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Showing posts from November, 2010

Empire List #487: Superbad

You have got to love a movie that, for a little while at least, leaves its mark on popular culture. When “Superbad” came out in 2007, “I am McLovin” became one of the funniest lines of the year. I even met a guy in one of my classes who kind of looked like McLovin. He liked it too and I can’t blame him: McLovin is a funny guy.

Directed by Gregg Mottola, “Superbad” is another comedy gem from the Judd Apatow’s laugh factory. Once again I had to skip this movie at the movie theatre because it was dubbed in French so I watched it on DVD in my off-campus room about six months later. It turned out to be slightly more entertaining that way since Apatow-produced DVDs are filled with extras like gag reels, bloopers, alternate stakes, behind-the-scenes, and interview with just about everyone involved in making the movie. You are not just renting a movie; you’re renting hilarious entertainment for the whole evening.

The story is pretty simple: Evan (Michael Cera) Seth (Jonah Hill) and Fogell (Ch…

Empire List #488: Princess Mononoke

This movie was an event among friends. Back in the fall of 2007 I was taking a public speaking course at the University of Sherbrooke and one assignment was writing a persuasive speech. My friend and fellow film buff Derek Godin wrote a speech about why Sherbrooke should have an art house cinema where they would play cult movies. Since there was no way that would happen in real life, Derek decided to open his own art house by booking the rec room in the student lounge every Friday evening where he would play two movies from 7:00pm to 11:00pm. He called it OMASUS (Obscure Movie Appreciation Society of the University of Sherbrooke) and he played movies from his own large collection starting in 2008.

It didn’t always work, there were some snags, such as missing DVD cables, missing keys for the projection room, and a party going on next door. But Derek’s club did allow me to watch a whole bunch of movies that I had not heard of or would have had a very hard time finding on DVD. One that …

Empire List #489: Brick

Ever come across a movie where the dialogue makes the characters seem smarter than they look? “Brick” directed by Rian Johnson is such a movie. It takes the dialogue of film noir films and puts it in the mouths of high school kids. The gumshoe detective is an average kid investigating the death of his ex-girlfriend. Instead of a police lieutenant threatening to throw the gumshoe in prison, there is a high school principal threatening to throw the kid in detention if he doesn’t back off. There is a drug dealer calling the shots from his lair, except his lair is his mother’s basement.

I first heard about “Brick” via apple trailers and was intrigued by the concept of a Dashiell Hammett story set in a modern setting. It came out in 2005, but in limited release only so I had to wait until fall of 2007 to finally rent it. That fall I was living in an apartment off the campus of the University of Sherbrooke. The place was tiny, with a bad Internet reception, and I had to walk up a hill to ge…

Empire List #490: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Call me a cynic, but I like to see a little blood spill around the holidays. When I was around eight years old my favourite Christmas movie was “Home Alone,” but as I grew older I gravitated towards movies like “Die Hard,” “Batman Returns,” and “Bad Santa.” There is just something about superimposing graphic violence over the cheery setting of the Christmas environment that provides such a beautiful contrast. It’s like every year the malls of the western world try to convince everyone that the month of December (and November) is some magical time of year just because it used to be a religious holiday. Now Christmastime is an excuse to consume massive amounts of food and buy products sold at the malls where the decorations have been in place since late October.

So given my more and more cynical approach to the holidays, imagine my joy when in 2007 I saw the trailer for “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” directed by Tim Burton, the most visually arresting gothic director…

Empire List #491: Ben-Hur

“Ben-Hur” is a classic mega-production made in the days when Hollywood used practical effects and computers were nowhere on their radar. It stars Hollywood giant Charlton Heston, lasts 212 minutes, is set in Biblical times, and features one of the most spectacular chariot races in movie history. Yet as I was watching it, I couldn’t help but think of “Monty Python’s Life of Brian.” Maybe it’s because I haven’t been to church since 1999.

I rented this movie on iTunes in the summer of 2009 when I was studying at the University of British Columbia for the summer. I didn’t socialize too much with my roommates since they already knew each other and I was only there for a few more weeks anyway. So whenever I had time on my hands I would rent movies the only way that didn’t require going to Blockbuster or owning a TV: online rental. People say it will soon replace video stores and I can see why. There are no late fees, you don’t have to leave your home, and you don’t have to wait in line whi…