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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Confessions of a Shopaholic DVD Review

Confessions of a Shopaholic - A Touchstone Pictures Release

On DVD: June 23rd, 2009

Rated PG language may offend, not recommended for young children

Running time: 105 minutes

P.J. Hogan (dir.)

Tracey Jackson (screenplay)

Tim Firth (screenplay)

Kayla Alpert (screenplay)

Sophie Kinsella (novel)

James Newton Howard (music)

Isla Fisher as Rebecca Bloomwood

Hugh Dancy as Luke Brandon

Krysten Ritter as Suze

Joan Cusack as Jane Bloomwood

John Goodman as Graham Bloomwood

John Lithgow as Edgar West

Kristin Scott Thomas as Alette Naylor

Leslie Bibb as Alicia Billington

Robert Stanton as Derek Smeath

Special Features: deleted scenes, bloopers, a music video titled “Stuck with Each Other”, by Shontelle featuring Akon, plus a digital copy of the film.

Hugh Dancy and Isla Fisher in Confessions of a Shopaholic - © WDSHE. All Rights Reserved

Our reviews below:


Confessions of a Shopaholic DVD Review By John C.

**1/2 (out of 4)

Confessions of a Shopaholic is a mildly enjoyable, but predictable, romantic-comedy. It’s the story of Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fisher), who’s a shopaholic. Any chance she has to go shopping, she takes and ultimately ends up thousands of dollars in debt. Along the way she accidentally ends up with a job at a magazine called Successful Saving, falls in love with her boss (Hugh Dancy), and learns lessons about what’s really important in her life.

The film is based on a series of books by Sophie Kinsella. All the actors do fine jobs of bringing their characters to life. It should be interesting to see Hugh Dancy, who plays Luke, as Adam in the upcoming film about a man with Asperger’s syndrome. The film is better than I expected it to be, and will probably be enjoyed quite a bit by it’s target audience.

The DVD includes four deleted scenes that were cut for obvious reasons, a not very funny blooper reel, a music video by Shontelle (featuring Akon) titled “Stuck with Each Other”, and a digital copy of the film, in case you feel a need to watch the film on you iPod. The Blu-Ray includes all these special features, and more.


Confessions of Shopaholic DVD Review By Erin V.

**3/4 (out of 4)

Confessions of a Shopaholic is based on the series of books of the same name by Sophie Kinsella. The story follows main character, Rebecca (Becky) Bloomwood, a woman who loves to shop, despite the fact that she has maxed out all of her accounts doing it. She literally can’t stop, hence the term, ‘shopaholic’, (which is an informal noun coined in the 1980’s meaning a compulsive shopper, according to Oxford American Dictionaries, since the suffix -aholic, or -oholic denotes to a person addicted to something as in ‘workaholic’, ‘alcoholic’, or ‘shopaholic’).

Anyway, back on to the movie. Becky needs money to buy more clothes, so she needs a good job. Because of her obsession with clothing, she wants to get a job at ‘Alette’ magazine for fashion, the top of a magazine chain. Instead, she lands a job at one of the chain’s lower down publications, called ‘Successful Savings’ - not her area of expertise. But, being a movie, she gets the job, partly because the man who is hiring kind of likes her, and she kind of likes him, and they don’t have a romantic interest for her yet.

Don’t get me wrong, I did like this movie. But could you expect it to be anything other than contrived? I think not. Essentially, my consensus is this: I read the books, I enjoyed the books, and I must admit that this was a fairly entertaining movie. The cast is strong, and while it does get kind of silly at times, it is completely harmless fun. If you’ve read the books, then you will probably enjoy this movie. Watch it and have some fun.


Confessions of a Shopaholic DVD Review By Nicole

**1/2 (out of 4)

Based on the book series by Sophie Kinsella, Confessions of a Shopaholic is a fun and completely harmless romantic comedy. When Becky Bloomwood goes shopping, she doesn’t just buy what she needs. Oh no. She buys everything that catches her eye, with the five or six credit cards that she carries everywhere. Eventually, she goes into debt, and so she looks for a job at a fashion magazine. She instead lands a job at a sister publication, a finance magazine. Becky starts a finance column entitled “The Girl in the Green Scarf”, while being hypocritical, becomes an amazing hit. Her job as a columnist only gets better, now that her attractive boss, Luke, whom she always fancied, has now started to notice her. However, Becky’s addiction to shopping continues to catch up to her. She still can’t resist the store mannequins, who seem to talk to her and wave hello, inviting her to buy more stuff. Now an annoying debt collector is harassing her. Becky now realizes that, in order to have a real life, she has to tackle her addiction.

Despite what could have been an annoying film, instead turns out to be a very witty and funny light comedy. This is dues to good acting, a light and fun story, and not much rude content. In fact, this movie contains no sexual situations or nudity, and very little language. The talking mannequins add a whimsical, Disney feel to the film. Confessions of a Shopaholic is a movie that even teens and seniors will enjoy.

The bonus features on this DVD include deleted scenes, bloopers, and a music video.

This movie is mindless fun, and is worth either renting or buying.


Confessions of a Shopaholic DVD Review By Maureen

*** (out of 4)

Confessions of a Shopaholic’ is based on the five book series by Sophie Kinsella. As a fan of the books, I hoped the movie would keep the same lighthearted fun spirit. Fortunately, it did. “Confessions of a Shopaholic’ is a funny and entertaining romantic comedy.

The main character Rebecca (Becky) Bloomwood is played amazingly well by Isla Fisher. Becky is a magazine writer who is completely addicted to shopping. She just can’t say no to the store mannequins who gesture and call to her as she walks by store windows. When she manages to get a job at a financial magazine as a back door way to work at a fashion magazine, the results are more than she could have hoped for. Becky’s financial advice column “The Girl in the Green Scarf becomes extremely popular and she has the attention of her good looking boss, Luke Brandon (played charmingly well by Hugh Dancy). Becky’s good luck is undermined by the fallout of her shopping addiction-Major personal debt and a determined debt collector.

The subplot of shopping addiction and debt problems is not a funny topic in these economic times, but this movie is funny. The movie works because of the stellar coast. Joan Cusack and John Goodman as Becky’s parents are both fun to watch.

