Andrew Rai Berzins

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Beowulf & Grendel Review


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Everyone loves a badass. A shit kicker. A name taker. By all accounts the very first badass in Western culture was Beowulf -- a bearded berserker as much at home wrestling with sea serpents as he was brawling with towering giants. He met his match in the form of Grendel, a monster that ravaged the countryside and split men limb from limb. Their clash echoes down to us as the archetypal battle in its most primal form: Man versus monster. Order versus chaos. Good versus evil.

The new film Beowulf & Grendel is an attempt to demythologize the battle between these two mythic beings. Here Beowulf (Gerard Butler) is no badass; he's entirely human and very flawed. He's not the unstoppable warrior from the legends but a somewhat skilled and at times very lucky soldier. And Grendel is not the misshapen monster but a lonely Neanderthal with a grudge against mankind. As played by Ingvar Sigurdsson, he's sympathetic (and very hairy) lout. When he's not shouting with rage into the inexplicable heavens, he's bowling with skulls. The title is a dead give away that this isn't going to be your granddad's Beowulf story. The fact that it's "and" and not "versus" means that Beowulf & Grendel has an agenda, and in tune with contemporary mores this agenda involves demonstrating how both Beowulf and Grendel are outsiders. Beowulf isn't really that good and Grendel's just misunderstood. (This is all explained, naturally, by a sexy but socially conscious witch, Selma, herself an outcast, played by the incredibly miscast Sarah Polley (Go).)

Continue reading: Beowulf & Grendel Review

Blood & Donuts Review


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Oh, those darned Canadians! Who would think to put a vampire movie in a donut shop!? 25 years after "going to sleep in a bag," our nightcrawler Boya (Gordon Currie) decides to wake up, whereupon he gets into all kinds of trouble with a local cab driver, two bumbling cops, a bowling alley owner (played by David Cronenberg!), and a waitress at the aforementioned donut shop. How any of this fits together, what it has to do with anything, and why someone thought it would make a good movie is all beyond me, but the few very dry and wry comedic touches make it, well, more fun than having someone suck out your blood.
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