Movies

Stifler was better as a bad guy

The immature girl in me gave into temptation and as a result, I went to see American Reunion. While there was nothing really new about the movie, it was strikingly better than American Wedding and tied the first film as far as laughs and actual human emotion. Reunion reunited the original cast, brought up some 1999 nostalgia and captured how a lot of people deal with the now distant memory of a decade long gone.

But enough about that. Stifler pissed me off… yet again. (more…)

the stephanie plum movie is coming!

My mother and I are both big fans of Janet Evanovich‘s Stephanie Plum novels.  I’ve been reading them for years now and always wondered if and when they would become movies. It seems the wait is finally over.

On January 27, the first novel One For the Money becomes a major motion picture, starring Katherine Hegil in the role of Stephanie Plum.

I’ve seen the trailer and some screen captures and I gotta admit, Heigl does kind of  look like how I imagine Plum to look.  And considering Sandra Bullock was long rumored to be the producer and actress in the film series, I think we got off easy on this one.

But there are a few concerns before I rush down the ol’ multiplex: a lot of studios release duds in January because award season and holiday seasons have passed. Could One For the Money be a January pass-over?

And Katherine Heigl isn’t a very bankable actress.  The majority of her movies, with the exception of Knocked Up,  have either been major bombs and/or ravaged by critics.

Still, I’m hoping it does well and most importantly, it’s watchable. From the trailer, the expected gags and “nice ass” jokes are there, so it remains to be seen if there’s any substance behind it.

the eaton centre cinemas

Since I’m feeling all nostalgic these days, I figured I would walk down movie theater memory lane again. As I mentioned in my post about the Sheraton Center 2 cinemas, during my infamous six month stint in 1997, I remember going to as many movies as possible.

My movie outings were a great source of entertainment and I firmly believe the cinemas back then were much better than the eye-sores of today. (Yes kids, there was a time when a cinema that had nine screens was considered a mega-plex, there wasn’t a laser light show in the lobby and there were no crappy spaceships hanging from the ceiling over the candy counter. Hard to believe, I know.)

One of the first movies I saw when I moved here was Bean: The Movie. I had been a fan of the TV series while in college, so it seemed logical to see the feature film. I decided that the Eaton Center would be the theater I would watch it in. The film was passable, but what stuck in my mind was the cinema.

Keep in mind, at the time the  Eaton Center was one of the largest cinema in the country. It had somewhere between 18 and 21 screens at any given time (Yes, the number changed depending on the renovations. You can read about it on Movie-Theatres.org if you want.) And it was the FIRST multi-plex in the world.  But the kids of today wouldn’t even know it existed because Cinepelx Odeon abandoned the cinema in 2001 and it has since been torn down.

Yes, it was crowded, the rooms were tiny and some parts of it looked like the stuff nightmares of made of. I remember I was wearing blue PVC/vinyl pants that I had bought from either Stitches, Sirens or Le Chateau and thinking I would rather pee them than use the restrooms. But it was a piece of history.  And now it’s nothing. (Yes, you read that correctly. Blue vinyl pants. It was the late 90’s. Deal with it.)

I find that very typical of today’s big companies. They forget where they come from and what made them who they are — even if what made them was a less-than-perfect cinema on the corner of Dundas and Yonge, buried almost underneath the Eaton Center.

Now with the new AMC next door and the Scotiabank a few blocks away (see the part about eye-sores and crap hanging from the ceiling) all old cinemas are gone from the downtown core. I still think it’s very important to remember history, especially of something so pivotal in the development of modern day cinemas. Would it kill Cineplex Entertainment to put up a plaque commemorating the old cinema? It could read:

On this spot between 1979 and 2001 was the Eaton Center Cineplex Cinemas. At the time, it was the largest cinema in the world and the first-ever multi-plex.It helped build the Cineplex corporation into what it is today.

I’m sure with ticket prices averaging at $14 a shot, Cineplex could more than afford that sign.

bring on the new batman

I’m a comic-book geek and I love super heroes. Maybe not as much as my sister does, but I like the idea of super heroes. Or maybe I like superhero movies and I love the villains. I think if I had to be in a comic book movie, I’d want to be the bad guy. They always seem to have more fun.

The first super hero movie I remember watching as a kid was Superman: The Movie, followed by Superman II. Those films were awesome for their time (and still are today) and  not only did Lois Lane make me want to be a reporter, I loved how the comic came to life on the big screen.