The storyline wraps up well with Becky’s addiction being addressed and the love story with Luke fulfilled. The movie is very much a condensed version of the book but it is well done. This would make good viewing for teens and older. Put on your favorite outfit, get popcorn ready and enjoy. Nice, light summer fun. Buy it or rent it. Enjoy.


Confessions of a Shopaholic DVD Review By Tony

**1/2 (out of 4)

Confessions of a Shopaholic is a light comedy based on the popular series of books by Sophie Kinsella. The title character Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fisher) can’t resist a designer item on sale, especially when beckoned by animated shop window mannequins. Having run up a number of credit cards, just out of a job, and hounded by a collection agent, she seeks a position at a fashion magazine named after its founder Alette (Kristin Scott Thomas). She gets a job instead at a money management magazine owned by the same publisher (John Lithgow), hoping to move from there into the other position. Though she is totally unqualified, the editor Luke (Hugh Dancy) is intrigued by her quirky writing style under the pseudonym “Girl in the Green Scarf”, and finds her refreshing. Though fairly predictable with more than its share of dumb gags, Confessions of a Shopaholic is a charming film mainly due to its strong cast, and as a bonus is free of vulgarity.

The DVD includes some dreadful deleted scenes, some slightly better bloopers, and an ok music video mixed with some film clips


Consensus: Confessions of a Shopaholic provides for an evening of mindless fun. **3/4 (Out of 4)

Liberty, USA DVD Review

Liberty, USA - An E1 Films Release

On DVD: June 30th, 2009

Rated PG

Running time: 71 minutes

Alan Handel (dir.)

Our reviews below:


Liberty, USA DVD Review By John C.


Liberty, USA is a fascinating and sometimes hilarious look at six US towns named Liberty. In the six places they visit, we see stories about how, even today, we are still affected by racism. In one of my favorite segments, we see the inspiring true story about a man from Afghanistan, who lost both his hands to a roadside bomb. In one of the funniest segments we see the teachers at a Christian high school trying to “scare” the students out of having sex.

One of the things that really makes the film work is it’s running time. At only 71 minutes, it never drags or feels too long. A lot of documentaries over-stay their welcome by about twenty minutes. As this is a Canadian film, it’s interesting to see all these stories from a Canadian perspective.

The DVD has no bonus material, except for a trailer gallery for other films.


Liberty, USA DVD Review By Erin V.

*** (out of 4)

Liberty, USA. Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi, Washington, Texas, and Iowa. Six states across the country, each with a common thread. They all have towns called Liberty, and they were chosen to be profiled in this Canadian documentary. These aren’t the only towns in the US called Liberty though. Most states have at least one. Even in Canada, Liberty seems like a good name for a town. There is a Liberty, Saskatchewan, if you want to name one for an example. But that is not the point. In this documentary, the question is poised to the residents of the towns of Liberty, in the six states I mentioned at the beginning of this review; What does Liberty mean to them?

It appears, there are different ideas about Liberty across the country. Liberty to be free, liberty to be safe, liberty to express your own opinions, etc. But what we also see, is that liberty, in this day and age, is still not always equal. There are those who are still, even today, discriminated against, in both subtle, and not so subtle ways.

The towns all have people that are nice, odd, quirky, or oldschool. As the film takes us across the country, we meet these people sometimes in little corners of the country that we didn’t even know existed. Despite the fact that a documentary like this could go on for a while just interviewing people, (and getting quite boring in the process), this one does not. Interspliced with just the right amount of old movie and news footage, it never drags. And at only 71 minutes, it is just the right length. With both humour, and something to think about, Liberty, USA makes for a very watchable documentary. This week, with both Canada Day, and Independence Day coming up, why not watch this Canadian look at US towns called Liberty. It’s worth it.


Liberty USA DVD Review By Nicole

*** (out of 4)

Liberty, USA is a thought provoking, ironic, and often funny documentary film that challenges the nation of American liberty. Interspliced with old film clips, as well as archival footage of former and current presidents, this documentary takes us to 6 different rural American towns called Liberty, each in a different state. The first place visited is Liberty, Ohio. Here, we meet an intimidating and unsympathetic sheriff, who runs a prison chain gang, and rounds up illegal immigrants. One of the immigrants is a single mother, who is trying to make ends meet for her young children. The second story, which takes place in Kentucky, is my favorite. Here, a kindly, older man, who closely resembles Santa Claus, has, with his wife adopted or fostered dozens of children over the years. One of his charges, now grown up, was rescued from Afghanistan when he was 14. There, he lost both his parents and his hands. Now, thanks to the orphanage (known as Galilean home), he has completed his education, and is attending university. Although he lives at a Christian facility, he still practices his Muslim faith. This story really sums up the true meaning of liberty. The next story takes place in Mississippi. Here, in the South, segregation was eliminated several years ago. But old habits die hard. There is a private all white school, in the town, and a crumbling public school, which mostly contains black students. We also hear of an African American man, whose father was killed about 40 years ago. No one has come forward with enough evidence to reopen the murder case, which was never resolved. We next head to Liberty, Washington, a small gold mining town, with only a handful of remaining residents. The town was slated for demolishing by the parks service years earlier, but was saved by the eccentric (and heavily armed) residents. Now, the remaining residents live very laid back lives, meeting for “happy hour” at a different house each day. We next head to Liberty Texas. Here we visit a Christian high school, where an abstinence only program, mnemonically entitled Social Education to the eXtreme, is taught in health class. We then head to Liberty Iowa, where the first American mosque ever built still exits. The imam wants to open a youth camp on military owned land, but first has to obtain permission to use the land. There are already Bible camps nearby. Can the imam convince the military that they can open a Muslim youth camp on their land? The answer might surprise you.

Interspliced with famous presidential speeches, each story shows us what liberty is all about. We see throughout the documentary that, until racism and religious intolerance is eliminated, ‘true liberty’ cannot exist. However, there is hope, as attitudes change. Liberty, USA is a decent, and often funny documentary, that is worth adding to your collection.


Liberty, USA DVD Review By Maureen

*** (out of 4)

Liberty, U.S.A. is a interesting Canadian documentary produced by the National Film Board, written and directed by Alan Handel.

