The Unstoppable Tony Scott

Tony Scott used to be a flash but relatively normal filmmaker, but somewhere around Enemy of the State (1998) he discovered ADD editing, and never looked back. More zoom-happy than Mario Bava, pushing discontinuous edits farther than Michael Bay, Scott – the younger brother of Ridley Scott – has managed to maintain his own storytelling style, but with the odd quirky similarity to brother Ridley.

He actually appeared in Ridley’s 1965 film debut, the short Boy and Bicycle, and the two established names for themselves as directors of striking TV commercials before eking out their own careers as film directors.

Both continue to collaborate as producers via their Scott Free production shingle, but it is amusing to see the two evolve into editorially flashy directors when wide visual compositions tended to be their hallmark. Tony still maintains a look reminiscent of glossy commercials, but like Ridley’s obsession in casting one actor (Russell Crowe) in all his films, Tony’s been glued to Denzel Washington.

Tony, however, isn’t obsessed with bloated epics that are released in even longer directorial cuts, not the use of conventional scores or the heavy use of CGI. His filmic world is a fusion of practical and creative, applying film tools ‘like paintbrush strokes’ whether it propels, heightens or utterly ruins a scene involving a car chase, or a character leaving forward to say ‘This is Garber’ into a microphone via 18 different angles with impeccable colour lighting.

Unstoppable [M] (Fox) is one of Tony Scott’s better films, but he’s also the best and worst kind of director to handle a disaster movie about a runaway train.

The good: the trains are real, as is the carnage. The bad: well, read the review.

In retrospect, the project feels like a natural extension of The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 [M] (Columbia / TriStar), the third remake of John Godey’s novel which Scott directed in 2009 that largely dealt with characters interacting around slow-moving or parked trains in the underground environs of the NYC transit system. Unstoppable is all exterior, all moving camera thingies, and characters are constantly chasing trains in sometimes vain attempts to restrain and halt the giant mechanical hulks.

Neither film is bad, but they’re products of a visually over-active mind who can’t tolerate stillness of any kind. If 12 years has pushed him to the current level of editorial shakycam, zoom-happy madness, one wonders where he’ll be in 2024.

Oh, I heard that thought. That wasn’t very nice…

Mark R. Hasan, Editor

Handling the Truth

Investigative journalism isn’t new to movies, but there aren’t many films that balance story, characters, and the thrill of the chase for facts into a fluid narrative which also leaves audiences thinking about serious events or social issues.

Perhaps the first film in that arena that comes to mind is Call Northside 777 (1948), in which crusading reporter James Stewart finds the proof needed to set free a wrongly convicted man whose floor-scrubbing mother was the only person who refused to give up on her son’s innocence.

It’s a rock-solid little drama that’s propelled by a reporter searching for the truth, finding injustice, social prejudice, and the use of technology to transfer facts across the country. A large portion of the film deals with how facts are unearthed, winnowed down to a relevant table, and the whole piece comes together with a published story and a free man.

It’s a template that was similarly applied in Gentleman’s Agreement (1947), in which investigative reporter Gregory Peck pretends to be Jewish to see how deep anti-Semitism ran in perfectly ordinary routes and venues of society, be it hotels, country clubs, restaurants, and social circles.

Flash forward to Ron Howard’s The Paper (1994), and the formula’s been twisted a bit, fused wit a little bit of the brutally funny and absurd cynicism from Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s play The Front Page (later remade a few times as films bearing the original title, and as His Girl Friday). Written by brothers David (Angels & Demons) and Stephen Koepp, The Paper is a perfect blend of melodrama, humour, and absurdism, starring an amazing cast and sporting a solid, dryly humorous score by Randy Newman.

It’s also one of the few movies from Universal’s first foray into DVD that’s in DIRE NEED of a letterboxed release. Call this one a forgotten gem no one remembers. Again: look at the cast.

Also note how Jason Robards is among the ensemble troupe, which may be more than coincidence, considering Robards won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1977 for playing Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee in All the President’s Men [M] (1976), perhaps the definitive and most flawless movie about investigative journalism, and despicable political corruption, as chronicled in the eponymous book by reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

Warner Home Video just released a sparkling Blu-ray edition which sports all of the extras from the 2006 anniversary DVD, but it’s a beautiful transfer that again illustrates the right way to transfer an old film to HD without washing away film grain – a problem that a number of critics have lobbed towards Fox.

One of the reasons The Paper and All the President’s Men go hand-in-hand is because they show some of the technological changes over 20 years, not to mention how things have furthered since the nineties.

Woodward and Bernstein did tremendous grunt work using just notepads, telephones, and scribbling notes and quotes for use in articles – a process that seems weirdly antiquated when we’re surrounded by so many toys designed to do things better, faster, and with video.

It’s easy to see why professors use the film version of All the President’s Men as a teaching tool, because like Woodward and Bernstein’s book, it does inspire journalists to try harder, seek out angles, keep asking questions during the fact-searching treks, and reminds writers there is some dignity and nobility to reporting events.

