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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!

Sunday Matinee: Star Wars

40 years ago in a galaxy long long ago a movie opened on May 25, 1977 that would change movies, summer blockbusters, merchandising and pop culture forever.

Up until this point a young filmmaker named George Lucas had only made two movies. THX 1138 a science fiction film about a dystopian future where sex is illegal and everyone is on drugs to keep everyone compliant. His other film was American Graffiti a movie about a bunch of teenagers who go cruising one night before going off to college, war, etc. THX 1138 bombed at the box office but American Graffiti was a hit for Lucas. Lucas had wanted to make a Flash Gordon movie but he couldn’t get the rights. So he decided to invent his own space epic. And what a space epic. It’s so epic it’s still going on today.
Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: Star Wars”

REVIEW: Pirates of the Caribbean 5: At Least it’s Shorter

Jack Sparrow was once a character. Now is a series of twitches.

The weakest of all Disney franchises -at least creatively-, the Pirates of the Caribbean saga is better known for being a bloated mess than delivering any narrative satisfaction. Once Pirates’ saving grace, Johnny Depp’s perennially sauced Captain Jack Sparrow has become a handful of annoying tics. The actor’s image problems of late are not doing the character any favours.

Yet, of all the franchise’s wobbly wheels, none is more problematic than Terry Rossio. A writer in every Pirates of the Caribbean movie, Rossio’s penchant for byzantine plots and arbitrary character development has made the films a challenge to watch (Geoffrey Rush’s Barbossa has been good, bad or dead for no other reason than to patch a leaky script). Continue reading “REVIEW: Pirates of the Caribbean 5: At Least it’s Shorter”

Sunday Matinee: Smokey And The Bandit

It feels like there’s always movies celebrating anniversaries. Sometimes though it’s a little shocking to hear how old some of these movies are. For example stuntman turned director Hal Needham’s first movie from 1977 Smokey and the Bandit.

The movie is kind of dumb but it kicked off a car chase craze throughout the 1980s. The simple easy going plot has Burt Reynolds (The Bandit) driving a 1977 Trans Am really fast to get cops to chase him instead of his buddy Jerry Reed whose semi is illegally hauling booze over state lines.

Continue reading “Sunday Matinee: Smokey And The Bandit”

DA: Rest In Peace, Chris Cornell

Daily Aggregation1. LIBERAL CARBON TAX INFURIATES PETRO-GROUPIE Climate change is real, action needs to be taken, the Liberals have a plan and Brad Wall hates it. It’s hilarious that an alleged fan of business and markets rejects market-based climate change regulations. Maybe Brad Wall’s a commie? An OIL commie!!!

2. MEANWHILE GLOBAL WARMING FLOODED HUMANITY’S EMERGENCY SEED RESERVES (BUT THEY’RE OKAY FOR NOW) Kind of makes you think we’re at the point where climate change denial is a literal crime against humanity. I mean, the fucking seed reserves. You’d have to be cracked to think that’s not terrifying.

3. TRANSIT UNION SUES TO SAVE STC Is shutting down a Crown privatization? Government says no. Union says yes. Courts will decide.

4. NO SUPPER FOR YOU One in four Nunavut residents doesn’t get enough food and the situation needs national attention, say far-left hippies at the Conference Board Of Canada. “Canada doesn’t think as a country strategically around food. We don’t have a national food policy. We don’t have a national food strategy,” the report’s co-author told CBC. Well I for one support my tax dollars being invested in a public solution.

5. TRUMP SUCKS AT GAMES Good read here on why the President is terrible at getting things done. Politics might be poker but governing is chess.

6. CANADA’S BEST UFO INCIDENT TURNS 50 Read all about it.

7. CHRIS CORNELL OBITUARIES In The Guardian (plus this column on 10 essential songs), The New York Times, Rolling Stone and a bunch of write-ups in The Stranger, Seattle’s alternative newspaper. I’m not a grunge guy so let’s keep this simple: here’s maybe Soundgarden’s best-known hit, “Black Hole Sun”.

Thomas Vinterberg and Tryne Dyrholm Break Down The Commune

Tryne Dyrholm in The Commune.

It’s no secret I’m fond of Danish cinema. It’s the one film industry close to batting 1.000 these days. This week, the remarkable The Commune arrives to the art house circuit, including Saskatoon’s own Broadway Theatre.

