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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

(Contest is now closed) Win a copy of Victoria Day on DVD

The wonderful Canadian film Victoria Day is now available on DVD. And we have one copy to give away to a lucky reader. Good luck!

To enter, simply email your full name and an email address where you can be contacted to contests@onemoviefiveviews.com, with “Win a copy of Victoria Day on DVD” in the subject line. The contest ends next Tuesday, October 6th, when a random draw will be held. Contest is open to Ontario residents only. Must be 14 years or older to enter. Full rules and regulations here.

-John C.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Monsters vs. Aliens Soundtrack Review

Written By E. Corrado

Monsters vs. Aliens is Henry Jackman’s first solo score for a film. Already an accomplished artist in scoring, he shared an award with Hans Zimmer & John Powell for the music in Secrets of the Furious Five at last year’s Annie Awards.

His score for Monsters vs. Aliens is just so much fun to listen to - and a great first solo film effort! The thing is that this score’s mix of quiet moments and action sequences really helps make the film. Listening to it again, I am reminded of the film, which I haven’t seen in about 6 months. Even so, the soundtrack stands very well on it’s own. It’s a nice length too - 1:05:46.

Jackman makes good use of rhythm and instruments for the appropriate feel here. Particularly in tracks Meet The Monsters, and the great ending The Ginormica Suite (a wonderful compilation piece - if you’re just going to buy one track on iTunes, buy this one). Track 13 also shows a good variation... I love tracks 10 & 11 as well - although all of the pieces are great, and I probably shouldn’t name them all one by one! Because of Jackman’s musical training in various forms, he makes good use of complementing this orchestral score with electronic instruments. (For an example of a mostly electronic piece, listen to track 19.)

Many of the themes for the film were set up in tracks 1, 4 & 5. These themes are threaded throughout, without becoming repetitive. Perhaps Jackman has gotten the hang of this from his work with Hans Zimmer? His scores often have themes that manage to clue you in without hitting you over the head with them. I can actually hear vague similarities to some of the Pirates and Kung Fu Panda music a few times in here - both movies that Jackman did additional music for, while working alongside Zimmer. (Interestingly enough, I realize now, it's between the Battle at the Golden Gate Bridge piece in this, and The Bridge score in KFP... It's just in a few of the chord sequences - maybe they are good for scoring bridge fights.) As for Pirates, I think it's more the rhythm style that's reminding me.

The score is pretty much all done in a light major feel. It has a certain bounciness throughout, yet effortlessly changes to a slow pace when needed. And when it is at a slow pace, the piano has some really beautiful themes - like in track 11. The strings also get a nice showcase in track 18. The soundtrack on a whole is actually very lyrical. Some scores are hard to listen to all in one sitting - this one is most definitely not. After it ended, I started going back and listening to some of the tracks again!

I was disappointed to see though that this particular score was not translated into a music book, like most DreamWorks animated film scores are by Cherry Lane Music Publishing. While the score does have a lot of enormity to it, it is very lyrical/theme based, and I think for that reason, it could have been translated well for piano, and (especially for) small band.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we see another nomination for Henry Jackman at this year’s Annie Awards - although he would be facing extremely tough competition with Michael Giacchino’s very different from this, yet still wonderful, score for Up, which will probably take home the actual award.

The full soundtrack includes a great balanced mix of 14 original scores, with 6 classic monster/alien themed songs. Because this isn’t a soundtrack with a lot of variation between really loud and really quiet tracks, it makes for a great listen in the car, since it can withstand highway noises without being drowned out, or getting too loud. This is also one that will be enjoyed by all ages.

The Monsters vs. Aliens soundtrack just leaves you feeling really good - it’s a happy set of music. Get this one.

Monsters vs. Aliens on DVD Today

Today, September 29th, Paramount Home Entertainment is releasing Monsters vs. Aliens on DVD. We reviewed the film when it came out in theatres last March. You can read our reviews here. As our consensus read:

Monsters vs. Aliens is fun, entertaining movie, with a great voice cast, visuals, and music. Go see this in a theatre, and if possible, in 3-D. This is fun that the whole family, (around 6 and up), can enjoy. *** (Out of 4) ”

With that said, it’s still worth seeing on DVD. You can get it in a two-disc set, which includes the all-new short film B.O.B.’s Big Break, which is presented in anaglyph 3D.

-John C.

Victoria Day on DVD Today

Today, E1 Films is releasing the wonderful Canadian film Victoria Day on DVD. If you missed this one in theatres, please seek it out on DVD. I thought it was a small triumph. We reviewed the film when it came out in theatres on June 19th, we all highly recommended it. You can read our reviews here. Our consensus was:

Victoria Day is a well-made, believable Canadian film. Due to it’s storyline, and execution, this film will be accessible to a wide audience. ***3/4 (Out of 4) ”

There is just over 40-minutes of bonus material on the DVD, including interviews with the cast and crew, B-Roll footage and selected clips. Here’s a link to all of our Victoria Day coverage from last June, including my interviews with three of the lead actors and writer/director David Bezmozgis.

-John C.

Iron Road on DVD Today

E1 Films is releasing the mini-series Iron Road on DVD today as a two-disc set. Here’s the official synopsis:

“ Full of hope that she will make a new life and find out the truth about her long-lost father, a poor but high-spirited Chinese woman, Little Tiger, disguises herself as a boy and joins the railroad construction crew in the Rocky Mountains. Her life is changed forever when she falls in love with the privileged son of the railroad tycoon. ”

This is a fictional story, centred around a very interesting part of Canadian history. In all, the film is 181-minutes long, though it is meant to be seen in two parts. The special features on the DVD include cast and crew interviews. You can get more information here.

