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Friday, May 29, 2009

Up Review

Up - A Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar Animation Studios Release

http://disney.go.com/disneypictures/up/


Release Date: May 29th, 2009

Rated PG for some action, peril and frightening scenes.

Running time: 96 minutes


Pete Docter (dir.)

Bob Peterson (co-dir.)

Pete Docter (story)

Bob Peterson (story)

Tom Mccarthy (story)

Bob Peterson (screenplay)

Pete Docter (screenplay)

Michael Giacchino (music)


Ed Asner as Carl Fredricksen

Christopher Plummer as Charles Muntz

Jordan Nagai as Russell

Bob Peterson as Dug

Delroy Lindo as Beta

Jerome Ranft as Gamma

Bob Peterson as Alpha

John Ratzenberger as Construction Foreman Tom


All images © Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar Animation Studios.


Our reviews below:

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Up Review By John C.

**** (out of 4)

Up is the story of Carl Fredricksen, a 78-year old man whose life seems to have passed him by. The movie starts when he is a kid in the 1930’s. Here he meets Ellie, a girl who has always dreamed of adventure. Than the film shows us their life together in what is one of the most emotional and beautiful montages I have ever seen.


Now, 70 years later, after an incident with a construction worker, he is going to be taken to a retirement home. When they come to pick him up, he tells them he just needs to say one more goodbye to his house. This is when thousands of balloons float up from his chimney. The problem is, once he’s high up in the air, there is a knock at the door. Russell, an 8 year old wilderness explorer trying to earn his assisting the elderly badge, has stowed away on his porch.


After a storm, his house is steered to South America. His dream destination, Paradise Falls. A magnificent water fall that Ellie had always dreamed of visiting. With run-ins with a 13-foot tall jungle bird, a team of dogs wearing collars that translate their thoughts into words and a crazy old villain, Up becomes an exciting and thrilling action-adventure.


By the time his little old house breaks away from it’s foundation, I was already emotionally invested in the characters, and I was able to believe every fantastical element that followed.


One of the main themes in Up is, sometimes you have to let go of your past, in order to make new memories. In one of the films most touching scenes, Carl reads the scrapbook that Ellie had made when she was a kid. The scene is emotional and heartbreaking, yet full of love and hope. One of my favorite images in the film is a shot of two chairs standing up beside each other. You will know what I’m talking about when you see it. It's an animated film, but it moved me to tears, and will likely be the most touching film to come out this year.


Up is Pixar’s most affecting work to date, both emotionally and comedically. There is never a false note in this film. Right now this is tied for my number one spot of best movie of the year so far, (In case you’re wondering the other film is The Brothers Bloom). I hope this film might finally break the mold and get a Best Picture nomination, it certainly deserves it.


You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll go up with Disney•Pixar’s 10th masterpiece.


Before the feature film, plays the short film Partly Cloudy. It is yet another brilliant and hilarious short film from Pixar. It also marks the directorial debut of Pete Sohn, (voice of Émile in Ratatouille). Arrive early, and don’t miss it. ****

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Up Review By Erin V.

**** (out of 4)

Before the film, I had the pleasure of seeing Pixar’s newest short film, Partly Cloudy. I will start with a short synopsis and review of this short:


Partly Cloudy, directed by Peter Sohn, (animator at Pixar, and voice of Émile is Ratatouille), tells the story of Gus the cloud, and Peck the stork. Gus makes babies, which Peck then delivers. Unfortunately for Peck, Gus likes to make dangerous babies, such as alligators. This is a cute, wordless short, that like Up also boasts a score by Michael Giacchino. The short was fun to watch, and will be quite nice in 3D, I’m sure. (I attended a 2D viewing of both Partly Cloudy and Up). This being said, the short, like the movie, stands up fine in 2D, because as is always with Pixar, story comes first. This short is a nice treat to see before the feature film, as these shorts are something we have come to expect from Pixar. Partly Cloudy complements Up nicely with the cloud theme. Four stars for this short, and Peter Sohn’s directorial debut at Pixar. ****


Now, on to the Up review: I absolutely loved this movie. At it’s core, this movie has emotional heart, and that is the true beauty of Pixar.


The movie opens when Carl is a kid, (around 8 years old). He is in a theatre, watching segments before the show of the famous explorers of the world. He wants to be an explorer, and on the way home meets a girl around his age named Ellie. While intimidated by her big personality, he likes her, and she too dreams of becoming an explorer. They grow up together and there is a beautiful montage, set only to Michael Giacchino’s score, of their life together. This is one of the most, although not the only, touching and emotional parts of the movie.


By the end of the montage, Carl is 78 years old, and alone. Developers want to build a shopping complex where his house is, and are looking for an excuse to get him removed to a retirement home. Carl doesn’t want to leave his house and the memories it holds, and so, as we have seen in the trailers, he floats his house away on thousands of balloons to South America’s Tupui Mountains and Paradise Falls. What he had not anticipated was Russell, an 8 year old Wilderness Explorer tagging along when his house lifted off, in an attempt to earn an ‘assisting the elderly’ badge.


Once in South America, Carl realizes that nothing is going to go to plan. They meet a giant jungle bird, which Russell dubs Kevin, who won’t leave them alone, as well as a dog - with a very sophisticated collar which can translate his thoughts - named Dug. Unbeknownst to Carl, these extra guests on their trip will give him the adventure he always dreamed of...


