The Moment

My friend from The Matinee, Ryan McNeil and I, were talking today about films that impacted us, made us realize there was more to them than we’d realized.

He was talking about The Moment.

It happens to every cinephile.

There’s a moment when you realize that there’s more to movies than what s up there on the screen and there’s another one, when you realize that a film can be more than just popcorn entertainment.

I wish I could say that both instances were in the same film, but then I would have to make something up, and that would never do.

The first film that made me realize there was more going on than I knew, the idea of special effects, the idea of production design, model-work, matte paintings, musical scoring, locations and sets was The Empire Strikes Back.

It was just before I saw the movie, while I was living in CFB Borden that I got my first issue of the sci-fi classic magazine of Starlog!

Where had this magazine been my entire life? I read the entire issue cover to cover, learning stuff about the movie Alien as well, way before I ever got around to seeing it (I had a problem with horror movies for the longest time). I leafed through the pages, and for the first time ever, put up some different pictures up on my wall. Until that time the only things I had on my wall were two huge pull out posters I’d gotten from National Geographic magazines, one of the move, and the other detailing the Apollo missions.

My first Starlog, issue 34 just had everything I wanted to know about the movies and tv series that I loved. I couldn’t believe that there were all these things going on behind the story that was being shown on the screen.

I was hooked.

I had to know more.

For awhile, Starlog was my monthly fix, as soon as I could scrape together the money (read as plead for an allowance). I simply had to know how these films and stories were getting made and told.

It blew me away. I was 9 about to be 10, well aware that the movies and tv I watched were just stories, but hadn’t made the connective leap entirely to realize that they had to be made. That there was so much effort going on behind the scenes to get these moments to the screen. It boggled my young mind, and i just couldn’t stop thinking how cool that was.

So, while I still viewed movies as simply entertainment, and didn’t understand why people wanted to see movies that didn’t have chases, or action, or things blowing up, I was learning about the work that goes into making these movies. And each and every time it enhanced my viewing experience of the film.

It was a long time though before I started to realize that I got just as much enjoyment, and sometimes even more satisfaction from films that weren’t action movies. Movies that could have a message, or change the way you see the world, movies that could make you think, feel and cry.

A couple of movies flirted with the idea, the first one was Dances With Wolves. I lost count of how many times I saw that film in the theater. It simply struck something within me, perhaps it planted the seed.

It wasn’t quite enough to convert me off of things other than action movies. Two movies, two years apart, did that.

The first was my all time favorite western, directed under the able hand of Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven.

Here was the tale of an aged, widowed, gun for hire, a murderer of men, riding out on one last ride.

It was unlike any western I had seen until that time, and had a realism, to it, a reality, that I hadn’t seen before.

It showed consequences of actions, the impact of violence, the need for redemption, and the desire for something more from life. It took what you thought were the typical western stereotypes, the sheriff, the gunslinger, and grounded them, made them accessible and human.

I was stunned.

Two years later, it happened again, and settled in to stay this time.

Frank Darabont made me a convert in 1994 with The Shawshank Redemption.

I couldn’t believe how much a movie could get inside you, move you so emotionally. Don’t get me wrong, I cried at the end of E.T., I was a wreck the whole way through Schindler’s List, but that’s Spielberg, I watch everything he makes, because he’s Spielberg.

Shawshank was the first movie outside of a Spielberg film that I actively sought out, just from the word of mouth I’d been hearing.

And it lived up to every word that I had heard.

Here was a story about pain, suffering, and ultimately friendship and hope.

This movie opened up the world of film to me. I was working in a video store in the time, but had mainly stayed in the horror (having gotten over my fear of it – perhaps through the knowledge of how these movies were made), sci-fi, and action. Now I actively sought out different films, things I’d never thought to watch before, learning new directors, finding new actors.

These films showed me that there was more to movies than entertainment, there was the creativity behind the camera, there were more stories, there were films to be discovered from around the world, there were tales that I had never seen, and some that I’ve yet to see.

There’s a huge world of film out there, don’t confine yourself to one genre, you could be missing something amazing!

What films impacted you the most?

What films made you realize there was more to cinema than what you originally thought?

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Tim’s Guest Shot On The Matinee Podcast

Hey folks, as promised, here’s my guest shot on my friend Ryan’s awesome podcast The Matinee. We talk about some of our fave action films, and review the flick The Raud: Redemption.

Sue and I are back to running down interviews this week and we’ve got a couple of sweet ones coming… so stay tuned.

You can find my chat with Ryan here.

A Haven Christmas

“You think it’s Christmas too? It’s July.”

“Yeah…?”

Haven is my kind of Christmas episode. Anyone who knows me, or listened to our short podcast the other week, knows I’m not a huge fan of Christmas movies or shows in general, though Doctor Who, Charlie Brown, and the Muppets all tend to get passes, and have never let me down at Christmas.

This week my friend Ryan over at The Matinee seemed to take it as a personal affront that I didn’t like the movie Elf. Sorry folks.

However, a quick jaunt to Haven, Maine definitely hit the right spot for holiday cheer for me.

Without giving away the plot too much for those haven’t seen it yet, I’ll just say it focuses on a troubled person who is making things vanish, and nobody remembers them! – I know that kinda thing has been done before on a number of series, the one the pops right to mind is the one from Next Generation with Doctor Crusher trapped in an ever-collapsing spatial/temporal bubble that is removing people from her universe as if they never existed but it is a spooky idea.

And Haven does it well.

The episode also makes use of the song Silent Night anytime something associated with the “trouble” is about to happen, that’s cool… cause I never trusted that song.

As always there are tons of moments that are just sheer enjoyment for people who watch and love the series.

The moment with some mistletoe at the ep’s end made me laugh out loud.

