Thursday, March 31, 2005

Frank Miller's Sin City: Adjectives Fail Me

I just got back from the Saskatoon premiere Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez's Sin City. As the title of the post alludes to, we've been having trouble coming up with the appropriate adjectives to describe the thing. Ridiculous keeps popping up. But not in a bad way. In the best way possible.

First impressions:

Sin City is like a comic book come to screaming, roaring life. It's bloody violent, over the top, and simplistic, but that's what the genre demands. We're not looking for realism, but rather explorations of simple themes like evil, revenge, and so forth. Like the noir novels and films that it draws its origins from, the importance is in the mood and setting that is created. On that level the film succeeds admirably.

The film uses almost all black and white, with colour used to sparingly, but with great effect. The film captures the feel of Miller's gritty black and white drawings, sometimes copying the panels exactly.

The actors embody their characters perfectly. Bruce Willis appropriately world weary. Clive Owen is cool. Rosario Dawson is scary but titilating. Jessica Alba is sexy. Elijah Wood is creepy. Nick Stahl is one of the most frightening, messed up villians I've ever seen.

Either way, this is one film that I'm going to have to check out again. I loved it. It's one of the best comic book movies I've ever seen and the best work Rodriguez has done. His energy, style and enthusiasm all serves to futher the film as art, rather than distract from it. This film couldn't have been done without his unique filmmaking ideas.

Anyway, it's late. I'll get back with a more complete review, but for now, post preview screening, I can't recommend it enough.

Note: People who are squeamish or have a low tolerance for immoral behaviour should stay away from this film.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

I Lost Two Posts in the Last 2 Days, So This Is It

I could write about how I watched Babe last night (it's an excellent movie for those who haven't seen it and think it's juvenile: it's not), or how I got my tickets for the Sin City preview tomorrow night - expect a blog post within hours of the show - but Luke does such a good job telling the story (and I am exceptionally tired), so just read about it here. Almost everything there is true (and probably even worse or better than you'd expect).


I am experiencing hockey withdrawal, so I ended up watching almost the entire CIS Men's Hockey final this evening on TSN. Of course, the Huskies lost. How anti-climactic. Still, we had a team in both football and hockey men's finals. Not bad at all really.

Anton took nearly the entire day to write a five page paper, so now is the first time I've been able to get on the computer today.

The mix tape (entitled "Anders's Mix Tape") is done now. I think. I'm the kind of person who thought I had it done last night at midnight, then I slept on it. Listened to it today a couple of times. Decided to change two songs (I won't say which 2). Then I had a nap. Now I'm up. I'm going to go with what I have, but I'm still having second thoughts. Making a mix tape is a fairly personal thing. I don't like being judged, but this seems like just asking for people to judge me.

I think I can say two things:

1) Everyone will have heard at least a couple of songs on my tape (sorry, with Joel, Caitlin and Ewan, it would be impossible for me to make something entirely original).

2) Mine is probably one of the most mellow, least "rockin'" tapes. But I like it anyway. It's something I would throw on and just relax to. It's not all "chillout" mix stuff. But it's not metal or blues anyway.

I hope everyone likes it. Ryan, you're up first.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Weird Theories; and, Other Games You Can Play With Your Friends

Today in Browsers (I'm usually there Mon/Wed/Fri from 2 pm until 3:30 pm, so if you want to meet me I can almost guarentee I'll be there) Kevin and I were talking about how Anton and I have this game where we were attempting to cast actors to play all the people we know, and ourselves, in a film. For example, we've decided that I'm going to be played by Michael J. Fox. Anton, will be portrayed by Jerry Seinfeld. Ewan is Mel Gibson. Stephen Koo: Jeff Goldblum. And we decided that Kevin would be played by Jim Carrey ala Eternal Sunshine, but Dean will be played by Jim Carrey in some other film. You get the idea. Let me know who you think will play you (all though many of you have people that we have already decided will play you).


We have a number of weird theories that are fun to talk about (ask Ewan about the one about which 60s rock band coresponds with The Simpsons, Family Guy and South Park). The one I was thinking about today is the "Kevin Smith Film Career Theory."

It goes like this. So far of all the part-time jobs I've had in my life, I started out in a convenience store (ala Clerks) and then moved to a video store (also ala Clerks). Now I work at the mall (ala Mallrats). I decided that means that I'm going to be a comic book artist (ala Chasing Amy; you get the picture). It all makes sense.

  1. Clerks: convenience store, video store, or petty drug dealer
  2. Mallrats: mall employee, mall rat, or date rapist
  3. Chasing Amy: comic book artist, lesbian, or jilted lover of a lesbian (see the song "Pink Triangle" by Weezer)
  4. Dogma: angel, cleric, abortionist, or apostle
  5. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back: film maker, web administrator (see here), or federal wildlife agent
  6. Jersey Girl: publicist, father who realizes his family means more to him than work, or drive a street cleaner
I guess after that one is destined to become insecure in one's skills as an artist or professional and fall back on the things one started with, and cave into the demands of your legions of fans who refuse to let you become mature or deal with non-"dick and fart joke" films (ala Clerks 2: The Passion of the Clerks).

