Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 year in review : Top 10 films

Hello readers,

Let's bring in 2012 with style by listing Between the Seats' favourite films of 2011. I'm sure every single blog out there has written up a nice little prologue to their lists, so I figured we should just skip the pleasantries and get on with it, no? Without further ado:

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Capsule reviews galore!

Hello readers,

Here is a sample of the films Between the Seats watched over the past few days. We hope you enjoy these brief reviews. Coming up over the course of the weekend and into next week is a series of end of the year lists, much like what was done at this time in 2010. Reviews and marathon will resume in regular fashion by late next week. Thanks again for visiting!

The Artist (2011, Michel Hazanavicious)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Bloggin' Around: End of the year

Hello readers,

2011 will soon be over and, as a blogger, I have not really done my duty this year. The real purpose behind everyone writing and publishing material on their respective blogs, apart from satisfying our inner craving for everyone's attention because clearly each of our individual opinions is the opinion the internet should be reading (clearly), is to share thoughts on the art of film. You visit my blog, I visit your blog, you comment on my blog, I comment on yours, and so on and so forth. I didn't understand this movie, did you? Oh, I should read that post you wrote in the hopes that I will gain a better understanding of said movie. Well written, blogger X, well written. Roger who? I like your blog more.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009, Niels Arden Opley)

Here we are again, for the second time in a single week, discussing The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. This time it is the original Swedish version, which erupted onto the cinematic landscape only two years ago, in 2009. Its rise to fame was stratospheric, with film goers embracing its pulpy nature and the titular girl with the dragon tattoo, one of the more unique characters to inhabit a mainstream picture in some time. In fact, Montréal received the film a little bit before everybody else in North America (although why is a good question). If remember serves me correctly, it was an early summer release in '09 under the title Millenium, and the local press was quite adamant this was the movie event of the year. The strangest part is that the film came out again under the title The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. If one steps into an HMV store in Montréal, one can buy a Blu-ray of Millenium and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo even though they are one and the same film.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Exciting announcement! Between the Seats joins Sound on Sight

Hello readers,

I hope you are enjoying this holiday season with friends and family. Today, Between the Seats comes to you with an exciting announcement. Last weekend on the Sight on Sound website, the editor in chief, Ricky D, posted an invitation to any writers who expressed desire in joining their writing staff. We may have mentioned Sound on Sight a couple of times in the past, perhaps more for their podcasting talents than anything else, but they do in fact have a large, talented pool of writers who share thoughts and analysis on film, be it for new releases, festivals or cult classics. If there was only one tiny thing that made me hesitate before replying to the invite, some might recall that twice in the past Between the Seats had associated itself of other web sites and on both occasions the sites in question did not stay up for very long.

Friday, December 23, 2011

review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011, David Fincher)

There are some phenomena in the entertainment industry which strike a nerve among the populace with such ferocity that it creates a 'before and after' effect. Star Wars (1977), Jurassic Park and Avatar are such films. They catch on like wild fire and never loosen their grip. It is debatable whether or Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo book series fall in such an illustrious category, although attempting to minimize the magnitude of its popularity would be foolish. Since the first book's publication in 2005, readers have devoured the stories of anti-socialite, computer wizard Lisbeth Salander and grizzled veteran journalist Mikael Blomqvist. The cultural impact of Larsson's sprawling epics is not limited to the page, but expanded to the screen as well. In 2009, a Swedish adaptation was incredibly well received both in its native land and abroad (although its two television bound sequels were not). Now arrives the bizarre English language remake from David Fincher of Zodiac and Seven fame.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

review: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011, Tomas Alfredson)

One of the defining English language novels of the 20th century, Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy has earned a rightful place on a countless number lists which enumerate the most artistically important novels of the past 100 years or so. Anyone willing to venture into the spy genre in literature is immediately directed not only to the works of John Le Carré (pen name), but specifically that novel. As most people familiar with the film world are keenly aware, successful books typically lead to cinematic and television adaptations, and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy has not been exempt from such a treatment. The 1970s saw the creation of a BBC miniseries starring the legendary Sir Alec Guiness and, interestingly enough, the series itself has garnered near equal praise to that received by the source material. Now, in 2011, over 30 years after that BBS show, arrives the film adaptation, highlighted by, firstly, a remarkable cast that would make even Steven Soderbergh blush, and secondly, by one of the most interesting new directors on the scene, Swede Tomas Alfredson, who wowed just about everyone three prior with the vampire tale Let the Right One In.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Capsule reviews: Ghost Protocol, Groundhog Day

