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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Interview with Deborah Lurie, composer of the music for ‘Dear John’

By E. Corrado


Back on February 5th, we reviewed the film Dear John, which is based on the Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name.


Below is a short interview about the scoring process for the film, with composer Deborah Lurie.


Enjoy!

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When did you find out that you would be doing the score for Dear John? It was shortly after I completed my score for 9, actually. I had just flown back from the 9 sessions in London, and before I knew it, I was back on a plane to meet with Dear John's director Lasse Hallstrom in New York.


Have you seen the finished film? Absolutely! And they give you free popcorn at the premiere - it's awesome.


Were there any challenges that you felt you faced while working on Dear John? It was MUCH different scoring an entire film via email with the director. The director was actually in Sweden during the time I scored the film, so communication was much more difficult than in past movies.


Where was the score for Dear John recorded? In Los Angeles, at the Eastwood Scoring Stage on the Warner Brothers Backlot.


Were there any instruments that you wanted to focus on for Dear John? Yes! I wanted the guitar to play out over the orchestra. This was a sweeping, but modern love story. I wanted that to come across in my score.


Did you play any of the instruments? The synths!


What was your favorite part of doing the music for Dear John? The people. The team was full of characters - and since it was a New York - based project, the team was completely new to me. Getting to know everyone was incredibly fun and rewarding.


Can you tell us about any other upcoming projects that you are working on? Sorry. Top secret.

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A big thank you to Deborah Lurie for taking the time out to answer these questions. You can also read a previous interview with her from September for the animated film 9, here.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Unloading the Backpack: Why Up and Up in the Air are Two of the Most Important Films of 2009 (Part 5 of 5)

By John C.


It’s been an Oscar season like February 2nd in Groundhog Day. It’s one of the longest in recent memory, and just keeps going on and on and on. But in just over a week, it will be over. Though Avatar and The Hurt Locker are the ones to watch, Up and Up in the Air are the two films that I keep thinking about. Their themes transcending their genre’s and mediums, creating universal meditations on our relationships, and who we choose to spend our lives with. Make no mistakes, these are two of the films that impacted me the most.


Up is only the second animated film to ever be nominated for Best Picture, and Up in the Air is Jason Reitman’s third film, and his second to be nominated for Best Picture.


In Up in the Air, frequent business traveler Ryan Bingham asks us to weigh our lives by how well they would fit into a metaphorical backpack. First he asks us to load up all our material possessions, until finally we get to the people we know. “Our relationships are the heaviest components in our lives” is what he warns us. True, they are the heaviest, but they are also the most complex and important. If you pack light than you may lose nothing should the rug be pulled out from under you, but you’ll also be alone.


Logically, when packing a backpack, what’s heaviest should be at the bottom, but rightfully what’s most important should be at the top. So if what’s most important is also the heaviest, than leave out what you don’t need, and the weight will even out.


Bingham’s character late realizes that “Everyone needs a co-pilot”. Should something happen to the flight, then your co-pilot will always be there to help you back up.


In Up, Carl Fredrickson always dreamed of an adventure. But once his beloved wife, Ellie, passed away, the adventure they always wanted to take would never happen. When his house is at risk of being bulldozed, he takes it to the skies, with the help of millions of balloons, not wanting to lose any of the objects that he shared with his late wife.


Our relationships do weigh us down, but just enough so we’re kept grounded. It is at the moment when we are finally able to say “It’s just a house” that we are able to keep our memories, but let go of our past. Carl and Ellie’s life together may have kept them from literally going “up in the air”, but it became the adventure they could have never dreamed of. The objects ended up weighing him down, yes, but make no mistakes it was through his relationships that he was truly able to go up. We should not get rid of our backpacks, like Bingham suggests at the beginning of Up in the Air but later realizes this is not the solution, but we should certainly reconsider what we put in.


In an Oscar season like this, we’ve really got to ask ourselves, what is the most important film to carry with us in our backpacks?


Up is nominated for 5 Oscars.


Up in the Air is nominated for 6 Oscars.


(Part 1) Avatar so Popular, that other Contenders are Blind Sided

(Part 2) Voters are Educated, but these Contenders are Relegated to the 9th District

(Part 3) The Basterds’ Hurt by the Locker’s Lock

(Part 4) Contenders both Precious and Serious

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Contenders both Precious and Serious (Part 4 of 5)

By John C.


Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire was the front runner for a little while, but it proved to just not be strong enough to hold its own as Best Picture, as the season went on.


The film will be honoured with a very deserving win for Mo’Nique come Oscar night. The speech that her character gives at the end of the film is solid proof at how disturbingly good a performance it was.


Precious is nominated for 6 Oscars.


A Serious Man is the Coen brothers’ brilliantly philosophical tragi-comedy. Though in the eyes of the Academy, it doesn’t have the same grand-scale tone as their Oscar-winning No Country for Old Men, and that’s why it’s not one of the front runners for Best Picture.


Though it won’t actually win any Academy Awards, (small chance it could be a dark horse for Best Original Screenplay, but not likely), A Serious Man is a great film, Oscars or not.


A Serious Man is nominated for 2 Oscars.


(Part 1) Avatar so Popular, that other Contenders are Blind Sided

(Part 2) Voters are Educated, but these Contenders are Relegated to the 9th District

(Part 3) The Basterds’ Hurt by the Locker’s Lock

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Basterds’ Hurt by the Locker’s Lock (Part 3 of 5)

By John C.


The Hurt Locker opened last July to critical raves, but meager box office revenue. Now it seems audiences are finally taking the time to see the film on DVD.


Though Kathryn Bigelow will more than likely win Best Director, becoming the first woman ever to do so, The Hurt Locker is neck-in-neck with Avatar to win Best Picture come Oscar night. Which film will take home the gold is anyone’s guess, but it seems mainstream audiences and critics are pretty evenly split on opinions of which film should win.


The Hurt Locker is nominated for 9 Oscars.


Inglourious Basterds opened at the end of last summer, and sort of took a back seat during the majority of the season. Only after a few other contenders fell flat, did this film start getting some serious talk. But after all, this is a Tarantino film, and was in the running all along.


Though it will only win Best Picture if the number 1 votes get split between Avatar and The Hurt Locker, and this is the most popular 2nd-or-3rd choice, Quentin Tarantino may very well end up taking home another Oscar for his masterful screenwriting.