Movie Journal 2005

* first time viewing
== theatre viewing
() DVD viewing


1.01 The Aviator (Martin Scorsese, 2004) == *

1.02 The Machinist (Brad Anderson, 2004) == *
1.03 The Muppet Christmas Carol (Brian Henson, 1992) ()
1.03 Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (George Lucas, 1977) ()
1.04 Dekalog, Dwa (Decalogue: Two) (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1988) () *
1.04 Dekalog, Trzy (Decalogue: Three) (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1988) () *
1.04 The Bridge on the River Kwai (David Lean, 1957) () *
1.05 After Hours (Martin Scorsese, 1985) () *
1.06 The Big Sleep (Howard Hawks, 1946) () *
1.07 Peggy Sue Got Married (Francis Ford Coppola, 1986) ()
1.07 Closer (Mike Nichols, 2004) == *
1.10 Something's Gotta Give (Nancy Meyers, 2003) () *
1.11 Mean Streets (Martin Scorsese, 1973) () *
1.12 Moulin Rouge! (Baz Luhrmann, 2001) ()
1.13 Aguirre, Der Zorn Gottes (Aguirre, The Wrath of God) (Werner Herzog, 1972) ()
1.14 The Fifth Element (Luke Besson, 1997) ()
1.17 Rain Man (Barry Levinson, 1988) ()
1.17 Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004) ()
1.18 Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera (Joel Schuacher, 2004) == *
1.20 Ronin (John Frankenheimer, 1998) ()
1.21 Triumph des Willens (Triumph of the Will) (Leni Riefenstahl, 1935) () *
1.22 Collateral (Michael Mann, 2004) ()
1.23 Friday Night Lights (Peter Berg, 2004) () *
1.24 Brazil with Terry Gilliam commentary (Terry Gilliam, 1985) ()
1.26 Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (Kerry Conran, 2004) ()
1.27 Hamlet (Laurence Olivier, 1948) () *
1.28 Million Dollar Baby (Clint Eastwood, 2004) == *
1.29 Better Luck Tomorrow (Justin Lin, 2003) ()
1.30 Sideways (Alexander Payne, 2004) == *


2.01 Garden State (Zach Braff, 2004) () *
2.04 Un long dimanche de fiançailles (A Very Long Engagement) (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 2004) == *
2.12 Dawn of the Dead (Zack Snyder, 2004) ()
2.13 Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004) ()
2.14 Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick, 1999) ()
2.17 Shaun of the Dead (Edgar Wright, 2004) ()
2.19 Platoon (Oliver Stone, 1986) () *
2.20 Donnie Darko: Director's Cut (Richard Kelly, 2001) ()
2.21 Hamlet (Michael Almereyda, 2000) () *
2.22 Hotel Rwanda (Terry George, 2004) == *
2.23 Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope with George Lucas, Ben Burtt, Dennis Muren and Carrie Fisher commentary (George Luca, 1977) ()
2.24 Heat (Michael Mann, 1995) ()
2.25 The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972) ()
2.26 Full Metal Jacket (Stanley Kubrick, 1987) () *
2.28 Kumonosu jô (Throne of Blood) (Akira Kuroswa, 1957) () *


3.01 Shi mian mai fu (House of Flying Daggers) (Yimou Zhang, 2004) == *
3.02 The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie (Steven Hillenburg, 2004) () *
3.02 Baadasssss! (Mario Van Peebles, 2003) () *
3.06 The Tragedy of Othello (Orson Welles, 1952) () *
3.07 Bambi (David Hand, 1942) ()
3.08 Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993) () *
3.13 The Reckoning (Paul McGuigan, 2004) ()
3.15 Star Trek: First Contact (Jonathan Frakes, 1996) ()
3.15 The Incredibles (Brad Bird, 2004) ()
3.16 A bout de souffle (Breathless) (Jean Luc Godard, 1951) () *
3.17 M (Fritz Lang, 1931) () *
3.18 Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme, 1991) ()
3.20 In America (Jim Sheridan, 2003) ()
3.22 Star Wars: Clone Wars - Volume 1 (Genndy Tartakovsky, 2003-2004) () *
3.23 Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938) () *
3.23 Wu jian dao (Infernal Affairs) (Wai Keung Lau and Siu Fai Mak, 2002) () *
3.25 Der Himmel über Berlin (Wings of Desire) (Wim Wenders, 1987) () *
3.27 M*A*S*H (Robert Altman, 1970) () *
3.28 Babe (Chris Noonan, 1995) ()
3.29 The Lady Vanishes (Alfred Hitchcock, 1937) () *
3.30 Sin City (Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller, with Special Guest Director Quentin Tarantino, 2005) == *


4.05 Sin City
(Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller, with Special Guest Director Quentin Tarantino, 2005) ==
4.07 + 4.10 Spartacus (Stanley Kubrick, 1960) () *
4.10 The Lady From Shanghai (Orson Welles, 1947) () *
4.12 The Merchant of Venice (Michael Radford, 2004) == *
4.16 Sideways (Alexander Payne, 2004) ()
4.18 La Dolce Vita (Frederico Fellini, 1960) == *
4.22 A.I. Artificial Intelligence (Steven Spielberg, 2001) ()
4.24 The Rutles (Eric Idle and Gary Weis, 1978) VHS, *

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Happy Easter

I know that Easter doesn't mean as much to a lot of people these days, but for the Christian faith, Easter is perhaps the most holy of days, and the most joyful. So, I'm just going to shout out a happy Easter to everyone.


Last night we had a good time. Luke had an interesting story (which you can read here). Went out played some pool. Went to Alexanders for some food and drink - where they insisted on playing some horrid 80s satellite station (and I'm sorry, I just can't take Bette Midler singing "Wind Beneath My Wings"...I just CAN'T) which somewhat spoiled the moment for me- and then afterwards we decided to go to my house do so something. There's always something to do wether it's movies, video games or just sitting, talking and listening to music.

I have determined that some people have no ability to be decisive. So, instead of watching a movie, we decided to play our old-standby, Dead or Alive 3 for X-box. For those unfamilar, DOA is a fighting series involving various characters, mostly buxom, martial arts babes and chiseled Bruce Lee-ish men, fighting in full 3D, using actual martial arts moves. It's become a favourite of ours, and seriously competitive. We set out a "First to Twenty Wins" mandate, playing in sequence against each other. If you win, you keep your spot. You lose, and the next person's up.

