Author Archives: theswitz

Unlocked – ★ ★ ★ ½ DVD Review

Unlocked35


Alice Racine (Noomi Rapace) is a former CIA interrogator who now works in a London community monitoring potential threats liaisoning between the CIA and MI6.  When a potential terrorist cell and plot are uncovered, she is brought in to interrogate a suspect when the original interrogator dies of a heart attack. Something doesn’t seem right though as she and the suspect are attacked by the agents who brought them both in.  Double crossed by her own people, she contacts her former CIA handler (Michael Douglas) and her MI6 contact (Toni Collette) to sort out the situation.  She escapes and goes off on her own, making it to a safe house where she encounters a former SAS operative (Orlando Bloom) who has turned to burglary.  On the run, Alice reluctantly teams up with him to try and find out who set her up and why before a deadly bio-attack is unleashed.

Unlocked was a rather clever thriller, and even though a few things about it were easy (for me) to guess, it did surprise me with other plot points and did keep me guessing at things. I didn’t really know who was good and who was a traitor, well I knew who one traitor and one good guy were.  I really didn’t know anything about this film going in, which is sometimes for the best as you have no expectations to either fail to meet or surpass.  I was sold basically by the cast.  While it has big names like Douglas, Malkovich, Collette and Bloom, they don’t really have large roles, the film really is all Rapace.  As I really enjoy her, that’s why I decided to watch it.  Her Alice was a very well defined, well developed character and Noomi Rapace delivered a very good performance. The fights, the chases, and the action scenes were all well done, and made for a very enjoyable, very watchable spy/action/thriller with multiple twists.

Bottom Line: There was a scene in an elevator that was very good, and something I hadn’t seen before or expected!

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Killing Hasselhoff – ★ ★ ½ DVD Review

Killing Hasselhoff


If you’re a long time reader, you’ll know I run a video store.  How else do you think I get to see all these great (and sometimes not so great) movies?  Over the years we’ve noticed a few things.  First, celebrities die all the time, and second when they die, their movies or albums instantly becomes popular.  We are usually flooded with calls from customers asking if we have anything and everything by the late celeb.  It’s funny because often these customers claim to be the biggest fans but don’t actually own anything by the artist in question…  A number of years ago we realized we had to immediately dedicate display space when an actor died so that customers could find what they were looking for.  One year, we were sitting down, doing a “year in review” meeting and the topic of dead celebrities came up, and that’s when our own Dead Pool began.  If you’re not familiar with the concept, here it is: before a given deadline you make up a list of celebrities you think will die in the coming year.  Each one you guess correctly gets you points.  Yes it is rather morbid, but we do mean it in good fun.  We have rules, and one of them is that you cannot murder any of your chosen celebrities, because that’s cheating, and cheating is wrong.  Murdering a celebrity you’ve chosen in a Dead Pool though is exactly what Killing Hasselhoff is all about.


Chris is the owner of a nightclub but when his club burns down, his fiancé leaves him, his life falls further into shambles when a loan shark he owes money to calls in the debt.  The only way Chris can raise the money is to win the Celebrity Dead Pool that he’s in.  And the only way he can win it is if David Hasselhoff dies. So he sets out to murder the Hoff.


The movie wasn’t quite as bad as my rating, or as you would think it would be.  For a comedy it wasn’t very funny, at least not until the last fifteen minutes.  From there, it was very funny, and I laughed quite a bit, but until the, I might have only chuckled once or twice.  Hasselhoff was pretty good, playing just a giant caricature of himself and his celebrity status, and Ken Jeong (who I think is rather underrated as an actor) was good in the lead.  The supporting cast seemed to be a lot of Comedy Central talents, and their roles and lines seemed to be tailor made for them, which may not have been a good thing.  Don’t write a line (or a role, or a script) for a comedian, write a funny line for any actor.  If they happen to be a comedian, your joke should go over even better.  Just my opinion.


Most of the script was vulgar and childish, but if you’re willing to wait for the laughs, or if you’re a big fan of The Hoff, you should be able to find some mild entertainment with it.


Bottom Line:  Fortunately it was only 80 minutes long, because that first hour was really kind of painful.  Also, I’m leading the Dead Pool at work again.  RIP Hugh Hefner.