Inglourious Basterds is nominated for 8 Oscars.


(Part 1) Avatar so Popular, that other Contenders are Blind Sided

(Part 2) Voters are Educated, but these Contenders are Relegated to the 9th District

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Voters are Educated, but these Contenders are Relegated to the 9th District (Part 2 of 5)

By John C.


District 9 is a gritty little sci-fi film from first-time director Neil Blomkamp. It serves as a harsh metaphor for South Africa during the Apartheid era, and that is surely what attracted voters to the film, despite the graphic violence.


Though the film doesn’t really have a shot at winning Best Picture, Blomkamp should be proud of this nomination. After all, this is only his first film. One can only imagine what he will come out with next.


District 9 is nominated for 4 Oscars.


An Education is a wonderful film. But it’s modest setting and story are not up to facing one of the bigger, “more important” titles. While its scope may not be that of an actual Best Picture winner, I’ll always fondly remember it as one of the nominees.


At one point, Carey Mulligan was the predicted winner of Best Actress, but that’s a race that also includes once-front runner Gabourey Sidibe, Meryl Streep, and predicted-winner Sandra Bullock.


An Education is nominated for 3 Oscars.


(Part 1) Avatar so Popular, that other Contenders are Blind Sided

DVD Review: The Informant!

The Informant! - A Warner Bros. Home Video Release

http://theinformantmovie.warnerbros.com/

DVD Release Date: February 23rd, 2010

Rated 14A for language.

Running time: 108 minutes


Steven Soderbergh (dir.)


Scott Z. Burns (screenplay)

Based on the book by Kurt Eichenwald


Marvin Hamlisch (music)

(click on his name for a brief interview from Jan. 16th, '10)


Matt Damon as Mark Whitacre

Scott Bakula as Brian Shepard

Joel McHale as FBI Special Agent Bob Herndon

Melanie Lynskey as Ginger Whitacre


BluRay image © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Our reviews below:

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The Informant! DVD Review By John C.

**** (out of 4)

Last year, three films directed by Steven Soderbergh were released. An epic bio-pic - Che, a small, experimental film about the life of a call girl - The Girlfriend Experience, and The Informant! , perhaps the finest of those fine films.


This is the true story of Mark Whitacre. A corporate whistle-blower who was trying to expose the price fixing schemes of a corn processing company. Whitacre is brilliantly played by Matt Damon. The way his random, but brilliant and hilarious inner thoughts narrate the story, was one of my favourite things about the film.


From the genius of the writing to the lively jazz score by Marvin Hamlisch, this is unique, classic, film making in every sense of the word. What’s un-believ-able about this film is just how great and entertaining it really is.


It is available to buy as a Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital Copy combo-pack. The only special feature included on the Blu-Ray is audio commentary with director Steven Soderbergh and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns.

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The Informant! DVD Review By Erin V.

**** (out of four)

In 1992, 35 year old Mark Whitacre became the highest ranking corporate whistleblower in US history. Working as a VP at ADM, he worked for over 2 1/2 years along with the FBI to uncover a price-fixing scheme involving millions of dollars. Wearing a wire for that long - something actual trained agents never do for more than a few months because of the difficulty of lying for that long - was taxing to his mental health, since unlike agents, he wasn’t even getting regular psychological exams during his espionage work.


I really liked this movie. It was entertaining and very interesting to watch, especially being based on a true story. Garnering mixed reviews from some, one of the complaints I’ve heard are that the music and voice over narration don’t work. These were two things that I found really did.


The quirky jazz score illuminated the fact that it seemed Mark Whitacre’s idea of the whole FBI thing wasn’t as serious as it should have been at the time. Receiving a Golden Globe nomination for this role, Matt Damon does an excellent job here, with his voice-over really illustrating the very rapid paced - oftentimes seemingly off topic - mindset Mark Whitacre was living in.


I really got the sense that in his grandiosity of the time, it was as though he was so caught up in tons of other ideas and thoughts that until it was too late, he didn’t see what he was actually getting himself into. These kinds of rapid-fire distracted thoughts are not uncommon for anyone with bipolar, ADHD, etc., and eventually Mark was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but not until after everything had gone severely downhill.


Considered a hero by many for the espionage work he did to help bring down ADM, here are a couple of interesting articles with the real Mark Whitacre, who is now the COO of Cypress Systems. They are here, and here. The original interview he did with Fortune in 1995, is here. Please note that as all of these speak about the true story, many parts in the movie are revealed.

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The Informant! DVD Review By Nicole

**** (out of 4)

The Informant! is a quirky corporate comedy about the real life story of a man, the FBI, and a shady company. Mark Whitacre, (wonderfully played by Matt Damon), is a hyperactive biochemist who works for a sleazy corn processing plant. When the company he works for is accused of price fixing, Whitacre teams up with the FBI to uncover any evidence. However, his impulsivity, which is later revealed to be a result of bipolar disorder, gets him into more trouble than he started out with.


The Informant! is an entertaining movie. One thing that really worked was the narration of Whitacre’s random thoughts. I also really liked Marvin Hamlisch’s witty score. Both these elements added a light feel to this film, portraying Whitacre’s manic mood well. The Informant! is a funny and exciting movie that is worth adding to your collection.

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The Informant! DVD Review By Maureen

***1/2 (out of 4)

The Informant! is an intelligent, witty and suspenseful tale of illegal corporate activity and FBI espionage, based on the true story of Mark Whitacre, a brilliant biochemist who becomes involved as an informant for the FBI against his employer.


Matt Damon is really fun to watch as the equally naive, brilliant, and manic Mark Whitacre. His inner dialogue which is voiced over throughout the film is amusing to hear and shows his random and racing thoughts.


Along with the excellent acting and writing, I really liked the soundtrack by Marvin Hamlisch. It sets the tone perfectly for the quick paced and witty action and dialogue in this film.


The Informant! is one of those films that benefits from subsequent viewings. The action and dialogue is so quick that it’s easy to miss some of it the first time. Matt Damon’s performance and Marvin Hamlisch’s score make The Informant! worth owning on DVD/BluRay.

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The Informant! DVD Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

The Informant! is a “tattle-tale” based on the true story of Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon), a brilliant engineer and executive at agri-business ADM in Decatur IL, who in the 1990s exposed a worldwide price-fixing scheme. Wearing a wire over a period of three years, he provided his FBI contact Brian Shepard (Scott Bakula) with enough evidence to convict the company. However, since even trained agents typically could not go undercover for more than a year, the stress was too much for Whitacre to take, especially since he was found to be bipolar.


