Friday, October 07, 2011

Seen in September 

Aryton Senna, 1960-1994

I think I spent more time watching TV than I have all year despite not even owning one. Everything from Treme, Damages, Parks & Recreation, Modern Family, Community to old episodes of Larry Sanders on Netflix. I may have cut the cord but I can't quit it. Here's what I saw in between the new TV season.

A contemporary update of the Sherlock Holmes stories from the BBC set in modern day London. Watson is a military doctor haunted by still fresh memories of a stint in Afghanistan when he meets the curiously brilliant Holmes. Watson has been instructed by his therapist to keep a journal (a blog) thus our record of this friendship. Holmes is a texting, Web savvy consultant to London's Metro Police. I feared the series would have the cardboard comic like look of Dr. Who but these episodes are sleekly efficient feature length movies. Which is yet another British oddity — a season is comprised of three 90-minute features? It could've easily have been six 45-minute shows or nine 30-minute ones? I guess they wanted to keep the Holmesian adventure in tact thus the odd format.

A great sport documentary about the life and death of Brazilian F1 racer, Aryton Senna. Senna's ambition is matched by both his faith and ability. In an early race at Monaco he talks about how he felt he wasn't even trying, that the track was more like a tunnel he was following and that he felt closer to God. One of the striking aspects of the film is the openly arrogant and obstinate cadre of Europeans who run the F1 circuit. Their determination to have their way rather than concern themselves with fairness or safety is the kind of behaviour we've seen from the Olympics, FIFA, and even the UCI - the pattern? Arrogant Europeans who seem to believe they are the aristocracy and that everyone is lucky to be in their presence. Absolutely infuriating. What's worse, that hasn't changed much.

The Last Gladiators
The only TIFF film I saw was a documentary about hockey enforcers, namely Chris Nilan. The film tries not to glorify the fighting aspect of hockey but still manages to do it. Personally I think all that stuff about The Code is bullshit and there's plenty of video to prove it. It also only just touches on how fighting may contribute to these players off ice health suggesting that those that become enforcers may have already had issues. Maybe they didn't intend for it to come out that way but they certainly skirt the issues of head injuries and depression.

Fun. Will Ferrell sort of revives his character from Zoolander except as a blue large-headed villain with a thing for Tina Fey. Okay, that part I get.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
It all comes together nicely in this the re-imagining of the Planet of the Apes back story. An idealist geneticist inadvertently creates a viral gene therapy that makes apes smart and simultaneously does a number on humans. The amazing breakthrough isn't the shaky science but the computer generated apes and chimps in particular, the main chimp, Caesar, acted by Andy Serkis.

Trouble the Water
A Katrina documentary with a difference — plenty of first person video footage and narrative. Kim Roberts and her husband, two ninth ward natives and small time street hustlers hunkered down during the storm and helped neighbours and strangers alike. Their story crosses every thread imaginable in the Katrina epic that continues even now, six years later. This film should required viewing.

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