Mune: Guardian of the Moon – ★ ★ ★ ½ DVD Review

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Mune, was a French cartoon that I had never heard of, but took a chance on and really enjoyed.  It was a wonderful story that was steeped in mythology, beautifully rendered and humourous.  What more could I ask for in an animated feature?


It’s time for the old guardians of the Sun and Moon to retire and have their proteges replace them. Sohone (Rob Lowe) is good looking, strong, cocky and celebrity-esque, he will replace Xolal (Michael Dobson), the ancient Guardian of the Sun. Leeyoon (Christian Slater) is the prim and proper apprentice to Yule (Paul Dobson) the wizened Guardian of the Moon. During the ceremony to formally select and announce the new guardians Sohone is chosen by a ray of sunlight as expected, but the lunar ewe responsible for selecting the Guardian of the Moon instead bypasses Leeyoon and chooses Mune (Joshua J. Ballard) a young faun. Irate over the disrespect, Leeyoon storms off in anger, and is visited by pale snakes who corrupt him and stir up his jealousy and hubris, getting him to pit Sohone against Mune. The snakes were sent by Necross (Davey Grant) the lord of evil in the world who wants chaos so he can steal and destroy the Sun. With Sohone distracted by the actions of an unprepared Mune, Necross sends his imps Mox (Patton Oswalt) and Spleen (Ed Helms) to steal the Sun, plunging the planet into eternal night. With Mune banished by his own people, Leeyoon takes his place as Moon Guardian and causes the Moon to crumble and break.  Now it’s up to Mune and Sohone to try and work together and recover the sun and find a way to restore the Moon. Naturally they don’t get along but when Glim (Nicole Provost) a young candle girl, joins them and sets them on the right path the trio set out to save the world. Eventually they enter the underground and meet Phospho (Jeff Dunham), a former Moon Guardian himself, who has been living on the outskirts of the underworld hiding from his own past cowardice and failure. Phosphoro helps them on their way, leading them to Necross where they realize he was under the influence of the pale snakes too and had been corrupted by envy. Glim manages to find the rapidly diminishing Sun, but when she reignites it, she melts. The sun and moon are returned to the sky by their Guardians and the world returns to normal, and Mune revives and re-sculpts Glim, and the pair set out on the temple of the Moon to travel around the world, as Sohone travels on his temple ahead of them.


As I said, the film was beautifully animated.  The CGI was great, but they switched gears when they entered the dream world section of the film and reverted to a hand drawn, flowing, watercolour style of animation.  I loved the concepts and the originality, the candle people like Glim were incredible!  Being made of wax, if she got too cold she would stiffen up, when it was too hot she could melt, leaving her really only able to move freely in the evening or dawn times, only carefully in the shadows during the daytime and virtually not at all in the night.  Ironic that she and the Moon Guardian fall in love…  The idea that the Sun and Moon are tethered to these gigantic beasts, who slowly march around the world acting as the temples was fantastic and in all likelihood pulled from some mythology was also incredible.  I loved the world this film created.


Bottom Line: Mune may be well under the radar, but is definitely worth checking out especially if you are a fan of animation.

Big Sick – ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ DVD Review

Big Sick


Real life is funnier than anything we can make-up, funnier than anything we can write or imagine.  Real life is also more touching.  The Big Sick is the real life story of Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon.  Kumail is a Pakistani comic who starts dating an American girl named Emily who he met after one of his shows.  Their relationship goes smoothly enough at first, but Kumail’s parents are very traditional, especially his mother, who insists on arranging a marriage for him with a suitable Pakistani woman.  When Emily discovers this the two fight and break up.  Suddenly Emily falls very ill and her roommate calls Kumail to taker her to the hospital, not really realizing they had broken up.  Emily ends up in a medically induced coma and Kumail has to call and inform her parents.  Parents who he has never met.  Kumail keeps visiting the hospital, even though he is Emily’s ex-boyfriend, and keeps meeting with her parents who eventually warm up to him.  When Emily comes out of the coma, will she take him back based on his faithful visits, his genuine concern for her and the bond he formed with her parents?


Okay, since this is based on a true story, I’ll tell you: she doesn’t… well not at first.  The two do reconcile and eventually marry.


The Big Sick was a love story, but not just between Kumail and Emily, but between both their sets of parents, and was the story of all their relationship; Kumail and his parents, Kumail and Emily’s parents, and of course Kumail and Emily.


