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Summer movies

By July 26, 2017 Film, Performance

TIFF has just announced some of their 2017 lineup so get excited. Still, there’s enough decent fare before then in commercial theatres to tide this fangirl over until then. Here’s my midsummer list of a surprisingly satisfying summer movie season.

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Canada 150 : who are we?

By June 27, 2017 Film

150 hugs for the NFB.

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Canada 150: how they (and the rest of the world) see us

By June 26, 2017 Film

Hollywood films are seen around the world. For a very long time, we were a mere footnote. A refuge if you were just a little crazy.

 

Of course the view changes when newcomers arrive. What do they see then? What happens when you give cameras to refugees and ask them to document their new Canadian world around them as they experience it?

Have a look here.

 

Who we are depends on what we see, and how we see it. Tomorrow I will show you a beautiful little film that gets it right.

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Guest blog: how good is Wonder Woman?

By June 19, 2017 Film

Summer is just about here, and with it, I’m delighted to welcome a few guest bloggers in this space. The first, fellow film fan Peter Murphy, contributes some thoughts on the hit film, Wonder Woman.

Note from Anne: I saw the film mostly to support Patty Jenkins. Female directors need support and I’m happy to give it to them, especially those working in the action genre, an arena crowded with dudes. Saw it (so did lots of others— the film has earned $438.5 USD so far) and yawned at this whole notion of feminist hero. Really? Making a superhero with tits does not change the universe. Far more compelling was Charlize Theron in Mad Max Fury Road. Back in 2015, that film made it to the top of my list.  Okay, okay, hands up, I know, we’re in the comic book universe here. I usually avoid this genre altogether, and give it up to fans like Peter, who bring an entirely different sensibility to the cinematic gaze.

Here’s Peter’s take:

WONDERING ABOUT THIS WOMAN

by Peter Murphy

(for more of Peter’s writing, find him here)

DC finally made a good movie, and somehow managed to make what is probably the best super hero movie of the year so far. I hate the DC movies, like really, passionately, hate the DC cinematic universe. I think superman was only good as a Dragonball Z movie, I wrote a whole thing on Suicide Squad, and Batman v Superman is still probably my greatest cinematic disappointment (I don’t care about director’s cuts, I care about what I paid for). I hate the DC universe, and fully went in planning to hate this one too. I didn’t, I couldn’t. I enjoyed every second I searched for a flaw. The characters were likeable and had chemistry, the action scenes were wonderfully choreographed, plot points well-executed and interesting; in short it was the opposite of everything I had come to expect from a DC movie.

Wonder Woman (aka Diana Prince) has come a long way from her original incarnation. She is about as strong as Superman (weaker but with more combat experience/training) and less morally confined (she is pretty lenient about killing). She isn’t invulnerable, just damn tough, a literal Greek god (demi-god technically), and a warrior at that. She doesn’t have a weakness the same way Superman does; she is simply a little less durable. This is a very happy change from her historical position.

Minor history lesson; Wonder Woman was debuted in 1941, one of the ever magical “lets punch Hitler” superheroes that appeared during the second world war (Captain America would be the most famous). This was a big step; she was a female heroine at a time when women had just finished fighting for the vote, and were making up a larger percentage of the work force (especially during the war). So this was a step forward, here is the step back: Her weakness, and I promise this is true, is that she loses her powers when tied up by a man.
Take that in for a second: BDSM/being dominated was Wonder Woman’s official weakness.
This has fallen out of continuity for a huge list of fairly obvious reasons, but, just for context, that is what we have moved from. Not to say Wonder Woman isn’t sexualized. Gal Gadot’s character is described in movie as “the most distractingly beautiful woman you have ever seen”. She is a former Ms. Israel and Ms. Universe contestant after all; she is distractingly attractive. I’m not going to touch the politics of her as an IDF soldier. I’m a big Orson Scott Card fan and, more than anything, that has taught me you are under no obligation to listen to an artist’s political opinions to enjoy their work. For context, Orson Scott Card is a well-documented asshole, but Enders Game is a phenomenal series. I will say the fact that she is a combat trainer does go a long way towards helping the fight scenes: they look phenomenal.

