Killing Hitler

Shades of Peter Watkins are heavy in Killing Hitler (2003), Jeremy Loerving's kinetic account of Operation Foxley - the British Secret Service's back-burner plan to figure out a way to knock off Adolph just after Claus von Stauffenberg's Operation Valkyrie went kaploof.

Underrated docu-drama mixes recreations, archival footage, interviews, and more in a clever fashion. Previously released as a Region 2 DVD, Warner Bros. just put out a Region 1 issue, with a bonus doc, Inside the Mind of Adolph Hitler.

Still packin' and bumping into crumpled rubbish on the floor, but coming shortly after the move will be a series of WWII soundtrack reviews, and more horror.


Operation Valkyrie

Prior to the Tom Cruise film Valkyrie, there was a 1990 TV movie starring Brad Davis (who kinda looks like Cruise in the cover art), so I've uploaded a review of the bare bone Plot to Kill Hitler DVD, as well as an interview with Valkyrie composer John Ottman, who discusses the score and seventies thriller film scores.


Packing & Packaging

Look Ma! Top of the empties crap heap!On March 2nd I'll be moving to a new home, which is one of the reasons the site updates have been a bit low this week.

There will be a few more new reviews uploaded over the weekend, after which I will be in full Packing Hell - that special zone where all the carbs and sugar one has consumed to stay awake and get all the residual clutter in some physical box hits the brain, and one is ready for one long nap.

Prior to that is the mounting tension that 'everthing may not fit'; that there aren't enough boxes or packing tape (not even duct tape); and that the emergency stash of protein (a burger or chicken fillet) was eaten last week, leaving little else to eat except toast.

I've moved the contents of a house and apartment multiple times over the years, and it's still the most evil and stressful experience around, and in packing up the media I've covered over the years, I realized Alpha cases and Jewel cases are Evil - not because of environmental reasons (that's a separate issue), but the waste of space they occupy in boxes, as well as shelves.

Some things are innately cool (the Masters of Horrror skull is an awesome mantlepiece), but then there are some of the early boxed sets where 3 DVDs are housed in a chunky Alpha which no one uses anymore.

Same goes for vintage CDs, like the early 2-disc sets that came in fat cases the music labels now use to hold 4 or as many as 6 CD sets. When these are all boxed up, the sheer poundage is phenominal.

I'm already a huge fan of the slim DVD cases most labels now use in boxed sets (they're lighter and can hold thin booklets), and one easy advantage to high quality MP3 albums is they take up hard drive or CD/DVD space - and nothin' else. As a collector, the packaging is a bonus, but when moving a few thousand items, that bonus is a struggle to pack up and store.

Doubt the theory?

The photo above shows CD and DVD cases occupying about as much square footage as a stacked washer-dryer (also note Fuzzball at the top, my fist-sized tiger who normally rests on the tip of my olde IBM keyboard, but is in the photo to assist in demonstrating a sense of scale). When I moved from a sixties bungalow (3 bedrooms, and one nasty mold-encrusted basement) in 2007, I also had to confront the issue of videotapes (Beta, VHS, SVHS, and 3/4" U-Matic) that were worthless, pointless, and useless to hold on.

Craigslist did solve the problem - a gentleman took the 2500 tapes I wanted sent to oblivion, and re-used them in a local school - but I wonder if collectors and journalists who have done a significant move ot two have dealt with the same issue: over years, a lot of media-related stuff really accumulates, and it's daunting as to how much is necessary as reference materials, and the rest is the precursor to collector insanity.

Anyhow, please be patient while the moving experience reaches its ugly conclusion, and there will be a batch of new interviews by next Friday, too.



IMAX 3D on DVD ?

Quite a few IMAX films have been produced in 3D – including a few retrofitted feature films the studios figured worthy of testing on the giant screen – but so far, if you set aside Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D (2008) and a handful of CGI oddities like The Haunted Castle (2001) and S.O.S. Planet (2002), only Bugs! (2003) has made it to DVD in both 2D and 3D versions (albeit as a Region 2 release).

Warner Bros.’ Deep Sea 3D (2006) is only available ‘flat,’ and it’s unsure if the studio will include a 3D version of the film when its sequel, Under the Sea 3D, makes its way to DVD and Blu-ray.

On the German DVD and HD-DVD discs, one has the option of watching Bugs! flat or in red-blue anaglyph 3D, which isn’t the best method, but the process in this particular instance is more successful than prior anaglyph DVDs, notably the new Friday the 13th 3D disc from Paramount (to be reviewed shortly), the first-time release of The Stewardesses (1969) in colour and black & white 3D versions (also to be reviewed), Robert Rodriguez’ Spy Kids films and its kidvid derivations, and the old Rhino 3D editions of Comin At Ya! (1981) and Arch Oboler’s The Bubble (1966).

The good news is the 3D transfer mostly works – mostly, in terms of maintaining a sense of perceptible depth – but the picture isn’t razor sharp, the colours aren’t all that stable, and your eyes are messed up for a while. But hey, until some universal standard is developed that comes in a simple box people can easily plug between their TVs players, and wear the same (and relatively) light grey sunglasses used in most current 3D theatrical venues, there’s, uh, the cardboard glasses.

There are other alternatives out there right now – software like 3DTV that lets you play back the encoded films on computer, or Slingshot’s boxed set of IMAX CGI films that come packed with the LCD box and glasses - but as far as the red-blue or red-green glasses go, one can see why studios are reluctant to spend money on transfers that don’t look particularly great, and give some people eye strain and headaches.

In any event, 2009 will see the release of more 3D IMAX films and ‘IMAX Experiences’ from the studios: besides a Jonas Brothers concert film, there’s Monsters vs. Aliens, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Robert Zemeckis’ animated version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (hopefully without creepy-faced humanoids), and James Cameron’s Avatar.

Planned for 2010 are Hubble 3D, and the studio productions How to Train Your Dragon, and Shrek Goes Fourth (Mike Myers’ formal apology for The Love Guru).

