Rave: The Dark Knight Rises

Who doesn’t love Batman? Whether you’re an Adam West aficionado, a fan of the classic DC comic books or secretly think Clooney was awesome (but then… who are you?), there seems to be a Batman for everyone. 


We were lucky, lucky, lucky to get a few passes to check out the advance screening last week. Instead of telling you straight up that we loved it, we thought it would be fun to bring back the ‘he said/she said’ style of film review. This time, Matt and Debra share their thoughts about the film. Enjoy! 



On Christian Bale:

She said: Sometimes I have a hard time getting over the whole
viral incident where you were a
complete nut job, but I think all is forgiven, Mr. Bale. You are my favourite
as Batman and I want you to win over the bad guys sooooo badly that I silently
cheered in my seat numerous times. I’d add a little warmth to your home, but
you’re a hot superhero and I like all your toys.

He said: Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan certainly work well together and definitely have figured each other out since making Batman Begins and The Prestige.
I’m not sure whose fault it is for the “bat voice”, but I hope that’s not what people condemn Bale or Nolan or this film (please note, I am referring to this as a film and not a movie. There’s a difference) for once they made that (mistake) in the first film it would be weird for him to drop it.
Bale is great as Wayne and as Batman, but I really feel more people will come away talking about Joseph Gordon-Levitt who really “bat” his role out of the park.


On Anne Hathaway:
She said: Babe. Babe. Babe. Anne Hathaway = Catwoman. Who
knew? You are so incredibly sexy and strong and you look so good doing it in
every, single, frame. The fact that you did your own stunts made me your
biggest fan, even if I really didn’t enjoy you hosting the Oscars. And your red
lipstick was perfect.

He said: When I heard that Anne Hathaway would be playing Selina Kyle (note – she’s never actually called Catwoman) I got really excited. I’ve always been a fan of her as an actor and an admirer of her beauty and both didn’t disappoint. She actually was purrfect. (don’t worry, I’m rolling my eyes at myself).


Special effects:
She said: I was blown away by the opening scene and then I
just kept being blown away again and again. Seeing this film in Imax is a must.

He said: This really did feel like a dramatic film (there’s that word again) with action thrown into it, instead of the other way around. When I read that back it may sound like it might be light on the gadgets and brawling, and it most definitely is not. It’s hard to really get into the SFX without spoiling the film, but let me just say that my mouth was agape for the whole film, especially the opening and closing sequences.


Romance:
She said: I’m told that the romance(s) are from the original
story – not quite sticking to the bible, but if you’re a comic book fan, no
surprises here.
  Nothing super sexy, but
it’s not what I came for.

He said: As with all good dramas, there definitely are some birds trying to hang with the Bat in this flick. But you know what they say about two birds….


Story & Script:
She said: I am not a comic book fan, so I just enjoy the
story for what it is. There were twists and turns and incredible acting. The
cast is crazy good: Marion Cotillard, Tom Hardy, Michael Caine, Joseph Gordon-Levitt… And all of those folks are from Inception, as well. Interesting,
n’est pas?
I found the villain, Bain (Tom Hardy), to be
absolutely terrifying and the anarchy that entails in Gotham to be equally
scary. I couldn’t understand Bain all the time, and he sounded a bit like a
muffled Sean Connery to me, but other than that, I couldn’t take my eyes off
him.  The design of that mask is so, so
creepy.
I got lost in the story for three hours (almost – 2
hours and 47 minutes, I believe) and could have watched more. And let me
qualify this by saying that I don’t sit still for three hours very often and I
don’t like having to commit to anything for that long.

He said: Nolan and his bros really handled the gravitas of making such a large film, as well as knowing it will be the last (for this creative team at least). The Burton and Shumacher era movies, were just that…big movies. Their stories were entertaining but they both achieved something comic book-ish. This felt as real as a story could be about a man who saw his parents killed, who was trained in an extreme discipline of martial arts, who decided to don a Kevlar suit shaped like a bat in order to fight for his city. As much as this is a story about Batman, it is also a very human story about trust, fear, friendship and life.

Does it live up to the hype/trailers?
She said: Yes.

He said: The only thing the trailers did for me was excite me that this was coming out, period. I would have to say that it surpassed the feeling any of the trailers hoped to achieve. I will be seeing this again.


Will Batman fans love this?
She said: I think the comic book Batman fans will have some
small issues with the storyline (again, so I’m told), but for those film lovers
who just love a good escape – yes – it is undeniable that you will love this.

