Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Films du Fleur de Lys: Polytechnique

Polytechnique (2009, Denis Villeneuve)

Not long ago we reviewed another Denis Villeneuve film, Incendies, which offered a sprawling family drama that not only covered 3 separate generations but also took the protagonists half way around the world. Polytechnique, while concerned with an event whose emotional, psychological and historical ramifications are as dense as they are unforgettable, is a far more contained film, the thrust of its plot occurring really in only one location. On December 6th, 1989, a very disturbed young man entered Montréal’s École Polytechnique with a Mini-14 rifle, chose a random class in which he separated the male and female students, and proceeded to gun down the latter group. His deranged vendetta against women and feminism at large continued as the killer walked the hallways of the school, on the prowl for more female students. After slaughtering 14 women and injuring several others, he finally took his own life.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Rambo marathon: Rambo

Rambo (2008, Sylvester Stallone)

After a wait of almost 20 years, one of the most popular American action movie heroes (second to maybe only Bruce Willis’ John McClane) was ready to return to the silver screen. After several attempts at finding the right story, writer, director and star Sylvester Stallone once again got down and dirty against some of the world’s most ferocious enemies by interpreting the role of John Rambo one last time. As with the three previous instalments, the plot and, more specifically, the story’s location has a distinct topicality about it, sending John and a group of mercenaries off to Burma in a desperate rescue mission for a group of Christian Missionaries and doctors who wilfully chose to venture into the war torn  country  to come to the aid of poor civilians. In of itself the plot to this latest chapter in the franchise sounds good enough, but with so much time elapsed between episodes, would the character hold up to par with what action fans expect in this day and age. More importantly, would we at long last be awarded with something resembling a satisfying conclusion for this character we have come to love despite some of his more reprehensible qualities?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Blogging Around (November 24th, 2010)

Hello readers!

It's time again to browse around the other film blogs for all the little treasure troves that some of you may have overlooked. Fear not, that's what this recurring blog column is all about, making sure you don't miss because we at Between the Seats have done all the work for you. I may not live in the United States, but they are a neighbouring country and I hear that this week is Thanksgiving in their neck of the woods, so let's just say I'm doing this in the spirit of things. Enjoy!

Laura at City Lights is all giddy about the new 127 Hours film, especially for the structure of the story and for lead actor James Franco's performance. Check out the full review.

We've all had those discussion (or arguments) about whether or not the movie or the source material on which it was based on, usually a book, was the superior product. Well, Norma at The Flick Chick is comparing the first novel and film in the Millenium trilogy, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Read to find out what her verdict is. The conclusion may surprise you.

I'm not the biggest Tony Scott fan (Man on Fire is the only movie of his that I'm ready to say that I love, much of the rest is rather 'meh'), but Mike Lippert makes a solid case for the merits for the director's latest collaborative effort with Denzel Washington, Unstoppable. Read the full review here.

This has nothing to do with film, but Sarah at Sarah's Kitchen Adventures (who is also a fellow Filmspotter. Represent!) is sharing a recipe for Red Velvet cupcakes. The name alone made me check out her blog post and quite frankly, I think I will eat some as I watch some films over the upcoming weekend.

And to my American neighbours and fellow bloggers: Have a fantastic Thanksgiving! Hey, it gives us NFL football in the middle of the week, so it must a great holiday!

Review: Mean Streets

Mean Streets (1973, Martin Scorsese)

Mean Streets is one of American director Martin Scorsese’s earlier films that, for an entire variety of reasons, tends to get overlooked over by many devotees. Merely off the top of my head, I can name three of those reasons: Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and Goodfellas. All three have been declared, time and time again, as masterpieces of American cinema and many a film buff holds those three critically lauded efforts dear to his or her heart. I also have a strong fondness for those movies, with the highest honours going to Taxi Driver were I to say which one I like most. Mean Streets is Scorsese at his most raw, a film that is gifted with such a sense of purity in terms of storytelling  it is small wonder that much of what we see on screen was inspired by what the director witnessed himself as a young boy living in the lower economic class, Italian-American neighbourhood of New York. 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Rambo marathon: Rambo III rebuttal