Whether prior IMAX films will be given 3D DVD editions in 2009 or 2010 is a murky mystery, but for those wanting to scratch off whatever does come out, here’s a list edited from the Wikipedia entry for all IMAX films:

3D Films

We Are Born of Stars (1985)
Transitions (1986)
Into the Deep (1994)
Wings of Courage (1995)
Across the Sea of Time (1995)
The Hidden Dimension (May 9, 1997)
The IMAX Nutcracker (1997)
T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous
Alien Adventure (1999)
Siegfried & Roy: The Magic Box (1999)
Encounter in the Third Dimension (1999)

Cirque du Soleil: Journey of Man (2000)
Cyberworld 3D (2000)
Haunted Castle (2001)
SOS Planet (2002)
Space Station 3D (2002)
Misadventures in 3D (2003)
Ocean Wonderland 3D (2003)
Ghosts of the Abyss (2003)
Bugs! A Rainforest Adventure (2003)
Sharks 3D (2004)
NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience (2004)

Wild Safari 3D (2005)
Aliens of the Deep (2005)
Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D (2005)
Deep Sea 3D (2006)
Dinosaurs Alive 3D (2007)
Dinosaurs: Giants of Patagonia 3D (2007)
African Adventure: Safari in the Okavango (2007)
Mummies 3D: Secrets of the Pharaohs (2007)
Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure (2007)
Dolphins and Whales 3D: Tribes of the Ocean (2008)
Wild Ocean 3D (2008)
U2 3D (2008)

IMAX 3D Experiences (studio films):

The Polar Express: The IMAX 3D Experience (First feature-length film to be released in both 35 mm and IMAX 3D) (2004)
Superman Returns: The IMAX 3D Experience (partial 3D) (2006)
The Ant Bully: The IMAX 3D Experience (2006)
Open Season: The IMAX 3D Experience (2006)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: The IMAX 3D Experience (partial 3D) 2007)
Beowulf: The IMAX 3D Experience (2007)


Indie Flicks Part I

We All Fall Down isn’t a particularly good movie. It’s very earnest and well-intentioned and filled with an interesting mix of veteran actors (Helen Shaver won a Genie Award for her performance as a heroine-marinated prostitute, and Nicholas Campbell is solid as a fatherly figure for the film’s central pair of addicts) but it never really gels into a strong character piece, and not all of the supporting players are as assured as the film’s co-star/co-writer/director, Martin Cummins.

The film is worth a peek, but what’s more interesting is how the film made its journey from an idea Cummins was compelled to develop while he was working on an episode of Poltergeist: The Legacy. Partly autobiographical, the script was eventually refined to a point where enough people expressed keen interest, and production was possible, but after an appearance at the Austin Film Festival, like a number of Canadian films, the movie sort of vanished.

We All Fall Down did get a DVD release a few years ago – Critical Mass’ deal with Anchor Bay brings the film back into circulation with more intriguing cover art – but while watching the film with zero knowledge of its history or content, I noticed the cast looked kind of younger, and Helen Shaver’s first scene as a street walker reminded me of the actress’ appearance on Vancouver-based talk show, where she mentioned a film she was co-producing at the time – We All Fall Down.

Anchor Bay’s DVD ports over all the extras from the prior DVD release, including the behind-the-scenes featurette, wherein everyone adds their own bit of sprightly optimism, but what’s missing on the DVD is a postscript. After doing the film festival circuit, the film probably got some Pay TV play alongside the home video release, but more or less disappeared, and more than eight years later, there’s probably a few post-release tales of what happened to the cast and crew, and whether the film helped Cummins grow as an actor (he’s still very much active) and filmmaker.

The reason I’m curious is because there are many indie films made with passionate intentions that for various reasons – including product saturation and middling quality – get lost or disappear among the myriad titles on rental shelves, and We All Fall Down was made when 35mm film was still the only acceptable production and distribution format for theatres.

In 2000, digital still didn’t look as sleek and filmic as today, so shooting on film stock was a major hurdle that may have given Fall Down a formal look, but perhaps added more monetary stress on the production, and restricted the filmmakers’ freedom to spend more onset time improvising and developing scenes that were weak on the printed page.

Flash forward to 2007, and video (High Def) no longer renders a film cheap; the gear is good enough to craft beautiful images and allow a director to walk a fine balance between giving intimate scenes the realism of home video without the consumer format’s technical limitations.

Starting Out in the Evening is part of InDigEnt, a firm that specializes in high def productions with hard production schedules and budgets, and it’s a big leap in terms of making a film with a distribution model that ensures – to the best ability – that a film won’t get lost.

It helps that Starting Out is headlined by Frank Langella and Lili Taylor, and is built on the architecture of a very solid script, but whether Cummins’ film would’ve been better or reached a more precise target audience soon after completion is all academic, because his film feels like a rough and loose street production filmed in worn out City pockets, whereas Andrew Wagner’s Starting Out is about an author/teacher living in a swanky (and spacious) New York City apartment.

Stylistic apples and oranges, but the basic question is whether something along the lines of an InDigEnt model exists (check out the review of November for more info) or should exist in Canada. Then again, will it all be moot if five years from now anyone’s film will be available from a commercial or private website, and the only major distribution cost is setting up a technically proficient site that streams or torrents the film, and advertising the film on the web, since the print media’s impact continues to weaken.

Everything stems from a script, but when the film is in the can, there has to be venues for it to have a chance in the market, otherwise it can become a long journey, of which We All Fall Down is at least getting a second chance.


IFMCA Awards 2008 - Official Winners !

Well, the IFMCA winners of the best in film composition have been announced, so here's the list [cue drum roll]:



February 19, 2009. Alexandre Desplat wins the 2008 IFMCA’S Film Score of the Year Award for THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON, David Fincher’s imaginative re-telling of a 1921 F. Scott Fitzgerald short story about a man who ages backwards from an old man to a baby. These are the fourth and fifth awards for Desplat from the IFMCA, having been named Composer of the Year in 2006 and 2007. The score also wins Best Original Score for a Dramatic Film.

Danny Elfman is named Film Composer of the Year for his excellence in scoring four high-profile movies this year: MILK, WANTED, HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY and STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE. The latter score also wins Elfman an individual scoring award for Best Original Score for a Documentary Feature.

Canadian composer Andrew Lockington wins Breakout Composer of the Year for his two high-profile scores in 2008: JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH and CITY OF EMBER. Lockington is a former orchestrator for fellow Canadian composer Mychael Danna, and worked with his countryman on scores such as 8MM, GIRL INTERRUPTED and HEARTS IN ATLANTIS before embarking on his solo composing career.

Thomas Newman’s score for Pixar’s WALL*E wins Best Original Score for an Animated Feature. John Williams’ score for Steven Spielberg’s INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL wins Best Original Score for an Action/Adventure Film, and James Newton Howard wins for his score to THE HAPPENING in the Best Original Score for a Horror/Thriller Film category. Javier Naverette’s score to INKHEART, which opened in parts of Europe in 2008, receives the award for Best Original Score for a Fantasy/Science Fiction Film. The Coen Brothers’ BURN AFTER READING wins Best Original Score for a Comedy Film for their longtime collaborator Carter Burwell, and Michael Giacchino wins Film Music Composition of the Year for his “Roar Overture” from CLOVERFIELD that played during the end credits of the monster ‘reality’ movie which otherwise did not include any other underscore.