-John C.

The Girlfriend Experience DVD Review

The Girlfriend Experience - A Mongrel Media Release

On DVD: September 29th, 2009

Rated 14A for sexual content, nudity and language

Running time: 78 minutes

Steven Soderbergh (dir.)

David Levien (writer)

Brian Koppelman (writer)

Ross Godfrey (music)

Sasha Grey as Chelsea / Christine

Chris Santos as Chris

Philip Eytan as Phillip

T. Colby Trane as Waiter

Peter Zizzo as Zizzo

Our reviews below:


The Girlfriend Experience DVD Review By John C.

*** (out of 4)

The Girlfriend Experience is the latest experimental film from director Steven Soderbergh. It’s the story of a high-end escort, Chelsea (Sasha Grey), and the clients and people she has to deal with, as well as trying to remain in a relationship with her boyfriend.

It’s only 78-minutes long, and stars a cast of unknowns. It’s music quite literally comes from buskers, which I thought was a very nice touch. My only real complaint is that some scenes are shot with a handheld camera that shakes up and down and keeps being zoomed in and out. Thankfully though, most of the scenes are shot with a steady cam, and the film works more often than it doesn’t. The movie never drags, mainly due to the solid acting. This is an interesting film that may not be for everyone, but I think it’s well worth checking out.

The DVD includes the featurette HDNet: A Look at The Girlfriend Experience, commentary with director Steven Soderbergh and actor Sasha Grey, and an alternate cut of the film.


The Girlfriend Experience DVD Review By Erin V.

*** (out of 4)

With the Ocean's trilogy, the Ché films, and now the new Matt Damon movie The Informant, to name but a few, Steven Soderbergh has an interesting repertoire of films, both mainstream and experimental.

The Girlfriend Experience is one of his experimental ones - clearly. From the varied style from scene to scene, to the narrative style, this is a well made, although not all that mainstream movie. A few times, the style got to be too much for me, such as a few scenes in an airplane which were filmed on some sort of handheld camera, focusing mostly on the actors shirts and shoes more than their faces - and tilting sideways... Was the person holding the camera supposed to have forgotten they were holding it, or that it was on? One of the cooler aspects though, is that quite frequently, the background music of scenes was actually provided by buskers in the scenes - a nice touch.

Overall, The Girlfriend Experience explores it's issues in an interesting, and tame enough way. I am glad that this film was more talk in this case, and didn't insist on showing too much. Like with Steven Soderbergh's previous films, I would say that this one is worth seeing.


The Girlfriend Experience DVD Review By Nicole

*** (out of 4)

Review N/A


The Girlfriend Experience DVD Review By Maureen

*** (out of 4)

Review N/A


The Girlfriend Experience DVD Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

Review N/A


Consensus: *** (Out of 4)

Away We Go DVD Review

Away We Go - An Alliance Films’ Release

On DVD: September 29th, 2009

Rated 14A: Coarse language, sexual content, language may offend.

Running time: 98 minutes

Sam Mendes (dir.)

Dave Eggers & Vendala Vida (writers)

Alexi Murdoch (original music)

John Krasinski as Burt Farlander

Maya Rudolph as Verona De Tessant

Jeff Daniels as Jerry Farlander

Maggie Gyllenhaal as LN

Allison Janney as Lily

Chris Messina as Tom Garnett

Catherine O’Hara as Gloria Farlander

Paul Schneider as Courtney Farlander

Special Features: "Deleted Scenes*, - The Making of Away We Go*, - Green Filmmaking*, - Feature Commentary * Subtitled same as feature

HD content: - User Guide: MY SCENES, - Playstation 3 Controller (static user guide), - The Making of Away We Go*, - Green Filmmaking*"

©2009 Focus Features LLC and Big Beach LLC. All Rights Reserved. Distributed Exclusively in Canada by Alliance Films. All Rights Reserved.

Our reviews below:


Away We Go DVD Review By John C.

*1/2 (out of 4)

Some of Sam Mendes’ films could be described as masterpieces. His latest, Away We Go, is a minor disaster-piece. From the off-colour and really disgusting opening scene, I found myself thinking “what am I in for?”. It’s literally all down hill from there. The story follows the moronic Burt and the incredibly average Verona, who are in their thirties. They’ve been together for quite some time, but she refuses to get married. When she finally gets pregnant, they decide to take a road trip to find a better and more permanent place to settle down.

On their journey, they visit old friends and family. Almost everyone they visit is incredibly obnoxious. Some of them are also creepy. In particular the new-age family who all sleep together in the same bed. And also the mother who has adopted four kids, and does pathetic and clothed pole dances at a strip club in Montreal in her spare time. But how can you expect likable side characters when the leads themselves aren’t even that likable?

If this film was a total indie, than perhaps I would have cut it a bit more slack. But it’s mind-boggling and actually quite sad to see something like this come from an incredibly talented cast and crew. None of it is particularly funny, and by the end, when we’re supposed to feel for the characters, I felt no real emotional connection to them. The only thing I kind of liked in the film was the “indie-folk” soundtrack by singer/songwriter Alexi Murdoch.

The DVD includes the featurette’s The Making of Away We Go and Green Filmmaking. It also includes commentary with director Sam Mendes and writers Dave Eggers & Vandela Vida.


Away We Go DVD Review By Erin V.

** (out of 4)

It is said the first five minutes, or the last five minutes, can make or break a film. Right from the get go - the opening scene - my expectations plummeted for this movie. If you're wondering, simply put, the story follows the characters Burt and Verona looking for a new place to live with the child they are expecting.

