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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Trailer Watch: A Serious Man, The Fantastic Mr. Fox

The Coen Brothers’ new film, A Serious Man, now has a near-brilliant trailer to promote it. From the pounding rhythm supplying the background noise, to the quirky humour, this will likely be another great-oddball film from Joel and Ethan Coen. Watch the trailer on Apple here.

The first bit of footage from Wes Anderson’s highly anticipated stop-motion adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, has finally arrived. Though the animation is not as smooth, or as full, as something like Coraline, I expect this film to be very stylized and have that unique Wes Anderson “feel”. While some people will probably be disappointed by the trailer, admittedly I was expecting something a little different, I still think it will be a good film in it’s own right. I don’t think it will really appeal to kids, but I also don’t think that that’s the audience they're going after. With its all-star voice cast and Wes Anderson direction, I’m guessing it will probably have a following in the young adult market. Watch the trailer on Yahoo! here, and form your own decision.

-John C.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Trailer Watch: Bandslam

On August 14th, E1 Films is releasing Bandslam. Following a group of teenagers as they enter their band in a “Battle of the Bands” type competition. Starring Vanessa Hudgens of High School Musical fame, this is sure to be popular with the pre-teen and teenage market. In a very smart marketing move from E1 Films, they will be unveiling the new trailer for The Twilight Saga: New Moon with the film. Watch the Bandslam trailer on Apple Movie Trailers here.

-John C.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Trailer Watch: Toy Story/Toy Story 2 double-bill trailer

You can now watch the trailer for the upcoming 3D re-release of both Toy Story films over at their official website. The short teaser, which is playing in theatres before G-Force, looks to be suited for 3D, with the characters reaching out into the audience.

-John C.

E1 Films releasing Coronation St. Vol. 2 on DVD

Exactly 3 months ago today, E1 Films released Coronation St. Vol. 1: 1960-61 on DVD. Today they are releasing Coronation St. Vol. 2: 1961-63 , featuring 8 more episodes of the classic show, over 2 discs. This is definitely worth checking out if you are a fan of the show.

-John C.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Fox Searchlight’s Adam: Q & A with music composer Christopher Lennertz

By E. Corrado

When did you find out that you were scoring Adam? It was over a year ago - probably around last June. I had actually heard through my agent about his movie, and I had read the script and I really wanted to do this film. I met with Max Mayer - the writer/director of the film - and we started talking about the project.

What kind of timeline did you have to score this movie? Originally, a month or two, but once we found out it was going to Sundance, we had a few more months.

What was it like working on this movie; where did you draw your inspiration from? I drew it from a lot different places. We wanted the instruments to convey kind of who Adam is, very simple and honest - not childlike - but very clear. The character has trouble when the people around him are not very clear, and what they say is clouded with subtext. So, we didn’t want to use a big orchestra, and instead used instruments like a marimba, acoustic guitar, etc.. In general we wanted it to be kept simpler.

Were you aware of Aspergers’ Syndrome before working on this film? I knew it was a form of autism, but I wasn’t really sure exactly what it was. Now I know that one of the things that people with Aspergers’ have trouble with, is being able to relate sometimes to other people, like what to say, and when to say things, and also when people don’t always say what they mean, for example.

Have you seen the finished film? Yes, I saw it at Sundance, and I think it’s fantastic. We got a standing ovation, and there were people crying and laughing throughout it. I think that they really got that this is about a man who has Aspergers, but it is told as a love story, and people were rooting for the character at the end no matter what.

I heard that the ending was changed from the original version at Sundance, to what will be released in theatres now. Can you tell me anything about that? Yeah. I’ve seen both, and I must say that the new ending does work better. We changed the music slightly, and gave more resolution at the end. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but essentially, the new ending showed a little bit more of how they [Adam and Beth] affected each other, and where they are now.

What were the challenges, if any, that you faced while working on ‘Adam’? Well, the budget for one thing. This was more like a labour of love for the filmmakers, so we had to make do with a shoestring budget. And also, obviously, the material. We didn’t want to over sentimentalize the movie, but rather try to make the music fit the person it was portraying. We tried to use music to show that he is still one of us, even with Aspergers. That he has the same confusion about love, and relationships that we all have to a certain extent.

When did you know that you wanted to compose music? I knew at 21. I had been in various bands, and I was studying at USC. I ended up sneaking into the Universal scoring stage - which is no longer there - and Henry Mancini was scoring a film in there. So, I snuck in and watched him for the day, and that was when I realized that I wanted to do this. Afterwards, I went to USC and changed my major to music, where I studied with Elmer Bernstein.

When composing music, what are your favourite instruments to write for? I’m a guitar player, so I always love to write for the guitar. Now, for this movie, we actually had a live cello, and that is one that is great to write for since it has such a wide range. You can play it high, almost as high as the violin, or you can play it lower for more darker sounds, such as when Adam is having more stressful moments in the school yard scene, or things like that. It’s the same cello, giving low, more ominous sounds.

What instruments did you focus on for Adam? As I said, we wanted a pure and simple melody which is mostly on guitar with a bit of piano sometimes. We did write pieces that were more varied, more orchestral, but we ended up removing and simplifying a lot of them.

Did you play any of the instruments? I played the guitar, and some of the percussion. We used triangles, finger cymbals, and things like that, since one of the things we wanted was for it to seem like there were little twinkling sounds for the planetarium scene and to convey his interest in space.

Do you use a computer to test out different sounds? Yes, I would make samples on the computer, and them Max would come in and listen to what I had done. So, he’d tell me if what I wrote was what he was going for - or if it would fit - before we went to record it.

What computer programs did you use? I used something called Q-Base, and Pro Tools.

Now, I know that you’ve done a fair amount of scoring work in the past, so what was your favorite movie, tv show, or game to write music for, and why? For tv, it is probably Supernatural. The creator of that show is a close friend of mine, and I think we both like the same kind of things in a show. It has real emotion, while it is also scary and interesting at the same time.

For movies, I would say that I really liked doing the music for Adam, because there is so much real emotion there. But on the other hand, I also really liked doing the music for Alvin and The Chipmunks for the opposite reason. It is not real, so you can just have fun with it. Also, it’s a different experience to go and see little 4, 5, & 6 year olds enjoying a movie you’ve worked on and seeing people watching an indie movie at Sundance.

