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Winter's Tale Review


Grim

The fact that this magical romance has been retitled A New York Winter's Tale in the UK tells you what the filmmakers think of the audience: we can't be trusted to get anything on our own. Writer-director Akiva Goldsman lays everything on so thickly that there's nothing left for us to discover here. And he botches the tone by constantly shifting between whimsical fantasy and brutal violence. Sure, the manipulative filmmaking does create some emotional moments, but inadvertent giggles are more likely.

It's mainly set in 1916, where young orphan Peter (Farrell) is running from his relentlessly nasty former boss Pearly (Crowe), a gangster angry that Peter isn't as vicious as he is. Then Peter finds a mystical white horse that miraculously rescues him and leads him to the dying socialite Beverly (Brown Findlay). As they fall deeply in love, Peter believes he can create a miracle to save Beverly from the end stages of consumption. And Pearly is determined to stop him. But nearly a century later, Peter is still wandering around Manhattan in a daze, trying to figure out who he is and why he's still there. He gets assistance from a journalist (Connelly), who helps him make sense of his true destiny.

Yes, this is essentially a modern-day fairy tale packed with supernatural touches. But Goldsman never quite figures out what the centre of the story is, losing the strands of both the epic romance and the intensely violent vengeance thriller. Meanwhile, he condescends to the audience at every turn, deploying overwrought camera whooshing, frilly costumes, dense sets and swirly effects while a violin-intensive musical score tells us whether each a scene should be wondrous or scary. At the centre of this, Farrell somehow manages to hold his character together engagingly, even convincing us that Peter is around 25 years old (Farrell's actually 38).

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Winter's Tale Trailer


Peter Lake is a wanted burglar in a desperate struggle to escape an old gangster boss of his, Pearly Soames, in the cruel world that is 1916. One day, he breaks into a dazzling mansion that he thinks is empty, but then discovers the owner's beautiful daughter Beverly Penn at her piano who appears unafraid of him. Struck by her beauty, he embarks on a whirlwind romance with her that is marred when Peter discovers that she is dying of consumption. That's not the only thing Peter has to contend with as Soames repeatedly tries to kill him, but to no avail as Athansor, a white horse and guardian angel, is always there to save him. During one of those rescue feats, Peter finds himself in modern day Manhattan without a clue who he is and with no signs of aging. Determined to use this to his advantage, he sets out to save the one person he still remembers.

This heart-breaking fantasy romance is based on the novel of the same name by Mark Helprin and has been adapted to screen by Oscar winning director and writer Akiva Goldsman ('Batman Forever', 'I Am Legend', 'The Da Vinci Code'). Not to be confused with the Shakespearian play of a similar name, 'Winter's Tale' is a tremendous story of reincarnation and eternal love and will released in UK cinemas on February 21st 2014.

Click here to read the film review for Winter's Tale

Fan Expo Canada 2013 - Day 3

Dewshane Williams, Stephanie Leonidas, Jaime Murray, Julie Benz, Grant Bowler and Graham Greene - Fan Expo Canada 2013 at the Toronto Metro Convention Centre - Day 3 - Toronto, Canada - Saturday 24th August 2013

Stephanie Leonidas
Stephanie Leonidas

The Twilight Saga: New Moon Review


OK
Stephenie Meyer's Twilight saga continues with this darker and even mopier chapter. The relational knots of emo heroes and dreamy hunks are making it start to feel rather soapy. It may not be as sharp as Catherine Hardwick's Twilight, but it'll keep fans swooning.

Just as Bella (Stewart) turns 18 and begins her senior year in high school, her beloved Edward (Pattinson) decides he has to leave town for her safety. In a deep funk, she eventually turns to neighbour Jacob (Lautner) for company, but their friendship takes a twist when he starts getting hunky and tetchy and hanging out with gang-leader Sam (Spencer). But it's not steroids; the gang members are actually werewolves, locked in mortal combat with vampires. And she needs (and wants) to keep both Edward and Jacob in her life.

Continue reading: The Twilight Saga: New Moon Review

Breakfast With Scot Review


Excellent
A lively, realistic tone helps make this Toronto-set comedy much more than we expect, stirring in some thoughtful themes and honest emotion.

After being badly injured during a hockey game, cocky Maple Leafs player Eric (Cavanagh) finds a new career as a sports commentator. No one knows he's gay, living with his long-term partner Sam (Shenkman). When Sam's sister-in-law dies suddenly, he inherits his 11-year-old nephew Scot (Bernett), who is far more interested in musicals than hockey ("Who's Wayne Gretzky?"). As Sam is busy with work, Eric ends up trying to bond with Scot, adapting Scot's figure-skating skills to the hockey arena even as Scot helps Eric relax his mask of masculinity.