Directed by Steven Soderbergh, the film has a light-hearted quality, largely due to the background score by Marvin Hamlisch which reminded me of the jazzy pop music behind 1960s comedies, and the voiceover musings of Mark Whitacre, which were usually irrelevant and quirky. As a result, he is hard to take seriously, particularly as over time his manic grandiosity takes over, and we are left wondering how much of his story is true, and how much he is implicated himself, as evidence of his own embezzlement surfaces. As a result, the somewhat tragic story has a constant comedic feel to it, which although incongruous, is very entertaining.

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Consensus: The Informant! is an entertaining and interesting look at one of the highest ranking corporate whistleblowers in US history - Mark Whitacre. Everything from the quirky jazz score to the voice-over narration work really well here. Another great job by director Steven Soderbergh, and an excellent performance by Matt Damon. ***3/4 (Out of 4)

DVD Review: The September Issue

The September Issue - An E1 Films’ Release

http://www.theseptemberissue.com/

DVD Release Date: February 23rd, 2010

Rated PG for mature themes and coarse language

Running time: 90 minutes


R.J. Cutler (dir.)


Craig Richey (music)


Anna Wintour as Herself


Our reviews below:

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The September Issue DVD Review By John C.

*** (out of 4)

Remember the film The Devil Wears Prada? Where Meryl Streep played the uptight editor of a fashion magazine? Well, this documentary makes you realize just how brilliant a performance it was. The shallow-harshness, yet love of fashion that was depicted in that fictional film, are all on display here, if not quite as drastic.


This is the story of Anna Wintour. The famed, but famously hard to work with, editor of Vogue Magazine. Though the film is a bit long, and didn't quite keep my utmost interest from beginning to end, it is still a well made, entertaining, and worth watching look behind-the-scenes at the fashion industry. Though not groundbreaking, it's worth renting, regardless of whether or not you're a reader of Vogue.


The two-disc "double issue" edition of the DVD includes audio commentary with director R.J. Cutler, over 20 deleted scenes, (over an hour of extra footage), and exclusive behind-the-scenes photos.

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The September Issue Review By Erin V.

**1/4 (out of 4)

The September Issue is about the weeks leading up to the release of the huge new September issue of Vogue. Giving a unique look at the world run by Anna Wintour, and populated by famous models, designers, editors, and photographers, this documentary will be quite fascinating for some.


A couple of years back, The Devil Wears Prada was released, a fictional story about the fashion world that bares a remarkable resemblance to the world depicted in this documentary. I did find it interesting watching the world of fashion, although I really don’t have much interest in it.


I suppose if you are into the fashion industry, then this film would definitely hold your interest. It is overall well made, but I found it to be a little too long watching the same things over and over again for an hour and a half.

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The September Issue DVD Review By Nicole

*** (out of 4)

When I watched this film, I found it hard to believe that some of these people are for real. Watching Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue Magazine, boss the photographers around as well as seeing all the models and fashion designers work was like watching The Devil Wears Prada. I felt sorry for photographer and creative director Grace Coddington when, after working so hard, would have her photos rejected by Wintour.


This documentary is funny, not to mention the costumes, which are mostly absurd. The film does drag a bit, and would have been better at 75 minutes, as opposed to 90. However, for those into fashion, The September Issue is an interesting documentary to check out.

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The September Issue DVD Review By Maureen

*** (out of 4)

I have fond memories of heading back to university in the fall with the big September issue of Vogue packed into my bag. There was something about the pages and pages of unrealistic but beautiful fashions that I would never wear. This was a fun fantasy world that made me feel very grown-up.


Director R.J. Cutler has created a documentary, The September Issue, that gives a fascinating peek into the creative, frantic and temper mental world of creating Vogue. It was interesting and entertaining to watch editor in chief, Anna Wintour and her long time colleague creative director, Grace Coddington in their power struggle to each assert their own creative control over the magazine.


While the film drags a little at times, it still is an entertaining and fascinating glimpse into the world of high fashion. If you're a Vogue reader, you'll want to check out The September Issue on DVD.

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The September Issue DVD Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

The September Issue follows the preparation of the 2007 issue of Vogue, which had a record 840 pages. Naturally, comparisons have been made with The Devil Wears Prada, with Meryl Streep portraying the all-powerful editor-in-chief as a vain insensitive taskmaster capable only of cutting criticism and never praise. The actual boss Anna Wintour appears to be much more personable, at least while the documentary camera is rolling, offering praise where it is deserved and more gentle criticism when needed than in the fictional story. Though her creative staff know her decision is final, they are not too intimidated to defend their work when she criticises it. In fact, the film covers many aspects of the issue’s creation, with the boss only one of a large cast of creative talent working in New York, Paris, London, and Rome. It is well-paced and maintains interest for folks like us who would otherwise have nothing to do with the fashion industry.

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Consensus: Though the film does drag at points, The September Issue is an interesting, and at times unbelievable, behind-the-scenes look at the fashion industry, and what goes into the making of a September issue of Vogue Magazine. **3/4 (Out of 4)

Coronation St. Volume 4 on DVD Today

This is the fourth in what has now become a series of posts regarding Coronation St. on DVD.


Today, E1 Films is releasing Coronation St. Volume 4 on DVD. The two-disc set includes 8 classic episodes of the show. These particular episodes aired between 1966-’68.


Fans of this long running British dramatic series should be sure to check out this DVD.


-John C.

Big River Man on DVD Today

Big River Man is the true story of Martin Strel. An overweight Slovenian man, who lives on two bottles of wine a day, and spends his time swimming rivers to raise awareness of pollution. His next assignment? The Mighty Amazon.


Today, Mongrel Media is releasing John Maringouin’s quirky and critically acclaimed documentary on DVD. If you enjoy watching documentaries, or are interested in the environment, then this is one worth checking out.


-John C.

Lego: The Adventures of Clutch Powers on DVD Today

Today, Universal Studios Home Entertainment is releasing a made for DVD Lego movie, titled The Adventures of Clutch Powers.


