Friday, December 31, 2010

Barney's Version (2010)

According to what I've heard Mordicai Richler's novel Barney's Version is a huge thing in Canadian literature. Unfortunately, because the story is told from an external point of view rather than from Barney's own introspection, the film suffers a little bit. Nonetheless, the film is enjoyable.


Barney Panofsky, is a TV producer from Montreal. Back in the 1970s, he starts to search for the love of his life. Claire (Rachelle Lefebvre), his first wife, is an artist who is rather unstable. His second wife (Minnie Driver), an intellectual with a Master degree from McGill University, rather irks him. Moreover, Barney met his third wife, Miriam (Rosamund Pike), on the day of his marriage with his second wife.

Now that he's in his sixties, Barney takes a reality check and looks back at his life. He remembers his failures, his blunders and a few of his good decisions. Moreover, he also has to deal with the disappearance of his best friend, Boogie (Scott Speedman), because he's the prime suspect in the case.

I haven't read the novel, which is considered a major work in Canadian literature. Nevertheless, I found Barney's Version entertaining at best. Told as a chronicle, the film's story is a smooth river stripped down from too much intellectual references. As a result of that, it only focuses on Barney's thoughts about his own life.

While we don't have much access to Barney's inner thoughts, the film is somehow enjoyable. Sure, in its exploration of sexual and romantic fantasies, the film can seem a little bit vulgar. Moreover, given what he's gone through, one would wonder why Barney entertains sexist thoughts. However, it's the magic and humoristic performance of Paul Giamatti that make us feel the necessity to understand his character.

Finally, although I found some parts of the film a little bit boring, the film managed to make me laugh.

Rating: 3.5/5

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Wushu Warrior (2010)

It isn't because you make a co-production that you necessarily get the best out of Chinese expertise in making martial art films. Speaking about quality, Wushu Warrior looks like an awful made-for-TV film.

The story takes place in China during the 19th century. Lord Lindsay (Matt Frewer), a British merchant and also a drug trafficker, intends to bring opium in China by ship. However, because Rev. Elders (Matthew Bloomfield) is an outspoken critic of Lord Lindsay, he's killed. Hopefully, with the help of Rev. Elders' Chinese friends, his son, Jonathan, is taken to a safe village.

Once there, Jonathan will be taught Wushu. After many years of training, Jonathan embarks on a journey to avenge the death of his father and to put an end to Lord Lindsay's drug business.

After Yves Simoneau's L'appât, Quebec's cinema is also trying to satisfy us with another action film. Just like L'appât, Wushu Warrior is so predictable from the beginning to the end. Even though the film has decent fight scenes in store, watching Wushu Warrior is an unpleasant chore. Although its members - even Matt Frewer who plays the "bad guy" - did bother to learn Wushu, the cast' performance is so wooden. In fact, we just have the feeling that the actors played in the film just to collect a pay cheque.

Finally, I won't waste anymore of my time telling you how much this film is lame. Once the film begins, you'll just want it to end.

Rating: 1/5

Origin:Canada/China (2010)
Length:82 minutes
Genre:Action drama
Screenplay:Cecil Arto
Director:Alain Desrochers
Starring:Tod Fennell, Matt Frewer and Amber Mullin

Thursday, December 30, 2010

L'appât (2010)

Because Quebecker cinema pretends to be something that it isn't, no wonder we've got an action comedy this year. Whether you're looking for good action scenes or a good laugh, L'appât will dismay you, because it's closer to television than cinema.


In Montreal, a French mobster of Italian heritage died at a police precinct. Prudent Poirier (Guy A. Lepage), a very incompetent cop, was trying to save him. Because Poirier might help to crack the case, France's secret services sends Ventura (Rachid Badouri), an elite agent, in Montreal. However, Ventura will pose as a rookie trained by Poirier. However, Ventura ends up loathing Poirier and things get rather complicated for viewers' pleasure.

Moreover, L'appât is really unbearable to watch because its two leading actors, Guy A. Lepage and Rachid Badouri, who takes his role too seriously, overact too much. As Prudent Poirier, Lepage looks like a cop who came out of a sitcom. After all, given how much of an imbecile Lepage's character is, one will wonder why a police department would keep a cop like Poirier who can't even handle a machine gun or be subtle when he's around criminals.

In addition to that, there are uninspired jokes about the differences between France and Quebec, a plot twist that falls flat on the ground and a story that you just want to go through as quickly as possible. After all, no matter what happens, we all know that Poirier and Ventura will get along.

Finally, with the budget L'appât has, don't expect to see action scenes as spectacular as those in action films from Hong Kong. Moreover, the film is so annoying, because the contrast between the two leads is underlined in a way that lacks subtlety.

