Last night, we went to see a couple of films at the Mayfair, the old rep theatre in Ottawa.

The Prestige

The Prestige

The first film was The Prestige, starring Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, and Michael Caine. It’s the story of two competing magicians in turn-of-the-Century London.

It’s a fantastic film. It does have a really convoluted plot line, and it’s not told in chronological order, but the direction is deftly handled and the story is paced so well that it all makes perfect sense in the end. You never feel completely befuddled, but it’s just enough to keep you guessing about the many many plot twists – which is good, because there’s nothing worse than getting halfway through a film and realizing exactly what’s going on, then having to sit through the rest of the film while they “reveal” the secret.

An excellent film – highly recommended!

Running With Scissors

Running With Scissors

We also saw Running with Scissors, a film that is based on a memoir. The problem with films based on memoirs is that they tend to be just a series of unconnected vignettes that don’t really hold together all that well. This one does a bit better at presenting a coherent story, but it still doesn’t quite feel like a whole.

If you can get past that weakness, it’s quite good, and there’s some fantastic dialogue. It’s about a dysfunctional family in the ’70s. The parents have split and the mother sends her son to live with her psychologist. It’s a very dark comedy that becomes a bit dramatic towards the end. The performances here are fantastic. Annette Benning rocks (She’s one of the best on-screen cryers!), but there’s not a bad performance in this movie (although it’s a good thing Gwyneth Paltrow has only a limited role). It’s not necessary to see this one in the theatre, it should be out on DVD soon enough, but if you’re curious to see quirks and dysfunction set in a super realistic ’70s setting (Kudos to the production design team), you should rent this when it comes out.

Pan's Labyrinth

Pan’s Labyrinth

One last review: while we were in Toronto over Christmas break, we had the fortune of seeing Pan’s Labyrinth. It was utterly amazing; a veeeeerrry dark fairy tale. It’s NOT for children. At All!

It’s set in Spain at the end of World War II, in 1944. The story revolves around a little girl who goes with her pregnant mother to live with the mother’s new husband – a brutal army general in charge of killing the remaining resistance fighters. The girl finds out she is a princess from another realm and the story chronicles her experiences in this world and her experience trying to get back to the fairy land.

The reason it’s not for kids is that the scenes in this world can be quite brutal. There is serious torture and violence in this world and the camera doesn’t look away as it’s being committed. It’s more a fable than a fairy tale – more social commentary than escapism – but it’s truly a wonderful film, and one of the best of the year.

December is always the best month for film!

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