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Non-Review Review: The Internship

When did Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn get so old? The two rose to fame as part of the “frat pack” in the late nineties and the early part of the last decade, with The Internship serving as a reunion eight years after their collaborative effort in The Wedding Crashers. It’s interesting to look at how radically their screen personas have shifted. The Wedding Crashers positioned the two men as teenagers afraid to grow up, while The Internship joins them as two middle-aged men with life experience to share.

There’s a sense that something’s missing here, that we skipped a crucial step in the transition from rogue youngsters to hip uncles. The Internship doesn’t feel reckless or energetic. It feels safe and comfortable. If The Wedding Crashers saw the pair joyriding in a stolen Ferrari, The Internship feels more like a cruise in the family sedan.

A brand new day...

A brand new day…

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Non-Review Review: Shanghai Knights

Shanghai Knights is grand. It’s inoffensive, it’s entertaining, it efficiently accomplishes a lot of what it sets out to do. It’s not exceptional, it’s not innovative, and it won’t stay with you too long after watching it, but it isn’t entirely without its charm. It’s Owen Wilson and Jackie Chan doing the sort of thing that they’ve become quite comfortable at doing. Neither performer, nor the film itself, is ever that far outside their comfort zone, but it’s never embarrassing or awkward.

Clockin’ in…

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Non-Review Review: Rushmore

I am quite fond of Rushmore. It’s strange, because I found that Anderson’s schtick wore off on many of his following films – The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, The Darjeeling Limited. I suspect my affection for the film is rooted in the fact that it was the first Wes Anderson film I ever saw, and so his quirks and style were refreshing to me. There is, after all, nobody who writes movie dialogue and directs scenes quite like Wes Anderson. In a way, he feels a bit like Quentin Tarantino, an autuer who seems to sign almost every frame of his work. I think, perhaps, that I am so partial to Rushmore because Anderson’s plot devices and his writing seem much better suited to it than to many of the films that followed. After all, it’s a lot easier to accept a film based around a character who acts like an emotionally immature teenager when that character is an emotionally immature teenager.

It all goes to the Max…

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Non-Review Review: 21 Jump Street

The review was embargoed until the 5th March 2012.

The obvious point of comparison to Jonah Hill’s big-screen adaptation of 21 Jump Street is the Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson version of Starsky & Hutch. After all, both take classic cult television shows and recycle them for modern audiences, taking dramatic plot devices that seem hilarious and goofy in hindsight and playing them as straight comedy. There is, however, one very crucial difference between that adaptation of a seventies cop show and this adaptation of an eighties cop show: 21 Jump Street works. Mostly.

White knights...

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My Best of 2011: Midnight in Paris & “Diet” Woody Allen…

It’s that time of the year. To celebrate 2011, and the countdown to 2012, I’m going to count down my own twelve favourite films of the year, one a day until New Year’s Eve. I’m also going to talk a bit about how or why I chose them, and perhaps what makes this list “my” best of 2011, rather than any list claiming to be objective.

Midnight in Paris is number four. Check out my original review here.

I’ve been mulling this over since I had the chance to see the film back in August. I think that Midnight in Paris might (just might) be my own favourite Woody Allen film, without any of the usual qualifiers attached. It is my favourite Woody Allen film of the decade, and my favourite one set in Europe, but I’m growing increasingly comfortable just stating that as an absolute. I, personally, prefer it to Manhattan or Annie Hall. I can’t explain it. As I noted in my piece covering True Grit as my eighth favourite film of year, perhaps it’s just that my internal “quality Woody Allen film detector” is broken. After all, I liked – rather than lovedVicky Christina Barcelona, so what do I know of Woody Allen?

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Non-Review Review: Anaconda

Anaconda is a B-movie. It’s not a homage to a B-movie, or a love letter to that type of film. It’s not a nostalgic throwback, or an attempt to capture some of the elements of those old cheesy productions. It actually is a B-movie. There’s no real attempt to execute the film in a manner that rises above those, or even captures that type of filmmaking at its best, it’s just a solid example of what a B-movie might look like, were it produced today. It’s hard to argue that Anaconda is a good film – and I’ll readily concede that it’s actively a badone – but there is some charm to be found it, if only from the way that all the hyper-trashy elements seem to come together in what appears to be a perfect storm of creature feature cheese.

I always had a crush on Jennifer Lopez...

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Non-Review Review: Midnight in Paris

A special thanks to the IFI for sneaking us into an advance screening. If you’re interested, they’re hosting a season of actors-turned-directors through October, with Woody Allen’s Purple Rose of Cairo among those screening.

“You inhabit two worlds. So far, I see nothing strange.”

“Of course, you’re a Surrealist.”

– Man Ray takes Gil’s time-traveling confession quite well

Woody Allen has, to a greater or lesser extent, been heavily influenced by Europe in the past few years. Ignoring Whatever Works, he’s clearly been inspired by the great European cities. Vicky Christina Barcelona is perhaps the most obvious, if only because it was perhaps the most critically and commercially successful, but London has also produced works as diverse as Match Point and You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger. Still, if you’re going to work with the major European cities, it seems pointless to avoid Paris, the city of lights and lovers, home to generations of artists for decades upon decades, it has earned a reputation as one of the most powerful and inspiring locations on the face of the planet. Allen does his subject proud, producing what is certainly his best film since his trip to Barcelona, and one I’d rank considerably higher in my own estimation. It seems that even the cynical Woody Allen can become something of a romantic in Paris.

The importance of being Ernest...

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