Each of us has our own favourite characters. For instance, I favour the German Karate expert, Hitomi; Luke has the ninja Kasumi, Danny favours the Bruce Lee look-alike Jan lee, and Justin has found a soft spot for the wrestling babe, Tina. At first Danny was up quite a bit (18, to my 10 wins), but in the end I came back and went on a streak, taking the title for the night. The fact that it was a hard fought battle makes it all the more fun. All of us are equal enough that anyone could take any fight at a given moment, and one slip up, or missed kick can mean the difference between losing and victory.

This is Hitomi. She's mine. You can't have her. Posted by Hello

Friday, March 25, 2005


I just want to say, I'm overwhelmed with the response I've gotten to my last post. Thank you all for you comments.

No decisions have been made yet in any direction. Now there will be a lot of searching out options and figuring out plans. In once sense I hold this as a reason why an English degree IS great. I still have so many options. I'm not at all set on a single path. There are a number of film schools that I'm going to check out (Caitlin; London would be cool, and I was actually thinking about it partly because my highschool media teacher did his degree in London - although I think at University College London). UVic is still an option for graduate studies (and only a one year program), and my dad encourages me to look at film studies and journalism programs that would lead to a career as a film critic. So many options.


Watched a few movies the other night and want to just make a few comments.

Firstly,Howard Hawks' Bringing Up Baby is one of the most perfect comedies I have ever seen. I think I've actually known some people like Katherine Hepburn's character in the film, and Cary Grant is amazing playing out of character as the bumbling professor-type. Good stuff. Highly recommended.

Also watched Wu jian dao (Infernal Affairs). This movie is an excellent cop/mobster cat-and-mouse kind of film (along the lines of Heat) that I really enjoyed. It stars Andy Lau (House of Flying Daggers) and Tony Leung (Hero) as a police mole and undercover cop, respectively. The film unfolds as each side attempts to discover the plant in each others network. It's a solidly crafted film, with fine performances, and never lets gimmicks or action sequences take away from the characters and their problems.

I was really interested in the film because Martin Scorsese is remaking the film with DiCaprio and Matt Damon in the lead roles (with Jack Nicholson as well). I can see how the material could really easily and competently be adapted to an American setting (NYPD and Mafia, rather than Hong Kong police and Triads), and the underlying story should work well with Scorsese's sensibilities.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Confusion and Dejection Abound (Proceed With Caution)

So, I'm going to get around to breaking the news to all you people out there, but I didn't want to go and whine about this right away. These kinds of things deserve reflection and such. The bad news: I got rejected by McGill!

Of course, I was pretty damn shaken by this. I had had my heart set on doing graduate school work there in the fall, and thought I had a shot. Sure my grads weren't in the very highest percentile (they are still solid A/A- marks, except those pesky marks from back in Commerce that are dragging me down, but doesn't my consistant three-year trend into higher and higher grades mean anything?), but I thought I had a good package to offer them, including good references, a solid proposal for a graduate thesis, and of course, enthusiasm for the subject. I suppose that doesn't translate well in paper. I really don't know right now. My enthusiasm levels for graduate work anywhere have suddenly taken a huge plummet.

That's not to say graduate work is out of the question. Victoria got back to me and basically told me they now need my final grades for this year. So that's a possibility. I talked briefly with Cooley this morning, and he put in perspective that when you get your heart set on a couple options and they don't work out, sometimes it feels like you're being rejected by all of academia (bringing to mind my bitter mood last night when I chatted with some), but this isn't the case. It might just be that those places are really, really popular (which McGill is; over 200 applications a year for GS). Still, if they really wanted me, wouldn't they have picked me? Grrrr.

Oh, and McGill sent this rejection in an email. Classy. I would still like a letter to confirm this decision.

Anyway, the weirdly coincedental thing and the thing that has got me confused right now is that almost immediately after the McGill email was read, I got a call from the Vancouver Film School and the Admissions Advisor there wanted to talk to me about going their in the fall. I was a little bit surprised at first. I mean, I had handed in an application last spring, but I never really thought they took it seriously. He said that I had a good resume (being a university graduate with an honours degree doesn't hurt), and that he encouraged me to think about what I'm going to do now. Of course, he's a advisor for VFS, so he wants me to go their, but nonetheless, it got me thinking. He asked me if film was still where I wanted to be. And I said yes. And he said, ok, then you have to make the decision to either do it or not.

So, the question is: Do I want to be a filmmaker? Or do I want to be an academic? It's a hard question. The academic life looks nice. It's comfortable. It's familiar (remember, my dad is a prof, so it's a job I have a first hand look at). But film is still my passion. I still want to make movies. I get excited at the opportunity to have my projects come to life in a more professional environment. In a place where I don't have to worry about figuring out technical things, because it's being taught to me. That's the appeal of film school. On the other hand, my apprehension at film school is being enslaved to the studio system. I gravitate toward the maverick filmmakers (Rodriguez, Lucas) who don't have any limits on them. Those who I've talked to about this know what I mean.

Well, my dad comes home tonight at 11:30, and then we can sit down and have a long talk this weekend. I'm looking forward to the Easter break. A time for reflection on both personal and spiritual goals. Hopefully this year I can actually make it that.

There's a scene in It's A Wonderful Life when George Bailey and his uncle Billy are waiting for Harry at the trainstation and George asks Billy, "You know what the three most exciting sounds in the world are?"

"Sure. 'Breakfast is served.' 'Lunch is served.' 'Dinner is..."

"Nah, nah, nah...train whistles, plane engines and anchor chains."

Well, that's a paraphrase, but you get the idea.

