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REVIEW: ‘The Last Jedi’ is Star Wars’ Best Film Since ‘Empire’

Rey (Daisy Ridley) looks into the horizon, as you do in Star Wars.

As satisfying as The Force Awakens was, as the dust settled, it became clear than J.J. Abrams had basically remixed A New Hope for a new generation without bringing new ideas to the fore (heck, Abrams went for yet another Death Star, the most cumbersome of weapons). Considering this development, concerns over The Last Jedi being another Empire Strikes Back weren’t unfounded.

Enter Rian Johnson. The writer/director behind the brainy indies Brick, Looper and The Brothers Bloom explores corners of the Star Wars universe never seen before on screen, without breaking the mold. Chief among them, a scenario beyond the battle between good and evil that has characterized the saga. Johnson also takes full advantage of the visual possibilities and deliver the most unique-looking episode of the franchise, without becoming a CGI hodgepodge like the prequels. Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘The Last Jedi’ is Star Wars’ Best Film Since ‘Empire’”

Lingerie Shows are…..

I feel like I can do some mansplaining today. I personally define “mansplaining” as “explaining to men things that men don’t always understand”. Not the typical definition, I know. I think mine is a more honourable kind of mansplaining.

I have testicles that are, according to Dr. Gonor who did my vasectomy, average. (I point this out to allay trolls who will tell me things like, “grow a pair” or “be a man” or whatever uninventish, child-like response pops in to their perma-pre-pubescent brains). I can show you a picture if you need proof… but it would have to be in person because having a digital photo of your junk is idiotic.

Now that we have established my masculinity, here is my opinion on lingerie shows and the likes. They objectify women. Where do I get this opinion? The same place all men and women should. Ask smart people with relevant life experiences. So I did.

I am sharing the entire documentation of a recent survey in the image below. Please analyze it carefully and then read on. (Names have been changed because too many people are … well, you know)

Survey conducted in 2017. Yes men, it is 2017.

Who are these people?

Jaime is a millennial working in marketing for a  Saskatoon owned and operated business. The business has a history going back more than 100 years. Jaime is bright and honest.

Morgan is a journalist who spent several years as a court reporter, listening to story after story after story about women being raped, murdered, sexually assaulted and everything awful that you can fathom. She was once told by a police officer at a crash scene, (please read in your douche-baggiest voice) “Honey, I love to watch you work”.

Taylor is a 42 year old single woman who owns her own women’s fashion boutique. She has not married or had children because, well, who says you have to do that shit?

Chris is a manager in a health region. She has years of background in social work (including a Masters degree), much of it spent helping women who were abused. She is also a mother and a busy community volunteer serving (or having served) on numerous boards in her city, province nation.

Alex is a married mother of two (including a daughter) who has worked for 20+ years in marketing, retail and the service industry.

My mom was raised in the 40’s and 50’s and she is wise enough to listen to her children.

So – 100% of women I respect agree – lingerie shows objectify women.

Historically, this has not been the consensus at the cheerleader table in the suburban high school cafeteria , but (to use their words) who cares what those bitches think. They’ll probably let their husbands do the voting, anyway.

If you wanna hear this from a woman… I think Tammy Robert, writing in Saskatoon Express nailed it.

 

 

REVIEW: The Road Forward Has Too Many Branches

A blend of musical and documentary too ambitious for its own good, The Road Forward attempts to tackle First Nations’ most significant struggles of the last century (the Native Brotherhood, the Constitution Express, residential schools, missing aboriginal women) via information and music.

The magnitude of the scope is staggering: Each subject is worth entire sagas and demands our attention. Despite Marie Clements’ self-assured direction, the outcome is scattered and it’s hard to become fully immersed in the film.

As if the birth of Indian Nationalism and recent history weren’t enough, The Road Forward dedicates a fair amount of time to the performers’ own battles. Their stories are compelling in their own right, but become lost in a bombardment of minutiae, particularly in the top half. Five years ago, the stylistically similar (and likely influential) The Art of Killing succeeded by limiting its scope.

The rise of Canada’s first indigenous newspaper -The Native Voice- gives the movie a vague framing, but the outcome cries for structure. The music comes close to supersede the film’s shortcomings: The score is strong and the tune “Indian Man” is rousing enough to transcend the film. Unfortunately, The Road Forward as a whole is far from cohesive. Two and a half planets (out of five).

The Road Forward will play at the Broadway Theatre this Wednesday the 13th only. Free screening.

Sunday Matinee: Pulp

Director Mike Hodges and Michael Caine decided to follow up the brilliant Get Carter with another gangster like film, the 1972 movie Pulp.