The CGI animation is commendable, as they have actually perfectly captured the look and feel of a Lego world. Everything is built, but can be smashed apart into a bunch of bricks, and rebuilt into something new. Of course, everything in the city is made of Lego, and they also have to do battle with monsters, who are also made out of bricks.


This is sure to be immensely enjoyed by those who love playing with Lego, and should inspire more than a few creative building projects.


-John C.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Avatar so Popular, that other Contenders are Blind Sided (Part 1 of 5)

By John C.


Each day this week, Monday-Friday, I will be profiling two of the ten nominees for Best Picture. They are arranged in the official, alphabetical, order. If all goes as planned, we will be having capsule reviews of the ten titles following the same pattern next week.


Avatar is so much more than just a film. I’m not saying this for the reasons that its millions of fans would be shouting it from the rooftops. No, I’m saying it because this has become a phenomenon.


It’s a very good movie, but its gotten a little out of proportion. Rightfully or wrongfully, practically everyone has seen Avatar, it’s made well over $2 billion, and everyone is talking about it. But why?


First of all, pre-release hype. James Cameron hadn’t directed a film since the Oscar-sweeping Titanic in 1997. Second of all, it’s controversial. Two reasons why this has become the clear front runner come Oscar night.


Avatar is nominated for 9 Oscars.


The Blind Side did not enter this season as an Oscar contender, but it quickly became one. Partially due to its undetermined popularity, heavy advertising from Warner Brothers, and excellent lead performance by Sandra Bullock - the starting point for the films Oscar hopes.


Though it’s not likely to win, this is the contender for the audiences. It’s a clean, classic, feel-good sports movie, and a very good one at that. Both these movies are two of the big reasons why many mainstream audiences will be watching come March 7th.


The Blind Side is nominated for 2 Oscars.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Movie Review: A Town Called Panic

A Town Called Panic - A Films We Like Release

http://www.atowncalledpanic.com/

Release Date: February 5th, 2009 at AMC Yonge & Dundas

Rated G for mild language

Running time: 73 minutes


Stéphane Aubier (dir.)

Vincent Patar (dir.)


Stéphane Aubier (writer)

Vincent Patar (writer)


Stéphane Aubier as Cowboy (voice)

Bruce Ellison as Indian (voice)

Vincent Patar as Horse (voice)

Jeanne Balibar as Madame Longrée (voice)


Our reviews below:

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A Town Called Panic Review By John C.

** (out of 4)

A Town Called Panic is a strange, bizarre and downright weird animated film from Belgium. It has all the manic appeal of something an amateur animator would make. Some of it is clever and inventive, and there are a few moments of hilarity. But is it good? Well, good is a relative term. To someone else it might be. But for me, it’s not.


The first 15-20 minutes, where Cowboy and Indian are celebrating Horse’s birthday, is amusing. But once the film took a trip to the North Pole, and then to a weird underwater world with ugly fish-men, it completely lost me. It ends on a strange and confusing note, after it should have been over 55-minutes earlier. And it’s only 73-minutes long.


It’s a mildly interesting experiment, but nothing more. After seeing so many rave reviews as it made its way through the festival circuit, I get the appeal, but I’m just not sure what people think is so amazing about this thing.


Like I said, the first act is amusing. The second and third act just feel like a joke that has long since stopped being funny. There are a few good things about the film, but nowhere near enough to sustain it for a feature length film. It’s mildly worth checking out once, just for the strangeness of it all, and who knows, maybe you’ll be in the camp that likes it.

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A Town Called Panic Review By Erin V.

**3/4 (out of 4)

In A Town Called Manic ---> Panic, Cowboy and Indian are trying to find Horse a birthday present at the last minute. Once that is sorted out (kind of) it seems as though the tale is over, until more stuff happens - tons of seemingly random stuff. The characters get the walls of their house stolen, end up under the sea, and in the arctic with mad scientists inside of a giant snowball throwing robot penguin. Now, if this kind of manic sequence of ideas interests you, you might really like this film.


Granted, it was quite funny at times, and there were a couple of lines that I really laughed out loud at - but I was never quite sure if I was just laughing at the unexpected absurdity of it all, as things and lines happened rather out of the blue here it seemed. One consistent in the film though, is that everyone is panicking for one reason or another... In a hyper, “I forgot to do this which led to that, so now I’ll impulsively find some way that appears to fix this new problem, but doesn’t really”, kind of way.


The length of A Town Called Panic is 73 minutes long which felt like it extended a little bit longer then it maybe needed to, (and felt like the longest that I would sit watching it for). Still, it was fast paced enough to keep me entertained.


Basically, it was silly and didn’t make much sense most of the time, but I do admit that I kind of liked it. It’s very different and I would recommend at least checking it out (on DVD), either if you were amused by the trailer or are a fan of the original show. I was stuck on my rating for this one, and ended up finally giving it just under 3 stars. As a theatrical release, I couldn't really give it any more, but it's close for me - I found it amusing, but more for DVD.

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A Town Called Panic Review By Nicole

**1/2 (out of four)

Based on a Belgium television program, A Town Called Panic is a strange, manic journey through land and sea. Animated entirely with action figures, this wild and silly stop-motion film stars Cowboy, Indian, and Horse. It is Horses’ birthday, and Cowboy and Indian are looking for a present. This leads to a series of mishaps, which brings the trio underwater to these strange fish people. The story sort of made sense, until the part about the fish people.

This movie would have been better as a short film, as it is a little long at 76 minutes. I have not seen the TV program, so I can’t really comment on how the program might compare. Apparently, all the characters from the TV show are in the movie, including Madame Longrée, the hoof piano teacher, whom Horse falls in love with in the movie. But unless you are familiar with the TV show, the movie makes no sense. That being said, however, A Town Called Panic is worth checking out, as it does contain some laughs, and is different enough to see once.


Parents should be forewarned that the original French version has swearing in it, as does the subtitled version. (I have not seen the dubbed version, so I can’t comment). A Town Called Panic is a quirky film that would be just as good on DVD.

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A Town Called Panic Review By Maureen

**1/2 (out of 4)

A Town Called Panic could just as easily be called A Town Called Manic. Based on a popular stop-motion animated TV series in Belgium, A Town Called Panic is 73 minutes of totally over the top, oddly laugh out loud funny, mania.


The main characters, Cowboy, Indian, and Horse (Cheval) are basically plastic toys that are moved around in jerky stop-motion. The storyline is completely surreal and convoluted. I suppose it would help to know the original TV series. The film’s official website www.atowncalledpanic.com helps put things into perspective.