I was checking the Saskatoon Airport Authority webpage to figure out if they have departure and arrival times on display, which they do. My dad is arriving back home from Sweden tonight - spending the Easter weekend and then heading back in a week - and I have to pick him up. I hate having to call those numbers and wait through a list of flight numbers, and at the same time, I don't want to just assume that the flights are on time (they never are). At the same time, I love the airport.

Airports are pretty much my favourite places in the world. I love the smell of jet engine fuel, and the way that airports are like their own private worlds. I haven't had the chance to spend as much time in airports in the last 4 years as I would have liked (travel is expensive), but the times I have spent in my life were memorable.

There was the time two summers ago, when I took a different flight to LA than my mom and Aren, and then I ended up hanging out in the main terminal at LAX for a couple of hours. What a crazy place! None-the-less I had a good time exploring, and even got offered some cracy religious literature by some homeless guy.

Then there was the time me and Matthew were travelling alone at age 13 and had to spend a 5 hour layover in Frankfurt. We were supposed to stay in the kids area, but we figured we were old enough and had a good time exploring that airport.

So airports are good places. Full of excitement of travel and interesting things to see. That must be why I liked The Terminal so much at first (although Ewan will be happy to hear my enthusiasm for it has faded somewhat): the idea of living in an airport isn't so repulsive to me.

I'm also reminded of the opening of the film Love, Actually - and yes I know there are a lot of movie references in this post - when Hugh Grant is talking about how airports show the love of humanity. It's pretty true. You rarely see people unhappy in airports, unless it's the good kind of unhappy, in that they know they are going ot miss the people they love. And really, that's a good thing.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Star Wars: Clone Wars

Many of us remember watching the Droids and Ewoks cartoons when growing up, and I love that the new cartoon series, Clone Wars is bringing back Star Wars to the small screen.

A good deal; only $15.99
Posted by Hello

Today the DVD of the first 20 mini-episodes (19 approx. 3-min episodes; 1 7-min) came out today, and I had to pick it up of course. I had only caught the first 5 or 6 episodes when they first came out on TV. The fact that they played in only 3 min bits was somewhat frusterating. On the DVD release they had the bright idea of editing all 20 episodes into one, near-feature-length film (69 min in total). The effect is much better and gives us a whirlwind tour of the first half of the Clone Wars.

I love the animation style on the series. They got the creator of Samurai Jack to do the designs and it looks awesome. Very stylized, but suitable. Some days I miss the old fashioned two-dimensional animation, so this is a nice treat.

Then after watching the DVD I went on line at and watched the first part of Clone Wars Vol. 2. The next 5 episodes, which lead directly into Episode III, began last night and now they are 12-min episodes. The change is actually quite significant. Gone for the most part is the frenetic feel of the first 20 episodes, and time is now able to be given to character scenes and further plot development. Hightlights of last night's episode include Threepio showing off his new gold plating and Anakin finally becoming a Jedi Knight (get to see what a Jedi knighting ceremony is like!).

Anakin is starting to look pretty badass!Posted by Hello

Now I am really tired. I had late nights on the weekend and late night last night working on an essay. I had trouble keeping my eyes open during my beloved Star Wars cartoons, so I am going to bed. It's a good thing I didn't end up going to Lydia's to see the Breaks, because I am pooped.

Monday, March 21, 2005

In America

I'm going to take a time out from my essay on Orwell to say a few words (Ha, I take a break from writing by writing, that's funny).


I watched Jim Sheridan's In America again last night. I was moved again, in a film that I'm convinced was one of the most underrated films of 2003. It's a film that demonstrates clearly the differences between emotionally mature sentimentality about life and the sap that passes of as sentiment these days (Patch Adams) but is merely manipulative and cheap.

In America is a joyful film, though it's not always happy. Sheridan manages to put together ordinary moments in life and make them feel like the most important and amazing things there are, which is what an artist should aspire to do. The scene where Johnny, the father, is trying to win the E.T. doll for his daughters at the street fair is one of the most intense sequences I've seen on film in a long time. Each time he misses and takes the rent money to keep's excruciating, but at the same time you completely understand that he isn't going to dissapoint his daughters.

And yes, those girls, the real-life Bolger sisters, Emma and Sarah, who were cast in the role are the kind of children I hope to have one day. Filled with joy, yet never fake, the are amazing in the role without moving into the overly precocious territory that is the domain of the Dakota Fannings and Haley Joel Osments of the world. I'm amazed at the performances those children delivered.

This time the film got me thinking about the themes of family and community. How quickly humans can create communites. It is, I believe, a fundamental human need. In the film the family has only been in New York for a year, and already they ahve so many friends - Mateo, the Italian neighbors, etc. In a similar way I thought of this blog community, and the English community at university, and how it has sprung up in the past year to actually mean something. Many of you I never knew until this past year (or haven't even met in person if you're just passing through). Funny how even in the digital frontier, we instinctively seek out community and contact with others.


Also, I'm listening to Franz Ferdinand, which I finally bought, and the Killers Hot Fuss, which I borrowed from Luke (thanks man). I'm really digging both - I like "Mr. Brightside" a lot better when it's not on the radio, and I think it's actually an excellent song and of course the other standard, "Take Me Out" is as good as ever - and there's a lot of stuff on there that makes the albums more than worth buying. Both are still rock, but they make me want to dance and that's a good thing.

Political Meaning What

Anton had papers all weekend, which kept me off the computer almost entirely. The good news is that I survived, I'm not completely computer dependant. The bad news is no new blog posts. So here's a couple to satisfy that craving.