Frankly, the plot sounds like the premise for either a bad sitcom or a lame movie farce. Fortunately, the filmmakers take a refreshingly layered route through the story, breathing new life into the fish-out-of-water foster child genre in the process. It's the well-rounded characters that make this work, as they never settle into the stereotypes they could so easily have become. And the cast is likeable and engaging.

Bernett is the discovery here, creating an effeminate young character in just 90 minutes who's just as complex as Mark Indelicato's Justin after three seasons on Ugly Betty. Scot also brings a strong tinge of emotion to the comedy as a boy grieving over his mother even as he struggles to find his identity in a new setting. And his interaction with Cavanagh is telling and entertaining, especially when Eric starts worrying that Scot might be making him too gay.

The film's overall tone is a little uneven, wavering between Mighty Ducks-style silliness and much more serious family drama, including extremely heavy themes like drugs, death and sexuality in both school and the workplace. But it's written with a natural honesty that keeps us thoroughly involved. And even when the standard movie structure kicks in for the final act, we're caught off guard by how sweet and touching the predictable finale actually is.

The Twilight Saga: New Moon Trailer


Watch the trailer for The Twilight Saga: New Moon

Continue: The Twilight Saga: New Moon Trailer

The Green Mile Review


Excellent
The Green Mile? Let's talk about 26 miles. The length of a marathon. Start the race and the movie together: The race would long be over before the film. The winner would be at home, taking a nap. Yes, The Green Mile is three hours long.

Not that long movies have never been successful, and not that The Green Mile is bad. You might even think a long movie is required here. Pulled from Stephen King's acclaimed series of six books by the same name, King returns to the kind of work he was doing in The Shawshank Redemption (based on a short story of his), the kind that seems to perform the best, away from splatter and gore, and into the minds of the strangest of characters.

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Dances With Wolves Review


Extraordinary
Upon the release of the four-hour Dances with Wolves, the question naturally arises: Why?

That's not me, talking, that's producers Kevin Costner and Jim Wilson, writing in the promo material for the multi-disc DVD release of their watershed film about a man who goes a little native after the end of the Civil War. Sent on a questionable "mission" by an insane major (Maury Chaykin), John Dunbar (Costner) finds himself alone in a remote outpost on the frontier, where the Sioux still rule. Already a little suicidal (having surivived his last Civil War battle by openly goading the Confederate army -- twice), Dubar's right at home amid the fear of being scalped, buffalo stampedes, and of course the threat posed by the white man when it's found he's befriended the Indians.

Continue reading: Dances With Wolves Review

Christmas In The Clouds Review


Terrible
The success of independent films like March of the Penguins, Whale Rider, and My Big Fat Greek Wedding makes you wonder why Hollywood bigshots don't greenlight more projects like them -- modestly budgeted, impassioned movies without all the hubbub and fanfare of celebrity actors and niche marketing strategies. But the ugly truth is, Hollywood bigshots get it right more often than they get it wrong. Most independent films don't merit an audience wider than the festival circuit and the director's living room. They simply aren't good enough. Christmas in the Clouds is such a movie.

Watching it one can't shake a familiar, unpleasant feeling, a sense memory tied to bad TV. Perhaps if you combined the absolute worst episodes of the classic shows Newhart and Northern Exposure, extracted the talent of both ensemble casts, and stretched out the running time to that of a feature-length movie, the remaining dregs would be something like Christmas in the Clouds, a film that commits nearly every sin in the storyteller's handbook. From absurd plot contrivances to long stretches of tedium to a predictable resolution, Christmas in the Clouds nails them all.

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Our Man in Havana Review


Good
Incredibly droll, this Graham Greene-scripted black comedy offers a can't miss premise: In pre-Castro Cuba (though shot shortly after the revolution), Alec Guinness sells vacuum cleaners to support a daughter with expensive tastes. He's soon made an offer he can't refuse: Become a spy for the British government to earn more cash. When he doesn't encounter much in the way of secrets, he makes them up. Soon, one of his made-up contacts somehow turns out to be a real person, with disastrous results. Crammed full of subtle sight gags and bone-dry one-liners, it's an underseen treat.

The Fallen Idol Review


Good
Carol Reed took a big chance on this film, his first of three collaborations with Graham Greene. The Fallen Idol is told almost entirely through the eyes of a child, Phillipe (Bobby Henrey, who would make only one other film), and it's a daring decision that gives the film a uniqueness that separates it from what would otherwise be a rather rote drama/thriller.

The story is exceedingly simple: Phillipe is a child of privilege. His ambassador parents are never home, so he spends his days with easygoing butler Baines (Ralph Richardson), whom he adores, and his cruelly strict wife (Sonia Dresdel), who is the cavernous home's housekeeper. Phillipe confides in Baines, who regales him with stories, like the time he "killed a man in Africa." But Phillipe doesn't understand that Baines is just amusing him with make-believe.