The film tours through six American towns all named Liberty. It includes the states of Iowa, Ohio, Washington, Kentucky, Texas and Mississippi. The documentary is a mix of interviews with individuals and politicians in each of the towns, archival clips of previous U.S. Presidents and the (then) not yet elected Barack Obama. The interviewer tries to discover what the concept of Liberty means to the individuals and the towns.

Liberty, U.S.A. shows an interesting cross-section of Americans. There’s the law-abiding sheriff who comes down hard on illegal immigrants, and has prison chain gangs clean up litter alongside the highways. There are sex. ed classes in the Bible Belt, private Christian schools that are mostly white and public schools that are mainly black. There is also a Christian orphanage that highlights a young Afghanistan man who lost both hands to a landmine. This particular story was especially touching. The story of the war on terrorism also comes up when a group of law-abiding Lebanese/American Muslims want to open a nature campground for children.

Overall this is a well-made, thought provoking documentary. At 71 minutes it is just the right length for classrooms or at home viewing. Liberty, U.S.A. is worth checking out if you can find it.


Liberty, USA DVD Review By Tony

***1/2 (out of 4)

Liberty, USA is a documentary for Canadian television produced by the National Film Board. With our Canadian outsider’s perspective, director Alan Handel has chosen six out of the hundreds of US communities called Liberty to show how Americans live out what has gone in many cases from a noble ideal to a propaganda buzzword. Framing the film and between each profile we are treated to archival footage from hokey patriotic documentary and feature westerns and war films.

In Liberty, Ohio we meet the swaggering sheriff who takes law and order seriously, especially when weeding out illegal immigrant workers (though not their bosses), and ensuring the humiliation of prisoners in chain gangs.

In Liberty, Kentucky we meet the leader of a religious community providing support for at risk immigrants, such as a young man brought from Afghanistan with both hands blown off by a mine, now going on to higher education.

Liberty, Washington was a company town which should have shut down when the mine gave out, until a defiant group of residents met the bulldozers at gunpoint. Eventually they were granted protection as part of a national forest.

Liberty, Mississippi is officially integrated, but de facto segration still exists, particularly (by choice) in the churches, but also in schools, since most whites send their kids to an all-white private school, leaving the public schools 90% black. Built in the 1960s, the public high school is in desperate need of repair, but since public school funding comes from local taxes, the white majority has voted against it. Meanwhile, the alleged murders of blacks by klansmen in the 1960’s have never been seriously investigated. Finally, the town is united in patriotic mourning when the body of a black soldier is brought home.

Liberty, Texas typifies the bible belt, where an oxymoronic policy of abstinence sex education has resulted in the nation’s highest levels of teenage pregnancy.

Liberty, Iowa is the home of the nation’s oldest mosque (literally a “Little Mosque on the Prairie”), established over a century ago by the first generation of a Lebanese immigrant family. Their grocery store grew into a large producer and exporter of Halal1 foods, and the present head of the family is a respected philanthropist. Their plans to build an Islamic summer camp on the banks of a national reservoir are in jeopardy after 9/11.

Liberty, USA provides a valuable glimpse of many aspects of small-town American life, without ever passing judgement on what it sees.

1 Halal refers to food prepared according to Islamic law, much like Jewish Kosher laws, which forbid things like pork.


Consensus: Liberty, USA is an interesting Canadian look at what Liberty means to different people who live in small towns across the United States. *** (Out of 4)

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Art of Up Book Review

Released May 15th, 2009

Page count: 160 pages

Size: 11 x 9

The Art of Up Short Films

(Text) By Tim Hauser

Foreword By Pete Docter

Research Associate Adam Abraham

Published By Chronicle Books, May 2009

Distributed by Raincoast Books in Canada




The Art of Up Review By John C.

With every Pixar film, there is an "art-of" book to accompany it. This year's Up was no exception. The Art of Up, the newest publication from Raincoast Books, is perfect in every way right down to the "My Adventure Book" hidden under the dust jacket. With glorious pieces of art, from artists like Ronnie Del Carmen and Bob Peterson, and from such people as director Pete Docter and even his daughter, Elie Docter. Pete Docter also writes the foreword to the book.

The book helps us further appreciate the art behind the masterpiece that is Pixar's Up. I recommend adding this book to any collection of stuff relating to the studio.


The Art of Up Book Review By Erin V.

The Art of Up is a beautiful collection of skillfully crafted artwork from Pixar’s newest masterpiece, Up, compiled together by animation writer Tim Hauser.

With these ‘Art of’ books, too much text, or an unorganized fashion, can cause them to be overwhelming, and unreadable. What I found I loved about The Art of Up is the ‘Simplexity’ with which this particular book is organized. Simplexity is a word coined by production artists on Up. As explained by production designer Ricky Nierva in chapter one, (appropriately called ‘Seeking Simplexity’), this new word means “the art of simplifying (an image) down to its essence, where the complexity that you layer on top of it - in texture, design, or detail - is masked by how simple the form is.” Simply put, ‘Simplexity’ is selective detail.

And the selection here is exquisite. In this collection, there is a fair amount of art from more well known Pixar names, such as Ricky Nierva, Lou Romano, and Ronnie Del Carmen, to names of artists that will possibly be more well known in the future, such as Elie Docter, (daughter of director Pete Docter). Elie voices Ellie in the film, as well as provided the artwork for her ‘My adventure book’ used as a central set piece to the story.

The challenges in Up were great, seeking such simplexity as to create a character only 3 heads high (as Carl is), yet still make him believable. The success of this is amazing, and this is due to the artists in the developing process. It is an honour to see these developing fazes.

The time put into making a film of this caliber is completely deserving of a book devoted to it. Tim Hauser’s work here does it justice. On page 18, we learn that in this movie, so simplex, Carl is based on a square, Ellie a circle, Russell a balloon shape, Dug an upside down balloon shape, and Kevin a triangle with lines. You see, the secret to simplexity is in simple forms representing the character. And with these simple, basic forms, come the characters of one of the most emotional films of the year. Congratulations to all of the filmmakers involved, I am sure that the Annie awards this year will have many of the names found in this book, on the nomination and winners list. The Art of Up is one book that you will definitely want to own.


