This is a reasonably entertaining, but oddly paced and very traditional film that dramatizes the efforts the US went to in order to rescue the art that the Nazis stole in World War II. As far as I can tell, it is very, very, very loosely based on the true story. Read More
This is an amusing parody of reality TV disguised as a vampire comedy. It’s pretty slight, however: the plot is basically an extended reality TV episode about what happens when the house gets a new member or two, rather than anything more compelling. But there are enough gags – and the now patented New Zealand style of humour these guys have been spreading around the world for a number of years now – that you mostly are not bothered by the absolute slightness of everything about the film (or its noticeably tiny budget). Read More
I’m not sure exactly what to say about this bizarre film that offers a new twist (or several) on the age old “redemption through violence” theme in American cinema. The plot goes a very different way than I would have ever expected which is to the novel’s credit, I guess. But that big left turn (which becomes significantly bigger) is hard for me to reconcile for reasons I cannot quite identify. I often like movies like this, but something about this left turn didn’t sit well with me for the whole film. Read More
1995, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2014, Concerti, Modern creative, Music, Orchestral Music, and Song Cycle.
This is a compilation of performances of some of Thomas’ writing for orchestra. I got this from the library by accident but decided to listen to it anyway. Read More
I don’t normally like Assayas, but I found this film more effective than the others films of his I’ve seen. Read More
Every so often I see a kid’s movie that’s really worth seeing and this is one of them. Like all modern stop motion animation, this is pretty incredible stuff. (I imagine seeing it in 3D would have been something else altogether, so that was a missed opportunity.) Read More
2014, Documentary, Edward Snowden, Movies, NSA, Security State, Surveillance, and Surveillance State.
Like many of you, I paid attention to the Snowden leaks when they came out – as much attention as I could – and have followed The Intercept and others about the surveillance state since that time. But, on the other hand, my process of making my own life less accessible to the surveillance state has been a case of one step forward, one step back: every time I do something to make my life more private, I stop doing it after a few days or weeks. (Though I do pay for most things in cash and don’t own a Read More
Cathedrals of Cultural (2014, Karim Aïnouz, Michael Glawogger, Michael Madsen, Margreth Olin, Robert Redford, Wim Wenders)
2014, Architecture, Documentary, Library, Movies, Omnibus, Opera House, Prison, and School.
This is an omnibus film about various man-made architectural wonders in the world. Read More
This is a strange film about the priesthood in Ireland, which starts with an extremely (basically ridiculous) high concept plot, spends most of its time in dark (very dark) comedy and then veers into deep pathos. It shouldn’t work, but it does, and does well. Read More
This is a revenge film that takes place in a bizarre universe in which all the hitmen I (and hitwomen!) hang out at the same hotel and club. That is a ridiculous conceit that would bother me if the movie around it wasn’t entertaining. I mean, why wouldn’t the police (virtually non-existent in this film) or the gangsters who want to kill the hitmen, just blow up the hotel? Read More
I finished this show a while ago but, convinced there was a third season for some reason, I didn’t write my review at the time. That’s unfortunate, because I feel like I had some things to say, most of which escapes me now. Read More
For the most part, this is a pretty effective submarine movie with a great, out-of-character performance from Jude Law. It does what a submarine movie should do, and it does it well. There are, however, a few major quibbles that I have that hampered the movie in my mind. They involve some MAJOR SPOILERS. Read More
I think I like this more than the first movie, though I can’t necessarily identify why. One thing that differentiates it from so many other current super hero movies is that the enemy at the end of the film isn’t some ridiculous, world-destroying force or space monsters, or whatever. So that’s something. But there are difficulties: I agree about the criticism regarding Black Widow – she sure feels dependent on the Cap’n and some of the other male characters a lot of the time. Also, the dating talk…for fuck’s sake. This movie is already so long but it needs a Read More
Let’s get this out of the way: the premise – a science-fiction/action version of Ground Hog Day – is dumb. This is basically the film version of playing a video game, albeit condensed into 2 hours. But if you can get over that (and over the presence of Tom Cruise)… SPOILERS! Read More
Like most people who have seen this film, I have never seen anything like this before. Making a film over 12 years is impressive in and of itself, but it would be nothing if the film that Linklater made wasn’t worth watching. But is it ever worth watching. Read More
This film tells the stories of two people who accidentally meet. In that sense, it is much like numerous other films that tell individual stories and combine them with chance meetings. Only this one has a fantastical twist hinted at in the title. Why it has that twist I can guess at but I’m not sure one story having the twist and the other not adds anything to the film. Rather, why have both stories, when you can just have the one? This film is just over two hours but is deliberately paced and feels considerably longer and, when you Read More
This is a very conventional documentary about one of the craziest races you’ll ever hear about. Not only is it insane (somewhere between 100 and 130 miles in 60 hours, over hills and through the woods) but is run in such a kooky way. Part of the appeal of this film is the sheer accomplishment of these people – I could never do anything like this, I’d merely be able to complete 1 loop walking and then I’d be done like dinner. But the other part is the sheer kooky traditions of the race – the conch shell that gives Read More
This review contains SPOILERS. Read More
