Friday, September 23, 2011

Soundtrack to the 80s - 'Drive'

With a style that's a cross between Top Gun and Pretty in Pink, the soundtrack for Drive is infused with electronica-inspired pop, and lyrics that literally transport you back to the 80s. This is the soundtrack to have blasting while you're driving around aimlessly on a summer night, windows down, and wind blowing. Not that I do that...or anything...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Review: Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding (TIFF 2011)


A multi-generational family comedy, Peace, Love & Misunderstanding seems perfectly content with being a pretty predictable and lighthearted story with some drama thrown in for good measure. Diane (Catherine Keener) is an uber-conservative Manhattan lawyer, unhappily married and on the cusp of divorce. She decides to take her two children, Zoe (Elizabeth Olsen) - a college girl who loves animals as much as she loves poetry and big words, and Jake (Nat Wolff), an aspiring filmmaker who's obsessed with documenting everything, to visit their grandmother Grace (Jane Fonda), who they've never met. Grace is an eccentric hippie, stuck in the 1970s, with a passion for protesting, new-age healing crystals and of course, weed. It's a bit hard to believe that it's been 20 years since mother and daughter have seen each other, especially since they live in the same state. It's just not believable.

Almost too instantly, Diane's brood starts letting loose, although Diane, more reluctantly so, taking part in all the fun that Woodstock has to offer, including the occasional war protest and full moon ritual. Grace ends up yanking each character out of their tough shell, and somehow arranges a love interest for each of them. Diane falls for a local carpenter, sometimes-musician, and full-time dreamboat (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), Zoe finds herself struggling with her growing attraction to a butcher (Chace Crawford) who naturally has the soul of a poet. Even Jake gets a local girl.

Despite all of the film's formulaic shortcomings, it was hard not to love the cast. Jane Fonda shines in a role that seems tailor-made for her, and she plays it with a spunk and charisma that brought life to every scene she was in. Newcomer Elizabeth Olsen is a pleasure to watch, continuing to live up to her hype as the latest it-girl. We're not talking Oscars here, but still, it was cute.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Best Moments from the 2011 Emmys

The Emmys were on last night, and while the actual show was less than stellar, a few key moments and some well-deserved surprising wins, made it worth watching.

The opening number was way too long. But, once the awkwardness of Jane Lynch singing, wore off, we got to see some great cameos from the casts of The Big Bang Theory, Friday Night LightsEntourage's Ari and Lloyd, and of course, Jane went back to the 60s to visit the set of Mad Men. Take a look:

Most of last night's winners were predictable, like Jon Stewart, Mad Men for Best Drama, and pretty much the entire cast of Modern Family - you know, the usual. But, when Peter Dinklage won Best Supporting Actor in a Drama for his role on Game of Thrones, and Jason Katims was finally recognized by the Academy for the stellar and fantastic writing on Friday Night Lights, we knew it would be an interesting year. And while I have to say that Mrs. Coach (Connie Britton) was robbed, I literally jumped off my couch when Coach Taylor (Kyle Chandler) won Best Actor in a Drama, which he so rightly deserved. Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose!

Highlights from Kyle Chandler's acceptance speech included a, "Gosh, almighty", and him finishing his speech off with his signature laugh! Say it with me, 'That was SO Coach Taylor'.

Last but not least, probably the best act of the evening was a prerecorded The Office spoof, which included Jesse Pinkman (Breaking Bad) visiting Creed at the Scranton branch for a special delivery, and Amy Poehler (speaking Dothraki, might I add), as a new Dunder Mifflin employee!

Full list of last night's Emmy winners.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Review: Twixt (TIFF 2011)

A convoluted murder mystery with teenage vampires and the ghost of Edgar Allan Poe (I'm not joking), there's no doubt that Twixt was overdone and ridiculously silly, but engaging, nonetheless. Twixt tells the story of a mystery writer (Val Kilmer), or, what they describe as the ‘bargain basement Stephen King’, traveling to a small town for a book signing. Experiencing a pretty mean case of writer’s block, he’s convinced by the town sheriff (the AMAZING Bruce Dern from Big Love) to stay in town and collaborate on a story about the unsolved murder of a young girl. One scene in particular stood out and felt the most genuine, with Kilmer's character suffering through his writer's block with lots of booze and crazy talk. But it's probably not a good sign when the best scene in your vampire thriller is one where the main actor is cracking jokes.