I made sure not to go into too much of the plot above, so you can be confident that you will still have plenty of surprises going into this movie. Pixar does not let us down with this latest effort. Everything about this movie works. The voice acting is all spot on, with great performances from Ed Asner, Christopher Plummer, newcomer Jordan Nagai, and Bob Peterson in the main roles. Michael Giacchino's score is also absolutely beautiful to listen to, and the animation, as always from Pixar, is breathtakingly gorgeous to look at. I hope come awards season, this is recognized for what it is - a beautiful movie about love, loss, knowing when to letting go, and the adventure of our everyday lives. One of Pixar’s most emotional and mature outings to date, Up is destined to become a classic. ****

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Up Review By Nicole

**** (out of 4)

Partly Cloudy (Short Film)

****

Partly Cloudy is an endearingly funny little film that addresses the age old question: Where do babies come from? In this story we see that babies come from clouds, and are delivered bu storks. But what about fierce animals? Where do they come from? Partly Cloudy follows a cloud named Gus, and a stork named Peck whose job is to create and deliver the babies of dangerous animals, with hilarious results. The animation in this short film is adorable, the story is cute, and the score by Michael Giacchino is really fun. A delightful little film that will be enjoyed by all ages.


Up

****

Up is an exciting , and very touching film about two unlikely friends on an adventure. The movie follows Carl Fredricksen, a lonely and grumpy 78 year old man, whose lifelong goal is to go on an adventure. The film begins when Carl was a child. Carl, a fan of adventure documentaries, wishes to be an explorer when he grows up. Carl’s thirst for playing adventure leads him to his future wife, Ellie. In one of the most touching and emotional movie sequences in recent history, we see their relationship grow in love. (This scene is effectively told mainly through visuals, and Michael Giacchino’s gentle “Ellie’s Theme” which reoccurs throughout the score.)


Now, the house they shared is slated for demolition. Carl, not wanting to move to a retirement home, floats his home away on balloons, fulfilling his and Ellie’s dream of living in Paradise Falls. What Carl doesn’t realize, is that he has a passenger. An 8 year old boy scout named Russell has stowed away on Carl’s porch. Carl is at first annoyed by this intruder, who turns out to be a help. The arrive in South America, and meet a huge, friendly bird that Russell names Kevin. The also meet a friendly talking retriever named Dug, who loves everyone. But when Kevin gets captured, it is up to Carl, Russell and Dug to get Kevin back. Through this adventure, Carl realizes what is really important in life.


Up is a great action-adventure film with a lot of heart. Despite how the film is being advertised, Up is not just a kids movie about cute talking dogs. There are a lot of frightening scenes where the main characters are chased by talking dogs or are in other kinds of peril. Up is definitely deserving of it’s PG rating. However, Up is a movie that everyone over 8 should see. The friendship between Carl and Russell is very touching and believable. The story is both whimsical and sweet, the animation is great, and the score by Michael Giacchino fits every emotion in this film perfectly. Up is one movie that the whole family, especially grandparents, will enjoy.

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Up Review By Maureen

**** (out of 4)

Up is an absolute gem from Pixar. This movie is heartwarming, touching, exciting and funny from start to finish.


Up begins with one of the sweetest opening prologues I’ve seen in a long time. We first meet Carl Fredricksen as an 8 year old with a hero worship for adventurer Charles Muntz. We then meet another 8 year old, Ellie, who Carl realizes is a kindred spirit. The prologue chronicling Carl and Ellie’s love story from childhood to the inevitable end is lovely. The Carl and Ellie segments are done without dialogue and are beautifully scored by Michael Giacchino.


The movie is focused on 78 year old widower Carl (Ed Asner). Carl realizes he will be forced from the home he and Ellie shared for years, so he decides that he will take the house with him. With the help of the balloons he sold for years he floats the house up and the adventure begins.


As with any good story there are surprises, the first one being Russell, (Jordan Nagai), the young wilderness explorer who accidentally ends up floating away with Carl and the house.


When the house finally lands in Paradise Falls, South America the fun and excitement stats. Kevin, the brightly coloured bird, and Dug, the sort of talking dog are so much fun to watch. I know I’ll never be able to hear the word squirrel again without thinking of Dug.


Carl and Russell end up experiencing a lot more adventure and excitement than they anticipated at Paradise Falls. Some of the scenes with the villain and his guard dogs may be a little scary for the under six set, but for older kids and grownups - lots of fun.


The movie wraps up with a satisfying and touching ending. I had tears in my eyes when Carl realizes that sometimes you have to let go to move on. Up is one of those special movies that makes you laugh and cry and walk out feeling “Up”.


The animation is excellent in Up. Whether you see it in 2D or 3D the result is a wonderful visual experience. The voice acting is great and I especially enjoyed Michael Giacchino’s score throughout the movie.


Up is a must see for the young and old alike. I can’t wait for the DVD. The short film ‘Partly Cloudy’ that accompanies Up is also really sweet and very funny. Check out both Up and Partly Cloudy at a theatre near you. Well worth the money. Pixar has done it again.

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Up Review By Tony

**** (out of 4)

Up begins with a 1930’s newsreel about world explorer Charles Muntz (Christopher Plummer) that inspires both eight year old Carl Fredricksen (Ed Asner) and his future wife Ellie to someday travel to South America. As we see in a montage of their happy life together, they never made it. About to be evicted from the house they shared, recently widowed balloon salesman Carl is visited by eight year old Russell, who needs one more merit badge for helping an old person to be promoted in his Wilderness Explorer troop. Attaching thousands of balloons to his house, Carl takes to the air for South America, not realizing that Russell has come along. Once there, they discover that Charles Muntz, with his pack of dogs equipped with collars that turn their thoughts into speech, will stop at nothing to capture the four metre tall flightless bird that Russell has found and named Kevin.


Like all their others, Pixar’s 10th feature and first in 3D is much more than a vehicle for lucrative tie-ins with Disney toys and collectibles. While accessible to small children, sophisticated viewers will admire its visual references, such as Road Runner cartoons and the anthropomorphic dog art of C. M. Coolidge. The voice acting is excellent, as expected from veteran actors Ed Asner and Christopher Plummer and remarkably by nine year old Jordan Nagai as Russell. My greatest joy came in the Michael Giacchino musical score. In action sequences it reminded me of Mussorgsky, while its main motto theme, reminiscent of the best Nino Rota scores for Fellini films, was a waltz tune that underwent numerous transformations, such as a lightening of texture down to a single slow piano line as Ellie’s last days are remembered.


