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.









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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.

We’re Not Just Pretty: Desia Halpin-Brill

Starting out in the culinary world, Desia Halpin-Brill soon realized that unless she got to eat with her friends, cooking and baking were not going to cut it. Looking for a new creative world, she attended Lasalle College in Montreal and received a scholarship to study at FIT in New York – where she found her fit.  After graduating with a degree in Marketing and Communications, she worked with a few agencies honing her PR skills with experiences that took her to the Cannes film festival, the AMA’s in L.A. and New York Fashion week.

In 2001, Halpin-Brill returned to Canada and Brill Communications was born. Over a decade in the biz later, she’s still enamoured with the PR world and runs
an agency with her husband  focusing on fashion, beauty and lifestyle.  With a fantastic team, Brill has grown to full service, bilingual PR agency. The client roster includes large retailers, beauty brands and Canadian designers, keeping everyone all busy as bees.  

Desia, second from the left, during a client event.
Twitter: @BrillComm



How long have you been in your current position? 
10 years.


How does your company leverage PR for your clients?  
We work predominantly with fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands, so it is anything from previews and launches to openings and pitches; sample trafficking; early morning shows and autograph signing; to fashion shows and presentations. We keep our couriers running and our showroom bustling, but never our clients or editors waiting.


What qualities are most important to you when hiring a PR team member?  
Personality. You have to have one, everything else can be taught or learned.
 
Who gave you your first big career break? 
A fashion PR agency in New York. I had helped organize a Halloween party for a friend and a publicist attending said they could use someone like me, and that’s all she wrote – I was hooked.


What’s your biggest piece of advice for PR pros, both junior and senior? 
Be real, stay connected and always – I mean always – treat others the way you would like to be treated.
 

What do you love most about your job? 
The people. I love meeting new and interesting clients, editors, stylists, producers, actors, singers, etc.


If you weren’t doing PR, what would you do? 
Raising llamas.


A little more from the fourth floor:

Designer: Proenza Schouler.  
Store: I am kind of a shopoholic, so my stores change frequently. Currently it is Muji.
Book: Right now something fluffy: Chasing Harry Winston.
Snack: Cheese, in any form (except in a spray can. Yuck!).
Sexy: Sparkly eyes and a great smile.
Inspiration: Nature.  
Drink: Perrier.  
Motto in two words: Less is more (oops, that’s three).
Idea of perfect happiness: Sunshine.
Indulgence: A great glass of red wine.  
Celebrity crush: I have several: Brad Pitt, James Franco, Josh Hartnett, George Clooney and Mark Ruffalo.  
Favourite tweeter to follow: @pliving; @coreymintz; @designmilk.
  

Rave: Crazy, Stupid, Love

Paul Aguirre-Livingston checked out the latest Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Steve Carell and Julianne Moore flick, Crazy, Stupid, Love, courtesy of Warner Bros. 

Crazy, Stupid, Love is crazy, stupid, good
Movies have become obsessed with documenting the complex realities of human existence, specifically interactions of a highly personal – and once highly private – nature, like love, sex, family, divorce, death, coming out, finding peace, etc. Crazy, Stupid, Love is just one of many voices in the chorus of our current cinematic opuses that attempts to examine and dissect that very thing at the centre of it all. 
The film begins where most love stories end and journeys of renewal begin: in divorce. Steve Carell and Julianne Moore are a couple with three kids and a 25-year marriage in shambles. Carell plays Carl, a New Balance sneaker-wearing dad who drinks vodka-cranberries like a freshman, and who is left devastated by the news that his wife Emily (Moore) wants a divorce. He moves out almost immediately when Emily turns the knife by revealing she slept with the office douchebag David Lindhagen (played, appropriately enough, by Kevin Bacon).
After a few weeks on the bench at the local too-cool-for-dads watering hole, resident ladies’ man Jacob (Ryan Gosling) grows tired of Carl’s incessant bitching and moping. Jacob, a self-described “tomcat in the sack” who looks like GQ exploded all over him in every single scene, sets on a mission to transform Carl into the man he lost somewhere along the way. And he succeeds. But once the ladies come and go, all that remains is Carl’s desire to be with Emily, and he tries to parlay his newfound confidence into winning his soulmate back. 