Non-film winners include Robert Lane and Joseph Vitarelli, who win Best Original Score for Television to for their score for the HBO mini-series, JOHN ADAMS; Norwegian composer Knut Avenstroup Haugen, who wins Best Original Score for a Video Game or Interactive Media for the Funcom PC role-playing game AGE OF CONAN: HYBORIAN ADVENTURES; and the Intrada label, which wins Film Music Record Label of the Year for the third year in a row for their continuing excellence in releasing older, catalog scores, some for the first time, including their world premiere release of the complete score to Jerry Goldsmith’s 1978 THE BOY FROM BRAZIL, which wins this year’s prize for Best New Release/Re-Release of an Existing Score.


• The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, music by Alexandre Desplat

• Danny Elfman

Andrew Lockington

• The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, music by Alexandre Desplat

• Burn After Reading, music by Carter Burwell

• Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, music by John Williams

• Inkheart, music by Javier Navarrete

• The Happening, music by James Newton Howard

Wall*E, music by Thomas Newman

• Standard Operating Procedure, music by Danny Elfman

• Cloverfield: “Roar Overture,” music by Michael Giacchino


• John Adams, music by Robert Lane and Joseph Vitarelli

• Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures, music by Knut Avenstroup Haugen

The Boys from Brazil, music by Jerry Goldsmith; produced by Douglass Fake (Intrada)

El Cid, music by Miklós Rózsa; conducted by Nic Raine, produced by James Fitzpatrick (Tadlow)

• Indiana Jones: The Soundtracks Collection, music by John Williams; produced by Laurent Bouzereau (Concord)

• Intrada

The International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA) is an association of online, print and radio journalists who specialize in writing about original film and television music.

The IFMCA was originally formed in the late 1990s as the now-defunct “Film Music Critics Jury” by editor and journalist Mikael Carlsson, a regular contributor to Music from the Movies, and the owner of the Swedish independent film music label MovieScore Media.

Since its inception, the IFMCA has grown to comprise over 50 members from countries as diverse as Australia, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

Previous IFMCA Score of the Year Awards have been awarded to Dario Marianelli’s ATONEMENT in 2007, James Newton Howard’s LADY IN THE WATER in 2006, John Williams’ MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA in 2005 and Michael Giacchino’s THE INCREDIBLES in 2004.

For more information about the International Film Music Critics Association, its members and the list of past awards, please visit http://www.filmmusiccritics.org or contact press@filmmusiccritics.org.


The Endurance of IMAX

Under the Sea 3D is the latest co-venture between IMAX and Warner Bros., and furthers director Howard Hall and editor/producer Toni Myers’ ongoing interest in filming exotic and endangered pockets of the world in the internationally renowned large film format.

I’ll have a film review of Under the Sea as well as its predecessor, Deep Sea 3D (2006) uploaded shortly, but in the meantime here's an interview with Toni Myers, who discusses aspects of the film, as well as the first IMAX movie, North of Superior (1971), which is still beloved by several generations of school kids, particularly aging grammar school brats (like myself) who were taken on class trips to the Cinesphere at Ontario Place, and had no idea what the heck was in store.

The opening credit sequence is still one of the most memorable film-going experiences of my childhood, with the canted camera gliding and swooping all over classic Ontario terrain. I do get seasick and motion sickness and can’t deal with an IMAX camera strapped to the head of a rollercoaster or snowmobile, but I still yearn to re-experience the film because it’s been probably 25-30 years since I saw it.

Myers also directed Blue Planet (1990), one of the best space-themed IMAX films, and perhaps her most overt statement on environmental changes that are wreaking serious damage on the earth. The film’s tone is straightforward, and it’s supported by large, elegant footage of the Earth as shot from space shuttle missions, capturing massive forest fires, deforestation, and other trauma visible from the shuttle windows.

The reason that film also stands out is because of the elegant music score by Maribeth Solomon and Micky Erbe (see archived interview HERE) and one simple shot – the blackness of space, and the Earth rising from the depths of the IMAX screen until it fills the multi-storey panorama, with you feeling like you’re hovering in space and descending slowly to the Earth on some big glass spaceship.

It’s adventurism and edification (learning a bit about the planet’s uniqueness) on film, and a sublime movie moment. It’s also a sample of Myers’ heavy experience in directing, cutting, and producing a movie in 70mm – a film format that may one day be overtaken by digital technology.

Soon after catching an advance screening of Under the Sea, I also caught The Dark Knight (2008) in IMAX, and it was memorable experience in part because director Christopher Nolan proved you could make a kinetic feature-length film in IMAX. The movie was primarily shot in standard 35mm, and contains a few sequences and shots in IMAX, but there were very little differences in the editing styles of the IMAX and 35mm footage.

The formal thinking is that IMAX is too big, and the aggressive editing style of standard 35mm is too overwhelming for audiences – and that may be true for a substantial chunk of moviegoers – but that’s also been a complaint levied against certain films shot in standard 35mm (1.85:1 or 2.35:1) where the directors went bonkers with cuts and gave audiences some massive headaches.

Nolan’s own Batman Begins (2005) has clumsily staged action scenes, with the camera too close to the actors and their motions, and edits deliberately designed to disorient; Paul Greengrass’ The Bourne Supremacy (2004) has chase sequences with cuts and camera setups that go beyond frenetic and fuzzy, and literally waste the fancy locations used to stage the action scenes; and Michael Bay’s The Rock (1996) is still a fine example of ego and excess, and where every actor's movement is seemingly captured from 45 different camera angles and edits.

Even Tony Scott showed signs of losing his mind when, early into Spy Game (2001), Robert Redford’s entrance into his office was covered by multiple cuts of variable angles – a totally blah character movement with zero thematic undercurrent constructed to resemble something seriously imperative when it seriously wasn’t.

And yet that indulgent editing style has become more refined and acceptable, and that’s perhaps due to our own visual evolution; we got used to the fast visuals over time, and we’re better able to assemble meaning from what was previously just a mass of visual clutter.

Astute directors know how to be more selective (which is why The Rock will always be an unintentionally campy goof-fest, and the tongue-in-cheek Crank will remain deliberately campy fun), and that’s evident in Nolan’s own evolution as a filmmaker: his action sequences are better staged in Dark Knight, and the edits more selective, and to compensate for a less crazy editing style, he uses a dense aural mix that slams audiences where a mass of cuts and blurry footage were applied.

The integration of IMAX (1.44:1) within Dark Knight’s 2.35:1 framework is also notable because it’s not in your face: IMAX pops up in establishing shots (Bruce Wayne in Hong Kong), as movement motifs (Bruce driving his fancy schmancy Lamborghini), and as portions of stellar action sequences.

You could call it as gimmicky as donning 3D glasses for select sequences (like Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns) but then the gimmick is used well – and it opens the door to whether IMAX has a future in a technological hybrid like Dark Knight, or for the entirety of a feature-length film.

