Christian Bale go toe to toe in this homage to John Dillinger, one of the most fabled criminals in the annals of murder incorporated.

Life was tough during the Great Depression. Back in those heady days one gangster struck a chord and stuck out in the minds of the American public. Bank robberies were John Dillinger’s forte and through a very accurate recreation of his life director Michael Mann (Ali) takes us into the bowels of this man’s psyche and mode of operation.

Bank robberies galore follow this man around along with a dalliance with a lady or two. Out to stop him is J. Edgar Hoover and the hand-picked Melvin Purvis, a man in the Elliott Ness mould. Fun seems to be the driving force for Dillinger’s assault on savings institutions hence his dalliance with local gal pal Billie Frechette.

140 minutes seems long for this movie. Variations of the bank robberies are largely forgettable as we’re left with typical crimes with not that much to distinguish between them. Johnny Depp, who got his start in Vancouver with 21 Jump Street, the show that made him a star, is effective as Dillinger. Less impactful is the romance which also doesn’t have that much heat or sizzle despite the work of Academy Award winning Marion Cotillard (La vie en rose).

Shoot-outs are the raison d’etre in true life crime stories and Mann does create an air of excitement and anticipation as the wild hail of bullets does get a bit of a rise. Still, you don’t get that much of a sense of real shock that one got with films like Bonny and Clyde and even the Untouchables. Better writing or a more fictionalized account of this gangland icon may have helped with the cinematic treatment of this subject matter. As such, we see good work by Depp and Bale in a power struggle whose strength is more a battle of minds and wills than full on brutality which I suspect was the true tale of this cultural icon whose variation on Robin Hood type antics of taking from the rich and not the poor does hit home.

Read more reviews by ROBERT at www.moviereviewssite.com

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Departures

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Reviewed by mutuel

Hollywood Reviews

Departures (G) * * * * *

Director: Yojiri Takita
Stars: Masahiro Motoki,
Genre: Drama
Language: Japanese
Audience Suitability: G
Rating: * * * * *
Studio: VKPR
Running Time: 130 Minutes
Release Date: June 12, 2009



Training Day!

By ROBERT WALDMAN


Please do not judge a book by its cover. Sage advice like this can also be applied to a variety of things be they people or movies. Mention a title like Departures and one might automatically think of airlines and travel. Runaway foreign hit Departures makes its fitting arrival in B.C. hot on the heels of snaring the best foreign film Oscar. Fresh from Japan this outstanding movie may bring tears to eyes focused at The Park Theatre thanks to distributor VKPR.

Off we go to Japan to see a monumental tale of a man seemingly at the crossroads in this life. Performing live is the end all and be all for Daigo Kobayashi. Being a master of the cello this gifted man just adores playing in the Tokyo Symphony. Low ticket sales, however, see the orchestra fall apart leaving Daigo in search of sustainability.

Out of work and in need of cash Daigo becomes involved in a unique business that comes as a rather novel departure from his current occupation. Alongside loving wife Mika the two carve out a new home in the countryside. Somewhat ashamed of his new work Daigo at first finds the job challenging but over time, and under the able tutelage of owner Ikuei Sasaki the apprentice turns into a master performer.

Ancient Japanese rituals are smartly addressed by director Yojiri Takita who pulls off just a masterpiece of a small little movie concentrating on people trying to get by and a type of fear and prejudice clouding the way. Renewal and acceptance is what Departures is all about and the way the characters change over time will make all onlookers smile deep inside.

Cast as Daigo is Masahiro Motoki who turns in a powerful performance as a musician forced to make some pretty big choices that will impact him and his family. One can’t overemphasize the importance that culture, religion and ritual play in this one of a king movie that will shine new light on getting old and trying to come to terms with living in the present.

Smart, poignant and meaningful, Departures turns out to be one of the best movies in any year and from any land. What this 130 minute tale does is also opens up a whole new world of tradition and hanging on that few of us are bound to ever see.

Read more reviews by Robert at www.moviereviewssite.com

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Summer Hours

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Reviewed by mutuel

Hollywood Reviews

Summer Hours (PG) * * * * *



Come Together?