Pitched merely as a comedy, Up is really a sweet story that will leave much of the audience in joyful tears.

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Consensus: Pixar is now 10 for 10. Up is another masterpiece, with just the right amount of humour, and most importantly, heart. Make sure that you don’t miss this one in theatres. It is definitely worth it! **** (out of 4)

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Goodbye Solo Review

Goodbye Solo - An E1 Films Release

http://www.goodbyesolomovie.com/


Release Date: May 29th, 2009

Rated 14A for coarse language

Running time: 91 minutes


Ramin Bahrani (dir.)

Bahareh Azimi (writer)

Ramin Bahrani (writer)

M. Lo (music)


Souleymane Sy Savane as Solo

Red West as William

Diana Franco Galindo as Alex

Lane 'Roc' Williams as Roc

Mamadou Lam as Mamadou

Carmen Leyva as Quiera


Red West and Souleymane Sy Savane in Goodbye Solo - An E1 Films release


Our reviews below:

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Goodbye Solo Review By John C.

***1/2 (out of 4)

Goodbye Solo is the story of two people. William (Red West), a washed-up old southerner who gets into a cab and tells the driver, Solo (Souleymane Sy Savane), to in ten days (on October 20th) take him on a one-way trip up to the top of a mountain. The story is of their friendship, and how it develops over the ten days.


The acting is excellent. Newcomer Souleymane Sy Savane is amazing to watch in the title role. The character is charming, funny and genuinely likable. We never quite know William’s motives for what he is doing, the audience never finds out more than Solo knows about his mysterious passenger.


The films most effecting scene, is a very brief one that doesn’t have any dialogue. Two characters look at each other, we see their faces individually. It is not spoken, but we know what they are saying to each other. It is emotional, heart-wrenching and real.


Goodbye Solo is a beautiful film about friendship and new life, even in our darkest hour. The film doesn’t sugarcoat things, or try and provide easy answers to it’s questions. And because of this, it is painfully realistic. While it doesn’t provide for light popcorn entertainment, you should see it for the story line. I highly recommend it.

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Goodbye Solo Review By Erin V.

*** (out of 4)

Goodbye Solo is about Solo, a cab driver who gets an offer from an older man named William of $1000 if he drives him one way to the top of a mountain in just over a week. While we don’t know the exact reasons for William’s request, we can come to our own conclusions. Solo is reluctant to agree at first, and starts to try to get to know William better. Meanwhile, he is trying to study for his flight attendant interview/exam, his relationship with his wife is suffering, and his stepdaughter wants him around more.


This movie offers an interesting view on life from the perspective of Solo, a very likable immigrant, who like so many others can only get work driving a cab, despite qualifications for much more. The relationship between the main characters are well acted, and believable. This is a movie that while slow moving, is emotional and thought-provoking.


Because of it’s slow pace and lack of much musical score, it may seem too long for some. This being said, while it may be one to check out more on DVD, it is still definitely worth seeing if you’re interested.

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Goodbye Solo Review By Nicole

*** (out of 4)

Goodbye Solo is a quiet, thought provoking film about the unexpected relationship between a passenger and a taxi driver. The movie follows the story of Solo, a taxi driver form Senegal, who has moved to Salem, North Carolina to support his relatives back home. Solo’s life is turned upside down, however, when one of his regular passengers, an older man named William, offers Solo $1000 to bring him to the top of a mountain on October 20th. Solo is concerned about William, and tries to figure out why William is depressed. Solo also can’t figure out why William is not connected to his family, because in Senegal, people take care of their family members, especially the elderly. Solo tries to find out the cause of William’s problems, while at the same time is taking care of his stepdaughter, Alex, and his pregnant wife, all while applying for a job as a flight attendant. This stress temporarily separates Solo from his wife. As October 20th approaches, Solo has to make some serious decisions, as he desperately tries to help William before it is too late. This story will make you think, even after the movie ends.


This movie raises important questions about life and family. The contrast between William and Solo’s views on family really bring to light the problems with our society. Solo is a very likable character, who will never stop smiling and talking, much to the annoyance of William. Solo’s chipper and chatty character really contrasts William’s melancholy mood, and adds a lighter feeling to what could have been a darker film. The acting is decent, and the relationship between Solo and William is very believable. The mountain scenery is beautiful, with the panoramic view of a deciduous forest in autumn. Goodbye Solo is a unique film that is worth checking out.

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Goodbye Solo By Maureen

*** (out of 4)

Goodbye Solo is the story of an unlikely bond between a taxi driver, Solo and his elderly passenger, William.


Solo is a taxi driver from Senegal struggling to make ends meet for his pregnant Mexican wife Keira and his stepdaughter, Alex. At the same time he is trying to improve his situation by studying to be a flight attendant, a pursuit that causes enough tension in his marriage to cause a separation.


Solo first meets William, when the elderly man books the taxi driver in advance for a one way drive on October 20th to Blowing Rock at Boone's Point. When William offers Solo $1000ºº for the no questions asked trip, Solo becomes concerned. His concern leads him to find ways to become William’s preferred driver for local trips.


The two men form a bond of sorts and when Solo’s wife kicks him out, Solo asks to crash at William’s motel room. During the time the two men room together, Solo gains some insight into why William would want to take a one-way trip to Boone’s Point. Solo finds it hard to understand why an elderly man would be without his family to support him when in Senegal the elderly would be cared for by their loved ones.


What carries this movie and makes it so special is Souleymane Sy Savane’s portrayal of Solo. Solo is a thoroughly likable and believable character. So when Solo makes the decision he does on October 20th, the viewer understands why.


Solid acting throughout and beautiful scenery in the latter part of the movie. Goodbye Solo left me thinking about how people come and go in our lives and how sometimes we need to take the time to get to know the passengers in our life’s taxi.


