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Sled Island Music Festival – Guest Curator: Julien Baker

Sled Island Music Festival – Guest Curator: Julien Baker

by Sebastian Buzzalino Julien Baker’s delicate folk songwriting feels like a long-forgotten favourite sweater. She is emotive and resilient, leaving…

Vidiot: December 2016

Thursday 01st, December 2016 / 16:49
By Shane Sellar

Pete’s Dragon

When your best friend is a dragon, opening a crematory wouldn’t be such a bad business venture.

However, the preteen in this fantasy might not be ready to handle corpses just yet.

Raised by the fire-breathing dragon Elliot after being deserted in the woods, Pete (Oakes Fegley) makes his first contact with humanity in five years.

Adopted by a conservation officer (Bryce Dallas Howard), her boyfriend (Wes Bentley) and her father (Robert Redford), Pete finally finds the family he’s fantasized about. But when a hunter (Karl Urban) gets wind of Elliot, Pete’s pal becomes a prized bounty.

Surprisingly darker than the original 1977 musical, this socially aware remake does happen to feature far superior special effects to its cartoon counterpart. However, those technological advances aren’t enough to imbue the furry CGI lead with any personality.

Of course, now the woods are going to be crawling with barren women desperate to adopt feral children.

Don’t Breathe

The most dangerous aspect of a blind person’s house is their chaotically arranged furniture.

Which is why the burglars in this thriller shouldn’t walk around in the dark.

Hard up for cash after a deal goes south, Detroit hoods Rocky (Jane Levy), Money (Daniel Zovatto) and Alex (Dylan Minnette) decide to break into the residence of a blind vet (Stephen Lang) who has a large legal settlement stowed away inside.

However, the home invasion turns into murder when the sightless occupant begins offing the intruders to keep them from discovering what he has confined in his basement.

Enriched by a number of narrative twists, Don’t Breathe does a decent job of keeping up the tension and delivering the thrills. While some scenes can be construed as comical, the end result is a satisfying nail-biter.

Incidentally, blind people think that someone is in their house every time the TV is on.

War Dogs

The worst thing about war profiteering is that the ghosts of your victims haunt your money.

Luckily, possessed Benjamins don’t deter the amoral marketers in this dramedy.

Following a string of dead-end jobs, David Packouz (Miles Teller) decides to take his old high school buddy Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill) up on his offer to help him sell small shipments of firearms to the US war effort in Iraq.

But when the deals start getting dangerous – then downright illegal, David’s conscience and pregnant wife (Ana de Armas) start to influence his decisions.

A highly fictionalized adaptation of an investigative article later elongated into a bestseller, War Dogs embraces its dramatized narrative for the sake of light entertainment. And while the leads do work while together, their puerile antics slight the gravity of the film’s context.

Incidentally, it’s surprising that two Americans did all this work without having to outsource to India.

Mechanic: Resurrection

Before you go and resurrect a retired mechanic, remember that there’s a huge service fee attached.

Auspiciously, the fixer in this action movie is being blackmailed out of retirement.

Living the good life under an assumed name, former hitman Bishop (Jason Statham) is lured back into action by Gina (Jessica Alba), a distraught woman that he ends up falling head-over-heels for.

Forced by Bishop’s old training buddy Crain (Sam Hazeldine) to seduce his adversary, Gina is now being held hostage by Crain until Bishop completes three complicated kills for him that will take him around the globe and to the brink of danger.

While it does come equipped with some spectacular action sequences, this unnecessary sequel to the middling 2011 remake of the Charles Bronson original doesn’t have the acting quality or engaging storyline to warrant a closer inspection.

Besides, everybody already knows that hired guns and Pop Divas never stay retired.

Finding Dory

The last place your child wants to find Dory is in his or her Filet-O-Fish sandwich.

Luckily, the forgetful fish in this animated-adventure is poisonous to humans.

When a school activity elicits a memory in the absentminded Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), the regal blue tang and her adopted family (Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence) head out in search of Dory’s parents (Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy).

But when she becomes separated from her friends, Dory must get assistance from some new ones: an injured octopus (Ed O’Neill) and a concussed beluga (Ty Burrell).

Despite arriving 13 years after the original, this Pixar sequel doesn’t miss a beat, delivering the studio’s brand of poignant storytelling, engaging characters and off kilter humour years on. The biggest change, however, has to do with the bounds and leaps made in the animation process.

At least all those clownfish flushed down the toilet in 2003 will finally have some new friends.

Kubo and the Two Strings

The saddest thing about Japanese zoos is that the monkeys are usually cursed royalty.

And while the ape in this animated adventure film isn’t a prince, he was born from magic.

Sent by his mother to retrieve his missing father’s suit of armour so he can be protected from his evil aunt (Rooney Mara), Kubo (Art Parkinson) is accompanied on his quest by a monkey (Charlize Theron) and a cursed man-beetle with amnesia (Matthew McConaughey).

