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Scream 4 Review

Scream 4

Property of Dimension Films

Released: 2011
Director: Wes Craven
Cast: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette

When I heard Wes Craven was confirmed to make a Scream 4, I was actually excited and didn’t groan the way I usually do at the news of a sequel/remake/prequel etc.  Scream was probably the highlight of Craven’s career – what better person to do a satire on slashers then the very director who helped propel the genre with classics such as The Hills Have Eyes and A Nightmare On Elm Street?  I loved the first Scream, it was refreshingly clever, with quirky characters and lots of blood, breaking the rules and revamping a tired genre while introducing slashers to a whole new generation of horror buffs.  Scream 2 I didn’t mind, but I always felt that Scream 3 was a missed opportunity to complete the series.  Ironically, Scream 3 could not escape the trilogy curse – and fell flat on its face, failing to keep up the genre it fought so hard to keep alive.

But Scream 4 had promise – enough time had passed to believe that Craven and writer Kevin Williamson wanted to do justice to the series, and end on a high note.  The original cast was back; even Courteney Cox and ex-husband David Arquette were willing to reunite.

The first minutes of Scream 4 brings us back to what we love about the series: the sequel-within-a-sequel-within a sequel sequence is clever, zipping through a host of appearances by the latest in pop pretty faces: Anna Paguin (True Blood), Kristen Bell (Heroes) and Shenae Grimes (90210) to name a few.  Before you can say “scantily clad blond” the first victims have fallen, and Ghostface is back with a scream.

Our favourite heroine, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), returns to Woodsboro on the last leg of her book tour for Out of Darkness: a tale of how she survived the Ghostface murders.  Her return brings out a copycat killer, and this time Ghostface goes after Sidney as well as her long lost family: her aunt Kate (Mary McDonnell looking pretty weathered since fighting cylons on Battlestar Gallactica) and cousin Jill (Emma Roberts, Hotel for Dogs).  Sheriff Dwight ‘Dewey’ Riley (Arquette) is not-so-quick on the scene, but tries to hold it together, despite having to ward off the persistent inquiries of his wife, ex-reporter Gale Weathers (Cox).  Together the old team hunt down and try to solve the new wave of Ghostface murders as the usual crop of victims are killed off in fantastically bloody ways.

An array of smart-ass Kevin Williamson characters add some more flavour to the mix.  Hayden Panettiere is surprisingly good – Heroes alluded to her being a one-note actress but with an edgy new haircut and attitude, she made a pretty cool character out of Jill’s friend, Kirby Reed.  Alison Brie (Mad Men, Community) is frickin’ hilarious as Sidney’s bitchy, over-the-top publicist.  Rory Culkin and Canadian Erik Knudsen play film club students Charlie Walker and Robbie Mercer – the film geek role that originally belonged to Jamie Kennedy as Randy.  Robbie films campus life live, streaming directly online via his helmet cam, and along with some other social media references sprinkled throughout, they attempt to make the film relevant – Ghostface App anyone?  Out of all the characters however, I found Sidney kind of disappointing.  Her character really lacked the strength of the previous installments and she seems neither that surprised nor too pissed off that Ghostface is after her again, and it feels as though Sidney is just going through the same old “fight-off-the-killer-in-the-cheap-costume” routine.

The film becomes a little disjointed in parts, succumbing to the very monster it mocks and unable to break out of its self aware mold.  The narrative becomes lost amongst characters who try to explain their motives with all the rules and exceptions of sequels when really, there aren’t any, and no one seems to care anyway.  The film zips along  at a fun pace, with Ghostface popping up and killing with even more zeal and ferocity than ever before.   When the killer is revealed in the end, it’s a bit far fetched but satisfying enough; it is a sequel after all.  In the end, nothing will beat the first Scream, but this one definitely helps us forget about Scream 3.

AME Restaurant Review

After reading about Ame in Toronto Life as one of 2010’s Best New Restaurants, I was very excited to try the latest contribution from the Rubino Brothers.  Their previous installment, Rain, reopened as Ame (Japanese for “rain”) last fall to rave reviews for their contemporary Japanese cuisine.

Pushing open the heavy wooden doors, I feel as though I’m entering another world.  The spacious interior is beautifully decorated with bamboo walls and a tree trunk bar, while daruma dolls and kimono printed glass add exotic accents.  The large space still manages to feel cozy with a variety of booths and low wooden stools and tables draped with Asian designed silks.  I could totally picture myself lounging here after work munching on some sashimi and sipping one of their plum shochu/ bourbon/seaweed/siracha/wasabi/sudachi/maple syrup/egg-white foam cocktails.

03-17-11 Ame

However, my husband and I arrive at Ame for dinner and unfortunately, I can’t sample any of their cocktails because I’m off alcohol at the moment, so instead we spend $16 on green tea.   Our waitress informs us that the menu is “tapas-style” and they advise picking 2-3 dishes to share.  Both of us are starving, so we pick 4.