Goodbye Solo is worth a viewing if you are in the mood for a thoughtful human interest drama.

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Goodbye Solo Review By Tony

***1/2 (out of 4)

Solo (Souléymane Sy Savané) is an immigrant from Senegal driving a cab in Winston-Salem NC. Gregarious and charming, he has mastered English with all its street idioms and always aims to please his clients, whether in licit or slightly illicit pursuits. He gets on much better with his bright nine year old stepdaughter than with his pregnant Mexican-born wife who doesn’t share his ambition to become a flight attendant. William (Red West) has offered him $1000 to take him in a couple of weeks on a one-way trip to the top of a cliff. Over that time Solo does what he can to persuade William to change his mind, even though he gets much more involved than William (or most Americans for that matter) would like.


Born 34 years ago in Winston-Salem of Iranian parents, Ramin Bahrani has already established himself after only a handful of films as a fine sensitive film maker. Goodbye Solo was inspired by his acquaintance with local African cab drivers as well as experience working in old age homes. The two principal actors couldn’t have been better suited to their roles. The instantly likable Souléymane Sy Savané was a model and TV star in Cote d’Ivoire and even worked for two years as a flight attendant. Red West is one of those faces that you know you’ve seen but can’t quite place. As a former marine born in a Memphis project, he was best known as a bodyguard and songwriter for Elvis Presley and has appeared in hundreds of TV episodes and films over the years, though always in small parts. Finally, the largely hand-held camera work of Michael Simmonds is worth noting for the intimacy it contributes to the story.


Though not for the attentionally-challenged, Goodbye Solo is a moving and life-affirming tale that is definitely worth seeing.

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Diana Franco Galindo and Souleymane Sy Savane in Goodbye Solo - An E1 Films release

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Consensus: Goodbye Solo is an interesting film. While it is slowmoving at times, if you don’t see it in theatres, it would be worth checking out on DVD. ***1/4 (Out of 4)

Mothers & Daughters Review

Mothers & Daughters - A KINOSMITH Release


Release Date: May 29th, 2009 (at the Royal)

Rated 14A for coarse language

Running time: 85 minutes


Carl Bessai (dir.)

Carl Bessai (creator)

Lullaby Baxter (music)

Bertram Havisham (music)


Carl Bessai as Documentary Filmmaker

Tantoo Cardinal as Celine

Babs Chula as Micki

Ben Cotton as Dice


Our reviews below:

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Mothers & Daughters Review By John C.

** (out of 4)

Mothers & Daughters is an interesting little film. I’m not sure if was meant to be a comedy, drama, documentary or mocumentary. I laughed at this film, but I’m not quite sure I was laughing for the right reasons. It’s not really by any means a bad movie - I did find myself entertained. It’s also not really anything special.


It follows the story of three mother-daughter pairs. An obnoxious author and her obnoxious daughter. A woman who talks to paintings and is clearly losing it after her husband has left. Her daughter who always tried to not only be a good daughter for her father, but to be a good son. She spends her days bodybuilding. And finally, the only likable character in the film, a Métis woman who may have just found her missing granddaughter.


The title may suggest something thought provoking, or sweet. But this film doesn’t provoke thought and is rarely ever sweet. It’s mildly enjoyable, with pretty good acting. It opens in limited release at the Royal Theatre, starting today.

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Mothers & Daughters Review By Erin V.

**1/2 (out of 4)

Mothers and Daughters is a interesting enough little film that passes an hour and a half. Made like a documentary, this film follows three mother/daughter pairs. Micki and Rebecca, Brenda and Kate, and Celine a mother/grandmother type figure to Cynthia.


Out of the three pairs, the scenes with Celine were the nicest to watch. She had the kind of motherly caring that you would hope to have seen from all of the pairs in this film. Brenda and Kate are also interesting to watch, although in a more quirky, odd way, but save for one scene of a dinner party, Micki and Rebecca are fairly annoying as they are always fighting.


Overall, Mothers and Daughters is not what I would consider a bad film, although nor would it be considered a masterpiece. This is a decent film that would be worth checking out, possibly on DVD, if you find the premise, as described above, interesting.

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Mothers & Daughters Review By Nicole

**1/2 (out of 4)

Mothers and Daughter is a quirky Canadian mocumentary film about the relationships between parents and their adult children. Set in a small Vancouver neighbourhood, this film chronicles the lives of three mother-daughter pairs. The first pair involves a novelist named Micki, and her daughter, Rebecca, who love to argue, fight, and swear at each other all the time. The second pair involves a neurotic and crazy woman named Brenda, whose husband has left, and whose daughter, Kate, is always trying to beat the men at the gym. The last, and by far my favorite pair involves a Métis house painter, named Celine, whose client, Cynthia, may be her long lost granddaughter. Cynthia is a single Native woman who realizes she is pregnant. Having been adopted, she is worried if she would make a good parent. Celine helps Cynthia feel more confident in becoming a parent, and shows Cynthia the beauty in every living thing. At the end, we see how all the people are connected, and we see that the more argumentative pairs can forgive each other.


Mothers and Daughters is a somewhat funny and entertaining film. This film has many similarities to a Christopher Guest film, but is no where near as good or as funny. The first two pairs are funny in a quirky and eccentric way, but the only likable pair in the film are the two native women. Their relationship is the most genuine and believable of the three pairs. This movie is worth checking out, but would be just as good on DVD. A quirky Canadian film that is worth a rental.

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Mothers & Daughters Review By Maureen

** (out of 4)

Canadian film Mothers and Daughters is surprisingly entertaining and amusing. Though I must say I felt guilty at times laughing at some pretty intense scenes between mother and daughter pair, Micki and Rebecca. Was I supposed to be laughing?


Of the three mother and daughter pairs I found mother Micki, the novelist and daughter Rebecca, the actor to be the most annoying to watch. I didn’t sense any real love between them.