If you are an older teen or adult who is interested in all types of animation then this one’s for you. Just be prepared for a wild ride.

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A Town Called Panic Review By Tony

**1/2 (out of 4)

Panique au Village is a stop-motion animated feature based on the Belgian series of several years ago. With a lot of running gags, it is easy to see why it has a loyal cult following, but as a 73 minute feature, it was harder to sustain than the individual five minute shorts it was based on. Having never seen the series, I found it difficult to follow at times, particularly when it descended into subterranean and submarine worlds, but its flights of absurd fantasy provided lots of delightful surprises.


With its main characters of cowboy, Indian and horse action figures moving jerkily with weird voices through a papier maché world, it will not appeal to everyone, but is worth checking out.

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Consensus: A Town Called Panic is a film interesting enough to see once. Though its strange, manic qualities are somewhat appealing, if you're not familiar with the original series, it is confusing, and doesn't have quite enough to sustain itself for 73 minutes. **1/2 (Out of 4)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

(UPDATE) New Toy Story 3 Characters!

(UPDATE) Empire Online also has details on Buttercup, and lists the character as being voiced by Jeff Garlin, who voiced the Captain in Pixar's WALL•E. Very interesting indeed, as it seems this new character will be a male.

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Over the past few weeks, different websites have been unveiling new characters from the upcoming Toy Story 3. So far I’ve seen Ken, Peas-in-a-Pod and Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear. Well, now Cineplex.com features a fourth new character, a plush unicorn named Buttercup.


Over the next little while, 10 more new characters are going to be unveiled. There are going to be lots of new characters for us to enjoy once the much anticipated sequel hits theatres on June 18th.


Get all the details on the new characters here.


-John C.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Movie Review: Soundtrack for a Revolution

Soundtrack for a Revolution

http://www.soundtrackforarevolutionfilm.com/Home.html

Release Date: Special Screening on February 17th, 2009

Rated PG for violence

Running time: 82 minutes


Bill Guttenberg (dir.)

Dan Sturman (dir.)


Bill Guttenberg (writer)

Dan Sturman (writer)


Phil Marshall (music)


John Legend - performer

Wyclef Jean - performer

The Roots - performers

Joss Stone - Performer

The Blind Boys of Alabama - performers

Mary Mary - performers

Richie Havens - performer

Anthony Hamilton - performer

Angie Stone - performer


Soundtrack for a Revolution is playing tonight as part of the Doc Soup monthly screening series, at the Bloor Cinema. Tickets are just $12, and show times are at 6:30 PM and 9:15 PM. A limited number of free tickets will be available for the 9:15 PM showing, will be available to students with valid student ID. Go and see it.


Our reviews below:

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Soundtrack for a Revolution Review By John C.

**** (out of 4)

Soundtrack for a Revolution is a brilliant, flawless and incredibly moving documentary about overcoming racial segregation in the 1950's and '60's. Set to an amazing soundtrack of freedom songs, the film, at times, plays like a music video.


In one of the films best sequences, we see pictures of all the arrested protesters as if we are looking through a yearbook. In one powerful scene, set to Richie Haven's cover of the song Will the Circle be Unbroken, we see pictures of people who were killed. With their faces, a subtitle tells us their cause of death.


The last image of the film is one of incredible power. Soundtrack for a Revolution delivers the same, raw emotional power that I felt while watching Trouble the Water. (Incidentally, one of the songs sung here, Wade in the Water, is the same song that gave that Oscar-nominated hurricane Katrina doc its name.)


This film gets 4 stars because it is a flawless, riveting, and powerful piece of contemporary documentary film making. Go and see it.

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Soundtrack for a Revolution Review By Erin V.

**** (out of 4)

One of the most powerful documentaries I've seen, Soundtrack for a Revolution chronicles an important part of history - that of the revolution led by Martin Luther King, and brought together through the power of music.


The historical footage coupled with interviews with some of those who took part in the revolution and performances of the 'freedom songs' make this film flow so well in telling it's historical account.


Though less so today, the amount of racism in the '50's and '60's in the USA was at an intolerable level. People were being killed in the streets for being the so-called 'wrong race', be them young or old. Child protesters were sprayed by fire hoses - water with enough power to throw them backwards, while the adults were beaten relentlessly. But still, the peaceful revolution they were staging pushed on, not resorting to violence themselves.


In one of the most powerful sequences in the film, is when the photos of some of those who were killed are shown on the screen, and when many of the survivors show their mug-shots, since the majority of them had been arrested for everything from sitting in a 'white' chair at a restaurant, to stepping somehow 'out of line'.


Words cannot quite describe this film, and I urge you to see it yourself. It is a very well put together piece of work, and an important film to seek out.

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Soundtrack for a Revolution Review By Nicole

**** (out of four)

Soundtrack for a Revolution tells the fascinating, inspiring, and sometimes heartbreaking story of Martin Luther King Jr., and the American civil rights movement. What makes this documentary unique is that the interviews with some of the civil rights leaders, as well as historical footage, is spliced with classic spirituals such as "Wade in the Water" and "This Little Light of Mine". These spirituals, as well as many written for the civil rights movement, inspired both African American and white people to lead peaceful marches and protests in the quest to break down barriers that were solely based on skin colour.


Soundtrack for a Revolution is an excellent documentary, especially during black history month. This documentary would also be a good choice to show in schools.

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Soundtrack for a Revolution Review By Maureen

***1/2 (out of 4)

The power of music to change mind and move souls is well known. Soundtrack for a Revolution highlights the music and songs that played a big role in the black civil rights movement with Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1950’s and ‘60’s.


The powerful documentary combines original black and white news footage, present day interviews with activist of that time, and footage of musicians such as The Blind Boys of Alabama, John Legend and many more performing freedom songs. Hearing songs such as “This Little Light of Mine”, “Wade in the Water” and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” in the context of the civil rights movement is powerful and emotional.


Soundtrack for a Revolution at 82 minutes is a very watchable documentary about this important period in history. With February being Black History Month, it is worth attending a special screening of Soundtrack for a Revolution happening now.

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Soundtrack for a Revolution Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

Soundtrack for a Revolution is a documentary on the U.S. civil rights movement and the music that inspired those who participated in it. Narrated by the survivors, seen as they were then in mainly black and white news clips as well as now, it is accompanied by mainly new performances of the spiritual, gospel and folk songs that were always on the lips of the demonstrators.