He said: Fans of this trilogy will love this. Fans of great action/suspense films will love this. Pure Batman fans are going to have all sorts of issues that I overlooked only because the film is so good otherwise. 
You have to sorta forget what you already know if you know the book(s) and if you don’t know anything you’ll be way better off (though it will be handy to watch with someone who knows something about the other films, at least).

Final thoughts?
She said: My fave in the trilogy, so far. If you like Batman, RUN to
the theatre this weekend.

He said: I was worried about my bladder with the running time being almost 3 hours. But the only reason I came close to peeing my pants at several times throughout the film was because I couldn’t believe I was watching something that attacked me on such an awesome visceral level. 
I will actually get angry at people who tell me they don’t like it.

I am such a nerd.


Go see this film and tell us what you think with the hashtag #batweek: @rockitpromo, @debgee and
@mattyaustin.



All images courtesy of Warner Bros. 

Rave: Magic Mike

When we were offered tickets to check out the premiere of Magic Mike (courtesy of Warner Bros.) we jumped at the opportunity. A rom-com combined with a good-looking cast about an all-male revue? We’re in. 



Off we went, popcorn in hand along with our good friend Paul to check out the flick. Below we give you a he said/we said review of various aspects of the show – as we don’t want to give too much away!

On Channing Tatum:
He said: “Loads of charm,
and a hint of that deceiving bad boy-actually-good attitude that just
won’t quit, much like his ass. Obviously, the best dancer and, yes, when he
dances it’s like you’re watching Step Up 2: The Streets one though.”

We said: “We didn’t blink. Between his dancing and abs, he had us at ‘hello’. Well done, Channing. Well done. Now, take your shirt off.” 

On Cody Horn: 
He said: “The role of Brooke (Cody Horn), The Kid’s sister and
Mike’s love interest, might as well have been cast with Kristin Cavallari. I
mean, I just can’t deal. Olivia Munn, who plays risky bisexual Joanna and has
an affair with Mike pre-Brooke, might as well have taken the entire lead to
herself.” 


We said: “Meh. She didn’t do it for us as a female lead. Between her permanent frown/scowl and no-fun attitude, we just couldn’t figure out why this (hot) stripper with a heart of gold was going for a girl like that.” 
Nudity:
He said: “There is a ton of butt cheeks, and bare chests. A few
boobs for good measure. But sadly, the only penis you get to see is almost out
of focus and in a pump. (Yes, a penis pump.)” 


We said: “It was done as tastefully as possible. There was serious eye candy and come on, we are talking about male strippers here.”


Performance
sequences: 
He said: “The ‘performances’ keep the movie afloat because – hah
– as if you would come for anything else. There are some bigger numbers, and
none will bore you. A big plus: smaller montages give a glimpse into the
various acts they perform, each based on traditional male archetypes:
firefighter, doctor, cop, basketball player, etc. Sometimes, you don’t even see
them take anything off. Expect something like this
 and this.
Actually, it’s more like male burlesque, and heavy on the funny factor because,
well, assless leather chaps.”


We said: “There was a great variation in the routines, which, as dance-based movie aficionados, we can appreciate.  We were particularly fond of their ‘It’s Raining Men‘ routine, with Channing’s solo act to Ginuwine as a close second. We went on a cross-country journey with these guys as we saw cowboys, Tarzan, and hip-hop dancers, (oh my!).” 



Story and script:

He said: Mike describes the appeal of stripping as ‘women,
money and a good time.’ That basically sums up the movie. What they don’t tell
you is that it’s set to a soundtrack of drugs, booze and dubstep. And the
conflict is forced at best because, well, just wait until you see the
ending.” 


We said: “Again, it was a story about a male stripper who discovered friendship and good times but more importantly, himself. Aww.”


Does
it live up to the hype/trailer:

He said: “In the era of easy access Internet porn, the trailer
promised the flick would be visually stimulating. And yeah, it lived up to that
promise in spades but with no real climax. There was no promise of a real story
either, so that checks out. But once it’s over, it’s over – just like the
trailer.”



We said: “We went in with lowered expectations, especially in relation to the story line. While the plot followed your standard rom-com format, it was a fun flick to watch, despite the whole Cody Horn element.”

Overall
sexiness:

He said: “I would have liked more screen time with the other
guys. Tatum is hot, sure, but you can only look at his face for so long. Also,
director 
Soderbergh sorely under-used Pettyfer and Rodriguez’s sex symbol
potential. And, as I’ve found with male stripping, sexiness is sacrificed for
humor because, well, you decide.” 

We said: “We agree with Paul. More Manganiello, Bomer and McConaughey would have been nice. We also thought Munn was lovely and would have been a better fit for the female lead.”


