Name: mutuel

Most Recent Reviews by mutuel

Michael Cera takes off in dual role as a Virgin on the make

Nq45ypo7fdgbwguicyt0xr5rpu6
Reviewed by mutuel

Hollywood Review

Youth in Revolt (PG) * * *

Love Starved!

By ROBERT WALDMAN

Looking for love in all the right places just about sums up the theme for Youth in Revolt, a snappy somewhat sarcastic tale of romance from Alliance Films now fueling friction at the Esplanade 6, Empire Studio 12 and Colussus Cinemas. Different from those rather risqué sexploitation flicks thanks to a smart story you actually feel some sympathy for the plight of the lead in this hip story of a born loser.

Losing one’s virginity has been a long-standing theme for countless teen movies. Past efforts have usually stressed the more “physical” aspects of male/female stresses with comedy also coming into play on numerous occasions. Here director Miguel Arteta (Chuck & Buck) benefits from some up and coming likeable actors and some veterans who pack quite a punch.

Hot property Michael Cera (Juno) returns to the fore as Nick Twisp, playing yet again a nerd having all sorts of problems with his own sexuality. Put simply, Nick is not getting any. Anyone that’s seen any of Cera’s earlier efforts knows he’s perfect in this character though by now he’s really being stereotyped and needs to broaden his repertoire. Youth in Revolt is an ably constructed film that demonstrates just how desperate a teen can become when those hormones kick into overdrive and that oh so desperate urge must be satisfied, something we can all relate to

Family break-ups also play a key role in Youth in Revolt which shows just how in tune the story is to modern life as many homes face similar break-downs. On the California home front young Nick lives with his mom and a boyfriend or two. When the family heads for the hills for a brief respite their accommodations aren’t that lavish, to be sure. But on vacation things can happen and our Nick winds up in a spiraling downward situation largely inspired by a fellow vacationer.

At the camp grounds Nick meets Sheeni Saunders – cue the heavenly choirs. Smart and sassy and well presented by Portia Doubleday (18) Nick is clearly smitten by her presence. Wise beyond her years our Sheeni becomes an infatuation for Nick who is not exactly up to her standards in the maturation process. Seeing the pair begin to “bond” is well handled and truly endearing. Later on, however, things get completely out of control. Out of bounds we go as what looks like a nice romance turns cloudy and downright dark as bizarre twists and turns pop up constantly.

Dark comedies require good scripts and top talent to be pulled off successfully. Here the situations flow seamlessly and the atmosphere of trailer park trash where a love can blossom also hits home. Streaks of infidelity and Puritanism also up the ante in this robust tale of the missteps people can encounter on that truly rocky road to love.

Bouyed by smart muted cameos by the likes of character acting aces Ray Liotta (Goodfellas) and Steve Buscemi (Fargo) are the icing on the cake in this fun-filled look at people trying to connect with one another and the effects their friends have on those affairs of the heart.

Read more reviews by Robert at www.moviereviewssite.com

Rate Review
Arrow_up_light
0
Arrow_down_light
0

Heath Ledger Lost in the Shuffle in Crazy Fantasy Romp

Passx0vszmxosc1dtuvq6gbeb30
Reviewed by mutuel

At The Movies

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (PG) * *

Through the Looking Glass!

By ROBERT WALDMAN

Attach the name Terry Gilliam to any project and there’s no telling what you’ll come up with. Gilliam returns to oddball entertainment with The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, a bit of a muddled mess from E1 Films now trying to make its mark at Tinseltown (on Pender, free parking) and some other theatres shortly in B.C.

When you lose an actor during filming it’s often hard to complete a project. Producers of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus were obviously in a state of shock with the passing of Heath Ledger, as was the world at large. In order to salvage the project three actors stood in Heath’s place. Results of this effort are a mishmash made all the more complicated by the very nature and essence of this movie.

Terry Gilliam (Monty Python and the Holy Grail) is known far and wide for his imagination and creative zest. Brave new worlds are indeed broached with the long title to this meandering film. Plot-wise, this tale revolves around a band of circus performers who roam the British countryside in search of clientele. Customers who attend this unconventional circus of freaks are often ats odd as the performers which leads to a lot of testiness.

