The One I Love Review

Posted: December 17, 2014 by PG Cooper in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

The-One-I-Love-408x586Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

In the last few years, indie cinema has been continuously dominated by a collection of young hipster types both behind the camera and in front of it. People like Joe Swanberg, Mark Duplass, Jay Duplass, Lynn Shelton, Aaron Katz, and Andrew Bujalski have made a pretty decent career, making fairly bland films about upper-middle class young people and their minimal problems. At a glance, The One I Love, looks like just another film of the mumblecore movement. It’s the amateur effort of a director who looks to fit the bill of a young white hipster, it revolves around a young couple’s marriage difficulties, and it even stars Mark Duplass. However there is a high concept at play in The One I Love that makes the film a bit more ambitious than it seems.

Ethan and Sophie (Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss) are a young couple who have hit a snag in their marriage. Initially, quite happy, the two are eager to rekindle the spark between them and are seeing a couple’s therapist (Ted Danson). The therapist recommends the two visit a vacation home for a long weekend to help rejuvenate their love. They go, and sure enough they begin to have a great time but they begin to notice strange things in the guest house in the backyard. If only one of them enters, they find someone who looks at sounds exactly like their significant other, though they are a more ideal version. This is not their actual partner though, and while the two are initially scared by what they’re experiencing, they find themselves drawn to this strange occurrence.

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Blue Ruin Review

Posted: December 14, 2014 by PG Cooper in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

blue_ruinWritten by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

One of the big cinematic stories of 2014 seems to be the dawn of the crowd sourced films, with semi noteworthy releases like Veronica Mars and Wish I Was Here, which were made with Kickstarter funds, receiving releases this year, as well as major filmmakers like Spike Lee turning to Kickstarter to receive funding. This has sparked a lot of debate regarding whether or not celebrities should ask for fan donations to support their subjects, but discussions of the actual films seem to be very sparse. Veronica Mars came and went with little fanfare, while Wish I Was Here was dismissed as being mediocre (at best). The real crowd source success story of the year is actually Blue Ruin, a modest little revenge film which quietly become one of the most well-reviewed films of the year.

Dwight Evans (Macon Blair) is an adult whose life has been in shambles since the murder of his parents as a teenager. He lives aimlessly as a homeless vagrant living in Delaware. However his life finds new purpose when he is informed that the man who has killed his parents is being released from prison on a plea bargain. Dwight sets out to take vengeance, but in doing so kicks off a violent chain of events. Read the rest of this entry »

Filth Review

Posted: December 5, 2014 by PG Cooper in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

8a9c8ac001d3ef9e4ce39b1177295e03_500x735Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

In the mid-90s, author Irvine Welsh become something of a name in the film community thanks to Danny Boyle’s adaptation of his novel, Trainspotting. The film had an energy, memorable characters, funny scenes, and unique dialogue. The film was a hit and to this day is still held in high regard. While Boyle has gone on to found major success with a number of different films, subsequent Welsh adaptations have all basically been considered failures. If one film looked to change that, it was the most recent adaptation, simply titled Filth. With an exciting trailer that had lots of energy and James McAvoy really cutting loose, this looked like it could be something strong. However only played in the U.K. before being dumped in just a few theaters in North America. Now that I’ve seen the film I can tell why; Filth is pretty lousy.

Bruce Robertson (James McAvoy) is a detective in Edinburgh defined by his abuses of drugs, alcohol, and sex, as well as for being a generally unpleasant and unproductive person. He is placed on the case of a murdered Japanese student, but finds himself far more interested in manipulating his various colleagues so that he will be the ideal candidate for a coming promotion. However his self-destructive lifestyle begins to catch up with him as the film explores how Bruce begins to breakdown over the next few days. Read the rest of this entry »

Under the Skin Review

Posted: December 4, 2014 by PG Cooper in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

UNDER-THE-SKIN-poster-610x903Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

Given her frequent appearances in the Marvel films, as well as blockbusters like Lucy, it can be easy to forget just how serious an actress Scarlett Johansson really is. Throughout her career, she’s not only taken roles in big-budget Hollywood productions, she’s also worked with some of the best directors working, such as Christopher Nolan, The Coen Brothers, Woody Allen, and Spike Jonze. Additionally, Johansson has always been drawn to smaller independent films, with two of her breakthrough performances being Ghost World and Lost in Translation. Despite her recent career success, Johansson still joins smaller, more interesting productions. This summer’s Chef is an example of this, but an even more interesting independent film starring Johansson is Under the Skin, a strange little science-fiction film which has divided audiences. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Under the Skin, but I was very curious to find out.

