Thursday, 26 July 2007

Warming up for TIFF 07

I am really looking forward to TIFF this year. This week the film title and schedule info was released for the following programs: Canadian Retrospective, Midnight Madness, Sprockets Family Zone and Wavelengths.

Of the group, Midnight Madness holds the most interest for me out of this bunch and I'm wondering if this year I will make it to a midnight screening or fall into regular habits of seeing them during the day. There is something so surreal about seeing these films at 9am be them scary, wild, funny but most of all... over the top as in way above and beyond, taking a left past yonder and shoot straight past expectations.

So far on my list of this years selection are:

Flash Point
Dir: Wilson Yip
Looks like some serious fighting in this cop flick. I missed SPL at the 2005, which is by the same director, so I will take special care to make it out to this one.

George A. Romero Diary of the Dead
Dir: George A. Romero
Bring on the zombies!!!

Vexille
Dir: Fumihiko Sari
I'm not usually first in queue for animated flick but this looks gorgeous and I find the premise of a futuristic yet self-isolated country fascinating.

See my reviews of films from last years Midnight Madness: The Host / Gwoemul, The Abandoned

Click here for more info on TIFF 07

Click here for TIFF 07 Midnight Madness films

Friday, 20 July 2007

The Reaping

Dir: Stephen Hopkins (Lost in Space, Predator 2)
Cast: Hilary Swank, Idris Elba, David Morrissey, AnnaSophia Robb
USA, 2007

Seen: April 6, 2007 with Jamie at the theatre formerly known as Paramount at Queen & John

Reason to see: Looking for some 'shlock' on a holiday afternoon. This also falls into my See 1 film a week in the theatre for a year . This is the second film for week 15/52.

This was way more interesting and a lot better than I had expected. I was really surprized to see that one day after opening it was already in one of the little-r theatres. It was still big enough to get completely absorbed into it though, so that was a plus. As this is another strongly seeped in a plot film I'm not doing to talk about that, but if you are interested in thrillers this is a good bet. The only thing I wasn't impressed by was some of the effects were so CGI. I know it may date me but it just doesn't do anything for me, I don't even usually find it scary I just think to myself "That isn't real, it's CGI" and I wait for the scene to end. The complete reverse to that I was delighted to see the friendship between Hilary Swank and Idris Elba's characters. It is so great and refreshing to see a genuine woman-man friendship.

Great quote:
"I've heard you're not much of a bible reader"
"I've read it"

Shannon's Overall View:
I was surpringly entertained
I'd watch it again
I recommend it to thriller fans

Preshow had 5 commercials and 5 previews:
Vacancy (too scary!)
28 Weeks Later (sequel to 28 Days Later)
1408 (looks interesting, based on Stephen King something....)
In the Land of Women (Meg Ryan playing 'the Mom'? Now that is a first....)
Lucky You (preview appeared to show the whole film)

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© Shannon Ridler, 2007

Xanadu

Director: Robert Greenwald
Cast: Olivia Newton-John, Gene Kelly, Michael Beck
USA, 1980

Seen: April 14, 2006, thanks to Suzie for sending me the tape!

Reason to see: Its on my List of 101 Films I Can't Believe I Haven't Seen. I wanted to include a musical, and a film that started with each letter of the alphabet on the list and there wasn't many choices for 'X'. I also know the song and it always struck a certain image for me, which made me curious to whether or not I had seen it. I thought it had to do with being on another world/reality and rollerskating.

Well, I still can't tell if I've actually seen this before but my oh my what to say about this film. It was entertaining at times, and felt nostalgic of the 80's. Early 80's, rollerskating and either just pre or on the cusp of aerobic clothing being stylish, not like John Hughes 80's nostalgic films. There was a certain charm and innocence to it, and it was great to see Gene Kelly dance. Its very of its time, which can be interesting to see how things have changed over the years.

Shannon's Overall View:
Some parts of the film were amusing
I don't believe I will be watching it again
If you like 80's musicals, its for you!

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© Shannon Ridler, 2006

Water

Writer/Director: Deepa Mehta (Fire, Earth, Bollywood/Hollywood)
Cast: Sarala, Lisa Ray, Seema Biswas, John Abraham
Canada/India, 2005

Seen: August 23, 2006 on DvD thanks to a co-worker

Reason to see: Highly acclaimed Canadian Film, won 3 Genies

Although I had only a vague idea what this film was about it's Canadian (yay!) and was highly acclaimed in general as well as from a few women I know. I found it quite hard to watch. Most people I know felt it very emotional and beautiful. I found that I was not expecting the harshness of the characters nor the situation. The situation being widows sent into exile to live in poverty with almost zero choices after their husbands die, for the rest of their lives. The film states this is still happening. I know awareness can lead to power but just the thought of this left me feeling angered and hopeless. I do again stress that this is not the reaction most people had, most felt it was emotionally charged and important. I was just shocked, angered and felt hopeless. The one thing that made up for it was the wonderful performace by the young Sarala, a remarkable performance from such a young actor - I was impressed.

Shannon's Overall View:
I don't think I could fairly say I 'enjoyed' it but I am glad to have learned things from it
I will not watch it again
Tough call on who to recommend it to, those who enjoy deeply emotional films about struggle

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© Shannon Ridler, 2006

Waiting...

Writer/Director: Rob McKittrick - debut
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Justin Long, Anna Faris, Luiz Guzman, Kaitlin Doubleday
USA, 2006

Seen: Sept 1, 2006 on TMN on Demand

Reason to see: Was recommended/mentioned to me by 2 seperate friends.

Ok... let me clarify reason to see as it was two GUY friends. Oh boy, I can categorically say this is a guy movie. I tend not to like to sub genre things by gender but I would be shocked if any girls liked this film. Quotes like may help to demonstrate my point: "Just because I dress slutty, doesn't mean I am slutty". Uh-huh. Sure, like someone would say that... I did enjoy Justin Long's (Galaxy Quest) performance and character, I would say for me it was the only redeeming quality to the film. The amount of time spent on describing and depicting 'the game' was really ridiculous and not interesting. Throw in some crass humour, people being mean and all beautiful girls being, working and flirting with (mostly) average guys and this is the result.

My favorite quote:
"I like my teachers. Cool guys, they all have moustaches"

Shannon's Overall View:
I laughed once, but I think it might have been due to bad editing
I will not watch it again
I'd recommend it to guys who like films with crass comedies

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© Shannon Ridler, 2006

Waiting For Guffman

Director: Christopher Guest (A Mighty Wind, Best in Show, The Big Picture)
Cast: Christopher Guest, Cahterine O'Hara, Eugene Levy, Fred Willard, Parker Posey, Bob Balaban
USA, 1996

Seen: June 11, 2006

Reason to see: Part of my List of 101 Films I Can't Believe I Haven't Seen

Absolutely fabulous. I think it my mind I thought this was Waiting for Godot, which I've never read or seen but its ok.. I totally loved it. If you've seen and liked either A Mighty Wind or Best in Show or have ever worked/been involved in theatre you will definately get a kick out of this. I laughed at so many moments I wouldn't even be able to tell you everything and I'm not even going to try it as it would spoil it. A completely enjoyable film.

Shannon's Overall View:
I loved it
I will watch it again
I highly recommend it

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© Shannon Ridler, 2006

Volver

Writer/Dir: Pedro Almodóvar (Talk to Her, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown)
Cast: Penélope Cruz, Carmen Maura, Antonio de la Torre
Spain, 2006

Seen: March 3, 2007 at the Bloor

Reason to see: I'm a fan of Pedro Almodóvar's work, Penélope Cruz was nominated for Best Actress at the Oscar's and I am on my third attempt of #7 on my 101 list: See 1 film a week in the theatre for a year. This is week 10/52.

Lovely film. It was amazing to see Penélope Cruz in a Spanish film, previously I had only see her in English-speaking roles and it was so great to see her in this. I was also such a treat to see Carmen Maura, whom I loved her performance in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. I find it very interesting how many of Pedro Almodóvar are about women's stories, like this one, and done so well. It was also nice to see something a little lighter, the last one I've seen of his was Talk to Her / Hable con ella which was great but a little dark. Not that Volver is all sunshine and daisies, but it's a little more... hopeful. If you've never seen any of his work this would be a great one to start with.

Shannon's Overall View:
I really enjoyed it
I'll watch it again
I widely recommend it

No previews, no commercials. Started a few minutes late (which isn't out of the ordinary there ... it reminds me of when I worked Sundays at a pwyc box office and you really work to get as many people in as you can).

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© Shannon Ridler, 2007

La Vie secrète des gens heureux / The Secret Life of Happy People

Director: Stéphane Lapointe - feature film directorial debut
Cast: Gilbert Sicotte, Marie Gignac, Catherine de Léan, Marc Paquet
Canada, 2006

Seen: February 19, 2007 Academy screening at the NFB

Reason to see: 4 Genie nominations (Direction, Actress in a Supporting Role - Marie Gignac, Original Score, Original Screenplay), won the Claude Jutra award, and attempting #7 on my 101 list: See 1 film a week in the theatre for a year. This is week 9/52.