To find out more about The Art of Up, visit Raincoast's website here. You can read our reviews of the film here.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

This Month’s Overlooked Film

Chosen by: John C.

Thank You For Smoking

Release Date April 14th, 2006

Rated 14A for coarse language and sexual content

Running Time: 92 min

Jason Reitman (dir.)

Jason Reitman (screenplay)

Christopher Buckley (novel)

Rolfe Kent (music)

Aaron Eckhart as Nick Naylor

J.K. Simmons as BR

Cameron Bright as Joey Naylor

Kim Dickens as Jill Naylor

William H. Macy as Senator Ortolan Finistirre

Robert Duvall as Captain

Katie Holmes as Heather Holloway

Adam Brody as Jack

Sam Elliott as Lorne Lutch


Thank You For Smoking

Review By John C.

Before Juno, Ivan Reitman’s son, Jason Reitman, made his feature-length debut with the brilliant and hilarious satire, Thank You For Smoking. Aaron Eckhart leads an all-star cast, as Nick Naylor, a man who spends his life defending the cigarette companys. As anti-smoking as the film is, it doesn’t really take sides. It asks questions, but doesn’t necessarily give us an answer. It’s thought-provoking entertainment, but most importantly it’s just very, very funny. Jason Reitman is currently finishing work on his third film, Up in the Air, so that it can hopefully premiere at TIFF in September.

Is there a film that you think is overlooked? Send the name of the movie to onemoviefiveviews@hotmail.com, or leave us a comment below.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Trailer Watch: Amelia

Yahoo! now has the trailer for Fox Searchlight’s bio-pic of Amelia Earhart. Amelia will almost definitely pick up a Best Picture nomination, and even with 9 other nominees, could even be a potential winner.

-John C.

My Sister’s Keeper

My Sister’s Keeper


Release Date: June 26th, 2009

Rated 14A for mature thematic content, some disturbing images, sensuality, language, and brief teen drinking.

Running time: 110 minutes

Nick Cassavetes (dir.)

Nick Cassavetes (screenwriter)

Jeremy Leven (screenwriter)

Jodi Picoult (author of original book ‘My Sister’s Keeper)

Aaron Zigman (music)

Cameron Diaz as Sara Fitzgerald

Abigail Breslin as Anna Fitzgerald

Alec Baldwin as Campbell Alexander

Jason Patric as Brian Fitzgerald

Sofia Vassilieva as Kate Fitzgerald

Heather Wahlquist as Aunt Kelly

Joan Cusack as Judge De Salvo

Thomas Dekker as Taylor Ambrose

Evan Ellingson as Jesse Fitzgerald

David Thornton as Dr. Chance

ABIGAIL BRESLIN as Anna and SOFIA VASSILIEVA as Kate in New Line Cinema's drama "My Sister's Keeper," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. The film also stars Cameron Diaz. [Photo by Sidney Baldwin]

Our reviews below:


My Sister’s Keeper Review By John C.

**1/2 (out of 4)

My Sister’s Keeper is the story of Anna (Abigail Breslin), who was created to be a perfect genetic match for her sister. When her sister, Kate (Sofia Vassilieva), was two, she was diagnosed with a rare form of Leukemia. Since then, Anna has just been spare parts for her sister. Now, at age eleven, she is expected to donate her kidney. So she files for medical emancipation from her parents.

The acting by the cast is not going to win any awards, but it works for what it is. Sofia Vassilieva delivers a fine performance as Kate, but I would not so much praise her acting as much as the work of the make-up artists. Cameron Diaz is alright as the very unlikable mother, but I wish she didn’t always wear those stupid fuzzy boots, which she even has on at the beach. But it is Abigail Breslin who really carries the movie.

The make-up for Kate, as she succumbs to the cancer is impeccable. Thank goodness she is afflicted with more than just “theatrical cancer”. Now her hospital boyfriend, Taylor (Thomas Dekker), who looks a bit too old for Kate, just appears to be pale, with a shaved head and eyebrows. His eyelashes are brought out by eyeliner. He is suffering from a milder form of the “theatrical” type of cancer.

They use a scrapbook filled with memories to tell part of the story. It’s cluttered pages fill the screen more than once. None of these scenes even come close to the emotion felt when Carl reads through the My Adventure Book in the Pixar masterpiece Up.

The fractured narrative of flash-backs and flash-forwards, make for a sometimes confusing experience. The various voiceover narration from the different characters, rarely ever works.

There are too many sappy montages. Most of the time, they don’t work. In one of the most irritating, the characters go into a photo booth and take all sorts of silly pictures. There is also a montage of them blowing bubbles jumping on a trampoline. Then there’s the montage at the beach, set to a pop song. Various uses of slow motion just make them seem even longer.

The film’s issues of moving on and letting go are never dealt with as gracefully and beautifully as in the Japanese film Departures. It is never as emotionally affecting as other recent films like Is Anybody There? or Up. The cancer story line is not done in an original way, like in the Canadian masterpiece One Week. My Sister’s Keeper just boils down to something that could have been much better, but just gets lost in hopes of being a better movie.

I wouldn’t say that you shouldn’t go see it, but I wouldn’t say that you have to see it, either. It’s pretty good for what it is, but you can probably wait for the DVD.


My Sister’s Keeper Review By Erin V.

**1/2 (out of 4)

My Sister’s Keeper is not a bad film, it was actually better than I had suspected it would be. Based on the book of the same name by Jodi Picoult, the story is as follows:

While most babies come unexpectedly, Anna Fitzgerald, (Abigail Breslin), was engineered in a lab for a purpose - to save her big sister Kate, (Sofia Vassilieva). You see, Kate was diagnosed with Leukemia at the age of 2. Her older brother Taylor, nor her parents, were donor matches, so Anna was created in a lab to ensure a match. For the last 11 years of Anna’s life, she has been used in a way as spare parts for her sister. Blood donations, bone marrow, etc., and now, they want her to donate a kidney. The thing is, Anna says that she doesn’t want to do it anymore. So, since at 11 the law says that she cannot make her own medical decisions, she hires a lawyer with a 91% success rate, named Campbell Alexander, (Alec Baldwin), in order to challenge the law, and file for medical emancipation.

