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Sunday Matinee: Saboteur

It may be one of the lesser Alfred Hitchcocks but it’s still pretty entertaining and it manages to turn 75 years old this year, today’s Sunday Matinee is 1942’s Saboteur.

Hitchcock was under contract to David O. Selznick but Selznick wasn’t interested in the story so Universal picked up the movie and produced it. Hitchcock didn’t get the cast that he wanted but Priscilla Lane, Robert Cummings and Norman Lloyd do a pretty decent job.
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REVIEW: Okja Makes a Case for Vegetarianism

Okja and Mija.

One of the most notable filmmakers currently at work in South Korea, Bong Joon-Ho has a knack to mix dissimilar genres to startling results. In The Host, Bong changed monster cinema by combining it with realistic family drama. In his first film in English, Snowpiercer, the writer/director did a remarkable job by coating a social-issues movie with stylish action set-pieces.

Okja, Bong’s first movie to open in competition at Cannes, fits nicely in his filmography and it’s likely to transcend the art-circuit that has championed the filmmaker for nearly a decade: The movie will bypass theatres to open directly on Netflix.

Okja is both a coming-of-age adventure and a fierce indictment of capitalism and mass-produced food. It’s the kind of film for which the ubiquitous “viewer’s discretion advised” was invented. Continue reading “REVIEW: Okja Makes a Case for Vegetarianism”

Sunday Matinee: Predator

Filming has just wrapped up on the latest edition of the Predator franchise, The Predator which is actually only the fourth film. The original though first hit screens 30 years ago on June 12. Today’s Sunday Matinee takes a look at the classic first movie.

Back in 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger was king of the action films. He had two big hits in theatres in 1987. The Running Man and this mix of action and sci-fi horror.
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DA: Wotherspoon Running Soon?

Daily AggregationJust a quick one today, let’s go go go

1. EX-INTERIM The NDP’s Trent Wotherspoon has stepped down to contemplate a run for the party’s leadership. Wotherspoon, a teacher in his civilian days, would join a leadership contest that so far includes popular-with-millennials Saskatoon doctor Ryan Meili. More candidates are rumoured to declare in the coming months. Murmur murmur!

2. HATE CRIMES AGAINST MUSLIMS RISE IN 2015 There were 159 police reports of hate crimes against Muslims in 2015, up from 99 the year before. Jews remain the leading target of religious hate crimes, with 178 incidents. Read more here. And yes, Alberta had the biggest increase in hate crimes, unsurprisingly.

3. SESSIONS IS IN SESSION U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee to answer (and not answer) questions about President Trump firing the FBI director. Hard to believe Trump hasn’t even been in office for five months and he’s already got his own Watergate going.

4. POULTRY WORKERS TORTURE CHICKENS Unacceptable.

5. TWIN SHOOTS TWIN IN SNAKE CRUELTY MISADVENTURE Two 14 year-old boys in Texas… Texas? Do I even need to continue? Just read the stupid thing here. And next time, Texas, maybe don’t raise your kids to be cruel to harmless (or close-to-harmless) animals.

DA: Champions

Daily AggregationGood afternoon Saskatoon! It’s 22°C and sunny in this fine, fine city on a day that truly began when the sun peeped its shiny yellow face over the horizon at at 4:45 a.m., and will hum along pleasantly until 9:27 for nearly 16 hours and 42 minutes of daylight. Let’s see what’s up with stuff!

1. BRAD TROST CONSERVATIVE LEADERSHIP CAMPAIGN FINED $50,000 Someone gave the National Firearms Association the Trost campaign’s copy of the party membership list. Trost’s campaign manager Joseph Ben-Ami says it’s all a big frame-up.

2. GRIM ANNIVERSARY It’s been one year since the Pulse Nightclub massacre in Orlando. Forty-nine people plus the asshole were killed and 58 were injured.

3. CANADA PAYS THE MOST FOR COMMON PRESCRIPTION DRUGS Don’t like it? Vote for political parties that promise to fix it, and if they get elected and don’t, complain to your MP then vote for different political parties that don’t leave their slobber on drug company’s genitals. We live in a democracy and we have the ability and moral right to demand good consumer protection rules.

4. SASK PARTY SLAMMED FOR USING PRIVATE E-MAIL Weird. I can’t think of any reason politicians wouldn’t want to use their work e-mail. I mean, how likely is it they have something to hide?

5. THERE’S NO DIRECT BUS SERVICE BETWEEN SASKATOON AND CALGARY? That’s just all kinds of fucked up.

6. GOODBYE, PEACOCKS The Forestry Farm Zoo has sent the popular birds away to zoos that will be better able to care for them.

