Thursday, January 28, 2010

R.I.P.- J.D. Salinger

The catcher has gone to the big rye field in the sky.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sherlock Holmes

Despite my concerns about Guy Ritchie's rendition of the Holmes legend I had every intention of being there for the Christmas day opening. Alas, life does get in the way sometimes as does my snobbish and hypocritical tendencies. I say hypocritical in the sense that I always love the Basil Rathbone Sherlock pictures when in reality they have little if nothing at all sometimes to do with what Doyle wrote yet I can jump up and down and complain about Guy possibly doing the same thing. Hypocrite! Snobbish in "why can't the studios come up with something new instead of bastardizing the classics and WTF, Downey Jr. as Holmes ????????....never going to work".

Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong!

Right from the get go this Sherlock is action, action, action and it packs one hell of a powerful kick. Downey is fantastic and Jude Law more than keeps up. Even though the story is unlike any Doyle ever provided it captures the nature of his universe and there are enough obscure references to keep the hard core fans happy and it's great to see Downey sans deerstalker. An interesting thing Ritchie does with baddie Mark Strong is film in such as fashion as he often resembles the late Jeremy Brett which is quite disturbing. All around fabulous fun and like the new STAR TREK leaves you wishing the sequel were coming out next week.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Roland Emmerich gets all new agey and brings John Cusack on board for this end of ages tale about global demise this time round using solar activity instead of aliens and blows the shit out of everything....again. As always the visuals are great but we've seen it all before and it gets rather boring mighty quick. Oliver Platt almost succeeds in bringing some human menace to the mix and Woody Harrelson delivers in spades on the comedy front but in the end 2012 is a take it or leave it proposition.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Four Christmases

I know Christmas is eleven months away and it seems like we just got rid of the last one but don't let this scare you away from this Vince Vaughn, Resse Witherspoon comedy. Critics kicked it and the general public seems to have hated it but I thought there were some killer laugh out loud moments, in particular the revival church scene with Dwight Yokam in which Vaughn is simply a riot. Always nice to see Kristin Chenowith of ROBOT CHICKEN fame and of course Robert Duvall nearly steals the show. Nothing highbrow but good for a smile or two.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

R.I.P.-Paul Quarrington

It is with great sadness I write this. Though his fight with the demon of cancer is over the hole left in the Toronto arts community will be there for ages. Enjoy the cafe in the sky brother.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I Sell the Dead

This little dark comedy from Glenn McQuaid seems to have been lost in the proverbial DVD graveyard but is well worth a boo should you stumble over it. Dominic Monaghan provides the star power name along with support from Ron Perlman and Angus Scrimm but the true star attraction here is Larry Fessenden as the old graverobber who teaches Monaghan the trade with some rather strange results. May be a little slow for some but I loved it and found it reminded me greatly of the Jeremy Brett SHERLOCK HOLMES series. Witty script with a kick-ass climax, I SELL THE DEAD will most certainly sell you given the chance.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Food, Inc.

As many of my friends and regular readers here at INK CASUALTY are all around activists for this cause or that many have overlooked this gem of a documentary thinking it would hold nothing new for them. I would hope that is corrected soon as FOOD, INC. has some special perspectives to offer. First off, I was supremely impressed with the even hand director Robert Kenner uses. He doesn't go for the alarmist jugular opting instead to put the facts and figures there for the viewing to draw their own conclusions and this is an extremely welcome approach when it comes to the subject matter at hand. Of great surprise to me was the segment concerning Walmart and it this which best illustrates the air of hope FOOD, INC. gives. Always great to see Eric Schlosser of FAST FOOD NATION fame and Joel Salatin ( is an absolute pleasure and for those unfamiliar with his work I strongly urge you to check out the family website. I hear this will be running on TVO soon but the DVD is worth checking out for the extras for the bonus Salatin bits.


Let's get this over with right away....AVATAR is probably the most stunning display of visuals I've ever seen on the big screen! I was trying to think back over the years of other films which amazed me in such a fashion, 2001, ALIEN and BLADERUNNER come to mind though none of these films have much to do with AVATAR. I was very careful not to look or read much about this one before I saw it so when it shifted gears from sci-fi to fantasy I can honestly say it took my breath away. There are scenes of beauty here capable of making your heart flutter and it's easy to see why the film is breaking records across the board and why so many people a going back over and over.
The story is nothing special and I suppose this can be expected from a James Cameron feature, there is enough of it to keep the spectacle going and this is all that matters. As for all of the special interest groups yowling about AVATAR (gotta love when the Vatican weighs in on the subject!) they should all take a chill-pill with perhaps the exception of the anti-smoking folks. I still can't figure out why Sigourney Weaver's character does so. Doesn't bother me one way or the other but I'm curious to know why Cameron wrote her that way. I can't help but comment on Zoe Saldana who between playing Neytiri here and Uhura in the new STAR TREK franchise has pretty much cemented her position as the geek-fan-boy wet dream gal of the era. I must also add she does a stunning job in the role. Sam Worthington too is great though his Jarhead part could have done with some better dialogue. One pleasant surprise with the casting, other than seeing the great CCH Pounder finally getting a plum big screen part, was the inclusion of Stephen Lang who we all both loved and hated back in the CRIME STORY series. I was thrilled to see him getting some top notch Hollywood love and I'm sure his and Pounder's inclusion will greatly help their retirement funds. Giovanni Ribisi has a couple moments of note but when all is said and done AVATAR is a feast for the eyes. For those of you who've not yet experienced it, the 3-D is more depth oriented rather than things flying out at you and as much as I enjoy the REAL D 3-D process I have to say I would have rather seen this in regular format as some of the action is so frantic it can make your head spin. It may have something to do with my age but I also could have done with a shortened battle scene at the end but then who am I to complain about this billion dollar epic which will no doubt clean house at the Oscars this year.
In closing, it doens't matter if you despise sci-fi/fantasy films, AVATAR has to be seen to be believed and it does have enough heart to carry you through the weird stuff. Absolute blow-your-mind material!~

