Opening the week of Nov 15th


 | November 16, 2013 Reply

Opening this week are THE BEST MAN HOLIDAY and THE BOOK THIEF.

The Bette Davis retrospective also begins at TIFF Cinematheque.





Directed be Malcolm D. Lee


The long waited (whether this is a good thing is yet to be debated) sequel to THE BEST MAN sees the same group of Afro Americans getting together for the Christmas holidays.  Less the audience forgets that they are viewing a Christmas movie that is released a bit too early, the captions, ‘Christmas Eve, ‘Christmas Day. ‘December 28th’ are splashed on the screen, not to mention Christmas songs played throughout the soundtrack.

The story has old skeletons coming out of the closet.  So serious writer/director Lee is of the subject that he brings the drama o the point of a vicious catfight in front of the children. “Mother, are you all right,” cries the daughter, which shows how ridiculous the entire the film is.

All the actors are drop dead gorgeous and hold perfect jobs and live in dream surroundings.  This is the type of Hollywood movie is so far fetched from the reality that real Afro Americans are going through.  But one can complain that there is n harm dreaming the good life.  And to put money in the pockets of the Studio executives that have come up with this idea of a movie.

For a film about nothing, THE BEST MAN HOLIDAY stretches too long.  Lee does not know when to end his film.  The film include both a funeral and a childbirth and a climatic football game that occurs too early in which the hero must save the game not once but three times.

Festive films contain a few good moments.  THE BEST MAN HOLIDAY contains a few, one that offers a saccharine sweet rendition of the Christmas Cantata by two tots.  Other that ha, it is best that people that a holiday from this one.  One hopes Tyler Perry’s Christmas Medea outing opening soon can be much better!




THE BOOK THIEF (USA/Germany 2013) ***

Directed by Brian Percival


Advertised as the film studio that brought THE LIFE OF PI, THE BOOK THIEF shares common traits with the latter box-office success film.  For one, both films are based on best sellers, starred no big name stars and possess a magical story for its telling.  One would only guess that THE BOOK THIEF will likely not do as well, but one can never know.  PI was expected to do below $100 million despite its huge production costs but went on to make much, much more based on good word of mouth and its Oscar winning success.

Based on the popular novel by Markus Zusak, THE BOOKTHIEF tells the tale of an orphan girl (Sophie Nelisse) who lives with her adoptive parents (Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson) in a small German hamlet just when the Nazis were coming into power.  As a result they hide a Jew in their basement, which account for most of the film’s suspense.  Other than that, the film is an overly saccharine sweet tale of how a girl steals books and grows up to be a great writer.  Though set in dim times, the film has a fairy tale feel, as there is always snow on the ground.  The film is also narrated by an unseen ‘death’ though even if it sounds grim, death can pass up different souls to let them live.

Nelisse is wonderful as the little girl possessing both the childlike quality and adult features necessary in her role.  Rush has the best lines while Watson has the best character role as the over stern mother who eventually warms up to the surroundings.

Shot largely at Studio Babelsberg, the film is almost too picture perfect aided to a fault by a musical score by John Williams.

Though many films have been made before of coming-of-age during the war, THE BOOK THIEF is still welcome entertainment despite its flaws of everything looking too perfect including the incidents that occur.  Perhaps ‘death’ could have taken a few more victims to save the movie.




Directed by Gary Entin




Based on the Brent Hartinger’s series of books, GEOGRAPHY CUB is a small budget film about coming-out in school while dealing with normal teen issues like bullying, girlfriends, sex and friendship.


The film centres on hunk 16-yeear old Russell (Cameron Deane Stewart) who has a gift or sprinting making him an ideal pick for the school’s football theme.  But he is coming out gay and shares a kiss with the football quarterback Kevin (Justin Deleley).  A girl Min (Ally Maki) witnesses the kiss and gets Russell to join her GEOGRAPHY CLUB, which in reality is the secret name of a gay support group.


GEOGRAPHY CLUB is a small well-intentioned film that serves its purpose – which is to stand up for your sexual orientation – no matter what!  The film also shows the strength of friendship, in the way Russell and his best friend stand out for each other.






WHEN JEWS WERE FUNNY (Canada 2013) **


Directed by Alan Zweig




            Winner of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival Best Canadian Feature, WHEN JEWS ARE FUNNY is Toronto director Alan Zweig ‘s (A HARD NAME, FAMILY SECRETS) broad survey on Jewish comedy.


            Zweig poses several questions to his interviewees, the majority of which are Jewish comics.  These questions ask: Why  are so many comedians of the 50’s and 60’s Jewish?  Is the Jewish humour derived from the hardships they have faced in the past which included the holocaust; Is Jewish humour losing its grip?  The trouble is that most of these questions are not that relevant except to Zweig himself, as can be observed by the looks on the faces of the interviewees when posed the questions.  Many respond out of politeness while others (Bob Eisntein) with a little anger.


            Zweig interviews some of America’s most successful and influential comics including Shelley Berman, Jack Carter, Shecky Greene, David Steinberg, and Super Dave Osborne.  Clips from their performances are included from archive footage providing humour in this documentary.  But noticeably missing is mention of the most famous Jewish comedians like Woody Allen and Sarah Silverman though just the names of Jack Benny and Phil Silvers are just mentioned in passing.


            Zweig never brings his material to any conclusion. But the main enjoyment from this documentary are the laughs generated by the jokes of the Jewish comics on display.







Best Bets of the Week:

Best Film Opening: The Book Thief

Best Film Playing: Blue Jasmine

Bes Comedy: This is The End

Best Foreign: Les Salauds (Bastards)

Best Animation: Turbo

Best Action: Ender’s Game

Best Documentary: Red Obsession


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