The film itself does a fairly good job of addressing gender issues; Diana Prince is the functional definition of a strong independent woman.I think the greatest message comes through her sheer force of will and utter dismissal of the “because you are a woman” reasoning of the men who try to impede her. It has never been a good reason, and she doesn’t let it stop her.

Now, I fully admit that I say that as a white straight male, so it’s worth clarifying that it only fought the super direct “you can’t do that because you are a woman” type of sexism.

The movie is solid, I’m not sure I agree with the 93% rating it had when I went to watch it, but it is certainly in the high 80s, and I 100% recommend you go watch it.

My one complaint about the movie is the theme of love/human goodness triumphing is nice, but does give the ending a little bit of a CareBears vibe. I don’t have much to complain about otherwise.  The twist I didn’t see coming, and very much enjoyed. They are setting her up to be okay with killing, and very aware of human nature (with regards to war), so Injustice is still on as a storyline. Ladies and Gentlemen, they are going to give us a movie series based on a comic series based on a game series based on a comic series. I wonder if they know the injustice games are already out as non-movie tie ins.
If you have never heard of Injustice it is the one comic series I actually advise people to read. It is very good and that seems to be what these movies are working towards. Also take a look at what my good friend Thomas has written here about his view on the DC Injustice plans.

Director Patty Jenkins did a phenomenal job and has already been signed on for the sequel. I personally hope she takes more of a lead on other DC projects. Maybe they will find a way to turn this thing around; I’m still not going to see Justice League until reviews come out though.

 

Thanks Peter.

Have your say below. Did you see the film? What’s your take?

 

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March Roar

By March 3, 2017 Film, Life, Performance

YIPPEE! MARCH IS HERE!!!!

No, I’m not heading to the beach for some of this and that.  I’ll be at school this month (more on that to come) and yes, there are reasons to kick up my heels yet.

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A banquet but no feast

By March 1, 2017 Film, Headlines

Watching the Oscars while sick offers a cocktail of kicks. While I don’t recommend it entirely—stomach flu has zero charm unlike its cousin, the common cold which allows for chicken soup—I will say this for it: delirium rids the thing of any heft. Read More

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Here’s to the ones that dream

By February 24, 2017 Film, Headlines

Sunday night is Oscar night. Pop culture junkies, get your fix on.

It’s no surprise I find no sense choosing who should or who will win. There’s just talent. Oodles of it. Creative imaginations squeezed into tiny dresses and tuxedo jackets. Swag bags or not, all of these nominees have already won in the sexy showbiz salute. Many have been awarded some kind of trophy or other before this, as one critics’ group after another has named their favourites before Sunday’s ceremony.

Note to winners: PLEASE WRITE A SPEECH. We here down on earth require you to be witty and winsome. I will throw my popcorn bag at you if you show up to grab the trophy without something hinting at talent in your acceptance speech. This is not the time to pretend surprise. OWN THE MOMENT.

Here’s my random list of things I loved in this year’s nominations, in no order whatsoever. Read More

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Chutzpah is a good winter diet

By February 2, 2017 Film, Performance, Urban gadfly

It’s been a hell of a week out there. Reading and absorbing news is deadly. For now, a prescription of sorts:

Make coffee. Take dog for walk. Note the sunlight on the scant snow.  Try to work. Try to remember that work is meaning. Seek out seeds of growth and creative bursts that colour a black sky. Find them in art, in fiction, on the screen and stage. A million stories to reframe the day as one to embrace instead of despair.  Read More

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January Jollies

By January 24, 2017 Film, Life, Performance

Forgive me, readers, for neglecting you

January is the month to clear out my brain the house, staring back at me in spartan disbelief. It’s breathing room time.

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I like soaking in the bath in January. The rest of the year it’s shortcut showers.  Indulging comes easily as the new year dawns, for January is the month of the always anticipated getaway with my book club, an event we dub the Favourite Things weekend. Who doesn’t love receiving gifts just because?

