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: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

“It all ends.” As if we needed reminding, the posters have been inescapable. Today, the final film installment of the Harry Potter series comes to theatres.

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The fourth floor was invited by Warner Brothers Canada to attend the Toronto premiere earlier this week at the Scotiabank Theatre, as well as the after-party at Casa Loma. Not a bad job perk! We’ll try to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible, but if you haven’t read the books and want to be totally surprised then we suggest you stop reading – now (also: avoid Twitter, blogs and anyone dressed in a cape you run into on the street).

The last chapter of the Harry Potter film franchise does not disappoint. The Deathly Hallows, Part 1 was slow-paced, conveying the sense of hopelessness that our heroes – Harry, Ron and Hermione – felt. The second film starts off right where the first ended: Voldemort stealing the Elder Wand from Dumbledore’s grave and Harry burying Dobby (Ack! This part destroyed us in Part 1). From this point on, the action does not stop for two hours.

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While Harry is undoubtedly the hero of the film, both Neville Longbottom and Severus Snape reveal aspects of their characters the audience may not see coming. Snape’s story, especially, is handled with such respect and is so touching that if you aren’t crying, well, your soul may be as empty as You-Know-Who’s.

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One of the things we love best about the Harry Potter series is the importance that J.K. Rowling gives the tertiary characters. She realizes that all the students at Hogwarts have impacted Harry’s life in some way, and that the stories are richer because of it. You’ll smile when Seamus Finnigan has to blow something up, because you know he’s a bit of a firebug. Your blood will boil when Pansy Parkinson tries to turn people against Harry, but you know she’s a Slytherin and that’s what they do. 

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If you’re a fan of Harry Potter, you will not be disappointed. This movie will make you cry, laugh, weep, cheer and sob. As the Prophecy said, “… for neither can live while the other survives.” It all ends, but that’s okay. If you find yourself missing Harry and the gang, you can always visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

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.

Rave: Red Riding Hood

You may have noticed that we really like movies, and often post about great ones that we’ve seen. We like them so much that we asked Paul Aguirre-Livingston to lend us his writing skills and become our resident film writer (and one of the token males on the fourth floor!). Luckily for us, he said yes. Here’s his first review – look for more to come!

You can’t glance at a newsstand without seeing big-eyed blonde Amanda Seyfried on the cover of, like, every magazine this month. Of course, she’s promoting her new romp Red Riding Hood (yes, based on the fairytale). I’m a Seyfried fan, post-lesbian thriller Chloe. I actually believed she would, and could, choose avant-garde roles laced with irony and mature themes. But, alas, a film is only as good as its director. Hood’s director? Catherine Hardwicke.

Catherine Hardwicke. Image source.

But first, a quick abridgment: Valerie (played by Seyfried) lives in a medieval village on the outskirts of a mountain that’s been terrorized for generations by a big, bad wolf. Just when she plans to run away with a boy, her sister is found mauled by said wolf, setting into motion a series of events that change the village – and Valerie – forever. You know the rest of the story. 

The film, to its credit, draws its plot from a variety of retellings, from the classic French folk tale to a Brothers Grimm adaptation. The only real differences you’ll find are the additions of sexual teen frustration and human villainy. But aren’t those at the root of all fairy tales anyway?  

The film is absolutely drenched in Hardwicke, (think Thirteen, the first Twilight movie). Shot in Vancouver, like Twilight, the opening credits take you right back to Forks, Washington. Hardwicke also does what she does best: introducing audiences to undiscovered, swoon-worthy male leads after Seyfried’s heart (in this one, it’s Shiloh Fernandez and Max Irons). 

Visually, the film is stellar: Tim Burton-esque cinematography, panoramic views, chilling imagery, Seyfried’s eyes, that beautiful red cape constructed from raw Indian silk and hand-stitched by 14 women in a sewing circle (and so on trend this season). 

I only wish Hardwicke would have really gone for it. Instead, she gives you one big tease. There’s not a sex scene to be seen (so feel free to bring the under-tween set). There is, however, plenty of gore and displays of masculinity, so the boys don’t yawn and the girls get all hot for heroes. The whole thing is supposed to be an Freudian-calibre allegory of a woman’s sexual awakening, set to danger and fear and teenage lust; “a sensual experience” Hardwicke called it in the Q-and-A. 

So, naturally, there are moments when you want it to be darker, when you think, “C’mon, Catherine, go for it,” but then she just cuts away to the mountains. Seyfried is never confident enough to own her power as the village beauty and the wolf’s desire, but not quite naïve enough to make you feel like she doesn’t know what she’s doing. The male leads just reek of fumbling teenager with a bra. (Not likeTwilight‘s Edward.) So, like the wolf, you’re left hungry and frustrated.

Don’t get me wrong, there really is a lot to like about the film: Its star, its producer (Leonardo DiCaprio – I know, right?), its concept. The best part is that it’s one big game of Clue: Who did it in the barn with teeth? The guessing game, combined with Hardwicke’s fondness of sweeping views and handheld camera work, also make for a tolerable pace to the film, so when it clocks in at 105 minutes, you were able to refrain from yelling out, “Eat her already!”