I loved the film, I loved the story and I especially loved the casting. Kumail Nanjiani did a pretty good job playing himself.  I can’t think of a better actor to play the role….seriously though, he did a very good job.  I am a fan of Zoe Kazan, she often gets involved in odd, quirky films and roles and delivers great performances.  I really enjoyed her as Emily, unfortunately she spends most of the movie in a coma.  I would have liked to have seen more of her, but that’s not how the story played out.  Holly Hunter is always good, and was fantastic as Emily’s mom, but what really surprised me was Ray Romano.  I never really payed any attention to Romano, in my mind he was just a stand up comic turned actor who played himself and probably couldn’t handle a role much more complex than “sitcom dad”.  Ray Romano was fantastic in this movie.  He was real, he was funny, he was perfect.


The story was good, and was a lot funnier than I thought it would be.  Even though I knew Nanijiani was a comic, I wasn’t sure what direction this rather serious story would take.  Human, subtle, real, and of course very funny.  I am so glad that I got to see this film.


Bottom Line: I can’t wait to watch this one again.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle – ★ ★ ★ ★ Theatrical Review

Kingsman: Golden Circle


Is there a difference between an action-comedy and a comedy-action movie?  Last night I watched Kingsman: The Golden Circle, and while I really enjoyed it, it did not live up to the first film.  The first Kingsman movie was more action with comedy mixed in, the second one was a lot heavier on the comedy.  What was formerly tongue in cheek nods became over the top, bordering on silly and juvenile.  Kingsman: The Golden Circle had quite a different tone than Kingsman: The Secret Service.  I previously compared Kingsman to the different eras of the James Bond films and I know the Kingsman films were created initially because the writers and director noticed how serious films in the spy genre had become, so maybe this tonal shift was intentionally done to mimic how the Bond films changed as they transitioned from Connery to the later Moore films.  Octopussy could have been a really good film, but Roger Moore’s Bond ends up running around foiling the bad guys dressed as a clown…


The film starts off pretty much at top speed, with Eggsy (Taron Egerton) involved in a car chase and fight pitting the new Galahad against failed recruit Charlie (Edward Holcroft) from the last film.  Yes, Charlie miraculously survived the mountaintop battle where Merlin activated the chips in all of Valentine’s cronies to save the world, but now he has a cybernetic arm and is working for The Golden Circle, the largest drug cartel in the world.  The Golden Circle is run by Poppy (Julianne Moore) who is tired of living in seclusion away from the prying eyes of the law.  She wants to legalize the drug trade around the world so she can be recognized as the successful, legitimate businesswoman she is. They’ve poisoned their own drug supply creating a plague known as “Blue Rash” and will release the antidote worldwide when the president of the United States legalizes drugs.  The Golden Circle need to eliminate Kingsman (or should that be Kingsmen?) so the plan will succeed.  Unfortunately the president wants all the drug users in the world to die, so he can win the war on drugs, and is just stringing Poppy (and the world along).  With the Kingsman’s headquarters destroyed, and all agents except Galahad and Merlin (Mark Strong) killed, they have to follow their doomsday protocol which leads them to Kentucky, home of Statesman (or is that Statesmen?).  Statesman is the American version of Kingsman, and instead of their codenames being knights, they’re drinks.  Eggsy and Merlin arrive at Statesman and are attacked by “Tequila” (Channing Tatum) who thinks they’re there to rescue the lepidopterist, a man who was clearly an agent for some organization, but has lost his memory after they rescued him from a church riot where he had suffered a gunshot to the head…


I was really glad to see that Colin Firth was back as Harry Hart, and not just in a cameo or flashback, but I really wish they hadn’t shown him in the trailers at all.  It could have been a great surprise, and a great reveal, but apparently someone in marketing doesn’t like giving surprises to the audience.  The two organizations team up and after Harry is found and his memory is restored, they battle Poppy’s bad guys across the globe in search of her headquarters and the antidote.  The action comes fast and furious and the stunts, gun-play and fight sequences seek to top those in the previous film (which were pretty high to begin with).