It was so lovely to get an opportunity to see this film, which although nominated for multiple Genie's, was not released in Toronto. Revolving around a 'happy' couple and their slightly awkward son, this film blends the reality in which we live and what it takes to get it to where it is. Great acting, interesting premise and delightfully Canadian made this film enjoyable to watch.
There were some slight things I found a little unbelieveable, but not enough to really bother me.

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I'd watch it again
I'd recommend it

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© Shannon Ridler, 2007

Un Zoo la Nuit

Writer/Director: Jean-Claude Lauzon (Léolo)
Cast: Gilles Maheu, Roger Lebel, Corrado Mastropasqua, Lorne Brass, Germain Houde
Canada, 1987

Seen: March 25, 2007 thanks to the Toronto Public Library

Reason to see: It's on my List of List of 101 Films I Can't Believe I Haven't Seen for winning 13 Genies.

Ok. BIG lesson learned while watching this film. My first note in my notebook says it all:

"Does not appear to have subtitles".

Doh.

I didn't find tons of resource to find this film so when I saw the library had it I snatched it right up! I didn't read the fine print. Considering that I was having trouble finding it I decided to watch it, in French without subtitles even though my French comprehension is a lot worse than I even realized! Technically I don't think this can be considered a review due to that but I'm committed to write about all the films I see.

What I could figure out: Mostly shady characters on both side of the law, a fair amount of violence and revenge, but also included quite touching relationship. Cinematography was quite stunning, and the use of lighting & colour (especially blue) was awesome.

Warnings: Violence, drug use, sexual violence

Shannon's Overall View:
I don't think it would be fair to say if I liked it or not
I'd watch it again, if subtitled
Again, hard to assess whom to recommend it to

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© Shannon Ridler, 2007

Un Chien Andalou

Director: Luis Bunuel
Writer(s): Luis Bunuel, Salvador Dali
Cast: Simone Mareuil, Pierre Batcheff
France, 1929
French

Seen: April 12, 2006

Reason to see: I've wanted to see this ever since I've known that Dali was involved in creating a film. He is one of my favorite artists. It's on my List of 101 Films I Can't Believe I Haven't Seen

I have to say, that the infamous eye scene in this film - even though I was well aware of it, actually made me gag. I had a physical reaction to watching it, and it was rather unpleasent.
Other than that, very interesting film. I love surrealism. I love that it doesn't make sense. You can logic you out if you wish but the intent is not to make sense. Many of the images in this film I have seen in more contemporary works be it Twilight Zone: The Movie or a Radiohead video or even my own dreams. It was also kinda cool to see a silent movie, with very few subtitles, which make it very accessible in terms of not having a language barrier. Still feels very innovative, 75 years after it was made.

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed most of it
Would I watch it again, but not the opening scene.
Would I recommend it, with caution

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© Shannon Ridler, 2006

Thin

Director: Lauren Greenfield - directorial debut
Documentary following four women with eating disorders
USA, 2006

Seen: Nov 15, 2006 on TMN

Reason to see: I was literally flipping channels and it completely pulled me in. I even missed one of my regular shows to watch it.

It is hard to describe my reaction to this film. It is brillant. Ok, maybe it isn't so hard. I've never been a huge fan of documentaries but this topic fascinates me. Why do people go to the lenghts they do to be thin? And it is never enough. There never seems to be an acheivable goal or light at the end of the tunnel. There is always more, or less that they want to be. It was also interesting to see this stories unfold in the setting of a clinic which in a lot of ways reminded me of camp in an odd way, the cliques, group sessions and shared meals. Not that anyone ate much, or at least not that they showed. They also refered to themselves as 'restrictors' as oppose to anorexic or bulimic, which I found an interesting term. One thing I will say for these women is they are not weak. The power and strength of will they have is phenominal, you just wish you could reach out to them and persuade them to use it in another way. Gripping, heart-breaking and very honest this film is one to watch.

This is currently playing on TMN on Demand and I did read somewhere that it is also on HBO (Nov 2006)

Shannon's Overall View:
I was captivated by it
I'd watch it again
I'd recommend it

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© Shannon Ridler, 2006

The Poseidon Adventure (1972)

Director: Ronald Neame (The Man Who Never Was, The Odessa File, Meteor)
Cast: Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Red Buttons, Shelley Winters
USA, 1972

Seen: April 4th, 2006 as well as some other time in the past 10 years.

Reason to see: Wanted to see before the revamp version comes out in May 06

I have a special place in my heart for almost any films in the ocean or on the sea. I have no idea why. Add to this the nostalgia of a classic 70's disaster movie and you have The Poseidon Adventure.

Although this was not the first time I've seen this film, it had been a while so it almost played out like a first viewing. Seeing Gene Hackman play a preacher is just, well, strange. It made me realize how now with film, religion seems to play less and less of a role unless that is the main focus of the film. I love seeing films of this time, and I wonder if the new version of this will keep the same characters with the same traits as again, they are not things we normally see in film now. I quite enjoyed it, mostly for the nostalgia but I do think its a good film overall.

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I have and would watched it again
I would recommend it

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© Shannon Ridler, 2006

The Fog (2005)

Director: Rupert Wainwright (Wolf Lake , Stigmata, Blank Check)
Cast: Tom Welling, Selma Blair, Maggie Grace
Canada/USA, 2005

Seen: April 8, 2006

Reason to see: I liked the original 1980 John Carpenter version

I thought this version of The Fog was ok. I enjoyed the original more, as it had more tension for this kind of horror/thriller film. It was interesting to see both Tom Welling and Selma Blair in different roles than they normally play. There was some great use of colour which is probably the thing I liked most about the film. The story was a little shaky and I think it wrapped up kind of quickly. All in all I enjoyed the original version a lot better.

Shannon's Overall View:
I thought it was ok
I would most likely not watch it again
I would recommend it for a fun not to scary horror flick night

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© Shannon Ridler, 2006

Sympathy for Mr. Vengence / Boksuneun naui geot

Director: Chan-wook Park (Oldboy, Lady Vengeance / Chinjeolhan geumjassi)
Cast: Kang-ho Song, Ha-kyun Shin, Du-na Bae, Ji-Eun Lim
South Korea, 2002

Seen: June 18, 2006 on TMN

Reason to see: Heard amazing things about the director, and the third in this trilogy Lady Vengeance / Chinjeolhan geumjassi was recenty in theatres as well as the highly acclaimed Oldboy.

Too brutal for me. I have to remember not to watch revenge films as they don't do anything for me. There were some excellent shots and choices, the pacing was very good. It did keep you guessing, but it also felt like every turn something worse would happen, and then worse, and then worse, ... I will admit it was interesting to see the this kind of film not where all the violence was highly co-ordinated to music and flashy and stylized. It was very quite, cold and matter-of-fact. Also showcased brutality and apathy. Not for me, but I'm sure its got its audience.

Warnings: Extreme violence, torture, rape, kidnapping

Shannon's Overall View
:
I'm not sure how I feel about it
I would not watch it again
I would only recommend it for those would like revenge films and can handle the warnings listed

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© Shannon Ridler, 2006

Favorite Moment: When the girl hands out her manifesto flyers to the organ donor people

Some Like it Hot

Director: Billy Wilder (The Apartment, Double Indemnity, Sunset Blvd)
Cast: Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon
1959, USA

Seen: April 2006

Reason to see: Its on my List of 101 Films I Can't Believe I Haven't Seen, and when decided which films to see there were so many directed by Billy Wilder, but this one stars Marilyn Monroe so it made the cut :)

I find it so interesting when I watch an older movie where you now have seen similiar plot lines a zillion times and I wonder "Wow, is this where the idea came from?" That was my reaction to this film, for sure but I enjoyed it very much. It was definately a lot of fun to watch, with charming characters and great acting. It almost might be the first film I've actually seen Marilyn Monroe in and it is so refreshing to see a woman that looks like a real woman.

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I would watch it again
I would recommend it

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© Shannon Ridler, 2006

Solyaris / Солярис

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky (The Sacrifice / Offret, Nostalghia)
Cast: Donatas Banionis, Natalya Bondarchuk, Jüri Järvet, Anatoli Solonitsyn, Nikolai Grinko
Soviet Union, 1972

Seen: March 12, 2007 at Cinematheque Ontario with Jamie and Justin

Reason to see: A chance to see the original version of the Sci Fi film? Are you kidding me? Sign me up! Also, I am on my third attempt of #7 on my 101 list: See 1 film a week in the theatre for a year. This is the first film in week 12/52.