Scarlett Johansson plays a strange extra-terrestrial creature who has taken the appearance of a beautiful woman. She situates herself in Scotland and spends her days driving a van around and asking young men for directions. Her goal is to lure these men into the van so that she may take them to her lair and prey open them. To what end her deception serves is never revealed, and the film itself is not very limited in the literal “why”s of the story. Read the rest of this entry »

Ida Review

Posted: December 4, 2014 by PG Cooper in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

ida_ver2Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

Earlier in the summer, amidst the release of large blockbusters, a little foreign film called Ida snuck into theaters and quietly received great reviews before subtly exiting. The film wasn’t exactly a sensation, but pretty much everyone who saw it agreed it was a great film and a nice alternative to the Hollywood releases. All of these months later and Ida is still one of the most well-reviewed films of the year and Poland’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar and has been lauded by several film festivals worldwide. Given the film’s extremely warm reception, this felt like a must-see.

Set in 1960s Poland, the film follows Anna (Agata Trzebuchowska), a young nun in-training who has grown up at the convent since being orphaned as a child. On the verge of taking her vows, Anna is informed that she has a living relative, an aunt named Wanda (Agata Kulesza). Anna is told she should go speak to her aunt and learn a little bit about her background before giving herself to the church. Anna agrees and seeks out Wanda, who quickly informs her that she is Jewish, her real name is Ida, and her family was killed in the Holocaust. Anna wishes to learn more about her family, so the two set out to find where they’re buried. Read the rest of this entry »

trailer_park_boys_dont_legalize_itWritten by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

When it comes to contemporary original Canadian television, few shows seem to be able to translate to any audiences outside of Canada. While shows like Corner Gas and Little Mosque on the Prairie have had success in their home country, they haven’t really caught in anywhere else. In this regard, Trailer Park Boys is exceptional. The comedy series focusing on the misadventures of a trio of Canadian criminals has been very successful both in Canada and the United States. The show has created a very passionate fan-base which has continued to support for over ten years with eight seasons, some specials, and feature films. They key to the show’s success seems to be how it isn’t afraid to be openly set in Canada, but it has a sense of humour which you don’t have to be Canadian to “get”. I haven’t really seen enough Trailer Park Boys to call myself a fan. But I do like what I’ve seen. The few episodes of the show I’ve watched have made me laugh and I enjoyed both Trailer Park Boys: The Movie and its sequel Countdown to Liquor Day. They aren’t great films, but they’re amusing for what they are, and given the positive reception from fans, I had assumed the newest film, Trailer Park Boys: Don’t Legalize It would proof just as amusing as previous entries.

The film begins with the look at the residents of Sunnyvale trailer park and what has become of them. Despite recently suffering a death in the family, Ricky (Robb Wells) is currently the most successful of the main three. Not only is he producing high quality marijuana, but he’s producing a higher quality than ever and business seems strong. However there is talk of legalization in Canada, a change which would effectively put Ricky out of business. Ricky vows to head to Ottawa and protest. Meanwhile, Julian (John Paul Tremblay) has concocted a successful, if embarrassing scheme involving selling drug tested urine to buyers in Montreal. Unfortunately, Bubbles (Mike Smith) has fallen on hard times. He currently is living under J-Roc’s (Jonathan Torrens) porch and the only money he makes comes from delivering chicken and cigarettes around the park on his bike. He comes across fortune though when he inherits a home in Kingston. With all three needing to move east, they decide to take a road trip together. Read the rest of this entry »

Nymphomaniac Review

Posted: December 2, 2014 by PG Cooper in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

nymphomaniac-poster-portableWritten by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

When it comes to contemporary filmmakers, Lars von Trier is probably my largest cinematic blind spot. This is one of the most controversial and important figures in film today and I hadn’t seen any of his movies. It wasn’t from lack of interest, in fact I’m very interested in his work, but I just hadn’t really get around to it. I do know a little bit about the man though, notably that his work is often meant to provoke extreme reactions from audiences. His newest effort, Nymphomaniac, seemed especially designed to frustrate filmgoers. The film is four hours (split into two two hour increments) revolves around copious amounts of deviant sexual behaviour, and features graphic depictions of said behaviour, received a lot of controversy leading to its release, but wasn’t actually seen by too many people, and the ones who did had very mixed reactions. Still, the promise of bold and uncompromising cinema is very enticing, and when you add on the celebrated filmmaker and great cast, I had every reason to be excited for Nymphomaniac.