I will admit that The Golden Circle wasn’t as good as The Secret Service.  The story was strong enough and the action was impressive, and overall the film was very entertaining, but it was not on the same level as the first one.  It had very big shoes to fill and expectations to meet, and it came close, but was not without its flaws.  It seemed like there were a few too many “big names” getting in on the action given the success of the first film.  Jeff Bridges played Champagne, or “Champ”, the “Arthur” of Statesman, Halle Berry as Ginger Ale was their “Merlin” and you had Channing Tatum dropping in to be affected quickly by Poppy’s virus.  Of the big name actors, Halle Berry had the most significant amount of screen time, and her character wasn’t involved in any of the action scenes.  There clearly will be a third Kingsman movie, I just hope they don’t water it down like other franchises have by filling it with cameos and stars in small, filler roles.  All that aside, I did love how they worked Elton John into the story.  Poppy had kidnapped Elton John while Samuel L. Jackson’s Valentine had been kidnapping and recruiting celebrities during the events of the first film.  She figured his kidnappings were the perfect cover for one of her own, and she now had Sir Elton prisoner to perform for her whenever she wanted.  Elton John was hilarious in the film; getting some fight scenes some comedy scenes, the obligatory musical number, and he delivered what is probably one of the best jokes of the entire film.


Because of how much I enjoyed the first film, I wanted to see the sequel as soon as possible and that means a trip to the theatre, and I’m glad that I did.  I went with a friend and it was nice to have someone to discuss it with afterwards and to share the laughs and the whole experience with.  We’re not prudes by any stretch of the imagination, but we did both notice how the language was amped up compared to the first film.  We also noticed that we were the only ones laughing at a lot of things too.  Perhaps our humour is heightened compared to the rest of the audience, or perhaps our senses of humours are just a lot more twisted than the audience.  My friend said she overheard someone muttering something about not getting two and a half hours of their life back as they were leaving, which kind of made us laugh.  The comment seemed to come from a very laugh free area of the theatre.  You know, regardless of what they did, they’d never get those two and a half hours back anyway.  They could have taken a nap, went for dinner, killed a dragon, at the end of it those two and a half hours would still be gone.  I enjoyed the night out, and wouldn’t have wanted to spend those two and a half hours any other way….

Bottom Line: I was a little surprised at how the film wrapped up, I really expected it to end with Harry becoming the new Arthur.

Captain Underpants: First Epic Movie – ★ ★ ★ ½ DVD Review

Captain Underpants: First Epic Movie35


Even though I haven’t read any of the books, I decided to give Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie a spin, and I’m glad that I did.  It was funny, well animated, well voiced and a good, silly little movie.


Kevin Hart and Thomas Middleditch voice George and Harold, two young friends who like to hang out together and draw and write their own comic books.  They have also been a thorn in the side of their principal Mr. Krupp (voiced by Ed Helms) for years, constantly pulling pranks and upsetting the order he demands in his school.  One day, when they’re caught and Krupp has absolute proof of their guilt, threatening to place them in separate classrooms, thus destroying their friendship the pair have to act fast.  With a cereal box prize hypno-ring, they hypnotize their principal into thinking he is the greatest superhero ever: Captain Underpants (a hero of the boys’ own creation).  Of course this new hero has no powers, he’s just a bald, overweight middle-aged man stripped down to his tighty-whities…and wearing his office curtain as a cape.  Tra-la-laaa!  Through a fluke of circumstance, mean Mr. Krupp fired a teacher and Captain Underpants’ secret identity or Mr. Krupp hires a crazed evil scientist (that wants to eradicate laughter worldwide) to replace him.  It’s up to Captain Underpants and his sidekicks George and Harold to save the day from Professor Poopypants (Nick Kroll).


Okay, the humour was pretty juvenile, but so is the target audience.  There were a lot of good laughs, and a lot of potty humour laughs, but there was also a lot of intelligent humour hidden amongst the other jokes too, making Captain Underpants a lot of fun.  Kevin Hart really has a great voice for animation, and the rest of the casting was equally impressive. Given the title, I assume they’re setting up for more films in the series which wouldn’t be a bad thing, and the way the film ended certainly invites a sequel.  The whole creation of Krupp/Captain Underpants is pretty clever, (and the movie addresses this) for Mr. Krupp to become Captain Underpants under hypnosis, he must know who Captain Underpants is, so that means he’s read the comic books the boys had written.  There are billion dollar super hero franchise films that don’t catch little plot points like that. 

I have no idea how faithful to the books the film was, but from what I gathered it was a combination of aspects from several stories, still I think that Captain Underpants fans would be happy with the film.

Bottom Line: They’re kids books, but I’ll probably read the first one….