Continue reading: The Fallen Idol Review

Christmas In The Clouds Review


Terrible
The success of independent films like March of the Penguins, Whale Rider, and My Big Fat Greek Wedding makes you wonder why Hollywood bigshots don't greenlight more projects like them -- modestly budgeted, impassioned movies without all the hubbub and fanfare of celebrity actors and niche marketing strategies. But the ugly truth is, Hollywood bigshots get it right more often than they get it wrong. Most independent films don't merit an audience wider than the festival circuit and the director's living room. They simply aren't good enough. Christmas in the Clouds is such a movie.

Watching it one can't shake a familiar, unpleasant feeling, a sense memory tied to bad TV. Perhaps if you combined the absolute worst episodes of the classic shows Newhart and Northern Exposure, extracted the talent of both ensemble casts, and stretched out the running time to that of a feature-length movie, the remaining dregs would be something like Christmas in the Clouds, a film that commits nearly every sin in the storyteller's handbook. From absurd plot contrivances to long stretches of tedium to a predictable resolution, Christmas in the Clouds nails them all.

Continue reading: Christmas In The Clouds Review

Transamerica Review


Grim
From the moment that Felicity Huffman comes on screen in Transamerica, with her rumbling voice and the cloistered manners of a 1950s housewife, it's apparent you're in for something rarely seen before in American film. Playing the transsexual Bree, who is getting ready for the final gender reassignment surgery that will complete her transition to true womanhood, Huffman creates a character who isn't terribly interested in gender politics but just wants to be allowed to live on her own terms. As such, it's a brave and tough piece of acting - a woman playing a man aching to become a woman - that truly breaks barriers. Unfortunately, there's a lousy movie wrapped around her that one must suffer through to see her.

Conceived by writer/director Duncan Tucker as the kind of wacky road movie being churned out by Sundance-grubbing indie studios about 10 years ago, Transamerica has a strong conception of Bree's character but little idea of what to do with it. Living in a small, rundown house and working two jobs to save money, Bree puts all her hopes and dreams into her long-awaited surgery, doing everything she can to convince her therapist (Elizabeth Peña) that she's ready for the change. All that gets put on hold, though, when she finds out that a relationship she had back when she was still living as a man resulted in a child, Toby (Kevin Zegers, hardly up to the task), now a teen runaway calling from a New York jail looking for his dad. Since her therapist won't consent to the surgery until she deals with her past, Bree hops a plane to New York. That's where the road trip comes in.

Continue reading: Transamerica Review

Transamerica Review


Grim
From the moment that Felicity Huffman comes on screen in Transamerica, with her rumbling voice and the cloistered manners of a 1950s housewife, it's apparent you're in for something rarely seen before in American film. Playing the transsexual Bree, who is getting ready for the final gender reassignment surgery that will complete her transition to true womanhood, Huffman creates a character who isn't terribly interested in gender politics but just wants to be allowed to live on her own terms. As such, it's a brave and tough piece of acting - a woman playing a man aching to become a woman - that truly breaks barriers. Unfortunately, there's a lousy movie wrapped around her that one must suffer through to see her.

Conceived by writer/director Duncan Tucker as the kind of wacky road movie being churned out by Sundance-grubbing indie studios about 10 years ago, Transamerica has a strong conception of Bree's character but little idea of what to do with it. Living in a small, rundown house and working two jobs to save money, Bree puts all her hopes and dreams into her long-awaited surgery, doing everything she can to convince her therapist (Elizabeth Peña) that she's ready for the change. All that gets put on hold, though, when she finds out that a relationship she had back when she was still living as a man resulted in a child, Toby (Kevin Zegers, hardly up to the task), now a teen runaway calling from a New York jail looking for his dad. Since her therapist won't consent to the surgery until she deals with her past, Bree hops a plane to New York. That's where the road trip comes in.

Continue reading: Transamerica Review

Dances With Wolves Review


Extraordinary
Upon the release of the four-hour Dances with Wolves, the question naturally arises: Why?

That's not me, talking, that's producers Kevin Costner and Jim Wilson, writing in the promo material for the multi-disc DVD release of their watershed film about a man who goes a little native after the end of the Civil War. Sent on a questionable "mission" by an insane major (Maury Chaykin), John Dunbar (Costner) finds himself alone in a remote outpost on the frontier, where the Sioux still rule. Already a little suicidal (having surivived his last Civil War battle by openly goading the Confederate army -- twice), Dubar's right at home amid the fear of being scalped, buffalo stampedes, and of course the threat posed by the white man when it's found he's befriended the Indians.

Continue reading: Dances With Wolves Review

Graham Greene

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