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Sunday Matinee: The 39 Steps

Hope everyone had a good Canada day! Today’s Sunday Matinee is Alfred Hitchcock’s brilliant masterpiece from 1935 The 39 Steps.

The movie sets up and features several themes that Hitchcock would use through many of his movies to come. The macguffin, the wrong man falsely accussed on the run, the blonde love interest and much more.
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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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REVIEW: Cars 3 Goes Back to Basics

Lightning McQueen and Cruz Ramírez burning rubber.

Less hyped but more profitable than other Pixar productions, Cars is the most kid-friendly saga out of the Disney subsidiary. Each film is awfully similar at playing with toy cars, a joy a franchise like Transformers completely misses.

Cars 3 is a nice rebound from the overstuffed and Mater-heavy Cars 2 (Mater is best in spaced out, small doses). A good portion of the film takes place away from the big city, precisely one of the charms of the first film. As a good Pixar film, it carries a positive, timely message (being different is not an obstacle to achieve your goals), although is less high-concept than, say, Inside Out.

We reencounter Lightning McQueen (voiced with increasing ease by Owen Wilson) as his career is taking a tumble. Newer, faster cars are joining the track and McQueen is having trouble keeping up, let alone winning. The next-gen champ, the slick, patronizing Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer), is too passive-aggressive to be a proper villain. McQueen is basically his own worst enemy.

Following a fierce accident, Lightning reevaluates his career and comes to the conclusion he needs to change strategy. Backed by a new owner, McQueen ends up in hands of Cruz Ramírez (Cristela Alonso), a trainer whose unusual methods don’t sit well with Lightning.

Cars 3 unfolds smoothly. It provides a hearty dose of comedy and nostalgia, while at surface level. Cruz Ramírez is probably the best character the series has introduced outside Lightning and Paul Newman’s Doc Hudson. Tentatively, Cars 3 ventures outside race circuits and folksy little towns and into a makeshift monster-trucks arena. It’s the kind of risks the franchise could take more often.

Cars 3 offers a rare twist ending for a Pixar movie, one I failed to see coming. I guess old cars can learn new tricks. Three planets.

Cars 3 opens this Friday the 16th, everywhere.

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”