Guardians – ★ ★ ★ DVD Review

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At the height of the Cold War the Soviet Union developed a top secret program to give them an edge in what they thought would be the future of war; they were tasked with creating superhumans in Project Patriot.  A scientist involved in the project goes rogue and creates a clone army and tries to take over the world, so it’s up to these superhuman operatives to come together and stop him; they are the Guardians.


The bonus features on the DVD told a lot about this movie.  First, comic books (and comic book superheroes) aren’t big in Russia, so this movie was not trying to compete with the Marvels or the DCs of the world, and they weren’t trying to compete with a $300 million movie, they were just trying to make the best movie they could with the budget they had.  As a superhero movie, it was definitely a B, maybe even a C, but justified by those previous statements, they get an A for effort.  The special effects were quite good, there was a lot of CGI in the film for obvious reasons.  The characters were not fleshed out very well, but the powers they gave them and way they used them were quite interesting.  You had Arsus (Anton Pampushnyy), the were-bear with a mini-gun; Khan (Sanjar Madi) with razor sharp sickles, and he was either really fast or could teleport, it was a bit confusing at times… Kseniya (Alina Lanina) has no memory of how she got her powers of invisibility; and Ler (Sebastien Sisak Grigoryan) who seems to be the elder statesman and leader of the team can control rocks.  The whole project is overseen by Mayor Elena Larina (Valeriya Shkirando).  Quite a few of the command staff of Project Patriot seemed to be sexy Russian women….not necessarily a bad thing.


Arsus looked really cool, and would evolve into different degrees of were-bear-ness….  The mini-gun was a fun touch.  I really liked how they used Ler’s powers over rocks (I suppose that would be geokinesis).  At first he just threw them at people and levitated them, but then he started to attract them to his body, making rock armour, giant rock fists like the Thing from the Fantastic Four.  Loved it, that was super original!  Things like that made up for a few of the flubs they made on the script.  At one point the team is walking across a bridge structure and are being shot at by snipers, why not have your girl turn the team invisible before walking out in the open like that?  They already explained that was in Kseniya’s power-set… I think this is where the lack of exposure to these types of stories hurt their film.


I could see this becoming a minor cult classic because it’s quirky, fun, decently made, and they tried.  I can’t stand it when someone tries to force their film into cult-classic status by purposely making a bad movie.  A great number of cult classics may be bad, but they truly intended to make a good movie.  Guardians was a good movie and a fun watch; not the best, but it wasn’t trying to match up to the best.


Bottom Line:  It may not have been a big time super hero movie, but it did adopt the tradition of an after the credits scene.  I’d certainly watch a sequel if they made one.

Goon 2: Last of the Enforcers – ★ ★ ★ ★ DVD Review

Goon 2: Last of the Enforcers40


Oh how I’ve missed this team!  The Halifax Highlanders are back on the ice, and I can’t believe it has been five years since Goon!  The whole gang was back, with a few new faces as a labour dispute in the big leagues has sent a lot of talent to the Eastern Maritime Hockey League.  Doug “The Thug” Glatt (Seann William Scott) has been made captain of the team, but the team isn’t doing that well.  When they play the first place team from Reading, Doug gets his clock cleaned by an up and coming star who delivers a beating unlike any Doug has ever suffered.  With an injured shoulder, Doug retires from the game he grew to love and the team he loved.  Though the injury is unfortunate, it may not be all bad though, as Doug and Eva (Alison Pill) are now married and expecting a baby.  Of course, even without Doug, the team must go on, and team owner Hyrum Cain (Callum Keith Rennie) makes some trades and acquires his son and star player from the Reading Wolfdogs, Anders Cain (Wyatt Russell), who also happens to be the one who made Glatt retire.  Cain is talented but reckless and dangerous, both on and off the ice.  With he hears how the Highlanders’ locker room is falling apart, Doug looks up his old friend/nemesis Ross Rhea (Liev Schreiber) to teach him how to fight left handed so he can get back in the game…. of course he does all this without telling his wife, so you can guess how that will play out…  Cain is eventually traded back to his old team and a collision course with Doug and the Highlanders with the final playoff spot on the line.