Those of us who grew up in the period, and certainly younger people with no memory of the struggle, need to be reminded how scarcely one generation ago in the southern U.S. and even more recently in South Africa, it was taken for granted that people of black African ancestry needed by law to be kept apart from whites. Just how brutally these laws were enforced, and nonviolently resisted, is brought home once again in this film. Segregated buses, used mainly by blacks in the age of the automobile, were boycotted. Blacks would fill the white only seats in restaurants, singing all the while as they were dragged out. Some of the now elderly protesters pose proudly with their mug shots, while those of others are shown with captions about their deaths by lynching, beating, bombing, drowning, gunshot, etc. When hundreds of children joined the demonstrations, they were pushed back by fire hoses.


The bigoted opinions of ordinary whites and politicians such as Alabama governor George Wallace are contrasted with the stirring oratory of leaders such as Rev. Martin Luther King preaching the doctrine of nonviolent struggle. The tide turned with the march on Washington, where the support of millions of Americans was too much to ignore, and when president L.B. Johnson announced “We shall overcome” the war seemed won. However in 1968 the foreboding of King’s final speech was followed the next day by his assassination. The final image, meant to show how far we have come, is from the 2009 inauguration.


As far as it goes, Soundtrack for a Revolution is a good overview of the civil rights movement up to 1968, and a stirring tribute to the role of music in nonviolent struggle. The intervening 40 years, including setbacks starting with the 1968 riots, are not mentioned. It is interesting for example how quickly attitudes have changed overall, with isolated exceptions as seen in such recent films as Liberty U.S.A. and Prom Night in Mississippi. Once forced to desegregate, George Wallace spent the rest of his life trying his best to make life as good for the blacks as he had all along for the whites. Ironically, it has just been revealed that the glass ceiling preventing air force women from becoming pilots was due to president Johnson’s reluctance to allow black pilots either.

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Consensus: Soundtrack for a Revolution is a well made and very interesting documentary about overcoming segregation. The film is set to an amazing soundtrack of "freedom songs". This is one worth seeing. ***3/4 (Out of 4)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

DVD Review: Amreeka

Amreeka - An E1 Films’ Release

http://www.amreeka.com/

DVD Release Date: February 16th, 2010

Rated PG for brief drug use involving teens and some language

Running time: 96 minutes


Cherien Dabis (dir.)


Cherien Dabis (writer)


Kareem Roustom (music)


Nisreen Faour as Muna Farah

Melkar Muallem as Fadi Farah

Hiam Abbass as Raghda Halaby

Alia Shawkat as Salma

Joseph Ziegler as Mr. Novatski

Yussuf Abu-Warda as Nabeel Halaby


Our reviews below:

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Amreeka DVD Review By John C.

***1/4 (out of 4)

Amreeka tells the story of a woman, Muna (Nisreen Faour), and her teenage son, Fadi (Melkar Muallem), who move from Palestine to America (or with an accent “Amreeka”), only to discover a harsh culture-shock.


The acting by the entire cast is very good, and the story, while not groundbreaking in terms of narrative, is an interesting and incredibly believable one.


Amreeka is a film so incredibly entertaining with characters that are just plain likable. It’s good-natured energy is contagious. It plays well on DVD, so seek it out. This is a very good film.


The DVD includes interviews with the cast and crew, and a 22-minute episode of the Qatar-produced TV show The Fabulous Picture Show, where they discuss the film.

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Amreeka DVD Review By Erin V.

***1/2 (out of four)

In Amreeka, Muna moves herself and her son Fadi from Palestine as their life there becomes increasingly disrupted by military checkpoints and walls closing them in. So, taking a chance, they go to America, where Muna's sister already lives with her family. But this new country has many unforeseen challenges awaiting them. While working at a Palestinian bank for years, Muna is unable to find an equal job as an immigrant in the USA. Meanwhile, her son Fadi finds it hard to fit into his new school...


Amreeka is a very solid film. The acting is good, and the story is one that is very real in today's world. The film switches back and forth between Arabic with subtitles, and English, but is well paced and easy to follow. While Amreeka wasn't in that wide a release, now that it's on DVD, I would definitely recommend seeking it out.

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Amreeka DVD Review By Nicole

**** (out of 4)

Amreeka is a fascinating story about an immigrant family’s efforts to settle into a new life. Taking place in 2003, Amreeka follows single mom, Muna and teenage son Fadi. They live in the West Bank, and have to take ridiculous detours between military walls and checkpoints, just to get to work and school. So when Muna gets approved for immigration into the USA, Fadi convinces Muna to move into small town Illinois with his aunt and cousin. In the USA, however, Fadi has to battle racism and ignorance from bullies. Muna also struggles with prejudice and racism. She tells her family that she works at a bank, like back home, but is really working at a local White Castle. Over time, the family begins to slowly integrate into their new home in “Amreeka”.


I really liked Amreeka. The characters are very believable and likable. The movie, while low key, never drags. Amreeka is worth checking out .

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Amreeka DVD Review By Maureen

***1/2 (out of 4)

Amreeka is a sweet and heartwarming story about two immigrants from the West Bank trying to settle into life in small town Illinois. Muna (Nisreen Faour) is a single mother determined to give her son Fadi (Melkar Muallem) a better life in America (Amreeka).


Muna arrives in the United States full of optimism and hope and a cookie tin full of cash. Things don’t go exactly as planned. Muna finds herself broke and the only job she can get is at the local White Castle, cooking burgers, despite her background in banking. Her son Fadi has a hard time adjusting and fitting in at the high school. Even with all her struggles, Muna remains positive and charmingly determined to make things work.


The strength in Amreeka lies in the writing and the acting. Much of the dialogue is in Arabic with English subtitles. This is never a distraction as the characters are so believable and likable that you want to take the time and know what they are saying. Credit has to go to Nisreen Faour for her wonderful portrayal of Muna. By the end of the movie, I just wanted to give Muna a big hug.


This is a really nice story about immigrants, and the human spirit. Amreeka is definitely worth checking out.

