Last year, between the two of us, we watched an average of 317 movies.
This year our goal is to top that by watching at least one a day.
And as an extra special torture, we've decided to write about all of them.

27 June 2008

Céline, dir. Jeff Woolnough (2008)

NIKKI says:
Another one of those Canadian TV movies about prominent women that is smarter than your average TV biopic but still very much a glossing over of events. This one spans Celine's life from the time her family discovered her talent as a pre-teen, right on through to her performance of the Titanic song at the Oscars. That's about 25 years crunched into 90 minutes. With the kind of life Celine has had, including the controversial relationship with her much older manager, Rene Angelil, it's difficult to really get to know the woman in this short time, to understand her decisions, motives, and reactions to everything from the tabloids to her success.

The movie tries its best, though. It is written reasonably well, and the actors are well-meaning and easy to like. I really enjoyed hearing all the old songs again, too. Some of them I haven't heard in ages. I did miss, though, the reaction after "The Power of Love" hit -- I was waiting for that to be the moment Celine finally cracked the business worldwide, but they went straight from "If You Asked Me To" to "Because You Loved Me". So, yeah, a lot was skipped. I did, though, get a real sense of a connection between Rene and Celine, and it was tragic to see just how the two struggled with things.

Not a bad movie, by any means, but really just the quality TV-movie equivalent of a greatest hits package.


Steve did not view.

The Empire Strikes Back, dir. Irvin Kershner (1980)

Shania: A Life in Eight Albums, dir. Jerry Ciccoritti (2005)

NIKKI says:
This kept me interested pretty much because I knew absolutely nothing about Shania Twain's life before watching. I've never thought she had the greatest singing voice, and I haven't connected with her the same way I have with Reba and Trisha Yearwood and Martina McBride, and others. I think I turned away from Shania, too, because I'd been listening to country music forever and then suddenly Shania hit and everyone was into her, and I just resented the fact that this flash in the pan had come along and erupted while the GOOD singers, Trisha and Reba et al were overlooked (in Australia, at least.)

So, I cared not for this woman. I could dance to her songs at parties and clubs, but to this day I do not own any of her records. I may reconsider now, thanks to Canadian TV and their insistence on bringing to the world stories of their successes. Shania, I have to admit, deserves her fame and fortune. If this movie is anything to go by, she certainly put in the hard yards as far as her development and persistence. I had no idea she was in a rock band, I had no idea of her Native American heritage, I had no idea she lost both her parents in a car accident, and I especially did not know songwriting was her major focus. I really shouldn't rush to judge pretty faces in tiger-print pantsuits.

I do think the movie glossed slightly over the fact that any man who showed interest in her and looked able to help her with her career ended up in bed with her. What was that about? And then when she'd had enough, off she went. Hasn't she now split with her starmaker, Mutt Lange? See?! No, wait -- I'm judging again.

This was a thorough look at Shania's life up until that first phone call from Lange, and it was certainly interesting.


Steve did not view.

Hey! Hey! It's Esther Blueberger, dir. Cathy Randall (2008)

NIKKI says:
This was a case of bad reviews drawing me to a film. If I'd not read the scathing bitch-slaps this one received in the papers, I probably would have passed it by. But, man, the hating was major on this. I had to see what all the fuss was about.

And so I was slightly prepared for something out of the ordinary. This is a very weird little movie about girls growing up in Australia and how status affects us and changes us. Esther is bullied at her swank private school and so, upon meeting the ultra-cool Sunni, decides to secretly enroll in Sunni's public school where she is respected as one of the weirdos. Soon, though, she changes to suit her environment in outrageous an offensive ways. Suddenly, even Sunni is wondering what happened to her funny little friend.

But there's a lot of aggression in Esther, and Sunni's group gives her an outlet. She goes over the top, so far over the top that she finds it hard to pull back. When the private school bitches discover her secret, she tells them she's a spy and is only acting out a mission at the public school. Suddenly, the bitchy girls love her, and Esther is suddenly torn between groups. Who is she and why? She neglects Sunni and her weirdo friends, and then tragedy strikes. Esther must patch her problems and find her way as this horrible event consumes Sunni. Suddenly, the pressures of school bullies and new raincoats becomes remarkably unimportant.

I don't know what the critics were on about. It is a difficult movie to enjoy. It's very strange, and Esther is not an easy character to relate to. But if you've ever been an unhappy, awkward teenage girl, you might have a better understanding of the events here. There's a fantastic element to the movie, too, so I think much of its oddness is over the top on purpose. I think the movie is very brave in tackling some of the things it does. It doesn't trivialise the lives of these girls, instead very much digging at the root causes of self-hatred, the effects of bad parenting, and the backwards structuring of the new education system to seems to want to quash creative impulses.

It's different -- and I wonder why oddball movies like Welcome to the Dollhouse receive great praises while this one is made to feel like a mess for going similar places? I love that an Aussie filmmaker has gone this way. It's something fresh.


Steve did not view.