Name: mutuel

Most Recent Reviews by mutuel

New Moon Average

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Reviewed by mutuel

At The Movies

The Twilight Saga: New Moon (PG) * * *

Director: Chris Weitz

Stars: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner

Genre: Drama

Audience Suitability: PG

Rating: * * *

Studio: E1 Films

Release Date: Nov. 17, 2009

Running Time: 130 Minutes

Love Squeeze!

By ROBERT WALDMAN

My original title for this piece was supposed to read threesome. Not wanting to scare away any younger readers the case of a woman torn between two lovers is at the heart of The Twilight Saga: New Moon. Again Summit Entertainment and E1 are set to rake in zillions of dollars for the second installment of the Stephenie Meyer novels. Big line-ups need to be braved to get in on all the fun at Empire Oakridge Cinemas, Empire Studio 12, Colossus and Famous Players Silver City sites around B.C.

Never take the female audience for granted. Do so at your own peril. Fans of the first Twilight movie will not be disappointed as we are reunited with the original cast. Heartthrob Robert Pattinson, fresh off a rather lukewarm performance as Salvador Dali in the little seen Little Ashes, returns to familiar territory as mysterious Edward Cullen. By birth a vampire the Cullen clan has largely retreated to the hinterland leaving poor Bella Swan, the human girl, in a continual state of depression and frayed nerves. She is sick big time for this hunk and again Kristen Stewart (Adventureland) runs with the part.

TAYLOR LAUTNER SETS TEMPERATURES SOARING AS CARING WEREWOLF

Teenage girls obviously can relate to the romantic elements of this film and they are in abundance. Besides being homesick and lovesick for the ever pouting ashen faced Edward our Ms. Swan also gets a tad closer to her other homegrown friend Jacob Black. Aboriginal blood runs through this strapping lad’s veins and as depicted by handsome Taylor Lautner (Cheaper by the Dozen 2) you can almost sense the hormones hopping. Removal of a shirt here and there by Lautner clearly is intended to excite girls and that he does.

Fans of the series and books should know by now that Jacob represents the wolf clan while Edward lays claim to a vampire throne. Finally, after one hour of waiting, we get to see some action as the werewolf beasts and nasty vampires show their claws and fangs in this beautifully shot, nicely developed love triangle.

Director Chris Weitz (About a Boy) succeeds in creating a great Harlequin Romance type story with tragic figures. Teens who have endured problems with sexual relationships will clearly be able to identify with the mood swings and lust trails that impact all the central youthful characters here. Parents also get to share in the festive offerings as being raised by a single dad also impacts the already messed up Bella.

Shot in and around Vancouver, British Columbia The Twilight Saga: New Moon has a gloomy, wet atmosphere that perfectly fits the somber mood of this story. Unlike other blockbusters its really character development that plays a central role in this movie with the actual special effects creations that generate the vampire flights and werewolf attacks few in number and appearing very late in the game. Slight bits of humour also creep into the script that makes this second outing a nice pick-me-up from the first surprise hit.

ROBERT PATTINSON GETS UNDEREXPOSED in NEW TWILIGHT

Girls wanting to see more of the lead star, Robert Pattinson, will be sorely disappointed as most of his scenes are done in a dream-like sequence with Taylor Lautner clearly taking centre stage as the new love interest of Bella. What makes the whole movie successful, however, revolves around the intense emotional rollercoaster suffered by Bella. Under lots of tension and stress originating from ruptured love affairs Kristen Stewart is easily the glue that holds this story together. Without the intensity of Ms. Stewart’s emotional conflicts The Twilight Saga: New Moon may have well stalled. Look for the third film in the series (that has already been shot), to hit screens next spring with an even bigger bang.

Read more reviews by Robert at www.moviereviewssite.com

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Jim Carrey plays Multiple Roles in X-mas Classic

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Reviewed by mutuel

At The Movies

Disney’s A Christmas Carol (G) * * *

Skin Flint!

By ROBERT WALDMAN

Robert Zemeckis reworks literary giant Charles Dickens’ a Christmas Tale with the help of master comic Jim Carrey and sleight of hand 3-D computer generated animation effects in a fabled Yule Tide classic.

Brave filmmakers dare to take on classics. Leave it to Robert Zemeckis to try to pump new life into one of the world’s most famous literary landmarks through a new format on the silver screen. Known far and wide for his creative vision Zemeckis teams up with Charles Dickens himself to spring on us an animated version of A Christmas Carol. Disney’s timing may have been just a touch off as this truly would have been perfect Yuletide fare. Those willing to get a jump on the holidays can catch this cheerful treat at the Park Theatre, Empire Esplanade 6, Empire Studio 12, Colossus and Famous Silver Cites around B.C. Bonus points go out to those who like watching films in 3-D as this 96 minute tale is presented in Real 3-D. Surprise, here those right in your face images do leap out at you.