I'm currently writing an essay on George Orwell's fiction (Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four for those two people who didn't know who he was, you know who you are). Specifically the role of language in politics in the books. Of course, life works in funny ways and something in life reminded me of Orwell's statements. I found the following passage from Orwell's essay "Politics and the English Language" regarding the deterioration of the English language, which illuminates much of what I've found to be the trouble with overtly political conversations (such as this one here).

"The words democracy, socialism, freedom, patriotic, realistic, justice, have
each of them meanings which cannot be reconcilled with one another. In the case
of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed upon definition
but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides...consequently the
defenders of every kind of régime claim that it is a democracy and fear that
they might have to stop using the word if it were tied down to any one meaning. Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearers to think he means something quite different." (Orwell 162)

I think this goes some way to explaining why our arguments are so fruitless most of the time. Without an agreed upon definition, we each cling to our own view and reject what the other person is saying based on our own private definitions. This is where language has "devolved" to, and the most frightening thing is that Orwell saw this happening, and the political and ideological forces in our world don't want us to agree upon any one definition. I'm convinced that while Orwell may not have been as prescient as, say, Huxley in foreseeing the way things turned out, not that I think he was really trying to do that in Nineteen Eighty-Four, but in many ways he was as shrewd observer of the human condition and makes some very important statements.

Friday, March 18, 2005

This poster is one of the best I've seen. Of any movie. Posted by Hello

Godard's Breathless

Ah, French cinema. Having just watched Jean-Luc Godard's (I note the uncanny resemblance in the name to a certain fictional hero we have been talking about) film Breathless (Á bout de souffle if you prefer the French title), I now understand the "style over substance" aesthetic that current filmmakers such as Tarantino and others are accused of.

Breathless is the kind of film that I would love to make. The plot isn't really important, but rather the mechanism that sets the film in motion. It can be summed up as a young French car thief kills a policeman and goes to his American girlfriend to hide. They spend the night and day talking, making love, stealing cars and so on. Nothing drastically amazing here.

But the real revelation is Godard's techniques and aesthetic. Shot with handheld cameras in natural lighting the film reveals how Godard's eye for a good shot and good location, as well as inventive editing help to create a thing of beauty. The film looks great. The script is filled with funny conversations, clever innuendos and weird characters. One can see how important this film would have been in influence on American filmmakers in the 70s and even the new-new wave of Indie filmmakers in the ninties, like Soderbergh and Tarantino.

Also, the soundtrack is great, a kind of blend of European 60s lounge music and jazz, it draws the film along, making it feel light and bouncy, despite some of the heavier elements. This film reminds me of what can be great about European cinema.

Guess my new interest will be French New Wave films. Gotta get me some more Godard

Godard's Masculine/Feminine, which has a very similar aesthetic is being re-released in theatres this year. You can check out the trailer here.

Note: Earlier I had said that Masculine/Feminine is a new film. I was wrong. It was released originally in 1966. However, Godard is still making films. He had a release in 2003 called Notre musique and has another film in the works for 2005 called Paris, je t'aime.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

What's Going On

A few words on what I've been up to:

Firstly, I re-read Animal Farm in its entirety, in one sitting, yesterday afternoon in Browsers. I'm now convinced that it is a much better novel than I previously thought. The effect of reading it in a single sitting (it's not long, only 95 pages) was interesting.

I also re-read part of nineteen eighty-four last night. I think I'm definitely going to be writing my paper this weekend on Orwell.

I watched Fritz Lang's 1931 crime-thriller M starring Peter Lorre. This German-language film was fascinating for many reasons, not limited to it's subject matter - it's part serial killer film, part police procedural, part criminal justice - but also the themes that it raises regarding victim and predator. Very interesting. Of course a couple years later, the Nazis would kick Lang out of Germany and ban the film for ostensibly being "anti-death penalty."

With my dad gone, and me doing a fair bit of reading lately, I've been dipping into his classical music collection. I always enjoyed listening to it, but never had to actively seek it out because my dad would have it playing in the car, in his office, &c. Recently I've listened to Hector Berlioz's La Carnaval romain and Symphonie fantastique, and Beethoven's Piano Sonatas Nos. 8, 2, and 23. Listening to the piano work on the Beethoven sonatas was amazing. Given my interest in piano recently, I think I need to track down some Glenn Gould.

Also, I've been listening to much White Stripes (White Blood Cells) and The Black Keys (thickfreakness and Rubber Factory). Some of my favourite tracks are "10 AM Automatic", "The Lengths", "Hard Row", "Have Love Will Travel" and, for the Stripes, "Fell In Love With A Girl".

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Reality Check

As much as I love comics, movies and various other elements of geek culture, I ever so often have to be reminded of what happens when one loses grip on reality: as such, my weekly visit to 8th St. Comics served this purpose.

I love Pat and some of his patrons, but really, some of these people are beyond hope. Try getting into an argument trying to explain to a guy that his hatred of the Star Wars prequels makes absolutely no frickin' sense in the context of his making a statement to the effect that "Electra was actually pretty good" and "I liked AVP." It defies logic.

Comfort Movies

Everyone knows I'm a Star Wars fan and that common wisdom dictates that Star Wars fans do not like Star Trek (work with me here Swambo and Cait, there are always exceptions), but I do actually enjoy Trek from time to time, particularily DS9 and TNG. But I don't know if I'd go so far as to call myself a fan (ok, I will call myself a fan of DS9, I've seen every episode and own the first season DVD).

But I more than like the film Star Trek: First Contact. I love it. First Contact is one of those films that I've probably seen dozens of times throughout high school. When I first got it on video I watched it over and over. Then when I got hooked on DVD I didn't watch it for a while, because I just find it painful to watch VHS sometimes especially in pan & scan.

Finally, yesterday, Paramount released the Special Edition DVD of the film. I hadn't watched in a couple of years, so sitting down last night was like finding an old friend. There are many elements that I think help to make this the best Trek film of them all.