Jay Baruchel co-wrote both this film and the original Goon, but he makes his directorial debut with Goon 2: Last of the Enforcers, which turned out to be another really good hockey movie. It’s clear he’s a fan, and wants to do right by the game and the fans.  My only complaint about the first film was Baruchel’s Pat Houlihan character.  I thought he was over the top and needlessly crude.  This time around he’s still crude and over the top, but he was actually funnier, also there’s far less of him on screen, likely because Baruchel had to dedicate his time to the directing.  Sadly though there was a character that seemed to fill the role in Pat Houlihan’s stead, and that was Elisha Cuthbert as Mary, a character thrust into the film for seemingly no reason except to be the crude friend (this time being a friend of Eva’s).  Her casting may have been a favour from Baruchel, they did work together on Popular Mechanics For Kids in 1997 and she is married to Dion Phaneuf (former Toronto Maple Leafs captain?  Currently playing defence for the Ottawa Senators…. a hockey player).  In fact, I’d have to say that I really didn’t enjoy the cameos that were scattered throughout the film.  T.J. Miller seemed thrust into an improv role as a sports reporter which kind of gave us some exposition into what was going on with the team, but seemed to be trying to hard to be funny.  Jason Jones felt much the same as Doug’s boss at the insurance company he works at before getting back into the game.  I did like James Duthie and Tessa Bonhomme in their roles, which they fit perfectly.  Duthie plays the lead sportscaster opposite Miller and Bonhomme plays a sports reporter.  In real life, Duthie is a sportscaster and host of a variety of hockey shows on TSN, Bonhomme is a Canadian Olympic gold medal winning hockey player and is also a sportscaster for TSN.


Once again I was very impressed by Seann William Scott, I loved the heart he brought to the character and the film overall.  Goon 2 to me was a “returning hero” story, as Doug is first broken and then has to rediscover himself, rebuild himself and come back to save the day.  I’m a sucker for those stories (as bad as Highlander 2: The Quickening is, I still love the bit at the beginning where weak old man Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) gets his powers back).  I was very happy to see Marc-André Grondin back as Xavier LaFlamme too, I hadn’t heard that he was in the film.  Kim Coates was just as phenomenal as he was in the first film as Coach Ronnie Hortense and of course Liev Schreiber is always a nice addition to any cast.


For a first time director, Baruchel did a very good job, obviously he’s intimate with the script and the characters, but I really liked some of his camera work.  He had an excellent eye for the on ice shots, and seeing how they did some of them in the bonus features of the Blu Ray was really cool.  One camera rig was setup on a base, with hockey pucks attached to each corner and pushed along the ice with a snow shovel-like handle.  I love that kind of innovation!  More than just a simple hockey movie, more than just a sequel, Goon 2 is another great comedy with light drama and a lot of heart.  It also takes a very real look at the game, and the role of the “goon” in the current day.  Is there still a place for them, or do they end up forgotten and suffering from post-concussion symptoms?  Will they become a circus act, fighting for the enjoyment of “fans” in an event like the film’s “Bruised and Battered” competition?  I don’t know, but I did enjoy how Doug Glatt approached the role and his own future in the game.  The scene where Doug sets his stick against the wall in the hallway was beautiful, and reminded me of the scene in the first film where he wipes off the team logo on the floor of the locker room.  Those are the scenes that made me love these films.


Bottom Line: After watching Goon 2, I played several games of PS3 hockey.  When does the season start again?
Also, I love that they had an “after the credits” scene.

Victoria – ★ ★ ★ DVD Review

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Victoria was a gimmick film, plain and simple.  It was shot in real time and in one long continuous take, without any cuts, without any re-dos.  On that front it succeeded fairly well.  As a story, it was a little lacking.  Victoria (Laia Costa) is a young Spanish woman living in Berlin, who after a solo night at a club meets up with four guys who describe themselves as “real Berliners” and offer to show her the true city and where to have a good time.  They get some beers and head up on a roof, smoke some cigarettes and eventually split up.  Sonne (Frederick Lau) has really taken a liking to Victoria and takes her back to the cafe she works at that she needs to open in a few hours.  As they flirt and chat one Sonne gets a phone call from one of the guys from earlier in the night called Boxer (Franz Rogowski), he needs Sonne’s help for something, and arrives at the cafe very agitated.  Boxer was in jail before and owes the guy who protected him while he was on the inside.  Now he needs Sonne to help him with some sort of illegal activity to pay back that debt that requires a four man team.  When one of the group is way too drunk to be of any use, Victoria agrees to be their getaway driver.  Crime and punishment come quickly as we creep into the early hours of morning.