Final
thoughts:

He said: Soderbergh is Soderbergh, and he tries to
bring his trademark mix of depth, intrigue and action to a script
that simply can’t support it. You can tell he really tries to stylize the film
in his own way with his sequencing and camera choices, but he’s trying to reach
a level of intellect that no one ends up caring about because – hello! – ABS.
If Gus Van Sant directed this, now that would be some grimy hot realness and
we’d be seeing the full frontal. Still, it was fun in a way that Showgirls and
Striptease and Burlesque was fun.”



We said: “It was fun! Soderbergh brought us some good laughs, we danced in our seats, we (almost) cried and we had a good time watching theses abs. We mean dancers. Just don’t expect a sequel. However, we will want to interview Matthew McConaughey’s children once they watch it.” 


Haven’t seen the trailer yet? Check it out here.









Rave: Our Idiot Brother

By Paul Aguirre-Livingston
I read somewhere that Paul Rudd’s lead role in the feature Our Idiot Brother (opened last Friday) was written specifically with him in mind. Well, duh. Take one look at the movie poster and you’ll say, “That is so Paul Rudd”, without being too sure what you even mean. But you’ll think it, and you’ll be compelled to want to watch it because it’s Rudd and he – much like the grassroots-y character Ned he plays – is so damn enjoyable and likable. 
A lot of it has to do with Rudd’s sensible comedic chops that don’t often suffocate a scene like, say, Steve Carrell would. Both actors make fine leading men because they’re one and the same; they possess a cross-generational, cross-country appeal and can emulate the every-American. Rudd’s strengths lie in his accessibility – from ’90s heartthrob to doting husband to hippie bachelor. At the core of Rudd’s performances is always the same character: a cute do-gooder with charm. Our Idiot Brother plays off that charm. Its characters and plot, in turn, are simple enough that you’ll fixate on them throughout, forgiving flaws in the movie’s annoyingly hyperbolic scenarios. 
The first of these scenarios is when a uniformed officer arrests Ned for pot possession in broad daylight at a farmer’s market; you can tell life’s always been like this for oblivious little Ned. Fresh from federal prison, when the movie actually begins, our charming hippie is thrust back into the lives of his eccentric family, shuffled between the homes of his three perfectly “archetyped” Manhattan sisters: an on-the-go junior editor at Vanity Fair (Elizabeth Banks); a free-loving, sort of directionless lesbian comedian (Zooey Deschanel); and a nit-picky stay-at-home mom of two (Emily Mortimer). The cast of sisters is great as a trio, and their scenes together are usually the best. They also serve to divide the film into three neat, distinct stories so that much of Ned’s character building happens without much effort – it’s just a product of circumstance. The flick could have just as easily been titled “Hippie and the City.” 
While Banks and Mortimer are bearable and believable as the hyper-versions of the “real world” women they’re supposed to represent, Deschanel, is, well, just Deschanel. Same girl in Elf, same girl in 500 Days of Summer, same girl here.
Much of the story depends on Ned’s inability to read between the lines, understand basic social cues, and handle delicate situations appropriately. Although the sisters joke about Ned being retarded a little too much (or maybe I’m just too sensitive?), he’s not really dim-witted at all. What translates as idiocy in our emotionally skewed world is actually Ned’s desire to love those around him without limits, and his naiveté is endearing. 

This is the most I’ve liked Rudd since his stint as Phoebe’s blind date-turned-husband on Friends. Yeah, Ned is uncomplicated and docile and unflinchingly honest, but he gets it without resorting to token neuroticism – most of the time. I mean, don’t you wish you could live with a little less bullshit? 

Our Idiot Brother probably isn’t a game changer; it’s existentialist at best. I’m just happy to see a nice guy stay nice through and through.

Rave: Beginners

Our film writer (check out past posts here) Paul Aguirre-Livingston checked out one of Alliance Films‘ latest, Beginners. Here are his thoughts on the Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer flick. Beginners opens in select theatres Friday, June 17. 

We’re giving away two copies of Mike Mills’ book Drawings From The Film Beginners. To win, answer this question: who directed Beginners? Tweet us @rockitpromo.* 
UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who participated! The winners have been selected.  


Where has Ewan McGregor been? After starring in the much-hyped Angels & Demons (and the controversy-stricken I Love You, Philip Morris), it turns out McGregor was busy working on a role that may define his career and his legacy. In his latest flick Beginners, McGregor plays a character that transcends his usual genres of bland guys you like, and makes him into a man you want to be with.