As for video games, I really loved doing Medal of Honour. My Grandfather was in WWII, so that was one that I really liked doing the music for.

When a video game is based on a movie do you have to try to base the music on the original score? Well, you do have to have that ability, but it depends. For The Godfather video game it was quite a bit different. It takes place at a later date/local, so the music had to be different to reflect the times. But for a James Bond game, you more just have to serve the action.

What was your favorite part of doing the music for ‘Adam’? The scene where Adam shows Beth his planetarium in his apartment. One of the reasons is because this character, Adam, has sort of stayed away from people because they confuse him, and now he’s finally found someone to share this with. Because you have all of these flashing stars and planets, it almost seems kind of like a fantasy world he’s created.

Can you tell us about any other upcoming projects that you are working on? There are several. I am currently doing Cats and Dogs 2 for Warner Bros., which is a sequel to the family spy movie with talking cats and dogs from 2002. I’m also doing a movie based on the comic strip Marmaduke for Fox, and a video game for the Wii called Sim’s Africa, where you can control the world and all the animals. For that one, I get to experiment with different African music and sounds.

Is there anything else you would like to add today? Just that I hope that people will go out and see this film. It’s a great movie that isn’t just about someone with a disorder, but someone who is very much like the rest of us.

One Movie, Five Views thanks Christopher Lennertz for taking the time to talk with us. Our reviews of the film Adam will be available on August 7th, 2009.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Overlooked Film: Special Announcement

I will not be doing an overlooked film in July or August, but the monthly feature will return on September 26th, and will be appearing the last Saturday of every month. Look back over all the Overlooked Films here, and try to watch anyone's that you may have missed.

-John C.

Trailer Watch: Bright Star, Alice in Wonderland, Where The Wild Things Are, Tron Legacy

Bright Star is a romance about poet John Keats’ three-year relationship with Fanny Brawne. Being released in the fall, this is surely trying to attract some Oscar attention. From the trailer it looks like it will be good. Watch it here.

Tim Burton’s highly anticipated take on Lewis Carroll’s classic book, Alice in Wonderland, finally gets a trailer. We get a glimpse at many classic characters, brought to life in a highly stylized way. If it’s done right, and the trailer is any indication this will probably be a really cool and interesting film. Watch the trailer on Yahoo!, here.

Not a trailer, but a featurette about Spike Jonze’s upcoming, highly anticipated film adaptation of Where The Wild Things Are. After the trailer for the film, which is one of the best first-trailers I have ever seen, this is the second bit of publicly released footage. It looks absolutely amazing, and will easily be one of the best movies this year. Watch the featurette on Apple Trailers here.

Footage from the highly anticipated sequel to the 1982 cult-classic Disney film Tron, finally gets released to the public. Unveiled at Comic-Con, you can now watch the 3-minute clip of Tron Legacy on Yahoo!, here.

-John C.

Friday, July 24, 2009




Release Date: July 24th, 2009

Rated PG for some mild action and rude humour

Running time: 88 minutes

Hoyt Yeatman (dir.)

Cormac Wibberley (screenplay)

Marianne Wibberley (screenplay)

Ted Elliott (screenplay)

Terry Rossio (screenplay)

Tim Firth (screenplay)

Hoyt Yeatman (story)

Trevor Rabin (music)

Bill Nighy as Saber

Will Arnett as Kip Killian

Zach Galifianakis as Ben

Kelli Garner as Marcie

Nicolas Cage as Speckles (voice)

Sam Rockwell as Darwin (voice)

Jon Favreau as Hurley (voice)

Penélope Cruz as Juarez (voice)

Steve Buscemi as Bucky (voice)

Tracy Morgan as Blaster (voice)

Picture Currently N/A

"G-FORCE" (L-R) Darwin, Juarez, Blaster © Disney Enterprises, Inc. and Jerry Bruckheimer, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Our reviews below:


G-Force Review By John C.

***1/2 (out of 4)

G-Force is the story of a covert operation of espionage guinea pigs, who have to take down a mad billionaire, Saber (Bill Nighy), who may just have a plot for world domination. With spy training and and tons of cool gadgetry, these may just be the coolest guinea pigs you’ve ever seen.

I’m sure you’ve seen ads for G-Force, which means that you have some, and no, idea of what it will be like. I’m sure if you have kids than they will be bugging you to take them. Well fear not parents, this is a highly entertaining film with enough “Jerry Bruckheimer” action to keep everyone highly entertained.

Like the recent Transformers sequel, this film also has tons of action-packed sequences, as well as it’s own share of transforming going on. Unlike the recent Transformers film which was 153 minutes, G-Force is only 88 minutes long. I enjoyed Transformers 2 to a certain extent, but this is definitely a better film. And also one that didn’t leave me with a headache. Parents also needn’t worry, there are no scenes where someone ends up on top of someone else in a sexual position.

I wouldn’t recommend taking kids under, maybe 8, to see this film. A lot of young kids in the theatre seemed to be getting overwhelmed by the huge action sequences. Just because it’s got guinea pigs, doesn’t mean it lays off on the action. There are incredibly cool and exciting sequences. The plot, which seems like something out of a James Bond film, would probably also serve as a confusion for younger kids.

I liked G-Force a lot. The 3D effects are top-notch, and the blend of live-action and animation never feels out of place. Surprisingly, this is a believable world. The guinea pigs and other animals are rendered incredibly realistic. The humour is smart and funny. Some of it will be best understood by adults, but isn’t too rude for kids.

I think the main reason why I liked it so much is because it’s just so good for what it is. And for the fact that it is technically amazing in terms of visual effects. I don’t know if it will be quite as much fun in plain old 2D, so go see G-Force in 3D this summer. I’m almost certain you’ll have a good time.


G-Force Review By Erin V.

***3/4 (out of 4)

G-Force is the story of a group of Guinea pigs, trained as a special task force for the FBI. The FBI wants to shut the experimental G-Force group down, but the team has information that a man named Leonard Saber seems to have a plot to take over the world. Setting out to prove themselves and stop Saber, G-Force rolls into action.