Rating: 1/5

Origin:Canada (2010)
Length:88 minutes
Genre:Action comedy
Screenplay:William Reymond and Yves Simoneau
Director:Yves Simoneau
Starring:Guy A. Lepage, Rachid Badouri and Maxim Roy

Monday, December 27, 2010

'Hiccups' Season 1 On DVD On Jan. 11


While the premiere of Hiccups' second season has yet to be announced by CTV, a Canadian TV network, its first season will be released on DVD on January 11.

This Canadian half-hour comedy, which was shot in Vancouver, tells the story of Millie Upton (Nancy Robertson), a successful writer for children books. She's also emotionally unpredictable. This is why her editor, Joyce Haddison (Laura Soltis), believes that Millie needs some help. This is why Millie sees Stan Dirko (Brent Butt), a self-proclaimed life coach. However, Millie doesn't know that she's Stan's first client.

The show also stars David Ingram, Emily Perkins and Paula Rivera.


Legend of the Black Scorpion (2006)

Since the release of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, wuxia films have clearly become a popular genre in Chinese filmmaking. Feng Xioagang's Legend of the Black Scorpion had all the ingredients to be a worthy successor of CTHD. However, the film's problem is its storyline.

Feng Xiaogang's film is a loose adaptation of William Shakespeare's play Hamlet. In 907 AD, the Tang dynasty is in decline. Li (Ge You) murders his brother, the Emperor. Afterwards, Li takes the power and also Empress Wan (Zhang Ziyi). Moreover, Li also dispatches assassins to kill Prince Wu Luan (Daniel Wu), who's in exile studying dance and music.

Because she loves the prince and she's only four years older than him, the Empress also sends assassins to protect the prince. Even in the palace, the prince also escapes all the Emperor's assassination plans. In order to celebrate the 100th day of his reign, the Emperor will organize a banquet. During this very day, both the prince and the Empress plan to put their own revenge in motion.

Personally, I'll take Legend of the Black Scorpion over Hamlet any day. This is because the former has great fight scenes.

Other than that, the other difference between Hamlet and this film is that the Empress is the central character. While the cast's performance was impeccable, the character of the Empress wasn't as developed as she should have been.

Zhang Ziyi, despite being blamed for her lack of experience, definitely managed to show how power-thirsty the Empress is. However, because of its lack of clarity, the story doesn't really tell how much the Empress is affected by the first Emperor's death. After all, because there was a time when royal marriages were arranged, it would have been really interesting to see that love is a royal couple isn't what many think it is.

Other than that, Legend of the Black Scorpion is a visually beautiful film that certainly could have beaten Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and many other great wuxia films.

Rating: 3.5/5


Origin:China (2006)
Length:131 minutes
Genre:Drama
Screenplay:Gangjian Qiu
Director:Feng Xiaogang
Starring:Zhang Ziyi, Ge You, Daniel Wu and Xun Zhou

Monday, December 20, 2010

'Air Face' to Host the New Year's Eve On CBC


The comedians of the defunct show Royal Canadian Air Farce will be back for the New Year's Eve at 8 PM on CBC.

Obviously, these comedians are Jessica Holmes, Penelope Corrin, Alan Park, Roger Abbott, Don Ferguson, Craig Lauzon and Luba Goy. As always, they'll poke fun at all the major newsmakers of 2010.

Speaking of that, we can think about the rise of teen-singer Justin Bieber, the G8/G20, WikiLeaks' cables, William and Kate, Lady Gaga's high-protein apparel, Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, Celine Dion, Tony Hayward, the Chilean miners, Barack Obama, Joseph Biden and even the soccer World Cup.

CBC also revealed that Lloyd Robertson, one of Canada's news anchors, will guest-star. He will look back at his four decades anchoring national newscasts at CBC and CTV, another Canadian TV network. Other guest-stars will include journalists Lisa LaFlamme, Peter Mansbridge and Brian Williams.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

'Incendies' Will Be Released In France on Jan. 12

Denis Villeneuve's Incendies will hit theatres in France on January 12.
Besides France, other countries will also have the chance to see this film that will represent Canada at the next Oscar ceremony.

The film is based on a play by Canadian playwright Wajdi Mouawad.

Built in a non-linear way, the film introduces to Simon (Maxim Gaudette) and Jeanne (Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin) Marwal, who are twins. After their mother's death, Jean Lebel (Rémy Girard), a notary for whom the twins' mother worked, reads their mother's last wishes. Upon the reading of these, Jean give one envelope to each twin. Jeanne has to give this envelope to a father who apparently didn't die during the Lebanese Civil War and Simon, to a brother he and his sister have never heard of.

From this day on, Jeanne begins her personal investigation in an unidentified Middle Eastern country (read: Lebanon) in order to gather informations about who her mom really was and where her father is. While Simon loathes his mom and doesn't want to bring the envelope to the mysterious brother, he joins Jeanne in her trip because of his bond with her. Together, Simon and Jeanne will try to understand why their mom had remained silent on her dark past.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Canadian TV Series 'Being Erica' Will Have a U.S. Remake


ABC, an American TV network, might produce the American remake of the Canadian TV series Being Erica, according to the magazine Variety.