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Amreeka DVD Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

Palestinian single mother Muna Farah (Nisreen Faour) and her teenage son Fadi (Melkar Muallem) have no future in a land where several hours a day are wasted being hassled at Israeli checkpoints. They arrive in the suburbs of Chicago to stay with Muna’s sister Raghda (Hiam Abbass) who has been in the U.S. for 15 years with her doctor husband Nabeel (Yussuf Abu-Warda). With the help of their two daughters, Fadi tries to fit in at school, but despite Muna’s education and banking experience, the only job she can find is in a White Castle fast food restaurant. In the wake of 9/11 Fadi is bullied and Nabeel’s practice is drying up. When Fadi fights back, the school principal (Joseph Ziegler) tries to help and a friendship between him and Muna blossoms.


Despite frequent gaffes and setbacks, Muna’s charm and optimism, shared by the principal, leave us hopeful. In contrast, Raghda and her cynical husband are just about ready to give up and move back to a Palestine that no longer exists, divided up by walls erected to protect Israeli settlements. Though somewhat predictable, Amreeka is a moving film, with a theme common to many immigrant groups over the years, that would be particularly recommendable for school kids. The cast is excellent, especially Nisreen Faour who is really charming, Melkar Muallem in a promising breakout role, and Hiam Abbass reprising similar long-suffering roles in The Visitor and Etz Limon (Lemon Tree). By the way, Amreeka is what Muna’s nagging mother calls her new country.

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Consensus: Amreeka is a very good, well acted, believable and incredibly likable film about immigrants in America. This is one worth checking out. ***1/2 (Out of 4)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

To everyone reading, One Movie, Five Views would like to wish you a very Happy Valentine’s Day!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Winner of our Mary and Max DVD Contest!

The competition was tough, but by luck of the draw, we have a winner! Congratulations to Robert V. of Toronto, for winning a copy of Mary and Max on DVD. Enjoy!


Big thank you to everyone who entered, and a big thanks to Mongrel Media for supplying the prize.


-John C.

Movie Review: Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day - A Warner Bros. Release

http://www.valentinesdaymovie.com/

Release Date: February 12th, 2010

Rated PG-13 for some sexual material and brief partial nudity.

Running time: 105 minutes


Garry Marshall (dir.)

Katherine Fugate (screenwriter)


John Debney (music)


Jessica Alba as Morley Clarkson

Kathy Bates as Susan

Jessica Biel as Kara Monahan

Bradley Cooper as Holden

Eric Dane as Sean Jackson

Patrick Dempsey as Dr. Harrison Copeland

Hector Elizondo as Edgar

Jamie Foxx as Kelvin Moore

Jennifer Garner as Julia Fitzpatrick

Topher Grace as Jason

Anne Hathaway as Liz

Carter Jenkins as Alex

Ashton Kutcher as Reed Bennett

Queen Latifah as Paula Thomas

Taylor Lautner as Willy

George Lopez as Alphonso

Shirley MacLaine as Estelle

Emma Roberts as Grace

Julia Roberts as Captain Kate Hazeltine

Bryce Robinson as Edison

Taylor Swift as Felicia


JENNIFER GARNER as Julia Fitzpatrick and ASHTON KUTCHER as Reed Bennett in New Line Cinema’s romantic comedy “Valentine’s Day,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Photo by Ron Batzdorff


© 2010 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Our reviews below:

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Valentine’s Day Review By John C.

3/4 (1.75 out of 4)

Last year, I was just not that into He’s Just That Into You. A big budget romantic-comedy starring everyone and their dog, with the kitchen sink thrown in for good luck. Valentine’s Day is the latest of these Love, Actually wannabe’s, and for me it was only marginally better than HJNTIY. There were a few things I liked about Valentine's Day, 3/4 of a heart (star) worth to be exact, but there were also things that I just hated.


Admittedly, there were some sweet moments in this film, but there were also moments that had me cringing more than an old lady at The Hangover. In particular the scenes at an elementary school with a kid who wears his shirt over his face and gleefully tells the teacher about the Valentine’s day massacre. This was not cute. It was just creepy.


The film becomes dreadful every time Jessica Biel is on screen. Her character is obnoxious and annoying, and her line about having a “close” relationship with her Blackberry is just creepy and evokes an unpleasant mental image. The scenes at her anti-Valentine’s party are just terrible.


Ashton Kutcher and George Lopez are by far the best parts, and the only characters I actually cared about. Pretty much everyone else is kinda shallow, and at least three of the way too many story lines should have been removed completely.


The contrived story with Emma Roberts’ character trying to lose her virginity is just dumb and out of place. The overly precocious kid trying to get flowers delivered to his secret Valentine is only mildly sweet and clearly rehashing Love, Actually.


Valentine’s Day had more than enough scenes that should have been deleted, and was too long by about a half-an-hour. Despite a few genuinely good moments, (Kutcher and Lopez, a nice moment between Bradley Cooper and Julia Roberts, etc.), it ultimately just ended up feeling like a box of preselected chocolates. You always know what you’re gonna get. And you really just don’t want half of them.


Valentine’s Day is technically a better movie than something like He’s Just Not That Into You or, say, the recent I Hate Valentine’s Day, but what makes this film fail are the too many story lines, formulaic plot and hefty running time.


I’ve seen a lot of rom-com’s and the problem is, after you see one that’s average, the next average one, regardless if it actually is, just seems worse. Valentine's Day is just too syrupy to have any substance or emotional depth.


I wanted to like this film. Love, Actually. Though it just feels like I could Say Anything about this picture and audiences will still go out in swarms to see it. There are worse romantic-comedies than this one, but there are also ones that are far better. And those are the ones you should see.

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Valentine’s Day Review By Erin V.

♥♥1/2 (out of four)

There is something like 10 couples followed in this movie. For me, this was confusing namewise. Simply put, until I checked the billing block for the names, I didn’t know what the majority of the characters names were. It actually shocked me to see that Topher Grace’s character was called Jason, or Anne Hathaway’s called Liz. You see, during the movie to keep track of this particular couple, I made an odd mental note that Agent 99 (Hathaway in Get Smart) was with Eddie Brock (Grace in Spiderman 3). It happened like this for most of the cast in the film, since I could never really catch what they were actually called.


Aside from that, I actually liked the movie more than I had expected to. It’s not really going to have much of a run past this week, but I guess it really is meant for Valentine’s Day anyway. When I think back to a film like He’s Just Not That Into You, from last year, I can truthfully say that this is way better. I found HJNTIY to be extremely boring and was just waiting for it to be over, and while this one felt slightly long, it didn’t really feel boring like that. There were just too many characters in it. I think one teenage couple (the Taylor’s) would have been enough, and the thing with the kids should have been more in passing (e.g., the scene on the soccer field was unneeded).