Despite what might seem like just a silly premise, turns out to be a lot of fun. This movie is really well done, and while the overall plot is kind of standard, the execution here really makes it work. This is a movie with animated Guinea pigs interacting with live humans - in 3D. But we never feel like either the people nor the animals are out of place. This is in part due to the solid animation, and also due to the voice work for the aforementioned animals. The semi-realistic animation allows the animals to co-exist in our world, while the voices make them seem more like characters rather than cartoon characters.

The 3D also works very well - some of the best I’ve seen. The technology is clearly getting better and better. This was the first live action 3D movie I’ve seen and I found the effect worked quite well. Also, to enhance the 3D effect, you will notice that occasionally in the film, they will break the “mask”. Essentially, G-Force has black bars on the top and bottom - just like you would see on a wide-screen disc on a full screen tv at home. You don’t notice them in the dark of the theatre, but they are actually part of the picture. The point of these are so that, at certain points in the film, (you will know what I am talking about if you watch the top of the screen at the end of the ‘fireworks scene’, for example), part of the image goes over the black, thus giving the further appearance that the image is “leaping off the screen”.

I found Trevor Rabin’s score for G-Force far more fitting than his for Race To Witch Mountain earlier this year. The latter was kind of over-scored trying to create more suspense where there was less. G-Force didn’t need that kind of overcompensation, and therefor the score worked quite well. G-Force also contains a better balance of action, that was better staged, to fit the action score better as well.

Overall, G-Force is a whole lot of fun. Go see it in 3D, because here the 3D is part of the fun of the movie. This is not because the 3D is a total crutch on which the film is propped, but something that really adds to it. So, despite what you may think from the trailers, G-Force is really, really well done for what it is. This is a great movie for the whole family, (with kids around 6 - 8 & up).


G-Force Review By Nicole

***1/2 (out of 4)

G-Force is a fun,, family friendly action movie. Three of the guinea pigs, Darwin, Blaster, and Juarez, as well as a mole named Speckles are rescued animals who are trained to stop Saber, a seedy appliance company. (Ben, their trainer, cleverly pretends to be an exterminator, so no one will expect that he actually loves animals.) But when the FBI finds out, they don't actually believe that these small mammals can do anything. The creatures end up at a pet store, where they meet other funny animals, including Darwin's brother, Harley. The animals end up in various mishaps, but get back together to defeat the evil appliances and save the world.

G-Force is cute, action packed, and a lot of fun. Some very young children in the theatre seemed scared or overwhelmed by some scenes, so I wouldn't recommend this movie for children under 6. However, there is a lot of stuff here that children will love. The animals are adorable, and there is enough action and plot to keep both kids and adults equally interested. The detail on the animals is incredibly realistic. The 3D is really good. One of my favourite scenes is when the guinea pigs ride in hamster balls through a parking lot of exploding fireworks. The 3D in that scene is incredible. I also enjoyed seeing the appliance transform into evil robots. These scenes will especially appeal to young Transformers fans. This movie has great action, a decent plot, a fun score, and cute animals. This film is nothing but pure fun.


G-Force Review By Maureen

***1/2 (out of 4)

G-Force is a fun, fast-paced family spy/action movie. There is something for everyone to enjoy in G-Force. The plot line is elaborate enough to keep older kids and adults interested. The spy gadgets and the holographic scenes are really cool to see. There is a ton of action with lots of car chases and crashes. The gadgets and action sequences are especially appealing in 3D. And for transformers fans, the transforming evil appliances are really fun to watch.

What makes this movie unique are the main characters. The G-Force is made up of highly-trained guinea pigs and a mole. Oddly having the guinea pigs as the heroes is completely believable. The scenes with the guinea pigs are funny throughout the movie without being a distraction to the storyline. When the guinea pigs end up in a pet store the other animals they meet up with are equally appealing. Younger viewers will enjoy watching the cute animals though many of the jokes will go over their heads.

What I really liked about G-Force is that it has the right mix of action, storyline, humour, cool gadgets, and cuteness. Families can enjoy this one together though the under five set may find some of the action scenes too real and scary. Treat the family to this one in 3D. It's worth it.


G-Force Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

G-Force is a live action spy thriller produced by Jerry Bruckheimer in Disney Digital 3D™ with CGI guinea pigs and other small critters as the agents. Despite the familiar plot and over the top music, it is well made with a good cast and witty script that will appeal to parents as well as their kids over five years old. The 3D is very effective here but the film will stand up well without it.


Picture Currently N/A

"G-FORCE" (L-R) Blaster, Bucky, Darwin © Disney Enterprises, Inc. and Jerry Bruckheimer, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Consensus: G-Force is a fun, action-packed family movie. While not for the youngest of kids, this will likely be a big hit for the 8 and up crowd. See it in 3D if you can. ***1/2 (Out of 4)


Picture Currently N/A

"G-FORCE" (L-R) Juarez, Darwin © Disney Enterprises, Inc. and Jerry Bruckheimer, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae

Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae


Release Date: July 24th, 2009

Rated PG

Running time: 98 minutes

Stascha Bader (dir.)

Stranger Cole (narrator)

Our reviews below:


Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae Review By John C.


Rocksteady was the Jamaican style of music that proceeded reggae, but came directly after ska. While ska music tended to be more something you would dance to, rocksteady was a bit slower, and had romance and spiritually themed lyrics, while reggae music tended to be used as a form of activism. It also featured the prominent bass line that became known in Jamaican music.

Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae is an interesting documentary on the subject, featuring timeless performances of classic songs. While the documentary is a lot of talk, it also has equal amounts of music. This isn’t really something that you need to venture out to a theatre to see, as it would play just as well at home. Just make sure you have a good sound system.


Rock Steady - The Roots of Reggae Review By Erin V.

*** (out of 4)

Rock Steady - The Roots of Reggae is an interesting look at Reggae and it’s predecessor, Rocksteady.

While I do not usually listen to Reggae type music, I am into music in general, so I did find this documentary quite interesting to watch. The Jamaican style music is discussed by veterans of the music itself, as they prepare for a reunion concert. Hearing their stories, as well as the story of the music was nice to watch. A very music driven documentary, parts of it could practically be played as a radio documentary.