Firstly, Jean-Luc Picard is the best. Patrick Stewart gives perhaps his best Trek performance and lends weight and legitimacy to every scene he's in. His speech to Lily about the Borg - "The line must be drawn HERE...This far! No further!" - is Shakespearean in it's grandness. I cannot stress how great Patrick Stewart is in this role (and not just because he looks like my uncle). Stewart is one of the greatest actors of our present age.

Jean-Luc Picard is a badass! Don't mess with him. Posted by Hello

The storyline makes plenty of references to the television show, without being inaccessable to new fans. It takes a great piece of Trek mythology (The Borg) and expands and makes them more intense. I know a lot of people criticize the film for marking the beginning of the end for the Borg as an interesting enemy (and the downward spiral into Voyager silliness), but I still think that the Borg as portrayed in this film are scarier than in any other instance ("Best of Both Worlds" included).

Zefram Cochrane is so good in this film
. James Cromwell is good in any movie, but his gruff, alcoholic, rock and roll loving Cochrane is one of my favs. He gives the film a nice balance against the "too good to be true" Federation heroes of the future. The scene where he gets Deanna Troi drunk is classic ("I was trying to blend in." "You're blended alright"). I should also mention Alfre Woodard as Lily, does a fantastic job at being a good actor in a Trek film. This movie has a top notch cast of supporting actors (I should also mention Alice Kriege as the Borg Queen, because she is so creepy-seductive all at once, you don't know if you should join her or scream and run in terror).

Ain't she a beauty?Posted by Hello

The special effects are as good as in any film. The very first shot of the Enterprise-E in that nebula is beautiful. The battle against the Borg Cube is awesome, and the make-up is top notch. The scene where we are introduced to the Borg Queen and her upper torso is lowered into the rest of the body. Amazing FX work!

All in all, I had forgotten how solidly the film is put together, from the first notes of the late-Jerry Goldsmith's score over the credits to the ending with "first contact." In the end it combines action, adventure, humour, as well as the sort of optimistic, humanist heart that we expect from good Trek. Who doesn't wish that somehow there was a young Zefram Cochrane being born right now and that humanities future is bright? I think that is part of the allure. First Contact is a top notch film, not just a top notch Trek film.


After watching First Contact I decided to throw in The Incredibles DVD to check out some of the special features, including the short film Jack-Jack Attack, which tells what happens with Kari the Babysitter when the family is gone. Pretty funny stuff (baby on fire!). But then I broke down and decided I had to watch the rest of the film. It's a two-hour film, but I love it. It's another film that will become a comfort movie for me. And the more I watch it, I think it just may be Pixar's best film.

Monday, March 14, 2005

The Reckoning

I have noticed that in the past few weeks, my preoccupation other events (such as revelling in the victory of The Breaks) has meant that the number of movie related posts has been lacking. I know a lot of people who come to my blog because they want to hear about movies.

The Reckoning (2004)

This is one of those films that really sneaked by the mainstream media and the smaller independent crowd as well. I probably wouldn't have discovered it at all if it weren't for the fact that it stars Paul Bettany, who I will watch in just about anything because he is one of the most talented actors working today.

There is a shortage of decent films set in medieval settings, probably a complete dearth of them if you're a real stickler for historical accuracy and such (Caitlin, I'd like to get you or some other history person's impressions on this film). With that in mind, this film is a real treat for fans of medieval settings. Director Paul McGuigan (Ganster No. 1) directs what is essentially a medieval murder mystery, that deals with religion, art, and the justice. It sounds like a lot for a film to deal with, but this film does it admirably. The year is 1380, and a disgraced priest, Nicholas (Bettany), hooks up with Martin (played to perfection by Willem Dafoe) and his troop of actors (including the ever entertaining Brian Cox), they become entangled in a miscarriage of justice while delayed in an out of the way English town. The film plays out like a mystery, but also deals with some issues such as the nature of drama (this is a time when non-Biblical stories weren't common on the stage) and the nature of justice (God's and man's).

While re-watching this film last night I was even more impressed with it than I was the first time. The acting is top notch all the way through (watch for a tiny role by Simon "Shaun of the Dead" Pegg as the jailer), with Bettany and Dafoe playing off each other wonderfully. The ideas in the film seem well developed without hitting you over the head with the themes. And I was happy to realize this is a film about medieval England that doesn't have a single battle sequence or significant fight scene. It utilizes the setting for reasons other than the violence of the era, looking more at the social and religious aspects of the setting. For that alone I give the filmmakers credit, though it may have cost them a mainstream audience. In the end though, I got a lot out of this film and I'm glad I can share it with people.

Weekend Reflections

It's early in the morning (at least for me). I got up a little bit earlier to take the dog for a walk, finish some laundry and then at 10 am I'm supposed to call my parents in Sweden.

I had a really good weekend for the most part. I did work quite a lot, but also had a lot of fun times. If anyone couldn't tell, I had a really good time at the Battle of the Bands show. It's strange but it was really satisfying to have some good friends win something like that. I have a horrible history of losing competitions, losing sporting events, etc. Heck, Friday night I even lost a poker (after a couple strong months, I've been falling into a losing streak). I know I had nothing to do with the Breaks win, but I'm just happy that I didn't jinx it for them by being there. I can't tell you how many shows I've been involved in where myself or my friends lost. I'm going to bask in the reflected glory of Ewan, Ryan and Sam. "Reflected glory!"

I also really loved the energy that comes with a rock show. I love the way the people in the crowd get all worked up and excited. I can't imagine what it would be like to be the performers. I know Ewan and the guys seemed to be really in their element and confident. I admire that.