From a disgusting opening scene to the odd, boring, and repetitive travels from place to place - stating with rather boring interruptive title cards saying, 'Away to (insert name of wherever their going)' - Away We Go just never lived up to my expectations. And why did practically every character in this film have to be unlikable? It's not like the actors are bad...it must just be how the script was written.

I couldn't really recommend this film, in all honesty. I suppose, if you're interested in borrowing it from the library, or checking it out on television, it would be fine to check it out for yourself, but other than that, you can skip this one.


Away We Go DVD Review By Nicole

** (out of 4)

Review N/A


Away We Go DVD Review By Maureen

*1/2 (out of 4)

Review N/A


Away We Go DVD Review By Tony

*1/2 (out of 4)

Review N/A


Consensus: Not all that great a film. At all. *3/4 (Out of 4)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Trailer Watch: A Christmas Carol, new trailer and featurette

Apple Trailers now has a new trailer for A Christmas Carol. It shows lots of never before seen footage. I assume this new trailer will be playing in front of the upcoming Toy Story 1& 2 Double-Bill. Although when I saw TS & TS2 they only showed the original teaser.

Apple also has a new featurette. Though it is brief, it’s still very much worth watching. I think A Christmas Carol looks spectacular. The animation is astounding, and the film looks very close to Dickens’ original vision. This is going to be an amazing film.

-John C.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

September’s Overlooked Film

Chosen by: John C.

Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium

Release Date November 16th, 2007

Rated G

Running Time: 93 min

Zach Helm (dir.)

Zach Helm (screenplay)

Alexandre Desplat (music)

Aaron Zigman (music)

Dustin Hoffman as Mr. Edward Magorium, Avid Shoe-Wearer

Natalie Portman as Molly Mahoney, the Composer

Zach Mills as Eric Applebaum, the Hat Collector

Jason Bateman as Henry Weston, the Mutant


Overlooked Film: Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium

By John C.

Zach Helm wrote the screenplay for Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium when he was in college, a few years before he wrote the brilliant screenplay for Stranger Than Fiction. Mr. Magorium is the story of the owner of an old toy store who wants to hand over his business to a young colleague. The film has a whimsical tone, but also deals with darker and more mature issues like death and moving on, but it does it in a way that people of all ages can understand and relate to. Dustin Hoffman gives a very good performance, never dumbing down just because he’s in a family film. One climatic dialogue-driven scene in particular, between Hoffman and co-star Natalie Portman, is just perfect. It’s touching and very moving. There are a few scenes that could have been tweaked a bit, but this is still an incredibly underrated and very good film.

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.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

"A Christmas Carol" and "Fantastic Mr. Fox" both rated PG

A recent bulletin put forth from the MPAA listed that the upcoming animated films, A Christmas Carol and Fantastic Mr. Fox, will both be rated PG.

A Christmas Carol will be Rated PG For scary sequences and images, and Fantastic Mr. Fox will be Rated PG For action, smoking and slang humor.

Something tells me that the rating for A Christmas Carol is at the upper end of a PG, closer to a PG-13. Either way, both of these films will almost guaranteed have a bigger following among teens and adults, rather than younger kids.

-John C.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ghosts of Girlfriend Past DVD Review

Ghosts of Girlfriend Past - An Alliance Films’ Release


On DVD: September 22nd, 2009

Rated PG: Language may offend; not recommeded for children; sexual content.

Running time: 100 minutes

Mark Waters (dir.)

Matthew McConaughey as Connor Mead

Jennifer Garner as Jenny Perotti

Lacey Chabert as Sandra

Emma Stone as Allison Vandermeersh

Michael Douglas as Uncle Wayne

TM & © MMIX New Line Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Distributed exclusively in Canada by Alliance Films. All Rights Reserved.

Our reviews below:


Ghosts of Girlfriends Past DVD Review By John C.

*** (out of 4)

Conner Mead gets a visit from the ghosts of girlfriends past, present and future, to warn about how his life will end up if he doesn’t change. This is a funny and enjoyable above average romantic-comedy, but it’s also a slightly uneven one. Though it only seriously missteps when it falls into the “smashing the wedding cake” territory. The brief bit with the ruined cake and neurotic bride just seemed out of place with the rest of the film.

I enjoyed watching Michael Douglas as Uncle Wayne. His dialogue is appropriately dirty, and he gets the funniest lines in the film. The other actors all do fine jobs as well, but he gives the best performance in the movie. Overall, I found this is to be a pleasant and entertaining film that’s worth renting for a good night in.

The DVD has no bonus features.


Ghosts of Girlfriends Past DVD Review By Erin V.

*** (out of 4)

Unlike the incredibly boring He's Just Not That Into You, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past actually delivers as a fairly funny and entertaining romantic comedy. In the film, Connor Mead, (Matthew McConaughey) is a shallow guy who photographs models for a living. While he enjoys 'playing around,' he is afraid to commit to an actual relationship. When he goes to his brother's wedding, he openly gives his opinion of what he thinks of long-term relationships, upsetting everyone there, and causing him to be visited 'Christmas Carol style' by the three ghosts of girlfriends Past, Present, and Future. This of course leads to a nice, albeit predictable, character arc for Connor...

I enjoyed this movie, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants a light romantic comedy, (if they don't mind some mature content). Whether you rent it, or buy it, this one is worth it. It's just good lighthearted fun.


Ghosts of Girlfriends Past DVD Review By Nicole

*** (out of 4)

Review N/A


Ghosts of Girlfriends Past DVD Review By Maureen

*** (out of 4)

Review N/A


Ghosts of Girlfriends Past DVD Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

Review N/A


Consensus: *** (Out of 4)

Easy Virtue DVD Review

Easy Virtue - An Alliance Films’ Release


On DVD: September 22nd, 2009

Rated PG: nudity; mature theme.

