Monday, 23 September 2013

The Art of the Steal Review

It's nice to see Canadian cinema making some real strides into the mainstream.  Many of the films that come out of Canada have this artsy vibe to them as if to say that we're either above making a Hollywood style movie or we're just not ready yet.  The Art of the Steal breaks away from that and proves that Canada can make a decent quality movie and make it distinctly Canadian and not one big stereotype of lumberjacks and maple syrup.

I'll start with the story.  It's a fairly basic heist movie that has a lot of the same elements of the Ocean's franchise.  There's a big score, a twist or two, and clever dialogue that keeps it light.  Unfortunately, the writing is a bit inconsistent as there are a few spots where it slows down quite a bit.  But, for the most part, the dialogue is engaging enough for a 90 minute movie.

The movie is also helped out by a very good cast.  Kurt Russell, Jay Baruchel and Matt Dillon are not the biggest stars in Hollywood but they are all competent at what they do.  It shows in this film.  They play off of each other very well and all seemed comfortable in their roles.  Even Baruchel who seemed comfortable playing someone who seemed to always be uncomfortable (which is his forte).  Baruchel steals every scene he's in and keeps the audience laughing throughout.  The same can be said for Jason Jones.  He provides terrific comic relief as the witless Interpol agent.

But what I liked the most was the feel of this movie.  It had a lot of bleak shots which is not surprising seeing as how it takes place in Canada and Detroit in the winter.  Rather than stylize the lives of the criminals and have them be these suave and cool people like Clooney and Pitt in the Ocean's movies, they made them out to be regular people.  While the story is a bit far fetched, it still felt real.

See it.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

The Great Gatsby Review

I read this book back in college but don't remember most of it.  Steph read it just recently and said that it was fairly similar to the movie.  I had forgotten that, on the surface, it is a basic tragic love triangle story as told by someone from outside of the web.  When you dig a bit deeper, it becomes about the dangers of excess and selling your soul.  I won't go into how I came to that conclusion because Baz Luhrmann hits you square in the face with it.  There is nothing subtle about this movie at all.  Sets, costumes, dialogue, scenes.  Everything is over-stylized to give the viewer a sense of over-extravagance.  Even the Valley of Ashes is so far on the other end of the spectrum that you can't wait for them to leave it.  I can see the need for some of that.  If over indulgence is a theme of the story, they need to translate it from the written word to the visual medium.  But Luhrmann went a bit overboard with it and it dominated the movie to the detriment of the rest of it.

That's what makes me a bit disappointed.  Even though the script was a bit campy in parts, all of the actors from the top billed right down to the bit parts did a very convincing job of delivering their lines.  Leonardo DiCaprio in particular was magnificent.  He seamlessly goes from happy party host to sinister villain to heartbroken lover and everything in between in a believable manner.  He is truly one of the best our generation has to offer.

If you like fantastic visuals that take you to a slightly different reality, this may be the movie for you.  Personally, I would have preferred a better balance but I still enjoyed it.  See it