Another day, another three movies. This one was tougher, as the early festival adrenaline was gone and I stayed up too late writing the last post. That, or possibly because the films weren’t as good to keep me from feeling drowsy. To get the celebrity stuff out of the way early: Ed Harris showed up for the early morning screening of Appaloosa to introduce it, which was a nice touch. My wife saw Sarah Polley in the restroom line after a screening (then made sure I stuck around to see her… after the restroom). Then at the big premiere for Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, the stars came out, including Michael Cera and Jay Baruchel. Kim was very excited for them, getting to see them enter the theatre (they sat pretty close to us). They stuck around for a short Q&A, so that was kinda fun. On the way home, we passed the Blindness premiere at the Elgin, catching glimpses of Danny Glover, Geoffrey Rush, and Eric Balfour (wait… does Eric Balfour count as a celebrity sighting?).
Read on for musings on Apaloosa, Edison & Leo, and Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist…
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
Director: Peter Sollett
Starring: Michael Cera, Kat Dennings, Alexis Dziena, Ari Graynor, Aaron Yoo, Rafi Gavron, Jonathan B. Wright, Jay Baruchel
This was my first premiere screening, so the atmosphere made it pretty fun to attend. Unfortunately, the movie didn’t quite match the fun of the evening. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist‘s certainly wasn’t a waste of time, and was easily the best film I caught today, but it still ended up being a minor effort in the teen romantic comedy genre. Luckily, it’s not on the embarrassing level that the genre often meets, and Michael Cera manages to be his charming self. Yes, it’s basically the same awkward, mumbly character he always plays, but I don’t think range is something we necessarily need to demand from comedic actors (it sometimes leads to disaster), plus it was different to see him play the desired male lead.
The problem is that he and his co-star Kat Dennings have very little chemisty, owing in large part to the fact that they rarely, you know, talk to each other. Okay, yes, they do talk, but most of their interactions are of the cute situational variety, and not of the conversational, getting-to-know-one another variety. You still instinctively cheer for them, cause they’re so gosh darn cute and all, but you’re not quite invested in them either.
The movie works better when focusing on Cera and his buddies, who are in an underground queercore band and spend the night trying to hunt down a secret show by their favourite band. The movie all takes place in one night, one of those nights that seem like such fun you can’t help but catch the vibe and have fun along with the characters (even when it’s puzzling how many New York nightclubs allow high school students to enter their establishments).
Verdict: Decent – Worth seeing if the genre and music are in your wheelhouse, and should provide some lightweight fun, but it’s otherwise forgettable (other than a memorable turn by Jay Baruchel as the jerk for a change).
Director: Ed Harris
Starring: Ed Harris, Viggo Mortensen, Renée Zellweger, Jeremy Irons, Lance Henriksen, Timothy Spall
Ed Harris takes on the American western with his directorial follow-up to 2000’s Pollack. Sadly, his take isn’t all that different from the standard take on the western, leading to a film that is competant at best. If you look at last year’s two big efforts to resurrect the western, Appaloosa lacks the energy of 3:10 to Yuma but fails to manage the gravitas or lyricism of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. That is, it’s neither exciting enough, nor is it intelligent enough to really work. Plus, is there any movie that Renée Zellweger can’t ruin? Earlier this year, she was miscast as George Clooney’s age-inappropriate love interest. Now she’s miscast as Ed Harris’ age-inappropriate love interest. I look forward to her next role, that should pair her with Clint Eastwood.
Verdict: Adequate – Genre fans might appreciate this, but it doesn’t have enough to offer those who don’t instinctively love westerns, other than another strong performance by Viggo Mortensen.
Edison & Leo
Director: Neil Burns
Starring: Powers Boothe, Gregory Smith, Carly Pope, Jay Brazeau, Scott McNeil
Edison & Leo is the first feature length stop motion animated film in Canadian history, telling the story about a crazy inventor named Edison, who dooms his son Leo through his own arrogance. Canada has been doing some interesting work in the animation field, most notably last year’s Academy Award nominated short Madam Tutli-Putli, so it’s a big step to go feature length here. Too bad they didn’t wait until they had a feature length story. Edison & Leo felt like it would be a fun short, but at 79 minutes, it felt like a lot of the story was merely tacked on for length.
Verdict: Meh – There was some fun stuff, and you admire the effort, but it never really grabbed me. It didn’t help that I was pretty tired for this mid-day screening (I fought dozing off throughout the middle part of the film, returning to the hotel afterwards for a nap before Nick and Norah’s).