Running time: 97 minutes

Stephan Elliott (dir.)

Jessica Biel as Larita Whittaker

Ben Barnes as John Whittaker

Kristin Scott Thomas as Mrs. Whittaker

Colin Firth as Mr. Whittaker

© EASY VIRTUE FILMS LTD. 2008. Distributed exclusively in Canada by Alliance Films. All Rights Reserved.

Our reviews below:


Easy Virtue DVD Review By John C.

**1/2 (out of 4)

Jessica Biel plays a Detroit race car driver, who marries a young British man. When they go to visit his family in England, his mother is appalled to find out that her son has married an American.

The acing is good all around, in particular by Jessica Biel, Colin Firth and Kristin Scott-Thomas, and the soundtrack is very good. But the parts are better than the whole. For a comedy, it feels a bit long. And save for a few scenes, it’s never as hilarious as it could have been. It’s nice to look at, and it does have some very entertaining sequences, but as a whole it could have been done a little better. Though I did think that it was entertaining enough, to make it worth a rental if you’ve got the time.

The DVD includes deleted scenes, a blooper reel, a featurette, and commentary with director Stephen Elliot and writer Sheridan Jobbins.


Easy Virtue DVD Review By Erin V.

*** (out of 4)

Easy Virtue is the story of a young British man who meets a female racecar driver in the states, and marries her. When he brings her back home to his family, they clearly do not approve of her, and are set to find some way to get him to see that. She, likewise, does not find that she fits into the British countryside, and would prefer to return to America. The film is mostly about the interactions the whole eccentric family have with each other.

Set in the late 1920's, and made sort of in the style of an old film, Easy Virtue is a good and entertaining movie. Overall it is a comedy, and it does have it's funny moments throughout, although it takes a slightly more dramatic turn by the end. I liked it overall, and it's worth the watch if you have time.


Easy Virtue DVD Review By Nicole

*** (out of 4)

Review N/A


Easy Virtue DVD Review By Maureen

**1/2 (out of 4)

Review N/A


Easy Virtue DVD Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

Review N/A


Consensus: *** (Out of 4)

Lymelife DVD Review

Limelyfe - A Cinemavault Release


On DVD: September 22nd, 2009

Rated 14A for language, some sexual content, violence and drug use

Running time: 93 minutes

Derick Martini (dir.)

Derick Martini (writer)

Steven Martini (writer)

Steven Martini (music)

Alec Baldwin as Mickey Bartlett

Kieran Culkin as Jimmy Bartlett

Rory Culkin as Scott Bartlet

Jill Hennessy as Brenda Bartlett

Timothy Hutton as Charlie Bragg

Cynthia Nixon as Melissa Bragg

Emma Roberts as Adrianna Bragg

Our reviews below:


Lymelife DVD Review By John C.

***1/2 (out of 4)

Lymelife is the story of three relationships. Two that are ending, one that’s just starting. Scott Bartlett’s parents (Alec Baldwin and Jill Hennessy) are breaking apart. He falls in love with Adrianna (Emma Roberts), whose father (Timothy Hutton) has lyme disease, and has grown estranged from his wife (Cynthia Nixon). At the heart of this suburban drama, there’s a tender teenaged romance. One that almost grows stronger as every one else is breaking apart.

The acting by the entire cast is excellent, in particular the two young leads, Rory Culkin and Emma Roberts. They’re the ones that really carry the movie. The ending may turn some people off, as it is slightly confusing and doesn’t explain everything. I thought it was brilliant. It’s amazingly well edited and builds up tension without any dialogue, right to that final cut to black. Both funny and moving, I found this to be a very good film, and one that I definitely recommend you see.

The DVD includes deleted scenes, audio commentary by director Derick Martini and Rory Culkin, and an alternate ending.


Lymelife DVD Review By Erin V.

***1/2 (out of 4)

Taking place in the late '70's/early '80's, Lymelife follows the life of a few residents in a small town in Long Island. As the title hints, it is centred around the threat of Lyme disease, (from deer ticks), which is effecting the whole town, both through those who actually have the disease, or those who are worried that they may contract it.

Mainly though, Lymelife is a 'coming of age' story, which follows a 14 year old boy and his 15 year old female friend. Both of their families are brought together through Lyme disease, as their families themselves begin to break apart.

I would definitely recommend Lymelife as a very well-made drama. Dark at times, lighter at others, this film is very real feeling, and moves along at a comfortable pace, with an interesting choice of ending. Rent or buy this one.


Lymelife DVD Review By Nicole

*** (out of 4)

Review N/A


Lymelife DVD Review By Maureen

**1/2 (out of 4)

Review N/A


Lymelife DVD Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

Review N/A


Consensus: *** (Out of 4)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Special Announcement: “Precious” wins People’s Choice Award at TIFF ‘09

Precious, the story of an abused teenage girl growing up in Harlem, has won the People’s Choice Award at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. Last year the award went to Slumdog Millionaire, which went on to win Best Picture at the Oscars, and dominate the awards circuit. My personal feeling is that Precious may be headed down a similar path. Get more information here.

-John C.

Friday, September 18, 2009

“The Music of 9” - An Interview With Composer Deborah Lurie

By E. Corrado

I had the opportunity to speak with composer Deborah Lurie about the music for the new animated feature 9 earlier this week. 9 opened in theatres last Wednesday, 9.9.09. Enjoy!

