Cover photo by bubbletea1, used under Creative Commons license

“You two are the most fucked up people I’ve ever met and I deal with fucked up people for a living.”

In between work and travel and whatnot we’ve watched some pretty good movies lately:

  • Neighbors (imdb | rotten tomatoes) made me laugh out loud a couple of times on the flight from Vancouver to Toronto, so it had that going for it. Seth Rogen’s always good, but Rose Byrne and her potty mouth were a nice surprise. So was Zac Efron, actually.
  • X-Men: Days Of Future Past (imdb | rotten tomatoes) was better than I thought it was going to be. Dark, super-dark. Especially the future parts. Great execution of a crossover for once. Plus the Quicksilver scenes were very well done.
  • We didn’t watch Agents Of Shield so I think we missed some lead-up to Captain America: The Winter Soldier (imdb | rotten tomatoes) but it didn’t need it. It was still a bad-ass action movie that sets up the next several Marvel movies nicely.
  • We saw Gone Girl (imdb | rotten tomatoes) in part because I will automatically see any movie David Fincher directs, and in part because it got such great reviews. It was pretty good.

.:.

Cover photo by bubbletea1, used under Creative Commons license

"I'm gonna peace you in the side of the fuckin' head if you don't give us the dog."

After having been negligent in the movie-watching department for the last several months, we’ve been on a tear the past week:

  • The Lincoln Lawyer wasn’t quite as rubbish as the preview suggested, but it wasn’t anything to write home about either. Strong supporting cast though.
  • Red State was disappointing. It just never seemed to get anywhere with what it was trying to say, despite having scads of material to work with given its Sex/Religion/Politics themes. A miss for Kevin Smith.
  • Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol was surprisingly impressive. From the second it began it never let up with all the action, gadgetry and crazy ass stunts you’d imagine. See it in IMAX if you have the option. Paula Patton: new girlfriend du jour. Oh, and a six-minute Batman preview!
  • The American remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was excellent. David Fincher made the story even darker, Trent Reznor’s score was all technology and foreboding, Daniel Craig played Blomqvist more like a real reporter and (ironically) less like James Bond, and Rooney Mara might have even been a better Lisbeth Salander than Noomi Rapace. Definitely worth seeing.
  • The Debt was one we hadn’t heard much about but decided to see based on the cast. Not mind-blowing, but a solid enough movie about spycraft and revenge.
  • Your Highness was one of the shittiest movies I’ve seen in yonks. What in the blazing Hibernian Jesus has happened to David Gordon Green?!?
  • Last Night (surely the most common movie title ever) was something Nellie watched and I kind of paid attention to for all the Keira Knightley. It didn’t seem terrible, but I’ve already forgotten pretty much the whole movie except how great it (the cast, the shots, New York) looked.
  • If you’ve seen the preview for Our Idiot Brother you’ve seen most of the funniest parts, but it was still amusing enough. Paul Rudd’s Paul Rudd, and the supporting cast is good, but it choked a little on its own adorableness. Interesting trivia: director Jesse Peretz was the original bass player for The Lemonheads. OK, well, interesting to me anyway.

"This isn't going to have a happy ending."

Yesterday Roger Ebert made his case for Se7en (imdb | rotten tomatoes) to be designated a great movie. There was a question? It’s been one of my all-time favourites pretty much from the day I saw it, but Ebert — naturally — does a much better job of describing why it’s great than I ever could. He made me remember all the things I love about it. Sure, the obvious elements like acting and script are there, but it’s little things, side things, nuances, style. Things like:

  • R. Lee Ermey, who had auditioned to play John Doe but instead wound up playing the captain, and thank god. He’s amazing, and the lone spot of levity* in the film: “Wake up, limber twins!” and “This isn’t even my desk!”
  • Mills is a terrible dresser, because of course he is. He’s just moved from a small town and has no money and so his ties don’t match and his jackets and pants are old. It would have been easy for Brad Pitt to insist on looking dapper for the movie, but I’m glad he didn’t.
  • The way Mills tells his impromptu tipster “You eat something. You eat.” with all the hopefulness of a cop who hasn’t spent much time around crack addicts.
  • The way John Doe says “Detective…detective…DETECTIVE!!!!!!” and the ~20 seconds that follow.