This is a mostly stellar thriller set in Belfast in 1971. I think this would have been an exceptional movie had a surer hand with more experience directed it. Though tense, I can imagine a better (or more experienced) director making a more tense film. While I’m at my nit-pikcing, the framing device of the child feels incredibly inauthentic for 1971. (Were their single parent British privates serving in Belfast then? Maybe, but I doubt it. There might have been one.) But otherwise this is a pretty great first film and I look forward to seeing what the director does Read More
I was sitting on a bench waiting for Jenn to leave her work when I heard this incredible voice (a counter tenor, it turns out) all around me. I thought it was coming from multiple speakers, it was so powerful. After looking around a bit, I saw a young man singing. What impressed me particularly was how he was using the building to resound his voice. I mean, we were on Bloor street. You’d think the voice would have just disappeared into the rush hour bustle. Anyway, I bought his CD because it’s pretty rare that I’m startled by a Read More
Somebody once said, it’s not integrity that matters, it’s the perception of integrity. One of the reasons people freak out at the more minor of political scandals – the ones where there are only hints of impropriety, or where bureaucrats or politicians are accused of over-spending tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars when the budget is in the billions or higher – is that the assumption of integrity, the appearance of integrity is violated. We are supposed to be able to trust our government and the perception of corruption is, in some ways just as bad as corruption itself. Read More
I struggle to view fashion as a true art. I don’t wear clothes so people will look at me or think about me. I wear clothes because of social convention and because I live in Canada. But as I get older I recognize that a substation section of the population does view clothes as art. And some of these people have interesting things to say. One of these people is Iris Apfel, New York “style icon.” She’s an interesting woman and I can see the appeal. The film around her is kind of directionless, like so many of these movies Read More
This is a compelling film about how corporations and lobby groups use pundits to undermine scientific consensuses that would otherwise hurt their profits. The examines the bag of tricks both the tobacco industry and the oil industry have used to fool the American public about both the short and long term health risks of the use of their products, including making the conversation about economics, not science, and outright lying about scientific studies and consensus. Read More
Chandor’s skill is that he can take realistic situations that seem like might not have enough drama for film and turn them into gripping films. Like the best filmmakers of the American Renaissance, Chandor can take wrest drama and suspense from something like minor corruption. This is a film that unwinds slowly, so slowly that it is hard to see the descent at times, much like in real life. And instead of having a romanticized mob world of ’80s New York, we get a vision of the moral costs of doing business as usual. This is a fine film and Read More
This is a brief but compelling examination of the issues around the United States’ use of drones for “targeted killing.” It is a pretty conventional talking head documentary merged with a conventional documentary of the style where they follow people around, but the subject matter and a number of the interviewees are compelling enough that this doesn’t matter. I for one haven’t seen the issues summarized in a better, more accessible fashion, so this film is appreciated. 7/10 Read More
Janacek: Glagolitic Mass, The Eternal Gospel (2014) by Prague Philharmonic Choir, Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Tomas Netopil
This set collects two of Janacek’s choral works, a mass and a cantata. The setting for the Glagolitic Mass (i.e. the Mass is in old Slavic) is a great, bombastic thing. This is the original version, which is apparently performed less frequently. I always find masses the most dense of orchestral music and have a hard time digesting them in just three listens, but this thing just pulsates with seemingly radical ideas – certainly radical for church music. It’s among the cooler 20th century masses I’ve heard (though I haven’t heard many). The Eternal Gospel is a triumphant but modern; Read More
This film gives an overview of the rise of the feminist movement in the United States. It’s a film that both attempts to show accomplishments of the movement and focus on some of the players who may not get as much acknowledgement. It’s an important story. But I found the scope of it to be perhaps a little too broad (or the film not detailed enough, I’m not sure) and the focus on movements in four American cities to be kind of myopic. But it’s worth watching. 6/10 Read More
This is one of those Liam Neeson action movies. It’s also one of those thrillers set on a plane. And like so many of both of these types of movies, if you think about it for a moment, everything falls apart. I can’t tell you how many things are wrong with the plot of this movie because there are so very many. It’s one of those films where so much doesn’t make sense, from the plot, to the motivations of everyone beyond a couple of the characters, to the response to the absurd plot, which is equally absurd. But the Read More
2014, Books, History, History of Ideas, History of Philosophy, Non Ficition, Philosophy, and Religion.
I have been reading Malik’s blog for more than a few years at this point (I think), in part because I feel like he has much greater insight into the issues around jihadism than most of the people writing in North America (who I’ve had a chance to read). I find his approach not only measured – which is refreshing – but also imbued with a strong knowledge of the various cultures at play, and a knowledge of history. It is for this reason that I got this book. To be honest, I was initially quite disappointed. I am not Read More
2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, Advertising, Drama, Period Piece, and TV.
I watched Mad Men over an even longer period than most of you, so my memory of the individual episodes is not perfect. I know there were some weaker ones in there, and there even parts of seasons (perhaps even whole ones) that I didn’t enjoy on the level of the best parts of the show. But I want to talk about the show as a whole, and not dwell on its occasional missteps or the fact that it ran on too long (like most other American TV shows…). Read More