Carrey’s Nasty Scrooge fits perfectly with these Woeful Economic Times.

By now everyone must know the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge. Somewhere in merry England this chap goes about his daily routine not really being that happy. Bottom line: this guy hates being nice. On top of that he’s the ultimate cheap skate. Right at the start of this movie you see the pains the art department has gone to in order to recreate that old time in England and how they lace it with the Christmas story. Tight wads everywhere will be in Scrooge’s corner while most sane people will revolt at his penny-pinching ways.

Through some twist of fate we see Scrooge face off with a spirit and a shadow as his whole life is put under the microscope. Audiences get to see past loves and friendships and how they deteriorate over time. Whether anything can come of his realization of those ways provides the gist to this movie.

Top voice talent was brought in to pull off this feat and the mainstream actors are all wonderful. Led by Canadian comic Jim Carrey in the title role the humour is put on the back seat as the nastiness of this little man is presented with open arms and reckless abandon. Other folks that enter into Scrooge’s life include characters portrayed by Bob Hoskins and Colin Firth. Uncanny best describes how the computer work can basically morph the human faces of the stars into some caricatures that look real though are a touch off. Results are very effective.

Ye Olde England shakes modern audiences to the core in this look into a Wondrous Past.

That old English atmosphere really rings true and the special effects in Disney’s A Christmas Carol are satisfactory. A dark tone takes hold right from the start and perfectly plays off of the ugly nature of the story with some fun frivolous moments thrown in to take some of the sting off the bad nature of Ebenezer. Classic Christmas songs also enhance the tale as does the writing of Zemeckis who manages to take the most miniscule detail and turn scenes that on the surface look frivolous into effective moments.

Age-wise, young children could well be put off by some of the vivid imagery that on occasion looks vile and brutal. Lessons learned, however, are important here and will stick with you. Human nature is a funny thing and glad tidings do come out of Disney’s A Christmas Carol making it fascinating animated story-telling despite its bleak tone..

Read more reviews by Robert at www.moviereviewssite.com

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End of the World Awesome

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Reviewed by mutuel

At The Movies

2012 (PG) * * * * *

Melt Down!

By ROBERT WALDMAN

Disaster movies have been around for a long time. State of the art special effects partly driven by new computer models sure can solidify that fear element. Master filmmaker Roland Emmerich (Independence Day) returns to familiar territory in the visually stunning 2012, a big effects driven blockbuster from Columbia Pictures now staking out an impressive presence at Oakridge Cinemas, Empire Studio 12, Colossus and Famous Players Silver City cites around B.C.

Edge of your seat thrills will grip audiences for over two and a half hours here. Global in scope Emmerich takes us on an unbelievable journey as catastrophic events begin to take their toll on poor old Earth. Scientists around the world do their best to uncover the mystery but by then it may be too late.

Spectacular Special Effects blow you away

While the best brains in the field seem to have been taken aback by the rapidity of this doomsday scenario we are introduced to happy go lucky Jackson Curtis. All Jackson wants is to bond with his kids but somehow he gets wound up in the story as California quickly fades to a mere memory. Landmarks around the world begin to disappear as a pending doom sets in.

Out to try to find a solution to this unknown mystery is Dr. Adrian Helmsley. Expect to see lots of second guessing and stonewalling as the good doctor, a physicist by training, tries to tell his superiors whats coming to destroy them. Efforts to find a solution seem pointless as the bureaucracy goes about its merry way and egos begin to collide.

Smart from start to finish, 2012 is an outstanding technical achievement. Atmosphere is everything to these disaster type movies and Emmerich smartly uses famous locations to unleash those naturally occurring freaks of nature. Smart science is well brought up as are the great characters that populate this story.

Unlikely Hero John Cusack rises to the occasion

Likeable John Cusack (Runaway Jury) does a grand job as a down on his luck ex-husband who must come to terms with his family, new lovers and, oh, yes, the odd street cracking right before his eyes and feet and ears. No country is spared here as heroes and villains appear at a moment's notice and bear heavily on the upheaval that gets worse by the second.

Busy as ever Woody Harrelson (Zombieland) pulls off another wild and crazy character while Amanda Peet (The Whole Nine Yards) does nicely as a mom in turmoil. Even though Cusack gets top billing the real star of this movie, apart from those uncanny special effects and the breakneck speed the world is collapsing, right before our very eyes, is Chiwetel Ejifor (Talk To Me) who continues to grow with each and every role he takes on, whether it's a scientist here or a crossdresser from England.