I was really excited to have the opportunity to see this film, of course than I remembered my reactions to other 70's sci fi film which would be in a word: scared!! (see my scariest films ever list here). Alas, this film didn't scare me and I was a little disappointed. It was pretty long, pretty slow and pretty quiet (I could hear people breathing). I also had already seen the American 2002 version of the film so I did have an idea of where the film could go, and I think ultimately that is what would have kept me from really enjoying seeing this version. There are quite a few interesting ideas in there, of which I'm not going to elaborate because I do thing they are worth experiencing as the story unfolds without knowing ahead of time.

I did enjoy the cinematography, the stylistic choices in terms of the look and feel of the environments as well as the acting, including Donatas Banionis but favourite was Natalya Bondarchuk as Hari

Shannon's Overall View:
I'm glad I saw it
I'd watch it again, probably if I could get the DVD
I'd recommend it to fans of 70's SciFi; as well as anyone who likes SciFi but whom hasn't seen the US version

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© Shannon Ridler, 2007

Snow Cake

Dir: Marc Evans (My Little Eye, Resurrection Man)
Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Carrie-Ann Moss, Emily Hampshire, David Fox, James Allodi, Jayne Eastwood, Callum Keith Rennie
UK/Canada, 2006

Seen: Jan 17, 2007 at the Carlton

Reason to see: It's Canadian! It's nominated for 4 Genies (Cinematography, Actress in a Leading Role: Sigourney Weaver, Actress in a Supporting Role: Carrie-Ann Moss, Emily Hampshire) . This is week 4/52 of my third attempt for#7 on my 101 list: See 1 film a week in the theatre for a year.

This film has one of my favourite themes: Unconventional relationships. People who are different, by choice or by chance and how they function (or don't). It dances around fascinating topics such as setting boundaries, letting people in, people with different needs, the same event being experienced in different ways. This lends itself to show a wide range of moments from wondrous to awkward, touching to abrupt, confusion to clarity. Great acting, great characters and great location: Wawa, Ontario. Gotta love it.

The only thing I found a little weird is that it's a Canadian (co-pro) and neither of the principle actors are Canadian. But, on the whole I'm not going to let that get to me as all of the performances are wonderful. It's also great to see such familiar faces in different roles.

Favourite quote "I don't like normal people, I like useful people."

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I'll watch it again
I'd recommend it

2 previews/6 min: Venus, Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus

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© Shannon Ridler, 2007

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants

Director: Ken Kwapis (The Beautician and the Beast, He Said, She Said)
Cast: Amber Tamblyn, Alexis Bledel, America Ferrera, Blake Lively, Jenna Boyd
USA, 2005

Seen: June 1, 2006

Reason to see: It' s on list of see the next 5 movies (OMG I said movies not films!!) recommended to me regardless of what I think of them. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants was recommended to me by Jamie. Thank-you very much for recommending it!!!

It took me a few times to actually get through this film. Nothing against it, I've just been really really busy. But wow, it was amazing. Initially I was surprized as for some reason I thought it was a foreign film, but then I saw Rory from Gilmore Girls and was like, huh? I might have thought that it was foreign becuase it got such great reviews, isn't that funny. It was truly wonderful. Amazing, believeable stories about girls that you care about. Some things hit really hard, some moments were completely touching, but mostly it felt really real. It also got me, yes I will admit it.. a more that a little ...teary.

Shannon's Overall View:
I loved it
I will watch it again
I most definately recommend it

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© Shannon Ridler, 2006

Sharkwater

Writer/Dir: Rob Stewart - directorial debut
Canada, 2007

Seen: April 10, 2007 with Jamie & Justin at the Varsity

Reason to see: I was invited (thanks Jamie!) Who could say no? It's has been on my 'to see' list as it's Canadian, it is a selection from Canada's Top Ten, the preview rocked, I always get drawn into films that are blue and it is week 16/52 of #7 on my 101 list: See 1 film a week in the theatre for a year. Is that enough reasons for ya?

Amazing documentary and personal journey film about sharks, and the growing concern for dwindling existence. Who knew that the shark population is quickly becoming smaller and smaller so much so that the great white shark is now considered, endangered? Well, you do now! There is so much more, but the film says it much better than I. It is a truly heartfelt look at something we normally think of as scary, but really sharks are creatures too and don't they deserve to live their lives? I think they do! And I bet you will too.

Warnings: Creatures in distress

Shannon's Overall View:
I thought it was great!
I'll buy it
I highly recommend it

Want to know more? Check out the Sharkwater website here.
How can you help? Check out the Saving Sharks website here.

11 minutes of preshow with 5 commercials and 3 previews: Paris, Je T'aime (looked absolutely compelling), Evan Almighty and The Kingdom (this one has been 'coming soon' for quite a while...)

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© Shannon Ridler, 2007

The Scorpion King

Director: Chuck Russell (Eraser, Nightmare on Elm Street 3)
Cast: The Rock, Steven Brand, Kelly Hu, Michael Clarke Duncan
USA/Germany, 2002

Seen: Early July 2002 at the Kingsway (Rep) Theatre on a Sunday afternoon

Reason to see: no idea

Thoughts: Much better than I was expecting, very fun, great action and no crappy gender stuff.

After being impressed with this I went and watched The Mummy, and The Mummy Returns. I found that The Scorpion King was the best of the three by leaps and bounds.

Shannon's Overall View:
I quite enjoyed it
If I don't already own this movie, I will buy it
I would recommend it as a fun action/adventure movie

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© Shannon Ridler, 2006

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Director: Stanley Donen (Singing in the Rain, Funny Face, Blame it on Rio)
Cast: Howard Keel, Jane Powell, Russ Tamblyn, Jeff Richards, Julie Newmar
USA, 1954

Seen: January 8, 2007 on Turner Movie Classics

Reason to see: I'm a sucker for musicals

Oh my, what a fun movie. Although I don't think the premise sure wouldn't fly these days, it was still a joy to watch. Fun songs, charming characters and of course unlikely situations. I especially enjoyed the character Milly, I thought she was really inspirational - she didn't take any crap, but she also didn't give up on anyone and believed everyone could be a better person. I think that is what I got most out of this film.

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I would watch it again
I'd recommend it, especially to fans of musicals

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© Shannon Ridler, 2007

Saw

Director: James Wan (Stygian)
Cast: Cary Elwes, Leigh Whannell, Danny Glover, Tobin Bell, Shawnee Smith
USA, 2004

Seen: February 11, 2007

Reason to see: It's on mye list of next 5 movies recommended to me regardless of what I think of them, and this was the first on recommended.

It was no surprize to me that I didn't like this film. In fact I on purpose knitted while watching in case I needed to look away. It really does feel like a 'grown up' film for the 'gross out' generation. In a lot of ways it felt like it was just seeing how far can they go to be disturbing. At times, I found it so contrived that it wasn't scary I was just thinking to myself "Oh, come on...". That is the huge skeptic in me talking. That aside, it did provide a lot of tension if that is your thing and create a very strong mood as well as showing a lot of innovation. On the other hand, a lot of the ideas (philosophical questions, not how gross-out can you go) have shown up in a variety of other films from It's a Wonderful Life to Fight Club to My Little Eye (2002).

All in all, I think it has a very specific target market and those people will like it, everyone else probably won't and knows pretty clearly to stay away.

Shannon's Overall View:
I did not like it
I will not watch it again
I'd recommend it only with hesitation to those who like extremely dark and violent movies.

Warnings would include extreme violence, disturbing images & ideas, torture

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© Shannon Ridler, 2007

Saint Ralph

Writer/Director: Michael McGowan (My Dog Vincent)
Cast: Adam Butcher, Campbell Scott, Gordon Pinsent, Jennifer Tilly
Canada, 2004

Seen: December 2, 2006 on TMN

Reason to see: It's Canadian, and an inspirational story

Very strongly plot driven film, although I am not going to talk about the story here as I knew the story ahead of time and I found that I think it unfolds nicely without knowing what it's about. To me, it's not so much the context of the story but more about belief and drive. How believing in something can change you as a person and how it changes how people see you. On the flip side it can also bring out those who are resistant to change. Also, the struggle to believe. Wanting to believe and how it isn't something you can just follow directions and bingo there you have it, its a shift somewhere within yourself.

I'm curious as to whom their target market was. I found that I might be missing something due to not knowing the religious signifigance that they were refering too. I don't think its meant to be exclusionary or anything I just don't know much about Catholicism. I wouldn't want that to dissuade anyone, it just made me curious.

I also have a soft spot for Canadian film, which I am sure most of you know. This film is a great example of a Canadian film. The issues, the characters and the tone are all truly Canadian. I also love hearing Canadian references like 'my cousins in Cambridge' and CHCH radio. I love it.

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I would watch it again
I'd recommend it

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© Shannon Ridler, 2006

The Saddist Music in the World

Director: Guy Maddin (My Dad Is 100 Years Old, Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary)
Cast: Mark McKinney, Isabella Rossellini, Maria de Medeiros, David Fox, Ross McMillan
Canada, 2006

Seen: April 2, 2006 thanks to TMN

Reason to see: Critically Acclaimed Canadian film and its on my List of 101 Films I Can't Believe I Haven't Seen.