Written and directed by Thomas Vinterberg (one of the founding fathers of the Dogma movement), The Commune revolves around a group of people attempting to fulfill the classic 70’s pipe dream of superseding social conventions and truly live in a community (the needs of the individual are subservient to the group’s). Soon they discover the sense of self and property won’t be denied. (see The Commune review)

While a well-esteemed name among film connoisseurs, Vinterberg reached a new echelon with The Hunt, a superb drama about a pre-school teacher falsely accused of molesting a little girl. The film gave Mads Mikkelsen his first Palm D’Or as Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival.

I had the chance to talk to Vinterberg and The Commune’s female lead (and Susanne Bier go-to actress) Tryne Dyrholm at the last Toronto Film Festival. Continue reading “Thomas Vinterberg and Tryne Dyrholm Break Down The Commune”

REVIEW: The Commune Has No Room for Self

The Danish keep on killing it at finding new angles for family dramas. While only recently Hollywood incorporated same-sex couples’ households into their films, the Danes are so far ahead, they are wondering if the notion of family is in conflict with individual growth.

Written and directed by Thomas Vinterberg (The Hunt), The Commune is set in the 70’s but tackles very contemporary issues. Anna (Trine Dyrholm, Love Is All You Need) and Erik (Ulrich Thomsen, The Celebration) fancy themselves a modern couple, so when they inherit a manor, they decide to put their beliefs into practice and start a commune.

The initially reluctant Erik is the first one to take advantage of the situation when he brings a student of his into the house. Anna tries to be open-minded about it, but soon enough learns there are limits to her tolerance. By the time personal decisions are to be dealt with by committee, Anna realizes she is not cut for ‘extreme’ community living.

While the love triangle is front and center, The Commune also examines what does it mean to be part of a hive-mind (and why nine times of ten it doesn’t work). As compelling as the idea of sacrificing personal freedom for the good of the group sounds, it’s not sustainable in the long run.

The moral of the story? Never a good idea to deal with emotional issues rationally. 3 ½ planets.

The Commune is now playing at the Broadway Theatre.

DA (MNBD): The Saint Of Killers

Daily AggregationHappy noon, Saskatoon! At 12:10 it’s 15°C en route to a high of 17. Sunrise was 5:11 a.m. and sunset is 8:55 for almost 15 hours and 44 minutes of glorious daylight. Would you like news links? Have some news links.

1. DAY OF THE HACKERS Beware, Internet humans: there have been shenanigans.

2. HARASSMENT IN JUSTICE Saskatchewan’s Justice ministry produces the most harassment complaints of any ministry, though very few are investigated.

3. DEPT. OF CORRELATIONS: WARMONGERS HAVE A HARD TIME FINDING NORTH KOREA ON A MAP Interesting if not surprising.

4. CALL IN THE CITIZENS Civilian Review and Complaints Commission chair Ian McPhail says RCMP work culture is broken and needs civilian oversight. I think it’s bad news anytime a police force doesn’t have civilian oversight. Unsafe for the cops working in dysfunctional workplaces.

5. STC WAS SAFE. WILL A PRIVATE SECTOR REPLACEMENT BE? Concerns aplenty.

6. RAPE, MURDER AND MUTILATION IN INDIA Awful.

7. SEGREGATION AND BLOOD PRESSURE African Americans who live in highly segregated U.S. neighbourhoods have higher blood pressure than African Americans who live in more integrated neighbourhoods, a study says. Gonna go out on a limb and guess segregated neighbourhoods correlate with vulnerable communities and their attendant poverty, underfunded schools, inaccessible health care, poor economic opportunities, etc. etc. etc.

8. A PERFECT DINOSAUR DISASTER The asteroid that wiped out Earth’s all-time coolest animals hit the right place at the right time to unleash maximum devastation.

9. RYAN VS. RYAN One of my favourite hockey players is peeved at Anaheim Ducks pest Ryan Kesler. I miss Ryan Johansen being on the Columbus Blue Jackets. The trade for Seth Jones was great for both teams, but still.

PREACHER PROMO The first season had its moments (a violent, bloody and hilarious fight between Jesse, Cassidy the vampire and three unkillable angels was a laugh-out-loud highlight) but it also wandered pointlessly and treated its characters like plot devices rather than, well, coherent characters. So should we watch season two when it starts June 25? I’m undecided, but the trailer is fun.