I would definitely recommend this documentary to anyone interested in this kind of music, or even other types of music in general. A well put together documentary.


Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae Review By Nicole

*** (out of 4)

Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae is an interesting documentary about the orgin of reggae music, and it's ties to Jamaican culture. Through interviews with several of the founders of rocksteady and reggae music, we hear how it all started with ska music, which then led to an early precursor to reggae music known as rocksteady. (Rocksteady was slower than ska music, and lasted from 1965 to 1968. Rocksteady tended to have more gangster themed lyrics, were as reggae was often more politically themed.) The interviews are coupled with tours of the artist's original homes. And of course, we get to see and hear the original artists rerecord their original songs.

This documentary has great, toe-tapping music, and interesting history. A fun documentary, that is a great way to end Caribana. I guarantee that you won't be able to sit still through the music in this documentary. Watch the film, and get the soundtrack.


Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae Review By Maureen

*** (out of 4)

Before watching this film I had no idea what the term 'Rocksteady' meant. It turns out that Rocksteady is the transitional music genre between the original Jamaican Ska and today's reggae.

Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae is a really interesting to watch and listen to documentary. It follows the evolution of Ska to reggae as we know it today. The movie interviews several performers of the original rocksteady movement. It explains well the difference between Ska, rocksteady, and reaggae. It also gives insight into why rocksteady didn't last.

The movie also treats the viewers to recording sessions and performances by original rocksteady and reggae singers.

I really enjoyed this film. This isn't a dull or dry documentary. Rather, it's informative and enjoyable entertainment. If you enjoy music history or reggae music you'll like this film. This is a good way to pass a summer evening.


Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae is a documentary on a style of music that flourished only for a couple of years in the mid 1960s. Musicians from the urban ghettos of Kingston took the popular Ska dance music and slowed it down with a heavier bass line to create Rocksteady, which soon evolved into the more successful Reggae style. The film features a number of original artists brought together for a reunion concert, clips of which appear over the closing credits. Through interviews, recording sessions, and archival footage, we are given a good overview of the music and the people that made it.

I am not very familiar with Reggae, much less Rocksteady, Ska, or the Rastafari movement that venerates as their Saviour the late Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie. I therefore watched this film with the same detachment as I had with Buena Vista Social Club, to which Rocksteady may be compared, save for the part of Ry Cooder as an intermediary. Fans of Jamaican music will no doubt enjoy seeing and hearing many of their favourite artists now and as they were then. Mainly in their sixties, they are all charming and eloquent in their recollections, their lovely Jamaican accents largely free of the patois that necessitated subtitles back in the day, and they all sing and play better than ever.


Consensus: Rocksteady is an interesting and very informative documentary on the roots of reggae. *** (Out of 4)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Coraline DVD Review

Coraline - An Alliance Films’ Release

On DVD: July 21st, 2009

Rated PG for frightening scenes; not recommended for young children.

Running time: 101 minutes

Henry Selick (dir.)

Henry Selick (screenplay)

Neil Gaimen (original book)

Bruno Coulais (music)

Dakota Fanning as Coraline Jones

Teri Hatcher as Mother / Other Mother

Jennifer Saunders as Miss Spink

Dawn French as Miss Forcible

Keith David as Cat

John Hodgman as Father / Other Father

Robert Bailey Jr. as Wybie Lovat

Ian McShane as Mr. Bobinsky

Special Features: "DISC 1 (DVD-18): SIDE A (Theatrical 2D Version) - Feature Commentary with Director Henry Selick and Composer Bruno Coulais (On/Off)

SIDE B (3D Version) - Feature Commentary with Director Henry Selick and Composer Bruno Coulais (On/Off) DISC 2 (DVD-9 BONUS DISC): ***ENGLISH Dolby Digital 2.0 ONLY for Bonuses but all offered with English SDH / Spanish and French subtitles.*** - Deleted Scenes -THE MAKING OF CORALINE (PLAY ALL - The Evolution of the Story; Inspiring Design: Character Design and Art Direction; Directing the Voice Sessions; Making Puppets; Coraline's Closet; Setting the Stage: How Does Your Fantastic Garden Grow?; It's Alive; I've Seen Fire and I've Seen Fog; The Eyes Have it; Wrapping Up Coraline - Voicing the Characters

Digital Copy Included!"

© 2009 Laika, Inc. All rights reserved. Distributed exclusively in Canada by Alliance Films. All Rights Reserved.

Our reviews below:


Coraline DVD Review By John C.


When Coraline Jones, displeased with her parents, climbs through a mysterious door in her wall, she ends up in a terrifying version of her own house and garden. At first everything appears better. But she soon finds out that she is being lured in by the clutches of her evil “other-mother”. This is a classic cautionary tale, but it is told in a very original and imaginative way. While the movie does have changes from Neil Gaimen’s original book, mainly the addition of the character Wybie, it still serves as a good adaptation.

While a lot of this film will be too creepy and intense for younger kids, it is truly a delight for older kids and adults. From the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas, Henry Selick, this is in a lot of ways a darker film than Nightmare, which was mainly a musical. (Contrary to popular belief, Tim Burton only served as writer and producer on Nightmare). Coraline isn’t a musical, but it certainly does have a fascinating musical score, featuring haunting sounds, including a choir singing.

Coraline is a fascinating stop-motion animated masterpiece that should not be missed. With chilling suspense along with scenes of wonderment, this truly is a great film. One of the best movies so far this year.

Coraline is available to buy in 1 and 2-disc formats. Both formats include the film in 2D as well as 3D. It comes with four pairs of glasses with green/magenta lenses. Though nowhere-near as good as the in-theatre 3D, they are certainly an improvement over the red/blue glasses, although they still do drain the colour. The sole bonus on the 1-disc set is audio commentary by director Henry Selick and composer Bruno Coulais. The 2-disc set includes everything on the 1-disc, as well as deleted scenes, an approx. 36-minute making-of, featurettes, and a digital copy of the film. The Blu-Ray set includes all that, plus an additional featurette, U-Control, and BD-Live features. If you don’t yet have a Blu-Ray player, than I definitely recommend you get the 2-disc.