From a filmmaking point of view, Victoria was ambitious and I’d have to say a success.  The film was 2 hours and 20 minutes, so they didn’t just try and rush through their “one take” experiment, they grabbed it by the horns and went all out.  Watching it though, I noticed a few clever little tricks they did to get their cast a little bit of rest.  I applaud the effort and the skill involved in making it, the planning, the organization, the timing all were impeccable.  Having a loose outline for the script and improvising a lot of the dialogue really helped make this film happen.  All that said, the film was great, but the movie wasn’t.  If it was filmed as a traditional movie, it would have had a more polished script which would have helped a great deal.  All in all, I’m glad I watched it though.


Bottom Line:  My biggest complaint was the DVD didn’t have subtitles, and for that I blame Mongrel Media.  Let me clarify though, it was subtitled when the characters were speaking German or Spanish, but there was no subtitle track or closed captioning for the English dialogue.  For a film like Victoria, there were no boom mics to pickup the sound, so a lot of the dialogue wasn’t very clear.  Being able to “cheat” and have the subtitles on would have been a nice option.  Also for such an experimental film, I was very disappointed that the DVD had no bonus features.

Sense of an Ending – ★ ★ ★ ½ DVD Review

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How often do we tell our own life story? How often do we adjust, embellish, make sly cuts? And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to tell us our life is not our life. It is just a story we’ve told about our lives. A story about our lives told to others, but mainly to ourselves.


One of the closing lines of the film sums the story up so well.  Jim Broadbent plays Tony Webster, a man who has retired to run a small camera repair shop in order to keep himself busy.  He’s divorced, but on good and friendly terms with his ex-wife Mararet (Harriet Walter).  Their daughter Susie (Michelle Dockery) is pregnant and close to giving birth.  One day he receives a letter from a solicitor telling him he is owed an inheritance from the mother (Emily Mortimer) of an old girlfriend Veronica (played by both Charlotte Rampling in the present day and Freya Mavor as the young Veronica).  Tony tells us a story about his first love (mainly by relaying it to his last love), how they met, and how they broke up.  About meeting her family, and about meeting his best friends in school.  About how his friend Adrian fell in love with Veronica and about how he committed suicide.  Veronica’s mother Sarah, has left Tony Adrian’s diary in her will.  How did it come to be in her possession?  Why did she leave it to Tony?  Why is Veronica preventing him from getting it?  As Tony recalls the past, and reacquaints himself with Veronica and other old school friends, the blanks are filled in, and things are not how he had remembered it, and his distorted view of history takes its true shape once evidence of the past is revealed.


This was an interesting look at how we remember the events of our own lives.  We often “mis-remember” things, or embellish or omit details, especially when dealing with sensitive or painful memories.  When I tell the stories, I’m pretty sure everything was my ex-wife’s fault, but if I think back and concentrate really hard, I probably can remember doing one or two things wrong too…  That’s kind of what happens with The Sense of an Ending, Tony remembers a version of events that paint himself in a better light, not that it has really harmed anyone to this point, it has just been the version of history he’s been living with, and that allows him to sleep soundly at night.  As we learn the whole truth (and what we assume is the actual truth) from the film, we see that there are things that went on that he didn’t even know about, but we don’t see Tony as being an evil person, who has lied his way through life.  With his eyes opened, it actually becomes a coming of age story for this sixty year old man who learns how to deal with his past, and he tries to better himself in his own future.


The story was very well written, and was based on the book of the same title by Julian Barnes.  It was a compact tale, but I can see how some viewers could find it a little hard to follow with the flashbacks, memories and mis-remembered memories.  Jim Broadbent is tremendous as Tony and quietly delivers a powerful yet subtle performance.  His Tony is a bit of a curmudgeon, but still likeable and relatable.   I also really liked Freya Mavor (The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun) as the young Veronica, I just wish she was on screen a bit more.  Charlotte Rampling was also excellent as the rather aloof, and somewhat nasty older Veronica.  Director Ritesh Batra previously directed The Lunchbox, which I also quite enjoyed.


Quite enjoyable, and surprisingly not that heavy handed even though I guess the takeaway from the film is that we should all take an honest look back at our own lives.


Bottom Line: Hey, I’m finally caught up on my reviews!

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