Ah, I know a film is Canadian when I've personally met someone in it (the amazing David Fox), and was enrolled in a class taught by the director. I am now of course kicking myself for not actually taking the class...

What a fascinating film. It was so visually engaging. Black and white, layered, texture, beautiful lighting, it was so rich with energy. I think the last film I saw that was this visually captivating was Moulin Rouge, and it reminded me a little bit of A Trip to the Moon. I could tell you the plot but some of it is just outrageous that I don't think I will. In some ways it doesn't feel like its about the plot at all but about the characters, but then the characters are who they are and do what they do because of the plot. It is very hard to describe as you are probably catching on to.
I loved it, it felt completely new, it felt tragic yet invigorating. Very bizarre. Good bizarre. Bizaare like things you never would have thought of ever before. An absolutely wonderful film.

Shannon's Overall View:
I loved it
I would buy it
I would highly recommend it

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© Shannon Ridler, 2006

Roll Bounce

Director: Malcolm D. Lee (The Best Man, Undercover Brother)
Cast: Bow Wow, Brandon T. Jackson, Marcus T. Paulk, Rick Gonzalez, Khleo Thomas, Jurnee Smollett, Chi McBride, Nick Cannon, Wesley Johnathan
USA, 2005

Seen: July 15, 2006 on TMN on Demand

Reason to see: I wanted to watch something while I was cleaning up/organizing my front room for my housewarming/Bday party.

What a lovely surprize this film was. I was really anticipating just to kill time but I was sucked in. I will admit I'm partial to films set in the 70's, and throw in some coming-of-age/young love, 'other side of the tracks-ness', a competition and great music and I am sooooooooooo there. In addition, it was refreshing to see this with a male protagonist/point of view. I thoroughly enjoyed it & I hope you will too!

Giggle fest: All the scenes with 'Sweetness' and his crew.

Shannon's Overall View:
I really liked it
I've already re-watched it a few times
I'd recommend it, especially to anyone who owned a pair of rollerskates at any given point in their life

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© Shannon Ridler, 2006

Québec-Montréal

Director: Richardo Trogi (Horloge Biologique)
Cast: Patrice Robitaille, Jean-Phillipe Pearson, Isabelle Blais, Julie LeBreton
Canada, 2002

Seen: April 2006 via Rogers Direct

Reason to see: Its on my List of 101 Films I Can't Believe I Haven't Seen for being Canadian, and I wanted a film starting with the letter Q, and it got kudos on festival circuit.

I do tend to enjoy films in French just because I like hearing French so, there was that. Not pleased with the women characters being stereotypical and objectified - literally. Most 'bit' parts were off screen and/or your only reference to the woman was a body part as she spoke be it mouth, feet or butt. Also relationship/sexual stereotypes. The flirt, the unhappy goal driven girlfriend, the 'loose' girl. Albeit, the guys were stereotyped too. The 'just sex' guy, the 'relationship' guy and the guy who always ends up back in the same relationship over and over.

I was left with not being sure what they were trying to say. Could be slice of life film. Maybe it was a guy point of view relationship movie, if so it makes me realize the reverse of a guy watching a chick flick, cuz this movie - I just didn't get it.

Favorite Quote: "I warn you, I'm stopping for ice cream"

Shannon's Overall View:
I'm not convinced that I liked it, although there were some interesting moments
I most likely wouldn't watch it again
I'm not sure who I would recommend it to

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© Shannon Ridler, 2006

Personal Velocity: Three Portraits

Director: Rebecca Miller
Cast: Kyra Sedgwick, Parker Posey, Fairuza Balk
USA, 2002

Seen: at the Toronto International Film Festival, Sat Sept 7, 2002 - 9AM. Rebecca Miller, Kyra Sedgwick, Parker Posey and cinematographer Ellen Kuras were there for the introduction and the Q&A - how cool is that?

I was intrigued to see this film as it was described as 3 different stories as poems.

I enjoyed the story of the segment with Fairuza Balk the best. The cinematography of the first segment with Kyra Sedgwick was fascinating. A lot of images were slowed or stills and on thier own could look like they were from a children's picture book, however they were capturing very real and scary situations that were more adult oriented. I found it rather striking that it was very female oreinted but did not feel very feminist. It did portray 3 very different women in very interesting situations and the storytelling was good. The coolest thing for me in terms of the experience of the film was that the people involved were there... and walked not 4 feet away from me. That was absolutely thrilling.

Shannon's Overall View:
It made me think and I liked some images
I would watch it one more time
I would recommend it to those interested in different types of women's stories

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© Shannon Ridler, 2006

Outland

Director: Peter Hyams (2010, Capricorn One, Running Scared, End of Days)
Cast: Sean Connery, Peter Boyle, Frances Sternhagen
UK, 1981

Seen: April 23, 2006 on Mpix

Reason to see: Scifi Fun

This is probably the third time I've seen this film, and I still enjoy it. Usually described as space western, and I believe that fits. Not as literal as say, Firefly though. Although made in the early 80's it still has that 70's feel in terms of people looking like.. people not 'stars' and 'models'. Sean Connery does a great job, the story is interesting, and good blend of action and tension.

Shannon's Overall View:
I quite enjoyed it
I have and will watch it again
I would recommend it

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© Shannon Ridler, 2006

Old Joy

Director: Kelly Reichardt (Ode, River of Grass)
Cast: Daniel London, Will Oldham
USA, 2006

Seen: March 29, 2007 at the Bloor Cinema

Reason to see: Heard about it from a few different sources, and I am on my third attempt of #7 on my 101 list: See 1 film a week in the theatre for a year. This is from week 14/52.

This review does mention the plot of the film. You have been forewarned :)

I was a little surprized to find out after watching this that it was only 76 minutes long, it really felt like a full 2hr film. The pace often feels like real time or possibly longer but I don't see that necessary as a negative. The film is set around two friends venturing to a hot springs, but the friends are old friends. Not as in 'known each other forever and get together every weekend', but more like 'someone you ran into, decided to meet up and now notice you are different people than you once were'. It is an interesting exploration but I'm not sure if it was trying to get to more than just that exploration, I think it was because I often felt a vague sense of tension that continued through the film. Both actors are quite good, and it does feel very realistic relationship. The outdoor scenes were beautiful and made me think of when I visited my sister in B.C., however it was filmed in Portland Oregon (according to it's info on imdb).

Shannon's Overall View:
I thought it was interesting
I may watch it one more time
I'd recommend it to people who like calmly paced films about friendships

No commercials, no previews, lots of latecomers (all per norm for this theatre)

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© Shannon Ridler, 2007

Offside

Dir: Jafar Panahi (Talaye Sorkh / Crimson Gold, Dayereh / The Circle, Badkonake Sefid / The White Balloon)
Cast: Sima Mobarak Shahi, Safar Samandar, Shayesteh Irani, M. Kheyrabadi, Ida Sadeghi
Iran, 2007

Seen: September 6, 2006 as part of TIFF

Reason to see: it fit in my schedule

This review mentions the plot of the film.

The setting for this film is girls trying to get into a qualifying game for the World Cup, although women are banned from all sporting events. It's a fascinating subject and the film is very layered. Why do these girls go? What are the varied reactions they receive? Who will help, take advantage, turn a blind eye or turn them in?

For me it inevitable brought up more questions or answers. For one, why are they banned? What would happen to them? There was always did feel like there was an undercurrent for the concern of their well being which I didn't expect.

I have to say while researching this film I found a lot of references that is considered a comedy, funny or a satire (see examples here, here and here - check under Now Playing) I did not get that from it at all. Although, I didn't see it as a dry drama, but I don't think I (or anyone else) in the theatre laughed at any one point. To me it felt like a serious look at a social issue, albeit in a sport situation. I could maybe go as far as saying that sometimes it was light-hearted, but a comedy? I don't think so.

Shannon's Overall View:
I found it thought provoking
I'd watch it again
I'd recommend it

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© Shannon Ridler, 2007

#10 - See the next 5 movies recommended to me regardless of what I think of them

This challenge brought together a crazy range of films.... Even though I've already got 5, and will consider this complete when those 5 are done, I thought it might be fun to continue to keep track. We shall see how this evolves.

Update: I've now completed this challenge. The most interesting insight to the challenge was that with the exception of one film (Jeremiah Johnson), all of the films recommended to me by men, I didn't like and all the films recommended to me by women, I did like. I'd hazard a guess to say that the women though I specifically would enjoy the film and the men liked it themselves therefore recommend it in general. Or, my tastes are more aligned with the women I know over the men - although I don't think that is the case. So, from gaining this knowledge I'd preface recommendations by asking specifically why, without telling spoilers, I would enjoy the film. That may be a challenge within itself!