03-17-11 Ame

Salmon Sashimi

The two sashimi dishes arrive and are elegantly presented: the long strips of buttery salmon belly are dotted with an eggplant infusion and the pickled daikon piled high in the center cleanses the palette.  The salmon is so fresh I don’t even reach for the soy sauce.

03-17-11 Ame

Red Snapper Sashimi

Our red snapper sashimi sits on top of rolled daikon in a ginger ponzu (light citrus sauce) and is delightfully soft and balanced well with the crisp texture of the daikon.  Our appetite is peaked and we anxiously await our two “main” courses: kinzani miso butter fish and miso lamb from the infamous Robata Grill (imported from Japan!).

The waitress arrives and proudly sits the butter fish in the middle of the table and declares that the butter fish sits in a bath of cold consommé with chili oil, tapioca, miso, cucumber, and topped with a crisp tapioca chip.  After she leaves, my husband and I both lean over and peak another the chip in anticipation, then look back up at each other in disappointment.  “We’re supposed to split this?” our hungry eyes say to each other “that’s barely enough for one person!”.  The delicate fish is perfectly cooked and the sweetness is complimented by the robust miso sauce, while the brunoised cucumber refreshes the palette followed by the crunchy chip in contrast.  Two bites later, and we are left wanting more!  The dish was such an invitation of flavours – it was such a tease!  Both of us are still quite hungry, so while we wait for our lamb, my husband orders another $6 beer and I try to fill the void with my $7 sparkling water.  Perhaps because we are so hungry time passed slowly, but it takes ages for our final dish to arrive.  Finally the waitress brings our lamb in a miso sauce and sets the dish in the middle of the table.  The “tapas” show is getting a little silly, and the tiny piece of lamb that sits between us looks a bit ridiculous.   We have to ask for cutlery to cut the tiny portion and three bites later we agree once more, that the lamb was tender (though I personally thought it was a bit lukewarm) but for $30, tapas or not, we expect some kind of rice or vegetables on the side.  So far we’ve only eaten protein, no wonder we’re starving!  We couldn’t believe that they suggested only 2-3 items for two people, we would have had to spend at least $200 to even begin to feel full.  While my husband and I love to eat out and will gladly spend money on food, there comes a price point where one should no longer feel hungry.  Ame would like to believe it is comparable to Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s restaurant in NYC, where we had seven delicious, filing dishes for $100 US; while Ame’s 4 dishes for $100 left us having to go for a second meal afterwards.


03-17-11 Ame

Miso Butter Fish

Ame is a gorgeous restaurant with very creative dishes that are fresh and full of interesting textures and flavours, but going for dinner can be a frustrating experience.  Neither the portions nor the tapas claim validates the high pricing, and the service is not on par with a five star restaurant, including the fact that I got locked in their individual bathroom due to a broken lock.  Also, for a restaurant that claims to be high end, I was also unimpressed that I had to lean over a large, ugly plastic garbage bin to reach the sink.  I would return, but only as an after-work lounge to sample their cocktails.

The Human Centipede Review

Released:  2009      Directed by: Tom Six       Cast: Dieter Laser, Ashley C. Williams, Ashlynn  Yennie

The Human Centipede

The Human Centipede may be 100% medically accurate, but the movie is definitely flawed.  The film received a lot of hype as one of the best horror films of the year, and I was excited for a good disturbing movie, even a bit nervous in fact.

Two lost American tourists (Williams and Yennie) are kidnapped by a mad German scientist Dr. Heiter (Laser) who used to perform Siamese twin surgeries.  The two girls join a third kidnapped Japanese tourist in the scientist’s basement where he explains to them how he wants to join them ass to mouth to create “the human centipede” his latest pet project.

The Human Centipede is not what I expected, and thus is a bit disappointing.  From the first shot, the tone of the film seems off, almost chickening out and taking a more comedic route than trying to really disturb the audience with such a heinous concept.  Dieter Laser is almost too good as the mad scientist and though he is creepy, his performance is so over the top that he ends up being funny, and I feel as though the filmmaker decided to change the tone of the film by letting his performance take over.  The Human Centipede is also hard to take seriously because it falls into the typical horror film downfall: a crappy script for the crappy female characters.  One finds it very hard to have any sympathy for the two girls in the beginning when both the script and acting are so thin and cliched.  Strangely enough, their acting improves once they become the centipede, but it’s too late to really care about them by this point.

Also The Human Centipede is disappointing because if a film claims to be 100% medically accurate, then I want to see what that means.  While less is more in some cases, if you’re claiming to be a medical horror, then you need to deliver.  The film barely shows any of the surgery, making it relatively easy to watch and unfortunately they chose not to fulfill the extent of their disturbing subject matter.  We spend a lot of time staring at the human centipede but because we never experience any surgical horror, the centipede is almost humourous, an empty threat.

What a shame that The Human Centipede lost its nerve, for the film is very well shot – the tinted blues and greens create a cold, sterile environment that works perfectly.  Also, Laser is one of the most entertaining mad scientists I have ever watched and really saves the film even if it was with humour.  But as Dr. Heiter discovers with his new “pet”,  it’s very hard to pull off a crazy project.