It’s been done before: the original theatrical version of Titanica (1995) ran over 90 mins. (the DVD features an edited version), but it was screened with an intermission to give audiences pause - a ploy also used for House of Wax, back in 1953 by Warner Bros., because the feeling was that a feature-length 3D film would be too hard on audiences. (In anaglyph, sure, but IMAX 3D, maybe not, since the gray glasses aren’t as headache-inducing as the old red-blue ones from the fifties and eighties.)

So whether Nolan’s clever hybrid will be followed by another, if not a feature-length action film in IMAX is the big quandary. As Toni Myers opines in our interview, 70mm film is expensive, and whether it’s a three or two hour film, that’s a lot of money on such a big acquisition and distribution format.

Dark Knight was a financial and critical blockbuster, and it may well be a rare one-off if digital exceeds the creative latitude inherent to 35mm film, but whenever Nolan cuts to an IMAX shot, the image clarity and richness of colours are noticeably substantial – and that alone may ensure IMAX’ stature for a while longer.


Fear of Monkeys Writing Local Shakespeare

Much has been written about the plight of full-time writers, staff writers, long-time columnists, and veteran journalists (particularly covering film) being dumped by magazines and newspapers to cut costs and reportedly keep a publication afloat, but the decision to fire/dump the full-timers at Metro, Toronto’s daily paper aimed at commuters, and replace them with unpaid interns is, well, kind of stunning, because if just a handful of senior staff are left to manage the publication, one wonders if Metro will have any original content at all, or go all-wire, and just reprint more material from The Toronto Star.

However, initially reported by The Globe and Mail, apparently Metro’s bigwigs have uttered a clarification, printed in both the Globe and BlogTO.com (see below):

"Metro newspaper in Toronto is not replacing laid-off writers with interns. The newspaper's internship program was not altered as a result of recent layoffs in the editorial department." Metro's editor-in-chief, Dianne Rinehart, says that mentoring was and is the foundation of the internship program; the effect, if any, of writer layoffs on this program is not clear to me. A call placed to Metro's publisher has not yet been returned.

Metro is part of a chain of big city mini-papers aimed at keeping subway and bus riders awake during the commute to and from work, and it’s perfectly fine for that function, but there’s meeting the bare minimum of requirements (which it was doing for a while now, including losing some of their film and DVD critics for rubbish, opinion-neutral plot synopses), and then there’s transcending bland reports that any monkey can cut and paste from various media sources into a print layout; clearly, Metro’s move is just to fill the paper with headline material and pap, instead of creating a paper that maintains a local, provocative, and timely focus for a ‘captive audience’ (the sardined commuters).

The Globe and Mail reported interns were brought in by Torstar, the paper’s owner, a few days prior to the mass firings, and Metro’s group publisher for English Canada (as quoted in mediabistro.com) has downplayed the harsh move as “a small adjustment to our staff.”

Yeah, right.

If ad revenue drives the paper and the paper isn’t being read, then the paper’s pointless, but if the paper is gone from every box by noon and riders pick up and read a paper left on a seat from the previous rider throughout the day and night, isn’t the target audience being reached?

If the printing costs are getting worse, would a smaller print run be feasible since the paper is re-used throughout the day?

There have been a lot of opinions on the slow death of print media, but I think the core problem with Metro’s move is that it was a shitty thing to do to the writers. While one can joke about the interns learning their craft with fewer mentors on staff, any original work from the interns – if they are given the chance to contribute, with or without pay - will lack the experience and familiarity with issues (or in the case of film, extra perspective) shared by the dumped writers.

Older readers of Starweek magazine – back when it was more of a magazine – will recall the massively stupid decision in 2006 to replace Norman Wilner’s video column with fodder by Wendy Mesley (the outcry from readers eventually brought Wilner’s column back for a while). That was followed by staff writer Malene Arpe taking over the column for a while, but without the ability to express her own opinion, orders to stay away from classic and foreign films, and forced to recap the paper’s official opinion on films as reviewed by their film writers.

The revamped DVD column offended veteran readers for its dialled-down mainstream focus, and Starweek was eventually reduced to a thin TV supplement – a move that for some readers eliminated the last reason to buy the paper at all.

The comments at the end of the BlogTO piece are worth reading, though, because it comes from a mix of TTC riders, Star denigrators, and interns, and for all the slams against Metro and Torstar, most seem to agree that dumping the staff was a lousy thing to do, and one of the voices among them is Rick McGinnis, whose columns (mostly about TV) in Metro were worth reading because they were peppered with the right amount of cynicism and experience and wit.

As Torstar and Metro attempt to clarify their decisions of the past week and tear away the image of a slave-labour shop for interns – several blog sites still lead with the original header of unpaid interns promoted to writing Metro’s content without any remuneration – there’s also Rick McGinnis’ own blog that puts a human face on the experience of being dumped, as well as tracing the somewhat sudden decisions that led to his lengthy tenure as Metro TV critic.

I just hope the little paper I read once in a while for rudimentary news capsules doesn’t resemble monkey scribbles, because then it really won’t be worth the paper it's printed on.


The 2009 Genie Award Nominees Are...

First the Oscar nominations, then the BAFTA winners, and now we have the 29th Genie Award nominees.

As with the aforementioned awards lists in this ongoing blog, I've hyper-linked those Genie-nominated titles currently, or soon-to-be available, on DVD, so you can find them at local merchants like Bay Street Video, as well as Amazon.ca.

Paul Gross' Passchendaele has received the most press, but I think you'll be pleasantly surprised as to how many of the films below are on disc - which is a healthy sign that Canadian labels are taking advantage of the product we produce (even though having a snappy title like Young People Fucking sure helps).


The awards will be handed out Saturday, April 4th at the Canada Aviation Museum in Ottawa, Ontario, and will be broadcast on Global Television.

The nominees are:

Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Amal (Rupinder Nagra)
Ce qu'il faut pour vivre / The Necessities of Life (Natar Ungalaaq)
Emotional Arithmetic (Christopher Plummer)
Passchendaele (Paul Gross)
This Beautiful City (Aaron Poole)

Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Emotional Arithmetic (Max Von Sydow)
Fugitive Pieces (Rade Sherbedgia)
Le Banquet (Benoit McGinnis)
Normal (Callum Keith Rennie)
Tout est Parfait / Everything is Fine (Normand D'Amour)

Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Borderline (Isabelle Blais)
Emotional Arithmetic (Susan Sarandon)
Heaven on Earth (Preity Zinta) --- to be released on DVD March 10
Maman est chez le coiffeur / Mommy is at the Hairdresser's (Marianne Fortier)
The Stone Angel (Ellen Burstyn)

Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Ce qu'il faut pour vivre / The Necessities of Life (Eveline Gélinas)
Fugitive Pieces (Rosamund Pike)
Maman est chez le coiffeur / Mommy is at the Hairdresser's (Céline Bonnier)
Tout est Parfait / Everything is Fine (Anie Pascale)
Young People Fucking (Kristin Booth)