This is not a happy, fun movie, due of course to it’s sad subject matter. Some parts of the film do seem kind of clichéd, or contrived, and I found the use of slow motion, and other such clichés to become cumbersome after being used almost to excess. Also, the character of Jesse, Kate and Anna’s older brother, was quite underdeveloped. With all this being said though, the acting here is fair, and Aaron Zigman’s score fits well. The makeup near the end of the movie on Sofia Vassilieva is very accurate as well.

If you have read the book, than you might want to see this movie to check it out - although be forewarned that apparently, (I haven’t actually read the book, but asked someone who had), the ending of the book and the film are quite different... Other than that, if you are in the mood for a tearjerker kind of film, I guess this is it.


My Sister’s Keeper Review By Nicole

**3/4 (out of 4)

My Sister’s Keeper is a fairly decent and thought provoking tearjerker film. Based on the book by Jodi Picoult, this movie tells the story of one family’s experience with cancer. What began as a “perfect” family, with a boy, Jesse, and a girl, Kate, is suddenly shaken when it is discovered that Kate, then two years old, has leukemia. Kate requires transfusions of blood and bone marrow, but no suitable donors come up. So Kate’s parents, Sara and Brian, decide to create a genetically engineered baby in a test tube. The new baby, Anna, is a perfect match for Kate.

Fast forward 11 years, and Kate still has cancer. This time, Kate is worse than ever. Her kidneys are failing, and who do you think the donor is supposed to be? Anna, obviously. However, Anna doesn't want to be “spare parts” for Kate. Anna has had stuff taken from her body against her will ever since she was a baby. So Anna hires a high profile lawyer, Campbell Alexander, to sue her parents for medical emancipation, much to the dismay of the mother, Sara. Sara has done everything to try to save Kate, but has never really asked her daughters what their wishes are. Their father, who is a firefighter, is more sympathetic, and understands where Anna is coming from. When the court case finally goes down, we find out more as to why Anna is fighting for medical emancipation. The movies ending, while obviously sad, is very realistic, and far more reasonable than the apparent ending of the book (which I have not yet read).

This film does not shy away from showing the horrific aspects of having leukemia. The makeup work done on Sofia Vassilieva (Kate) is very realistic. At some points, however, seeing Kate become physically ill is almost too graphic, but really shows how awful the disease really is. (Sensitive viewers may want to look away at some points.) This is contrasted by a lot of clichéd scenes, as well as flashbacks and flash forwards, which didn’t quite work, and were somewhat confusing.

There are, however, some touching moments in this film. The relationship between Kate and Taylor, another teenage cancer patient, was sweet, (though Thomas Dekker, who plays Taylor, looks too old for the role.) I liked seeing the gentle and caring relationship between Anna and Kate. I also appreciated the fact that, although the family fights, they still stick together, growing stronger in the end.

This movie, although very clichéd, is a decent tearjerker film, that, while no means brilliant, opens discussion on bioethics, and has a good message about family values, reproductive technologies, and end of life care. The acting is decent, and the quiet score by Aaron Zigman sets the tone for the film. A very sad, but realistic story that is worth checking out at the theatre or on DVD. Just remember to bring tissues.


My Sister’s Keeper Review By Maureen

**1/2 (out of 4)

How would you feel if you realized that you had been genetically bred to provide body parts for a sibling? That’s the question that is addressed in ‘My Sister’s Keeper”, based on the book by Jodi Picoult.

Fourteen year old Kate (Sofia Vassilieva) has had recurring cancer since she was a toddler. Her eleven year old sister Anna (Abigail Breslin), who was genetically bred to be an exact genetic match, is now expected to donate a kidney to save Kate’s life. Anna questions the request and hires lawyer Campbell Alexander (Alec Baldwin) to grant her medical emancipation and give her control over her own body.

While a portion of the movie is focused on the court case, more of it is focused on Kate’s cancer and the effects on her and her increasingly dysfunctional family. The subject of Kate’s cancer is dealt with very realistically and often graphically. This is not made out to be a sentimental disease. There are also many tender and touching moments in Kate’s battle. In particular, her relationship with another young cancer patient, Taylor, (Thomas Dekker) is very touching and real. The scenes with Kate and her family at the beach are also heartwarming to watch. Viewers need to be aware that this is a real tearjerker movie. Audible sniffling could be heard throughout the theatre.

Although this is a decent movie overall, the problem is that the subject matter can lend itself to a lot of clichés (slow motion, flashbacks, etc.) that can distract from the story. I feel that’s what happened here. I found the parents, Sara (Cameron Diaz), and Brian (Jason Patric) and older brother, Jessie (Evan Ellingson) not believable enough. Perhaps in the book the characters were developed differently. I did find the ending sad but satisfying though apparently it deviates from the book. Check this one out if the storyline or any of the actors appeal to you. Otherwise wait for the DVD to have a good cry at home.


My Sister’s Keeper Review By Tony

**1/2 (out of 4)

My Sister’s Keeper, based on the novel by Jodi Picoult, has a totally different ending from the book. Though we didn’t read it, from what we have heard the film’s outcome seems more satisfying and meaningful than the book’s.

Kate (Sofia Vassilieva) has had leukemia most of her life, her kidneys have shut down, and she is now close to death from complications of dialysis. Her younger sister Anna is a clone conceived in vitro to provide “spare parts” which have already included invasive procedures such as bone marrow donations, and would now require a kidney transplant. Kate is prepared to die and will not resent Anna if she refuses. Their mother Sara (Cameron Diaz), who quit her job as a lawyer to care for Kate full time, is driven to do everything she can to keep Kate alive. Her husband Brian (Jason Patric) reluctantly agreed to the cloning and is now trying to see both sides. When Anna hires the celebrity lawyer Campbell Alexander (Alec Baldwin) to claim the right to refuse her kidney, her mother is determined to fight her in court on the grounds that at age 11 Anna has no rights over her own body. Joan Cusack turns in a very sympathetic performance as the judge. Kate and Anna also have an older brother Jesse (Evan Ellingson), whose larger role in the book has been reduced to little more than wandering the streets at night which is just a distraction. Kate has a boyfriend Taylor (Thomas Dekker) who also has cancer. David Thornton is also good as the pragmatic family doctor. The camera work by Caleb Deschanel is good, and the rest of his family (except Zooey) have bit parts.