Coraline DVD Review By Erin V.

**** (out of 4)

Coraline tells the story of Coraline Jones, who after moving with her parents to an old mansion, discovers a small hidden door. Through a secret passageway, she finds herself in what she believes to be a ‘better’ version of her new house, complete with an ‘Other’ Mother, and and ‘Other’ Father. The only little difference, is that everyone there has buttons sewn over their eyes. Since Coraline’s real world parents are busy all the time, she starts to like the Other world better. But little does she know, that everything there is just manufactured to ultimately trap her...

This movie is very intriguing. The storyline is quite strange, although masterfully told and animated. The second disc of the special edition includes a very interesting ‘making of’ documentary which runs approximately 36 minutes long. It covers everything from making the puppets used for the animation to the voice work done for the characters. It is amazing to see the amount of work put into this film. It really is absolutely astonishing that everything in the film was made by hand. Even the clothes that each character wears was knitted in miniature form!

The special edition also includes both the 2D and 3D versions of the film. What I find about it is that the movie already seems 3D enough without the extra gimmick. Unlike in theatres that now can use RealD, the kind of glasses that come with this are still with two colours.

The ones here are not like the old 3D, which was just terrible. The old ‘cyan and red’ glasses made you see double images rimmed all over the place with blue and red. No, this here has glasses with one magenta lens, and one green one. When you are wearing them, after about five minutes, you don’t really notice the two colours anymore as they kind of blend together. Also, you see no odd colour rimming on the images on screen. What the glasses do change though, is the colour and the brightness. And that is my complaint about them. The colour is drained on the 3D version - even when you flip the glasses off to compare. It is as though they have drained the green and pinks to more greyish tones so that they are not disappearing for the eye with that colour lens. This makes sense, but unfortunately it means that while we gain a 3D effect, we are losing some of the beauty of the colour.

Overall, I would recommend getting the 2-disc special edition while you can, or if you have a player, BluRay. Coraline is a wonderful, inventive movie in every way!


Coraline DVD Review By Nicole

**** (out of 4)

Coraline is an amazing, stop-motion animated film. When Coraline Jones moves in to a new home, she is bored. There doesn't seem to be anything to do in her new neighbourhood. The neighbours are strange, and the only other kid who live in the neighbourhood is a talkative boy who won't shut up At home, Coraline thinks her parents are boring. When Coraline finds a secret door in the house, she enters to fins a parallel universe where everything seems to go the way that she would like. Everyone, including her parents, seem better, (except they have buttons attached over their eyes). But pretty soon, it is apparent that things are not what they appear to be. When Coraline's "other mother" shows her true colours, Coraline has to escape before it is too late.

The animation is excellent and very original. The attention to detail is amazing. The score by Bruno Coulais is beautiful, possessing an ethereal, almost Celtic sound. The story is very interesting, reminiscent of an old fairy tale; while spooky at times, everything gets resolved in the end. The casting and acting is perfect.

The DVD has both a 3D and a 2D version of the film. The red and green 3D works better than the old red and blue, but still washes out a lot of the colour. However, it is a nice novelty to have. The bonus features are really worth it. The making of featurette shows the many steps in creating stop-motion animation. This was amazing to see. The featurette on voice acting was also really good.

Coraline is an excellent movie, that is worth owning on DVD.


Coraline DVD Review By Maureen

**** (out of 4)

Coraline is a creepily, creative stop-motion animation masterpiece. Based on the book, Coraline by Neil Gaiman the story follows Coraline Jones (voiced by Dakota Fanning) as she discovers a secret door in her family's new home and enters an alternate world. It is there she meets 'Other Mother" and "Other Father' and a host of other creepy characters, all with buttons for eyes. This is a dark but wonderful fairy tale of a story. The whole point of it is "be careful what you wish for."

What makes Coraline work so well is the amazing stop-motion animation. This movie is visually stunning to watch. I saw Coraline in 2D in theatres so I was curious to check out the 3D version on the DVD with the green/magenta cardboard glasses that came with it. While the 3D glasses are a fun novelty I actually prefer the 2D version. The 3D glasses seemed to fade the colour somewhat and were distracting for me.

What I really like about the DVD, other than the movie itself, is the making of feature. Seeing how they did the stop-motion animation gave me an even greater appreciation of how good Coraline really is. The other aspect of this movie that really works is the beautiful music by composer Bruno Coulais. Everything works in Coraline. Director Henry Selick has done a great job with this one.

If you appreciate good animation and a great story you'll want this DVD for your collection.


Coraline DVD Review By Tony

**** (out of 4)

Based on the book by Neil Gaiman, Coraline is the latest stop-motion feature from Henry Selick, best known for The Nightmare Before Christmas. It is a beautiful film with an excellent cast led by Dakota Fanning in the title role and brilliant musical score from Bruno Coulais. More stylized than realistic, the scary story is too whimsical to be threatening to any but the smallest children, and is sure to be among the best animated features ever made.

The DVD is released in several versions, including BluRay and 3D. We didn’t see the 3D version in the theatre, which would have been particularly awesome in the opening stitching sequence. Using the cheap red/blue glasses, the 3D DVD seen up close on a large monitor gave a decent illusion of 3D but the colours were washed out and modified compared to the regular version. Numerous fascinating mini-featurettes covering all aspects of the production are included. The website is also worth a visit, as it provides many delightful surprises, each accompanied by different music based on the brilliant score.


Consensus: Coraline is an animated masterpiece. While definitely not for young children, those 12 & up will really appreciate this cool, kind of creepy, fantasy tale. **** (Out of 4)

Trailer Watch: Brothers, Despicable Me, Whip It, An Education, and Sherlock Holmes

Over the past week-and-a-half, there have been many new trailers. First off is Brothers. Starring Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal and Natalie Portman, it looks to be a fascinating story, lauded in Oscar hopes. It opens December 4th, you can watch the trailer here.

Despicable Me is an animated film from Universal Studios. With an all star voice-cast, and many comedic surprises in the trailer, this will probably be a very funny film. It opens July 9th, 2010. The trailer is here.

Whip It is Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut. I want to see it for two reasons, it’s distributed by Fox Searchlight and it stars Ellen Page. Enough said. It opens October 9th, trailer’s here.