Original Screenplay

Ce qu'il faut pour vivre / The Necessities of Life (Bernard Émond)
Heaven on Earth (Deepa Mehta)
Normal (Travis McDonald)
Real Time (Randall Cole)
Tout est Parfait / Everything is Fine (Guillaume Vigneault)

Adapted Screenplay

Amal (Richie Mehta, Shaun Mehta)
Borderline (Marie-Sissi Labrèche, Lyne Charlebois)
Fugitive Pieces (Jeremy Podeswa)

Achievement in Direction

Amal (Richie Mehta)
Borderline (Lyne Charlebois)
Ce qu'il faut pour vivre / The Necessities of Life (Benoit Pilon)
Normal (Carl Bessai)
Tout est Parfait / Everything is Fine (Yves-Christian Fournier)

Best Motion Picture

Amal (David Miller, Steven Bray)
Ce qu'il faut pour vivre / The Necessities of Life (Bernadette Payeur, René Chénier)
Normal (Andrew Boutilier, Carl Bessai)
Passchendaele (Niv Fichman, Francis Damberger, Paul Gross, Frank Siracusa)
Tout est Parfait / Everything is Fine (Nicole Robert)

Best Documentary

Infiniment Québec (Jean-Claude Labrecque, Yves Fortin, Christian Medawar)
My Winnipeg (Guy Maddin, Phyllis Laing, Jody Shapiro)
Up the Yangtze (Yung Chang, Mila Aung-Thwin, John Christou, Germaine Ying-Gee Wong)

Achievement in Cinematography

Fugitive Pieces (Gregory Middleton csc)
Le Banquet (Nicolas Bolduc)
Le piège américain / The American Trap (Pierre Gill)
The Stone Angel (Bobby Bukowski)
Tout est Parfait / Everything is Fine (Sara Mishara)

Achievement in Editing

Borderline (Yvann Thibaudeau)
Ce qu'il faut pour vivre / The Necessities of Life (Richard Comeau)
C'est pas moi, je le jure! / It's Not Me, I Swear! (Frédérique Broos) --- to be released on DVD March 24
Le Banquet (Dominique Fortin, Carina Baccanale)
Maman est chez le coiffeur / Mommy is at the Hairdresser's (Dominique Fortin)

Achievement in Art Direction/Production Design

Fugitive Pieces (Matthew Davies, Erica Milo)
Le piège américain / The American Trap (Danielle Labrie)
Maman est chez le coiffeur / Mommy is at the Hairdresser's (Patrice Bengle)
Passchendaele (Carol Spier, Janice Blackie-Goodine)
The Stone Angel (Rob Gray)

Achievement in Costume Design

Ce qu'il faut pour vivre / The Necessities of Life (Francesca Chamberland)
Le piège américain / The American Trap (Michèle Hamel)
Maman est chez le coiffeur / Mommy is at the Hairdresser's (Michèle Hamel)
Passchendaele (Wendy Partridge)
Who is KK Downey? (Marie-Genevieve Cyr) – to be released on DVD April 14

Achievement in Music - Original Score

Ce qu'il faut pour vivre / The Necessities of Life (Robert M. Lepage)
Emotional Arithmetic (Normand Corbeil)
Fugitive Pieces (Nikos Kypourgos)
Maman est chez le coiffeur / Mommy is at the Hairdresser's (Laurent Eyquem)
The Stone Angel (John McCarthy)

Achievement in Music - Original Song

Amal, "Rahi Nagufta" (Dr. Shiva)
This Beautiful City, "Big Smoke" (Bry Webb)
Tout est Parfait / Everything is Fine, "M'Accrocher?" (Batlam, Biz, Chaffik)

Achievement in Overall Sound

Amal (Sanjay Mehta, Stephan Carrier, Kirk Lynds)
Le Banquet (Mario Auclair, Luc Boudrias, François Senneville)
Le piège américain / The American Trap (Claude La Haye, Daniel Bisson, Luc Boudrias, Patrick Lalonde)
Passchendaele (Lou Solakofski, Garrell Clark, Steve Foster)
This Beautiful City (David Ottier, Daniel Prado Villar)

Achievement in Sound Editing

La Ligne brisée / The Broken Line (Robert Labrosse, Lucie Fortier, Guy Francoeur, France Lévesque, Lori Paquet)
Le Banquet (François Senneville, Antoine Morin)
Le piège américain / The American Trap (Claude Beaugrand, Jérome Décarie, Natalie Fleurant, Jean-François Sauvé)
Passchendaele (Jane Tattersall, Kevin Banks, Barry Gilmore, Andy Malcolm, Dave Rose)
This Beautiful City (Nelson Ferreira)

Best Live Action Short Drama

Can You Wave Bye-Bye? (Sarah Galea-Davis, Paul Barbeau)
La Battue (Guy Édoin, Pascal Bascaron, Sylvain Corbeil)
Mon nom est Victor Gazon (Patrick Gazé, Antonello Cozzolino, Marie-Josée Laroque, Annie Normandin)
Next Floor (Denis Villeneuve, Phoebe Greenberg)
The Answer Key (Samir Rehem, Robin Crumley)

Best Animated Short

Drux Flux (Theodore Ushev, Marc Bertrand)
Sleeping Betty (Claude Cloutier, Marcel Jean)
The Facts in the Case of Mister Hollow (Rodrigo Gudiño, Vincent Marcone, Marco Pecota)

For further info, check out the official Genie website (although the use of separate pop-up windows for the category is a bad design choice, since it means every category requires a click).

I know. Picky, picky, picky, but it's annoying.


Soundtrack Reviews + 2009 BAFTA Winners !

Just uploaded is a pair of soundtrack reviews:

- Winifred Phillips’ lush and bubbly score for the Nintendo interactive game Sim Animals (2008)

- Jessica de Rooij’s kinetic chase score for Far Cry (2008)

And just in: the 2009 BAFTA winners - aka Briatin's Oscars - were just announced. Titles in bold are the winners, and titles hyperlinked are slated for, or are currently available on DVD/CD (and will take you to further info or a review at KQEK.com):


THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON – Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, Ceán Chaffin
FROST/NIXON – Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard
MILK – Dan Jinks, Bruce Cohen --- DVD to be released March 10th
THE READER – Anthony Minghella, Sydney Pollack, Donna Gigliotti, Redmond Morris


MAN ON WIRE – Simon Chinn, James Marsh
HUNGER – Laura Hastings-Smith, Robin Gutch, Steve McQueen, Enda Walsh
IN BRUGES – Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin, Martin McDonagh
MAMMA MIA! – Judy Craymer, Gary Goetzman, Phyllida Lloyd, Catherine Johnson
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE – Christian Colson, Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy

THE CARL FOREMAN AWARD for Special Achievement by a British Director, Writer or Producer for their First Feature Film