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011, Brad Bird)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Shaw Brothers Marathon: The 36th Chamber of the Shaolin

The 36th Chamber of the Shaolin (1978, Lau Kar-leung)

And now, after an epic and adventurous Shaw Brothers ride, our long journey ends here. A 13 movie marathon than began way, way back in June now concludes with the film many afficionados consider to be the granddady of all martial arts films, let alone Shaw Brothers films, The 36th Chamber of the Shaolin. The picture's influence on many kung fu films that followed in considerable, hence its deemed historical relevancy, but also been touted as simply a great action movie, period. This marathon has already taken a brief look at director Lau Kar-leung's work (also known as Liu-Chia-liang) earlier with our review of Heroes of the East, a film Between the Seats nearly praised to the high heavens. It also reunites him with that same film's star, the inimitable Gordon Liu. Clearly, there was no more fitting way to finish off this massive undertaking. Without further ado, let us climb the mountain leading the famous shaolin temple, where the world's great masters of kung fu practice and perfect their multidisciplinary art form in its cleverly devised chambers.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

review: The Adventures of Tintin

The Adventures of Tintin (2011, Steven Spielberg)

The holiday movie season is now upon us, and first up to bat is the computer generated animated adaptation of a legendary comic book (or 'bande déssinée' as they are known in French) from a legendary director. How is that to raise some stakes? North Americans are not as familiar with the character of Tintin and his funny looking hairdo as they are with other mainstream stories. That is not terribly surprising, what with the gargantuan amount of home grown comic book stories from Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Vertigo and so many other popular, successful publishers. It is true that Tintin, being a Belgian creation from the mind of one Hergé (pen name), reaches out to the sensibilities of European comic readers more so than North Americans. The dominant reason why this movie fan is familiar with the source material is his Québec, Canada upbringing, that being an officially francophone province and therefore a more interesting market for books such as Tintin than elsewhere on the continent. Now comes the big budget interpretation of the material from a director who speaks no French but, in preparing the film, professed his love for the stories and desire to bring something special to the big screen.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Shaw Brothers Marathon: Crippled Avengers

Crippled Avengers aka Return of the 5 Deadly Venoms (1978, Chang Cheh)

An updated version of this review is now exclusively available at Sound on Sight in the Shaw Bros. Saturday column.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Definitive Bond Marathon: Quantum of Solace (2008)

(directed by Marc Forster)
In the aftermath of 007’s (Daniel Craig) mission to trap Le Chiffre, Her Majesty’s Secret Service received a rude awakening concerning the existence of a new terrorist organization: Quantum. How was it that this seemingly sophisticated, well funded and fully operational group could come to be without our knowing was baffling to say the least, but reality hit home when, upon interrogating one of its high ranking associates Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) in Siena Italy, an MI6 traitor attempted to assassinate M (Judi Dench). 007 chased down and liquidated the thug, but the event created new clues to the whereabouts and goals of the terrorists.

Haiti was Bond’s next destination where curious discoveries were made. First, almost all the leads on hand at the time led 007 to a certain Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), a successful business, philanthropist and environmentalist who was shaking hands with the devil: exiled Bolivian general Medrano (Joaquin Cosio). The reason behind this alliance remained a mystery for a while, but things grew ever more interesting when a renegade Bolivian agent, the stunning and headstrong Camille (Olga Kurylenko) not only made her presence known but demonstrated her own vested interests in getting close to Greene. She was, at first glance, the entrepreneur’s current lover, but Bond’s association with her helped reveal some of the truth behind Greene and General Medrano. Camille in fact wanted Greene dead for some very personal reasons, and 007 needed to stop him before controlling one of the world’s most precious resources...

Friday, December 2, 2011

December preview

Hello readers!
A little preview for what is to come in December, this being the final month of the year and all.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Capsule reviews: Batman, Moneyball, Piel que habito

Holy captivating capsules, readers! It’s another series of capsule reviews!

Batman (1966, Leslie H. Martinson)

Recently I have stumbled upon a television station named Teletoon Retro, which runs a series of family oriented cartoons dating back to the 90s, 80s, 70s and even the 60s. For some weird reason they also show a few live action programmes, one of them being the 60s Adam West Batman series. Seeing a few episodes brought back happy memories, and when I saw the blu-ray movie for a few bucks, I picked it up as a blind buy, no hesitation.