Breakout film at the Sundance Film Festival, An Education, finally gets a trailer. It’s been long-rumoured that lead actress Carey Mulligan will get a Best Actress nom for her performance. Check it out here.

There is now a second trailer for the upcoming, awesome looking, Guy Ritchie directed Sherlock Holmes film. Watch it here.

-John C.

Friday, July 17, 2009

(500) Days of Summer

(500) Days of Summer

Release Date: July 17th, 2009

Rated PG-13 for sexual material and language

Running time: 95 minutes


Marc Webb (dir.)

Scott Neustadter (writer)

Michael H. Weber (writer)

Mychael Danna (music)

Rob Simonsen (music)

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Tom

Zooey Deschanel as Summer

Geoffrey Arend as McKenzie

Chloe Moretz as Rachel

Matthew Gray Gubler as Paul

Clark Gregg as Vance

Patricia Belcher as Millie

Rachel Boston as Alison

Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in (500) Days of Summer

A Fox Searchlight Pictures Release

Our reviews below:


(500) Days of Summer Review By John C.

**** (out of 4)

(500) Days of Summer is an incredibly smart and entertaining romantic-comedy. Those are words you could only hope to use when describing something that falls into the “rom-com” category. After the “rom-coms” that came out this past February, (the over-long and very boring He’s just Not That Into You, and the mildly enjoyable but nothing special Confessions of a Shopaholic), this film is extremely refreshing.

We are told right at the beginning that this is not a love story, it’s a story about love. Mainly due to a misunderstanding of the ending of The Graduate, Tom Hanson (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) grew up believing in true-love. He falls in love with the new Secretary at his office, (he works for a greeting card company), Summer Finn who believes that true-love doesn’t exist. Tom is convinced that Summer is “the one”, Summer is just trying to have fun. Through their relationship, we are led to an immensely satisfying conclusion.

With the roles reversed, this could have just been a conventional film. The fact that it’s told from Tom’s perspective makes it fresh and original right from the start. Every familiar element in the film is done in a way that manages to be totally original. Fractured narratives, split-screens, and other storytelling devices are used, but the film never becomes cliched. None of the techniques feel out of place. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and, the always likable, Zooey Deschanel are paired perfectly. They both give great performances, and create believable characters that we actually care about.

In one of my favorite scenes, Tom walks out his front door smiling, which leads to a dance number in the park complete with a little animated blue bird. The scene doesn’t over stay it’s welcome, and in this film is actually believable. In one of my other favorite scenes Tom and Summer play “house” in an IKEA store. The scene almost plays out like an extended commercial for the Swedish furniture store. It’s moments like these that wouldn’t necessarily work, but the filmmakers use them to perfection. It never feels fake or forced. Not one scene feels out of place.

The movie also has an incredibly cool soundtrack, featuring music from artists like The Smiths and Regina Spektor, and the kind of “indie” music you would expect from this type of film. It’s more mature than the excellent soundtrack for Juno and it’s indie pop offerings. But like that film’s soundtrack, this one is also destined to become incredibly popular.

This is sure to have the same type of following as other great Fox Searchlight films like Little Miss Sunshine and Juno. If it keeps gaining in popularity over the summer, than who knows? This might even become a dark horse awards candidate.

It’s also probably the best romantic-comedy to have come out in quite a while. Go see it, it’s a lot of fun. I dare you not to fall in love with this movie.


(500) Days of Summer Review By Erin V.

**** (out of 4)

I should warn you before you read this review, I am not reviewing a love story. I am reviewing one of the - no wait - the most original romantic comedy I have seen this year. (Or any other year for that matter!) This is a movie that you will not want to miss this Summer!

(500) Days of Summer starts after Tom, (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), has already broken up with Summer, (Zooey Deschanel). He doesn’t know where their relationship went wrong, as he still loves her a lot. He can’t remember any big ‘moment’ when it ended. So, he resolves to look back at his relationship, and so, as he remembers, we are taken to various out of order days in his 500 day relationship with Summer.

This kind of unconventional method of storytelling is not at all confusing, at least to me. Each day is labeled on the screen when it starts, so we can follow along if we are nearer to the beginning or the end of their (romantic) relationship. The use of split screens, a song and dance number, flashbacks, and time spent in the present day, really tell the story well. It is refreshing to see the tale of a relationship told in reverse from most movies - e.g., from the man’s point of view (and partially chronologically backwards). You see in this movie, it is the man, Tom, who believes in true love, while the woman, Summer, does not.

The acting in this movie is spot on, and all of the characters are impeccably cast. The soundtrack fits the style so well, as does Michael Danna’s score to the film. This film knows what it is, what kind of style it has, and that is unique. Kind of like IKEA, where they go in the film - in one of my favorite scenes, actually.

What our journey with Tom sees him realize, and helps us realize is important for all of us to remember. Just as the seasons change, so does life - we can’t predict what will happen. Things work out the way they are meant to - not necessarily the way we think they will - but that can be alright.

I can’t wait to see (500) Days of Summer) again. There is just something so likable about this film. Neither character - Tom, nor Summer - are the ‘bad guy’ in the relationship, they just want different things...

I am wholly recommending (500) Days of Summer. It is one of the best movies in theatres right now. Go out and see it this Summer.


(500) Days of Summer Review By Nicole

**** (out of 4)

(500) Days of Summer is a fun and cleverly made romantic comedy. Told through flashbacks of particular numbered days, the movie tells the story of a man who meets a girl, and tries to figure out why his relationship with her failed. The man, Tom, works at a card company writing sappy messages for greeting cards. (though his real passion is architecture and drawings.) Tom always felt lonely, and really wants a girlfriend. So he is thrilled when he meets a beautiful coworker named Summer. They start dating, and Tom finds himself falling in love with Summer. Summer likes Tom, but considers their relationship casual. Tom, on the other hand, is blind to this fact, believing that Summer is “the one”. However, as time goes by, Tom has to contend with the fact that he and Summer have a different idea of what their relationship means. He at first is heartbroken with their breakup, but realizes that this perhaps isn’t the end of the world. Once he can let Summer go, and do what is best for her, Tom’s life takes a very positive turn.

