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REVIEW: Bon Cop Bad Cop 2 C’est Ne Pas Bon

Bon Cop Bad Cop 2

Full disclosure: I recall very little about the first Bon Cop Bad Cop, in theatres ages ago. The only thing I remember for certain is that I didn’t care for it and it’s not worth revisiting.

Didn’t need to. Bon Cop Bad Cop 2 is self-explanatory. It’s also an expensive pile of clutter. I couldn’t stop thinking how many solid indies could have been financed with this unwieldy mess’ budget.

The principle that sustains the Bon Cop Bad Cop franchise is not a terrible one: The cultural differences between Anglo and French-Canadians are less vast than initially thought but allow for solid procedural comedy. The sequel uses the same principle, but transfers it to the relationship between the RCMP and local police, and Canadians and Americans. It’s more broad than you could possibly imagine. Continue reading “REVIEW: Bon Cop Bad Cop 2 C’est Ne Pas Bon”

HotDocs Film Festival – Day 9: Donkeyote

Donkeyote (UK/Germany, 2017): Finding documentaries that make you feel good about the human condition is often challenging. Donkeyote is one of them: Manolo, a septuagenarian farmer, enjoys days-long walkabouts across Southern Spain alongside his donkey, Gorrión. His dream is to one day walk the 2200-mile Trail of Tears in the US, but not only it’s expensive, bringing Gorrión is a whole other thing.

The film follows Manolo in his efforts to put the trip together, but the campaign is just an excuse to spend time with a compelling figure, an uncomplicated man who embraces life with gusto, but slowly realizes the world may have passed him by. Donkeyote could have used a sturdier structure (towards the end, the movie feels aimless), but it’s a guaranteed good time. 3/5 planets.

HotDocs Film Festival – Day 8: Ramen Heads

Ramen Heads (Japan, 2016): A man with a cause can be a powerful force, even if that cause is to create the best bowl of ramen eight dollars can buy. The figure in question is Osamu Tomita and he is as obsessive as a Michelin-anointed chef.

Tomita believes strong flavors can be balanced, so his broth is as thick as mud He is as picky with the noodles, the ingredients and the service. The outcome is memorable. I tasted it.

Ramen Heads doesn’t entirely focus on Tomita, but he is the star of the show. The film covers the history and entire process of making ramen in dynamic fashion. The utterly dry narration manages to add more flavor to an already well seasoned dish. 3.5/5 planets.

DA: I Made A Stupid Video

Daily AggregationGood afternoon, Saskatoon! Sunrise was 5:30 a.m., sunset is 8:37 p.m. and and today was 15 hours, seven minutes and 26 seconds long. It’s 24°C right now, which my phone says is as hot as it gets today and I say that’s plenty hot enough.

Yup. Really nice day:

News!

1. BYE, BYE GOOD OL’ SGI, DROVE MY CHEVY TO THE LEVEE BUT INSURANCE WAS TOO HIGH Hot on the heels of the Sask Party’s announcement it could sell off almost half of SaskTel — which would cripple the crown and pave the way for full privatization, no matter what Brad Wall claims — the government says private companies want to buy parts of SGI. That said, stories like this don’t help the case to keep insurance public, which has a duty to be more compassionate than private companies.

2. SASKATCHEWAN LEADS CANADA IN STOPPING POOR PEOPLE FROM HAVING FUNERALS A proud day.

3. SASKATCHEWAN FIDDLES WITH DISABLED TRANSPORTATION ALLOWANCE Fiddling would be fine but the bottom line is disabled people in care homes will lose $750 million in funding.

4. SASK CROWN CEOS AND DEPUTY MINISTERS TAKE A PIDDLY PAY CUT Whoopdedoo. Look, if you make a six-figure salary you can afford a higher percentage pay cut. Sure, 3.5 per cent of $$566,762 is a proportionally bigger hit than 3.5 per cent of, say $50K, but when you’re making enough money to pay cash for a new car every year you’re not going to suffer from a 10, 15 or even 20 per cent rollback.

5. SASKATCHEWAN’S ENVIRONMENT MINISTER TALKS LIKE AN OIL STOOGE Scott Moe (nice name) says Saskatchewan will never allow a carbon tax. There’s absolutely room for debate on the merits and problems with carbon taxes, but blanket statements like this deserve contempt (especially when they come from a guy with two first names). Read about how a grown-up government fights climate change here.

6. WOW, THE EDMONTON OILERS GAVE WOMEN’S WASHROOMS TO MEN Garbage. And this from a team whose owner is tangled up in a cash-for-sex lawsuit. Female fans should sue the Oilers, the league and the City Of Edmonton (which put $131 million toward Rogers Place and is the official owner) for sex discrimination. Seriously.