2012 features a big cast with nice deliveries also from Oliver Platt (Frost/Nixon) and Thandie Newton (Mission Impossible 2). About the only misfire here is having Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon 2) pretend to be a president. Barrack Obama Mr. Glover isnn't.

Huge sets that are impressive, tension that never abates and a fight for survival make 2012 a terrific joy ride. Bottom line here is to enjoy life while you can.

Read more reviews by Robert at www.moviereviewssite.com

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Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant

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Reviewed by mutuel

Hollywood Review

The Vampire’s Assistant (PG) * *

Freak Out!

By ROBERT WALDMAN


Vampires are in. Perhaps it all began a few years back with the Underworld series followed in short order by the upstart Twilight saga. Grand daddy of them all Universal Studios, the masters of the horror genre from the 40’s to 60’s returns to the fore with Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant. Campy in the extreme, this film’s very name conjures up efforts to turn the tale into a potential series. Given director Paul Weitz’s (About A Boy) nod to style viewers may yet become enchanted with this 108 minute yarn.

Some big name actors share screen time with a few upstarts in this tale of a few high school age boys who on a lark take in a rather unusual freak show. Being somewhat on the curious side one of these lads is into spiders while the other gets off on vampires. Little do they know that their lives will become intertwined forever once they go into a theatrical show that bills itself as the freakiest night ever.

Comedian John C. Reilly (Step Brothers) tries hard to hit the mark as Larten, a pioneer bloodsucker whose part of this ridiculous troop of misfits. Among the other older members of this tribe are a foxy diva played by Selma Hayek (Freda) and Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man) whose been around the bloodsucking business before.

Special effects play a central part in this story and they are campy while the dialogue alternates between being dumb and dumber; characters come in and leave; characters come in and leave without many of these oddballs leaving that much of an impression. Scenes shot at school are mildly amusing to watch and seeing the battle unfolds between the vampires and other purveyors of doom and gloom are also rather tepid.

Even the length of this movie seems a bit off base while other aspects of it try to succeed aided by the deadpan delivery of Reilly whose always engaging to watch. End results are a story that mixes humour and far out horror being bland that leaves you drenched with only faint palpitations.

Read more reviews by Robert at www.moviereviewssite.com

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Coco Before Chanel

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Reviewed by mutuel

At the Movies

Coco Avant Chanel (PG) * *

In French



Tres Chic!


By ROBERT WALDMAN



Sometimes its wise to pay attention to a film title before just venturing out to a theatre. A case in point is the latest Alliance Release, Coco avant Chanel. Those who know French realize that this short three word title translates to Coco before Chanel. Thus we are transported back in time to learn the beginning of what was to become the Chanel empire. Fashion aficionados will be pleased to see how it all began over while walking down the runway at the Fifth Avenue Cinemas
for 105 minutes.

Mention Chanel and women the world over know that’s synonymous with the famed French designer. Men too know that name signifies fine perfume and lavish clothing. Instead of concentrating on all the glamour we are immersed in the woman’s early life before she became a household name in France and then all over the world.

Only one actress could manage this role and the filmmakers naturally got their first choice, Audrey Tautou. Coco Avant Chanel explores her early childhood and then takes us into her “stage” career before meeting a string of French elite who welcome her into a world of richness and exclusivity. Naturally, along the way there are times for new friendships to develop, particularly with a few men who play pivotal parts in her development.

Apart from all the rich jet set life behind Coco Avant Chanel is an unending quest on the part of this woman for design and excellence. Here I found the film somewhat lacking as there are only hints at the actual design work and more importance placed on her relationships with the rich friends that come her way, complete with the requisite castles and servants and games that only the wealthy can indulge in.

Rather subdued, Coco Avant Chanel suffers from being slow moving and not that dynamic. Only one glimpse of the sheer excitement of the fashion world Coco pioneered gets covered and that’s near the end of the film. So we have here a pretty “ordinary” look at a woman who changed style for ever. Talk about a missed opportunity. Director Anne Fontaine, who wrote this story, needed to include more of the glitz and glamour that arrived when Coco became prominent as opposed to only concentrating on her earlier years before she became famous.

Despite this obvious setback that takes away from Coco’s life the casting and look of the film is good. Tautou, as always, is excellent and impressive and perfectly portrays this icon. Watch out for other strong work from Alessandro Nivola (Goal) and Etiene Balsan as suitors. And that rich French countryside is well displayed though not that memorable, unlike those dazzling designs Coco pioneered.

Short on glamour but long on a rather tepid maturing process Coco avant Chanel probably works best for those who like French tales with not too much flash.

Read more reviews by Robert at www.moviereviewssite.com

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