By ROBERT WALDMAN



Sooner or later we all grow old. Down the road you have to make plans. An aging woman must make a host of decisions in Summer Hours, a dynamic French tale from E1 films that truly bridges culture and age spans. Set to open the French film festival at the Ridge Theatre this opening treat heralds in a sense of renewal amid deep divides.

Just why Juliette Binoche (Chocolat) gets top billing here defies description. Star power goes with this woman but here she’s only one member of a very structured family. Two brothers gather with Adrienne and their kids to honour their seventy-five year old mom Helene. Born rich or married rich Helene lives in a palatial estate in the French countryside. Dream lavish gardens, sweeping vistas, a moat and an old run down house and you get the picture.

Inside this mansion are relics of Helene’s life and those of her children. Time takes no prisoners and Helene is trying to come to terms with what to do once she’s gone. Children Frederic, Jeremie and Adrienne don’t want her to go but all sense sooner or later the leading lady will no longer be around. Perish the thought.

Director Olivier Assatas has also written here a very telling portrait of how to deal with aging and the aftermath in a death. Low key but elegant and boisterous performances really take you inside this family as you see the children try to settle out differences. As if that isn’t enough room for controversy you also have some of the grandchildren come of age and create their own divides in this once proud household.

People everywhere will be able to relate to the plight of this group of siblings as they go through the motions of dealing with things and stuff accumulated over time. Memories die hard but the portrayals by Charles Bering and Jeremie Renier as brothers in arms and Edith Scob as the once proud mom will long live on once the curtain goes down.

In French with English Subtitles

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The Proposal

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Reviewed by mutuel

At The Movies

The Proposal (G) * * * *


Wedded Bliss!

By ROBERT WALDMAN



No doubt getting married is a big decision. Couples have been confounded for years when it comes to tying the knot. Marriages of convenience can also be problematic as is the case with arranged liasons in the modern world. Unpredictable interests collide in the most unusual way in The Proposal, a fine summer romantic comedy from Touchstone Pictures now warming hearts at Tinseltown (on Pender, free parking), Empire Studio 12, Colossus and Famous Players Silver city cites around B.C.

Big business has been getting a black eye recently what with the shenanigans on Wall Street. Small and medium sized businesses, on the other hand, are often admired and respected by the public. Success in business often depends on who you have working for you. One upscale book publisher gets by largely on the work ethic of one Margaret Tate. Taken from Meryl Streep’s patented The Devil Wears Prada school of know it alls Ms. Tate rules the roost with an iron fist. Everyone seems to walk on egg shells whenever she walks through the door – any door – on company property. Only her trusty aide Andrew Paxton seems to put up with her.

Thanks to a rather obscure legal dilemma Ms. Tate gets the shock of her life. Told to buck up or leave town this dragon lady devises a rescue plan that sees her flee the coup and head off to Alaska in a last ditch effort to save her upwardly mobile career. Things go from bad to worse in the land where the sun never sets as Margaret gets to know all the members of Andrew’s family in a clumsy effort at romance.

Director Anne Fletcher (27 Dresses) knows her way around romantic comedy and here she’s lucked out with a great cast and a pretty heartfelt story. Like the fish out of water Sandra Bullock (Speed) comes on strong as the bitchy Margaret, a take no prisoners type who runs smack dab into a dilemma largely set forth by her own naivety. Vancouver born Ryan Reynolds (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) comes through big time as a romantic foil to a boss who undergoes his own radical change in this crowd-pleasing movie.

Without wanting to give too much of the story away, let’s just say there is major under the surface chemistry between Bullock and Reynolds here in a feel good type of movie. Family is truly at the heart of this 108 minute movie that also boasts some truly remarkable, scene-stealing secondary characters. Worth noting is ageless wonder Betty White (Bringing Down the House) as a raging granny and a Latin actor who’s kind of a showstopper.

Sure to be the date flick of the summer, The Proposal rings true and opens up a whole new dimension concerning family relationships, big city versus the country issues and the need to commit.

Read more reviews by Robert at www.moviereviewssite.com

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