7. U.S. CONGRESS PASSES AFFORDABLE CARE ACT SABOTAGE BILL BY A FOUR-VOTE MARGIN Story here. Next step: the Senate. Good luck with that.

8. SHOULD SIDNEY CROSBY RETIRE? Yup, says Keith Primeau. These concussions are ridiculous. The NHL needs to widen rinks to accomodate today’s bigger, faster and stronger players.

9. PRINCE PHILIP CLEARS HIS SCHEDULE Queen Elizabeth’s husband is retiring at 95. Also, Queen Elizabeth’s husband is still alive at 95.

HERE’S A STUPID I was bored and made a dumb cell phone video about how Prairie Dog functions. Or is that dysfunctions?

REVIEW GotG2: Familiarity Breeds Contempt

I’m Groot.

The first instalment of Guardians of the Galaxy was treated like the second coming of Star Wars: Writer/director James Gunn took a long dormant and often derided sub-genre -the space opera- and treated it with enough respect to come up with a worthwhile film.

The praise, however, was disproportionate. Sure, GotG was cute, but didn’t reinvent the wheel. The villain was perfunctory and the McGuffin plot has been seen about a dozen times in the Marvel Cinematic Universe alone.

For his second turn at the wheel, Gunn doubles down on the most effective elements of the original: Broad comedy, rich soundtrack and candy-colored planets. Sure, the concept of “makeshift family” is beyond played out after twenty (approx.) Fast and Furious movies, but I’ll give Vol. 2 a pass on the strength of the characters, each one a fully developed entity (except Gamora, who remains underserved). Continue reading “REVIEW GotG2: Familiarity Breeds Contempt”

HotDocs Film Festival – Day 7: House of Z, Becoming Bond, Hondros

House of Z (USA/Canada, 2016): A problem with documentaries too closely linked to the individual being portrayed on screen is that the outcome may be too soft on the subject. It’s the case with the Zac Posen-centric House of Z, a recount of the rise and plateau of the fashion designer.

Posen, who was barely a teenager when he started making dresses for her friends (Paz de la Huerta, Jemima Kirke and other teen socialites), drafted his entire family and launched a haute-couture business, the aforementioned House of Z. Immediate success translated in growing demand. The stress plus Zac’s enfant-terrible persona caused serious tension within the Posen household, leading to a very public breakup. Continue reading “HotDocs Film Festival – Day 7: House of Z, Becoming Bond, Hondros”

DA: Happy World Press Freedom Day

Daily AggregationHey Saskatoon it’s Wednesday afternoon! The heat’s peaking right now at a balmy 17°C, but that’s nothing compared to the weather on deck: more than a week of sunny and mostly sunny days with highs as high as 27°C. Now that’s high! Maybe too high. Onward to news.

1. BOOM BUNGLERS AND CROWN KILLERS Well well well, what a frickin’ surprise. After vowing to not sell off crowns without a referendum, Brad Wall and his Saskatchewan Party government has met with Bell, Rogers and Telus about selling 49 per cent of SaskTel, which will raise everyone’s phone/internet bills, send Saskatchewan profits to telecom shareholders, wipe out good local jobs, cripple the ability of future Sask governments to fund needed programs and, most hilariously, open the door for a lucky MLA or two to land cushy post-political careers on telecom boards of directors like when former Manitoba premier Gary Filmon privatized the Manitoba Telephone System then took a job on its board of directors. Wall and his cronies must think you’re really stupid and you’ll go along with this without a fuss. Prove him wrong. And be funny and peaceful about it because John Gormley doesn’t need you giving him material to smear Sask Party critics with.

2. SASKATOON COURIER WANTS TO TAKE OVER FOR STC So what, we should cheer? That’s how privatization and cuts to public services work —the private sector gobbles-up the profitable bits of a dismembered public entity, and the money-losing services either aren’t provided at all or governments have to step in after the dust settles and fork over subsidies to private companies to keep unprofitable services alive. Along the way, good jobs die and big-money investors profit. Personally I’d rather have a few dopey failures like Spudco than the destruction of public services. YMMD.

3. FBI BOSS IS JUST SICK ABOUT IT James Comey’s admission that the FBI was investigating Hillary Clinton’s e-mails put Trump in the White House, but the FBI director would play it the same way again.

4. BIGOTS AGAINST BODIES Turns out it’s legal for U.S. funeral homes to reject LGBTQ people’s corpses. Appalling.

5. HAPPY WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY! Here’s a column on the threat of an apathetic public, a story on persecuted cartoonists and an editorial on the need for Canada to guarantee press freedoms. Want to read more about the state of journalism? Check out Reporters Without Borders. Want to buy hard-working and often unappreciated journalists a present today? Subscribe to an online newspaper. The media can’t exist without you.