When did you find out that you would be doing the score for 9? I can’t remember quite how long ago, but there was a nice amount of time. It was worked on off and on, over a year ago.

What kind of timeline do you usually have for a movie like this? I’m not sure what the average would be but sometimes it’s as little as 3 weeks, and sometimes it’s as long as 2 1/2 months.

Had you done any animated projects before - do you think there's more time when it’s animated? Not movies, but I had done an animated tv show for Disney. I don’t know about more time, but like with 9, I imagine there’s more back and forth with animated as it goes through various stages.

Had you seen Shane Acker’s award winning short film, before you agreed to do the score for the feature of 9? Yes, I had, and I had to promise myself not to watch it 20 times, or something like that, because the film was going to be different, so I didn’t want to influence myself too much like that.

Have you seen the finished feature film? Yes, I just saw it actually at a screening with my friends. I seem to be getting most of my feedback from the Bay area though. You never know how a film like this is going to be received, and I try not to worry too much about it, but it is nice when it is received well. I’m quite proud of this score, and I’m very excited to see that it is getting good reviews on iTunes.

Now, the credits list Danny Elfman as doing the themes for 9, and you doing the score, can you elaborate a little bit on how that came to be? Well, I worked on 8 or so other films with him, doing additional music. So, I developed a great working relationship with him. Also, for this one, he does a lot of music for Tim Burton, who is one of the producers on this, and one of the other producers Timur Bekmambetov, is the director of Wanted, which was a film I did additional music for Danny Elfman’s score on. So, somewhere along the way, it was decided that Danny would do the themes for the film, and then I would get to take them, elaborate and score the film around them.

I loved the scene where the song “Over the Rainbow” was used. Who’s decision was it to use “Over the Rainbow” in the film? Well, I was there when they decided to do that, but I wasn't part of the decision. It was in London, and the director and producers and everyone started talking, and it seemed like they were discussing something really important. Finally, they told us that they had decided what they wanted to do for that scene, which was to use ‘Over the Rainbow’. It turned out to be a great idea.

How did you make it work with the rest of the score? Well, I just scored the parts before and after, e.g. when the machine emerges again. I think a lot of that artistry is owed to the people who mixed the film. It was their decision where the music would start up again from the song, etc. They actually decided that it was more effective to use the song for longer when the machine was starting to chase, before coming back to the score.

What were the challenges, if any, that felt you faced while working on 9? Well, I think the biggest challenge would be the fact that this was kind of uncharted territory for us all. Now that the film is out, it’s considered a certain genre film, but no one knew what it would become when we started. Also, the music is very different in the feature then from the short, so we had to kind of figure out where we were going with it.

Where exactly was the score for 9 recorded? Well, it was recorded at the Air Studios in London, England. It used to be an old church, and it was an amazing place to do the music. It was always my dream to do something in London. 9 didn’t have endless funding, but recording there was one of the things that the filmmakers really wanted to do. It was an absolute thrill for me to record there, but it was kind of bittersweet at the same time, since I missed the musicians that I regularly record with in LA.

So, when did you know that you wanted to compose music? For me, it was a little bit later than some people. It was kind of a series of events. I was a junior at highschool, and we had a music theory class, which was pretty amazing for a public school. Anyway, the final project was to write a piece of music. I was worrying over the project for a while, but afterward, I knew that this is what I wanted to do.

Where did you study music after highschool? Well, I basically asked my highschool piano teacher where I should go. I started telling him what was exciting me about writing music, and he said that I had to go to USC. So, that’s where I ended up going.

When composing music, do you have favourite instruments to write for? I like to write for so many different ones, but I really like writing a lot for guitars, mandolins, electric guitars, piano, and all kinds of strings. The last score I finished was mostly strings. I also like to do things for brass and winds.

What instruments did you want to focus on for 9, or is that the director’s decision? I feel everyone was kind of on the same page in regards to the music of 9. It has a lot of brass and winds and we ended up getting a really big sound like we had a 100+ piece orchestra, when in reality there were a lot less people in it than that. There was also a lot of discussion about Danny’s themes, and whether or not we were going to have the budget for a choir. It finally ended up that in the very last scene of the film, we have a choir singing. It was a great choir in London, and it was amazing to record with them.

Did you play any of the instruments? I played a lot of the synthesizer parts, which is more of an experimental thing than just keyboarding skills. There are a lot of electronic sounds on this film, since it is about machines and technology, and the power it has over people. I also sometimes sing on some of my scores, but not on this one.

Do you use a computer to test out different sounds? Yes, since it is pretty standard in the industry nowadays. You usually end up making pretty elaborate instrument accurate mockups for the director.

Which programs do you use? I’ve been composing for orchestra with ProTools. A lot of composers start off with other programs, even though it all goes to ProTools at the end especially with ProTools 8.

I’m just kind of curious about this one; when you’re writing a score like 9 for an orchestra, do you lay out what instruments will be playing what, or is that the job of an orchestrator? I make pretty much all of the overall layout decisions. The job of an orchestrator is more to take those ideas, and from them add expression, dynamics, and things like that. Also I will say, for example, that a certain part will be played by strings, but then the orchestrator will say, ok, these notes here will be played by 1st violin, this here viola, here cello, etc.

I also noticed that most movies don’t list the orchestra members in the credits, and only sometimes the actual orchestra... What are your thoughts on this? Well, the question of how attached to the film the actual orchestra members are, is highly debated. It is not so much about the actual credits, as it is about whether the individual people are entitled to royalties for the performances. It’s debated whether they should, or whether they are individual people that were hired exclusively for that day. When working in LA, under union laws, players are forever tied to the productions they work on.