There’s the oh-so-important refs to Stephen King and this time there’s a few, Derry gets mentioned again, there’s a very obvious Under The Dome ref, and I loved the name of the movie showing at the Haven cinema… The Bark Tower: A Dog’s Lighthouse.

This is what a Christmas ep should be about, not commercialism, and sorry, but not religion (that’s a whole kettle of fish to avoid), but the one thing we tend to take for granted and never tell them how important they really are, or that they are loved – friends and family.

If we all did that a little more often, that might be a real Christmas miracle.

So go visit Haven one last time before the long wait for Season 3, and I hope you and yours have a Happy Holiday!

The Immortals… isn’t.

One of the kindest things I can say about The Immortals is that I didn’t hate it. I went into the the theater with zero expectations, and in fact had discussed with fellow blogger Ryan McNeil from http://www.thematinee.ca/ how we both expected to hate it.

Not that either of us went in with an intent to dislike it, it just didn’t seem like there was a lot to it to hold our interest. The genre of sword and sandals seemed to have been done to death already in it’s brief resurrection starting with 300, the abhorrent Clash of the Titans remake, the Conan relaunch, and now this.

One of the driving reasons I did decide to see the film was because of Henry Cavill. I wanted to see him in a lead role before I see him as Superman, a character that has always been very important to me, and though my opinion doesn’t really count to those making The Man of Steel, I wanted to know if he would have my blessing or not.

He does.

He plays Theseus a mortal, gently schooled and nudged on his path by Zeus, disguised as an old man (the always awesome John Hurt). But in the first minute or so on screen, watching him, my brain happily classified him as Kal-El.

Providing Zack Snyder doesn’t drop the ball (*cough* Sucker Punch *cough*) Cavill WILL be Superman. There were moments in his performance where I could not only see Tom Welling’s Clark from Smallville, but the iconic Christoper Reeve as well. And for me, that is saying something. While I may wear rose-tinted glasses concerning the Reeve Superman movies, they helped shape my love for the character, and are partially responsible for my boy-scout attitude towards the world and people to this day.

Mickey Rourke plays Hyperion a grief-driven-to-rage king who wants to find the legendary Epirus Bow to free the caged titans (who lost a war to the currently ruling gods, Zeus and company) and rule all of mankind. Rourke, since the Wrestler has seen a resurgence in his career and though he could probably just walk through the role, he does bring a lot of grief and anger to his Hyperion. He’s vicious, evil, and you have no doubt that he could kick your ass.

But there are a few missed opportunities for characters and actors in the film.

Most notably Frieda Pinto, best know for her turn in Slumdog Millionaire. She seems to be wasted here, with almost nothing to do as the Virgin Oracle. This in my eyes is a loss, because this character could have been so much stronger and had more to do. I love strong female characters and her character Phaedra isn’t one. Sigh.

Luke Evans steps up from the role of Apollo in 2010′s horrible Clash of the Titans to head god Zeus in this film. He and James McAvoy could be related, because there was a moment when I thought he was, though just a little more beefed up.

And I have to say, I think Tarsem Singh (more on him soon) got the gods right in this film, I think they are closer to their original mythological counterparts than Clash made them. They move differently amongst themselves and the mortals, they sit and worry atop Olympus waiting and watching, having sworn that if men were to have faith in them, then they must have faith in men, a concept not really mentioned or touch on in Clash.

And I was happily distracted by my favorite Greek goddess, Athena. I’m not sure what it is, but I’ve always had a spot for her. The goddess of war and wisdom (though they would seem to be mutually exclusive) is played by Isabel Lucas, and once again, a strong female character is under-used. In the final battle, while all the forces are battling one another, the majority of the time with the Gods Vs Titans fights are kept to Zeus and Poseidon, and nowhere near enough of Athena kicking ass. But that may just be a personal bias.

To return to the mortals Stephen Dorff, who I’ve always enjoyed no matter the film he does, plays Theseus’ sidekick and ally Stavros. He gets to be slightly rogue-ish in this, and clearly has fun with it, and it’s his actions I believed when Theseus is trying to rally the troops to fend off Hyperion’s army at the climax of the film. Theseus’ speech falls flat for me, but Stavros’ banging on his shield, to build courage and unity with his fellow fighters, I bought into that.

The action sequences are very much in the tradition of 300, it’s bloody, brutal, and well-deserving of it’s R-Rating, a tradition I truly miss. I know that most theater goers nowadays are teens, but I miss the R-rated action movies that used to be a staple of Hollywood(the original Die Hard and Lethal Weapon, First Blood), and now seem to be drifting to the wayside.

Happily director Tarsem Singh didn’t slink away from making it an R film. Singh is a great visual director, he fills his frame with incredible images. Whether you liked The Cell or not, you had to admit that it did look great. The same with his next film The Fall, which I though was fantastic! He uses the film frame as a canvas and paints some fantastic pictures.

That makes Immortals a step above the rest of the sword and sandal ‘epics’ that have come before it since the genre’s rebirth. But is it enough to make you run out to the theater to see it. I can’t answer that for you.

Can I recommend it to you? It’s very pretty to look at, but by the time I left the theater it was already on it’s way out of my system.

What would I have changed? Hmm, I’m all for an actioner, but there was no point in the story where I actually cared for the characters. You’re given maybe 10 minutes at the beginning of the film to get a feel for them, but there’s no real character work, it just moves from one action scene to the next. Too bad…

Though I would like to see more of the battle in the heavens that is hinted at by the end of the movie. But maybe that’s because I’ve been watching a lot of Ancient Aliens lately.

Still, the one thing this movie did do is convince me that Cavill will be awesome as Superman…

til then… I’ll be watching.