2011… a year in movies

Not surprising that I rang in 2012 by watching a movie! In 2011, I recorded every movie I saw in theatres. I think I’ll keep it up for 2012, though it got a bit competitive which ran up my numbers slightly. In the end, I watched 77 movies in theatres. That works out to be 1.5 movies a week!

Fortunately, I saw many of these for free between scene points, free advanced screenings, gift cards (the perfect gift!) and film festivals.

To add to the incredible nerdiness I’m feeling, I even made graphs to chart my movie watching habits.

 


All in the name of science…

I also discovered that Cineplex takes the majority of my money, but no real surprise there as they have the majority of the theatres in Canada.

2011 had both good and bad movies – as all years, but below are my favorites of the year – in no particular order. Note: I categorize these as my “favorites” as in, those I enjoyed watching – I’m not anticipating them to all be award winners!

I hope 2012 is full of equally nerdy movie watching habits – Happy New Year to everyone!

And, for those of you who want to see the full list…

  1. January 1 – Tron Legacy
  2. January 3 – Due Date
  3. January 9 – Blue Valentine
  4. January 11 – The Way Back
  5. January 16 – The Green Hornet
  6. January 17 – The Mechanic
  7. February 2 – The Company Men
  8. February 11 – Gnomeo and Juliet
  9. February 13 – Biutiful
  10. February 19 – Incendies
  11. February 28 – Of God and Men
  12. March 7 – Adjustment Bureau
  13. March 8 – Rango
  14. March 12 – Battle LA
  15. March 20 – Lincoln Lawyer
  16. March 22 – Paul
  17. March 27 – I Saw the Devil
  18. April 2 – Source Code
  19. April 5 – Insidious
  20. April 7 – Good Neighbours
  21. April 9 – Hanna
  22. April 21 – Rio
  23. April 30 – Limitless
  24. May 2 – Superheroes
  25. May 3 – Fast Five
  26. May 6 – Thor
  27. May 10 – Beginners
  28. May 15 – Bridesmaids
  29. May 19 – Even the Rain
  30. May 22 – Pirates of the Caribbean on Stranger Tides
  31. May 28 – Hangover 2
  32. June 3 – X-Men First Class
  33. June 6 – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  34. June 14 – Super 8
  35. June 20 –  Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  36. June 21 – Midnight in Paris
  37. June 23 – Green Lantern
  38. June 28 – Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon
  39. July 13 – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt 2
  40. August 4 – Crazy Stupid Love
  41. August 4 – Captain America
  42. August 9 – Cowboys and Aliens
  43. August 10 – Rise of the Planet of the Apes
  44. August 14 – Horrible Bosses
  45. August 15 – The Help
  46. August 20 – Bad Teacher
  47. August 28 – Terri
  48. August 30 – Don’t be Afraid of the Dark
  49. September 1 – Our Idiot Brother
  50. September11 – Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale
  51. September 13 – Our Mother’s Arms
  52. September 15 – The Day
  53. September 16 – The Awakening
  54. September 16 – Wurthering Heights
  55. September 17 – Snowtown
  56. September 18 – Where Do We Go Now
  57. September 20 – Contagion
  58. September 25 – Money Ball
  59. October 1 – 50/50
  60. October 8 – Ides of March
  61. October 10 – Real Steel
  62. October 20 – Paranormal Activity 3
  63. October 25 – Three Musketeers
  64. October 31 – Puss in Boots
  65. November 7 – Anonymous
  66. November 13 – In Time
  67. November 15 – Tower Heist
  68. November 26 – The Descendants
  69. November 27 – Hugo
  70. December 5 – The Muppets
  71. December 9 – Shame
  72. December 21 – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
  73. December 24 – The Adventures of Tintin
  74. December 27 – Sherlock Holmes Game of Shadows
  75. December 28 – Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  76. December 29 – MI4 Ghost Protocol
  77. December 31 – War Horse

Toronto Christmas Market 2011

Having become a recent fan of Christmas since the traumatic “I miss my family”  Caribbean cruise trip of 2009, I decided to get in the holiday spirit with a trip to the Toronto Christmas Market in the Distillery District http://torontochristmasmarket.com/.