Led by the good doctor, an aging man well played by bearded wonder Christopher Plummer (The Sound of Music), we do get our fair share of odd ball characters who populate this unique creative force. Among the members of this merry troupe is the hand-picked Tony, brought to life in fine form by Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight) and a series of “imaginative” Tonies acted out by Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean), Colin Farrell (Miami Vice) and Jude Law (Alfie). Of the three versions of Tony after Heath Law gets the most time to strut his stuff.

Other members of this entourage include Percy, a devilish dwarf well-portrayed by the always edgy Verne Troyer (Austin Powers: The Spy who Shagged Me) who adds some sly one-liners and relative newcomer Lily Cole (Rage) who plays a sexy vixen in this cast of crazies.

Dark themes ooze forth as visitors and viewers alike enter the magical world that Doctor Parnassus has created. Dream-like sequences appear and evaporate with it being hard to track all the comings and goings in this slice of far-fetched settings that leave you at times confounded. Too long at 118 minutes this movie comes across as being tedious, too hard to comprehend, and without too much of a solid or good foundation. Scenes done in Vancouver, such as at the downtown library, offer little to the look of the film that aims to create something different and fresh.

Too bad Heath Ledger’s last movie is such a bland exercise and not that effective a way to remember one of filmdom’s brightest lights.

Read more reviews by Robert at www.moviessite.com

Rate Review
Arrow_up_light
0
Arrow_down_light
0

A Divorced Couple gets the romantic juices flowing in cute comedy

28bixwcq3soccnngiejtevf1r5m
Reviewed by mutuel

At The Movies

It’s Complicated (PG) * * * *

On the Rebound!

By ROBERT WALDMAN

Cupid often works in weird ways. Director Nancy Meyers knows her way around relationships. Trust this woman to deliver another savvy look at tangled hearts in It’s Complicated, a superior romance from Universal Films now opening debates at Tinseltown (on Pender, free parking), The Fifth Avenue Cinemas, Empire Studio 12, Colossus and Famous Players Silver City cites around B.C.

Nancy Meyers (What Women Want) is to romance as Michael Bay is to action. Both directors are consummate artists and always deliver the goods. In It’s Complicated Meyers also concocts a timely, relevant tale about grown adults at crossroads in their lives. Aided and abetted by a trio of actors at the top of their game and it’s not hard to appreciate the care and creativity that has gone into this light-romantic romp that speaks volumes on today’s dating scene.

It looks like both Meryl Streep (The Devil Wears Prada) and George Clooney have hit the jackpot at the same time as each has been in three terrific, fun-filled and well-received movies this year. Perennial Oscar bound actress Streep returns to the kitchen, so to speak, after playing chef Julia Childs to graduate into becoming a restaurant owner named Jane, a middle aged Californian whose managed to carve out a nice life despite having divorced Jack a decade earlier. Alec Baldwin (Malice) comes on subtly as Jack, a successful lawyer now fully engaged to a new, younger and much sexier woman.

Prior to their break-up, which has left lasting scars, the pair conceived three children. When one of the “kids” gets set for a big graduation it’s up to the parents to attend the big event. Who can resist seeing one of their offspring get sent off into the real world. Thus the perfect opportunity lies in the waiting for this once in love pair to reunite. What follows is a classic tale of love among the ruins as both Streep and Baldwin are terrific as the star-crossed lovers who manage to give it one last try amidst a sea of conflicts and complete chaos.

Apart from watching the seeds of this “affair” grow another wrench is thrown into the proceedings. Enter Adam, a nerdy architect with a business connection who manages to further confound an already unpredictable, unscripted situation. Versatile Steve Martin (The Jerk) proves bland in the extreme as Adam, an unlikely lady’s man who against all odds ignites a connection with no telling what ramifications will ensue.