1. Saw
2. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (original) - mini review
3. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (remake) - mini review
4. Living in Oblivian - seen Jan 20, 2008
5. Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, The
________________________________

6. Office Space
7. Waiting...
8. The Anniversary Party - seen
9. Life as a House
10. Jeremiah Johnson - seen
11. Goodfellas
12. An Unfinished Life - seen
13. Against All Flags
14. The Day After
15. Down by Law
16. Raise the Red Lantern - seen

Office Space

Writer/Director: Mike Judge ("Beavis and Butt-Head", Idiocracy)
Cast: Ron Livingston, David Herman, Jennifer Aniston, Ajay Naidu, Gary Cole, Stephen Root
USA, 1999

Seen: January 9, 2007 on Mpix

Reason to see: #10 on my 101 is to see the next 5 movies recommended to me regardless of what I think of them, and this was the sixth recommended. Yes I can count, but I decided to keep tracking it after 5 as I found it interesting. It was recommended by a co-worker at the office, funnily enough.

This film is yet another reminder to me to not wait years to watch comedies that people about. I know it would be so much funnier to see it at the time. Even so, I laughed a lot and I almost fell out of my chair when they mentioned the Y2K bug. There were so many things that I have heard or seen that reference this film from catch phrases to impersonations to even the commercial for WoW recently. It also really does capture of those weird things that come hand in hand working at an office be they technical, red-tape or bizarre combinations on personalities.
Fave quote: "PC Load Paper? What the **** does that mean????"

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I've already watched it again
I recommend it to anyone who does, has or may in the future, work in an office.



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© Shannon Ridler, 2007

Notes on a Scandal

Dir: Richard Eyre (Iris, Stage Beauty)
Cast: Dame Judi Dench, Cate Blanchett, Andrew Simpson, Bill Nighy,
UK, 2006

Seen: Jan 26, 2007 at the Varsity with Jamie

Reason to see: 4 Oscar nominations, as well as I am on my third attempt of #7 on my 101 list: See 1 film a week in the theatre for a year. This was my third film from week 5/52.

Deliciously scandalous. Best drama I've seen in quite a while. It plays out like a freaking Shakespearean tragedy. It's a great story and with such excellent actors like Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett it is no surprize that they pull you right in. It also touches on some topics that seem to really crop up in the current pulse out there such as the driving need for attention and loneliness.

As it's a highly plot based film I'm going to resist saying too much other than: see it!

Shannon's Overall View:
I loved it
I'd buy it
I highly and widely recommend it

10 min of preshow including 2 commercials and 3 previews (The Kingdom, Reign Over Me and The Namesake)

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© Shannon Ridler, 2007

The Night Listener

Dir: Patrick Stettner (The Business of Strangers, Flux)
Cast: Robin Williams, Toni Collette, Sandar Oh, Rory Culkin
USA, 2006

Seen: Aug 9, 2006 at Paramount

Reason to see: I am on my second attempting my #7 on my 101 list: See 1 film a week in the theatre for a year. This is week 5/52.

I think what I enjoyed most about this film was Robin Williams voice. I know that is probably an odd thing to say, but it is true. I find it strange that I don't believe I had a strong reaction one way or the other with this film but I have found myself thinking about it. Compelling story, good acting and 'inspired by true events'. Its kinda quiet, kinda creepy, kinda interesting.

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I am not certain I would watch it again
I'd recommend it as a drama

Peeve: 19 minutes of advertising endured to see this 1hr21 min film:

10 commercials:
clothing company
cell phones
'manly' drink
sports company
stop smoking ad
car company
male body spray (never thought I would be typing that...)
milk
cell phone (same company as previously stated)
clothing company (same company as previously stated)

5 previews:
The Namesake
Employee of the Month
The Presitge
The Illusionist
Hollywoodland

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© Shannon Ridler, 2006

Nashville

Director: Robert Altman (Gosford Park, The Player, MASH)
Cast: Lily Tomlin, Henry Gibson, Karen Black, Ned Beatty, Keith Carradine, Shelley Duvall
USA, 1975

Seen: March 25, 2007 thanks to the Toronto Public Library

Reason to see: It's on my List of 101 Films I Can't Believe I Haven't Seen, I wanted one film of every letter and I picked this for N; Robert Altman rocks and it was in my film textbook from college. In other words it was just 'one of those ones you think you should see'.

While watching this film I wasn't just sitting back and watching I kept thinking to myself - what is this about? What are they trying to say? Are they trying to say something? Who's that again? Oh.. the reporter I remember her, etc.

I am not saying it wasn't a good film, just that I didn't get it. I kept thinking to myself that they must be trying to make a statement but I had no idea what. Then I would be convinced that it was just stories about people, then I would flip back again, and again and then it felt like a music showcase.

The joy of it for me was Lily Tomlin. She was absolutely amazing in every scene she was in, and I was so much more interested and curious about the stories that would come back to her. For that in it of itself, it was worth it.

Great line: "Go get a Goo Goo, it's good!"

Shannon's Overall View:
I don't think I 'got' it
At 2hrs 59min, it's not likely I'd watch it again
I'd recommend it to country music fans or 70's drama fans

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© Shannon Ridler, 2007

The Namesake

Dir: Mira Nair (Vanity Fair, Monsoon Wedding, Mississippi Masala)
Cast: Irfan Khan, Kal Penn, Tabu, Sahira Nair, Jacinda Barrett, Zuleikha Robinson
India/USA, 2007

Seen: May 27, 2007 at the Carlton

Reason to see: Preview was emotionally moving, I loved Monsoon Wedding, also taking part of #7 on my 101 list: See 1 film a week in the theatre for a year. This is week 22/52.

I'm thrilled to see that this film has had quite a successful run so far, and I think it deserves it. Although it was different that what the previews presented being focused on character Kal Penn plays, but rather it's about the whole family and in essence it is about family. Family and culture, neither of which you pick and both of which you can stray from or embrace and a lot of us try out both throughout difference stages in out lives. I found it engaging yet quietly paced. Felt *this* close to being Canadian, and I say that as a true compliment.

There were some moments at which I wanted to know more, especially about things revolving around culture. But I don't think of that as a bad thing as it never left me confused, only curious. So curious in fact I'm going to read the book on which it was based. It does stand on it's own though, quite enjoyable so.

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I would watch it again
I recommend it

Bizarre film experience moment: I was first person in the theatre, sat down and munched away on my popcorn. Few minutes later some ladies come in and sit in the row behind me and over 1 seat and chat chat chat (just during the preshow). Out of all of the seats, why choose to sit so close to the only other person there so far?

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© Shannon Ridler, 2006

Mystic Ball

Director: Greg Hamilton - directorial debut
Documentary on Chinlone, the Myanmar sport
Canada/US, 2006

Seen: July 18, 2006 - Academy screening at the NFB with Jamie. Filmmaker Greg Hamilton in attendance.

Reason to see: Sounded fascinating

I feel really lucky to have been able to see this screening. Mystic Ball was Hot Doc's winner of Special Jury Prize for best Canadian Feature as well as coming in second for Audience Choice Award, and boy, did it deserve it. A wonderful documentary following one man's journey to the other side of the world to explore Chinlone the non-competative sport of Myanmar. However, it isn't just about learning a new sport but about connecting with other people. A beautiful demonstration of how unlikely events can lead you to exactly where you are suppose to be. Not to be missed.

For more info, check out the film's site here.

Shannon's Overall View:
I really enjoyed it
I would watch it again - I'll be keeping my eye out for it
I highly recommend it

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© Shannon Ridler, 2006

Monkey Warfare

Writer/Dir: Reginald Harkema (A Girl is a Girl)
Cast: Don McKellar, Tracy Wright, Nadia Litz
Canada, 2006

Seen: Jan 4, 2007 at the Royal

Reason to see: It's Canadian! It is part of Canada's Top Ten 2006.
This is week 2/52 of my third attempt for#7 on my 101 list: See 1 film a week in the theatre for a year.

What do you value? What is valuable? What are your values? How far are you willing to go? Will you cross the line... if is there a line? Will you stomp all over it, hide behind it, push someone over it? If crossed, can you ever turn back?

Monkey Warfare is a great Canadian film set in Toronto's Parkdale neighbourhood. I have to admit, I love the Canadian-ness of this film. Seeing people ride crappy looking bikes while smoking and wearing worn jeans, just feels so Toronto. The characters feel real and all three actors did such an excellent job portraying them. Personally, I was particularly fond of Tracy Wright's performance as Linda. I'm not going to reveal the plot, it is worth seeing it unfold for yourself. Enjoy.

Favourite quote: "Geez, I thought all girls liked Leonard Cohen"

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I'll watch it again
I recommend it

Bonus short film shown:

Phone Call from Imaginary Girlfriends: Ankara
by Don McKellar (Childstar, Last Night)

What a wonderful short film! Very textural and expressed a huge range of emotions succinctly in such a short time. A delightful treat.