The Christmas Market is inspired by Markets held in Germany starting in the 1400s – but this market has been “updated” and holds many modern vendors and trendy food booth – it’s held annually for 2 weeks in December, this year from the 2nd to the 18th.

My trip to the market was tarnished by three “rookie mistakes” – the first, going on a Sunday, the second, going during the day and the third, expecting to be able to get a table/a meal. What this meant is that the market was CRAWLING with children, and that it was really inappropriate to drink mulled wine, being 10am on a Sunday, so I was sober, cold, and hungry. I’ve learned from my mistakes and will go back better informed (and more warmly dressed) next year.

That being said, it was still a really great and authentic feeling Christmas market – and my mistakes won’t keep me away from next year’s event.

If you do stop by, my “don’t misses” for 2011 are:

- Chocolate covered bacon at the “Pig Candy” booth

- Visiting the Reindeer on “Santa’s Lane”

- Stopping by easily the best (and busiest) shopping booth, Euro Living, to get beautiful wooden ornaments made in Germany

- Having a drink in the Bier Gardens by the fire pits

 

The only real disappointment of the day was how packed the restaurants were and the long lines of the food booths. We were so cold that eating outside wasn’t even an option, and with two hour waits in all the Distillery restaurants, we ended up driving to Trinity Bellwoods to try Nadege Patisserie (yelp: http://www.yelp.ca/biz/nadege-patisserie-toronto#hrid:eg8pf-BpkRwTFRd28GSgIg)

The market is still open for another five days so definitely go by and check it out – but heed my warnings and go in the evening!

 


The Muppets, a review

While I’ve taken a step back from movie reviews lately, after watching the Muppets last night, it’s basically all I can think about.

The newest Muppet movie is such a gem – they have their hilarious classic jokes, but it has been modernized really well – so even people who didn’t grow up with The Muppets can enjoy it. Combine that with a ton of celebrity appearances, and you have an excellent movie – potentially one of my top movies for 2011**.

The movie is about brothers Walter and Gary, on a trip to LA with Gary’s girlfriend Mary. Walter is the world’s biggest Muppet’s fan, and… well, the plot is not that complicated.

It’s hard for me to say much else without spoiling it – and I definitely recommend you go see it ASAP before spoilers start becoming everyday knowledge. Especially the celebrity appearances – it’s so much more hilarious when your favorite celebrity pops up and you aren’t expecting it.

Besides spoilers (below), the acting of Jason Segal was good – he’s hilarious and I appreciate his move to acting / dancing (attempting to dance?) and Amy Adams was of course, fantastic in this role – after Enchanted, I knew that she was perfectly cast for this. It goes without saying that the Muppets were hilarious as usual.

** In the overall enjoyment category. I don’t think The Muppets will be winning any oscars in the near future – though I can DREAM!

 

 

 

 

*SPOILERS*

I LOVE CELEBRITY APPEARANCES!

One of the best parts of the movie for me was during the “Am I a Man or a Muppet” song, where Walter and Gary are singing about their problems, and Walter’s “human version” turns out to be Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory (he doesn’t even get a real name anymore – he will always be that role to me!). Other random appearances included Selena Gomez (hey, making it relevant?), Jack Black (not a big fan, kinda annoying), Neil Patrick Harris… the list goes on.

Other favorite parts of the movie included Chris Cooper (as Tex Richman) busting out an elaborate rap when Kermit hopes to get the theatre back just by asking – and just about everything that 80s Robot says or does.

 

 

 

 

I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying this movie – it is sure to be a holiday hit, and would definitely be #1 if Twilight didn’t exist (oh whyy does it exist?) – so drop everything and go – and then comment your favorite parts below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Movember Gala Parte

Movember: the one month span of almost every male in my life growing a moustache, including my Dad, but he’s been fully committed to his moustache for about 35 years. Thanks to my Yelp connections, I got an invite to the gala party – I have to say, I was impressed.

This year Movember raised over 100 MILLION dollars for men’s health, and over a third of that was raised in Canada! I’m not surprised – I know Canadians can get behind something that involved growing facial hair and dressing like a lumberjack. Canadians at the Toronto Movember party used this reason to celebrate (read: DRINK!) and they certainly did.