Image source.

Directed and written by Mike Mills (his debut feature), Beginners is based on the true story of how his father, at 75, came out as a gay man after the death of his wife. Poignant and heartbreaking, Beginners is a cultural reflection of what it means to be gay at any age and is an exercise in parallelism, the way life turns out to be much “like father, like son.” 

Christopher Plummer (a 50-year veteran of the screen and stage) plays a perfect supporting role as the character based on Mills’ father. In fact, Plummer’s praise has extended as far as almost guaranteeing him an Oscar next year. 


And rightfully so. There’s a delicacy in his performance that brings even the harshest of skeptics (like me) to tears. Not only is Plummer fulfilling the role of a gay man, but one who’s lived his entire life in hiding, only to come out in a world where being gay is secondary to one’s place in society.



Plummer’s vulnerability in this role, earnest and heart-wrenching, shakes you to the core – emotionally, physically, psychologically. I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to come into a world that is twice removed from what had originally kept you away from it. Beginners succeeds, in many ways that Brokeback Mountain or any Sofia Coppola film failed to, in representing the way life actually in the 21st century: removed, catatonic, indifferent, but hopeful.


Beginners lives in two realities. McGregor, as the lead, falls in love with a young, vivacious actress (played by newest French it-girl Melanie Laurent in her first North American feature) who, while the opposite of him, is equally unable to navigate the pressures of modern relationships, like balancing one’s own life with the needs of another person. 



In the end, the film teaches you that, gay or straight, love is the same. You just have to find it for yourself, manifested in ways you least expected.


Oh, and bring tissues. Lots. 

*Open to Toronto residents only.

Rave: No Strings Attached

By now, our regular readers know that we LOVE movies on the fourth floor. Last week, we saw an advance screening of No Strings Attached (Paramount Pictures), directed by Ivan Reitman.      
Considering it’s a rom-com that premiered just before Valentine’s Day, this is sure to be a popular date movie, so we sent Lisa and her boyfriend, Jesse, to check it out – and get a girl’s and a guy’s opinion on the film.
#NoStringsAttached
Emma (Natalie Portman) and Adam (Ashton Kutcher) have known each other for years, though they’ve never dated. One morning, after an unexpected sleepover at Emma’s house, a hung-over Adam wakes up on Emma’s couch having no idea where he is. He’s never met Emma’s roommates (who wake to find him on their sofa) and doesn’t even realize he’s at her home until she comes to find him in the living room. After everything is sorted out, they hang out (sans roommates) in her bedroom, and end up having sex.

To protect their friendship, they make a pact to keep their relationship strictly “no strings attached” – no jealousy, no expectations, no fighting, no flowers, no baby voices. It means they can do whatever they want, whenever they want, in whatever public space they want, as long as they don’t fall in love. The question becomes – who’s going to fall first? And can their friendship survive?



We think it’s such a relatable story for a lot of men and women. Jesse, the ultimate “guy’s guy”, loved the inappropriate guy jokes between Adam and his friends. Emma is a relationship-phobic workaholic and likes to keep her guard up. Like we said, relatable.

What surprised us most about this flick was how funny it is. It’s definitely not a typical romantic comedy, when the laughs are slightly forced, because you feel like you should laugh. Our entire theatre was actually LOL-ing. 
Portman is clever and witty, while Kutcher plays a character far more endearing than the “Kelso” and “Punk’d” personas we’re used to seeing. 
 
Lisa:  My main priority is whether or not a movie is entertaining. I want to escape reality and kick back with some popcorn. No Strings Attached was perfect for this. It had just the right amount of love, jokes, sex, embarrassing moments and likable characters – the best recipe for a romantic comedy. 

Portman’s and Kutcher’s Emma and Adam made an adorable couple, while Mindy Kaling (The Office‘s Kelly Kapoor) tossed out some good zingers as one of Emma’s roommates. Lake Bell
played a great supporting role as the comical Lucy, a work colleague of Adam.
Even though I went with Jesse, I would definitely come back with my best girlfriends for another giggle-fest.

Jesse and Lisa. 

Jesse:  Ashton Kutcher always kills me, but Adam’s father, played by Kevin Kline, was my favourite. His role was just hilariously ignorant. A one-time TV star, he uses his former status to date women 30 years his junior, smokes pot and seems almost oblivious to his rude, but funny, behaviour. 

Guys – if you owe your girl a chick flick date, this is the time to go. You’ll both like it.


Images courtesy of Paramount Pictures*. Photo credit: Dale Robinette.
*With the exception of the last image.