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© Shannon Ridler, 2006

M

Director: Fritz Lang (Metropolis, You Only Live Once, Human Desire)
Cast: Peter Lorre, Otto Wernicke, Theodor Loos, Gustaf Grundgens
Germany, 1931

Seen: July 30, 2006 via Rogers Direct

Reason to see: Its on my List of 101 Films I Can't Believe I Haven't Seen. Note to self: if I write another list like this at that time put the reason to see as my mind is starting to blank on this. I believe I picked it as it was on imdb's top 250 films.

I've put off doing this review for over three weeks now, and the reason is this.... I really think this film had some kind of bigger picture social/political reference and I have no idea what it is. Not a clue. I think it my be the oldest film on my 101 films to see list and I actually really like watching films that are this old. You know it must had been really hard to get the lighting and angles, or maybe it wasn't - maybe it all just worked out. But I always think about the logistics of the filmmaking when I see something of this vintage. All in all I found it compelling but really wanted to understand what was really going on. Don't get me wrong it wasn't confusing - there is a plot, its a....drama? Crime drama maybe, and it makes sense but I kept feeling like I was missing something.

So there it is, straight from you to me... I just... didn't get it. I did like it, just didn't get it.

Shannon's Overall View:
I found it very interesting
I would mostly likely watch it one more time to see if I could understand more of it
I'd recommend it to film buffs, especially anyone who likes dramatic use of black & white as well as people intersted in films from that period

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© Shannon Ridler, 2006

Little Children

Writer/Dir: Todd Field (In the Bedroom)
Cast: Kate Winslet, Patrick Wilson, Jackie Earle Halye, Jennifer Connelly
USA, 2006

Seen: October 27, 2006 at the Varsity with Jamie

Reason to see: Hm... I'm not sure anymore why we went. Jamie had just read the book I believe, and it's always a pleasure to see anything that Kate Winslet is in.

It's a little bit of a challenge to write about this film as it saw it over 4 months ago, and didn't take any notes beyond what the previews were - but I'm going to give it my best nonetheless.

The best word I could use to describe this film, and my experience watching it, is complicated. Not as in 'hard to follow' but morally complicated. I think, in general, people take that as it shows 'real people' and of that I am not always convinced but in the case of this film, maybe so. With such an odd cast of characters it's a little hard to even root for anyone, but it does allow us to open our minds to the reasoning (logical or not) of why people do the things that they do. It's tragic, terrifying as well as tempting to watch the lives of the characters and their actions, choices and reactions to the situations they encounter or create. It pains your heart and makes your mind work so if that is what you want out of a film, its the one for you.

Shannon's Overall View:
I thought it was interesting
I would watch it again, but not over and over again
I'd recommend it to those who enjoy striking dramas

6 min showing 6 commercials, 7 minutes showing 3 previews (The History Boys, Stranger than Fiction, Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus)

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© Shannon Ridler, 2007

Letters from Iwo Jima

Dir: Clint Eastwood (Flags of our Fathers, Mystic River, Pale Rider)
Cast: Ken Watanabe, Kazunari Ninomiya, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Ryo Kase, Shido Makamura
USA, 2007

Seen: January 24, 2007 at the Varsity

Reason to see: Oscar nominated for 4 Oscars: Director, Picture, Sound Editing (won) and Original Screenplay. As well, I'm working away on my third attempt of #7 on my 101 list: See 1 film a week in the theatre for a year. This is my first film for week 5/52.

In general, I don't watch war movies. I usually find them too upsetting. I'm pretty much a 'why can't we all just get along' kinda person so I don't why anyone would want to harm anyone else. That being said I braved seeing this on account of the Oscar nod's as well as the direction of Clint Eastwood and involvement of Ken Watanabe.

After seeing it, I'm still not certain if I could say I liked it but more interesting I am not sure what the point they were trying to get across. I could think of two but one seemed overly simplistic and the other was a little unbelievable and although I could see both I didn't feel either. Maybe it doesn't have a message, maybe the goal was a historical representation and illustration of a culture - it that was the case then I think it was a success. I did feel that I learned something in terms of being exposed to some new ideas/concepts.

Although I found the message a little elusive, the story and cinematography were both captivating and the performances were excellent, especially Ken Watanabe, Shido Makamura and Kazunari Ninomiya.

Shannon's Overall View:
I'm not certain how I feel about this film
I might watch it 1 more time
I'd recommend it to those whom it likely already appeals to, people interest in history and/or the human condition

1 commercial (2min), 2 previews: Astronaut Farmer, Oceans 13 (5min)

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© Shannon Ridler, 2006

The Lake House

Dir: Alejandro Agresti (Valentin, Buenos Aires Vice Versa)
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Christopher Plummer, Ebon Moss-Bachrach
USA, 2006

Seen: February 27, 2007

Reason to see: Looked charming, fan of both Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves

A quietly touching romantic film, this was a joy to watch. It is one that is best seen if you get all cozy and turn off your logical mind/continuity checker and just enjoy it. The acting is solid, the characters are believable and/or accessible and you can really feel their reactions be it strong or subtle you are really there with them. Don't fret about the 'whether it's possible or not', just believe what they tell ya.

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I'd watch it again, in fact - I'd probably buy it
I'd recommend it to anyone who likes romantic films

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© Shannon Ridler, 2007

The Journals of Knud Rasmussen

Dir: Zacharias Kunuk (Atanarjuat) and Norman Cohn (directorial debut)
Cast: Leah Angutimarik, Pakak Innukshuk, Neeve Irngaut Uttak, Natar Ungalaaq, Samuelie Ammaq
Canada/Denmark, 2006

Seen: 9:30AM on Sept 8, 2006 at Ryerson as part of TIFF 2006

Reason to see: It's Canadian!! I’ve also heard amazing things about Atanarjuat which is on my list 101 films to see list and this is by the same people. I also would find it hard to pass up an opportunity to see a film that depicts shamans.

Fascinating Film. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to see something that felt like it was a completely different experience. Everything felt wondrous yet at the same time like daily life. There was always a sense of family and tradition. But, whose tradition? Do we have to all the be same? What does it mean to stay together or to go to something new. What if life steers us in a way we don’t expect?

I enjoyed the cinematography throughout the entire film. The great white expanses, intimate enclosed igloo’s and one of the most gorgeous and captivating scenes I’ve seen in a long time. I can’t say that I understood what was going on all of the time, but I would not want that to deter anyone from seeing it. In fact, if anyone has seen it I would love the opportunity to discuss it.

Random tip: If you ever see anything at this theatre, bring a sweater because it gets chilly. It did make it an experiential part of the process as this film is set in Arctic Canada.

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I will watch it again
I would recommend it, but be aware that the pacing is different that most films

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© Shannon Ridler, 2006

John & Jane

Director: Ashim Ahluwalia (Thin Air)
Documentary
2005, India

Seen: March 8, 2007 at Cinematheque Ontario with Jamie and Justin

Reason to see: I initially wanted to see this film during the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival but I don't think the timing worked out. Also, I am on my third attempt of #7 on my 101 list: See 1 film a week in the theatre for a year. This is week 11/52.

This documentary is based on the life and experience of employees in call centres in India who sell/provide customer service to American customers. I have a bit of a strange reaction to this film. There was a real undertone of a kind of hopelessness. A lot of the workers don't want to be there, and certainly most of the people they contact have no interest in whatever they are selling. I found for the most part I wanted to know more. Who *does* benefit from this situation? Do people have other options than working under these conditions? What was their salary like? What would that compare to? I'm not sure if these were questions other people wanted to know, but I sure did. I think it was successful as showing portraits of the people involved in the situation but I wanted to know more about the situation as a whole.

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it, but not as much as I thought
I'd watch it again
I'd recommend it

One-of wierdness about the screening: There was no previews, but before the film was shown it was introduced as it was part of the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival. In part, the introduction was interesting as it provided some context, however 2 of the 3people introducing talked about key parts of the film and/or the moments that they touched them the most. I just don't understand this. We've bought our tickets, we are sitting in the seats of the theatre, why are you telling me something that will be revealed to me in the format in which the director intended it to be seen in the next 2 hrs? Maybe if there was a discussion afterwards but I didn't want to hear that kind of thing before the film.

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© Shannon Ridler, 2007

In the Heat of the Night

Director: Norman Jewison
Cast: Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger
USA, 1967

Seen: March 18/06 on Mpix

Reason to see: on my List of 101 Films I Can't Believe I Haven't Seen

Wow, this really is as good as everyone says. Excellent story, amazing acting and interestingly enough it feels timeless in terms on theme however you can clearly pinpoint it to a particular place and time.

Although I thought I would end up posting movie reviews that included spoilers I just can't do it for this film as it is particularly centred around the plot. Thinking back to the best film class I took I would say you could argue that it could be classified as either a character study or based around a moral question.

"They call me Mr. Tibbs!" gooooooooooooooo Sidney Poitier!! Gotta love him.

