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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Henry Poole is Here

August 22nd, 2008

Rated PG for thematic elements and some language

Mark Pellington (dir.)

Luke Wilson as Henry Poole

Radha Mitchell as Dawn

Adriana Barraza as Esperanza

George Lopez as Father Salazars

Cheryl Hines as Meg

Richard Benjamin as Dr. Fancher

Morgan Lily as Millie Stupek

Rachel Seiferth as Patience

Beth Grant as Josie

Our reviews below:


Henry Poole is Here Review By John C.

**** (out of 4)

I could start off by saying how good the acting is, or that the writing is great and the direction is perfect, but I could also just simply say that I truly loved this movie. It starts off with lonely and depressed Henry Poole being shown around his new house by a real estate agent, who says that she can sell him the house, but before he moves in they’re just going to re-stucco the outside wall. He says “No, don’t bother, I’m not going to be staying very long”, but she doesn’t listen and gets it done anyway. And if she had listened to him, the face of Jesus would probably have never appeared on the side of his house. It is the kind of movie where everything happens for a reason, even when his kitchen sink backs up.

The face is first seen by his next-door neighbour Esperanza Martinez (Adriana Barraza), who’s boyfriend used to live in that very house. She declares it a miracle, and even brings in Father Salazar (George Lopez) to check it out. He says that a face is very clear, but they cannot necessarily assume that it is the face of Christ. But, when miracles start happening to those around him, Henry is still in doubt, and maybe he is the one in most need of a miracle. If none of this sounds that interesting to you, than this movie is probably not for you. I have read reviews from people who did not like it, and I can see why, but back on topic, I absolutely loved this movie.

One of the best things about it is the soundtrack, every song fits its scene perfectly (Thanks in part to director Mark Pellington, who has directed music videos for different bands, including U2) and not one song is out of place. There are two scenes part way through and one scene at the end that are absolutely beautifully done, and I had tears in my eyes. I could not help being moved by it. Like Northfork, Millions, Stranger Than Fiction, and August Rush, this is one of those special movies that only come once in a while, and sadly are not for everyone. One of the best movies of the year.


Henry Poole is Here Review By Erin V.

**** (out of 4)

Henry Poole is Here opens with the title character, (Luke Wilson), buying a house in an older neighborhood. When he moves in, his new next door neighbor, Esperanza, (Adriana Barraza), comes to his door to welcome him to the area. Henry Poole just wants to be left alone. Later on, he sees Esperanza in his yard looking at the side of the house. He asks her what she was doing there. She shows him that she sees the image of Christ’s face on the side of his house. All he sees is a bad stucco job. She wants him to believe. He doesn't want to be disturbed from staying at home, depressed and drinking. There is a little girl, Millie, (Morgan Lily), who lives next door on the other side of Henry’s house. She doesn't speak, but carries a tape recorder around with her. In this small suburban community everyone knows everyone else, and Henry just can’t be left alone. Be it Millie’s mother Dawn, (Radha Mitchell), or Patience, (Rachel Seiferth), the cashier at the local supermarket, they won’t go away. No matter how much he fights everyone and their beliefs around him.

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. The use of music in the film was especially interesting. I suppose that we can expect this from the director Mark Pellington. There are a few scenes that were done in a music video type style, which added to the unique feel of this film. Some people might find it moves at a bit of a slow pace at times, although I found it to be a nice change from the mainstream. And that is what this film is not - mainstream. It is more special then that. This is an art film, a festival film, and a truly moving story of a man who just needs to let go and believe.

Henry Poole is Here opens in Canada this week.


Henry Poole is Here Review By Nicole

**** (out of 4)

It is a rare treat to see such a lovely movie about faith, such as Henry Poole is Here. Henry Poole is a lonely, depressed man who moves into a new California home, preferring to be left alone. This all changes when his nosy next door neighbour, Esperanza, knocks on his door and excitedly tells him that the image of Jesus has appeared on his stucco outside. Henry Poole scoffs at her and asks her to leave. However, miracles start to happen, and despite Poole’s refusal to believe, his own life starts to improve, along with the lives of a single mother, and her electively mute daughter. Little by little, the image of Jesus brings the whole community to Poole when he refuses to reach out to them. This is a wonderful Christian movie, with no sex or violence, and only minimal swearing in context of the movie. While too slow moving for kids under 10, this is still a good movie to bring the family to. You will laugh at times, and cry at others. Henry Poole is Here is one movie you do not want to miss.


