Friday, April 29, 2011

review: The Dark Crystal

The Dark Crystal (1982, Frank Oz and Jim Henson)

One movie watching habit that has never truly spoken to me is re-visiting films that were parts of my childhood. There is a litany of movies that, as a youngling growing up in my parent’s home, I watched maybe once, twice, thrice and so forth, but in almost each case the last time I saw them was no later than at the age of 8 or 9. I remember loving most, but who knows what the reaction would be now that the author is a full-fledged adult. There are exceptions to that rule, one being the early 80s fantasy film The Dark Crystal, a historic collaboration between legendary puppeteer masters Frank Oz and Jim Henson. If memory serves me well, it was one of the children’s films I had only seen once, until recently of course. What exactly propelled me to re-visit the film a couple of months back I do not recall, but the watching experience was a memorable one, both for nostalgic reasons and others more substantial. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

2011 LAMMYs

Hello readers,

From now until May 9th, 2011, you are invited to vote for your favourite blogs in the 2011 LAMMYs, a celebration of the best film related blogs that wrote and published articles over the past 12 months. Between the Seats became a LAMB member just about a year ago ironically enough, and so it seems fitting that 1 year later we earn the right to throw our name into the hat. Best of luck to all fellow eligible LAMB members (I believe the 2011 edition is open to members 1-900), but of course, if you are a frequent visitor to Between the Seats, then you know who to vote for!

Let's start the campaign! VOTE HERE.

Review: Miracle Mile

Miracle Mile (1988, Steve De Jarnatt)

We all have those movies that, had we turned the other way a second earlier, or had we not listened to ‘that specific episode’ of whatever specific show, we never would have heard of. Such is the case with me for Steve De Jarnatt’s little known 1988 apocalypse film, Miracle Mile. It was about a week ago or so that the hosts of a local podcast (Sound on Sight. MontrĂ©al represent!) show were reviewing a listener’s request, which was the aforementioned film. I had never heard of the title, never heard of the director, had only fleetingly heard of one of its starts (Anthony Edwards, who went on to play in television’s ER, a show I have never watched), but the plot intrigued me, as did the bits of the production history the hosts shared, among them the fact that the director had signed a deal by which only he could ever be attached as director to the project and that he actually had to purchase the script back from the studio before convincing anybody to fund the endeavour. Lastly, and this is often a reason that peeks my interest in more obscure films, the movie was a box office dud. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Summer Time films

Hello readers!

The blockbuster season is not far off. In fact, in only a couple of weeks the season kicks off with Thor, a movie I have zero interest in seeing other than for the fact that it features Nathalie Portman. Some of you many recall that last year Between the Seats had an epic Homemade Summer Movie Marathon, which had us discuss a lot of action and science-fiction films. Basically the kind of stuff that is released in the summer, but only the movies we wanted to see and write about. It went over rather well with the readers and was arguably what gave this blog a shot in the arm in terms of recognition.

Parting shot: The Proposition

As per usual, a proper understanding of what's happening in this article can only be attained after reading the original review at Bill's Movie Emporium.

I guess the feud was never going to last very long. After two weeks of Wild Bunch talk in which you and I had some legitimate issues of contention, we find ourselves yet again, for the most part, agreeing on a given film.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Capsule reviews: The Big Boss, Fist of Fury, Way of the Dragon

For all the martial arts themed films I have watched over the years, prior to last weekend I had never seen a Bruce Lee film. Never, not even his famous Enter the Dragon. While I have yet to see that one, last weekend was put to good use via a quick Bruce Lee marathon featuring three films. The bulk of his work, such as the television shows he was on and the aforementioned Enter the Dragon, remain unseen, but at least now I don’t look like a complete moron when I say ‘Sorry, I haven’t seen any Bruce Lee.’

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

review: Hanna

Hanna (2011, Joe Wright)

It has been some time since a genuinely different major action movie had snuggled its way into theatres. There clearly have been some good ones roaming in and out of the multiplexes, but nothing which made an effort to stand out in any essential way. What’s more, few of the attempts to pit female characters in the spotlight of thrilling adventure stories making significant inroads in the market, be it thanks to box office or critical success. Along comes Joe Wright’s Hanna, based on a script that, as word has it, was kicked around Hollywood for some time before anybody legitimately stepped up to the plate to adapt the story. What on a surface level seems like a run of the mill Jason Bourne-esque spy thriller turns out to be far more than the curious viewer may have bargained for.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Shootout at High Noon: The Proposition