You can support Planet S here.

Here’s a classic scene with some of my favourite fictional reporters at one of my favourite fictional newsrooms. Happy World Press Freedom Day!

HotDocs Film Festival – Day 6: PACmen, Integral Man, Recruiting for Jihad

PACmen (USA/Australia, 2017): Of the many dramatic threads to emerge from last year’s election in the US, Dr. Ben Carson provided one of the weirdest. On the strength of a single speech, Carson was jettisoned to the Republican presidential race and for a brief moment, the neurosurgeon gave Trump a run for his money… until he opened his mouth. Unsubstantiated claims about his childhood and bizarre statements (the pyramids were built for storage purposes!) quickly derailed his candidature.

PACman focuses on the two super-PACs formed to support his candidacy: “Run Ben Run” and “Extraordinary America”. As a man of faith, Carson attracted a number of Christian-conservatives who struggled to understand how other Republicans could fall for a rube like Trump. As Carson continued to fall on the polls, increasingly desperate supporters could only blame the media and find solace in prayer. Continue reading “HotDocs Film Festival – Day 6: PACmen, Integral Man, Recruiting for Jihad”

DA: Maudie

Daily AggregationGood afternoon Saskatoon! How’s it going? According to my cell phone’s weather app, it’s 11°C with a high of 13 later. A source who doesn’t want to be named for fear of reprisals describes the day as “not bad, grey,” adding, “but the sun’s starting to peek out.” #Journalism.

Sunrise today was at 5:33 a.m. while sunset is at 8:34 and HELLO, that means we’re in the magical land of 15 hours of daylight, which continues until Aug. 9, HUZZAH. Peak daylight is 16 hours, 45 minutes on June 20 and 21, by the way.

1. SASK STUDENTS PROTEST BUDGET CUTS As they should.

2. “IT JUST MAKES YOUR HEAD SPIN” Weed will soon be legal but cops are still busting the people selling it, blah.

3. FREEDOM OF THE PRESS: CANADA IS OUT OF THE TOP 20 COUNTRIES Well this isn’t good at all. Spying on journalists and police interference is unacceptable. The Toronto Star has a peeved editorial here.

4. NDP LEADERSHIP RACE BEGINS Will the party get it right this time? We’ll have an idea on May 6, 2018.

5. TEXAS COPS SHOOT AND KILL A 15-YEAR-OLD BLACK KID AND LIE ABOUT IT Police said they fired at a car that was backing towards them. It wasn’t, and now a kid’s dead.

6. PLAGIARISM IS THE NEW BLACK Far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen lifted parts of a speech by eliminated Republican candidate François Fillon. She says it was a tribute. Or maybe she’s just a nasty dope who hired plagiarism monkeys for speechwriters?

7. A 12-YEAR OLD WAS BOOTED FROM A CHESS TOURNAMENT FOR WEARING A “TOO SEDUCTIVE ” DRESS Hopefully whoever’s responsible for this creepy, moralizing stupidity is banned from being around children.

8. CROSBY IS CONCUSSED The Hart Trophy nominee is out against the Capitals in game 4 after a nasty Alex Ovechkin slash and a probably-not-malicious-but-devastating cross check by Matt Niskanen. Not good for hockey.

DO YOU LIKE SWEET, QUIRKY ROMANTIC MOVIES ABOUT NOVA SCOTIA ARTISTS? CHECK OUT MAUDIE I caught it last night and it’s a sweetheart of a movie,  based on the life of actual folk artist Maud Lewis. It’s at the (theatre formerly known as the) Galaxy this week. You can read more about Maudie and Lewis here and here. How often do you get to see a biopic about an amazing Canadian artist married to a door-to-door fish salesman? 4/5 Prairie Dogs. See it!

HotDocs Film Festival – Day 5: The Workers Cup

The Workers Cup (UK, 2017): Much has been said about the brutal conditions foreign workers must endure while building stadiums for the 2022 Qatar World Cup (high temperatures, excessive hours, disproportionately low wages). Their plight has seldom been documented: Press access to worksites is severely restricted.

Director Adam Sobel takes advantage of a PR move to gain access to the workforce. The embattled contractors have organized a soccer championship to show concern for the wellbeing of their employees: The Workers Cup. The overworked personnel fails to see the tournament as a publicity stunt and happily become involved.

The harsh realities of being a foreign worker in Qatar seep through the supposedly wholesome competition. Unsavory situations like being unable to leave camp at will, or a man getting stabbed by his roommate so he could be sent back home pepper the daily lives of the migrant workforce.

Much to the film’s credit, The Workers Cup treats its subjects as individuals with agency and not as victims, which makes their plight much more relatable. Their story has only started to unfold. 3.5/5 planets.