Saturday, March 31, 2018

Canadian Screen Awards 2018



I appreciate that Canada didn't try to block non-Canadian viewers from the ceremony, which made it easier, naturally. 

This time around, Emma Hunter and Jonny Harris hosted the Canadian Screen Awards, two individuals who I am unfamiliar with. This set the tone for a program in which I was uninformed. Honestly, I watched most of this while jumping rope.


There was a spirit of civil progress at this event, like the Oscars, but it was focused less on women, and shifted more to indigenous cultures and peoples overall. 

I was intrigued by one show starring Caroline Dhavernas of Hannibal, Mary Kills People (that said, don't hold your breath). 





There were a few interesting lifetime achievement awards, first was the Academy Board of Directors’ Tribute Award, which went to Margaret Atwood the writer. This year her works were the inspiration behind two top series: The Handmaid’s Tale and Alias Grace (winner of this year’s Best Limited Series or Program).


Second was the Earle Grey Award for Clark Johnson, an actor who specializes in street tough, street smart roles, notably The Wire and Homicide: Life on the Street.


My favorite part of the ceremony was the awarding of the Lifetime Achievement Award to Peter Mansbridge. Peter Mansbridge is a news anchor. I never heard of him before, but I enjoyed hearing his voice over various news footage. The first video below is my own, ripped-from-the-live-stream clip of the tribute package. The second video is the high quality, official Canadian Screen Awards video of the speech.


         

 

If the Oscars ceremony was underwhelming, the Canadian Screen Awards convinced me just how not American Canada really is. There was very little overlap in the nominations. 

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE

Here comes dangerous territory. Before the actual ceremony, I saw on my Instagram feed that A MacDonald won Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Supporting Role in a Dramatic Program or Series for Cardinal. This was not featured in the main broadcast, unfortunately, but there is a social media record to dig into. 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Blood Drive: Late Review For This One-of-a-Kind 2017 Series

The featured review on IMDb characterizes Blood Drive as a cross between Mad Max and Death Race. In my own words, this series is like going through a car wash that washes your car in blood, then the car dries and you have that caked on brown all over. And did I mention that everybody behind you, in front of you, to the side...everybody is honking at you incessantly. There is a wide range of influences here: Robocop, Motel Hell, The Running ManA Fistful of Dollars (and the others), the crucifixion itself, and probably more. Speaking of more, this series reminds me of the literary movement known as bizarro fiction.

Alan Ritchson

Alan Ritchson as the lead male white character is plenty charismatic and honorable. Thomas Dominique as the lead male black character is completely brutal and transfixing. Christina Ochoa as the lead female white character offers up bucketfuls of snark, wit, and defiant sexiness, until she's all heart. Then there is the gorgeous Marama Corlett as a super sexy android.

Christina Ochoa

Marama Corlett

Thomas Dominique


Of course, many would say that Colin Cunningham as Julian Slink steals the show with his grinning, wicked, ruthless, ambitious, scheming, seductive, teasing antagonist. His character is full of surprises. To be honest, I thought his character was over the top and annoying at first. However, you come to realize his presence is pitch perfect.

Colin Cunningham


This show needs to be seen to be believed. Diabolical machinery and multitudes of maniacs somehow come together in a surprisingly touching and moral study on the importance of family.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Oscars

Unlike TV, which I had tons of opinions to share, I am at a loss this year when it comes to the big movies. And from what I can tell, I am not the only one to have had such feelings. Sure, I went through the motions watching the films, and so it goes with this post (which exists primarily to hold on to some vague sense of consistency for this blog).

Why These Weren't On My Best List



This was undoubtedly a great technical film. Like others, I found the film to be emotionally underwhelming.



This was quite good. The idea of renting billboards to stick it to the authorities is original. However, the replay factor is just not there.


Greta Gerwig pulled off an impressive debut. I could relate to the the character's emotional arc. It's easy to take your roots/hometown for granted. Yet, this one slipped away from me when I made my list.



Glamor galore, and still I care not. This was also emotionally underwhelming with a twist that was a little too subtle for my taste. I always thought that style, if done well enough, did not need to be in support of substance. Now I am questioning that notion.




This film just didn't give me anything to hold on to. In the same year, Ken Burns' Vietnam featured the Pentagon papers and I found that to be more intriguing.


Surprisingly good. There is a great father-son moment near the end. However, just as one character breaks it off with another character due to his mission in life, so it is that I must break it off with this film.

Overlooked



This film was  packed with great wintry atmosphere and had one of the most tense climaxes I have ever seen. Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner have an interesting chemistry, no doubt due to The Avengers films. I guess the film is just too bleak to warrant a long-term love affair.

Favorite Moments


The show started in retro black-and-white, complete with snappy old-fashioned announcements. And the celebrities crashing the TCL Chinese screening of a new film was fun. And my best picture favorite won, but I just didn't get as much out of this year's event as some others.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

2017: My Year in Film



With the Oscars coming up, I figured it was time to post this list. I said that I had hoped to have it up in February, and it is the end of February.

Once again, I found this to be a generally underwhelming year. There have indeed been standouts, but overall there is no film(s) that caused me to swoon or commit to a day one home video purchase. Fittingly, this will be a quick list.