The Proposition (John Hillcoat)
John Hillcoat’s is one of those directors who probably will never become a household name by the simple nature of the projects he chooses and the style with he approaches said material. For the former, the type of projects chosen, his choices are never quite mainstream even though they succeed in attracting big name stars and for the latter, his style, he is very careful to do things in his own way which is to take his time in setting a mood and to have the audience truly get a sense of the location where the action occurs. There are moments of high drama and moments of sheer violence, but they always emerge out of the story’s context and never feel gratuitous. Such is the storytelling technique adopted when he took the directing helm for 2005’s gritty anti-western, The Proposition.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Blogging Around (April 14th 2011)


I have been naughty rather than nice in recent weeks. I keep meaning to visit and read the works of my fellow bloggers, but time has been of the essence as of late. Work has piled up and making the effort to write reviews on a consistent basis is something of a challenge. It will take a lot more than that for to fail you though. Here is a list of what Between the Seats has found interesting:

review: Certified Copy

Copie conforme/Certified Copy (2010, Abbas Kiarostami)

Imagine looking at what appears to be a remarkable work of art. It possesses great detail, wonderful ambition and fills you up with a wide array of thoughts and emotions, just as good works of art should. Suddenly you are told that the object which caught your eyes is nothing more than a replicate of an artist’s original work. The one before you still has the same amount of detail and beauty as it did moments ago, yet chances are your perception of the object has changed drastically, most likely for the worse. Now think of a friendship you once had with someone in particular. Much time has elapsed and your paths have diverged. Maybe there was a rupture between the two of you. You both meet again some time later, and while pleasantries are exchanged and the conversation remains civil, neither is under the illusion that everything is alright. What you have now with that person is but a manufactured copy of sorts of what used to bind you. In each case the copies are satisfying in some respects, but ultimately feel hollow. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Far East Specials: Bodyguards and Assassins

Bodyguards and Assassins (2009, Teddy Chen)

Historical epics are plenty of fun when done right. The ones that earn special praise from this movie admirer are those which make successful use of a major historical event to tell a smaller, more intimate tale. The task is not a simple one, for a fine balancing act must be performed between what is typically the fictional take of the central protagonists and the very important backdrop that is the historical event. What is the significance of the heroes’ link to the major event? The tighter the link, the richer the drama, says I. Teddy Chen’s 2009 martial arts-socio-political historical drama Bodyguards and Assassins offers as tight a link as can be.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Parting shot: The Wild Bunch

*Prior to reading this article, check out Bill's review of the film, to which this is a reply.

While I was relieved to learn that your overall impressions of the film were positive, it was, perhaps expectedly, your criticisms which stood out most. Some of the comments elaborated on earned modest nods of approval, but in the end I had something of a bone to pick with almost everything you wrote about. Granted, not every criticism has the same amount of impact, so let’s begin with the simpler stuff.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

del Toro Time: The Devil's Backbone

The Devil’s Backbone / El Espinazo del Diablo (2001, Guillermo del Toro)
*this reviewer will contain spoilers for crucial plot points. Without them I fear my criticisms would come across as empty.

It is a loathsome situation when, as a movie watcher, expectations come back to haunt oneself. The topic has been brought more than once here at Between the Seats, and therefore little time shall be spared for it again in this introduction, but suffice to say that the author does his very best to let movies envelope him and shun expectations aside. The del Toro Time marathon has thus far been a resounding success in terms of quality films to dissect, especially the director’s two Spanish language efforts, El Laberinto del Fauno and Cronos (which has some English but is predominantly in Spanish). Finalizing the marathon with one of the director’s lesser known films to mainstream audiences but one which a) garnered critical praise upon its release in 2001, b)was produced by none other  than Pedro Almodovar and c) is a Spanish language film, seemed like a great idea. As I write this review, a slight ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda’ feeling is creeping up. The film would have been a far better fit near the beginning of the marathon. 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Shootout at High Noon: The Wild Bunch

 The Wild Bunch (1969, Sam Peckinpah)
Sam Peckinpah loved the western genre. He made lots of them, but maybe none of his memorable efforts embraced the possibilities of the genre and its themes as unabashedly as his most memorable one, The Wild Bunch. A quality many associate with the film is ‘violent.’ While that much is true, very much so in fact, The Wild Bunch has far, far more going for and it is the opinion of the author that the films many outstanding qualities lie in Peckinpah’s love for the genre, the popularity of which was dwindling by the late 1960s. There are plenty of elements that make the film stand apart from the traditional westerns despite that by the end it nonetheless felt as though it had adhered to many of its tropes.

Shootout at High Noon

A old, dusty book lies on shelf in the far corner of the library. The title 'Stories of the Old West', strikes your  curiosity. You open to the first page...