REVIEW: 47 Ronin [2013]

“Now know the depth of my lord’s honor” There have been numerous iterations of Japan’s unofficial, national legend about forty-seven ronin who avenged their master’s death at the start of the eighteenth century spanning movies, ballets, television productions, operas, bunraku, and kabuki plays. Known as Chūshingura, the true story has been embellished over the centuries to ensure each new generation told about these brave warriors understood the themes of loyalty, sacrifice, and honor being a Japanese citizen entailed. Whether or not the first account some fifty years after the actual…

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VIFF11 INTERVIEW: Prashant Bhargava, writer/director of Patang

While at the Vancouver International Film Festival this year, I had the pleasure of speaking to the writer/director of Patang [The Kite], Prashant Bhargava. A Chicago-born filmmaker of Indian descent, his first feature length work has hit screens in Berlin and Tribeca before making its way to Canada, picking up praise at every screening. A very human tale of a family in Ahmedabad rekindling during the city’s famous kite festival, Bhargava’s film will enchant and intrigue through its exotic locale and very familiar emotions. Speaking about his process, the casts’…

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REVIEW: Source Code [2011]

“I’d kiss you again” If it seems familiar, well it is. Duncan Jones’s sophomore effort, after his one man-show Moon, is eerily similar to Tony Scott’s Déjà Vu from five years ago. But while the Denzel vehicle dealt more with police work and action, Ben Ripley’s script for Source Code delves deeper into the ramifications of the science fiction at play. Using the phenomenon that the human brain keeps an image of its last eight minutes alive coupled with the fact our minds continue to fire after our bodies have…

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REVIEW: Unstoppable [2010]

“Stop. Look. And Listen.” Sometimes the thrillers that pit their heroes against a clock rather than some evil villain work the best. They generally contain situations you as a viewer can relate to, regular people being in the wrong place at the wrong time—or right time depending on your outlook—stepping up to risk sacrificing themselves for the safety of thousands. This is exactly what Tony Scott’s newest work Unstoppable is, a test of mettle and courage on behalf of two rail drivers/conductors who take it upon themselves to partake in…

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REVIEW: The Hire [2001-2002]

“BMW recommends that you always wear your seatbelt” After watching the Parallel Lines series, my desire to revisit BMW’s The Hire was too much to contain. This thing was a cultural phenomenon, doing what no one had ever done, with a medium still untested at the time. Back in 2001, households across America were still learning about the internet; installing their dial-up connections to surf for mostly news articles and sites without too many images for quick access. Looking to tap into a market that could target its demographic of…

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REVIEW: Parallel Lines [2010]

“Five very different films. One piece of dialogue” Bravo Phillips for coming up with one of the best marketing maneuvers I’ve seen this side of BMW, (I still love The Hire and have the DVD). Not only did they commission five short films to comprise Parallel Lines, helping showcase their new Cinema 21:9 LCD TV, they put a very specific constraint on the project. The directors involved—commercial and music video auteurs—could create whatever their heart desired, in whatever medium from live action to animation, yet they had to use the…

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REVIEW: The Taking of Pelham 123 [2009]

“You a Yankees fan?” If you ask me whether I’d prefer Ridley Scott or his brother Tony, I think I would have to pick the latter each and every time. Sure, Ridley has made some masterpieces, (Alien and Blade Runner), but he has also given the world plenty of overrated fare as well, (yes, I’m talking to you Gladiator). Has Tony ever equaled the best work of his brother? Absolutely not. But if I were to pick an entire career, I can’t deny the entertainment value and sheer consistency of…

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REVIEW: Taken [2008]

“Good luck” Mr. Pierre Morel, you have picked an express train to latch on to—good for you. Something about Luc Besson just works every single time. I’m sad that his declaration of being finished with the director’s chair may be true, however, his scripts are mounting and churning out entertaining action flicks. If you can get the Transporter series to make money from its wit and smart action, you know you are doing something right. I’ve yet to see these two guys’ first collaboration, District B13, but as far as…

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REVIEW: What Just Happened [2008]

“That’s a good school” Barry Levinson’s What Just Happened made me ponder that exact question as I walked out of my screening. Sadly, the answer I settled on was: not much. I think Robert De Niro’s producer Ben said it best when being completely honest with Stanley Tucci’s screenwriter about his new florist-set script—“it’s not a movie”. That is exactly what I would have said when this script was green-lit to become what it now is. No disrespect to Art Linson who adapted the screenplay from his own comic memoirs…

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REVIEW: Body of Lies [2008]

“And that means you work for us” The new Ridley Scott film has come upon us, the drama/thriller Body of Lies. I remember a time when Scott’s movies were must-sees, way back when. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been the same of late with me having no interest in Hannibal, finding Gladiator and Black Hawk Down to be grossly overrated if not just good, and his latest American Gangster dragged along. Besides Kingdom of Heaven, which is a fantastic piece of work if you give it a chance, nothing has really hit…

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REVIEW: The Bourne Ultimatum [2007]

“He just drove off the roof” I have never been one to shy away from saying that most action films do nothing for me. Most times they’re blatant vehicles to blow stuff up, show off sexy models, and throw any semblance of reality or intelligence out the window. With that said, however, the Bourne series has been fantastic. Doug Liman ushered in a new take on action by using a more cinema verite style, showing the fights in full force while making our super spy someone we can relate to…

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