Olive Kitteridge: HBO miniseries showcases McDormand’s killer sardonic skills
OLIVE KITTERIDGE (2014, HBO Miniseries) Starring: Frances McDormand, Richard Jenkins, Bill Murray. Directed by: Lisa Cholodenko. Three and a half stars out of five Watching Frances McDormand’s face is a bit like reading a great Victorian novel. She may be giving us a straightforward chunk of dialogue, but beneath the surface, an entirely different narrative is taking place. Beneath every wrinkle lies a wealth of understated passions, existential awareness and razor-sharp wit that brings emotional currency to every role, including her turn as Olive Kitteridge, the central character in Elizabeth Strout’s 2008 novel. Reunited with her Laurel Canyon director Lisa Cholodenko, McDormand takes this story of a smart, but calloused schoolteacher to the very edge of melodrama without losing her balance, which is probably the miniseries’ biggest victory because its very structure screams soap opera. With Richard Jenkins and Bill Murray sharing the frames, we get a little breathing ...
I Wake Up Screaming: An eggs and break-your-legs film noir feast
I Wake Up Screaming (1941 FOX) Starring: Betty Grable, Victor Mature, Carole Landis, Laird Cregar Directed by: H. Bruce Humberstone Four stars out of five Whether it’s the spontaneous eruptions of Over the Rainbow steaming through the score, the bizarre screen presence of Laird Cregar as a creepy cop with perfect elocution, or the architectural angles of Victor Mature’s eyebrows, there’s more than one reason why this seminal piece of film noir is nothing short of a wacky masterpiece. Shot just before the attack on Pearl Harbor, and riddled with allusions to mounting political tensions, this adaptation of Steve Fisher’s novel ‘Hot Spot’ still feels contemporary thanks to its thematic obsession with celebrity. Carole Landis plays Vicky, a diner waitress who becomes the Eliza Doolittle of a sports promoter played by Mature. At first, her success is welcomed as part of a game, but when she announces she’s bailing on New York for a movie career in Los Angeles, ...
PROFILE: MICHAEL SNOW
MICHAEL SNOW Born 1929, Toronto, Ont. If there were ever a perfect image of the Canadian psyche -- it’s that of Snow. Born with the perfect name and a desire to make us aware of negative space, Snow may be a grandaddy in the context of this book, but as Atom Egoyan’s foreword makes clear, his vision of the world has framed much of the Canadian film experience for generations past - and no doubt generations to come. For a guy concerned with the mechanics of framing, it’s a fitting legacy. Born in the very crust of the Canadian establishment, raised in Toronto’s tony Rosedale district, and funnelled through its favored institution -- Upper Canada College -- Snow was born to be a bank president. The fact that he became an artist makes him an original rebel, as his entire life’s path turned him into a living artwork defined in opposition to institutional ways of thinking. Already a painter and sculptor, Snow’s formal film career began in 1956, when he joined George ...
HARKEMA’S GIRL TROUBLE
A GIRL IS A GIRL (1999): The first feature film from Vancouver-based film-maker Reg Harkema (editor of Hard Core Logo, Twilight of the Ice Nymphs, Last Night), A Girl is a Girl is a kinder, gentler meditation on Canadian alienation as it tells the story of Trevor (McIntyre), a really nice guy looking for a that one perfect girl. Little does Trevor know he’s a victim of mass media marketing campaigns, and really, there is no such thing as the smart, funny, Sports Illustrated swimsuit model who lives and breathes to make Trevor feel good about himself. Instead, women are just people -- or, as the title suggests: a girl is really just a girl. For the bulk of this offbeat charmer, we watch Trevor make an ass of himself in a variety of ways, with a variety of different women. There is Lisa, the ex-model with the eating disorder, Lisa, the rocker chick and Karen, as he slowly comes to accept the lack of feminine perfection -- not to mention his own shortcomings. Good dialogue, strong ...
ROBERT LEPAGE BIOGRAPHY
Biography: Robert Lepage
Born: 1957, Quebec City
A Renaissance man with a modernist’s flair for re-inventing media, Robert Lepage is one of the most exciting visual narrators in Canadian cinema -- a talent that may be explained by his entrance to film via theatre. Born into a working class family which had already adopted two English-Canadian children, Lepage was always interested in performance, a passion that eventually led him to Quebec City’s Conservatoire d’art dramatique. He was an engaged student, and when he graduated in 1977, he could write, direct, act and execute elaborate stage designs -- but had no particular area of expertise. After a three-week workshop with Alain Knapp in Paris, he returned to Quebec and formed Theatre Hummm with Richard Fréchette. The two produced award-winning work and from there, Lepage hooked up with Théâtre Repère, an established troupe, where he would stage works such as Tectonic Plates, En attendant and The Dragon’s Trilogy ...
Chappie reboots best bits of Blade Runner, Robocop
A hacked version of Robocop, Chappie takes place in the not-too-distant future, when violent crime has gone viral and police resources are too stretched to contain the chaos.
By Katherine Monk
Infused with ambient paranoia, apocalyptic imagery and an overall sense of social collapse, Neil Blomkamp’s movies operate in a familiar science-fiction setting, but they feel significantly different from Hollywood spectacle. Where the likes of Lucas and Spielberg find ways of affirming all-American value systems through hero-centric stories, Blomkamp doesn’t seem at all interested in themes of god and country. If anything, the South African filmmaker (who makes his home in Vancouver) focuses on the opposite: He ignores the grand rhetoric of the visible and the valued in an effort to hear the slang of the common folk. In his brilliantly bleak feature debut, District 9, Blomkamp re-invented the alien invasion theme by weaving it into Apartheid metaphor, ...
The Lazarus Effect falls flat
Movie review: The Lazarus Effect
Raising the dead gets tired in hipster Frankenstein story as Olivia Wilde and Mark Duplass play mad scientists looking to overcome the fundamental rules of nature
Circling the Drain: Hot Tub Time Machine 2
Starring: Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke, Adam Scott, Jason Jones, Directed by: Steve Pink Running time: 93 minutes One star out of five MPAA Rating: Restricted
By Katherine Monk
No matter how many times you scour afterward, the filmy scum left by Hot Tub Time Machine 2 lingers like greasy dark ring around the brain. A sequel to the surprisingly okay 2010 comedy about four down-and-out dudes who are given a second chance at redemption with a trip to the past via the titular spa equipment, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 had some built-in appeal: Escapist entertainment has its place in life, and sometimes, all you want to do is take off your cerebral corset and get naked in a hot bubble bath of silliness. It’s not that much to ask for, really: A couple of good jokes to keep you listening to the dialogue, characters that prompt empathy, and maybe a plot that doesn’t have to be explained in every other scene. I congratulate screenwriter Josh Heald ...