But I also realized that I'm not cool. And I don't mean it in a really derogatory way, but rather that as much as I might want to be, I'm not a rock and roll star. I can't dance and I don't have a way with the ladies. These are things that I need to come to terms with.

"William Miller: Well, it was fun.

Lester Bangs: Because they make you feel cool, and hey, I met you. You are not cool."

Almost Famous

Sunday, March 13, 2005

"These Are The Breaks!"

THE BREAKS WIN TONIGHT'S BATTLE OF THE BANDS!!! Their first show! And they win! Check out The Breaks here.

Here is the preview article on The Breaks I wrote up last week:

A harsh break up, a rented drum kit, and getting fired from Blockbuster. Ask Ewan Currie, Sam Corbett and Ryan Gullen of the Breaks, and you’ll hear how all these seemingly unrelated things led to the creation of this Saskatoon-based band.

“I knew Ryan from high school, and we knew Sam through a mutual friend,” says Currie, who plays guitar and whose intense lead vocals reminds one cross between John Fogerty and Jack White. “We all became better friends based on a shared love of music. Sam was thinking of renting a drum kit.” Surprisingly Corbett had never picked up the drum sticks before last summer. At this point, one can hardly believe it when the confident drummer hits his stride midway through one of the bands many original numbers, including the blues number “Feelin’ Sorry for Myself.”

“Yeah,” chimes in Ryan. “We were tossing around the idea of starting a band.”

“And then Ryan got fired and my girlfriend and I broke up, and Sam broke even,” says Currie. The group laughs heartily, revealing the bands fun loving, party vibe that surrounds them. With the resulting free time on their hands the band threw themselves into making music. “It was like when you get a new dog or pet and you say ‘I’ll walk it everyday’ and all that. And we kept it up. We all agreed that the best part of our day was when we got together and practiced.”

For band that is so new on the scene, the Breaks are already well on their way to forming a distinct and unique sound. “I think the turning point was when I brought in [the song] ‘Asshole,’ and we started making songs that were worthwhile” says Currie. The Breaks wear their influences proudly, citing the Black Keys, CCR and the Kings of Leon as key inspirations.

Those influences as well as their unique sound should be evident at Louis’ on Saturday, March 12 at the Battle of the Bands. “At first we didn’t know if we wanted to be in the Battle of the Bands, but when we heard a few of the other bands that were in it, we said ‘Fuck it. We should do it.’” Currie’s self-assurance is apparent. Gullen agrees, “We don’t just play music because we like to play around… there’s a weird chemistry here, music is our lives.” Corbett adds, “We don’t have a lot of experience…but at the same time we are confident.”

The Breaks all hope that people will dig what they’re doing and enjoy the kind of music that they’re making. “It’s not what everyone else is doing. But I think it’s accessible,” says Currie. Gullen adds, “We’re going to be honest…it’s ‘fuck yeah’ rock n’ roll.”

It's too bad this article didn't run, because it came true. The Breaks know they are good (and not just because they are my friends). It's true.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Cain vs.Zane

As I was walking from the car with Anton this morning we were discussing movies (as usual) and in particular big budget movies like Star Wars or Bryan Singer's upcoming Superman film, starring Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor.

We then got onto the subject of other people who could play Luthor and Superman. Myself, I'm partial to Dean Cain's portrayal on the ill-fated mid-nineties ABC Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. Poor Dean Cain. His career has really faltered since, seeing him stuck hosting "Ripley's Believe It Or Not!" and various other TBS made-for-TV movies. Then a brilliant idea struck me: I will petition TBS to let me make a made-for-TV Superman movie starring their very own Dean Cain.

Now this idea also hinges on me getting Billy Zane (Titanic, and really not much else) to play Lex Luther. As two actors who specialize in television and direct-to-video films, they're a natural fit to play off of each other and battle it out. And think of the marketing tagline: "Cain vs. Zane." Billy Zane has the charm (see Zoolander) and sliminess to nail the role of Luthor, and he looks badass when he's bald!

On top of all this, TBS is owned by Time-Warner, who in turn owns Warner Bros. and DC Comics, so licences aren't a big deal. Natural synergy! Now I just have to convince these companies that I can do this on a reasonable budget and I'm in business to bring my unique vision to glorious small screen reality.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

The Circle Is Now Complete

The movie I've been waiting for my entire life is only 2 months away.

[Edit: Looks like Lucasfilm took down the link by Friday morning. So those of you who missed it on the O.C. and missed the link last night will have to wait unil Monday morning.]]

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Definitely not the typical rockstar life

As much as people love to hate Bono for his outlandish arrogant statements and over the top attitude, I was really interested to read this article about his wife and family. It seems that for all his so-called "arrogance" he's a pretty normal guy who loves his family and his home town (Dublin). You can read about it here.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

"What if there is no tomorrow? There wasn't one today."

I've been in a funk for the last little while. It's a combination of a whole bunch of things: uncertainty about the future, tired of winter, a state of meloncholy that hasn't been terrible, but at the same time has cast a shadow over everything else. Once your mind gets into that kind of state, it's sometimes hard to crawl back out.

Tonight I saw a movie that I, embarrassingly, hadn't seen before. I ordered Groundhog Day back at the beginning of February (for obvious reasons), but hadn't got around to watching it until tonight. I really enjoy Bill Murray for the most part, but he is in his share of stinkers sometimes. Groundhog Day isn't one of them. It's a film, which I knew to have a good reputation, but I wasn't prepared for how good it was.

It's not the greatest film ever. I'm not going to say it's perfect. But it's a profound movie at the same time. Bill Murray is a self-centred weatherman sent to Puxawtawny, PA to cover the Groundhog Day celebrations, and subsequently ends up reliving the same day over and over and over. Throughout his experiences he learns about himself, and humanity and how to love. It may sound cliché, but really, what would you do if you had to live the same day for the rest of eternity?