Though we found it overly sentimental and corny at times, My Sister’s Keeper is not a bad movie. It has a good cast, and deals fairly with the issues involved.


Consensus: While it is clichéd at times, the acting is decent, and overall My Sister’s Keeper is not a bad film. Just keep in mind that if you don’t see it now, it won’t lose that much on DVD, due to the kind of film it is. **1/2 (Out of 4)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Special Announcement about next years Oscar's

The Academy president, Sid Ganis, announced earlier today that this year, there will be 10 Best Picture nominees, instead of only 5. This is the first time this is happening since 1943, when Casablanca took home the gold. If this had happened a year earlier, than films like WALL•E, The Dark Knight and The Wrestler would have been guaranteed nominations. This could mean that a film like Pixar’s masterpiece Up could very well end up with one of the ten spots. I think we could easily end up seeing something like this come the announcement:



Inglourious Bastards


The Lovely Bones


Public Enemies

Sherlock Holmes

Shutter Island


Please note that this is mostly just speculation. We will probably see tons of, at this point unknown, films that will make their way through. I just hope Up does get it’s much deserved Oscar attention in the Best Picture category. There are tons of other films, that judging from the trailers, look like they could be good enough to warrant a nomination. From the trailer, Where the Wild Things Are looks like it should get a nomination, although I don't know if it will. Even the upcoming The Time Travelers Wife, could end up being good enough to make it’s way through. We will know for sure come next February 2nd when the nominations are announced. The 82nd Academy Awards will be held on Sunday, March 7th, 2010. You can get more details on any of these films on IMDb.

-John C.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Trailer Watch: Ponyo

You can now watch, on Apple Movie Trailers, the magnificent trailer for the upcoming Hayao Miyazaki film, Ponyo. Released to critical acclaim in Japan under the name Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, it will be released in North America on August 14th, through Walt Disney Pictures.

-John C.

Inkheart DVD Review

Inkheart - An Alliance Films’ Release

On DVD: June 23rd, 2009

Rated PG for frightening scenes, and violence - not recommended for young children.

Running time: 106 minutes

Ian Softley (dir.)

David Lindsay-Abaire (screenplay)

Cornelia Funke (novel)

Javier Navarrete (music)

Brendan Fraser as Mo Folchart

Andy Serkis as Capricorn

Eliza Hope Bennett as Meggie Folchart

Paul Bettany as Dustfinger

Helen Mirren as Elinor Loredan

Jim Broadbent as Fenoglio

Rafi Gavron as Farid

Sienna Guillory as Resa

Special Features: Eliza reads to us.

(left to right) Helen Mirren stars as “Elinor,” Brendan Fraser stars as “Mo,” Rafi Gavron stars as “Farid,” Eliza Bennett stars as “Meggie,” and Paul Bettany stars as “Dustfinger” in New Line Cinema’s release, INKHEART, Photo Credit: Murray Close/New Line Cinema.

Inkheart © 2007 Internationale Filmproduktion Blackbird Erste GmbH & Co. KG. ™New Line Productions, Inc. Package Design & Supplementary Material Compilation © 2009 New Line Productions, Inc. Distributed exclusively in Canada by Alliance Films. All Rights Reserved.

Our reviews below:


Inkheart DVD Review By John C.

*** (out of 4)

Inkheart is a highly entertaining fantasy film, based on the books by Cornelia Funke. It’s the story of Mo (Brendan Fraser) a silvertongue, which means that when he reads out loud, the characters literally come off the page. When his daughter, Meggie, was very young, he read aloud from a book called Inkheart. When someone leaves the book, someone from our world has to go in. The books villain, Dustfinger (Paul Bettany), escapes, sending Mo’s wife into the clutches of the book, only to be returned if she is “read” out of it. The problem is, Inkheart is an almost impossible to find book.

The movies excitement comes alive with some pretty cool special effects. While it would be way to scary for younger kids, it’s incredibly entertaining for older kids, and even adults.

The DVD has one bonus feature. A short video of main actress Eliza Bennett reading a passage from the Inkheart book.


Inkheart DVD Review By Erin V.

***1/2 (out of 4)

Inkheart is based on the series of books (the first of which is Inkheart) by Cornelia Funke. It the first part of the story of Mo, a ‘Silvertongue’, meaning everything he reads on paper, comes to life. He has been searching all over Europe for 9 years, trying to find a copy of the elusive book, ‘Inkheart’. His daughter Meggie, who is 12, wants to know why they move so often, and why he is on an endless, desperate quest for this one book.

The villain of the story is Capricorn. He is from the story ‘Inkheart’, and was accidentally released by Mo, the last time he held a copy of the book. Desperate to prevent Mo from finding a copy and sending him back, Capricorn has his henchman travel the land to try to destroy every copy they come across. Meanwhile, they want to capture Mo, because as a ‘Silvertongue,’ he can read out anything - from great riches, to the great monster of Capricorn’s, The Shadow.

Inkheart is a fun movie for older kids, that teens and adults will thoroughly enjoy as well. Young kids, under maybe 8 or so, will probably find some elements of this quite scary, so just be aware of that. By 12 most kids will probably love this though, and it would make a fun present for the start of Summer vacation.

From theatre to DVD, this movie translates well, although clearly some of the end scene’s special effects were really cool on the big screen. Having just seen it a few months ago, normally I would have waited a little longer before seeing something like this again, but it was still quite enjoyable for me. Overall, Inkheart is a fun movie that would make for a great Summer family popcorn night.


Inkheart DVD Review By Nicole

*** (out of 4)

Inkheart is a fun fantasy story that celebrates the love of reading. Based on the book by Cornelia Funke, this movie tells the story of what can happen when books come to life.

