Rent It

‘The Great Gatsby’ – **1/2 0

The initial reactions to Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby, which opened this year’s Cannes Film Festival, are strangely similar to the ones of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s original 1925 book. Both works were first critically rebuked, respected only for a single redeeming quality: Luhrmann’s style and Fitzgerald’s prose. People complained that the latter’s characters were “marionettes” and in […]

The Keys to ‘Room 237′ and ‘The Shining’ 0

The Shining is probably Stanley Kubrick’s most mind-boggling film, certainly not his best but not far from what its poster heralds as “a masterpiece of modern horror.” Watching the film for maybe the seventh time the other day – but the first ever on the big screen, in a gloriously crisp 35mm print at Toronto’s TIFF […]

‘Iron Man 3′ – **1/2 1

Iron Man 3 marks the first Marvel blockbuster of the summer (and, assumedly, a box office wonder), thus detonating the big bang of Hollywood spectacle and action-oriented narrative sure to disperse across the multiplexes these next coming months. The Marvel movies are typically theme-park rides, built on a grand scale and meant simply to thrill […]

The Company You Keep – **1/2 0

Robert Redford’s The Company You Keep is a passably entertaining thriller, light albeit on the politics and heavy on the sentimentality. We’re introduced thus to characters who seem too likable, and emotionally approachable, based on their past dark deeds. That’s Redford: the forgiving romantic. He tries to create confrontational morality tales, but his soft, soapy liberal-mindedness holds […]

‘Spring Breakers’ – **1/2 0

Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers is so lavishly absurd, irreverent – cruel even – and unapologetically self-indulgent that you’re almost compelled to think the director is getting at something. Almost. Korine, a notorious enfant terrible, uses the cinema as a prodding rod, too willingly that he often overlooks the medium’s ability to necessitate social critiques. Alas, Spring Breakers is mostly an empty provocation…but not […]

We’ll Sing Until We Die: Les Miserables – **1/2 0

Les Miserables is a wildly flawed display of musical numbers, that for the most part wildly evoke the misery of urban class living in mid-19th century France (although, yes, the performers chant with mint British accents). There’s little depth (or, heck, logic) to how this tear-jerking show finds its way, but it’s as if King’s […]

Hyde Park on Hudson – **1/2 0

Dealing with a political personage like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, it’s peculiar that Hyde Park on Hudson staidly limits the drama to the little bits of business at a small and sumptuous estate in the bucolic Hyde Park in upstate New York where the 32nd president of the United Stated does little else but drive his 1936 Ford […]

Life of Pi – **1/2 0

Deemed nearly “unfilmable”, Ang Lee’s Life of Pi, in spite of its shortcomings, is a worthy, lustrous rebuke: an epic and visually resplendent 3D cinematic adventure out in the cosmic waters of the South Pacific. Intended as a reflective piece, Life of Pi dramatizes the survival of a young, determined, and idealistic Indian boy named Piscine “Pi” Patel (Suraj […]

Frankenweenie – **1/2 0

Frankenweenie may be a return to Tim Burton’s past, but it’s not quite a return to form. This is an example of a filmmaker who employs all his tools and tricks, but can’t find a way to twist out the awe – or, what might be more accurate for Burton, morbidity. His latest film, a 3D stop-motion […]

Looper – **1/2 2

After watching Rian Johnson’s third feature Looper, this director is starting to imitate what Quentin Tarantino brought to the silver screen nearly 20 years ago: stylistic bravado, mannered characters, and a wild celebration of the potential in “movies” over actual “stories”. Johnson understands cinematic moments in lieu of overarching stories (that’s not to say he doesn’t […]