The sequel to Liam Neeson’s highly successful movie Taken hits theatres released today. Taken 2 is just as action packed and thrilling as the first, but don’t expect any shocking twists or turns. I kind of felt like I was watching the original all over again.
While on a family vacation, relatives of the men Bryan (Neeson) killed in the first film are seeking revenge on him and his family. They inevitably end up kidnapping Bryan and his ex-wife, leaving only their daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) to set them free and allow bad-ass Bryan to “do what he does best.”
There are some really cool and intense car chases in this film with some top notch explosions and stunts. Unfortunately that wasn’t enough to distract me from the fact that the better part of the film seems too much like the first, with the same women needing rescuing again. Like, how much bad luck can your family have… honestly?
This over the top movie of empowerment and inspiration in regards to an apparently failing public school system in the US was released today. While I liked Won’t Back Down as a whole, it has received quite a lot of controversy and criticism in the US. People even showed up to protest it’s premiere with picket signs. The film attempts to critique the difficulty faced in the public school system because of teachers unions. Honestly, I don’t really feel like touching on that subject as I don’t know too much about it. Instead, I’m going to ignore the “based on a true story” nonsense and just review the film as it is.
Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Jamie Fitzpatrick, a single mom who is fed up with the lack of attention her daughter is receiving in her public school class and is unable to afford private school for her daughter. I found her performance in this film to be extremely heartwarming and endearing. She really does play a fantastic mother role and I truly believed she cared about her daughter more than anything.
BUT, not if you’re squeamish.
So, let’s get this out of the way: it’s not the BEST movie you’ll ever seen. In fact, most of Truth or Dare is pretty prototype and cookie cutter for a cabin in the woods/revenge film… however, if you make it past the first hour (and please don’t misunderstand, the first hour is a good first hour just not great) then you get some classic British twists that come part and parcel with the smartie filmmakers across the pond. Without ruining too much, I’ll recap this one as a college kids bound together by a secret who pay the price for being a collective mean girls group towards a odd duck from their school.
The movie isn’t nearly as bloody as a Hostel or Halloween and thankfully isn’t as simply written as those two, rather it’s a riddled whodunit that has you interesting in solving its mini mystery as much as the film’s angry antagonist. It’s set in the present day with pretty realistic characters that for the MOST part act as you or I would given the horrendous situation their in. There’s of course the typical “Girl, don’t go in the there” or “Christ, just keep running” moments that will have you clawing at the screen a bit but those are always hand in hand with thrillers but they’re not too many so don’t fret there. What there IS more importantly is more than a few surprises about motives and reactionary behaviours (watch it and that odd concept will make sense) that make this one a film worth the rent/download.
Let’s call a spade a spade: this movie (in theatres now!) will anger the fudge out of you. No joke, from about 20 minutes in until nearly the end you will hate almost every character on screen and be pleading for something, anything to happen that will interrupt the unnatural progression of awful events you’ll be force to witness. I won’t ruin anything that the trailer won’t give away by saying this movie follows the story of an accused fast food cashier- played by the doe eyed and well cast Dreama Walker- and her surrounding staff and superior who “follow orders” and torture the girl to horrific ends.
No this movie isn’t based in the 80s when people “were dumber” or in some small city with people that act nothing like you and I as “reasonable people”: instead, it uses accurate characters placed in a complicated and atypical situation and watches them as they react accordingly. Now, I use the word accordingly here very carefully. As a student of psychology, I’m all too well aware of the famous Stanley Milgram study from Yale in 1963 wherein he had everyday test subjects zapping likable partners in an adjoining room every time they made a mistake in a learning test. I’m simplifying things (look it up, it’s worth a read) but the gist is that 100% of the subjects electrified their partners till it started to hurt and beyond and a terrifying 65% never stopped as the voltage got higher all because there was an experimenter there “ordering them to do so”. This movie takes this sad truth of our psyches and throws it in our face as we beg the movie’s characters to WAKE THE F UP.
Jordin Sparks’ first lead role on the big screen his theatres today. Also starring Whitney Houston in her last work before her untimely passing earlier this year, Sparkle (a remake of the 1976 film of the same name) is the story of three sisters who form a singing trio in the late 50s.
Donovan and I agree, it wasn’t Dreamgirls, but there are definitely some enjoyable moments in this film. Both of us being huge Whitney fans, I think her scenes were our favorite for sure. American Idol winner Sparks assumes title role of Sparkle. Along with her stunning sister Sister (yes that’s her name) and brainy sister Dee (Tika Sumpter) they form a singing trio that soon gains a lot of attention and a possible record deal.
The Campaign, starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifiankis, hits theatres today. A comedic tale about the dirty side of American politics, it sure as hell doesn’t get my vote. This is another case of tired actors playing the same characters we always see while using vulgarity and obscenity versus intelligence and wit to generate humour. It’s played out.
The film follows two rival politicians, incumbent Camden Brady (Ferrell) and newcomer Martin Huggins (Galifianakis) who are trying to win an election to represent their North Carolina district in the United States House of Representatives. Huggins is chosen as a pawn by two extremely wealthy brothers looking to sell part of the state to China to import Chinese labourers and save on shipping costs.
Stiller plays Evan, an overly enthusiastic Senior Manager at Costco who forms the watch group after his security guard is mysteriously murdered. Bob, an overly protective father who uses the watch to spy on his teenage daughter, is played by Vince Vaughn, who I had been getting a little sick of recently until I saw this film. He did a fantastic job and certainly got the most laughs out of me. Jonah Hill (before his weight re-gain) plays Franklin, who joins the watch after being rejected by the local police force.
The 2012 Vancouver Queer Film Festival is just around the corner, taking place from August 16 – 26. Homorazzi.com is once again a proud sponsor of two of the films this year, Private Romeo and Joshua Tree, 1951: A Portrait Of James Dean. The James Dean flick has two showings on Friday August 24 and Saturday August 25 at Empire Granville 7 Cinemas. Tickets can be purchased here. There is also an After-Film Mingler presented by our friends over at www.friendsandcompany.ca where the director of the film will be in attendance.
Recently, I watched first time feature film maker and writer Matthew Mishory’s new film, Joshua Tree, 1951: A Portrait of James Dean. While rumours of James Dean’s sexuality have been around forever, this film most certainly portray’s Dean as Bisexual, if not completely homosexual. (He totally bangs this chick, but I’m not convinced he was into it)
The film centres around Dean’s life in Los Angeles before moving to New York when he wasn’t doing too much but hanging around with rich old people, going to an acting class, and being a bit of a slut. He sleeps with his roommate, he sleeps with an older man, he sleeps with some young guy he meets on the beach and he also gives it to some girl. It would seem James Dean was a bit of a slut. Honestly, that was probably my favourite part of the movie though.