It all started when Mo Folchart, the father in the story, reads a book called ‘Inkheart’. Mo is a silvertongue, which is someone who can bring characters out of books by reading them aloud. Problem is, whenever someone comes out of a book, someone else goes goes in. As a result, Mo’s wife is lost in ‘Inkheart’. So he goes on an adventure to find his wife. His daughter, Meggie, comes along on the journey. It turns out that Meggie is also a silvertongue, which comes in very handy at the end of the film. Their are a lot of fun characters in this movie, as well as fairy tale animals and scary villains.

Although scary for very young children, this movie is great fun for older children and adults. The special effects are good, as is the storyline, acting, and score.

There isn’t much in terms of bonus features. The only bonus feature involves Eliza Bennett reading a passage from ‘Inkheart’, not in the movie, accompanied by illustrations by Cornelia Funke. This bonus feature is good, but I would have liked seeing some making of featurettes, including one about the special effects, as well as a commentary track form the director and cast. Commentary or an interview from the author of the book would also have been nice. Over all, however, this DVD is worth owning. Inkheart is a fun fantasy film that you will want to see again and again.


Inkheart DVD Review By Maureen

*** (out of 4)

Inkheart is an exciting, fantasy adventure about book characters who come to life. The story is based on the book ‘Inkheart’, the first of the trilogy by Cornelia Funke.

The story revolves around silvertongue Mo Folchart, his daughter Meggie, and their quest to find a copy of the ‘Inkheart’ book and rescue their wife/mother who became trapped in the story. Mo and Meggie face a lot of danger and villains in their fantastical quest. There is a wonderful sense of adventure throughout Inkheart, which is exactly what you would want if you were reading a fantasy, adventure book.

Some of the villains and situations would be too scary for younger children. Inkheart is best suited for children, 12 and over and adults who enjoy fantasy adventure. The special effects are really good.

This would be a great movie to watch on a rainy Summer afternoon. It would probably inspire the reading of a good book or three. Inkheart is worth adding to a family DVD collection.


Inkheart DVD Review By Tony

***1/2 (out of 4)

The title Inkheart refers to a rare book full of medieval castles and fantastic characters, sought by antiquarian Mo Folchart (Brendan Fraser), who is traveling with his 12 year old daughter Meggie (Eliza Hope Bennett). Just as Mo finds a copy, they are met by a strange young fire juggler named Dustfinger (Paul Bettany) who begs Mo for help. Mo panics and takes Meggie across the border to stay with his aunt Elinor (Helen Mirren) in her large Italian house with its wonderful library. Dustfinger follows them with a group of degenerate thugs who trash the house, burn the books and take Mo, Meggie and Elinor away to a remote castle where they are locked up alongside fictional creatures such as a ticking crocodile, unicorn, flying monkeys and a minotaur. When they are brought to meet their host, a preening lowlife named Capricorn (Andy Serkis), he burns Mo’s copy of Inkheart and forces him to read out the treasure of the Arabian Nights along with one of the 40 thieves named Farid (Rafi Gavron).

”Reading out” is the power Mo has as a silvertongue to bring to life whatever he reads aloud, but when a character comes out of a book, another live person must go into it. Nine years prior, Mo discovered his gift while reading from Inkheart to Meggie and his wife Resa (Sienna Guillory). Capricorn and Dustfinger came to life, but Resa was trapped in the book. While Mo has longed to read her back out, Capricorn has been determined to stay alive by destroying every copy of Inkheart. He has another silvertongue named Darius (John Thomson) but he stutters, so the characters and other creatures he reads out for Capricorn are all covered with writing and otherwise defective. Resa has been read out to serve Capricorn in chains as a scullery maid, but was left mute.

Dustfinger and the others escape the castle during a cyclone Mo reads out from Meggie’s copy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. They go visit Inkheart’s author Fenoglio (Jim Broadbent). Left alone, Meggie discovers she is also a silvertongue when her reading produces a little black dog, but just then she is caught and brought back to the castle to be forced to read out the most terrifying creature of all–the Shadow–a huge black all-destructive cloud. Whether she and the others can save themselves leads to an exciting conclusion to the film.

According to the film’s press release, prolific German-born author/illustrator Cornelia Funke actually had Brendan Fraser in mind when she wrote Inkheart, and is delighted with the film adaptation directed by Iain Softley and his largely British cast and crew. I agree. The film is further enriched by its Italian locations and full-blown score by Spanish-born Javier Navarrete. With all its fantasy, Inkheart is terrifying, suspenseful, and ultimately satisfying.

The only extra on the DVD is a charming reading by Eliza Hope Bennett from the concluding pages of Inkheart. There is more in the BluRay set (not reviewed), including access to additional online material.


Consensus: Inkheart is a fun fantasy adventure that older kids and adults alike will enjoy. With a good score, acting and special effects, this is one movie that you will want to own on DVD. ***1/4 (Out of 4)


(left to right) Eliza Bennett stars as “Meggie” and Brendan Fraser stars as “Mo” in New Line Cinema’s release, INKHEART, Photo Credit: Murray Close/New Line Cinema.


Crossing Over DVD Review

Crossing Over - An Alliance Films’ Release

On DVD: June 23rd, 2009

Rated 14A for sexual content, coarse language, and violence.

Running time: 113 minutes

Wayne Kramer (dir.)

Harrison Ford as Max Brogan

Ray Liotta as Cole Frankel

Ashley Judd as Denise Frankel

Jim Sturgess as Gavin Kossef

Cliff Curtis as Hamid Baraheri

Alice Braga as Mireya Sanchez

Alice Eve as Claire Shepard

Justin Chon as Yong Kim

Summer Bishil as Taslima Jahangir

Harrison Ford stars in CROSSING OVER, an Alliance Films’ release.

Crossong Over © 2008 The Weinstein Company, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Artwork © 2009 The Weinstein Company. All Rights Reserved. Distributed exclusively in Canada by Alliance Films. All Rights Reserved.

Our reviews below:


Crossing Over Review By John C.

** (out of 4)

Harrison Ford doesn’t don a fedora in Crossing Over, evan though it’s a film more far-fetched than any of the Indiana Jones films. This could have been a thought-provoking film about immigrants. But it falls into the category of a not very good direct-to-TV movie. I’m not even sure how this got a release in theatres.