Bill Murry gives one of the best performances of his career. He pulls of the character transformations amazingly, going from jerk to enlightenment over the hour and half. It's not sentimental, but rather more thoughful.

Anyway, it's amazing what an effect a little movie can have on one's outlook. I'm not going to say that I'm all smiles and sunshine now, but the movie made me look at life from a different perspective, and sometimes thats enough to make one's day.

In the film, Bill Murray wakes up to the same song ("I've Got You, Babe") on the radio morning after morning. Right now I'm voluntarily listening to that Regina Spektor song over and over again. Ewan is right.

Ladies and gentlemen, "These are the Breaks!" Posted by Hello

Monday, March 07, 2005

Othello: Starring, directed, produced by Orson Welles

Anton and I watched Orson Welles Othello last night. It further cemented Welles' place as one of the greatest directors of all time.

The film is shot in fairly high-contrast black & white, lending more weight to one of the underlying themes of the play ("blackness") and giving it a striking visual style not seen in many Shakespeare films. Welles was so ahead of his time in many ways. The film was shot over a long period of time (do to financial and casting problems) and so Welles uses lots of quick cuts and interesting angles to bring together the story of the "moor of Venice." From the incredible costumes, to the wonderfu lighting, this is vintage Welles.

Of course, the subject of w
ether a white man should be allowed to play Othello inevitably comes up. Personally, of all the "white" Othello's I've seen, Welles is easily the best. Mostly because the film is in black and white, making the make-up less intrusive, but also because Welles just had the charisma and gravitas to play Othello convincingly. When I watched the Olivier Othello I found his "black-face" Othello distracting from an otherwise fine film (and the idea of "black-face is offensive any way you put it). Hopkin's Othello is a slightly different case, because it's clear they've made him more of a Middle Eastern character than an African and because Hopkin's is such a strong character actor.

All in all I highly recommend the film.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Poker Night

Posted by Hello

(L to R) Danny, Meghan, Luke, Kevin

Posted by Hello

(L to R) Drew, Jessica, Anton, Meghan, Kevin

Photos by Anders

We had one of our poker nights tonight. Good times. Big pot (over a hundred dollars in total). All in all, I think everyone had a good time. I thought I'd play with the camera a bit more.

In other news, I'm enjoying Modest Mouse, Good News For People Who Like Bad News (I'm sure Joel is saying "That's so last fall," but none-the-less).

Saturday, March 05, 2005

I know that most of us have seriously been lacking in our posting lately. I know it's a horrible addiction, but a lot of people I know like to see something new when they check their blogs on a daily basis. Because I'm lazy and don't feel motivated to write today (apparently I wrote down my work schedule wrong today and came in late, so ended up working to close instead, so I'm going to attribute my laziness to my general tiredness), I will post some pics with comments.

Posted by Hello

Posted by Hello

I have a sick addiction to buying DVDs. Even more sick is my compulsion to show everyone who comes over to my house my collection. So, I decided, here it is: now I don't need to show it anymore because, ostensibly, I've shown the whole world (if the whole world really cared). Last night I realized that it is pretty sick, but at the same time, I like to show it to people because if there is anything they want to see and borrow, they're welcome to it. The non-selfish reason for owning a DVD collection is that it becomes a kind of archive of your favourite movies, the one's that you want to share with people, etc. Instead of sending a friend to the video store because "You haven't seen Heat?", I can just lend it to them.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Posted by Hello

Here is the foot of my bed where I store all the comic books that I collect. I always liked comic books, but I never had the disposable income (and probably technically still don't) to collect many titles. However, now I have them all organized and stored in these boxes.

So there's a little bit of a voyeuristic look into my life. At least the stuff I collect (and you can see a bit of my room in those pics too).

Friday, March 04, 2005

A Trailer for a Trailer?

Caitlin posted something the other day about how excited she and Swambo were for the new Revenge of the Sith trailer, which unfortuntely doesn't arrive until next week during the O. C. I'm not neccessarily advocating watching the O.C. next week (I find the show to be somewhat overrated, and don't have much interest in television in general), however this might be a reason to set your VCR's or TiVo's. Check this brief clip, which is, as absurd as it sounds, a trailer of a trailer. It makes me so excited for this movie.

A screenshot from my favourite movie for you all to enjoy.

I was just playing around with the "Capture Image" device on the DVD player and I thought I'd send this. Posted by Hello

Thursday, March 03, 2005

If everyone were like SpongeBob...

... the world would be a better and more fun place.

Aren, the resident SpongeBob expert and fan, is away so I bought the DVD of the SpongeBob Squarepants Movie for him while it's on sale. Of course I gave it a watch because I didn't manage to catch it in theatres and was really looking forward to it. The film is joyous and hilarious.

The scene where SpongeBob and Patrick go to the Goofy Goober is an instant classic. Jeffrey Tambor, Scarlett Johansson and Alec Baldwin all lend their voices. And David Hasselhoff. Well, what can I say.

SpongeBob is such a pure and happy character that I don't see how anyone can hate him. He's a little goofy, but that's what makes him so funny and fun. I had been in a funk for the last few days, but this movie cheered me up. And if it can do that, it can't be bad.

"His chops are too righteous!" - Plankton, The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Bummed Out

I just got a letter in the mail from the U of S English Department "regretfully" informing me that I didn't get one of the Hannon Travel Scholarships. One of those "Thanks for trying" things. I was kind of hoping I would, as I still would love to go to England this summer. I'm kind of bummed out now.


Going to go see House of Flying Daggers at 9:30 PM tonight. Been looking forward to it for a while. Hopefully that will cheer me up a bit.