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Book of Eli


There is an interesting scene early on where Denzel Washington is sitting on a makeshift bed with a movie poster for A BOY AND HIS DOG hanging behind him which I found a nice touch from The Hughes Brothers. It firmly told me they were more than well aware there are a number of post-apocalyptic flicks out there and allowed me to sit back and enjoy their take on the subject and a mighty fine one it is. Story wise we're not seeing much new (are we ever these days?) but the way they present it is unique enough relying more on the characters than the action and special effects. Oh yes, lots of shit gets blown up mighty good and there are some great fights with Denzel doing all of his own stunt work this time out but it is the interaction between people which sets this one apart. Many critics are of the mind the parts needed to be flushed out more but I can't see why as it would have only muddled up a rather simple tale. From the previews and the title it's easy to discern this would be a Holy Bible, King James version no less, the lead is carrying about and anybody familiar with THE TWILIGHT ZONE or FAHRENHEIT 451 will see the "twist" ending coming from a mile away but I'm of the thought it shouldn't matter as the overall effect is satisfying. Washington as Eli is especially effective in the lead as his is an actual man of faith as I've seen in may interviews with him and it spills over in the role. Gary Oldman as the bad brainer though he does seem to be doing a bad Jack Nicholson impersonation for the whole thing. We can thank the Gods above Kristen Stewart turned down the part of Solara as Mila Kunis of ROBOT CHICKEN fame is excellent and totally rawks the post-apocalyptic chic look, a style I'm just dying to see come into fashion and it spared me having to listen to the darkened masses of TWILIGHT junkies who no doubt would have flooded the theatre like some biblical plague. Good to see Jennifer Beals in a substancial role and nice cameos from Malcolm McDowel and Michael Gambon. Tom Waits once again is great and steals the picture every time he's on screen and good stuff for stunt double extrodinaire Heidi Pascoe getting some screen time. Special mention must be made of the score provided by Atticus Ross. Utterly fantastic and haunting and I hope to hear more from Atticus in the future. Overall well worth the price of the ticket and far better than all of the other overhyped crap out there right now.


A quick warning to all of you little vampire/lycanthropic wannabe tweenies who will no doubt be burning up me email in-box with your vacuous complaints concerning what I'm about to write....don't bother! Rapidly coming on middle age and being male all I can say about TWILIGHT is I'm glad this shit wasn't around when I was a teen or I would have never been laid! I swear, I've never seen a more doe-eyed group of little gothies mooning over such romantic drivel since the remake of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. Hey, great the kids are at least reading something other than HARRY POTTER and all the more power to Stephenie Meyer and her continued trumphs but bloody hell this flick struck me as 90210 meets INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE and I suppose we can put a bit of the blame on Anne Rice for making this broody style of blood sucking popular. In any case, it is perhaps unfair for me to review this at all as when I saw it in the theatre I couldn't hear a damn thing as it sounded like I was having an audio flashback from one of the BACKSTREET BOYS concerts I had to take my daughter to and when I tried to watch the DVD I promptly nodded off and slept like the proverbial dead which is how I think many of the characters in TWILIGHT should have stayed.

Up in the Air

I've tried three times now to finish the Walter Kirn novel this is based on and still haven't managed to do so. I think it has something to do with it being far too friggin' wordy for the subject matter. Just the same, I bought into the critical hype behind the film, George Clooney is fabulous and will finally get his Oscar, Jason Reitman is the director of the hour and has delivered a film for our times etc. etc. and blah blah and more hyperbolic blah. Well, I hope you were busy spending your hard earned dolllars on SHERLOCK HOLMES or AVATAR as I should have been as I'm of the opinion UP IN THE AIR should have crashed like Oceanic Flight 815 'cause by gawd did it ever suck! Sure, Clooney was good, he always is but of the poor bastard gets an Oscar for this it will be an injustice.....he's simply done much better work. Think SYRIANA or MICHAEL CLAYTON. I know he's about to do the genuinely good think with the Haitian eathquake relief benefit so we'll leave him alone and there really isn't anything wrong with Reitman's film as such other than it doesn't live up to the praise and you can quite easily wait for the DVD where it will be more than entertaining for an evening and quickly forgotten by the time HOUSE reruns start at midnight.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

I feel bad for what I'm about to say here as this is a Terry Gilliam film and it is of course Heath Ledger's last but truth be told THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS is nothing special. Oh yes, it's good but we've all come to expect so much more from Gilliam. The visuals are great but nothing we've not seen before. The acting is great but the characters are never developed properly to my liking. There may have been a shift of focus towards Ledger's part after his death and the way they tackle that problem with the replacement actors is a fantastic touch but I can't help feeling the story was about Christopher Plummer and Tom Waits and this is never explored as fully as it might have been. In fact, Waits hands down steals the film in my view which is saying something when Plummer is in the forefront. On a bad day Gilliam's work is better than most so this is by no means a stinker but sadly a rather forgetable piece of work and not the legacy Ledger should or will be remembered by.


The Tim Burton name on the production team had many hyped for this animated adventure from Shane Acker and most were left wanting more. It certainly is a visual wonder but story wise it does not stand out as anything special and even the "special effects" are nothing new to speak of. It like a cross between THE WAR OF THE WORLDS and THE TERMINATOR with our heroes being something like the Ragedy Man Tina Tuner called MEL GIBSON in BEYOND THE THUNDERDOME. By all means worth a look but nowhere as special as it could and should have been.