Then came Batman and that changed everything. And I’m talking about the classic Batman movie directed by Tim Burton, which for the flaws that it had (such as the fact that Batman never swooped, flew, jumped around, crouched or turned his head) was an awesome film. The sequels, like most sequels were OK, but not as good. Batman Forever had potential, but it was too colorful and too loud and campy with the villains, Two-Face and The Riddler trying to outdo each other. (And let’s just pretend that Batman & Robin never happened, alright?)

And now we have the Christopher Nolan movies. I liked Batman Begins. It told a good back-story and set things up for future movies, but The Dark Knight, as good as Heath Ledger was as The Joker, was more flawed that Burton’s Batman. For all the people who criticized Tim Burton’s version, they seem to not want to mention that Nolan’s interpretation was more of a crime drama with a guy who paints his face and another guy who runs around in a bat costume.

In the comics, The Joker came to be because of a chemical accident, not as a bank robber who uses war paint to scare people. Losing a huge part of the back story of one of the greatest villains of all time was a mistake. And the fact that Gotham City looks too much like Chicago (they made little or no attempt to hide the fact that Gotham has a Chase Bank and Starbucks on LaSalle Street… just like Chicago does) took away from the “escape” factor that Burton’s Batman had.

In the 1989 Batman, Gotham was a creepy, art-deco city with looming buildings and hardly a trace of sunshine. It set the tone for a comic book movie and raised the bar. And I know that Nolan is/was going for a more realistic version of Batman, but it’s still a comic book movie and there should be that element in it.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m looking forward to the new Dark Knight Rises movie, but I’m also looking forward to the eventual reboot of the series again.  Bringing in a new director, new look and keeping it closer to the Batman from the comics, complete with creepy gothic Gotham City, a Joker whose back-story is told like it is in The Killing Joke (one of the best graphic novels ever written, by the way) and the true escape into a living, breathing comic book feeling that a super hero movie should have.

remember the sheraton centre cinemas

When I was living in Toronto during my six-month stint back in 1997, I would often spend my days going to the movies.  Back then, Toronto had some great cinemas and they all had more personality that today’s monster megaplexes that are nothing more than eye-sores.

I lived just south of St. Clair, and there TWO theaters (the Hollywood, a two-screen cinema part of Famous Players and the Hyland, a Cineplex Odeon twin cinema) within a five minute walk.  Both of them are gone now, becoming an office building and parking lot, respectively.  The Hyland stayed around, albeit empty, until the early 2000’s when it was finally torn down and paved over.

One theater that really stood out, but I only got to go to once, was The Sheraton 2, located inside the Sheraton Centre hotel complex. Built almost four levels down, one had to drop down below street level to buy tickets, then keep going down to get to the actual cinemas.  There were only two screens and for the most part, it looked like a typical downtown theater from the 70’s and 80’s, with dark orange and brown decor. But compared to today’s cold and unwelcoming cinemas (I’m talking to YOU, Paramout/Scotiabank Theater) it was quite cozy.

Sheraton Centre cinemas closed in October of 1997 and the only film I got to see there was the forgettable (and for the most part, awful) RocketMan. (I was trying to see at least one movie in every theater in Toronto while I was here.)  All that remains of the cinema is the large gold marquee outside on Queen Street (now advertising shopping and restaurants inside the Sheraton) and the old ticket booth, which last time I checked, was an exchange bureau. Some sites incorrectly still list the cinema as an amenity of the massive Sheraton complex, but I assure it, it’s long gone.  The cinemas themselves, located downstairs from the shopping concourse, have been converted into event space.

For a great list of past and present theaters in Toronto (as well as other cities) check out one of my favorite sites, Movie-Theatre.org, complied by Mike Rivest.

bad teacher blows

On my ever-growing long list of things I hate, bad movies is somewhere near the top. And usually you can spot a bad movie from a mile away. Sometimes producers make it easy by incorporating Jennifer Aniston so that you can tell right off the top to stay away from the cinema. Other times you can pretty much make up your mind just from seeing a few seconds of the film.

Take for example, Bad Teacher. Cameron Diaz’s latest offering and painful last-ditch attempt at somehow rekindling the success she had with 1998’s There’s Something About Mary. Before that, movie audiences had only seen her in The Mask. Since then, we have been subjected to a barrage of crappy films, including a few attempts at being taken seriously.