There are a bunch of different stories, all mildly connected in some convoluted way. There is a Korean family, where the teenage son is getting into gangs. There is a Muslim girl who makes a class presentation saying how she “understands” the 9/11 suicide bombers. Then there’s Ray Liotta’s character who’s in charge of deporting immigrants, who’s married to Ashley Judd’s character who’s a lawyer fighting for their rights. Like that’s not a conflict of interest. But Mr. Liotta’s character will get you a green card quicker if you’re a young female, and agree to be his personal “friend” for the next couple of months. Actually I’m not even sure about the female part, this particular issue is never directly addressed in the film. This is where Alice Eve’s character comes in.

Alice Eve, who is naked for many of her scenes is sure to win some awards from the websites that class nude scenes in movies. The first time she’s sprawled out naked, I thought it was a bit much, but okay, fine. By the third and fourth time, it just got a little excessive. She’s naked when she doesn’t need to be naked, in one scene she’s naked and Ray Liotta is sitting on the edge of the bed in a suit. It seems like she got naked every day of filming, just for the sake of getting naked.

There’s even a montage of of people getting green cards, and walking happily down the street holding them. Almost like Mr. Bean with his American Express card. The best thing I could say about this film is, it’s not terrible. It’s just really not that good.

The DVD has no bonus features, we aren’t even treated to a directors cut of the film.


Crossing Over DVD Review By Erin V.

** (out of 4)

I don’t have all that much to say about Crossing Over. I suppose it did pass the time for almost two hours, so in that respect, it kind of worked. On the entertainment side? Not so much. Crossing Over is not a bad movie per se, but it’s not a good movie either. It is full of clichés, excessive at times, and not all that memorable after the fact.

From what I am forcing myself to recall as I write this, the movie starts with Harrison Ford’s character, Max. (The back of the DVD package doesn’t actually list his name, only that Harrison Ford from the Indiana Jones films is running around on a quest for justice in this movie... as a matter a fact, the back cover makes this film sound a lot more exciting than it actually is.) Anyway, back on topic. It starts out with Max going on a bust of an illegal sweatshop where Mexican immigrants work. One woman begs him to get her son for her, and bring him to his grandparents back across the border. At first he denies her request, although goes back for the kid later.

But this movie doesn’t just have one story. There is also a young Muslim girl who speaks at her highschool about how she understands why terrorists do the things they do. This means deportation for her.

Then there is a Korean family, on the midst of being sworn in as US citizens, while the eldest son is running around knocking over convenience stores in a gang.

As if this isn’t already a lot going on, there is an Australia couple, desperate to stay in America, so while the woman goes about sleeping with the man who handles the Green Card applications, (and who’s wife works on the other side to protect the illegal immigrants, and wants to adopt a little African girl), in order to get her’s faster, her boyfriend pretends to be a devout Jew, in order to work (illegally) at a Jewish elementary school. While she doesn’t, he does get his Green Card. Funny how that works eh?

Oh yeah, another thing, Max’s partner is waiting for his father to be sworn in as an American citizen. Meanwhile, his family ends up having a murder on their hands...

Ok. So there are a lot of stories going on at once. Is this necessarily a bad thing? No, not automatically. Some movies can handle many storylines quite well. But that is the key. It has to be done well. Here, a lot of it just seems kind of contrived. There is no solid element holding this all together, and we don’t connect to any of the characters all that well. This being said, if you really want to check out this movie, wait until it shows up on TV, or rent it. Other than that, it’s not worth rushing out to buy.


Crossing Over DVD Review By Tony

** (out of 4)

Wayne Kramer’s Crossing Over could have been a disturbing film about treatment of would-be immigrants to the U.S. if it were not too over-the-top to be taken seriously. The various interwoven stories are so laughably predictable that I am suspending my usual no-spoiler policy.

It’s not a good sign when Harrison Ford may have been the most subtle actor in the cast. Ford plays Max Brogan, an ICE1 cop increasingly disillusioned with rounding up illegal aliens in sweatshop raids. He tries when he can to “do right by” the most vulnerable ones, such as the young boy whom Max brings back to his grandparents in Tijuana.

Max’s partner Hamid (played by (Maori) Cliff Curtis) is a naturalized Persian American whose wealthy father is about to be sworn in. Shunned by the family for her decadence, his sister Zahra (Melody Khazae) ends up along with her forger boyfriend as the victim of an “honour” killing.

Taslima (Summer Bishil) is apparently the only girl in her high school in hijab2. With her whole family from Bangla Desh illegally in the country, her class paper expressing understanding if not support for terrorists is definitely not cool.

Yong Kim’s (Justin Chon) Korean family is also about to be naturalized, but his only ambition is to join an Asian gang which knocks over a convenience store run by (no surprise) Koreans. Unfortunately for Kim’s homies, Hamid happens to be in the store at the time, his ICE badge apparently including a licence to kill. He lets Yong Kim go with a touching lecture on the joys of U.S. citizenship.

Gavin (Jim Sturgess) is an atheist Jewish folk singer who takes a crash course to pass himself off as a Hebrew scholar, but doesn’t count on the immigration official calling in the old bearded man with the big black hat to test him.

Claire (Alice Eve) is an Australian actress so desperate to work in the land of the free that we find her (usually naked) in indentured motel servitude with sleazy immigration official Cole (Ray Liotta). His unsuspecting wife Denise (Ashley Judd) is an advocate in the same office whose case load includes Taslima and a little African orphan girl that she hopes to adopt, since she is unable to conceive (presumably due to Cole’s exhausted sperm count). When Cole is finally busted, guess who pops up just in time for the perp walk.

If you have a couple of hours to kill and Crossing Over turns up on TV, you may enjoy playing Count the Clichés, otherwise try something else.

1 ICE: Immigration & Customs Enforcement, part of Homeland Security, which as a Canadian I thought at first was fictional, like U.N.C.L.E., until I pulled up their intimidating website.

2 hijab: head covering worn out of modesty by devote Muslim women.


Consensus: Crossing Over is ok, but it isn’t really that worth spending almost two hours on. A lot of it seems kind of contrived, and we never really seem to connect with any of the characters. ** (Out of 4)