The party was full of cover bands (yay!) an amazing DJ (yay!) and then a world known beat boxer (wtf?) as a (self-proclaimed) event expert, no one wants to listen to a beat boxer at the end of the night. The crowd was thinning out and wanting to dance! Besides the audio entertainment, there was also an airbrush moustache station for the ladies, a photo booth, and silk dancers (a little bit random). They also posted a live twitter feed – always hilarious when people get drunk and lose inhibitions. The décor was excellent – especially the huge glowing pink moustache behind the band.Also very impressed by the hosts, who were hilarious – I especially loved their list of “under appreciated Mo’s” which included Lando Calrissian as #2 – and all the hilarious entries into the various mustache competitions – I have to share my respect for the overall winner, whose Mo’ was shaved into his face, and in two straight lines down his neck and through his chest hair. Such commitment.

The big damper on the night was when their credit card machines went down and they wouldn’t let us leave. This was of no fault of the Movember party, but I was not impressed by the way Kool Haus handled this… it also resulted in me missing my after party (and ending up eating Pizza Pizza in a hotel until 3:30am – still pretty awesome).

Movember Gala Parte – I will see you next year.

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Photo credits: Dishan W. – http://ocanada365.posterous.com/

 

 


Halloween Celebrations

I’m a huge fan of Halloween. Always have been, always will. When you’re little, Halloween is exciting because you get out to get candy. When you’re 18-21ish, Halloween is exciting because it’s an excuse to party, and as you get a bit older, it’s great to hand out candy and coo at adorable kids. Really, there is something for every age group (except maybe angsty 13-15 year olds… sorry guys).

Halloween 2011 brought with it some fun, and some “I’m too old for this”, but mostly it brought me to the realization that I won’t do a popular costume again (HELLO there were 6 Black Swans at the bar with me on Saturday!!)

My weekend:

TUESDAY NIGHT: Yelp Masquerade Party

Easily the best prelude to Halloween party I’ve ever been to, Yelp hosted an Elite masquerade party on the Tuesday prior at Bar Vespa in Liberty Village. It was a trek for me, and pouring rain, but ended up totally worth it. The food (such as Risotto Balls) are amazing – for my full review, check out yelp: http://tinyurl.com/3ceoo99

Hiding our faces at the Yelp Masquerade

FRIDAY NIGHT: The house party of horrors.

I went to a house party which turned out to be more of a wild kegger, at a location close to my house. $10 all you can drink sort of thing. I lasted about 20 minutes before I realized the combination of crowd/alcohol/music/dark corners in a creepy house is something I’m just not quite into anymore (if I ever was?). I left and went for Chinese food with my friend / makeup artist (who did my Black Swan that evening).

Note: there was only one other Black Swan at this party

Kelly and I - Firefighter and Black Swan

SATURDAY NIGHT: Round II

Saturday I hit up Clinton’s, a 60s bar with NO LINE on Halloween! Couldn’t believe our luck with that one – and only a $5 cover charge!

Bangs & Blush, the female DJ duo, were playing their 60s regulars, with a few Halloween inspired tunes thrown in (I heard Thriller, no Monster Mash though!). While the party was good, I can’t say I was too impressed by all the other Black Swan costumes – as I said, lesson learned about attempting the “bound to be popular” costumes. There was one point when I was in the ladies room, that I came out of the stall to discover TWO OTHER Black Swans waiting for it. Damn it!

Overall this was a pretty solid night. Best costumes I saw: CN Tower (who won the costume prize) and “ocean” who had a spray bottle to symbolize the ocean mist, most random/outdated costume: Group “Up!” costume – this movie came out too long ago and yet is not enough of a classic for this to have been a good idea.

MONDAY NIGHT: Actual Halloween!

So, my Halloween activities were limited to the office, where I convinced my co-workers to come in costume. Turns out we were the only department in the office to do it, so we actually ended up having a photographer come by, and our pictures ended up in the bulletin! Have to say, I was pretty impressed with our spirit. I see this becoming an annual thing.

On Halloween night, I got a total of ZERO trick-or-treaters, and went and saw Puss in Boots – not very Halloween inspired, but review to follow.