The difference this time out is instead of a serious and gritty crime drama Pulp is more of a comedy. It has goofy moments and jokes, then some gritty crime. Michael Caine stars as Mickey King, a novelist who writes books like My Gun is Long and The Organ Grinder under pen names Guy Strange, Gary Rough and the amusing S. Ódomi. Caine is hired to ghost write and autobiography of retired actor Preston Gilbert (Mickey Rooney).
Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: Pulp”

Sunday Matinee: Shin Godzilla

After stopping the Godzilla franchise in 2004 Toho Studios gave the big guy a break for a few years. They then licensed him out to Legendary Pictures who started a new American Godzilla franchise that started in 2014. When that movie was a success Toho decided to relaunch the series in Japan again. They brought in acclaimed director Hideaki Anno (creator of Neon Genesis Evangelion) to write and co-direct the new movie. In 2016 Shin Godzilla hit screens and presented a very different take on the legendary monster.

The movie draws its inspiration from the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. The Japanese Coast Guard investigate an abandoned boat only to be attacked by a huge wave and a creature. News reports later show a giant tail swimming closer to shore. The prime minister of Japan assures people that the sea creature can’t come on shore. It has gills and no limbs. Despite this the creature swims into canals and into Japan and eventually makes land where the creature evolves legs and lungs.
Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: Shin Godzilla”

Sunday Matinee: Jabberwocky

Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind aren’t the only movies celebrating their 40th anniversaries this year. Terry Gilliam’s Jabberwocky is too.

Jabberwocky was Gilliam’s first solo directorial effort away from Monty Python although Michael Palin stars in it and Terry Jones has a cameo. Palin stars as a poor cooper in medieval times. All Palin wants to do is work and marry a large peasant woman who doesn’t really like him. Palin’s father disowns him on his deathbed so Palin goes to town to try and find work.
Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: Jabberwocky”

REVIEW: Coco Sneaks Up on You

Pixar’s less heralded but most remarkable skill is its ability to introduce ideas and concepts one would be hard-pressed to consider appropriate for a family movie: Mental health comes from managing our emotions, not denying them (Inside Out); the value of criticism lies in the discovery of new talent (Ratatouille); overprotection can stunt a child’s growth (Finding Nemo).

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with Coco -it’s visually stunning and undeniably fun- but the message (“families are important and want the best for us”) is pedestrian at best and debatable under certain circumstances. Not that the value of family was ever a novel idea, but the Fast and Furious saga has driven the notion into the ground.

Coco is set during the Day of the Dead in Mexico, the one time of the year those who have passed can come for a visit. At the Rivera household, the fiesta is celebrated without music. A few generations ago, the paterfamilias left his wife and baby daughter to pursued a career in music and never returned. It was decided then the family would make a living making shoes and no tunes will ever be played at home, or surrounding areas. Continue reading “REVIEW: Coco Sneaks Up on You”

Byron Bashforth: From the Prairies to Pixar

Pixar’s Coco.

Okla native Byron Bashforth has been involved in nine Pixar movies and four shorts to date, including the Disney subsidiary’s brand-new feature, Coco. Bashforth is the film’s character shading lead, meaning he is responsible for the team in charge of the look of all the characters in the film. Considering that Coco unfolds in two separate realities and the number of roles is in the dozens, Bashforth has his work cut out for him.

Byron got his Master in Computer Science at the University of Saskatchewan and has been involved with Pixar for almost two decades. “I remember watching the trailer for Toy Story and it occurred to me for the first time that you could use computers to do something else than computer science stuff. It opened the possibility of being able to combine my artistic streak and computers as a career.”

The animator has been the character shading lead for the short Lava and the features Monsters University and Ratatouille. I had the chance to catch up with Byron over the phone from California. Continue reading “Byron Bashforth: From the Prairies to Pixar”

Sunday Matinee: The Lady Vanishes

Iris Henderson (Margaret Lockwood) is a British tourist about to head home from the country of Bandrika. A train delay forces everyone who was going to travel to spend a night at the local inn.

Iris is disturbed by music playing in the room above her getting the young musician Gilbert Redman (Michael Redgrave) kicked out of his room. Gilbert retaliates by forcing Iris to let him stay in her room. Meanwhile elderly Miss Froy (Dame May Whitty) is listening to a local musician play a tune outside her window. Unbeknownst to Miss Froy, the musician is killed shortly after playing the tune.

Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: The Lady Vanishes”

REVIEW: God’s Own Country Is More than that Other Gay Cowboys’ Movie

Josh O’Connor and Alec Secareanu in God’s Own Country.

One could describe God’s Own Country as a slightly more graphic Brokeback Mountain, but that would be selling it short. The low-budget, emotionally rich drama paints a dire picture of England’s countryside, with farmers dealing poorly with social change (immigration, homosexuality) and economic depression.

God’s Own Country’s main character is strangely unlikeable. Johnny (Josh O’Connor) is a young man forced by his father’s disability to manage the family farm. Not one capable to deal with his emotions in healthy fashion, the farmer festers in resentment and only finds solace in alcohol consumption and anonymous sex. Johnny is also a closeted gay man, but the idea of a relationship, as limited as going for a pint with another fella, is laughable for him. Continue reading “REVIEW: God’s Own Country Is More than that Other Gay Cowboys’ Movie”