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I would watch it again
I would highly recommend it

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© Shannon Ridler, 2006

In America

Director: Jim Sheridan (In the Name of the Father, My Left Foot)
Cast: Paddy Considine, Samantha Morton, Sarah Bolger, Emma Bolger, Djimon Hounsou
Ireland / UK, 2002

Seen: July 29, 2006 thanks to Rogers Direct

Reason to see: Its on my List of 101 Films I Can't Believe I Haven't Seen, received critical acclaim and has been recomended by friends.

Oh My Goodness. This is the best film that I've seen in a while. Very touching family story, one that really captures everyday life trials and tribulations. It also has one of my favourite things as well: unconventional relationships. Also, all of the actors are amazing. I don't even really want to say anything about it other than to go see it. Thinking of some moments still get me choked up.

Shannon's Overall View:
I loved it
I would watch it again
I highly recommend it - but have kleenex handy

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© Shannon Ridler, 2006

I Heart Huckabees

Director: David O. Russell (Three Kings, Spanking the Monkey)
Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Lily Tomlin, Jason Schwartzman, Isabelle Huppert, Naomi Watts, Mark Wahlberg
USA/Germany, 2004

Seen: October 21, 2006 on TMN

Reason to see: Recommended by Jamie

A duo of existential investigators. That's right - existential investigators. What a bizarre premise! Bizarre yet, amazing. I had no idea what to expect and whatever I could have expected it was something completely different. Quite and impressive cast, and a creative use of language. Great film, watch it to just go along for the ride.

Favourite Quote:
"Don't use that tone with me."
"I think you started that tone."

Shannon's Overall View:
I loved it
I'd watch it again
I'd recommend it, but be prepared to be outside of the box

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© Shannon Ridler, 2007

Hustle & Flow

Director: Craig Brewer (Resolutions of the Complacent Man, The Poor and Hungry)
Cast: Terrence Howard, Anthony Anderson, Taryn Manning, Taraji P. Henson, DJ Qualls
USA, 2005

Seen: April 9, 2006

Reason to see: 2 Academy Award Nominations, Terrence Howard for best actor & won for best song "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp"

Well, I am really surprized to say but I really enjoyed this film. My hesistation was that I didn't expect to get anything out of or relate to or be inspired by a story about a pimp. This film is much more than that. There is a message, there is a story, it is not one that is necessarily easy to watch but it is worth it. The performances are amazing, especially Terrence Howard. He pulls you in from the first scene and keeps you there. You believe him. You love him. You hate him. At times you want him to be nicer but he isn't, and he wouldn't be because that isn't the character. But it isn't just about him, all the characters are real and important and have a story to tell. I was absolutely floored. One of the best films of 2005.

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I would watch it again
I would highly recommend it, but not to the faint of heart. Definitely not PG in any respect. Includes drugs, violence & gender issues.

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© Shannon Ridler, 2006

Heavenly Creatures

Director: Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings, King Kong, The Frighteners)
Cast: Melanie Lynskey, Kate Winslet, Sarah Peirse, Diana Kent
UK / Germany / New Zealand, 1994

Seen: July 10, 2006 on VHS

Reason to see: I have it but hadn't seen it yet

Totally creepy. I had no idea this film was over 10 years old *or* based on a true story. Both Melanie Lynskey and Kate Winslet are amazing as oddball friends in this dramatic film. I think this is one of the cases where you know that its based on a true story not because you can feel how real the characters are but the opposite - they can be off the wall that you know that no one thought them up, and that they actually exsited. As this is a highly plot based film I will refrain from saying more.

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I'm not sure I would watch it again, being fussy on re-watching dramas
I would recommend it, especially to those drawn to artsy-independant films

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© Shannon Ridler, 2006

Grosse Pointe Blank

Director: George Armitage (The Big Bounce, Miami Blues)
Cast: John Cusack, Minnie Driver, Dan Aykroyd, Hank Azaria, Joan Cusack
USA, 1997

Seen: Aug 12, 2006 via Rogers Direct.

Reason to see: It's on my List of 101 Films I Can't Believe I Haven't Seen

Ok, first off I have to say that this film has been on my 'list of films to see' before I even had lists of films to see. It's in 'coming soon' previews or purchased movies I have on VHS. It took me 9 years to see it. 9 years! Holy moly.

After all the waiting - I did enjoy it. But, I think I would have enjoyed it much more if I had seen it earlier to the time of its release when doing anything 'Retro 80's' was a little more new. No, it isn't set in the 80's, but has references and music from then - which is good thing, but I have seen it a lot now. Also, even after all this time I did actually remember a lot of the jokes from the commercials. Would I still recommend it? Sure. Lesson learned though, comedies are more enjoyable if seen close to release date.

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it it
I'd watch it again
I'd recommend it, especially for anyone who enjoys 80's nostalgia

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© Shannon Ridler, 2006

Gracie

Dir: Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth)
Cast: Carly Schroeder, Elizabeth Shue, Dermot Mulroney, Jess Lee Soffer
USA, 2007

Seen: Advance screening June 16, 2007

Reason to see: Gotta love inspirational sport films

Coming from not only an athletic background myself, but also being feminist it was a little hard for me to sink into the idea of girls not being 'allowed' to play certain sports. Gracie explores this in its 1978 setting with reference to soccer. However, it also goes beyond soccer and is an all around coming of age film which shows the good and the bad. It also speaks to giving people a chance, knowing what you want, being persistent and driving for excellence. How could that be bad?

I think it achieves in sending a positive message. Although sometimes the writing isn't perfect and the performances can be a bit uneven I think it still drives its message though and lifts the spirit. I also quite enjoyed all the credits.

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it, even got a little teary-eyed
I'd watch it again
I recommend it, especially to any athletic hopefuls and their families & friends

No commercials or previews

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© Shannon Ridler, 2007

The Good Shepherd

Dir: Robert De Niro (A Bronx Tale)
Cast: Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie, Alec Baldwin, Billy Crudup, Michael Gambon, William Hurt, Timothy Hutton
USA, 2006

Seen: January 25, 2007 at the Carlton

Reason to see: Oscar nominated for art direction, also working on my third attempt of #7 on my 101 list: See 1 film a week in the theatre for a year. This is my second film for week 5/52.

This film wasn't for me. It's an interesting premise (beginning formation of the CIA), and there were a lot of good actors but it just didn't pull me in. Some of the notes I took included: What is it even about? I didn't believe...., How would you know that? slow....., etc. I felt like the audience wasn't given enough information to come to the same conclusions the characters did, and that just irks me. It's possible I didn't pick up on everything and it was there, I'm not really sure. I wanted to like it, the 'secret' things, talking in code, seamlessness of events unfolding as they came into plan but I mostly was just left confused.

Warnings: torture

Shannon's Overall View:
I was waiting for it to end
I wouldn't watch it again
I recommend it to people interested in spy/historical films but don't need there to be action

No commericals
6 minutes of 3 previews: The Italian, Smoken' Aces, Breach

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© Shannon Ridler, 2007

Frankenstein (1931)

Director: James Whale (Show Boat, The Invisible Man <1933,>, Remember Last Night?)
Cast: Colin Clive, Boris Karloff, Mae Clarke, John Boles, Edward Van Sloan
USA, 1931

Seen: Aug 14, 2006 on Mpix.

Reason to see: It's on my List of 101 Films I Can't Believe I Haven't Seen.

I love watching older films. Especially scary ones.. I always try to figure out why they took a certain shot - was that the only way they could do it? Was it innovative at the time? Did they only have time/money/light for 1 so you see that 1 shot?

All that aside this is a fun horror flick. Its one that you see parts of it some many other places, and been re-done, re-make and re-vision so many times that it feels almost impossible to see it without a preformed opinion. But with a bowl of popcorn and the lights dimmed I thought I would give it a try. Atmospheric? Yep. Eccentric? Yep! Scary? Hm... it has its moments. I really enjoyed watching this one, I'm glad I put it on the list.

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I'd watch it again
I'd recommend it, especially for anyone who enjoy classic horror flicks

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© Shannon Ridler, 2006

Fido

Dir: Andrew Currie (Mile Zero)
Cast: Billy Connolly, Carrie-Anne Moss, Dylan Baker, K'Sun Ray, Henry Czerny
Canada, 2007

Seen: March 21, 2007 at Paramount

Reason to see: It's Canadian! It's a Zombie film! I mean.. how could I pass that up? I am also on my third attempt of #7 on my 101 list: See 1 film a week in the theatre for a year. This is week 13/52.

This film was a little different than I was expected. It has its share of "Argghhhhhhhhhhhhh" & brains!!! & regular zombie moments but the setting is very different from what I would expect from a zombie flick, it's more of an idealist 50's neighbourhood where zombies are domesticated and somewhere in between house-helpers and pet's. The premise alone is amusing, and it really feels like some kind of crazy cult classic but in a new form. It's really a hilarious idea and I did enjoy watching it.