The next pair, mother Brenda, the neurotic homemaker and daughter Kate, the psychotherapist/bodybuilder provided more amusing moments though in a sad, almost pathetic way.


My favorite of the three pairs was Métis interior housepainter Celine Boucher a mother figure to her young pregnant client, Cynthia. The friendship and respect that evolved between this pair was nice to watch. I really enjoyed Tantoo Cardinal’s portrayal of Celine Docter. Her’s was the finest acting in the film.


From the title I expected to come away with some profound insight into mother/daughter relationships. Instead I got 85 minutes of mild entertainment. Based on the very theatrical acting in this film I could see it working well as a stage play.


If you enjoy movies about relationships, like documentary style film, and enjoy checking out any Canadian made film, go see this one. I actually does provide an interesting hour and a half of entertainment. This is not a mainstream film, and is being shown at a limited number of theatres. Check it out if this is your kind of movie.

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Mothers & Daughters Review By Tony

** (out of 4)

Mothers & Daughters, the latest film from Carl Bessai, was shot in Vancouver in a documentary style with minimal equipment, largely improvised by the cast. We meet three pairs of women, mainly in solo and two part scenes, as well as individually speaking to the camera and in brief scenes with others.


Micki (Babz Chula) is a vain pulp novelist whose obsession with her immortality as a great writer overshadows her relationship with her daughter Rebecca (Camille Sullivan). I found most of their interactions more irritable than humorous, though two scenes were funny–a dinner party with pretentious fans that almost turned into a food fight and Rebecca’s attempt to communicate to her Seth Rogan type boyfriend.


Brenda (Gabrielle Rose), still living in the last century as life crashes all around her, is more pathetic than funny. Her daughter Kate (Tiffany Lyndall-Knight) is a psychotherapist who counsels some of the other characters and in her spare time works out both inside and outside the gym.


Celine (Tantoo Cardinal) is a Métis house painter, whose latest client Cynthia (Tinsel Korey) is a talented young painter of native art. When Cynthia tells her she is pregnant, Celine confesses that her own daughter had died after having a baby, and she vows to take care of Cynthia as the granddaughter she never met.


Though it had its funny and touching moments and fine acting all around, I can’t say overall that I enjoyed Mothers & Daughters all that much. Except for Celine, I just didn’t like any of the other characters enough to care about them or even laugh at their expense.

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Consensus: Mothers and Daughters is a decent enough film that would be worth checking out eventually if you’re interested. **1/4 (Out of 4)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Countdown to Up: 1 Day to Disney•Pixar’s 10th film

WALL•E is Pixar’s 9th masterpiece. With stunning visuals and a thought provoking storyline, WALL•E serves up intelligent entertainment, and the lighthearted charm of watching the antics of all the lovable robots.


Having seen all Pixar’s 10 films, I am glad to say that they have gone 10 for 10. They’re all excellent and great. As for a favorite, I don’t think I could choose one. I love them all. To read our five reviews of Up, please check back at midnight tonight.


-John C.


WALL•E Trivia*

• The teaser trailer contains part of Michael Kamen's score for the 1985 film, Brazil. Michael Kamen was going to score another Pixar film, The Incredibles, but died before he could

• Jim Reardon left his position as supervising director of The Simpsons to do animation on this film. On the DVD audio commentary for The Simpsons: Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo, Reardon finally confirmed the title of the film he was working on - prior to that he would only say that it was due in 2008. In the film, the name of the first captain of the Axiom is Reardon, who piloted the ship from 2105 to 2248

• The main character's name is actually an acronym, standing for "Waste Allocation Load Lifter-Earth-class." EVE stands for "Extraterrestial Vegetation Evaluator" and M-O stands for "Microbe Obliterator"

• Most of the predominantly robot cast of characters is voiced by Ben Burtt through mechanical sounds of his creation. EVE is voiced by Elissa Knight

• The film contains numerous references to Apple computers: -when WALL-E is fully charged by the sun, he makes the same "boot up" sound that most of Apple's Macintosh computers have made since circa 1996. WALL-E watches his favorite movie every night on the screen of an iPod. The villainous Autopilot's voice is provided by Apple's text-to-speech system, MacinTalk. EVE's sleek design as an evolution of WALL-E's parallels the sleek iMac design having evolved from the boxy, beige Apple IIe. Steve Jobs, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Apple Computer, was CEO of Pixar until its acquisition by Disney in 2005, and as a shareholder and member of the Disney Board of Directors is still actively involved with the company

• Niagara Falls provided the wind sounds for WALL•E 's world

• The last piece of debris that clears away from WALL-E as he leaves Earth's atmosphere is the Russian satellite Sputnik I, which in 1957 was the first man-made object to be placed in earth orbit

• The end-credit montage traces artwork from the past, in historical order, starting with cave paintings, then progressing through Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Renaissance, then mimicking certain Impressionists (such as Vincent van Gogh, Georges Seurat, and Auguste Renoir ). It finishes with depictions of the main robots in the style of early computer games

• Within the first 5 minutes there is monologue via the holographic billboards. The first dialogue between WALL·E and EVE begins 22 minutes into the movie. The first human dialogue begins 39 minutes into the movie


Up Trivia**

John Ratzenberger is the only actor who has appeared in all of Pixar’s films. Here is a list of all the characters he has played:


Toy Story (1995) - Hamm

A Bugs Life (1998) - P.T. Flea

Toy Story 2 (1999) - Hamm

Monsters Inc. (2001) - The Abominable Snowman

Finding Nemo (2003) - School of Fish

The Incredibles (2004) - The Underminer

Cars (2006) - Mack, Hamm Truck, Abominable Snowplow, P.T. Flea Car

Ratatouille (2007) - Mustafa

WALL•E (2008) - John

and in Up, you can hear him near the begining of the film as:

Up (2009) - Construction Foreman Tom


*All trivia is courtesy of IMDb

**Trivia written by James P.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Countdown to Up: 2 Days to Disney•Pixar’s 10th film

Ratatouille, quite simply is a masterpiece. It reminded me of a classic Disney cartoon and of the classic silent comedies. It’s animation style and storyline are at the top of high class.