For some unusual reason Martin got top billing ahead of Baldwin in this 118 minute journey. Here the work of Martin is mild in the extreme as his character is more of a diversion to the main thrust of the story; the on again off again liaison between Streep and Baldwin and whether there is any room for sparks. Romantics won’t be disappointed as the heat gets turned up and the laughs begin to multiply as a zany situation involving families and lovers gets sent into overdrive.

One of the funniest scenes in recent memory, running a close second to Cameron Diaz’s infamous hair gel scene from the classic There’s Something About Mary trailblazer erupts during It’s Complicated further fueling the rabid hilarity. Despite all the jokes there is a serious undertone exploring the difficulties of older people finding romance, let alone love, and writer Meyers certainly has researched her subject well and deftly dissects the way modern relationships unfold. Segments of girl talk are particularly revealing and well-rounded as are the supporting cast who are spot on. Watch out for the clever musings of all the grown children, particularly John Krasinksi (Dreamgirls) who stands out as an innocent bystander of sorts.

Women and men, couples or singles, looking for a smart look at modern love with all the pitfalls and pratfalls of past relationships and baggage will be richly rewarded by attending It’s Complicated, a rather noble, honest look at love in the modern world, warts and all.

Read more reviews by Robert at www.moviereviewssite.com

Rate Review
Arrow_up_light
0
Arrow_down_light
0

Daniel Day-Lewis plays Fellini type in Musical extravaganza

2psmbxiuwguvsxq2u1movj3f38g
Reviewed by mutuel

At the Movies

Nine (PG) * * *

Star Struck!

By ROBERT WALDMAN

Lots of hype has been surrounding the release of Nine. Already a Golden Globe favourite and frontrunner for serious Oscar consideration, this musical attraction from Alliance Films does have unique fan appeal. Thanks to a stellar star-studded cast you can’t help but get caught up in all the frenzy at Tinseltown (on Pender, free parking) and the Ridge Theatre in Vancouver.

Picture the art of filmmaking and Italy during the swinging 60s and you’ve found the mood of Nine not wanting. Taken from the hit stage play Nine is a sexy look at a rough around the edges director not unlike the high flying aura that Fellini grew famous for. Man of the hour Guido Continini is definitely the one to watch out for. Brought to life by the always impressive Daniel Day-Lewis (Gangs of New York) our Guido is not precisely the ideal mama’s boy. You see this fortyish director has a bit of a roving eye and is not above temptation. Come to think of it this married man does not have to go far without some sexy starlet throwing themselves at him.

Women galore populate Guido’s life. Raised by a mom played by screen legend Sofia Loren Nine tracks the tumultuous affairs of her wayward son over time. Accompanied by zesty musical numbers you sort of sleepwalk your way through the motions as Guido gets tangled up in countless dilemmas of which filmmaking seems to be the furthest thing from his mind. Instead almost all of this cad’s time gets consumed by passionate affairs with many different women.

Heartbreak surrounds this man’s success with excess being his forte. Married to wife Luisa it’s tough at times to watch this poor girl being taken advantage of though Marion Cotillard (Public Enemies) rises to the challenge and effectively garners sympathy for this forgotten woman. One of many women to put the squeeze on Guido is Carla full of bombast by way of Penelope Cruz (Broken Embraces).

Director Rob Marshall (Chicago) knows his way around musicals and pulls of some great numbers. High energy resonates throughout this 119 minute production that does a very good job recreating the 1960s era of Italian cinema. Lots of skin that’s a touch erotic serves to entice modern audiences as well as Guido when lovely Carla shows off. Even James Bond’s own M gets in on the act with Dame Judi Dench (Iris) showing considerable poise and panache as Lilli, the ultimate costume designer with a wicked tongue and inside information on all the affairs behind the scenes.

Lavish production numbers showcase all the women who grace this film. Nicole Kidman (Australia) shines as local sex symbol Claudia complete with background dancers in song and dance numbers that easily compare favourably with treats from Vegas or Paris, France.