But as many girls I went to school with learned the hard way, once you’ve had semen in your hair, it’s pretty damn hard to be taken seriously.

Bad Teacher looks like a stupid movie. And I feel sorry for Jason Segel who is very talented, very funny and quite enjoyable to watch. Justin Timberlake, well, I think we all know how I feel about that guy.  (And if you don’t know, then take my sarcasm as a hint.)

Packed with lame jokes, Bad Teacher is nothing more than a vehicle for Diaz to try and prove she’s a bad-ass and can still do comedy. What ends up happening is a predictable, flat and dull series of events that makes you wish that you had stayed in bed.

Sometimes people in Hollywood need to sit down and accept the fact that movies that seem like a good idea on paper, shouldn’t necessarily be made.  Just because you say “Cameron Diaz… foul mouth teacher… comedy…” doesn’t mean it will be a good film. Hopefully this offering will quietly fade away with little fanfare.

If you were looking for an excuse to stay at home and clean out the basement, remind yourself that Bad Teacher opens this weekend.

why we’re stuck with jennifer aniston

Jennifer Aniston won’t go away. No matter how many prayers I say and deals I make, it would appear that the world as we know it is doomed to suffer through Jennifer Aniston movies from now until seven years after the sun burns out.

And who is to blame for this? Well, if you check your purse and there’s a ticket from Just Go With It in there, then you are.

You see, Jennifer Aniston has never had a hit movie.  Really, I’m serious. Go look for yourself. Every movie she has been in has either been a bomb such as The Switch, Bounty Hunter, Love Happens or Friends with Money, or has been ravaged by critics.  Even when a movie like Just Go With It opens at number one it quickly fades away. (and by the way, the only reason I didn’t fly into a fit of rage, paint my face with white make up and run down Yonge Street yelling why so serious?! as I extract my revenge on Toronto was because that movie beat Justin Beiber’s movie.)

In fact, the only film she was in that was a real blockbuster hit was Bruce Almighty – and that was because of Jim Carrey. And really, Carrey could have been acting opposite a Swiffer broom and people would have still gone to see it. (Some might argue that The Break-Up was also a hit, but it dropped out of the Top 10 pretty fast.)

But because for some unknown reason, there is a select group of people who pay to see these horrible movies she makes, she keeps getting work. I did some research and she has no less than two more movies coming out this year. Imagine that. (It’s kind of like knowing when a nuclear bomb is about to be dropped.)

One of the reasons I can’t stand Jennifer Aniston is she’s been playing the same role since 1995 and she will never be anything but Rachel Green on the big screen. I will confess that I did enjoy the first couple seasons of Friends, but now she’s become annoying. Couple that with the fact she makes more headlines in tabloids than anywhere else.

What she needs to do is break away from that love-struck, hopeless romantic typecast and do something bold and daring. Look at Marisa Tomei in The Wrestler. She acted the shit out of that role and it earned her an Oscar nod. Now maybe playing a burnt-out stripper from Jersey isn’t the path Aniston wants to go down, but something along those lines wouldn’t hurt.

Until then — or until Hollywood wises up — we are stuck with her in crappy movies because producers look at weekend box office numbers and say “well, her film beat the hermaphrodite’s movie, so she must be bankable!” And because of that, a boat-load of more crappy scripts are being pushed her way.

not so scary after all

Maybe I’m just immune to all things scary these days, but after watching Paranormal Activity this weekend, the only thing I could think was: “It wasn’t that scary.”

There were a lot of “waiting for it” moments and of course the spookiness of the film itself (sitting in a dark theater waiting for a supposedly scary movie that you’ve heard so much about to begin) but even when the shocks did come, they were light compared to what I was expecting.

It seems to be part of human nature that we want to be scared because we enjoy the thrill.  But when a movie promises to be one of the scariest movies ever made, (their words, not mine) you expect at least to be frightened or on the edge of your seat.  Doors slamming and shadows that lead to nothing don’t really do it for me.

It was the same thing with The Blair Witch Project.  Hyped beyond all belief, but nothing more than a giant tease and letdown.

What folks behind Paranormal Activity did succeed in doing is generating a brilliant viral campaign that helped sell the movie and make it highly in demand.

After all, they got $6 from my purse.