 

 

Anyone do anything special for Halloween, or have a cool (or Black Swan?!) costume?

Black Swan - not exactly as original as I thought.


Paranormal Activity 3, a review

Paranormal Activity is quickly going to become a “Saw” type series if they don’t slow down on the sequels. I can’t say I expected much from this movie, and it delivered even less.

Paranormal Activity 3 follows the same family who have been haunted by this demon in all of the movies (though this time, the demon is known as “Toby”. Aww). While Paranormal Activity and Paranormal Activity 2 were during the same time period, this movie is set in the past (1988) when the girls were small. Without spoiling anything, basically it’s another paranormal activity type movie – someone sets up a video camera and catches the demon as things get worse and worse in their home.

You can probably picture how it ends, and you can definitely live without seeing it!

 

*SPOILERS*

Ok, I have quite a few questions about this movie:

1. Anyone else have no idea what the little girl “agreed to” to get Toby to stop hurting her sister? Because someone had to explain it to me, and that kind of defeats the purpose. Even though I’ve seen the other two movies, apparently she was agreeing to give him her first born son? Anyone else have other views on this?

2. WHY did the cult-leader grandma kill her own daughter? What the hell was happening with that?

3. WHYYYY does no one in these movies ever think that someone might be telling the truth!? Just watch the video footage, dear god!

4. At the end of the movie, why was the little girl like “cool, Toby let’s be friends again” after her mother and “acting” father were killed?! She was terrified in the closet about five minutes before she accepted him back into her life!!

5.Wasn’t the childhood home supposed to burn down…? Are they saving that for Paranormal Activity 4?!

 

The best part of the movie for me was totally situational – some guy walked into our theatre, and didn’t immediately realize he was in the wrong one. He was looking around for his friends, when someone in front of us whispered “…Toby?” and everyone in the audience laughed.

You know the movie isn’t good if your favorite part isn’t even related to the film.


Real Steel, a review

Ah, Real Steal. Based on all the advertising and promotions alone, I knew it was going to suck. But that didn’t stop me from paying my hard earned cash (actually, I used scene points) to go and see it. I knew I was in trouble when all the previews were for kids movies or for action movies that look absolutely terrible – and really, it gave me exactly what I expected from it.

Real Steel is set a few years into the future, when boxing has become obsolete and is replaced by robo boxing (yes, if you’re thinking rock em’ sock em’ robots, that is what the movie is based on!) the story follows an ex-boxer turned robo-boxer (Hugh Jackman) and his son, and really, the third character, their robot Atom. Based on the ridiculously spoiler-filled trailers, I could have told you everything that was going to happen in this movie, but really, anyone with a brain who has ever seen a movie could have guessed. I could quote so many lines going into this movie:

“You’ve got nothing left”

“As much as I like you, you’re a bad bet brother”

“This bot is one to watch” “ATOM!!!”

And the list goes on….

This really is trying to be a “feel-good” picture, but the overwhelming cheesiness takes away from that a bit. I will give some credit to the kid, Dakota Goyo, was actually pretty good. He really did the most that he could with the cheesy writing, and he’s from Toronto! I was impressed with his range – and he ended up growing on me throughout the movie.

The one thing that drove me nuts about this movie (but explains their advertising budget) is the out of control sponsorship!!! I hate movies that do this (I’m looking at you Casino Royale!!) the most obvious advertisers in this one were HP (everyone knows that if robot boxing DID take over, it would be Apple or Google pulling the strings – give it up HP), Coca Cola, and I suspect Cadillac (though they did a better job of hiding it). If I wanted to see advertisements, I’d watch TV!

In summary, see this movie if you want. Don’t, if you don’t want. Really, you’ll be no better or worse off either way. And if you have a 10-13 year old boy you’re looking to entertain, this is probably a good bet.

probably as much fun as watching this movie

*SPOILERS*

Who was surprised by anything in this movie? Dad is a bad father, cute kid joins along in his road trip, dad loves kid, everything works out. Great. Haven’t seen that happen a million times.

A few things I’m happy they avoided (but probably thought about doing):

1. There was a moment during the final fight that I thought Max’s guardians were going to change their minds and give Charlie custody. That would have been absolutely ridiculous and I’m happy they didn’t take it there.