Rambo III: Second Blood Part 2.1: When helping the Mujahidin was cool: rebuttal

For the uninitiated, your should read Bill's review of Rambo III to fully appreciate the genius of the text below.
A Russian helicopter is on the hunt for John Rambo as our hero is trying to stave off an onslaught from a crazed Russian general obsessed with the idea of vaporizing a small Afghan community. John, god-gifted with the predatory instincts of a velociraptor à la Jurassic Park (sans fangs however), gages the direction from which the machine approaches and quickly gathers his weapons of choice to create one of the most objectively awesome weapons in the franchise, if not all of the 1980s: the exploding arrow. Just as the Russian pilot believes to have John right he wants him, Rambo, with the precision and swiftness that would make Cirque du Soleil jugglers blush, finishes off his bow and arrow, raises the weapon in the direction of the oncoming enemy and launches. Dosvedania, you cock sucker!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Rambo marathon: Rambo III

Rambo III (1988, Peter MacDonald)

From the ashes a phoenix rises. After a hero’s downfall he or she must be redeemed, either by their own actions or the grace of some higher power. Perhaps this elusive force is called God, maybe fate, or studio executives, who knows?  When we last saw John Rambo, he had embarked on a redemptive mission in Vietnam in order to finally do some genuine good and prove that ‘the system’ sucks. With regards to plot, that all worked out by the time the end credits rolled. From a qualitative point of view, that movie blew up in its own face. Money is the most likely answer as to why a third film was put into production just a few years later, but the creation of a third instalment was nonetheless an opportunity to give Rambo a solid action movie. Replicating the story of First Blood was impossible because it was unique and contained, but Rambo could still, hopefully at least, be part of a rousing and worthwhile war film.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Review: The Wicker Man

The Wicker Man (1973, Robin Hardy)

The act of upholding one’s beliefs, especially those of religious nature, when under the pressure of that which seems to contradict those beliefs and possibly dangerous to them, can be viewed in very positive light. In the worst circumstances, the encounter of two strongly held belief systems can, and has in the past, lead to suspicion, antagonism and seclusion by choice or by force. Religion is one of those subjects than stir up passionate actions and reactions, sometimes dangerously so. Such is the case in the story of Robin Hardy’s directorial debut, the 1973 cult classic The Wicker Man. Upon arriving at the station one day, Sergeant Howie  (Edward Woodward) receives an alarming letter from a woman living on Summerisle. It seems that her daughter has gone missing without a trace. A picture is attached to the letter.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Hello readers,

If you visit the site frequently, you've noticed that activity has been low in the past couple of weeks. Well, as has happened in the past, I tend to enter brief periods during which the work load, social life and by extension just general fatigue set in to the point where I neither have the time nor the energy to write a series of reviews. I just escaped that little slump a couple of days ago and now Between the Seats is ready to hit the ground running again. Next weekend the 'Rambo' and 'Glory of Rome' marathons continue, and be sure to keep your eyes open for some random reviews throughout the week, starting with the 1936 gangster movie Bullets or Ballots, for which I posted a review in the previous post.

It's good to be back!

Review: Bullets or Ballots

Bullets or Ballots (1936, William Keighly)

In the early 1930s, Warner Bros. film studios produced a series of hits in which the protagonists of the stories were in fact society’s antagonists. That’s right, the era of the gangster pictures in Hollywood was in full swing during thus particular decade, a decade in which names such as James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson quickly became synonymous with tough, steadfast, exciting and larger than life characters who hunted for what they wanted and took what they liked. The mid to late 1930s were an example however of what can happen when direct pressure and influence from society is applied to the studio system. The Haze code in particular dictated what could and couldn’t be seen in action movies and, along with consistent complaints from vocal portions of the movie going public, stars just like Robinson eventually took on the roles of the heroes. Rather than witness a steady decline in quality in the gangster films (which could have easily been the result of such intrusive middling), some of the best entries in the genre saw the light of day.