-John C.


Ratatouille Trivia*

• When deciding where Remy should control Linguini, Linguini pulls open his trousers exposing his underwear, where one can make out a The Incredibles logo pattern on his boxers

• During a street scene, there is a mime in the background, who is the character “Bomb Voyage” from The Incredibles, which is also directed by Brad Bird

• During the character design process, the sculptor created nine handmade clay sculpts of the film's protagonist, Remy. Six of those sculpts were different design explorations. The last three were different poses of the final design

• Several changes to the design of the rats (primarily the nose and ears) were made after Debbie Ducommun, a rat expert, brought down several of her personal pets for the art and animation departments to observe

• Michael Warch, the manager of sets and layout, holds a culinary degree

• The animation team worked alongside chef Thomas Keller at his restaurant “French Laundry” in order to learn the art of cooking. Mr. Keller also appears in a cameo role as the voice of a patron at Gusteau's

• Remy has 1.15 million hairs rendered, whereas Colette has 115,000 hairs rendered. An average person has about 110,000 hairs

• Storyboard and animator Peter Sohn was cast on the spot for the role of Emile when director Brad Bird accidentally found out that his demeanor and voice were exactly like the character description of Emile

• The room that Anton Ego writes his review in is shaped like a coffin; in addition the back of his typewriter resembles a skull face - appropriate, because he writes "killer" reviews


Up Trivia**

Up is the first Michael Giacchino-scored Pixar film not directed by Brad Bird. Giacchino has also scored numerous Pixar shorts, including Partly Cloudy, which plays before Up.


*All trivia is courtesy of IMDb

**Trivia written by James P.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Countdown to Up: 3 Days to Disney•Pixar’s 10th film

Cars is Pixar’s most underrated film. It’s ingenious premise and genuine characters make it a wonderful 116 minute ride. The story is paced perfectly, reminding us to slow down and enjoy the journey, rather than just living in the fast lane. I’m not sure why so many people didn’t like it. This is a great movie and one that I love.


-John C.


Cars Trivia*

• The tires of Lightning McQueen are Buzzard models manufactured by Lightyear, a reference both to the real Goodyear "Eagle" tires used in NASCAR and character Buzz Lightyear from John Lasseter's Toy Story and Toy Story 2

• This movie was originally titled Route 66. The name was changed to Cars, so as not to imply a connection with the TV show Route 66 (1960-64)

• The film's animators drew up over 43,000 sketches for designs of the cars

• Mia and Tia are modeled after the first-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata

• Instead of making the cars' headlights the eyes, as is done on most cartoons, the Pixar artists decided to put the eyes up on the windshield, because that made the characters more expressive. This idea was largely influenced by the 1952 Disney cartoon Susie the Little Blue Coupe, one of director John Lasseter's favorites

• Flo isn't based on any single car but shares elements of the 1951 Buick LeSabre, the 1951 Buick XP-300, and the 1957 Chrysler Dart - all actual show cars

• The neon lights on Flo's V8 Cafe in the movie flash in the proper firing order for a Ford flathead V8

• One of the bumper stickers on Fillmore reads 'Save 2D Animation.' Another reads, "I brake for Jackalopes", a reference to Pixar's short, Boundin', which features the legendary animal

• Sally the Porsche's profession as an attorney is a reference to Portia, a nickname for female lawyers, named after the character in Shakespeare's "Merchant of Venice"


Up Trivia**

Jordan Nagai, who voices Russell, was found at a casting call when his brother was auditioning. The filmmakers picked him because he just sounded like a natural kid, not like he was trying to act.


*All trivia is courtesy of IMDb

**Trivia written by James P.

Review of Alex Wurman’s Score for What Doesn’t Kill You

By E. Corrado


Alex Wurman, who scored the award winning documentary March of the Penguins back in 2006, and more recently Four Christmases, paints a quiet minamlistic score here. Composed mainly of a single theme, with which the music rides on, it is often heard on the piano through different variations with strings taking it up. The piano and strings switch back and forth between which will be carrying the theme and which will be providing the accompanient.


In one of the tracks the theme plays under slightly more electronic sounds and distorted. No matter what way it is being played, this is a beautiful theme that seems to accurately interpret the theme of the film and the lives it is based on. The reprise of the theme - the closing track - is fuller and more sure of itself. Here you can hear the version with a prominence on the piano and guitar. A fitting end to the movie it was written for, as the score winds down, so does the theme kind of stopping and fading out with a few final notes.


(In some ways this score reminds me of Aaron Zigman’s score for Flash of Genius. I think it is the simplistic undertones which accurately show the - albiet different - emotional struggles of each of those respective film’s main, [based on real life], characters.)


The official soundtrack which is available off of iTunes includes six songs by various artists, and the six score pieces by Alex Wurman. It was originally released on December 12th, 2008.

What Doesn't Kill You DVD Review

What Doesn’t Kill You - An E1 Films Release

On DVD: May 26th, 2009

Rated 14A for coarse language and violence


Running Time: 100 min.


Brian Goodman (dir.)

Brian Goodman (writer)

Paul T. Murray (writer)

Alex Wurman (music)


Mark Ruffalo as Brian Reilly

Ethan Hawke as Paulie McDougan

Amanda Peet as Stacy Reilly

Will Lyman as Sully

Brian Goodman as Pat Kelly

Donnie Wahlberg as Detective Moran

_____________________________________________

What Doesn’t Kill You DVD Review By John C.

*** (out of 4)

What Doesn’t Kill You is a story about two friends who have always stood up for each other, as if they were brothers. Brian (Mark Ruffalo) and Paulie (Ethan Hawke) grew up in a tough neighbourhood in South Boston. Now, as adults they are constantly getting into trouble and often owe money to crime lords and drug dealers.