I’m not a fan of 3D, in fact I hate it – I think it takes away from the story, adding a layer of distraction that most of the time is unnecessary. Thankfully, Coppola limited his use of 3D to only two scenes, so it didn’t detract too much from the story (but it also didn’t add anything valuable).

With a story like this that didn’t make much sense to begin with, pieced together from a dream Coppola had, Twixt was over-stylized (in colour, black and white, and 3D) and painfully stale. I guess we just expect more depth from a director of Francis Ford Coppola's caliber, especially with his resumé of films, but you have to hand it to him for taking risks in a way most seasoned Directors wouldn't dare.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Review: Jeff, Who Lives At Home (TIFF 2011)

Jeff (Jason Segel) believes in signs. Like he really believes in them. Everything from an infomercial to flying birds mean something special in Jeff's world. That's why, when someone calls his home in the middle of the day looking for a 'Kevin', he beings his quest to find the Kevin he believes he's destined to follow. While Jeff is a 30-year-old pothead who lives in his mother's (Susan Sarandon) basement, he's kind, sweet and has a naive belief in his convictions that's refreshing to see. On the other hand, his brother Pat (Ed Helms), although married and employed, is a complete asshole, with serious communication issues and no common sense whatsoever.

What starts out as a simple trip to the Home Depot for Jeff, changes course when he and Pat see Pat's wife (Judy Greer) in a car with another man. From then on, their mission is to track and confront her, and their misadventures end up being the most genuinely funny part of the film, with undeniable comedic chemistry between Segel and Helms (playing a meaner version of Andy Bernard).

Parts of the film did feel like they were taking a page right out of an, 'Indie Movies for Dummies' handbook, with what felt like one too many scenes with characters staring into space, music playing in the background. But at the same time, each character is in kind of a rut, lost, and unable to move forward, so maybe all the wordless contemplation was justified.

From the Duplass Brothers (the Directors of last year's Cyrus), Jeff, Who Lives At Home is a unique film about the signs we see and perhaps ignore, and ultimately, the signs that bring all of the characters together. Jason Segel's performance was definitely the highlight - it's always nice to see a typically comedic actor shift into a more dramatic role so seamlessly. You actually like Jeff and wouldn't mind blazing a spliff with him.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Entourage: The End


Last night marked the end of our favourite HBO bros after eight (sometimes great, sometimes really bad) seasons, but rumours are already swirling that an Entourage movie is in the works. Even though it'll probably be pretty crappy like the Sex and the City movie was, I'd still watch it.

Entourage started off a force to be reckoned with, revolutionizing the now-overdone 'bromance', genre - a show about the lazy lives of a group of friends to an up-and-coming, but reluctant, movie star. Then as the seasons wore on, with one too many celebirty cameos and a whole lot of repetition, it got kind of tired. For its victory lap season of only eight episodes, Entourage managed to go out with a bang, tying up loose ends while returning our characters to who they were in the beginning, the ones that got us watching in the first place, before they got all serious on us.

So here's to the boys from Queens, who had us hugging it out and shouting "Victory!", every chance we got.

Review: Drive (TIFF 2011)


A poetically violent and dark, homage to 1980s pop cinema, Drive was filled-to-the-brim with intensely maniacal action and high-speed car chases. Playing a Hollywood stunt driver, moonlighting as a getaway car wheelman, Driver (Ryan Gosling, no, we never find out his character’s real name) manages to stay calm, excruciatingly quiet and completely professional, under the most violent of circumstances. His character is instantly drawn to his neighbour, Irene (Carey Mulligan), and her young son, and he spends the rest of the film possessed with protecting them. The mutual attraction is obvious, and their courtship is innocent and sweet, until we find out she has a convict hubby who's about to be released from prison.

During the Q&A following the screening, Director Nicolas Winding Refn, explained that he wanted to make the first half of Drive like a John Hughes movie and make the second half take a more dark, psychotic turn. So what starts out as a cutesy love story, with a killer Top Gun-reminiscent soundtrack, downward spirals into a crime bender with enough blood and gore to make any horror enthusiast giddy with glee.

The only downside is that we don’t get a chance to go beneath the surface of the characters we’re instantly attracted to. Who is Driver? Where did he come from and what’s he doing in L.A.? I vote for a prequel.

On a side note, the soundtrack was ridiculously amazing. Rehn mentioned that the musical style for Drive evolved while he and Ryan were riding around L.A. one night and REO Speedwagon’s, ‘Can’t Fight This Feeling’, came on the radio. Inspired by euro pop of the early 80s, he managed to add a dash of femininity to a very masculine and bloody film.