STEVE McQUEEN (Director/Writer) – Hunger
SIMON CHINN (Producer) – Man On Wire
JUDY CRAYMER (Producer) – Mamma Mia!
GARTH JENNINGS (Writer) – Son of Rambow
SOLON PAPADOPOULOS, ROY BOULTER (Producers) – Of Time And The City --- DVD to be released March 30th (Region 2)


CHANGELING – Clint Eastwood --- DVD to be released February 17th
FROST/NIXON – Ron Howard
THE READER – Stephen Daldry


IN BRUGES – Martin McDonagh
BURN AFTER READING – Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
CHANGELING – Joe Michael Straczynski --- DVD to be released February 17th
I’VE LOVED YOU SO LONG – Philippe Claudel --- DVD to be released March 3rd
MILK – Dustin Lance Black --- DVD to be released March 10th


FROST/NIXON – Peter Morgan
THE READER – David Hare


I'VE LOVED YOU SO LONG – Yves Marmion, Philippe Claudel --- DVD to be released March 3rd
THE BAADER MEINHOF COMPLEX – Bernd Eichinger, Uli Edel --- DVD to be released March 12 (Region 2)
GOMORRAH – Domenico Procacci, Matteo Garrone --- DVD to be released February 9 (Region 2)
PERSEPOLIS – Marc-Antoine Robert, Xavier Rigault, Marjane Satrapi, Vincent Paronnaud
WALTZ WITH BASHIR – Serge Lalou, Gerhard Meixner, Yael Nahlieli, Ari Folman


WALL•E – Andrew Stanton
PERSEPOLIS – Marjane Satrapi, Vincent Paronnaud


MICKEY ROURKE – The Wrestler
DEV PATEL – Slumdog Millionaire
SEAN PENN – Milk --- DVD to be released March 10th
BRAD PITT – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button


ANGELINA JOLIE – Changeling --- DVD to be released February 17th
KRISTIN SCOTT THOMAS – I’ve Loved You So Long --- DVD to be released March 3rd
KATE WINSLET – Revolutionary Road


HEATH LEDGER – The Dark Knight
ROBERT DOWNEY JR. – Tropic Thunder
BRAD PITT – Burn After Reading


PENÉLOPE CRUZ – Vicky Cristina Barcelona
FREIDA PINTO – Slumdog Millionaire
TILDA SWINTON – Burn After Reading
MARISA TOMEI – The Wrestler


THE DARK KNIGHT – Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard
MAMMA MIA! – Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus
WALL•E – Thomas Newman


CHANGELING – Tom Stern --- DVD to be released February 17th
THE DARK KNIGHT – Wally Pfister
THE READER – Chris Menges, Roger Deakins


CHANGELING – Joel Cox, Gary D. Roach --- DVD to be released February 17th
FROST/NIXON – Mike Hill, Dan Hanley
IN BRUGES – Jon Gregory


THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON – Donald Graham Burt, Victor J. Zolfo
CHANGELING – James J. Murakami, Gary Fettis --- DVD to be released February 17th
THE DARK KNIGHT – Nathan Crowley, Peter Lando
REVOLUTIONARY ROAD – Kristi Zea, Debra Schutt
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE – Mark Digby, Michelle Day


THE DUCHESS – Michael O'Connor
CHANGELING – Deborah Hopper --- DVD to be released February 17th
THE DARK KNIGHT – Lindy Hemming


SLUMDOG MILLIONARE – Glenn Freemantle, Resul Pookutty, Richard Pryke, Tom Sayers, Ian Tapp
CHANGELING – Walt Martin, Alan Robert Murray, John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff --- DVD to be released February 17th
THE DARK KNIGHT – Lora Hirschberg, Richard King, Ed Novick, Gary Rizzo
QUANTUM OF SOLACE – Jimmy Boyle, Eddy Joseph, Chris Munro, Mike Prestwood Smith, Mark Taylor
WALL•E – Ben Burtt, Tom Myers, Michael Semanick, Matthew Wood


THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON – Eric Barba, Craig Barron, – Nathan McGuinness, Edson Williams
THE DARK KNIGHT – Chris Corbould, Nick Davis, Paul Franklin, Tim Webber
INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL – Pablo Helman, Marshall Krasser, Steve Rawlins
IRON MAN – Hal Hickel, Shane Patrick Mahan, John Nelson, Ben Snow
QUANTUM OF SOLACE – Chris Corbould, Kevin Tod Haug


THE DARK KNIGHT – Peter Robb-King
THE DUCHESS – Daniel Phillips, Jan Archibald
FROST/NIXON – Edouard Henriques, Kim Santantonio
MILK – Steven E. Anderson, Michael White --- DVD to be released March 10th


WALLACE AND GROMIT: A MATTER OF LOAF AND DEATH – Steve Pegram, Nick Park, Bob Baker --- DVD to be released March 23 (Region 2)
CODSWALLOP – Greg McLeod, Myles McLeod
VARMINTS – Sue Goffe, Marc Craste


SEPTEMBER – Stewart le Maréchal, Esther May Campbell
KINGSLAND #1 THE DREAMER – Kate Ogborn, Tony Grisoni
LOVE YOU MORE – Caroline Harvey, Anthony Minghella, Sam Taylor-Wood, Patrick Marber
RALPH – Olivier Kaempfer, Alex Winckler







For more information and video highlights, check out the official BAFTA site HERE.


Bale Out

Once the shock from hearing the profanity and incredible length of Christian Bale’s coarse verbal assault on director of photography Shane Hurlbut has ended, for those more aware of the egos at play on a feature film, it’s apparent Bale’s all-out berating isn’t really a rare cosmic incidence in a business as crazy as film.

It’s the reality that filmmakers have dramatized in Hollywood satires (The Player) as well as comedic rips into the soap opera world (Soap Dish, not a good film, but inspired by mad personalities), where egos clash and the most valuable/highest paid creature in a film lays down his or her law and gets to chew out a cast or crew member.

The reason Bale's tirade is so striking is because it’s raw and intact; it’s a stream of rage captured in a long audio clip with energetic ebbs and rushes, and one can easily visualize the physical posturing between the bulked up star, and the cinematographer who was in a very unpleasant situation on the set of Terminator Salvation that day.

Bale’s rage opens up the trap door to the kind of conflicts that occur between creative people locked in a soundstage who have to create an illusion under a regimented schedule using different working styles.

Somehow, in this weird world, everything has to click, and once in a while the most valuable member of the talent pool gets to stomp his or her boot-print on someone’s face because he or she can. It can be a star, a director, a producer, or a writer; it just depends on the meticulousness of their contracts, and whether the whole production would crumble if one of them left.

In a more mundane work environment, there’s the corporate policy, or the managerial philosophy that governs the work and behaviour code, and anything contrary is winnowed out through a natural process where hotheads get canned, or abusers are ‘let got’ because there’s a rule structure designed to keep power issues neutral, if not isolated to the one or two people who have real power.

The Bale tape is fascinating not because it’s a star going bonkers, but because it reveals a clash that few people see in their own work, or at least as a far shorter eruptions where the human dartboard has some power to end or clip it off, instead of having to stand there and absorb the rage full-on.

In a formal office world, rage tends to happen behind locked doors, or on the work floor with a soft and unsettling calm that’s only belied by a person’s eyes and the redness of their face. Someone has to step down because, unlike a film production, it’s not a working engagement that lasts for six weeks or a few months; if your roof and food depends on a few years of steady employment, you can’t tear into a co-worker like that. Emotion bad. Reserved demeanor good.

The psychology and circumstances within the filmmaking world are strange, because people will work for hotheads if the end results are stirring (William Friedkin’s The Exorcist was a brutal experience for the actors), and because certain types need a cruel, masochistic person to extract a performance a genial director wouldn’t be able to mine. Some directors require chaos (David O. Rusell), whereas others prefer a family atmosphere (Francis Ford Coppola).

Bad day or not, the level and length of Bale’s rage happened because it was permissible, and while it’s a funny glimpse at an ego trip on steroids (and admittedly funnier in a remixed dance version crafted by some brilliant loon), it should also provoke some serious thoughts on why people snap, and how well they handle their own rage when their own power is being challenged.

The lingering discomfort doesn’t come from Bale’s rage, but the quiet spots where the cinematographer and director McG are at a loss for defensive or calming words, and the surrounding crew is forced to watch something really ugly run its course.

The tape is pretty vivid on its own, but just as shocking is David O. Russell’s tirade towards Lily Tomlin on the set of I Heart Huckabees, which repositions the ego crown from star to director. The amazing thing is how well Tomlin handles Russell’s blazing insanity. There’s being angry in the moment, and then there’s behaving like a Tasmanian Devil, stomping in and out of a set until the film runs outs.

Tomlin stays professionally calm (plus or minus a few return expletives), but when the cast and crew scurry off the set, you know why some actors, directors, producers or writers don’t work that often, and why little by little, they build up a reputation as monsters. As long as the final film succeeds, though, the behavioral cycle goes on.


If One Rises, Must Another Fall?

The big revelation about the premiere episode for Lost Season 5 isn’t that it involves time travel, but that the show is more riveting than ever, which is hard to imagine, given a lot of wet, pungent red herrings have slapped viewers’ faces now and then, testing our patience and having some (like me) shout at the TV (“WHAT?!?!?!?) when something completely bizarre or oblique precedes a fast-fade to commercials, and Michael Giacchino’s snarling, elastic brass stabs seem to tease us into a bit of interactive, profane shouting.

There’s an opinion out there that people don’t like sci-fi, and while I prefer the terms “weird” or “interminable mind-f**k” to describe Lost, the series is probably sci-fi, which is not a bad word. If sci-fi was taboo, James Cameron (T2) would have no career, and Arnold Schwarzenegger might have gone into land development instead of governorship, Star Wars would’ve bombed, and Star Trek would’ve died after the execs saw the first pilot in 1966.

The last franchise is important because it shows how clever a show can be when it’s timely and riffs conflicts tangible or perceptible to TV viewers. That begs the question:

What does Lost reflect right now?

Politically, perhaps nothing, but perhaps the reason people are glued to the mystery is because it’s a group of disparate survivors (from doctors to thieves and babies) of a horrible plane disaster, and whose weird experiences are counter-balanced by utterly ordinary conflicts and fears, either on the island in present-day, flashbacks, or flash-forwards. They bleed, they cry, they’re enraged, and they’re overjoyed by simple things – like Sawyer using busted glasses to read a novel so he doesn’t go crazy. It’s about coping and bonding and feuding like an extended family, and power struggles and jealousies, as well as good turns that soften past acts of utter selfishness.

These elements have been consistent since day one, which is why fans have stayed through the clever and dumb left turns, and remain patient with hope that the whole damn thing doesn’t end with some kid holding a freakin’ snow globe (I’m trying to keep that show’s twist as vague as possible).

Besides, this is the next-to last season of an expensive show with a huge cast tired of a production schedule no one figured would last this long, and instead of doing a Chris Carter and whoring themselves for network monies, Lost’s creators are going to end the series in Year 6, and the brevity of Seasons 4 thru 6 mean there’ll be less fat and lameness.

Lost has had its ups and downs, but unlike Heroes, it hasn’t taken some serious nose-dives. For one thing, Heroes has kept the bulk of the original characters, whereas several cool characters in Lost have died; they may reappear in flashbacks, but they don’t hang around like a static objects the writers keep tripping over and moving around in the hope a useless character will eventually slide back into some purposeful function.

Heroes Season 1 was perfection – the best filmed comic book narrative ever – whereas Season 2 was hampered by the writers’ strike and NBC’s urgency to get something in production so some ad revenue was still a sure thing before Christmas. That meant poorly developed story arcs were forced into the narrative, and pointless characters – Nikki Sanders and her family, Senator Nathan Petrelli and brother Peter Petrelli (who should’ve died) – were punted back and forth.

There was also the dumb idea of adding new people – Maya Herrera and her dopey brother – who pretty much stayed whiny and useless. (The pair was allegedly conceived at the behest of the network for some spin-off show with another stream of mutants on the lam. Unlike Law & Order or C.S.I., though, the characters in Heroes travel the planet, making the mere concept of franchising more Heroes to specific cities or countries impossibly difficult, because whatever the second stream characters do has to affect the primary stream, and if the latter are dealing with global issues, that leaves little else for the spin-off characters to do. For the series writers, a spin-off show would've been a logistical nightmare.)

When Season 3 debuted this fall, things turned a bit more favourable as Sylar tried to be good, and even got to become a man-in-black, as well as romance electrically bitchy Elle Bishop, but just as he was poised to find some inner peace, he kinda said, ‘Gee, it’s dull being good. I’m going back to being evil,’ and sawed open Elle’s head to fondle her noodles.

The Petrelli boys’ father was brought back from the supposed dead, and just as he too was poised to conquer the world, he goofed, and his elimination didn’t really alter the power struggles very much; the only shift was Nathan, who decided the warped philosophy that drove dad to hunt down and neuter special people, was actually kinda good.

In making Nathan the new bad guy (and having Sylar wander around in minor scenes for a while), the show was clearly losing its way; if the same characters keep co-existing within the small world of the show, they become boring; and the abruptness of a character’s alliances (or flip-flopping) also makes respective character arcs irrational and silly – and that’s what’s happened, now that Tim Kring has returned after the last batch of writers were dismissed.

The new rebooting, as seen in this week's episode, has the mutants routed out from their hideouts and packed into a plane just like Gitmo prisoners in orange jumpsuits and headgear. It's dated, it feels like a Prison Break rehash, and it's also dumb because it offers the series’ cosmos nothing new: it’s the same batch of characters, except someone else gets to be evil this season.

(Sylar, for example, should never have been brought back in Season 2; he should’ve stayed in the sewers of NYC until the last few episodes, thereby setting him up as a vengeful monster, ready to wreck total hell in Season 3. The writers totally blundered in bringing back the whole gang in Season 2, and were stuck conceiving loser storylines: Peter’s amnesia was borrowed from the daytime soap opera template of ‘how-to-keep-characters- busy,’ and was a gross waste of the fan-time).

This week, when Claire ran into the Hercules cockpit, and saw her father in the co-pilot’s seat and shouted “Dad?!?!” it was a symbolic moment, because she actually transmitted the exhaustion of loyal fans that are surprised, frustrated, and tired of this new attempt to fix a broken show.

Kring has opted for an old trick that’s common when a show is gone for a while: no matter how radical some changes may be, viewer minds will fill in their own rationalizations as to why one character is doing something inexplicable.

Like an ad break, viewers have been trained from years of TV watching to auto-fill their own reasoning when the show returns from the ad break and jumps to a scene further into the drama. Kring’s basically done the same thing, except applied it to a longer time-jump that ended in November of 2008, and began in February 2009: let the audience fill in their own assumptions as to how some characters went from point A to G, albeit within a particular gap of two months.

Mohinder, for example, began as a crusading doctor in Season 1 and became an ego maniacal, self-made mutant with Cronenbergian side-effects in Season 2, and after useless, wandering moments in Season 3, he's now an apparently neutered mutant, back to driving a taxi cab.

In his taxi exchange with Peter Petrelli (now a paramedic instead of super-boy), Mohinder explained he wants a simple life, but even if that were the logical path such a bruised and morally confused character would take – excising himself from any connection with the global mutant thingy – why drive a cab in the same city? There’s a feeble full-circle element to Kring’s decision, but wouldn’t it make more sense if Mohinder had chosen to emotionally and physically remove himself from each and every person pivotal to the mutant cosmos?

A neutered Peter goes back to being a paramedic because it’s the only way he can accomplish good, much in the way he was a male nurse in Season 1, but Mohinder’s decision – and largely his function so far in Season 3 – shows the writers have too many leftover characters that now clutter up a messy show.

In retaining the bulk of the original gang, it’s impossible to keep a focus on meaningful arcs, and whether Kring and Co. can steer the show back to some purposeful narrative seems doubtful.

People have to die in the next few weeks, otherwise Season 4, if it happens at all, will have an even shorter run that Season 2.


The Dead Pool

Having not seen The Dead Pool, the fifth and last Dirty Harry film, I have to admit being weary of Lalo Schifrin's score - not because of any perception of poor writing – but the fear that even more synth-pop influences were present than Schifrin’s prior Harry score, Sudden Impact.

Happily, synths aren’t the star, and Schifrin organized his palette of rock, jazz, orchestral and pop instruments into specific groups, and while a bit more mellow than Sudden Impact, it’s a good score that pays tribute to an iconic anti-hero making his last screen appearance.

Aleph has released every Dirty Harry soundtrack – Dirty Harry (1971), Magnum Force (1973), The Enforcer (1976), Sudden Impact (1983), and The Dead Pool (1988) - and they’re all worth checking out.



Vintage Canadian Bloodletting

When the producer John Dunning talks about the role Canadians played in expanding the colourful ideas and images in the slasher genre in the doc Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film (2006), it’s kind of pride-tingling, because it means some of the exploitive entries we made have withstood the test of time and are regarded as classics – and My Bloody Valentine may be the best of the lot.

Yes, there was also Curtains, Humongous, and Death Ship, but Valentine was the most satisfying because it contained just the right balance of shocks, grim atmosphere, and occasional, self-conscious nods at the overall silliness of watching goofball characters moments away from being baked in a dryer, turned into a bloody showerhead, pick-axed through the eye, disembowelled, speared, or poked through the booby.

Director George Mihalka also walked a peculiar fine line in going following genre conventions he knew were quite ridiculous, and using gore to thrill as well as unsettle audiences; he wanted realism, but he wanted it to disturb, which is an unusual choice when gore was supposed to make audiences jump and nervously laugh. Valentine is still a fun haunted house film, but there’s a tangible nastiness, as though Mihalka wanted to punish fans by giving them more than they expected.

That decision ultimately affected the film’s final form when its’ then-shocking gore was snipped to ensure it would get an R-rated release, and it’s only now, after the 3-D remake was made, that the closest we’ll get to a Director’s Cut makes it to video via Maple in Canada, and Lionsgate in the U.S..

Valentine was a studio distributed film, which means it’s part of a back catalogue, and we always had a good chance of seeing it widescreen on video. The three aforementioned titles – Curtains, Humongous, and Death Ship – were not, and they remain, like many tax shelter films of the era, orphaned.

For fans of the genre as well as the era, it’s a hunting game to track down TV broadcasts and old VHS tapes of films that have yet to receive a release in their country of origin. Death Ship, for example, was released in England on DVD, and sourced from a BFI print; the fact no one knows where another lies, let alone in Canada, is ridiculous.

So while the hunt goes on (and when sometimes successful, a review will appear), fans should consider themselves lucky that My Bloody Valentine is one of the few Canuck shockers that can be enjoyed on DVD and in widescreen, because its cousins, good and abysmal, more often than not, exist as old and ugly full frame transfers on long forgotten VHS releases, or taped off cable TV in Beta.

Or, as is typical with Canadian films, they get released in the U.S. or Europe, and we have to “import” our own work.


Sounds that Chill

Just uploaded to coincide with Lionsgate's My Bloody Valentine 3-D is an interview with the composer, Michael Wandmacher.

Sure, Rue Morgue did a fabulous job covering the 1981 original (a review of which will be up shortly) and 3-D remake, but what about the mnd that composed the creepy 3-D sounds?

Wandmacher is probably known for Cry_Wolf (2005), one of the composer's few soundtracks on CD, and his latest pair are finally out as well.

The Punisher: War Zone (2008), another score Wandmacher discusses in our interview, is available on disc and as a downloadable album, whereas Bloody Valentine is just out as a downloadable MP3 album from iTunes. (MovieScore Media also released The Killing Floor as MP3 and CD albums, too.)

I'll eventually have the Bloody Valentine soundtrack covered, but for now, check out the intervew and related soundtrack reviews as the shortest month of the year begins, and most of the populace at large is wondering where the heck January went.

(The good news: we're not that far away from spring... just a few more ice storms, chilly nights, and evil white stuff dumped from the clouds, and then we'll be basking in the sun. Uh, yeah.)

Copyright © mondomark