The film’s merits lie in its hilariously well-planned plot and the strength of the performances by its supporting cast. Storylines and sub-plots are weaved together to mimic the silent attachments we form with people – people who may not know we exist or people who only exist because of us.

Newcomer Jonah Bobo plays 13-year-old son Robbie, a kid wise beyond his years. He is hopelessly in love with his 17-year-old babysitter Jessica, played perfectly by former Top Model finalist Analeigh Tipton (named “one to watch” by The New York Times because of this role). Thing is, Jessica is secretly in love with Carl. But Carl still loves Emily. And Emily loves Carl, but Lindhagen wants her. See what I mean now? The whole film is clusterfuck of love triangles fit for Shakespeare. And I won’t give away the juicy bits.

Emma Stone rounds out the impressive cast with barely enough screen time, but all her moments are gold, tracing a smart, young, professional woman’s willingness to take a chance on a one night stand she barely knows (Jacob), complete with cheesy pick-up lines and a seduction routine that includes re-enacting Dirty Dancing’s iconic final dance (“the lift!”).  
Despite its Haggis-like plot interactions (see: Crash) that threaten to undermine the film’s strong sincerity and makes you question its real-world probability, Crazy, Stupid, Love succeeds in attempting to explain the intricacies of why we come together. More importantly, it asks why we should make it last. Like many of its cinematic contemporaries and the great tales of love before it, Crazy, Stupid, Love ends up at the same conclusion: none of it will ever make any sense.
And although it can all seem a little crazy, and be a lot stupid, it’s always about love. See what I did there? Yup, the film will ask you that same silly question too. And you won’t mind at all.  

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: Born To Be Wild 3D

Paul Livingston-Aguirre checked out Born To Be Wild 3D last week, courtesy of Warner Bros. Little did we know, he has a soft spot for baby animals, so this review contains a bit of a bias. But really, who doesn’t love baby animals? Read on to see just how cute they are in this Morgan Freeman-narrated film. Born To Be Wild 3D is now playing in theatres.
 
I have a confession to make. Two, actually. Before watching this film, I had never seen a 3D movie (no, not even Harry Potter). I also cried every five minutes during Disney’s Oceans. Nature is a wondrous thing. It’s magical and vast; it’s powerful and hidden. We know so much about it, but only from a distance. I, for one, have never been in a rainforest. But, luckily, I have had the chance to ride on an elephant. Go figure, right?
Simply put: Born To Be Wild 3D is journey to the edges of the natural world, following two anthropologists as they work to rehabilitate and nurture orphaned animals. First, in Borneo, we meet primatologist Dr. Biruté Galdikas, who has been living with and studying orangutans her entire life. She opened up a centre to care for young orangutans that have lost their families to rainforest-demolishing corporations. 

In Kenya, we get an endearing glimpse into Dame Daphne Sheldrick’s efforts to save baby elephants that have lost their mothers to poachers, and are unable to be cared for by the males (since they lack milk). 
The end goal for each woman is also just as simple: Return the animals safely back to the wild where they belong, when they’re ready. 
The film is shot in IMAX 3D, something I’m not entirely too sure about, but damn, does it look awesome. Not awesome in the way I imagine Harry Potter would look, but awesome in that you want to reach out and grab an elephant’s trunk. It’s a visual masterpiece, with scenery that makes Toronto look even more dreary and grey. Morgan Freeman is also the flick’s narrator, making the whole thing read like a big fairy tale. Maybe one day it will be, since I keep wondering how long this part of the world will stay untouched.  
Even though the documentary clocks in at 40 minutes (yup, it’s short and sweet), there is no shortage of story. I compare Born to the Vogue documentary, The September Issue; it has just as much heart and intrigue about people we know very little about. 

And naturally (no pun intended), the elephants and orangutans are just like Anna Wintour and Grace Coddington (you’ll see), and they come out as the true stars of this film. There’s also some tragedy to be seen, and your heart will melt a little with each tree-climbing feat accomplished. And yes, I did cry during this, too.

 All images courtesy of Warner Bros.