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. The use of flashbacks and flashing forward worked, and was not too confusing. I also liked the use of split screens to tell some of the story. There are a lot of funny and quirky scenes in this movie. One of my favourite scenes involved Summer and Tom playing house in an Ikea showroom. Another one of my favourite scenes is a song and dance number involving Tom singing about Summer, while dancing through the street with an animated bluebird. (This scene reminded me of the Disney film Enchanted.) The use of narration worked, which kind of reminded me about the movie One Week. I also thought it was cute how Tom’s little sister would give him relationship advice. And one of the nicest things about this film is the message. Everything happens for a reason. And sometimes, true love happens when we don’t look for it.

(500) Days of Summer is a fun, light comedy, that makes for a light summer viewing. Don’t miss it.


(500) Days of Summer Review By Maureen

***1/2 (out of 4)

(500) Days of Summer is a lighthearted, funny look at love and relationships. Told with the help of a narrator and numbered by day flashbacks, the main character, Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) tries to figure out exactly when in the 500 days his relationship with co-worker, Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel) fell apart.

The movie jumps back and forth in time and so as not to confuse the viewer, a day number flashes on the screen before key scenes. We get to watch how Tom and Summer meet at the greeting card company and get to follow them on various dates. The time when they are dating has some of the funniest scenes. Their dates in the IKEA store are particularly funny. Anyone who has ever played pretend in an IKEA room display will enjoy these scenes. Another really funny scene is when Tom is so thrilled to be in love he has a song and dance sequence in the park with an animated blue bird If you’ve seen and love Disney’s movie ‘Enchanted’ then you’ll enjoy this song and dance number.

Tom has trouble accepting and understanding when Summer leaves the greeting card company and his life. His loyal, but oddball, best friends try to support him whatever they can. Tom also gets support and advice from his older than her years, 12 year old sister. With their support and a long hard look at himself, Tom sets forth to change his life. He returns to his first love, architecture and eventually understands what really happened in the 500 days of Summer.

(500) Days of Summer is an enjoyable movie from start to finish. The acting is good, the overall story light and fun, and the soundtrack is really pleasant to listen to. What I really liked was how the story wrapped up as it should, with happy endings all around.

This is a perfect summer movie. Older teens, adults who like comedy and romance will appreciate (500) Days of Summer. Treat yourself to an hour and a half of summer fun.


(500) Days of Summer Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

After an initial disclaimer from the offscreen narrator that 500 days of Summer is not a love story between Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Summer (Zooey Deschanel), followed by a split-screen montage of their childhood backstories, the film jumps back and forth between scenes of the early relationship and after the breakup, each scene flagged by the number of the day on which it occurs. While Tom believes she is “the one” love of his life, Summer has never really loved anyone, and just wants to have fun. Always seeing things from Tom’s point of view, we are left guessing right up to the last few minutes where they will be on day 500. When we finally know, it all makes sense.

Already compared to Annie Hall, 500 days of Summer has many memorable scenes that we will enjoy over and over again. Though we may have seen similar devices in other films, they have never been done better. For example, I enjoyed the deadpan narration reminiscent of Vicky Christina Barcelona and most recently One Week. After his first night with Summer, Tom steps outside grinning to a happy tune, sees himself reflected in a shop window as a young Harrison Ford, then walks jauntily down the street, first smiling at, then gladhanding, and soon finding himself carried aloft holding an animated bird in a full-blown production number. It sneaks up on us so effortlessly and is over so quickly that we can’t help laugh out loud. In another surreal sequence, Tom sees himself as the tragic hero of a film noir playing opposite a mime. IKEA fans will enjoy seeing Tom & Summer pretending to pick out home furnishings and ending up making out on a bed under the staring eyes of an Asian family. Tom and Summer run into each other after some time apart, and she invites him to a party where the screen is split into what Tom wishes would happen and what really happens. Tom’s childhood friend Paul (Matthew Gray Gubler), his colleague McKenzie (Geoffrey Arend) and even his precocious tween sister Rachel (Chloe Moretz) are always ready with advice and even an intervention to help Tom get over Summer. Of course everything is accompanied with a good selection of appropriate tunes.

It is a pleasure to see two good attractive actors under 30 playing off each other in a good script. Both Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel have worked too hard on their stage and screen careers to waste time with celebrity culture and so it is easy to identify with them as normal people–more Tom Hanks than Tom Cruise.


Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in (500) Days of Summer


Consensus: (500) Days of Summer boasts a style of storytelling that is a lot of fun to watch. The acting, music, and story are all very good. A unique movie that is really worth seeing this Summer. ***3/4 (Out of 4)



Release Date: July 17th, 2009

Rated PG not recommended for children

Running time: 121 minutes


Marten Provost (dir.)

Marc Abdelnour (writer)

Martin Provost (writer)

Michael Galasso (music)

Yolande Moreau as Séraphine Louis, dite Séraphine de Senlis

Ulrich Tukur as Wilhelm Uhde

Anne Bennent as Anne-Marie Uhde

Geneviève Mnich as Mme Duphot

Nico Rogner as Helmut Kolle

Adélaïde Leroux as Minouche

Serge Larivière as Duval

Françoise Lebrun as La mère supérieure

Séraphine (Yolande Moreau) and Wilhem Uhde (Ulrich Tukur) - Photo Courtesy of E1 Entertainment

Our reviews below:


Séraphine Review By John C.

*** (out of 4)

Séraphine Louis was a painter who lived in the Senlis, France. Séraphine follows her in the last 28 years of her life. By day, she works for a rich family, scrubbing their floors and washing their clothes, by night she is a painter. Using whatever materials she can, mixed with white paint that she buys with her small earnings, she paints onto small pieces of wood, mainly using her fingers. She creates, mainly, still-life's of fruit. When an art collector becomes the new tenent in the house, he discovers Séraphine’s natural artistic abilities.

At just over two hours, the film does go on a bit longer then it needs to. What keeps the film worth seeing is Yolande Moreau’s excellent perfomance as Séraphine, and Laurent Brunet’s beautiful cinematography of France.