I did like some of the characters better than others, such as Julia Robert’s character, and surprisingly, Ashton Kutcher’s character, since he’s not really one of my favorite actors. On the other hand, the whole thing with Jessica Biel’s character felt totally pointless to me, a feeling accentuated by the over 10 minutes it took for a real piñata to be smashed in the theatre before the film. Marketing plans should be something simple that takes under 2 minutes so that the movie can get started close to on time, and involves more than just 6 people smashing something. Like a random draw from all ticket holders that they often do. It’s not as hard to clean up, and it’s overall just easier for everyone.


If you’re looking for a date movie this weekend, this is certainly not a bad choice I don’t think. If you want to see it, this would be the time, since it is Valentine’s Day. Either that, or wait for next year on the DVD.

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Valentine’s Day Review By Nicole

♥♥1/2 (out of 4)

Valentine’s Day is an entertaining romantic comedy about one day in the lives of several different couples in a Los Angeles neighbourhood. The different couples span different ages. An older couple recounts over 50 years of marriage, while their “lovesick” grandson tries to get the perfect gift for his “Valentine”. A young florist, who is recently engaged, discusses what Valentines means to him with various customers, and with his friend, a truck driver from Mexico. (His story was one of my favorites). A soldier returns home for one day, to visit a very special person in her life. These are just some of the many stories told in this movie.


The stories are all loosely connected through the florist shop, through each other, or are part of a news interview on love. With so many different story lines, this movie is a bit confusing, and is a bit long at just over two hours. However, this one is nice to see as a seasonal film, either as a date movie in theatres, or as a rental. With a decent cast, a light plot, and a fun score, this movie is worth seeing for Valentine’s Day.

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Valentine’s Day DVD Review By Maureen

♥♥1/2 (out of 4)

Everybody loves a good love story. But what about several love stories all rolled up into one movie? Valentines Day goes through the love stories of various young couples, a senior couple, highschoolers, married couples, cheaters, unmarried couples, a gay couple and a elementary school crush.


While some of the love stories are sweet, others are shallow and annoying. There are so many different story lines going on at the same time, it gets tiring keeping track of who is who. What saves Valentine’s Day from being a very ordinary rom-com are all the talented, well known actors who add life and energy to this movie.


Ashton Kutcher plays a florist whose floral deliveries serve as a link between each of the stories. Reed Bennett (Kutcher) is the sweetest character in the whole movie. Also really likable is his business partner, Alphonso, played wonderfully by George Lopez.


There are also funny cameos by Queen Latifah and Shirley MacLaine. There are a lot of funny moments in Valentine’s Day. Watch for the restaurant scene with Jennifer Garner’s character pretending to be a waitress. There are also some scenes that fall flat. I found Jessica Biel’s character, Kara, to be particularly annoying with the whole Valentine’s Day is awful storyline.


Overall, this is what it is, a movie about Valentine’s Day. If a lighthearted romantic-comedy is what will make your Valentine’s Day, then this is the movie for you. Happy Valentine’s Day.

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Valentine’s Day DVD Review By Tony

♥♥1/2 (out of 4)

Valentines Day is a romantic comedy dealing with the lives of numerous characters, in and out of relationships, over the course of one Valentine’s day. They range from a ten year old’s schoolboy crush, through two teenage couples, numerous partners in their 20s-40s, to the 10 year old’s grandparents. To keep it simple, I will use the names of the actors rather than their characters.


As the film opens we meet several couples waking up together, some of whom will not make it through the day–Ashton Kutcher+Jessica Alba, Jennifer Garner+Patrick Dempsey, Anne Hathaway+Topher Grace. Kutcher is a sweet florist while Alba is into her career. Kutcher’s old friend Garner is a sweet schoolteacher, finding out during the day that heart surgeon Dempsey has a wife and kids. Grace discovers that Hathaway’s life is constantly being interrupted by moonlighting on her 1-900 phone line. You can guess who ends up with whom.


As for the teenagers, Emma Roberts+Carter Jenkins are forgettable, while the brief cameos of the “Taylors” (Swift+Lautner) are surprisingly funny examples of celebrity self-parody.


The older couple (Shirley MacLaine+Hector Elizondo) is touching, particularly at the end as they make out in front of an outdoor night time screening of a snogging scene featuring MacLaine half a century earlier.


A number of apparently unattached characters appear throughout the film. Jamie Foxx is a sportscaster assigned reluctantly by his boss Kathy Bates to do romantic streeters all day. Eric Dane is a quarterback agonizing over whether to become a free agent. His publicist Jessica Biel, easily the most obnoxious element in the film, tries her best to trash the day with a heart piñata at her annual I Hate Valentine’s Day party in an Indian restaurant. I suppose her character was meant to serve as a foil, but leaving it out altogether would have been a real improvement. Her boss Queen Latifah has some amusing cameos. Kutcher’s driver George Lopez is an older family man, full of sage advice for his younger boss. Bradley Cooper and Julia Roberts are seatmates on a plane, their relationships only revealed at the very end.


Director Garry Marshall is an old hand at this type of film, and manages to keep all the plotlines going along parallel and intersecting lines. As expected, it is not uniformly good, and with too many characters and at just over two hours could have done with some trimming, but it hits more than it misses. Compared to other recent films, I enjoyed it much more than He’s Just Not That Into You (unlikeable, unbelievable & much too long) but not quite as much as Couples Retreat (tighter script & good cast).

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BRADLEY COOPER as Holden and JULIA ROBERTS as Captain Kate Hazeltine in New Line Cinema’s romantic comedy “Valentine’s Day,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo by Ron Batzdorff

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Consensus: While it seems to serve it’s purpose for a rom-com for Valentine’s Day, this film just has too many characters to really work. With a tighter script and shorter cast list, this could have gone somewhere better. Made for this particular week though, if you’re planning on seeing it, now’s the time. ♥♥1/3 (Out of 4)

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(L-r) ERIC DANE as Sean Jackson and GEORGE LOPEZ as Alphonso in New Line Cinema’s romantic comedy “Valentine’s Day,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo by Ron Batzdorff