Henry Poole is Here Review By Maureen

*** (out of 4)

‘Henry poole is Here’ is worth seeing. I was skeptical at first, expecting that a movie about the face of Jesus appearing on a stucco wall would be either preachy, overly sentimental or anti-religious. Instead I got a warm, often funny, touching movie about faith, hope, and the human spirit.

The people in the movie are completely believable. Luke Wilson’s Henry Poole is appropriately miserable yet likable. Henry’s neighbor Esperanza, and Patience, the cashier at the local store, are both charming and funny and worth the price of admission. I smiled and laughed and rooted for these characters throughout the entire movie. It was my caring for these characters that kept me watching during the often slow pace of the film. Overall, I enjoyed the dialogue and the music, but would have preferred fewer tight close-ups of the actor’s faces. I definitely could have done without the close-ups of Henry Poole’s blood tests during his flashback hospital scene. I wasn’t the only one audibly cringing and looking away during those scenes.

The real beauty of this film was to watch how the faith and hope of each individual strengthened the other over time, and how their connections to one another proved to be the real miracle. For anyone who believes in the miracle of love and caring this is a must see movie. I’m a believer.


Henry Poole is Here Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

Henry Poole’s attempt to be left alone in his new home, to lie around subsisting on a diet of pizza and donuts washed down by various wines and spirits, is constantly interrupted by neighbours. A selectively mute little girl with a tape recorder lives with her single mother on one side, and the pushy but disarmingly pious Esperanza on the other. After Esperanza perceives a likeness of the Lord on Henry’s stucco wall, the inevitable crowds of pilgrims and apparent healings fail to convince Henry of any possibility of a miracle, even though, as is gradually revealed, he may need one most of all. The conclusion is just ambiguous enough for believers to feel affirmed and skeptics not to feel ripped off by fantasy. Good acting all around sustains Mark Pellington’s extreme closeups and brooding pace, which may be too art house slow for some.


Consensus: An answer to prayers for those who have been hoping for a movie that’s not afraid to have faith and God as a central theme. A wonderful indie gem. ***1/2 (out of 4)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Until Next Week...

A History of “At the Movies”

Written by John C.

Before Siskel and Ebert, television didn’t have a movie review show. All of that changed in September 1975. Once a month on Opening soon at a theater near you, created by Thea Flaum to air locally on PBS affiliate station WTTW in Chicago, Illinois, Gene Siskel from the Chicago Tribune and Roger Ebert from the Chicago Sun-Times would get together and discuss new and soon to be released movies. It became very popular not only for their honest opinions, but also because people could relate to them. The concept was simple, just two guys sitting in a balcony discussing movies, and they would rate them by a simple and universal thumbs-up or thumbs-down. It featured a segment titled Spot the wonder dog which was cued by a bark, and they would pick the worst movie or the “dog” of the Week. It ran for two seasons before being renamed sneak previews in 1977 when it became a biweekly show airing nationally on PBS. Later each episode would end with the tagline 'until next week, save us the aisle seats'.

By 1979 it was a weekly series on over 180 stations, and was the highest rated weekly entertainment show in the history of public broadcasting. The show was hugely popular, and they made the decision to syndicate it to commercial television, and in 1982 Siskel and Ebert were offered a new contract and told to take it, or leave it. They decided not to renew their contract with WTTW, stating that they did not like the direction PBS wanted to go. They were replaced by Neal Gabler and Jeffrey Lyons. Neal Gabler would leave in 1985, because of philosophical differences with the direction of the show. He was replaced by Michael Medved, who had already had cameo appearances on the show presenting the Golden Turkey Awards for the worst movies of the year. Sneak previews was unable to sustain it’s popularity without Siskel and Ebert, and was canceled by PBS in late 1995, just before the 1996 season.

Siskel and Ebert were soon signed by Tribune Entertainment, and became the hosts of At the Movies, in 1986 they left the show because of a dispute with Tribune entertainment. They were replaced by film critic Rex Reed and ET gossip correspondent Bill Harris. The show expanded to also have show business news as well as the regular movie reviews. Harris left in 1988, and was replaced by former ET host Dixie Whatley. It was canceled in 1990. Siskel and Ebert were signed on in 1986, by the Disney owned company Buena Vista, and the name was changed to Siskel & Ebert & the movies. It aired weekly on ABC. In 1989 the title would change again to simply Siskel & Ebert. They had special episodes called Take 2 where instead of reviewing new movies, they would discuss different topics such as Woman in Danger: slasher films of the 1970’s and early 80’s and even a show done in black and white to protest colourization. The show was extremely popular, because despite all the changes they still just seemed like two ordinary guys sitting in a balcony discussing movies, and they didn’t always agree. Some of the most remembered episodes are when they would argue with each other, over which one had a better opinion. They did not just fight on camera, they continued a friendship backstage. One minute they would be arguing and the next, sharing jokes and laughing with each other.