What has been your favorite project to write music for, and why? 9 was definitely up there as one of the most rewarding. Another one that was really great that I just finished, is called Dear John, which is based on a Nicholas Sparks novel. It is a romance, so that was a nice change from an action movie with machines.

What was your favorite part of doing the music for 9? I just loved being part of something so unique and new. It was very stressful at times, for those reasons, since it was uncharted territory, but it was fun.

Can you tell us about any other upcoming projects that you are working on? I’m not sure in regards to film projects right now, but I also work as an arranger for bands. So, I have some of those projects. I actually find it rather relaxing and fun. It’s really a different experience from film.

Thank you for taking the time to talk with me today about the music of 9. Thank you.

One Movie, Five Views thanks Deborah Lurie for taking the time to talk with us. Our reviews of the film can be found here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Little Mosque on the Prairie: Season Two, on DVD Today

Today, E1 Films has released the second season of CBC’s popular show Little Mosque on the Prairie as a three-disc set. The set features 22 episodes, including the Christmas and New Year’s ones. As someone who has seen the show from the beginning, I found the second season to be not quite as good as the first, but it’s still worth seeing. The 4th season of the show starts on September 28th. Little Mosque on the Prairie: Season Two, is available to buy in most stores.

-John C.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine DVD Review

X-Men Origins: Wolverine - A 20th Century Fox Release


On DVD: September 15th, 2009

Rated PG for intense sequences of action and violence, and some partial nudity

Running time: 107 minutes

Gavin Hood (dir.)

David Benioff (screenplay)

Skip Woods (screenplay)

Harry Gregson-Williams (music)

Hugh Jackman as Logan / Wolverine

Liev Schreiber as Victor Creed

Danny Huston as Stryker

Will.i.am as John Wraith

Lynn Collins as Kayla Silverfox

Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson

Hugh Jackman in X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Photo credit: James Fisher © 20th Century Fox

Our reviews below:


X-Men Origins: Wolverine DVD Review By John C.

*** (out of 4)

X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a prequel to the X-Men trilogy, following the events that directly lead up to the first film. It tells the story of the Canadian-born Logan (Hugh Jackman), and how he became Wolverine. It also shows some of the other X-Men. All the events that happen in this film are leading up to when they meet Professor Xavier.

Wolverine was, understandably, met with very mixed reviews, as it is a “comic-book” movie in every sense of the word. Some of the action scenes are very over-the-top. But it’s also a fun, fast-paced action film that X-Men fans are going to love. I especially liked the opening credits montage showing all the wars that Wolverine and his brother Sabretooth (Liev Schreiber) fought in. This sequence is very well edited. Overall, I had a lot of fun watching this film.

The DVD is available in one and two-disc DVD sets, as well as a two-disc Blu-Ray set. Some of the special features include commentary tracks with the director and producers, featurettes, and deleted and alternate scenes.


X-Men Origins: Wolverine DVD Review By Erin V.

***1/2 (out of 4)

The story begins in the year 1845 - Northwest Territories, Canada. Young Wolverine, (AKA Jimmy Logan), is about 10 years old. Tragic events happen, in which his powers are revealed, forcing him to run from the law with his older brother, who turns out to be Sabretooth. We then run through an interesting montage of the two of them, (vowing to always stick together), fighting in various wars as time passes, as they are indestructible, so never die. We go from the Civil War, all the way to Viatman. Next, now almost present day, we are shown them both ordered by the government to take part in a raid in Africa where the man in charge of those 'like them' - mutants - is looking for a specific type of metal. When innocent people start getting killed, Wolverine - who insists that he doesn't want to be like a wild animal, despite who he is - decides to quit the army and try to settle down to a normal life. Unfortunately, things aren't going to go as planned, and thus he ends up on the path that eventually brings us to where he is at the beginning of the first X-Men.

Hugh Jackman plays Wolverine well as always, and the rest of the cast is good as well. I found this had pretty much what I would want to see in this kind of film. Sometimes the fight scenes were so unbelievable that they were actually kind of funny to watch, but is that not some of the fun in a film like this? It has a good mix of emotions in the character development, which made it a good backstory to both the original X-Men trilogy, as well as other films with other characters that they featured in here.

For fans of the Marvel films, you will definitely want to see this one. I had a lot of fun with it, despite the fact that it has gotten mixed reviews. If superhero-action movies are your thing, take it for what it is, and you will have a good time.


X-Men Origins: Wolverine DVD Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

Review Coming Soon!


Consensus: *** (Out of 4)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Patrick Swayze (1952-2009)

Patrick Swayze, best known for his roles in Dirty Dancing (1987) and Ghost (1990), has passed away today, surrounded by family and friends, after a 20-month battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 57. He will be missed by many, may he rest in peace.

Look back over his long and memorable career here.

-John C.

Trailer Watch: New Moon

Premiering this past Sunday night at the MTV VMA awards, Apple Trailers now has the much anticipated full trailer for The Twilight Saga: New Moon. This film looks to be more action-packed than the first, and the special effects are a vast improvement. We will be having reviews of The Twilight Saga: New Moon on November 20th.

-John C.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Trailer Watch: New featurette for The Fantastic Mr. Fox

Apple Trailers now has a second featurette for The Fantastic Mr. Fox. It’s nice to hear in the featurette from author Roald Dahl’s widow, Felicity Dahl, that she is very proud of what Wes Anderson and his team have done with the film. The exclusive featurette is said to be in honour of “Roald Dahl Day”.

-John C.