Together they must thwart Kubo’s grandfather (Ralph Fiennes), who wants to turn his grandson into an immortal by stealing Kudo’s last good eye.

More mythical than most western animated features, Kubo musters enough eye-popping animation and spirited storytelling to put those sing-along cartoons to shame. Able to entertain adults and children alike, Kubo captures your attention from the get-go and never relents.

Moreover, it’s nice to see a Japanese cartoon where the father isn’t just a tentacle.

Sausage Party

The number one guest you don’t want to invite to a sausage party is a starving dog.

In fact, the sustenance in this adult-animated feature should avoid inviting carnivores altogether.

A horny sausage, Frank (Seth Rogen), wants to insert himself into his hotdog bun girlfriend Brenda (Kristen Wiig), but cannot do so until both reach the Great Beyond. However, a returned jar of Honey Mustard (Danny McBride) proclaims the other side to be a falsehood.

To confirm this claim, Frank seeks out a sage bottle of spirits (Bill Hader), while a damaged Douche (Nick Kroll) and a sapphic taco (Salma Hayek) threaten his and Brenda’s happiness.

With an R-rating and an enviable voice cast, this 3-D disappointment doesn’t live up to either asset. The jokes are flat, the characters are grating and the animation is sloppy.

Besides, if wieners could talk they would sound more like mashed-up pig rectums.

Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders

The reason Batman is so angry nowadays is because it’s illegal for him to hang out with underage boys.

But as this animated-adventure depicts, back in the 1960s, men and boys were free to frolic.

The caped crusader (Adam West) confounds his premature partner (Burt Ward) when he adopts a more ridged approach to crime fighting. But the Boy Wonder doesn’t have time to dissect this new Batman as their vilest villains – The Joker, The Penguin, The Riddler and Catwoman (Julie Newmar) – have teamed up to take the Dynamic Duo down for good.

The cartoon continuation of the campy 1960s TV show, this DC Entertainment feature finds some original cast members returning to voice their characters as best as octogenarians can. Embracing the burlesque, while welcoming the darker aspects, this beautifully rendered revisiting is ideal for older, less discerning fans.

Incidentally, the modern Batman fights crime simply by trolling villains online.

Star Trek Beyond

The worst part of commercial space travel is that lost luggage gravitates towards the sun.

Thankfully, the crewmembers in this sci-fi film are only issued one outfit to wear.

While on shore leave, Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) entertains an offer that would see him abdicate leadership of the USS Enterprise to Spock (Zachary Quinto).

However, an SOS from deep space delays that decision, and lands Kirk and crew (Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin) in a trap set by an alien (Idris Elba) after an artifact capable of annihilating Starfleet.

The third entry into the resuscitated franchise, Beyond is the most kinetic and action-packed of the trilogy. And though it introduces interesting new characters to the mix, this instalment – like the ones before it – lacks the original series’ social commentary.

For example: In the future, women of all races will be free to wear miniskirts.

Bad Moms

The key to being a really bad mother is publicly breastfeeding your teenager.

The moms in this comedy, however, have stopped breastfeeding altogether.

Fed up with her unfaithful husband (David Walton) and needy children, super mom Amy (Mila Kunis) aligns herself with a brash single mom (Kathryn Hahn) and an uptight stay-at-home mom (Kristen Bell) to find her sovereignty.

Throwing mommy-centric house parties, shirking her parental duties and plotting against the evil PTA (Christina Applegate, Jada Pinkett Smith, Annie Mumolo), Amy and her crew redefine what it means to be a mother in these taxing times.

An ill-fated attempt to unburden modern mothers from the pressures of childrearing by encouraging them to act and converse like frat boys, this feminist farce written and directed by two men regretfully adheres to a masculine approach to alleviating stress.

In reality, the feminine approach to stress relief is actually a five-hour bubble bath.

Nine Lives

The best thing about being trapped in the body of a cat is getting rich off of the Internet.

Mind you, the displaced industrialist in this fantasy would rather make his millions elsewhere.

Workaholic father Tom (Kevin Spacey) is visited by the owner (Christopher Walken) of the pet shop where he bought Mr. Fuzzypants after a freak storm relocates his consciousness into the cat he bought for his daughter.

Told to reconnect with his wife (Jennifer Garner) and child or be stuck as a cat, Tom tries to convince them he’s become their cat to no avail. Meanwhile, his business partner is staging a coup.

Contender for worst movie of the year, this green screen-laden French/American co-production directed by Barry Sonnenfeld is a joyless family comedy that features an embarrassing voice-over from Spacey, and lifeless performances from everyone else.

On the upside, they’ll make a mint off the father/daughter dance footage.

He’s a United Affront. He’s the…

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All Greek To Me: Maplerun Bleed Technical Modern Rock Anthems

All Greek To Me: Maplerun Bleed Technical Modern Rock Anthems

By Sebastian Buzzalino They may sound ultra-Canadian but Greek rockers Maplerun are making a rare cross-Canada tour this month, bringing…