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Also in January, my birthday, and too, an anniversary of the day we chose to get married twenty five years ago.

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Silver anniversaries deserve some sip and sizzle.  Gather the bridal party and toast an imperfect union that endures yet, mostly because of a sustained diet of laughter. Rooting out the good and setting it to the applause setting appears to be our recipe. Then again, it could just be called fuck the flaws, you’ve still got mojo. That we still impress one another more than hurt one another is evident—the capacity for the latter lingers unless we pay close attention.

We get excited together easily about things we love. Thankfully, not all of them are caloric.

I am still unsure if I should be flattered or concerned that, after watching our wedding video, our girls (home for the occasion) remarked: you know, you guys haven’t changed at all. Note: they were NOT referring to our outward appearance. Let’s do all pics from waist up, shall we?

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I am still a kid, despite attempts to pretend otherwise. All the adult posturing falters when splendour is about. Finding it yet is the secret to living.

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Here is the list that has me excited this month:

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  • A glorious global parade of pink hats and shared vision for a better world. My girls were plenty inspired. That’s a good thing. Forget the rest. It’s too big a pile of bullshit. Just massive. Read the signs instead. They will fuel me as I work this month on some fantastic new initiatives.

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  • Billy Campbell is back and the six-part series he stars in is touted to be chillingly perfect.  Cardinal, debuting tomorrow night on CTV. A long time ago,  a dear friend and I dished over Billy Campbell in a show we both loved called Once and Again. So glad he’s back. We will be dishing again in commercial breaks. Billy Campbell is a great antidote to winter blues. Just saying. He also loves Canada so much he moved here.
  • The Oscar nominations are out and some very solid cinema has been recognized.  Getting out to see these films will help ensure other great works get made. Stay tuned for my Standouts Series coming up in the next few weeks. In the meantime, see Moonlight. See Manchester by the sea. See Lion. See La La Land. Fall in love, in lust, in something. Some of the nominated films are on iTunes and Netflix. Here’s one I loved, but fair warning: I love everything this guy does, including rocking a red suit in this film.

  • I saw Hidden Figures with my eighty-four year old parents. That’s a celebration right there. Hot dogs delivered right to their seat. No, it wasn’t Christmas. Just garden variety kindness from popcorn stand employees.
  • My sister Jane splurged on my birthday gift with theatre tickets to Come from Away, a sold-out show now headed for Broadway. I predict a huge tourism boost for Newfoundland. The show was moving and well-crafted,  a complete joy from start to finish. I’m guessing lots more ink is about to be spilled on this successs story.
  • In the next week, I will see two more promising shows including one starring Sandra Shamas, in Toronto with her What Now show.
  • This video. This father and this daughter. Yes, it’s adorable and she’s irresistible with her very own Youtube channel. A Shirley Temple for our time. Her family seems incredibly supportive yet,  I fear for her future. Just saying.
  • My tailbone, injured right before Xmas after a spectacular slide down icy front stairs, is on the mend. Pilates and yoga classes are back on my calendar. Creaky knees be damned.
  • Am thinking I need a new cover for my book. This adorable kitchen elf from Halifax, Canada is guarding his oven door so no one takes the cupcakes out too early. Recipe for said cupcakes is from my food memoir, with love and sugar.  Have you got your copy yet?

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  • This punch we served to our wedding party at our intimate anniversary event. Sign up for my buzz sheet and I’ll send you the recipe.

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What’s popping in your January ? Please share. Inspiration comes from all corners.

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I am going for buoyancy this year. What about you?

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Best of 2016

By December 31, 2016 Art, Books, Film, Life, Performance

2016 was a year to say goodbye to my youngest off to university, and to my childhood home where my parents lived for almost six decades. A year of frights that came deep in the night, some that lingered longer than others: my mother and my oldest child suffered accidents, as did my father-in-law. Caring emergency workers and excellent medical supervision mean we have them all yet to cherish this holiday season.

We will toast them tonight, but first, a peek at some of my favourites of 2016:image-3 Read More

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