So, yes, I will give Hardwicke her kudos for keeping me intrigued, turned on and wanting a red cape all at once.

Opens today at theatres across Toronto. 

Rave: Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1

Last week, a few of us had the pleasure of going to see a sneak peek of the seventh Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, courtesy of Warner Bros. We’re comfortable with our inner-geek On The Fourth Floor, and more than a few of us have read each Harry Potter book as soon as it was released and saw each movie as soon as it came out in theatres. We may have even done a little dance when the tickets arrived.

The seventh and final Harry Potter novel is being told through two full-length films, allowing just the right amount of time to fit in all the major scenes from the book. This film revolves around Harry and his challenge to destroy He Who Must Not Be Named (Voldemort). 

With help from Harry’s good friends Ron and Hermione, they search for clues that will lead them to Voldemort’s Horcruxes and uncover an old tale of the Deathly Hallows – one that, if true, will give Voldemort the power to take over the entire wizarding world. After two hours of Harry Potter excitement, the film ends at a satisfactory point that will (hopefully) please fans long enough until part 2 comes out in summer 2011. 
The film offers suspense and action, with a twist of humour and romance, resulting in a movie that everyone will enjoy. Potter-heads unite!

View the official trailer here.

TIFF ’10: We’re Not Just Pretty: Victoria Gormley

Victoria Gormley studied communications and radio broadcasting at Fanshawe College. After graduating, she worked on-air on Easy Rock Q97.5. She then moved to Toronto and accepted a position at Alliance Atlantis (now, Alliance Films) as an assistant in their Home Video Marketing department. Shortly thereafter, Gormley was promoted to Publicity and Promotions Manager for Home Video.

In 2006, Gormley joined the Warner Bros. Canada theatrical team as Publicity and Promotions Manager (where she currently works).
“When away from the office, whilst still tied to my BlackBerry, I try to spend as much time with my family and friends as I can, with a few bottles of wine thrown in for good measure. Muskoka, re-runs of Law & Order, shoes, The Distillery District, and low-budget disaster movies are a few of my favourite things!”

Website: www.warnerbroscanada.com

How does your company leverage PR (i.e. to generate press, to build reputation, to manage crisis communications, etc)?
We leverage PR in a variety of different ways, all with the same goal in mind – to create early awareness and drive traffic to the theatres on opening weekend and beyond.

Our main focus is to maximize each and every press opportunity that comes our way, regardless of how likely we “think” it is to generate press activity – you’d be surprised what gets picked up, and in the same way, what is given a pass.

We also find that opinion makers have massively influenced consumer behavior, so building word of mouth is critical. One of the latest tools we’ve found success with is social networking. It’s allowed us to leverage our PR efforts in a far more savvy nature than traditional methods.

What qualities are most important to you when hiring a PR team member?
From my experience, PR has more to do with personality than scholastic achievement. Energetic, personable people determined to see results have typically been a successful hire. That being said, experience is always a huge asset.

Who is your mentor or professional in the industry you admire?
I don’t have any one mentor to mention, but have had the benefit and privilege of working with many highly exceptional people over the course of my career.

What are your feelings about how PR has been positioned in the media in more recent years, on popular TV shows (Melrose Place, Sex and The City, The Real L Word, The City, etc.)?
I think it’s great that the profession is being recognized in popular programs and that more people are exposed to the idea of having a career in PR. My only fear is that it glamorizes an industry that, let’s face it,  is generally not all glitz and glamour. I hope those entering the industry are doing so for the right reasons and won’t be too disappointed when they’re not given a clothing allowance or invited to Lake Como for a script reading with George Clooney.

What’s your biggest piece of advice for PR pros, both junior and senior?
Best advice I was ever given – be positive and offer ideas. The business needs fresh thoughts and the more quality ideas you offer, the more responsibility and recognition you’ll receive. (But also remember to be respectful of the tried and true methods that have proven successful).

Advice for all – The step & repeat is for the actors in the film – stop posing and get out of the shot! 😉

What do you love most about your job?
The content always changes and each film is its own product.

The challenge to respect each film and filmmaker’s work is interesting and exciting. We don’t always have to love the project, but we have to search for and ensure the best avenues to maximize awareness about the project.

A little more from the fourth floor:
Website: YouTube, The Hollywood Reporter, TMZ.com, The Onion, Go Fug Yourself, Funny or Die.
Designer: Nicole Miller, David Dixon, Kensie.
Store: The Bay (totally underrated), Want Boutique, BCBG.
Book: The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri.
Snack: Cereal (with as much artificial colour and flavouring as possible), and chocolate chip granola bars.
Season: Early fall.
Sexy: A great pair of heels.
Inspiration: My family, friends, and the idea of Freedom-45.
Drink: Hendricks & Tonic.
Motto in two words: Keep Going.
Idea of perfect happiness: Vodka Lemonade on a beach in Fiji.
Indulgence: Chicken Parm from Toni Bulloni’s, shoes and spa days.
Celebrity crush: Tom Hardy.