Author: rnhaas

2020, Movies

2020 Toronto International Film Festival

For what may be the third year in a row, I only saw 5 movies at TIFF. Every year I resolve to see more the next year but it never seems to happen. Now, this year is different, obviously. This year I watched TIFF films on my couch. And this year I only watched 5 …

2000, Music

Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1

I don’t know if I can tell you who Jill Scott is, but I can tell you what she is: she’s ambitious. Scott wants us to both accept her as a very talented singer and a poet. That’s something very few people can pull off.

2020, Movies

Nuevo orden aka New Order (2020, Michel Franco)

This is a very promising film about class conflict in Mexico that gets really confused and, for me, goes off the rails to the point where I am kind of astounded it won a Grand Jury Prize at a film festival. SPOILERS later in the review.

2020, Movies

The New Corporation: The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel (2020, Jennifer Abbott, Joel Bakan)

I saw the original Corporation sometime back in the aughts. I have no idea whether or not I would like it now. This film is infuriating, both because of the problems in the world it reminds us of, and because of how unfocused it is. In many ways, it feels like two movies, the sequel …

2000, Music

Parachutes (2000) by Coldplay

Imagine early Radiohead with none of the energy or edge (i.e. none of the alternative/grunge influences) and none of the aritness or idiosyncrasy, and imagine them playing mostly ballads (and the up-tempo songs are so soft they sound like ballads) and I guess you get some idea of what Coldplay sound like on their first …

1995, Music

E. 1999 Eternal (1995) by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony

I have had a hard time getting into (and just plain getting) hip hop for basically my entire music-listening life. One of the major barriers to me has been rap – I am a fan of musicality in music, and rap is often not very musically interesting to me. This is especially true of early …

1995, Music

Dreaming of You (1995) by Selena

I remember the singles from the music videos and the ether, I guess, but that was a bit of a surprise to me. Frankly, all I remembered about Selena was that she died young. Like anyone who died young, there has been a lot of hagiographic “what if” since. But I’ve paid little attention to …

1995, Music

Lost Somewhere Between the Earth and My Home (1995) by The Geraldine Fibbers

YES Where has this band been all my life? I read about them ages ago and I just took my sweet time getting to them. And for that, I’m sorry.

1995, Music

Not a Pretty Girl (1995) by Ani DiFranco

Ani had used bands at times before this record, despite her full, percussive guitar style that easily lends itself to solo performances. But on this record she decided to full band more of the time (to my memory) but by recording just her an her drummer.

2020, Movies

76 Days (2020, Weixi Chen, Hao Wu, Anonymous)

This is a harrowing but ultimately kind of triumphant fly-on-the-wall style documentary about COVID-19 patients and the frontline workers looking after them in China. If you are lucky enough to have not gotten sick but feel like this has been really hard, I strongly suggest you watch this movie. (And if you think this whole …

1995, Music

…And the Circus Leaves Town (1995) by Kyuss

I really like this band and I really like this sound. In fact, you might say I’m a sucker for bands who play music like this, no matter when. (I remember getting excited about Black Mountain even though they were not doing anything new.) But this is probably the weakest Kyuss album I’ve heard for …

1995, Music

Brown Sugar (1995) by D’Angelo

So I sat down to write this thinking I was going to write something and then I skimmed some reviews and saw this record categorized as “smooth soul” and it got me thinking: this record sure didn’t strike me as “slick” or “smooth” when I listened to it. Why did it strike others that way?

1990, Music

Cowboys From Hell (1990) by Pantera

I know the legend of Pantera but I don’t know their early music. Regardless, it’s hard to believe this band was once a glam metal band. I guess you can hear touches of it here and there if you’re really, really paying attention but, if you listened to this first, and then were told their …

1990, Music

Lights…Camera…Revolution (1990) by Suicidal Tendencies

Back in 2012 I heard Prime Cuts and I was pretty damn impressed. I’d never heard the band before and I was thinking “Where has this been all my life”? But it took me a really long time to hear some more of their music and I must say that I might have grown out …

2019, 2020, Basketball, Sports

Your 2019-20 Toronto Raptors

There is a lot of disappointment in Toronto right now and I’m not sure it’s warranted. The Toronto Raptors won the title last year. They then lost two starters: one of the 3-5 best players in the entire league – and best Raptor ever in terms of pure two-way talent – and a candidate for …

2013, Movies

Man of Steel (2013, Zack Snyder)

I feel like I remember reading that this movie had too much origin story and they weren’t kidding. This film tries to both tell the origin story of Superman and of General Zod, and then pit them against each other. And there is just an absolute ton of stuff about Krypton. Honestly, if feels like …

2020, Books, Non-Fiction

10% Less Democracy: Why You Should Trust Elites a Little More and the Masses a Little Less (2020) by Garrrett Jones

This is a frustrating book. I agree with some of what he says and he inspired me to come up with some additional ideas. But I find the presentation ill-thought out, and I find his perspective limited, and rather traditional.

Economics, Politics, Society

International Tax Compliance

The biggest problem the world faces should go without saying: climate change. Human behaviour is changing the climate to the extent that it will be harder for people to inhabit certain parts of the world, and that will cause all sorts of other problems. But that problem is long-term, no matter how immediate it seems …

2020, Movies

Enemies of the State (2020, Sonia Kennebeck)

This is a masterful documentary about an American potential whistle-blower accused of child pornography and related charges, who took refuge in Canada. I paid no attention to the story at the time, so the entire thing was new to me. Before I get to the review: if you like documentaries about the nature of truth, …

2019, Movies

Citizen K (2019, Alex Gibney)

This is a mostly excellent documentary about Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Russian oligarch turned activist and his battle with Vladimir Putin. It’s particularly notable for two things: its attempts to portray Khodorkovsky as a flawed person, and its relative creativity at telling the story.

2017, Movies

The Dark Tower (2017, Nikolaj Arcel)

I know nothing about the source material but this is one of those films which feels like things went wrong from the very beginning. Apparently a huge part of the problem is that it is a fairly normal length movie adapted from a novel series that is over 4,000 pages long. So no wonder.