7. AMERICA BAILS AGAIN To no one’s surprise, the United States won’t join the other six G7 countries in a symbolic pledge of support for the Paris climate accord.

8. STUPID TRAVEL BAN BLOCKED AGAIN Good. Trump is a malicious bigot.

9. TRUMP GETS SUED AGAIN Maryland and the District Of Columbia are suing the president for violating the Constitution, because he hasn’t given up control of his businesses.

10. EMPATHY FOR US DEVILS An awful lot of progressives — including one of my heroes, Thomas Frank — argue that liberals need to spend more time listening to the concerns of Trump voters. Here’s an excellent rebuttal to all that the hand-wringing that by Kathe Pollitt in The Nation:

Who is telling the Tea Partiers and Trump voters to empathize with the rest of us? Why is it all one way? Hochschild’s subjects have plenty of demeaning preconceptions about liberals and blue-staters—that distant land of hippies, feminazis, and freeloaders of all kinds. Nor do they seem to have much interest in climbing the empathy wall, given that they voted for a racist misogynist who wants to throw 11 million people out of the country and ban people from our shores on the basis of religion (as he keeps admitting on Twitter, even as his administration argues in court that Islam has nothing to do with it). Furthermore, they are the ones who won, despite having almost 3 million fewer votes. Thanks to the founding fathers, red-staters have outsize power in both the Senate and the Electoral College, and with great power comes great responsibility. So shouldn’t they be trying to figure out the strange polyglot population they now dominate from their strongholds in the South and Midwest?

I love the idea of empathy being a two-way street. Read Pollitt’s whole brilliant article here.

11. PITTSBURGH REPEATS Man that’s a good team. I guess I can live with them crushing my beloved Blue Jackets in the first round, especially since Regina’s Chris Kunitz is on that squad. Here’s a nice story about my sentimental pick for playoff MVP, Marc-Andre Fleury, here’s a tribute to Nashville’s lovably plucky team, and here’s the best victory song ever. Let’s send it out to everyone, because hey, we’re all champions.

Sunday Matinee: Spotlight On A Murderer

I love Arrow Films. Not only do they bring old cult favourites to blu-ray but they can dig up some lost classics that people may never have heard of. For example this 1961 mystery from French director Georges Franju.

Georges Franju is best remembered for his second feature film, the brilliant and excellent Eyes Without a Face. Another of his movies was the 1963 remake Judex. But before he made Judex he made this 1961 mystery Spotlight on a Murderer.
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Sunday Matinee: The Godfather

To celebrate The Godfather‘s 45th anniversary and as part of Cineplex Events’ Classic Film Series, The Godfather will be screening at select Cineplex theatre’s on June 4th (today which has already screened) and June 7th.

In the days before the Hollywood summer blockbuster would fill the screens with fantastic creatures and events every summer hoping to entice audiences to spend billions on their movies, The Godfather was not only the highest grossing movie the year it came out and won tons of awards and acclaim, it was also the highest grossing movie film ever made at that time. Of course then Jaws came along and changed everything.
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REVIEW: The Wedding Plan Is No Ordinary Rom-Com

Even though Israel has a thriving film industry, is rare the film that makes it outside the country’s borders. Consider the last two Israeli flicks to make the arthouse rounds: Big Bad Wolves (psychopaths) and Sand Storm (arranged marriages). Not only they didn’t get any tracking. Both were bleak as flint.

The Wedding Plan breaks the mold in more ways than one. At first sight, it looks like a traditional rom-com, but carries more pathos than Katherine Heigl’s entire filmography. Michal (fantastic newcomer Noa Koler) is blindsided by her fiancé when he reveals his lack of affection for her. Out of stubbornness and religious overconfidence, Michal decides to continue with the preparations. God shall provide the groom. Continue reading “REVIEW: The Wedding Plan Is No Ordinary Rom-Com”

REVIEW: Wonder Woman Shows DC the Way

A few disclaimers before we start:

* Much like Ghostbusters last year, Wonder Woman has triggered a disturbing number of reactions against it because it features a female lead. This is not worth discussing and won’t be part of the review. How insecure can someone be that the idea of a woman superhero feels threatening? Or that the notion of an all-women screening is somehow an assault on men’s rights? This is toxic masculinity at its purest.

* I have nothing against DC Comics (or Marvel for that matter). My approach to review comic book-based movies is to focus exclusively on the film itself. I don’t have a “team”, at least until Haneke or Von Trier make a superhero movie.

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Wonder Woman, the fourth film in the DC Comics cinematic universe (DCCU) is, without a doubt, the best one so far. It solves the most glaring flaws of Man of Steel, Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad while anchored in the same universe.

