Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Hibernator's Handbook 

This is exactly the kind of thing I want to avoid

2017 didn’t end well for me. In fact, I began the holiday season looking up from my belly and ended the year looking down at it. Less than a week before Christmas, I was riding hard, standing on the pedals, when one of my bike’s crank arms gave way beneath me. Luckily, my ribs broke my fall. I spent the entirety of Christmas trying not to move, but now more than anything I have to try to move which is a tricky business when I’ve decided under no circumstances should I go outside.

Having no bike to ride as transport and with the temperatures well in the crispy -20 to -30s I began to feel a hibernation coming on. If bears and other beasties can do it, why can’t I? I’m old enough to not be drawn out by any kind “cold shaming” that accuses you of not being Canadian if you can’t face the cold. I have nothing to prove. I recently rode a bike 30 minutes across town in -23°C just to go skating for another 30 minutes then ride another 30 minutes back again. Did I mention the temperature? Did I mention the blistering wind as violent as any shark attack? Did I mention the difficulty tying my skates after all my fingers had frozen then broken off? I ride throughout the winter devising stratagems and tactics such as doubling of socks and gloves while employing a variety of balaclavas, scarves and hats in such a combination that not even I know where my face begins or ends. No, I have nothing to prove and it now seems appropriate to withdraw from the world and enter a prolonged state of torpor.
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Friday, January 12, 2018

Seen in… December 

This is not The Last Jedi. See what I did there? Image via The Movie DB

Finally, a month where staying in and watching TV or going to the movies was not only recommended but commendable. If it had been only slightly warmer I probably would’ve seen more films in the theatre. As it was so cold, I found it easier to burrow beneath a blanket and hit the play button. Cinemas have big screens and big sound but home has pyjamas and cocktails.

Fargo Season 1
This television adaptation of the Coen Brothers crime thriller/dark comedy delivers the same unusual twists and eccentric characters as the feature film. It does not disappoint as we follow a crime spree from one small Minnesotan city to another. The menace of Billy Bob Thornton’s character gets the ball rolling but it’s the very human foibles of the story’s many characters that keep the momentum up.

Creed. Image via The Movie DB

I have to admit that this is a good movie and is expertly sliced into the canon of “Rocky” pictures. Michael B. Jordan is great as Apollo Creed’s namesake and only son with a chip on his shoulder who seeks out an aging Rocky Balboa as a trainer when everyone else has rejected him. It’s Creed’s name that gets him his big fight but it’s his relationship with his father’s greatest opponent that makes him the man he aspires to be. Jordan is clearly a big talent and could cruise through a film on presence alone but whenever his character seems predictable he gives us some real emotion. Likewise, Sly Stallone’s latest reprisal as Balboa is probably his best work since the original Rocky (or Copland perhaps). This isn’t Raging Bull by any stretch but it is much better than the over-the-top melodramas of the Rocky series of films.

Office Christmas Party
I was very desperate to get into the holiday spirit - but not this desperate. Not even a barefooted, one-liner spouting, machine gun touting John McLane could’ve saved this Christmas movie, but it would have been fun to see. I guess this film fits into an overplayed genre of out-of-control parties where the meek become mighty fuelled by alcohol or worse and some purpose comes out of it in the end. The technical solution they peddle as the company’s saviour is ridiculously and badly explained by writers who clearly couldn’t tell a LAN connection from a landline (internet connectivity delivered over electrical cables has been possible for a very long time but you couldn’t… oh why bother).

Lady Bird. Image via The Movie DB

Lady Bird
Another “coming-of-age” film just like all the other coming-of-age films but unlike any coming-of-age films you’ve ever seen before. This is the story of an ambitious young woman, Lady Bird, who wants to study at a school beyond her family’s means but it takes time for her to realize their sacrifices and that despite how it seems, she shouldn’t be embarrassed by their rung on the American class ladder but take pride in their ability to overcome it. Lady Bird represents many teens who want nothing more than to leave home but once they have, then want nothing more than to return. This film is smartly written and directed by a talented young woman, Greta Gerwig and is smartly delivered by her celluloid counterpart, Saoirse Ronan. Laurie Metcalfe, so recognizable from years of television work is a stand out as the frustrated mother who wants her daughter to strive but not get hurt while doing it. Tracy Letts is also quietly great as the father who while struggles with his own issues is the life boat for both mother and daughter.
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