Dave Duncan

"Eat Well, Stay Fit, Die Anyway"

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Review: “Lord of War”

Nicholas Cage usually irritates me… a lot. You know when you have a stone in your shoe, but it’s not painful enough to go to all the trouble of untying your laces and taking it out? That’s Nick Cage for me. He just gets more and more annoying until I want to tear off my shoe to get him out of it. I think my metaphor kind of fell apart there.

Anyways, his insanely flat delivery and poor ability to develop a character have seen few rivals, and have been a mainstay of almost all of his movies (‘Adaptation‘ excepted). Frankly, I was looking forward to ‘Lord of War’ for only two reasons… Bridget Moynahan, and a whole lot of gunfire.

It turns out that it’s not what you would call an action movie. Nor is it a Nick Cage movie. It’s a beautifully written film that tries just a tad too hard to make a point, but tells an important story all the same. The arms trade and global conflict post-cold war is a remarkably complicated topic, but ‘Lord of War’ does a great job of boiling it down to basics in order to further this story.

Much of the dialogue seems natural (and witty) and there are some remarkable actors in it (Ethan Hawke, Jared Leto, Ian Holm). Aside from the last 30 seconds of monologue, and some of the narrative voiceover work, it’s a phenomenal film.

Still, if you’re going to have a mediocre actor playing out a complicated role with lots of voiceovers, aren’t you legally obligated to have Kevin Costner do it? If you want to upgrade to a superstar actor, you have no choice but to go with Morgan Freeman.

So, if you could somehow scratch your DVD so that it doesn’t play the monologue at the end, this movie would be an easy 9/10, but as it stands… you can’t. 8/10. There’s some pretty brutal violence in there too, so be aware.


My Mouth’s Bleedin’, Bert!

Last night, Shari-Anne took me out for a little treat. The Revue Theatre (one of Toronto’s Independent theatres) was showing one of my favourite Christmas movies of all time… “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Normally, I try to only watch it once a season so I don’t get sick of it, and I watched it a few weeks ago, but how often do you get to see a movie like this in theatre?

There’s no need to review this movie, but it’s an easy 10/10. It’s touching, entertaining, and both intentionally and unintentionally funny. Two great examples of the latter are when Bert finds George on the bridge and George yells out “My mouth’s bleedin’, Bert… my mouth’s bleedin’!”… pure overacting. Awesome. The other is at the very end… the look on George’s face while he sings ‘Auld Ang Syne’ is hilarious. Now, I’m not poking fun at Jimmy Stewart. He’s a phenomenal actor, but everyone has their moments.

Sort of on the same topic… but not at all, I called Rogers to switch our internet and cable for the new house and got a sweet promotional deal. Free digital cable and a bunch of free ‘Rogers On Demand’ thingamajiggers. Basically, that means that we’ll be watching more movies than usual… which I didn’t think was possible.

Now, I’ve never had any serious complaints about Rogers’ Customer Service, but I tried to switch my service using their online system. Holy crap, I felt like a trained dolphin. I had to jump through hoop after hoop after hoop until I finally got kicked out. In frustration, I prepared for hours on hold and called their 1-800 number. Not only did I get prompt service, but it was friendly, informative, and there was no sales pressure. Bravo, Rogers. Bravo.

On the other hand, Bell Canada is being a little less understanding. Although we’re only moving 7 or 8 city blocks (subway stops), not only do we have to pay a $55 reconnection fee, but we lose our present phone number (let me know if you want the new one). Since we found this out, I’ve had the reasons for the billing and phone number change explained to me by a friend who works there, but the Customer Service Representative didn’t tell us squat. Boo, Bell. Note that if you use a different phone company, you’ll likely be able to keep your number.

Now, if you’ll excuse me… I have work to do.


An Open Letter to Moviemakers


I can’t help but notice that you guys are getting a little carried away with your attempts to keep people from bootlegging movies (namely frisking patrons with metal detectors looking for cameras), and I can’t help but think that what’s coming next is what came from the music industry… accusation. Well, you guys already do that, but I mean more so.

I don’t go to the theatre anymore. I used to go a lot, but the experience doesn’t do it for me anymore. The big screen and big sound are nice, but aside from that, it’s pretty chap. Let me explain my movie experience for you…

First, I show up and pay $12 for a movie I might not even really want to see (problem number one is the quality of films, but that’s another story). I enter the theatre (so far, I personally haven’t been frisked for cameras, but rest assured that when I am, I’ll leave), and can choose to buy a pop and popcorn for $8-10 dollars, or some fast food that’s 40% more expensive than outside the theatre.

I enter the theatre, walk past the second snack bar, and take a seat. The theatre is too dimly-lit to read the entertainment magazine the chain has supplied me with, but there are commercials running on the screen… to entertain me. Ten minutes after the movie is scheduled to start, I get to see a commercial condemning me and everyone else in the theatre for downloading movies and hurting poor Gus, the Unionized grip making $95k a year before the trailers finally start.

How exactly are you trying to stop people from downloading movies? I think that’s a fair question. In the last 2 or 3 years, the theatre experience has sunk from being worth my money to not being worth the hassle. Why would I pay good money to be assaulted with ads, condemned as a criminal, and gouged on snack prices?

I don’t expect you to change your ways, but if you do, I’ll come back to your theatres. In the meantime, I’m a patient man… I can wait for DVD rentals. Better yet, I can go to an indpenedent theatre… those guys have got it right.



“Broken Flowers” with Bill Murray

Shari-Anne and I went to see ‘Broken Flowers’ last night at the Cumberland Theatre (Bay and Bloor… ish). If I had to sum the movie up in one word, that word would be “meh”.

Imagine, if you will, ‘Lost in Translation’ only slower and with no climax or resolution. Granted, it was a very witty and clever film (more so the dialogue), and it’s chock full of long and painfully awkward scenes between characters. Those moments were actually pretty golden. Also, the filming was visually stunning. Still, I’m a plot guy and this movie was pretty hurting.

I’d give it a 5/10. I’d also recommend you see it once, but as a rental… and try to get someone else to pay for it.


Hitchhiker’s Guide…

Two words summarize the brilliance of this film… Mos Def. Not accounting for the strength of the screenplay, he carried this movie a long way (with some help from Sam Rockwell). He even pulled it through a rather awkward and hasty love story… which was unusually out of place.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with The Hitchhiker’s Guide, let me just say that if you like (or even understand) British humour like Monty Python or Blackadder, then you’ll enjoy this film… you’ll ‘get it’. If you watch Monty Python and just don’t get why they prattle on about shrubberies and heavily-laden swallows, then you might just want to pass on this and go see “XXX-State of the Union” or (sigh) “Herbie: Fully Loaded”.

For me, HGTG was an easy 8/10.

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