Tune to The 2 Guys Named Chris Show every Monday to get the scoop on the latest new films and releases to DVD from a Canadian point of view. Julie Crawford, Film Critic for The Vancouver Courier, gives her two cents worth every Monday morning on Rock 92.
November 27, 2012
by Biggie Josh Ellinger,posted Dec 10 2012 7:14AM
A Prohibition-era story that doesn’t take place in the speakeasies of Chicago and New York. The story goes right to the source, where local folk pay off the lawmen and churn out moonshine for consumption in the big cities. Apparently Franklin County, Virginia, was known as “the wettest county in the south” in 1931, before the feds came in and ruined business. The Bondurant brothers (Tom Hardy, Shia LaBoeuf, Jason Clark) are doing a good business, but the city comes creeping in via a glamourous ex-dancing girl (Jessica Chastain) and a sadistic lawman (played menacingly by Guy Pearce). When the brothers refuse to play ball, they start a blood war among the law, the gangsters and the locals.
Everything feels authentic, from the parallel story about the origin of Nascar, to the kind of tobacco-stained lensing. Definitely the best performance we’ve seen from LaBoeuf, and definitely worth a look.
This is a remake of the 1976 film may have been doomed from the start: the late singer Aaliyah was set to star in the project; now, of course, the film will forever be known as Whitney Houston’s last work. Three sisters from Detroit who make it big in the music business against the wishes of their domineering mother, played by Houston. They almost score a record contract, before “Sister’s” (Carmen Ejogo) drug abuse gets in the way, and it’s up to the youngest sister, Sparkle (American Idol winner Jordin Sparks), to pick up the torch and move on.
Sparks, in her first role, is simply OK. British actress Ejogo fares best; Derek Luke and Mike Epps co-star in this feature that feels more like a movie of the week. And it’s a little eerie to hear Whitney Houston say: “is my life not enough of a cautionary tale for you?” There’s a tribute to Houston on the film’s special features, along with director commentary and a making-of extra.
Men In Black III
It’s been a decade since Men In Black II, and filmmakers must have been waiting for Josh Brolin to come along and play a younger version of Tommy Lee Jones, because that is the gimmick behind Men In Black III, in which Agent J (played charmingly, as always, by Will Smith) has to go back to 1969 to save his friend and partner Agent K (Jones) from being killed.
The highlight then and now is the chat between funnyman Smith and straight-men Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin, mixed with some impressive visual effects. Definitely a re-tread of what we’ve seen before; offers an unexpected tragic twist that feels a little out of place with all the alien mayhem going on. A big improvement over Men In Black II and overall it’s bright and engaging enough to attract a new posse of viewers. Gag reel is fun; plus there’s a music video and a making-of extra on the standard disc.
This is a grown-up kids movie about a middle-school kid who doesn’t fit in: he’s bullied at school, his parents don’t understand him and his best conversations with the dead. So when a 300-year-old curse threatens his small-minded town, it’s up to Norman (Kodi Smit-McPhee, Let Me In) to step in and save the day.
Great voicework by Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, John Goodman, Casey Affleck and Leslie Mann, and jokes poking fun at horror classics like Halloween and Friday the 13th. A stop-motion marvel by the studio who brought you the equally creepy Coraline: watch the special features to appreciate the painstaking stop-motion process.