With an exceptional cast, including Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks and Christina Hendricks, Drive is a fun and unexpected thrill-ride. I came out feeling a little beat-up, but thoroughly satisfied. In theatres September 16th.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Live-Stream TIFF Press Conferences

In case you're sitting behind your desk at work, slogging away like it's any-old, regular day, instead of out on the streets of Toronto, star-searching and catching TIFF screenings, here's something to cheer you up a bit. CP24 is live-streaming TIFF's press conferences. Hello Brad!


Roger Ebert, on TIFF
"We arrived here Wednesday, started seeing films Thursday, are booked up nearly wall-to-wall. This is not only one of the three or four major film festivals on earth, but one of the best-run and user-friendly. Wandering toward screenings, you encounter such as Atom Egoyan and Jason Reitman, directors not here to do business but--what do you know!--to see movies. The public waits dutifully in queues, as if making a silent protest against the shoving matches before screenings at Cannes. The four local dailies (!) cover it like the Washington Post covering a Presidential election." 
                                              Roger Ebert, on TIFF + his Melancholia review.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

HBO Recreates Vintage Subway for Boardwalk Empire Season 2

Well, HBO has done it again! Their marketing efforts know no bounds, that's for sure. This time, to promote Boardwalk Empire's season 2 premiere this fall (September 25th), they are completely transforming the New York City subway system! Taking it old school - like really, really old school, HBO is bringing in vintage trains completely decked out Boardwalk Empire-style, so New Yorkers can travel like Nucky Thompson. Buzz marketing at its best.

More details from gothamist
Starting on Saturday, September 3rd an authentic vintage 1920’s train will run on the express 2/3 track in Manhattan throughout September (specifically, from 12 to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays). Originally operated by the Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) system, the train began service back in 1917 and will once again be operational. Customers who have the opportunity to ride the vintage train will be transported back in time to the Prohibition era with authentic details such as rattan seats, ceiling fans and drop sash windows, as well as a custom branded interior featuring Boardwalk Empire-inspired period artwork.
This is SO cool and in the words of Liz Lemon, I want to go to there.

More Buzzworthy TIFF 2011 Films

"Inspired by the gothic horror of Edgar Allen Poe, Coppola's latest tells the tale of a burnt-out mystery writer (Val Kilmer) who gets mixed up in murder and evil in a California town." (
Younger sister to Dakota, Elle Fanning can now brag about having been in two Coppolas' films, how lucky is she?! (she was in Sofia Coppola's Somewhere). This being a contribution from the acclaimed, legendary, Oscar-winning (and Godfather-directing!), Francis Ford Coppola, it's a must-see whether or not you catch it at the Festival.

The Descendants
"George Clooney plays the leader of a storied Hawaiian family as they are forced to decide what to do with their last, vast parcel of land. At the same time he learns a secret about his critically ill wife. From the director of Sideways." (

Take this Waltz
"Sarah Polley makes a welcome return to directing with her first feature since 2006 Festival favourite Away from Her. Luke Kirby, Seth Rogen, Sarah Silverman and two-time Oscar®-nominee Michelle Williams star in this bittersweet story about a married woman struggling to choose between her husband and a man she's just met." (
It'll be interesting to see how Seth Rogen takes on this dramatic and not-at-all-comedic role after being Judd Apatow's go-to goofball for so many years.

"Denmark's most celebrated and notorious filmmaker returns with a fantasy/domestic drama about depression, severely dysfunctional families, and the end of the world."
It's kind of sad that anytime anyone mentions this film, all that comes to mind is the controversy Director Lars Von Trier started by making some questionable remarks about Hitler at this year's Cannes Film Festival. But beneath all of that hoopla, looks to be a visually stimulating film about life, family dysfunction, and the end of the world.

"Michael Fassbender plays a New York man confronting his sexual compulsions and the self-destructive acts of his sister (Carey Mulligan). From the director of Hunger." (
No trailer yet!

"Self-effacing British auteur Michael Winterbottom sets his unique spin on Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles against a contemporary Indian backdrop. Freida Pinto stars as the titular Trishna, a young woman who is seduced by the wealthy son of a property developer. As the romance develops, their relationship also becomes increasingly sordid and volatile." (
Freida Pinto first stole our hearts as the innocent and beautiful heroine in Slumdog Millionaire. With Trishna, we'll get to see if she has what it takes to be more than just a pretty face in a huge ensemble cast.