While the film is too slow for those who like more action, if you're patient with it’s pace you should definitely see Séraphine. Fully deserving of it’s 9 nominations at the César awards, (the French equivilant of the Oscars), and it’s 7 wins, including best picture. As well as awards for best actress and best cinematography.


Séraphine Review By Erin V.

*** (out of 4)

Séraphine tells the true story of the painter Séraphine Louis, known now in the art world as Séraphine de Senlis. The film takes place from 1914 to around 1940, during and after the first world war. This was the time when Séraphine’s art became known to German art dealer, Wilhelm Uhde.

While the film is interesting, it is quite slow moving, and this being said, is not the kind of movie that the majority of people are going to go out and see in theatres. At over two hours, on DVD, this could easily be watched in two parts. The scenery is beautiful in the landscaping shots, and the acting is very good, but the editing could have been tighter at parts, as the middle was kind of slow. Oddly, after this, the end felt kind of rushed.

Overall, if the story interests or intrigues you, this would be worth watching once you can find it to rent or buy. The subtitles are easy to follow, (the film is mostly in French), as this film has little dialouge. There is just nothing, other than the scenery that, for me, would make this a must see in theatres. A good movie, but not one that I can see getting a wider theatre release. It opens in Canada, in limited release, in Toronto and [Montréal?] today.


Séraphine Review By Nicole

*** (out of 4)

Séraphine is a quiet, low key film. Based on a true story, this movie tells the story of one eccentric artist in the French town of Senlis. The artist, Séraphine, starts out as a maid for the snobby landlord, Madame Duphot. During her spare time however, Séraphine, when not climbing and touching trees or playing with water, looks for various things to turn into paints. She then will paint small pictures of flowers, leaves, and fruits on pieces of wood. Her employer mocks her paintings, saying they look like they were done by a six year-old. However, when a German art collector, Wilhelm Uhde, who helped discover Picasso and Rousseau, discovers Séraphine's talent, he loves her work, and asks to buy some of her paintings. When World War 1 breaks out, Wilhelm and his sister have to return to Germany. He encourages Séraphine to keep on painting. Séraphine does, and when Wilhelm and his sister come back, Séraphine gets her artwork into galleries. Sadly, at the height of her career, Séraphine becomes mentally ill, and ends up in an asylum. Wilhelm fights to make sure that Séraphine is well treated, and can get access to the trees that she loves so much.

I liked Séraphine. The story was very interesting, and the acting is quite believable. The scenery and music is beautiful. There is very little dialogue, and the movie does drag slightly, so the movie isn't for those with short attention spans. However, Séraphine is a well made movie, with a fascinating story line. See it if you have the chance.


Séraphine Review By Maureen

*** (out of 4)

Séraphine is a gentle, quiet and beautifully shot work of art. Based on a true story, “Seraphine” follows the adult life of an eccentric painter in France around the time of the first world war.

Séraphine was a plain and akward woman working as a cleaning lady in a french villa. She keeps busy with physical labor all day, then goes home to spend all night painting with materials she has gotten from various places. When a German art collector moves into the villa, he discovers Séraphine’s talent and tries to help her establish an art career. Sadly, Séraphine’s mental state is unstable and her delusions that angels are guiding her work lead her to be locked away in an asylum. The fine line between genius and madness is obvious in this touching story.

The strength of this film is the superb acting by Yolande Moreau, who plays Séraphine. She makes Séraphine completely believable without resorting to over dramatization. The scenery is beautiful and the music fits the quiet, gentle pace of the story. There is not much dialogue in the movie, so the visuals and the music are what move the story forward.

I really liked Séraphine, my only complaint is that at over two hours it feels too long. Because of the slow, quiet pace, my mind wandered at times and I missed reading some of the English subtitles. With so little dialogue, you don’t want to miss any of it.

Overall, this is worth seeing if you are in the mood for a quiet film about an artist. Séraphine is a work of art in itself.


Séraphine Review By Tony

***1/2 (out of 4)

Seraphine est un film sur la vie de Séraphine Louis, dite Séraphine de Senlis, qui habitait ce village-là au nord de Paris. Au début on regarde cette femme de 48 ans en 1912 travaillant comme femme de ménage des maisons bourgeoises. Elle passe son temps libre en cherchant des herbes en campagne, du cire volé des cierges de l’église, du sang dans le pot de foie chez le boucher, pour mélanger avec du peinture blanc acheté avec les sous qu’elle gagne. En nuit dans sa petite chambre, en chantant ses prières sous la lumière des bougies, elle peint, plutôt avec ses doigts, des toiles plein des fleurs, fruits et feuilles. Wilhelm Uhde, un des locataires dans la maison où elle travaille, est un collectionneur d’art d’origine allemande qui avait déjà découvert les artistes Rousseau et Picasso. Ayant trouvé par hasard un des toiles de Séraphine, il lui dit qu’elle est bien douée, et doit travailler beaucoup malgré les moqueries des autres pour se faire une grande artiste. Il commence à la subventionner, mais au commencement de la première guerre mondiale il faut s’échapper en allemagne et ne retourne qu’à 1927. Croyant d’abord que Séraphine était morte, il la retrouve, maintenant une des meilleurs artistes dits naïfs, qu’il préférait nommer “primitifs modernes”. Il promesse encore de la soutenir, et elle commence à peindre des tableaux à deux mètres d’hauteur et se trouve avec plus d’argent qu’elle peut ménager. Mais sa richesse prend fin à cause de la dépression de 1930 et elle a une crise de délire qui la fait transporter dans un asile psychiatrique et abandonner son métier pour le reste de sa vie. Elle meurt en 1942 avec des milliers d’autres habitants des hôpitaux pendant l’occupation.

Seraphine déroule des fois un peut trop lentement pour nous, mais il vaut la peine de découvrir la vie d’une telle personne. Sous la direction de Martin Provost, Yolande Moreau est devenue Séraphine totalement, et les autres acteurs, surtout Ulrich Tukur comme M. Uhde, sont tous excellents. Enfin, le film est beau à voir, entre les scènes de campagne et les scènes dans la chambre, où la lumiere des bougies nous fait rappeler les tableaux chiaroscuro des hollandais.


Consensus: Coming Soon! *** (Out of 4)