Review: Happy-Go-Lucky (dir. Mike Leigh, 2008)

Happiness is an elusive quality in a Mike Leigh film. Sometimes, in his films, you will meet characters who try to cheer other people up, but there is usually a darker side to their perkiness. The photographer who tries to get people to smile in Secrets and Lies is stressed out by conflicts within his family; the woman who provides illegal abortions in Vera Drake naively tells her clients they will all be “right as rain” after she has left, and is caught off-guard when one of them almost dies thanks to her efforts; and when Gilbert & Sullivan premiere their latest musical comedy in Topsy-Turvy, a depressed Gilbert responds to the applause by privately grumbling to his neglected wife, “There’s something inherently disappointing about success.”

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Review: Billy: The Early Years (dir. Robby Benson, 2008)

Billy Graham has appeared in many movies over the years, most of them produced by World Wide Pictures, the movie studio that he founded through his evangelistic ministry in the 1950s. But apart from a handful of parodies, no actor has ever played him before, and certainly no film has tried to show what kind of person he was prior to becoming the internationally recognized preacher that he is today. So there was lots of fertile ground for Billy: The Early Years, the first major Graham biopic, to explore. Too bad, then, that the film does such a poor job of bringing his story to life.

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Yet another movie not screened for critics?


Quarantine, a horror movie produced by Screen Gems, opens today, and as of this morning, there are only four reviews posted at Rotten Tomatoes — none of them by major outlets — and no reviews whatsoever at Metacritic. So, it looks like this is another one for the “no advance press screenings” file.

Newsbites: The biblical epic edition!

Just a few quick updates on some previously announced projects.

1. Year One, the upcoming biblical comedy produced by Judd Apatow and directed by Harold Ramis, is going back for reshoots at the end of this month. — Louisiana Movies Blog

2. At the tail end of a long-ish interview on the making of Billy: The Early Years, writer-producer Bill McKay says he is “in pre-production” on Resurrection, which he describes as “kind of a sequel to Mel Gibson’s picture ‘The Passion of the Christ.'” He says he was brought onto the project by Sony, which raises a few questions: Is this the same film that Tim LaHaye was developing for Screen Gems, which is also affiliated with Sony? Does this mean LaHaye’s movie is still in the works? Or is this a completely different project? — Christians in Cinema

3. Christian Duguay’s $30 million TV mini-series adaptation of Ben-Hur is one of several projects that the Alchemy Television Group is bringing to MIPCOM in Cannes, France next week. — Hollywood Reporter

Female politicians in space!


Forget the Battlestar Galactica comparisons. The sci-fi blog io9 says Sarah Palin has a lot more in common with Star Wars, especially when you compare her to Hillary Clinton‘s Star Trek. Hat tip to CrimsonLine.

Sleeping with a piece of movie history.


Do the famous six degrees of separation apply to furniture, as well as people? I wore my Juno T-shirt to church last week, and one of my fellow parishioners spotted it and told me that her son happens to sleep in the car-shaped bed that we see in Paulie Bleeker’s bedroom in that film. I can’t remember exactly how my friend got the bed, but I do know that the film was shot here in Vancouver, so it wouldn’t have been too hard to cross paths with this item, and she said the bed had come with a tag, presumably left by the props department, identifying it as “Paulie Bleeker’s bed”. (I asked her if she got the hamburger-shaped telephone, too, and she said no, she didn’t.) I asked my friend if she could send me a picture of the bed for my blog, and today, I received this: