Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Seen in… December 

December is the Season for cranking up the heat until sauna conditions are reached. Yet it’s also the time when I seek comfort in watching old favourites or seeking sentimental seasonal flicks. Call it seasonal cinematic disorder.

Dan Stevens as Charles Dickens. Image from The Movie DB

The Man Who Invented Christmas

A new spin on Dickens' A Christmas Carol, with Christopher Plummer as Scrooge and Dan Stevens as Dickens. We meet Charles Dickens returning from a successful American tour only to find his recent books are failures, his debts are piling up, his wife is struggling to make a home in their new (expensive) London house while his ne’er-do-well father shows up with hands out hustling for an income by selling his son’s autographed letters. Dickens knows he needs a hit and has struck upon an idea inspired by his young Irish housekeeper for a Christmas story. His publishers are skeptical, even wondering who even cares about Christmas, and unsure of being able to print a book in time for the holiday never mind write one. Frustrated, Dickens fronts the money for the illustrations, the printing plates and the elaborate, ornate binding he envisions. Of course this only adds to his stress. We see the story come together as Dickens struggles with writer’s block while arguing with the imaginary cast of characters that will be so well known to us in the story that will become A Christmas Carol. Plummer is a perfect Ebenezer Scrooge and a wonderful foil to Dan Stevens as Dickens.

Zinedine Zindane in his natural environment.

Zindane: a 21st Century Portrait

Listed as a documentary, this film should not be confused with anything other than an unique art film that explores the idea of portraiture through movement, audio and a kind of video collage - so yeah, not your average documentary. Seventeen cameras follow French soccer icon Zinedine Zindane during a Real Madrid vs. Villareal match from April 23, 2005. With music from the band Mogwai as the score, it's not a particularly thrilling match but it is a mesmerizing montage of modern sport.

That's Miles Morales as Spider-man. Image from The Movie DB

Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse

Dazzling. For the young at heart but definitely not for anyone who isn't up to contemporary cinema's fast paced editing style. There is also a unique style of animation here that merges the graphic vernacular of comics with computer generated effects and a sort of, American Anime. For me a problem of the Marvel live action films is how a character like Spider-man, as computer generated puppet appears to defy the gravity of the real world. In animation however, the squash, stretch and spring of the character comes to life in a stylishly unrealistic way that is very satisfying. The animation sets the characters free to be as exciting on screen as they are on the page. This Spider-man is torn from Marvel’s multi-universe interpretation in which many different people in many different variations become Spider-man and Spider-women. In this universe, a confident and daring Spider-man dies while trying to stop his nemesis the Kingpin from using an electron collider to open a parallel universe (see, even science can be set free in an animated world). The consequences of this device are that Spider-people from various alternative universes begin to show up in New York like Gwen Stacey or a Japanese school girl, or a talking pig or a young bi-racial Brooklyn teen named Miles Morales who becomes his own version of Spider-man and discovers new abilities that the previous Peter Parker never had. Miles is tutored and encouraged by our universe's Peter Parker, who has become somewhat of a disappointment to his friends, family and himself. Divorced, broke, out of shape, our Peter Parker seems too far gone to save anyway, including himself but of course you’ll have to see the movie to know how that turns out.
Read more »

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Proposed Pipeline 

Earlier today a Toronto man proposed a pipeline that would lead directly from his sinuses to the sea. Hydrasense, maker of a popular netty pot, suggested the project could be completed by the spring. Environmentalists have criticized the proposal with a spokesperson from Greenpeace International saying, "We just don't know what kind of damage that amount of mucous could do to the environment and the fragile sea floor." Proponents have suggested that the project could in fact be good for the local ecosystem by creating an artificial reef capable of protecting shoreline species from the threat of rising coastal water levels. Other critics, including the water protection group WaterKeepers have called this thinking unproven and unlikely. "Have you seen how snot mixes with water? It will not form a reef or solid structure of any kind but will just make the water cloudy and gross." said a WaterKeepers representative. The President of the United States has argued for a barrier or wall around the man's nostrils though few believe he could find support for funding. Additionally, the man himself is worried such a barrier would only cause further blockages and lead to a worsening of the sinus pain and headache situation. For now, the man has decided to burrow beneath a lightweight comforter on his home sofa surrounded by a small berm consisting of used facial tissues. "I expect to die here", said the man, noting that he has consulted his lawyer about possible attempted murder charges being brought against the toddler believed to be at the centre of this current outbreak. Such charges are thought by legal experts as unprecedented and absurd. Indigenous groups have also said they would protest and block any type of pipeline construction. This is the eleventh day of the sinus impasse with no end in sight.