I’m watching it again as I type this, and I actually saw something new. Something I’d never noticed in the dozens of times I’ve watched it. In the dinner scene in the Mills’ apartment, when Somerset asks Mills for a glass of wine Mills bring about a quart of it in a highball glass. Somerset is engrossed in the case file and doesn’t pay attention until a passing subway makes everything shake; when he reaches for his wine to keep it from spilling, he realizes what kind of glass Mills has brought him. His expression makes a perfect transition from “What the hell?” to “Sweet Jesus, this kid is an idiot.” in the space of about a second. It’s brilliant.

The whole film, goddamned all of it. Brilliant.

* Except for one line from Mills: “Heeeeee’s aaaaaaa nutbag. Just ’cause the fucker’s got a library card doesn’t make him Yoda.”

"I wish monkeys could Skype."

Toronto seems to have awakened from a long, dark winter. Not a hard winter, mind you, just one that seemed never to end. But yesterday the sun came out, and today it’s scorching (41 with the humidex) so I’d like to think this past weekend signaled the final curtain on spring.

Friday we both worked late. When we got home we decided it was a good idea to disassemble the old home theatre (the new receiver and tv stand had arrived) and rebuild it. Somewhere between “disassemble” and “the rest” I got tired of that idea, and we went out for dinner instead. Thinking the Wine Bar would offer a quick, simple meal we went there. We ended up with frites and flat breads and Miami ribs and giant scallops and pork medallions, not to mention pretty much every red by the glass (and a few whites) that they serve. We ended with five cheeses, paired with five wines. We also ended up chatting quite a bit with Carlos, the manager, who was from Spain. We mentioned that we were considering a trip to Spain in the next couple of years. He came back later with a few bits of advice:

On Saturday we stepped gingerly around the pile of cords and equipment in our living room on our way to the market for the week’s supplies, before doing a few errands. Those errands included me picking up a much-needed HDMI cable, which meant we walked past Future Shop’s collection of LED TVs. Nellie pretty much decided on the spot that we needed one; alas, who am I to disagree?

Really, we were up around Yonge & Dundas to see The Hangover Part II (imdb | rotten tomatoes) which was rubbish. Nellie described it well: take the first Hangover, pretend it’s a Mad Lib and just replace all the major plot points with something new…Vegas = Bangkok, tiger = some other exotic animal, and so on. The best part of the movie was being surprised beforehand with the new red band trailer for David Fincher’s remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

We came home and, as best we could, set up the new receiver. Still a couple of kinks to be worked out, but it’s getting there. I hear a new LED TV should really pull it together. Anyway, we couldn’t enjoy it too long as we were off to GB’s surprise birthday party. Again, we mistakenly thought this would be an early and easy night. Later, as we drove home in a cab at 2:15AM, we wondered exactly what had happened. I think Nellie kept wondering that the whole next day, which she spent on the couch.

Sunday was unremarkable, save the last-night lightning storm that crashed around the city.

 

"Did I adequately answer your condescending question?"

Yesterday we visited a movie theatre for the first time in three months (TIFF screenings notwithstanding) to see The Social Network (imdb | rotten tomatoes). Since I first heard about the film I’d been torn: the subject matter seemed ridiculous, but the team working on it — David Fincher directing, Aaron Sorkin adapting the screenplay, Trent Reznor scoring, Jesse Eisenberg playing Mark Zuckerberg — was an all-star lineup. So when early reviews came back extremely positive I was excited, but still a pit perplexed as to what I’d be watching.