Now, the one thing that keeps tugging at the back of my mind (Braiiinnnnnnnnnnnnss!!!). Oops, sorry... got distracted there. Considering it's Canadian, I keep wondering if there was some kind of message they were trying to get across about fair treatment to all people (and zombies). Juries still out on that one, and even if they aren't trying to 'say' anything they got me to laugh, squirm and smile.

Warnings: Gore

Great movie moment: After my ticket was teared, I was prompted to see "Zombies in 5, at the end on the right"

Shout out: A big Thank-You! to the person who got off their butt and told the theatre staff that there was something wrong with the picture in the middle of the film so it was sorted quickly and swiftly. You rock!

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I'd watch it again
I recommend it

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© Shannon Ridler, 2007

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Dir: Tim Story (Fantastic Four, Taxi <2004>, Barbershop)
Cast: Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Laurence Fishburne, Doug Jones, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon
USA/Germany, 2007

Seen: June 21, 2007 at Scotiabank Theatre

Reason to see: Needed some light summer fun movie-ness, and I tend to like movies based on comics. This counts as week 26/52 in my #7 - See 1 film a week in the theatre for a year. Half way there! Woot!

Although I was not a fan of the first film in this series, I found Rise of the Silver Surfer to be quite fun. It had more depth than the first and a more interesting story, as well as the Silver Surfer which has always been and still is a cool character. I had to remind myself that unlike other teams in the comic world, The Fantastic Four are pretty much 'nice & clean' characters. They verge on being pretty geeky, when you think about it and that is okay too. Once I settled into that idea I started to enjoy the movie more. It's a little corny and a little predictable, but hey ... it's a summer movie. Better to know that going in, no?

Shannon's Overall View:
It was an enjoyable fun movie
I'd watch it again
I recommend it as a fun, light action film

15 minutes preshow included 6 commercials and 5 previews (Transformers, Rush Hour 3, Underdog, The Simpsons Movie, Live Free or Die Hard)

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© Shannon Ridler, 2007

Familia

Director: Louise Archambault (Atomic Sake)
Cast: Sylvie Moreau, Macha Grenon, Juliette Gosselin, Mylene St-Sauveur, Vincent Graton, Emily Holmes
Canada, 2006

Seen: Aug 2, 2006 at Cumberland

Reason to see: It's Canadian!! As well as being nominated for several Genies. As well as I am on my second attempting my #7 on my 101 list: See 1 film a week in the theatre for a year. This is week 4/52.

Wonderful performances, I particularly enjoyed Macha Grenon. I love seeing Canadian film. This film has layers of very touching stories about family - traditional and non-traditional, from painful to playful. It looks at who we are, who we become, how we change and grow, what is important to one yet maybe not another and how people are when something important happens are all interesting facets that are touched on. A big thumbs up.

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I will watch it again
I would recommend it

5 minutes and 6 commercials shown
3 minutes and 3 previews shown

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© Shannon Ridler, 2006

Factory Girl

Dir: George Hickenlooper (Mayor of the Sunset Strip, Dogtown)
Cast: Sienna Miller, Guy Pearce, Hayden Christensen, Illeana Douglas
USA, 2007

Seen: Feb 16, 2007 at the Varsity with Jamie

Reason to see: 60's, Art + Film? I'm there! Also, I am on my third attempt of #7 on my 101 list: See 1 film a week in the theatre for a year. This is week 8/52.

Sienna Miller does an amazing job playing Edie Sedgwick in this bio pic. Not only is her look perfect but there is such an open, fun, playful attitude as well. Definitely she has the 'it' factor for The Factory. Her character is very charismatic, and yet you also get the feeling that in some ways she's fun and free and never really grows up or did she just grow up too fast?

I thought one of the film's strong points was showing how some circles can appear very open and inviting but fall prey to the rules of a clique. What or who, is hot and new can change.... quickly. Being nice, doesn't necessarily get ya far. People will take as much as they can. Also, that people can be very different one-to-one than in a group. I think that really is something that resonates in this film. Speaking of other people in the film, both Guy Pearce and Hayden Christensen had very strong performances.

There were some rough moments in the film in terms of pace and style, but all in all it's well worth seeing. I love how they played with it texturally and gave it a 60's feel, not just with sets and costumes but with film techniques as well

Great quote: "I wonder if Picasso knows who I am yet"- Guy Pearce as Andy Warhol

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I'd watch it again
I'd recommend it

9 minutes preshow included 2 commercials and 2 previews (Days of Glory / Indigènes, Sunshine)

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© Shannon Ridler, 2007

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

Director: Scott Derrickson (Love in the Ruins)
Cast: Laura Linney, Tom Wilkinson, Campbell Scott, Jennifer Carpenter
USA, 2005

Seen: July 9, 2006 on TMN on Demand

Reason to see: I'm always intriged by the creepy films

To start, I feel compelleed to state the context of seeing this film. Sunday afternoon (I'm no idiot - I'm not gonna watch this at night), having lunch and watching this on On Demand (which you can stop/start rew/ff as you please). About 20 minutes in I'm thinking, this is pretty good I'm gonna keep watching but I want to make a tea. I hit pause. Nothing happens. Hmm that's odd. I hit stop. Nothing happens. I press the 'off' button. Nothing happens. I walk up to the cable box and turn the power off.. the film keeps playing. At this point I'm totally freakin out!! I turn off the tv make a tea come back and its still playing!! Aiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!! I had to unplug the power to get it to finally turn off.

Ok, so back to our regularly schedule review....

For me this was a good combo for a scary film because it wasn't 100% full on scare fest all the time. It allowed you to relaxed a bit as the story unfolded before hitting you with more creepiness! Its hard to say more without giving anything away so I will leave it at that.

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
Hesistant on watching it again only due to scary factor
I would reccomend it to fans of horror, thriller or drama

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© Shannon Ridler, 2006

Everything's Gone Green

Dir: Paul Fox (The Dark Hours)
Cast: Paulo Costanzo, JR Bourne, Steph Song, Aidan Devine
Canada, 2007

Seen: May 9, 2007 at the Carlton

Reason to see: It's Canadian and I love Canadian film. Suzie liked it too, although I don't remember if I found that out before or after seeing it. It counts as week 20/52 for See 1 film a week in the theatre for a year.

First off, a big thank you to Danette whom I bumped into just as I was *this* close to copping out of my movie this week. It's always great to see her and then when she asked "Are you going to a movie?", how could I really say no? Thanks Danette!

It's great to see a Canadian film that truly shines and is upfront about being what it is. Shot and set in Vancouver we follow the life of 'slacker' Ryan for a while in situations that a lot of people can relate to and some that we would never expect at all. What I really liked about this film is that it shows people being human, making choices - not necessarily great ones always, and effects those choices have on their lives and the people around them. Things change when you change, so ... do you want to change? People say change is the one constant in life so I hope everyone likes it! Or finds a way to like it. I wonder if Ryan did.

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I'll watch it again
I recommend it

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© Shannon Ridler, 2007

Drumline

Director: Charles Stone III (Paid in Full, Mr. 3000)
Cast: Nick Cannon, Leonard Roberts, Orlando Jones, Zoe Saldana
USA, 2002

Seen: April 9, 2007 on DVD

Reason to see: Enthusiastically recommended by Jamie

Watching this film was such a treat, I always enjoy a film on a subject I don't know much about but has a great story and this one really hit the nail on the head. The subject, or more precisely, the context was marching bands add to that a coming of age, highly talented performers and group dynamics and you are set for a great ride. I really enjoyed it, and I'm sure you will too.

Great Quote: "You have to learn to follow before you can lead"

Shannon's Overall View:
I loved it
I'll watch it again, repeatedly
I recommend it to everyone

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© Shannon Ridler, 2007

Double Happiness

Director: Mina Shum - 'Long Life, Happiness & Prosperity', 'Drive, She Said
Cast: Sandra Oh, Alannah Ong, Stephen Chang, Frances You, Callum Keith Rennie, Greg Chen
Canada, 1994

Seen: March 26, 2006 thanks to Mpix

Reason to see: I saw a clip of this film in Weird Sex and Snowshoes, a documentary on Canadian film and I was captivating by it. It's on my List of 101 Films I Can't Believe I Haven't Seen.

I completely enjoyed this film. Its *so* Canadian. You know when you watch a film and some parts feel like a play but it wasn't actually based on a play? Bingo. Its a very interesting look at identity, be it personal identity, family identity, cultural identity or all three at the same time. It was really real. It felt like you were really seeing someones life, crazy family moments, work life, friends or dating experiences. Some moments were touching, painfully real and some were so funny I almost had tears in my eyes. A joy to watch.

Its also really cool to see Canadian actors before they hit it big, both Sandra Oh (Gray's Anatomy, Sideways) and Callum Keith Rennie (Battlestar Galatica, Blade: Trinity, Flower & Garnet) gave really wonderful performances.

Shannon's Overall View:
I loved it
I would watch it again
I would recommend it`

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© Shannon Ridler, 2006
All content on Movie Moxie is written by Shannon Ridler, © 2006 - 2012