Here though is the rub against this film. Story-wise, the material here is just not that memorable or meaningful. What are fascinating, however, are the voices of all the cast who can all comfortably carry tunes flawlessly. And anyone whose ever been involved in an actual movie or play will be able to relate to the zaniness of all those back stage machinations which, again, we’ve unfortunately all seen before.

Give Nine an eight for effort but a six for substance. Gorgeous costumes and slick choreography make for an interesting night out. Good, but not great, you can sense the sparks fly between Day-Lewis and friends which may just make a trip to your local cinema worthwhile, especially if you enjoy musicals.

Read more reviews by Robert at www.moviereviewssite.com

Rate Review
Arrow_up_light
0
Arrow_down_light
0

Colin Firth terrific as a man whose gay friendships open minds

Fxj5yxtckgnsmy6msyd1smarahy
Reviewed by mutuel

At The Movies

A Single Man (PG) * * * *

Coming Out!

By ROBERT WALDMAN

Ready to make an impact at cinemas on a global scale is A Single Man, a confidence building venture from Tom Ford and Alliance Films now turning up the heat at the Fifth Avenue Cinemas.

First time filmmakers often stumble out of the gate and are never heard from again. Such a fate will not befall Tom Ford who makes a stunning debut with A Single Man. Taken from a story Ford also wrote the screenplay and produces this startling look at the trials and tribulations confronting a middle aged man.

During the Cold War things were not all that accommodating for minorities in The United States. British transplant George has made a nice transition to sunny California. Colin Firth (Mamma Mia!) continues to grow as an actor and will add to his legions of fans through his portrayal of George. Likeable and loveable George goes about his daily routine as a teacher of English at a college. Through flashbacks we see this man’s tendency to open up to other men. Love affairs between men or lesbian liasons have long been hidden and A Single Man deftly explores the relationships this kind-hearted man has with other males.

Frank and full of compassion A Single Man weaves a wonderful web of hope and desperation as one of George’s lovers has fallen on hard times. Nothing is worse than losing a loved one and news of mate Jim’s sudden departure throws George into a long depressed state. Cast as Jim is Matthew Goode (Match Point) who pulls off a caring portrait of one man who befriends George in a long term relationship that’s full of trust, humour and understanding. Together these two seem meant for each other and wouldn’t hurt a fly. Few friends know the two are an item so when Jim dies suddenly it truly sends George into a tailspin.

Firth is outstanding as the calm, cool and collected George whose life situation drastically changes when his lover disappears. Small nuances by Firth take on grand meanings as anyone whose lost a loved one will be able to relate to the emotional upheaval this man faces and endures. Nothing is overplayed in this treatment of loss and the fact that it involves a deep relationship between two members of the same sex who largely lead private lives magnifies the intensity further.

Friends are needed at a time of difficulty. Julianne Moore (Hannibal) proves to be a good stand-in as Charley, a pal to George who provides a degree of levity and poignancy as a shoulder to cry on. Under the surface there is considerable tension in A Single Man with age being another theme thrown into the mix.

School affords lots of opportunities for new friendships as do chance encounters. Both these elements are well brought out as George goes about his daily routine. In class sessions turn out to be even more eventful as Kenny, a student in English, proves to be a rather quick study under George’s subtle tutelage. Nicholas Hoult has certainly come of age from his breakthrough role in About A Boy to turn in a sweet, gentle performance as Kenny, a much younger male who somehow becomes a part of George’s unique life.

Clocking in at 101 minutes A Single Man is a sincere effort by newcomer Tom Ford to explore the love of friendship and the pain of grief. Again Colin Firth rises to the fore and turns in a masterful caring portrait of an emotional person who must wrestle with his conscience while hoping not to hurt or disappoint others. Smart usage of vintage images from 1962 including classic cars and world political upheavals set the stage for not just a potential global catastrophe but a personal tragedy in the making in one human’s chaotic life that centres on forbidden love and private pleasures in a story that raises the bar and ups the emotional ante with no let down in sight.

Read more reviews by Robert at www.moviereviewssite.com

Rate Review
Arrow_up_light
0
Arrow_down_light
0