There are films which I still have not seen such as I, Tonya and The Darkest Hour, but I doubt they would have made a difference if I had. I have seen all the other Oscar best picture nominees, and plenty of others.

Another thing I despised was the late dumping of Oscar hopeful films in limited release at the end of the year, many I did not even hear about until 2017 when they were finally widely released. This practice creates a distorted ceremony, and it reveals a lack of faith by distributors in the strength and quality of their material.

Enough of the prologue, here follows the list. 

Hidden Figures


Last year I refused to put this on my list due to release date. Here it finally is. See, it was good enough to be remembered after all this time. 

20th Century Women


Again. Last year I refused to put this on my list due to release date. Here it finally is. See, it was also good enough to be remembered after all this time.

Wonder Woman


This is the first female superhero onscreen that I haven't found lacking since ever. I own this on Ultra-HD.

Spider-Man: Homecoming



I also own this (in 3D!).

The Zookeeper’s Wife


Fascinating true story about a zookeeping family and the holocaust.

Molly's Game 

 

Once again, Jessica Chastain (also in The Zookeeper's Wife) shows up on the list. Man, she was the hottest thing on the screen all year. And Aaron Sorkin's rapid-fire script turns her voice into the hottest on the sound system. And this film had one of those sentimental moments that really choked me up near the end. (And after doing some follow-up reading, I can't think about Tobey Maguire the same way ever again).

Get Out



I saw this because of a Facebook post by G. Arthur Brown. Glad I did. A truly original story.

Battle of the Sexes


Another fascinating true story about history-making absurdity in the realm of professional tennis.

The Birth of the Dragon 

 

This controversial film about the legendary rivalry between Wong Jack Man and Bruce Lee was mesmerizing, old-fashioned martial arts entertainment. Sure, it may be haeavily fictionalized, but it's effects on my spirit and psychological outlook are completely real. It is more about character than combat. The actor (Philip Ng) who plays Bruce Lee has a similarly inspiring physical prowess. However, it is Yu Xia as Wong Jack Man who steals the show with his Kwai Chang Caine-level wisdom and restraint. Of course, the real Wong Jack Man (and the ancient Shaolin temples and martial arts schools) preceded Kung Fu. Most people don't get what I got out of this film, but I hope you do.
Oscar Pick 

The Shape of Water


No duh, I forgot Guillermo Del Toro's most enjoyable serious film ever. I loved the inter-species dynamics and am ashamed I temporarily overlooked this on an earlier version of this list. This film clearly has parallels with Shrek, Splash, The Little Mermaid, The Swamp Thing and Beauty and the Beast. But this somehow strikes a deeper chord. It contains my favorite original music of the year, for one thing. Perhaps it is the lack of a common language that elevated The Shape of Water above the earlier films. In all of those films the creature speaks English. I truly hope this wins best picture (with great concern). 

Horror honorable mentions.

It


This was significant because this Summer was the summer of Stephen King, for me. I caught up on a myriad of films, not fully aware of the upcoming It. One such film was the television mini-series, which lacks the humor, but is more unrelentingly chilling. Of course, The Dark Tower was the real disappointment. Ultimately, this was a very funny film, as evidenced by the audience's frequent laughter, and it is simply beautifully shot. As for horror, I think the second chapter will prove more serious.

Happy Death Day


Time-loop movies generally annoy me. Even Source Code, one of my favorites of 2011, has been avoided on my shelf since a month after I bought it. I must say that the final reveal in Happy Death Day takes what seems like a weak resolution to a strong concept and makes it fittingly strong. This is a good time to be sure.

Nostalgic honorable mentions from that period living in the hotel by the theater during the renovations of the apartment:

Logan


 This film is like a Mad Max version of the Wolverine. I love powers, especially seeing powers, or their effects, which I have never seen. And this film delivered. I was transfixed by Professor X's epic seizures and their terrifying effects. 

Ghost in the Shell




I have to admit that I enjoyed this Blade Runner-like manga/anime adaptation more than Blade Runner 2049. There is something dreamy about this film that puts me into a sleepy state, but in a welcome and restorative way. The oddly familiar quality of the holograms in this film had me searching my memory for other past films with a similar look, but I couldn't specifically recall one. This film certainly had its flaws, but it found a special resonance for me that is as intangible as a literal ghost in the machine.

Kong: Skull Island  


My parents convinced me to watch this. If you took Jurassic Park, Apocalypse Now, and King Kong and put them in a blender, you would get something like this (assuming you turned the blender on). 

This film has intriguingly incorporated archival footage of past wars and politicians, giving this fantastic film a grounding in the real world. King Kong, finally, is truly massive and fierce. In the original, Kong looks small compared to the Empire State Building, in this film he is probably half as tall as that building. My mother pointed out how the woman in the original sticks out of Kong's closed hand, on both sides, whereas, in this film, Kong's grip completely encloses the woman. 

I would also be remiss if I failed ti acknowledge that Brie Larson is a worthy successor to the cinematic tradition of attractive women in white tank tops. 

Overall, an unexpectedly good movie.
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Wow, I wrote more about the honorable mentions. Perhaps that is because the films I considered the best speak for themselves, whereas, the honorable mentions were here primarily due to their context in my life and a wish to share my stories about them.