In an abandoned alley, an elderly man named Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård) stumbles across a woman beaten and alone. That woman is Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and she asks that Seligman not call the cops or ambulances. Seligman agrees and instead takes her back to his home to rest. As she sits in the guest bed, Seligman tends to her wounds and asks about who she is. Joe comes to reveal herself as a nymphomaniac and begins to tell the tale of her sex-filled life, from her early desires as a child to her time as a teenager/young woman (where she is played by Stacy Martin), all leading to how she came to be beaten and left in an alley. Read the rest of this entry »

Horrible Bosses 2 Review

Posted: December 1, 2014 by moviebuff801 in moviebuff801's Movie Reviews

By: Michael “MovieBuff801″ Dennos

In this day and age where vulgar R-rated humor has dominated the mainstream comedy circuit for the better part of a decade, 2011’s Horrible Bosses was a pleasantly surprising and inspired entry into the genre which nowadays, if you ask me, has its head way too far up its own ass. Now it’s three years later, and here we have the inevitable Horrible Bosses 2, which is nothing more than further proof that you can have too much of a good thing. This is especially heartbreaking for me to say because the original remains one of the funniest R-rated comedies of recent years, and while this sequel does still provide reminders of the first film’s energy and charm, most of the time it just hammers home the point that sequels — particularly comedy sequels — are one of the toughest things to successfully pull off.

Following the events of the first movie, the lovable trio of Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day) have escaped the crippling clutches of their former horrible bosses and have now entered into their own business. They’ve created a new product known as “The Shower Buddy,” introduced in a talk show-set opening scene, and said product catches the eye of Rex (Chris Pine) and Burt Hanson (Christoph Waltz), a father/son duo who promise to invest in the guys’ invention … only to screw them over at the last minute, thereby threatening to send their business into foreclosure unless they can find $500,000 to cover the outstanding loan. Just how do they eventually decide to get their hands on that kind of cash, you ask? Why, by orchestrating an elaborate kidnapping scheme, of course! After first seeking the advice of Nick’s former boss Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey), now incarcerated in prison, along with their go-to crime consultant Motherfucker Jones (Jamie Foxx), the trio embark on their newest scheme, but naturally, things start going wrong for them almost immediately. Read the rest of this entry »

Whiplash Review

Posted: November 19, 2014 by PG Cooper in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

whiplash_poster_1Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

Last year saw a wave of coming of age films depicting awkward teens/young men discovering their identities in ways that fused drama and comedy. Of course, there have always been films like this, but they seemed especially prominent last year with films like The Way, Way Back, The Spectacular Now, and The Kings of Summer. It was a movement I had no interest in and was fairly annoyed by it by year’s end. This year’s movie Whiplash might seem to be cut from the same cloth on paper. It premiered at Sundance, focused on a young upper middle class white guy’s struggle, and even starred The Spectacular Now’s Miles Teller. However all one had to do was look at the trailer to see that while there may be some superficial similarities, Whiplash is an entirely different animal.

Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) is a freshman at Shaffer Conservatory, the best music school in the United States. Neiman is a drummer and catches the eye of Shaffer’s Jazz conductor Terrence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), who places Neiman in his band. Though this is a great honour, it becomes clear that it’s also an arduous experience as Fletcher is abusive, both physically and psychologically, to his students in order to inspire the best of them. This causes Neiman to really push himself to his limits in order to go as far as one can. Read the rest of this entry »

Birdman Review

Posted: November 15, 2014 by PG Cooper in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

birdman-clickWritten by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

Every so often, an actor will seem so perfectly suited for a character that it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing the part. This goes beyond giving an amazing performance; there’s some other, meta force that makes said actor the only real choice. One of the best examples of this in recent memory was Mickey Rourke’s turn in The Wrestler. Great performance, but it was the parallel comebacks for both the character and the actor which made it seem even more poignant. This year, we have a comparable case of an 80’s actor making a comeback in a role that seems no one else but he could play. That man is Michael Keaton, famous for playing a superhero in the 80s and 90s, plays an actor famous for doing just that in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s new film Birdman.

Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) is a washed up Hollywood actor who made his name in the early 90s playing the superhero Birdman in a trilogy of films. He left the hit franchise, and his career floundered as Hollywood moved on, finding new superhero franchises to turn out. In an effort to find relevance once again, Riggan decides to write, direct, and star in a Broadway adaptation of Raymond Carver’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”. In doing so, Riggan will need to deal with volatile and prima donna actor Mike Shiner (Edward Norton), as well as critics and audiences who resent him for trying to make a name on their stage. Additionally, the production brings out other issues with Riggan’s estranged wife, Sylvia (Amy Ryan), his mistress (Andrea Riseborough), and his daughter, Sam (Emma Stone). All of these issues come to a boiling point in the week leading up to the show’s opening night. Read the rest of this entry »