Monday, February 22, 2016

Boyhood (2014)

What a sight to see.

Richard Linklater's Boyhood is about an American family was shot over 12 years.

There's no series of actors playing the children of Ethan Hawke and Patrica Arquette.

That's Ellar Coltrane and Lorelei Linklater audiences are seeing from childhood to adulthood.

Boyhood offers guides along the way to show the passage of time - references to Facebook, the 2008 American presidential election, Twilight, Star Wars and Lady Gaga (I think).

Mom (Arquette) succeeds in her professional life, but keeps striking out in her relationships.

Dad (Hawke) makes up for being away from his kids when they're young with advice that's usually bang-on.

This site is for films released 10 or more years ago, but I couldn't resist taking a look at Boyhood.

Arquette won an Oscar for best supporting actress. The film was nominated for five other Academy Awards including best picture, director and actor. Sandra Adair also rightfully received an Oscar nod for editing 12 years of footage together.

See this film.

RATING: 8/10

Wayne's World (1992)

Wayne's World, party on. Not so much.

I remember being behind the wheel driving some friends during Christmas or reading week break from university. Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody started to play on the radio. Head banging ensued when the opera part ended and the rock section began. This would make a good scene for a movie, I thought.

Then I saw Wayne's World on the big screen when I was going to teacher's college in Barrie in 1992.

Mike Myers captured my idea and, let's be honest, reached a heck of a lot more movie-goers than your humble scribe.

I revisited Myers' film 24 years later.

My thoughts - there are some very funny scenes here, others are definitely ho-hum.

Wayne and best buddy Garth Algar (Dana Carvey) broadcast their community cable TV show, Wayne's World, from Wayne's basement.

The show's success makes up for Wayne's lack of accomplishments with a career. "I have an extensive collection of name tags and hair nets," he notes early on.

Producer Benjamin Oliver (Rob Lowe) catches the late-night hijinks and senses a prime business opportunity. Pair Wayne's World with arcade tycoon Noah Vanderhoft (Brian Doyle-Murray). Yes, kids, for a lot of years, went to arcades to play video games.

Getting handed $5,000 each is too much for Wayne and Garth to start asking too many questions, ie. what's in the contract. Strange that Garth breaks the fourth wall to talk to the audience about his uneasiness about doing business with Benjamin, but he signs anyways.

The production moves from the suburbs to the television studio. Wayne finds, surprise, surprise, doing business with the big boys means he no longer has total control over his show. He feuds with Benjamin, makes friend of Vanderhoft and risks losing his promising rock with babe-a-licious rocker Cassandra (Tia Carrere).

Along the way, there's pop culture references that may be a little dated to audiences now - television's Laverne and Shirley, Terminator II and Scooby Doo.

As a Canadian, it's fun to see Myers' nods to his roots by having some of the film's action take place at Mikita Doughuts, no coubt a reference to the Tim Hortons' chain north of the 49th parallel and Wayne and Garth playing street hockey. Naturally, they yell out "Car" and "game on" in-between plays. I'll also give marks for Wayne learning Cantonese to impress Cassandra. Too bad this scene drags on a bit too long.

Alice Cooper has a cameo. Too bad it's not very funny.

Wayne's World is not excellent, but not bad.

RATING: 6/10

FUN FACTS: That's the late Chris Farley as the security guard Wayne and Garth meet at the Alice Cooper concert.

Ione Skye, woman of my university dreams, how could I not recognize you in this film. Need to go back and see when Elyse appears in this film.

Oh, Ed O'Neill from television's Married with Children is the manager of Mikita's. His scenes are not that funny.

Myers and Carvey won best on-screen duo from MTV Movie Awards in 2003. Excellent!

I feel sorry for Lara Flynn Boyle. She's wasted here as Wayne's ex-girlfriend who just can't get over the break-up.

Wayne's World II followed a year later.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Letters From Iwo Jima (2006)

Sorry, Clint, your film didn't make my day.

The television mini-series The Pacific set the bar very high for stories depicting the battle for the island of Iwo Jima during the Second World War.

The Pacific was very intense with action sequences that brought this film fan to the edge of his seat. Stories of the lives of American soldiers were also powerful.

Director Clint Eastwood's Letters from Iwo Jima isn't so much about combat, but trying to survive near-certain death. There's little tension here.

Japanese soldier Saigo (Kazunari Ninomiya) wasn't keen to enlist. He was told he was signing up. A baker by trade, his concern is to get home to his wife and young child.

That desire to live doesn't fit in well when he's a Japanese soldier tasked with defending Iwo Jima from American invasion. There's no realistic chance of the Japanese winning. They have no air or naval support. Tanks are out of commission. Supplies, such as food and ammunition, are scarce. Rather, their goal is to hold the Americans off for as long as possible and die in service to their country.

Saigo gets some much-needed help from the new commander of the American forces, General Kuribayashi (Ken Watanabe). He's not keen on seeing his troops punished - such as Saigo when he wonders why the Japanese just don't surrender. Kuribayashi spent time in the United States before the start of the Second World War. His view on warfare isn't shared by some of his subordinate officers.

Letters to and from soldiers serving on Iwo Jima come up throughout the film. Correspondence, especially as the end nears, offers a chance for soldiers to forget about their dire situation.

Letters from Iwo Jima was nominated for four Oscars, including best picture and direction. It's OK, but not great. There are better war films to watch.

RATING: 7/10