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Showing posts from October, 2010

Empire List #494: Sideways

Every now and then it’s nice to go see an adult movie, and by adult I mean for grown-ups. I don’t think I could have been considered a grown-up in the fall of 2004 since I had just started CEGEP (a pre-university program in Quebec) and I was still living with my mom. Still, my movie tastes were expanding and I was getting into the rhythm of the yearly movie schedule, which means deep meaningful movies in the fall season. So, despite the fact that no English version was being released in Quebec City, I went to see Alexander Payne’s “Sideways” with my mom. Since it deals with two middle-aged men visiting California’s wine valley I figured there wouldn’t be too many colloquialisms lost in translation.

What surprised me about this movie was how funny it was. Paul Giamatti plays Miles, a divorced English teacher and unpublished writer. Thomas Haden Church plays Jack, an actor and Miles’ former college roommate. Lets think about this for a minute: an unpublished writer and an actor? Doesn’t…

Empire List #496: Superman Returns

I have mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand it was a great feeling to go see a Superman movie on the big screen for the first time and to see Kevin Spacey do an impeccable job as archvillain Lex Luthor. On the other hand, having already seen three Superman movies on the small screen and many TV episodes, whether animated or live action, I didn’t feel that “Superman Returns” brought anything new to the table: same villain, same on/off relationship with Lois Lane, and same evil plot.
This new Superman movie came out in 2006, years after the disaster that was “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace” and one year after the release of “Batman Begin” which had grounded the superhero genre in a more dramatic and realistic landscape. Suffice to say that the bar was high. I felt that the movie was in good hands knowing that it had been made by Bryan Singer who had done a great job with the first two “X-Men” movies and had made one of the best crime movies of the 90s, “The Usual Suspects,” …

Empire List #497: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

The year 2000 was the year when special effect movies such as “X-men,” “The Patriot,” and “The Perfect Storm” were unleashed upon audiences. In early December, another movie featuring special effects was released just in time for Oscar season, only this one had less computer generated images, more shots of grand landscapes, martial arts, and it was all spoken in Mandarin.
“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” was one of Ang Lee’s breakthrough films in Hollywood. It became an international hit and won four Academy Awards including Best Foreign Language Film. Unfortunately, I did not see it on the big screen, which would have been more appropriate considering the beauty of the fight scenes, but on a Television screen off a VHS tape that was dubbed in French.
This is actually one of the few movies that my parents chose to buy. Usually my brother and I would put a bunch of action films or raunchy comedies on our Christmas wish lists and if our parents wouldn’t buy them we would buy them ourselv…

Empire List #498: Back to the Future Part II

With movie trilogies I often find that the second part is always the best. Think about it: The “Godfather Part II,” “Shrek 2,” “Blade II,” and “The Dark Knight.” “Back to the Future Part II” confirms that theory and actually does what no other sequel has ever done before by literally going back to the first movie.
I first saw this movie in Peru in the late 90s with four fellow French-Canadian expatriates. We didn’t have many friends so every weekend or so I would drop by their house and we would kill as much time as possible before school would start again by swimming in their gigantic pool, jumping on the trampoline, and watching movies on VHS. That’s right, back then we were still using the good old VCRs, in which you insert a cassette, fast-forward through the commercials, watch the movie, and then rewind the tape for the next time. Sometimes we would watch some of the more violent movies from my collection, such as “Air Force One” and a few James Bond movies, much to the pleasure o…

Empire List #499: Saw

In 2004, the “Saw” franchise began and in October of 2010 the world should see it arrive in 3D. This has been without a doubt, one of the most successful horror franchises in history: one movie a year, all made on a relatively small budget, a simple plot, buckets of blood, twist ending after twist ending, and a truckload of traps. Yet I must confess that out of all of the movies in this franchise, I only saw the first one by James Wan in 2005, and I was not impressed.
At the time I was still in CEGEP (pre-University school in Quebec), living with my mom in Quebec City. I was flipping channels one evening on a weekend when the menu showed that “Saw” would be playing soon. There are not many movies released in English in Quebec City, so I am glad whenever I can catch one on TV, no matter the subject matter. I remembered seeing the posters for “Saw” the year before, featuring Shawnee Smith wearing the infamous “reverse bear trap,” and I was mildly curious. I had read that it had a twist e…