It’s not difficult to explain the enthusiasm for Wonder Woman: DC fans are hungry for a film to be proud of and females have gotten the short shift in the subgenre for decades. But the idea this adaptation solves all the franchise’s shortcomings is wishful thinking. The plotting remains shaky and those pervasive conclusion problems persist. Thankfully director Patty Jenkins (Monster) is savvy enough to identify and solve the biggest issue plaguing the DCCU: Character development. Continue reading “REVIEW: Wonder Woman Shows DC the Way”

DA: Scheer, Sharks And STC, Oh My

Daily AggregationHAPPY AFTERNOON, SASKERTOON It’s 19 degrees and sunny at the moment, on a daytime stretch that started at 4:54 a.m. and won’t end until 9:14 p.m., for 16:20 of daylight. Not to shabby! Let’s get on with it.

1. LIKE STEPHEN HARPER BUT WITHOUT THE EVIL STRATEGIC CUNNING Regina-Qu’Appelle’s member of Parliament somehow won this weekend’s Conservative party leadership. How about that. The farmers might’ve helped. The Leader-Post’s Barb Pacholik has a fine, Regina-focused piece on his rise while CBC’s Eric Grenier crunches the numbers behind Scheer’s unlikely defeat of front-runner Maxime Bernier. Read more on Scheer here.

What else? Well, if the reality-based world wanted to get upset over something they could point to Scheer’s late 2016 call to shut down CBC news. Bernier said public media puts the government in a “glaring” conflict but I think he was being dishonest. The real reason he wants to shut down CBC news? CBC reporting and analysis is (generally) good, and good reporting causes problems for dishonest politicians. It’s the old Harper playbook: destroy your critics because you can’t win honest debates against them. It’s why Harper muzzled government scientists and it’s why Conservative MPs so frequently refused interview requests.

Speaking of fact-averse notions: the CBC is a public broadcaster, not a government propaganda outlet. If it was run by the government, CBC would’ve given Stephen Harper an easy ride, right? Spoiler alert: it didn’t.

As for private media, anyone who wants to review how news companies treat their sacred mission of informing the public might want to check this out.

One last thing: radical Christian groups are cheering Scheer’s win. The anti-choice organization We Need A Law even sent me a press release congratulating Scheer:

“We recognize his commitment to consistent values, and appreciate his solid voting record. Scheer voted in favour of bills like Cassie and Molly’s Law and Roxanne’s Law, which show care for pregnant women and pre-born children. Pre-born human rights were highlighted during this campaign in a way they have not been for a long time. It is encouraging to see open discussion around the injustice done to pre-born victims of crime, and awareness raised about the prevalence of sex-selective abortion in some Canadian communities.”

Gross. You never hear social conservative politicians talk about helping the poor. Their religious moralizing is cheap.

2. TRUMP… SHRUG So his son-in-law wanted a secret channel to talk to Russia? How is this not treason? What can you even say. No wonder Europe’s pulling back. Keep alienating your allies America, I guess.

3. THE END OF STC Awful. An essential public service is being trashed and good jobs are being wiped out because #BradBungledTheBoom. Everyone knows that any private company picking up the STC slack will demand and get handouts from the government, right?

4. CANADIAN DOCTORS APPARENTLY THINK MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION WILL HARM TEENS Despite the fact that Canadian teens are huge potheads even though Marijuana is still illegal. Well, I’m skeptical it’s possible to make laws banning people from weed until they’re 25 so Canada just might have to go the public education campaign route. I know one pro- legal pot newspaper that would be thrilled to run ads expressing factually supported concerns about marijuana…

5. BICYCLE THIEVES SUCK No one takes bike theft seriously enough but they should because it’s a crime against the environment and it’s toxic to the cause of human decency. For the money involved, bike theft makes the world a much, much uglier place. The fact that it’s also widely culturally acceptable (IMO) is maddening. Anyway, here’s a depressing story about stolen bikes and the Roughriders.

6. A GOOSE-STEPPING, NAZI-SALUTING WHITE SUPREMACIST SLAUGHTERED TWO PEOPLE IN PORTLAND ON SATURDAY And mainstream U.S. media treated it like a regular crime, which they wouldn’t do it the killer was Muslim. Double standard much?

7. GREAT WHITE SHARK JUMPS INTO FISHING BOAT, SURPRISING FISHERPERSON Like it says.

8. DRUNK TIGERS DRIVING Golfer Tiger Woods has been arrested on a DUI charge in Florida. Now you know, if you didn’t.

See you tomorrow!