Through out the course of Siskel & Ebert, the show was nominated for seven Primetime Emmy Awards, most recently in 1997 for outstanding information series.

In 1998, Gene Siskel underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor. On February 3rd, 1999, he announced that he was taking a leave of absence, but that he should be back writing by the fall. He wrote “I’m in a hurry to get well because I don’t want Roger to get more screen time than I”. Sadly, Gene Siskel passed away on February 20th, 1999, due to complications from the surgery. The last few shows he co-hosted, he was heard via telephone from his hospital room. The last movie he reviewed was the romantic comedy Simply Irresistible. Roger Ebert continued the show with the title Roger Ebert & the Movies and rotating guest critics, including celebrities like Martin Scorsese and well known critics Joel Siegel from Good Morning America and The Washington Posts TV critic Tom Shales to name but only a few. But, the one that co-hosted the most was Richard Roeper, who was also from the Chicago Sun-Times. The show continued in this format through out the 1998-1999 season and even into 2000. Soon after, Roger Ebert announced that Richard Roeper was to be the new permanent co-host. On September 10th, 2000 the show’s name was changed to Ebert & Roeper & the Movies. A year later the name was shortened to just Ebert & Roeper.

In 2004, Roger Ebert was diagnosed with cancer of the salivary gland, and underwent radiation treatment for tumors on his thyroid and salivary gland. In 2006 the cancer came back, and he had to take a leave of absence. Shortly after, they released reviews that had been written or taped before his surgery. For the remainder of the 2006-2007 season the show continued with guest critics, including Jay Leno, Kevin Smith, A.O. Scott, Robert Wilonsky and Michael Phillips. In June 2007, the show’s name was officially changed to At the Movies with Ebert & Roeper. In August 2007 it was announced that Richard Roeper and any guest critics would not be allowed to use the thumbs-up or thumbs-down trademark which is owned by Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel’s widow, and saying that Robert Wilonsky of the Dallas Observer and HDnet.com would be the permanent co-host until Roger Ebert could return. In October, Robert Wilonsky never returned to the show, and they went back to switching between A.O. Scott of The New York Times and Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune. Roger Ebert would never return to the show, and Michael Phillips became the new host. Once again, a Chicago Sun-Times critic and a Chicago Tribune Critic would get together and discuss movies. This also came with the creation of a new segment titled, Three to See, where both critics would alternate between naming the best three movies in theaters right now. On May 24th, 2008 they started reviewing movies by saying See-it, Skip-it, or Rent-it.

On July 21st, 2008 Richard Roeper announced he was leaving the show, saying that he and Disney-ABC TV could not reach an agreement on a new contract. Roger Ebert also announced that he has cut all ties with the TV show. The last episode of At the Movies with Ebert & Roeper will air on August 17th, 2008. On September 6th, 2008 Richard Roeper and Michael Phillips will be replaced by Ben Lyons (son of well known film critic Jeffrey Lyons) a Hollywood reporter and film critic for E! news and Ben Mankiewicz whose grandfather Herman Mankiewicz won an Academy Award for the screenplay for Citizen Kane.

His great-uncle, writer-director Joseph Mankiewicz has won Oscars for All About Eve and A Love Letter to Three Wives, his cousin Tom Mankiewicz has written several of the James Bond movies including The Man with the Golden Gun and Diamonds are Forever, and his father Frank was the campaign director for the 1972 Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern’s campaign and was Sen. Robert F. Kennedy’s press secretary.

The new hosts will probably keep pretty much the same style that the show is in now, but changes to the music, set, and graphics are to be excepted. They will also introduce new segments, such as a critics roundup where they will be joined via satellite with reviewers from around the world.

The last episode of At the Movies with Ebert & Roeper will air on Sunday, August 17th, 2008 at 10:30 PM on CW 23 and at 1:05 AM on CTV. Please check local listings.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Friday, August 1, 2008

20th Century Fox Shooting Three Big-Budget Movies in Montréal This Year.

There are three big-budget movies being shot in Montréal this year. Each has a budget of at least $100 million. Read more from The Montréal Gazette at the link below.