I needn’t have worried though. The movie owned me from the first scene, with dialogue written in the same smart, rapid-fire manner that got me hooked on Sports Night and The West Wing, with the White Stripes‘ “Ball and a Biscuit” playing in the background. Fincher briefly took over with his shot of Eisenberg running through the Harvard campus, which was probably CGI but gave that feeling of supernatural realness that Fincher perfected with Zodiac, but generally just stayed out the way of the script. Reznor added some perfect color to a few scenes (the bar in New York where they meet Sean Parker) but, again, didn’t overwhelm the film.

It did drag a bit toward the end (I could have done with a little less Winklevii) but I was still liked it a lot. I don’t know if I’ll buy it when it comes out, but I could probably watch the first hour over and over again.

"The people have a right to know. Toddy?"

Nellie’s out for dinner with friends, so I’ve had a quiet night on my own. I watched the newly-released director’s cut of Zodiac, which I like more every time I watch. I’m just amazed at how perfectly Fincher (and his art director) made the film look like the early 70s.

I also find Zodiac much creepier than Seven. Granted, I’ve probably watched Seven more than any other movie that didn’t involve a lightsaber, but I don’t remember ever finding it creepy…just awesome. But Zodiac usually gives me the willies.

If you haven’t seen it, then for pity’s sake, invest the 150 minutes.

"They said I was gonna die soon but, maybe not."

There are some directors whose movies I will go see no matter what. The four who come to mind are Michael Mann, Werner Herzog, Danny Boyle and David Fincher. Three days ago we watched Boyle’s latest; today it was Fincher’s.

I’ve been anxiously awaiting The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (imdb | rotten tomatoes) since seeing the first trailer, as the first films pairing Fincher and Brad Pitt — Seven and Fight Club — are two of my all-time favourites. This was a much different offering than those films, but it still had the remarkable texture that Fincher is able to create in his projects. I didn’t think either of the lead performances (Pitt and Cate Blanchett) were that remarkable; instead what astounded me was how they showed Button reverse-age from a shriveled old man to a young boy, and it never looked fake or ridiculous, and the whole time it still looked like Brad Pitt. Good use of effects without being stupid about it. Nice.

I think it’ll take me a few days to figure out whether I really loved it or not. Right now I’m still wandering around that soft, dreamy headspace this sort of movie puts me in.

"Jesus Harold Christ on rubber crutches, Bobby!"

Once I finished my paper yesterday I actually had a little free time. Wasn’t quite sure what to do with that. We ended up watching Zodiac (imdb | rotten tomatoes). I really liked it; I have a thing for David Fincher films anyway, but this was really good work. Gripping, creepy, detailed, even funny in parts, and always interesting, despite the 2.5 hour running time. It was amazing how much like the 1960s/70s he made it feel. Highly recommended.

.:.

So, it looks like our condo repairs are very nearly done. Today they came in (without telling us) to repair the kitchen floor damaged in the toilet-flooding back in May, so they just have to fix the baseboards they tore up today. Still one or two things left like improperly mounted blinds — but at least we finally have our blinds — but they finally seem to be fixing everything. And all it took was pressure from Tarion: we followed the conciliation process because the condo hadn’t fixed most of the stuff on our 30-day list, which they seemed surprised by. I don’t know if I buy their excuses (“We thought all the problems in your unit had been addressed”; “We sent you a letter to confirm…didn’t you get it?”) but the alternative is that they vindictively blacklisted us because of how embarrassed they were by the gas leak fiasco. Hopefully it’s the former; I prefer to think that people aren’t that sinister.

.:.

Here’s an op-ed piece from Mogwai‘s Stuart Braithwaite on Radiohead‘s new business model. Especially delightful are the shots he takes at Madonna near the end.

“The braveness of [Radiohead’s] move was juxtaposed perfectly with the fact that last week Madonna signed her new record deal with Live Nation aka Clear Channel aka the bastards that got George W Bush elected. But since she speaks with a fake upper class English accent and kills animals for fun they frankly deserve each other.”

[tags]zodiac, david fincher, condo repairs, mogwai, radiohead, madonna[/tags]