Trailer Watch: A Christmas Carol

Yahoo! now has the trailer for Robert Zemeckis’ mo-cap adaptation of A Christmas Carol. Having seen this trailer twice in 3D at the theatres, it’s finally made it’s online debut. I think the film looks brilliant. The Polar Express is one of my all time favorite Christmas films, and A Christmas Carol is one of my favorite Christmas stories. It should be great in IMAX 3D, but just as good in regular theatres. The film opens on November 6th.

-John C.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Trailer Watch: Up In The Air

Slashfilm now has the exclusive trailer for Jason Reitman’s third film, Up In The Air. You can watch a clip of the film here.

Up In The Air looks at least as good as Thank You For Smoking and Juno. In other words, it looks like a complete masterpiece. The trailer is narrated by George Clooney, and it’s already clear that this may be his best performance to date. But like in Jason Reitman’s other two films, the incredibly smart dialogue is going to be the real star of this movie.

-John C.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

9 Review

9 - An Alliance Films’ Release


Release Date: September 9th, 2009

Rated PG for action, peril and some disturbing images.

Running time: 79 minutes

Shane Acker (dir.)

Pamela Pettler (screenplay)

Shane Acker (story)

Deborah Lurie, Danny Elfman (music)

Elijah Wood as 9

John C. Reilly as 5

Jennifer Connelly as 7

Christopher Plummer as 1

Crispin Glover as 6

Martin Landau as 2

Fred Tatasciore as 8 / Radio Announcer

Alan Oppenheimer as The Scientist

Tom Kane as Dictator

Helen Wilson as Newscaster

#9 (voiced by Elijah Wood), #7 (voiced by Jennifer Connelly), and #5 (voiced by John C. Reilly) face peril in Shane Acker's epic adventure fantasy 9, which Alliance Films' releases nationwide on 9/9/09.

Our reviews below:


9 Review By John C.

**** (out of 4)

9 is the kind of film that after it ends, you want to watch it again. When the first World War was ending, machines were created to better humanity. When the machines turned against the humans, a scientist gave his life to create 9 little creatures that hold the key to the future.

The animation, most of which was done at the Toronto based Starz Animation Studio, is amazing. The images are strikingly original, and it’s battles between various mechanical creatures are spectacularly elaborate.

The action scenes are totally awesome. Each creature they battle is created out of sharp pieces of metal and animal bones or, like The Seamstress, a severed doll’s head.

This definitely isn’t for young kids, people really should take into consideration the American rating of PG-13. The fight scenes are genuinely suspenseful, and some of the images are quite frightening.

The story line is brilliant. Not everything is explained in the film, but if you pay attention and think about it, it’s very elaborate and well thought through.

The voice acting by the stellar cast is magnificent. Elijah Wood as 9 brings a genuine innocence and likability to the role. Christopher Plummer is amazing as 1, as is Martin Landou as 2. The antics of the non-verbal twins, 3 & 4, are what give those characters their unique personality. John C. Reily is 5, Crispin Glover appropriately plays 6, Jennifer Connely is the warrior-like 7, and Fred Tatasciore plays the muscle of the group, 8.

In terms of animated films, it could be compared to Coraline. Pamela Pettler who helped pen the script for this, also co-wrote Monster House, which is another film that this could be compared to. The way that the character’s eyes express emotion reminded me of WALL•E.

Shane Acker’s original short film is also brilliant. This film does nothing but add to and enhance his original vision. I thought the ending for both films was surprisingly emotionally resonant and very touching.

I thought the film was just hauntingly beautiful. It’s story line and dark visuals are completely captivating from beginning to end. At only 79 minutes, it doesn’t feel too long or too short. It’s simply perfect. This is an amazing film that really should be seen at a theatre. It’s right up there with Coraline and Up as one of the best animated films of the year.


9 Review By Erin V.

**** (out of 4)

9 follows the story of the title character 9, who, when he meets others like him, helps them to band together to destroy the machines that have wiped out life on Earth.

While the film of 9 has been met with some mixed reviews, I absolutely loved it. It follows a similar story to the short film, with only minor changes to what was in the original short. Unlike in the short, where we only saw 9, and 5, here we are shown all of the characters 1 through 9.

One of the complaints about the film I have heard is that it is too light on story - I beg to differ... Yes, a lot is not explained, but with a good imagination, the rest can be filled in. Essentially, we start out with only what the characters know, and find out more along with them as the story progresses. In some ways, it is almost like an extended short itself. The movie follows more of the format that most shorts have, in which we are mostly just following along in real time, at a life-changing moment in the characters' lives. The film itself is only 79 minutes long, so this format really works here.

Another complaint is that it is too dark on story - especially for children. Let me just address this and warn you now. Don't bring kids under maybe 11 or 12 to this one. (PG-13 in the USA and PG in CA.) They will find it scary, and you will be able to concentrate more if you see it yourself. The thing is, is that just because it's animated, people assume that it should be for children. But if this was a film in any other medium, with this kind of post-apocalyptic storyline, there would be no question or argument that it should have been toned down for kids. You see, this movie is dark, but it is effective because of the way the story is told, as a matter of fact, having seen the original short, I didn't expect anything different. It won't be for everyone, but it is brilliant in it's execution.

The voice cast was all great. Christopher Plummer is the cautious leader of the group 1, Martin Landau is the inventor 2, John C. Reilly is 9's one-eyed friend 5, Crispin Glover is artist 6, Jennifer Connelly is warrior 7, Fred Tatasciore is 8 - the muscle who backs up 1, and finally Elijah Wood is the 'curious to find answers leader' 9. Interestingly enough, 9 reminded me, in personality, of Elijah Wood's character in Happy Feet. (Just a note, I didn't miss anyone, as 3 and 4 are the mute twins, so obviously don't have voice actors behind them. Although their nonverbal communication, both between each other and with the other characters, is so fun to watch on screen, thanks to the animators.)