2. At the end of the fight when Charlie brings Atom over, I literally covered my eyes because I thought for sure they were going to break out in a dance. I bet they did, then watched it and realized how stupid that would have been and edited it out. Good call.

3. They didn’t push it over the top and have Atom win the championship. Also good idea.

My final complaint about this movie is – what was up with the bull fight scenes? I definitely don’t agree with bull fighting in most situations – but did animal cruelty laws just go out the window in the future? Because I’m pretty sure it’s never going to be ok for a giant robot to fight an animal…

Anyone else love or hate or just tolerate this movie? I’d love to discuss more!


Ides of March, a review

love the movie, and love it's poster!

Ides of March is another tiff film I was dying to see, but patiently waited until the wide release. This holiday weekend seemed like the perfect time to go and see it, and was it ever worth the wait!

The movie focuses on on one of the candidates in the Ohio presidential primary, (George Clooney) and one of his campaign managers (Ryan Gosling) who get involved in a scandal that could ruin everything. The story itself is very entertaining, with many twists I didn’t see coming – the character development, especially of Ryan Gosling’s character, I thought was amazing – he went from someone who believed in good, to compromising himself morally throughout the film.

Overall, this was a great movie that you would be foolish not to take the time to see.
*SPOILERS*

The best part of this movie for me went from watching Ryan Gosling as this motivated young person who believed so much in the candidate to his realization of the intern pregnancy, to realizing he is capable of manipulating and blackmailing his way back to the top. I was totally not expecting the intern to kill herself – and I definitely thought it was going to come out when Ryan Gosling visited the other campaign manager to attempt to get a job. Instead, everything worked out for him – but he compromised himself – but almost legitimately so to adapt to the environment and the situation.

Another great part was when Paul Giamatti’s character explained his thought process for meeting with Ryan’s character – and how at that moment the viewer realizes how screwed up the whole situation is, and how Ryan is totally screwed out of everything.

All in all, this movie was an absolute gem. The manipulation, devastation of the characters lives, the blackmailing – all worked together to make a perfectly entertaining movie-going experience. Oscars anyone?


50/50, a review

I have been looking forward to this movie for many  reasons, mainly because of my super big celebrity crush on Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but also because it looked like a really great story.

The movie is based on a true story, and if what I’ve heard is true, Seth Rogan kind of plays himself in the movie, because this story is based on his close friends life – (I heard this on the radio and thus I’m not sure it’s a reliable source!) either way, the movie is based on a true story of friends whose lives change because of a cancer diagnosis.

Even though I had high expectations of this movie, I absolutely loved it. It was the perfect balance of humor, sadness, and friendship. I found myself both laughing hysterically and crying at various points in the movie. The acting was amazing, and at points powerful, and the writing was great – how else could they have kept the audience laughing with a topic like cancer.

I’m going to keep the post spoiler free – just go and see this movie. You won’t regret it!


Scotiabank Nuit Blanche; 2006 – Present

Like every Nuit Blanche, 2011 had some amazing installations that just couldn’t be ignored. This year, my heart was stolen by a few specific installations, but they got me thinking about previous years as well, and all the amazing other installations I have seen over the years.

My 2011 favorite by far goes to The Heart Machine, the interactive fire sculpture located on a parking lot on Bay Street. All I have to say about this one, is holy shit. If you can’t grasp the awesomeness of this solely by the name a description (interactive!! fire!!!) there here goes. The sculpture was a series of tubes from the ground, all representing different parts of the human heart. By touching different pads, and working as a team, people could get the machine to put out giant fireballs in certain patterns. It was absolutely breathtaking (alright, maybe I like fire a bit too much, but it really was cool!) and bonus: it also warmed the freezing cold crowd.

Other 2011 gems of note: Through the Gorilla Glass (interactive sculpture and light installation), The Free Shop, where the artist gave away his belongings if you could convince him you were of need (I was too cold to wait in line for this one!, and Intensity, which even I was fooled into thinking was a condo tent until I read the official Nuit Blanche description.

Other years have given other spectacular displays that I won’t forget, and that I was lucky enough to have a camera present for, to help me remember.


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