The acting in the film is good, and the story line is interesting. The film's problems lie in it’s slightly confusing fractured narrative. Another problem is, when a few years is meant to have passed, we never get a sense of how long it has actually been, due to the actors appearances never changing. Except his kids, thankfully, do age. This film is not really a happy one, but is definitely worth a rental.


The DVD includes feature commentary, deleted and alternate scenes and a 19 minute making-of featurette.

_____________________________________________

What Doesn’t Kill You DVD Review By Erin V.

*** (out of 4)

Taking place in South Boston, What Doesn’t Kill You tells the story of two friends, Brian and Paulie, who since a young age have been involved in a life of crime together. When the movie takes place, Brian is now married, and not sure if he wants to be continuing this lifestyle now that he has a wife and two kids. Paulie doesn’t really see that many other options, and to tell the truth, neither does Brian as the bills pile up. The movie opens with an attempt to rob an armoured truck. “An almost impossible feat, as you have to do it in broad daylight, and with all of the security around” - but Paulie insists he can handle it. We than flash to another point in time and have to wait to see how that robbery went...


Despite the fact that the makeup artists never age the two main actors when five years passes, (according to the words on the screen), so they look exactly the same, (which kind of makes it hard to believe five years has passed), the acting in this movie is solid. Contrary to what I had thought before watching this movie, while there is violence in here, none of it is graphic. Based on a true story, the storyline was interesting enough to keep me watching, and this being said, I would recommend renting this one if you have the time. Another thing that I liked was the music which was quiet in contrast to action of what was happening on screen, which made for an interesting effect.

_____________________________________________

What Doesn’t Kill You DVD Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

Homeless at age 12, writer/director Brian Goodman survived as a criminal on the mean streets of “Southie” (South Boston). After a term in jail he began a new career with a part in the crime film Southie starring Donnie Wahlberg, also from Boston, who co-wrote and plays a cop in the current film.


Brian (Mark Ruffalo) and Paulie (Ethan Hawke) grew up like brothers, moving from petty crimes to more serious robbery and “collection” jobs for organized crime boss Pat Kelly (played by Brian Goodman). Though he tries to support his wife Stacy (Amanda Peet) and two sons, Brian is out late every night and becomes an alcoholic and crack addict. After his jail term, finding it difficult to recover from these addictions and find honest work, Brian still has his family behind him.


With its insider’s perspective and excellent cast, What Doesn’t Kill You gives us a powerful look at the rougher side of life in a neighborhood that, as noted at the end of the film, is rapidly gentrifying. The musical score by Alex Wurman provides a fine counterpoint to the action.

_____________________________________________

Consensus: What Doesn't Kill You is a well enough made film to warrant a least a rental. *** (Out of 4)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Countdown to Up: 4 Days to Disney•Pixar’s 10th film

The Incredibles was Pixar’s first film with a cast of human main characters, albeit super heroes. The film achieves a visual style all it’s own that is unique and brilliant. The Incredibles has great action, a brilliant musical score and a good story. This is an animated masterpiece.


-John C.


The Incredibles Trivia*

• Jason Lee (Buddy/Syndrome) recorded his vocals in four days, while Craig T. Nelson (Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible) recorded his vocals over the span of two years

• Among the superheroes shown listed in the Kronos database are Universal Man, Psycwave, Everseer, Macroburst, Phylange, Blazestone, Downburst, Hyper Shock, Apogee, Blitzerman, Tradewind, Vectress, Gazerbeam, Stormicide, Gamma Jack, ElastiGirl, Frozone, and Mr. Incredible

• To record the Henry Mancini- and John Barry-inspired jazz-orchestra score, composer Michael Giacchino eschewed modern digital multi-track recording and returned to the analog recording methods used for jazz-orchestra recordings in the 1960s. "We were just like, 'Forget that, let's throw everyone in the room, let's pretend we only have three microphones, and let's get it right. Let's just do it"

• Mirage's toll-free phone number on her calling card is 866-787-7476, an unregistered phone number at the time of the movie's original release. However, when compared to the letters on a typical phone pad, the last seven digits spell out the word "suprhro". The phone number was active as of the DVD's release. It contained Mirage's voice directing you to the movie's Web site and told you to input the phone number on the site to get access to secret information (including a deleted scene not included on the DVD). The requirement to enter the phone number was subsequently removed and the phone number no longer works

• John Barry was originally hired to score the film in his James Bond-style, but left the project after recording only a few demo themes; some were used for theater trailers

• In the early part of the film, there is a repeated theme of pencils being knocked over. Dropping pencils is a standard demo feature of dynamics programming in 3D design applications

• In the opening chase scene, the radio announcer says that the bank robbers are fleeing on San Pablo Avenue. San Pablo Avenue is a real street in Emeryville, California, close to where the Pixar Studios is located. Most of the streets in the map indicator in Mr. Incredible's car are also real streets in Emeryville

• Brad Bird drove his teams hard to be as creative as possible, insisting on greater attention to details and characters than any other previous Pixar production. The teams responded by pumping the film full of references and in-jokes, one of the most noticeable being the villain Syndrome being modeled on Bird himself

• In the whole movie, you can see 35 explosions, 189 buttons being pressed, and approximately 640 gunshots


Up Trivia**

Up is the first Pixar film to be rated PG, since The Incredibles. Both films fully deserve their ratings. Up is also the first time you see some blood in a Pixar film.


*All trivia is courtesy of IMDb

**Trivia written by James P.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Countdown to Up: 5 Days to Disney•Pixar’s 10th film

Finding Nemo stunned audiences in 2003 with incredibly realistic underwater images. 6 years later, the animation still holds up, and it has become a classic film that everyone knows. This is one of Pixar’s most well-known films, partly because it’s accessible to all ages and partly because it’s just a great movie.