And speaking of the animators, they all did a great job - at Starz animation in Toronto, ON, CA in fact. This would definitely be deserving of some Annie awards come the end of the year. The world was so intricate, and the characters - especially in battle sequences - move so fluidly and well. The lighting and textures are quite realistic at times and the sound artists helped to bring the scenes to life in a great way. The music in the film, by Deborah Lurie, and Danny Elfman, fits/sets the mood perfectly.

In conclusion, I found the film 9 to be paced well, acted well, visually astounding, and suspenseful to watch. Not once did this film drag for me. It follows an interesting storyline, with elements of mystery to it, and all 9 of the characters manage to have their own unique personalities. Anyone interested in film, or animation, will definitely want to check this one out. A unique and brilliant film. Meant to be seen on the big screen, it's more than worth the price of admission.


9 Review By Nicole

**** (out of 4)

9 is a unique and visually stunning animated film. The film takes place in a post-apocalyptic 1940's, where the only surviving creatures are nine small rag dolls known as "stitchpunks". Man made machines have destroyed every living thing on the planet, but before humans went extinct, one scientist created the tiny stitchpunks to withstand the now violent and polluted planet. One of the stitchpunks, 9, is left hanging in the lab. When he discovers another stitchpunk, 2, he follows him. What 9 discovers, is that he is not alone. As well as other stitchpunks, there are dangerous, stitchpunk eating machines around. Things get really out of hand when 9 accidentally unleashes a giant, metal monster. Now it is up to 9 and the other stitchpunks to stop the machine from destroying them.

Based on Shane Acker's 2004 silent animated short film, 9 is an entirely original film. The story is excellent, and the all star cast is really good. The score by Danny Elfman and Deborah Lurie. is both exciting and suspenseful. The underlying messages in the film are really powerful as well.

One of the things I really liked was the look of the stitchpunks. they are cute and appealing, but still have a very mature feel. It should be noted that while the stitchpunks may be cute, 9 is in no way a children's film. There are far too many frightening and sad moments in this movie for anyone under at at least 10 to be able to handle. However, 9 is an excellent film for older children, teens, and adults.

An added bonus is that much of the animation was done at Starz Animation in Toronto. It was cool to see some of the animation crew sitting in front of me at the theatre.

9 is an excellent film that an older audience should definitely see.


9 Review By Maureen

***1/2 (out of 4)

9 is a superbly crafted animated film. The meticulous attention to detail, the tactile quality of the 9 characters and the darker colour tones and lighting make 9 a real visual treat.

Don't be fooled however by the rag-doll appearance of 9 and the other "stitchpunk" creatures. 9 is not a children's animated film. The storyline about out of control machines destroying humanity between World War I and II, is dark and frightening at times. What keeps this film from being totally dark re the 9 unique characters of each of the rag-doll like creatures. Characters 1 through 9 form a bond with one another with 9 at the lead. Together they try to fight the monstrous super machine that is trying to destroy them.

As dark and post-apocalyptic as 9 is, it is an amazing film to watch. The visuals are stunning, the voice acting excellent and the music score fits perfectly. With a running time of about 79 minutes, 9 is just the right length. Director Shane Acker has done an excellent job in transforming his original award winning short film 9 to a feature length film.

If you are an animation fan 9 is a must-see on the big screen. Watch for this one come awards time.


9 Review By Tony

***1/2 (out of 4)

9 is an animated fantasy epic based on the 2004 short film by director Shane Acker, with a screenplay by Pamela Pettler and produced by Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov. The human population has been wiped out in a war taken over by machines. One of the chief scientists whose work had been stolen by warlords managed before dying to create 9 small (about 20 cm) humanoids out of burlap with camera lens eyes whose combined talents he hoped would preserve civilization against the war machines. Though dismissed at first as naive, the newcomer 9 (Elijah Wood) insists he can lead the others in fighting back. Despite resistance from 1 (Christopher Plummer), the entrenched leader and 8 (Fred Tatasciore), his dumb oversized enforcer with a face like Bonhomme Michelin, 9 finds support from 2 (Martin Landau), an aged inventor, 5 (John C. Reilly), an eyepatched engineer and guide through the rubble, 7 (Jennifer Connelly), a white ninja with a raptor-beaked helmet, 3 & 4, the nonverbal twin librarians conserving what’s left of collective memory, and 6 (Crispin Glover), a striped artist with pens for fingers obsessively drawing symbols that will prove useful.

With animation produced at Starz Animation, Toronto, 9 is technically brilliant. The post apocalyptic world created is in the style known as “steampunk”, (also seen recently in City of Ember) with early 20th century technology that is heavily mechanical and electrical compared to today’s hidden electronics. The war machines are as complex and terrifying as the monsters in Aliens, and the battle sequences, though elaborately constructed, avoid the numbing excesses of Transformers. The back story provided by a library newsreel is evocative of World War 1 and the subsequent mobilization of the Third Reich, with a chilling image of poison gas leaving the population dead in their tracks. The strong musical score by Deborah Lurie has themes by Danny Elfman. Highly recommended, but far too dark for small kids.


Consensus: 9 is a visually stunning, darkly beautiful animated film, that's incredibly interesting and unique in terms of storytelling and style. Though not for young kids, for everyone else this is an animated gem. ***3/4 (Out of 4)


9, voiced by Elijah Wood, is confronted by the Replication Machine in Shane Acker’s 9, which Alliance Films releases nationwide on 9.09.09.