Notes from the back row 

A Case of The Crazies

I'm not sure how much time people have to watch movies these days - seems like there are a few things going on in town and a bit of stuff on TV -  but the Village 8 is bringing in some Oscar bait, a horror remake and Kevin Smith's first crack at a film that he didn't write.

The Crazies is a remake of a 1973 George Romero classic about a small town that gets infected with a virus that makes people go batshit crazy and start killing their friends and neighbours. Timothy Olyphant (The Girl Next Door) stars as the sheriff trying to survive as humanity self-destructs all around him. While director Breck Eisner (Sahara) never matches Romero for tone or thematic resonance, this The Crazies has some real pulse-raising moments and a pretty awesome horror setpieces. When the army shows up we realize that the 'help' is just as dangerous as the infected and Eisner injects social commentary about fearing the military/industrial complex as well as the Holocaust.

It's a lot like a zombie film but The Crazies is different enough, and awesome enough, to warrant a second look.

Those who like to keep up on the Oscar hype should check out An Education, which has garnered Best Picture and Best Actress nominations. Carey Mulligan stars as a naïve 16-year-old girl growing up in 1960s England who desperately wants to be as sophisticated as the pre-Mod bohemian world she is suddenly thrust into after accepting a ride home from an older, possibly psychotic, man-about-town played by Peter Sarsgaard.

Mulligan is great but won't win the statue because her character arc is pretty flat. Sarsgaard does what he does best - lurking danger - and the script, penned by Nick Hornby (High Fidelity) swings and swishes through the first two thirds before flip-flopping into an after-school special for the third act. A good film but certainly not Best Picture material.

Nor is Cop Out, the police buddy comedy that was apparently originally titled A Couple of Dicks and probably should have stayed that way. Fresh off a box-office pummeling with Zack and Miri Make a Porno funny-guy Kevin Smith (Dogma, Mallrats) directs Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan as two NYPD cops who get tangled up in a web of stupidity and lame jokes while trying to simultaneously recover a valuable baseball card, rescue a Mexican hotty and deal with Morgan's sexual paranoia. Then Stifler shows up and rules as always. Is this movie great, original or worth 12 bucks? Absolutely not, but as long as you don't have an Olympic drug test the next morning you can probably salvage a few chuckles out of it.

Speaking of the Olympics, Whistler is really humming right now and everyone should get out and enjoy the show. This is a perfect opportunity to meet interesting new people from all over the world while enjoying the common bond of competition and good partying. Unfortunately, our national media, especially the jackasses on TV, have turned the games into more of a pissing contest about winning at all costs. It's shameful listening to flabby TV personalities talk about Canada's "disappointing finish" or how our medal count is "well below what we'd hoped for." What a bunch of dipshits.

We can't win them all and as far as I'm concerned there's nothing to be ashamed of with being fifth or sixth best in the entire world at anything. The Olympics is about meeting people, having fun, and hopefully experiencing something new. Not about how much hardware we have hanging off a ribbon. So be proud Canada, we're a Fourth to be reckoned with - and there's nothing wrong with that at all.



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