-John C.


Finding Nemo Trivia*

• In the dentist's office, there is a Buzz Lightyear action figure lying on the floor

• Boo's fish mobile from Monsters, Inc. is hanging in the dentist's office

• The boy in the dentist's waiting room is reading a "Mr. Incredible" comic book, a reference to the, at the time, upcoming Pixar film The Incredibles

• The Pizza Planet truck from Toy Story and Luigi, a car from the, at the time, upcoming Pixar film Cars, can be seen driving by the dentist's office

• According to the DVD, the names of the nine boats seen in the Sydney harbor are: Sea Monkey, Major Plot Point, Bow Movement, iBoat, Knottie Buoy, For the Birds, Pier Pressure, Skiff-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, and The Surly Mermaid

• The coloration of Gill's face simulates the characteristic lines around the mouth of voice actor Willem Dafoe

• The seagulls ("Mine, mine") were modeled after the penguins in the claymation Wallace and Gromit short Wallace & Gromit in The Wrong Trousers

• Dory manages to refer to Nemo as Fabio, Elmo, Bingo, Chico, and Harpo

• The scene where the seagulls attack mimics several of the shots in Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. The music that accompanies Darla's entry is a pastiche of 'Bernard Herrmann''s score for Hitchcock's Psycho


Up Trivia**

Bob Peterson who voices Dug in Up, also supplied the voices of Roz in Monsters, Inc. and Mr. Ray in Finding Nemo. He is also the do-director of Up, and a credited writer on Finding Nemo.


*All trivia is courtesy of IMDb

**Trivia written by James P.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Countdown to Up: 6 Days to Disney•Pixar’s 10th film

Monsters, Inc. is Pete Docter’s first feature film. It is wonderfully imaginative, with stunning animation and photorealistic fur. It is also touching and poignant. This film is an animated masterpiece.


-John C.


Monsters, Inc. Trivia*

• Sulley's fur has over 2,320,413 hairs

• Bill Murray was considered and tested for the role of Sulley, but the director, Pete Docter, said that when the filmmakers decided to offer it to Murray, they were unable to make contact with him and took that to mean "no"

• The last half of Chuck Jones's 1952 classic Feed the Kitty (1952) cartoon is included scene-for-scene when Sulley thinks that Boo has been thrown in the trash compactor. Each of Marc Antony's overdone reactions is echoed by Sulley against the window

• In the original draft of the script Sulley was not be a scarer but a worker. Also Mike was Randall's assistant. In another draft, Sulley was Randall's assistant

• Sulley's original name was Johnson and he had brown fur

• John Lasseter made a five minute animated student film. called "Nitemare" (1979), which features monsters appearing in a child's bedroom. The child finds out they mean no harm

• The Abominable Snowman describes the children in the Himalayan village as "Tough kids, sissy kids, kids who climb on rocks", a line taken from an old jingle for Armour hot dogs

• The restaurant that Mike and Celia are at is called the Harryhausen. This is an homage to Ray Harryhausen, the man who made the stop-motion animation monsters for films like Jason and the Argonauts

• When Sulley is about to say goodbye to Boo, Boo is trying to get him to play. She hands him a Jessie doll from Toy Story 2 (1999) as well as Nemo The Clownfish from Finding Nemo (2003). The yellow ball with the red star on the floor is the ball from the Pixar animation, Luxo Jr.


Up Trivia**

Pete Docter is the only Pixar feature film director to have never won an Oscar, although he has been nominated 4 times. This is more than likely to change, because I’m sure Up will win some Oscars.


*All trivia is courtesy of IMDb

**Trivia written by James P.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Countdown to Up: 7 Days to Disney•Pixar’s 10th film

Toy Story 2 is Pixar’s first and only sequel. It is also one of the rare sequels that lives up to, and arguably exceeds, the film it is following. The animation of the humans exceeds the original, but it doesn’t really matter, because it is mostly a story about toys.


-John C.


Toy Story 2 Trivia*

• The dust in the scene where Woody meets Wheezy set a record for number of particles animated for a movie by computer

• The settings on Zurg's gun are numbered to eleven, a reference to Nigel Tufnel's amplifier in This Is Spinal Tap

• In the opening sequence, when Buzz is on an alien planet, and ultimately battles the Emperor Zurg, many of the sound effects are directly from the Star Wars trilogy, including lightsaber sound effects, the torture droid's hum, and the scraping metal noise the AT-AT's make as they lumber across the plains of Hoth in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back

• Various scenes are reprised with a twist from Toy Story. For example, when Jesse fights Woody, she has him on the ground, foot on his back, pulling his arms back - exactly the same position Buzz Lightyear had him in the gas station. Buzz Lightyear also yells "You are a TOY!" to Woody, as Woody had yelled to Buzz in the previous film. As well as the scene where Zurg and Buzz (2) are fighting on top of the elevator. As Buzz's talk button is repeatedly hit it skips the message "Buzz... Buzz... Buzz Lightyear to the rescue." This occurred in the fight between Woody and Buzz underneath the car at the gas station

• There is A Bug's Life calendar hanging in Andy's room

• There are A Bug's Life toys on display in Al's Toy Barn

• Heimlich the caterpillar from A Bug's Life can be seen crawling up a branch right before Buzz cuts through it

• Slinky's line, "I may not be a smart dog, but I know what road kill is" is a reference to Forrest Gump, which starred Tom Hanks, the voice of Woody

• "The Cleaner", the old man who restored Woody, is featured as a chess player in the Pixar short film Geri's Game. As he opens the drawers of his chest looking for his glasses, the middle drawer contains chess pieces


Up Trivia**

This is Pixar’s 10th film and it is also the first one where animals can actually talk to humans. Although I must add that the dogs do not talk in a conventional way. They wear collars that translate their thoughts into words. Which means that their mouths do not move while they are talking.


*All trivia is courtesy of IMDb

**Trivia written by James P.