No actress has been confirmed to play the part of Erica, which was played by Erin Karpluk in the original Canadian version. However, Temple Street Productions, a production company from Toronto, and ABC have made a deal to produce the remake, reports Variety.

The Canadian original version stars Erin Karpluk, as Erica Strange. She's a thirty-something woman from Toronto who meets a therapist (Michael Riley) after a mishap.

This therapist, named Dr. Tom, allows her to revisit regrets from her own past. Through this therapy, Dr. Tom wants Erica to learn how to fix her life and live the fate she wants.

Maggie Friedman (Eastwick) will write the U.S. remake and will also be the executive producer of the show.

The third season of Being Erica will premiere on SoapNet, a cable network, on January 26 at 11 PM.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

'18 to Life' Season 1 On DVD On Jan. 18


CBC announced that the first season of the sitcom 18 to Life will come out on DVD on January 18, 2011. The show will also return for a second season this winter.

Tom Bellow (Michael Seater) and Jessie Hill (Stacey Farber) are two neighbours who've been living side by side since their childhood. They're both 18 years old. In the pilot, they decide to marry each other. However, their parents have reservations about this marriage and believe that it won't last.

The show also stars Erin Agostino, Alain Goulem, Angela Asher, Jesse Rath, Kaniehtiio Horn, Arielle Shiri, Peter Keleghan, Ellen David and Carl Alacchi.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

First Clips of 'Good Neighbours'


The first three clips of Jacob Tierney's Good Neighbours surfaced online and the release date for the film hasn't been announced yet.

Speaking about the story, the film is adapted from the novel Chère voisine, which was written by Chrystine Brouillet, and takes place in 1995, the year of the second referendum on the separation of Quebec. In the dead of winter, a serial killer is on the loose in the small Montreal neighbourhood of Notre Dame de Grace. The tenants of an old apartment house must figure out who they can trust and who they can't.

The film stars Jay Baruchel, Scott Speedman, Emily Hampshire, Xavier Dolan, Gary Farmer, Kaniehtiio Horn, Anne-Marie Cadieux, Pat Kiely, Nathalie Girard and Sean Lu.




Monday, December 6, 2010

First Clip of Action Comedy 'L'appât'


Yesterday, the first clip of the upcoming action comedy L'appât was presented during the talk show Tout le monde en parle. The film will be released in Quebec in December 17.

The film is directed by Yves Simoneau and co-written with William Reymond, a French journalist.

The film takes place in Montreal and a French citizen got murdered. Since that French citizen had highly important information, the French government sends Ventura (Rachid Badouri), an elite spy who can speak eight languages. However, Ventura will discover that Prudent Philippe Poirier (Guy A. Lepage), an agent of the Sûreté du Québec (SQ), is on the investigation whether Ventura likes it or not. As time goes by, both of them will learn how to work together.

The film also stars Ayisha Issa, Maxim Roy, Romano Orzari, Serge Dupire, Alain Moussi, Joe DeMarco


Friday, December 3, 2010

Canadian Films Go to Sundance

Five Canadian films are in the Sundance Film Festival's line-up.

World Cinema Dramatic Competition

The Salesman (Le vendeur)
Director: Sébastien Pilote
Car salesman Marcel Lévesque operates by the rules of a bygone era, turning on the charm to make his quota. But the increasing decline of his fading industrial town threatens to plummet this peddler of dreams into an unfriendly reality.
Cast: Gilbert Sicotte and Nathalie Cavezzali.

Vampire
Director: Iwai Shunji
On the surface, Simon seems like a fairly normal, average young man, devoted to his teaching job and ailing mother. Secretly, he is compelled to hunt through online chat rooms and message boards, searching for the perfect girl who will ensure his own survival.
Cast: Kevin Zegers, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Rachel Leigh Cook, Kristin Kreuk, Aoi Yu and Adelaide Clemens.

***
Spotlight

Incendies
Director: Denis Villeneuve
A mother's last wish sends Jeanne and Simon, twins living in Canada, on a journey to the Middle East in search of their tangled roots.
Cast: Lubna Azabal, Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin, Maxim Gaudette and Rémy Girard.

***

Park City at Midnight

Hobo with A Shotgun
Director: Jason Eisener
A hobo hops from a train with dreams of a fresh life in a new city, but instead finds himself trapped in an urban hell. When he witnesses a brutal robbery, he realizes the only way to deliver justice is with a shotgun in his hands and two shells in the chamber.
Cast: Rutger Hauer, Molly Dunsworth, Gregory Smith and Brian Downey.

***

Premiere

I Melt with You
Director: Mark Pellington
Four friends gather every year to celebrate their friendship. This year they are unexpectedly forced to confront a forgotten promise they made 25 years earlier. As they examine choices they've made, they realize that what they said they would do with their lives and what they have done are entirely different.
Cast: Thomas Jane, Jeremy Piven, Rob Lowe, Christian McKay, Carla Gugino.

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