No matter how cynical we’ve become towards the media, if a subway train is down, workers strike, or a federal minister lies to her staff + cabinet + legislature + country at large (er, the Oda affair neither the PM nor the populace seem to care about) we turn to the media for straight facts, whether it comes from right, left or centrist outlets.

It’s a tremendous credit to the filmmakers that the film version of Woodward and Bernstein’s chronicle of the Watergate scandal remains gripping, because we’re just watching writers think aloud and do legwork onscreen in montages, and a few ballsy long takes. No one does this anymore because our film sensibilities have changed, and yet the film still works.

Watching Robert Redford (as Woodward) make calls and uncover further slime in one long slow-zoom is compelling because of the performance, the content of the dialogue, and the audience slowly comprehending the impact of what’s being hashed out.

It’s smart filmmakers trusting the audience without spoon-feeding facts or crafting bouncy music montages, and like the antique fact-gathering processes of the reporters, there’s much to learn about an older style of direction and writing, because the drama and message still come through lean and clean.

Mark R. Hasan, Editor

Francis Lai & Claude Lelouch I - A Man & a Woman

Anouk Aimee, deep in Yaba-Daba-Da land.

Since 1966, Francis Lai has been Claude Lelouch’s chief composer, and the two may well have broken the record for the longest professional association between a composer and a director.

The current film festival touring of Lelouch’s Ces amours-là / What Love May Bring (2010) marks the 44th year the two creative minds have worked together, so it’s appropriate their musical history is partially sampled in Silva Screen’s latest composer tribute, Francis Lai: The Essential Film Music Collection, featuring 20 themes composed and conducted by the composer.

In 1965, Claude Lelouch was utterly bummed out for making Une filles et des fusils / The Decadent Influence, a movie the director describes as being unwanted by critics and audiences alike. Being its writer, director and producer, he needed to rethink his next project as well as absorb the defeat of making a dud, because his production company was now in financial jeopardy.

Lelouch hopped in his car and simply drove – a tactic which he’d used in the past to clear his mind, sort out issues, and wait for inspiration to hit – and when he ended up on a beach at Deauville, he spotted a woman playing on the sand with a young son at 6am in the morning.

The oddity of such a normal event taking place at a ridiculous time sent his brain into motion, and he imagined a backstory of a busy mother having a small window of time for her child before heading back to the boarding school and leaving for work. With further writing, a script was hammered out, and the story garnered the interest of Jean-Louis-Trintignant, a popular actor whose father happened to be a professional race car driver.

When the actor and director discussed the dream actress who could play the character of Anne, Anouk Aimee came up as No. 1 – fortuitous for Lelouch, because Trintignant was friends with the striking actress.

Filmed on location on Deauville with a core production crew of 10 and using colour and black & white stock to keep the costs down, A Man and a Woman / Un home et une femme eventually did the film festival rounds, and garnered both awards and the attention of international audiences.

The film ultimately won Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Original Screenplay, and Lelouch and Lai were suddenly international names, and in spite of their lengthy careers, not to mention Lelouch’s prolific output, they’ve perhaps become marginalized over the past 10-20 years due to Lelouch’s eclectic, personal stories, and Lai being pigeoned as a composer of romantic schmaltz.

Mention Lai, and one thinks of the corkscrew ‘yaba-daba-da’ title theme from Man and a Woman, not to mention the syrupy Love Story (1970) theme which became a standard on easy listening radio for years.

Silva’s CD offers a sampling of his thematic work, but it’s not unfair to say Lai’s abilities for writing dramatic cues have been overshadowed by his gift for songs. Few of his albums were released in the U.S. after his peak hits, and even if one goes back to his 1966 soundtrack debut, the album itself falls short of the dramatic cues that made the film so affecting.

Lai’s style may also be unique to stories with lyrical character arcs and dynamic relationships, or intimate tales of men and women being emotionally and physically naked in ways American filmmakers would avoid due to a more conservative audience base, and the MPAA ratings.

So perhaps like those filled with biases and ignorance, I started to examine the pair’s work with the 1966 film and found much more than a melodramatic weepy. The skill of Lai’s writing is apparent, and Lelouch is part of the next group of French New Wave filmmakers who absorbed some of the rule breaking methods of the first generation, and expanded the possibilities of impressionistic editing and textured montages.

In terms of filmmaking techniques, Lelouch deserves to be studied as much as Godard and Truffaut, and it’s unfortunate the director remains largely marginalized, as though some historians wrote him off as a poseur or imitator, rather than a pioneer for the next wave of sixties filmmakers in Europe, and America.

A Man and a Woman has also stood the test of time because it’s atypical; the romance begins through an act of kindness, then friendship, a sharing of common life experiences, and it stays in a holding pattern as two adults play careful for the benefit of their children. Then admitted secrets expose common vulnerabilities, and the multi-part ending is filled with potent subtext, which is why the final scene compelled audiences to add their own conclusion or resolution to the couple’s next step.

Lelouch, for whatever reason, decided he needed to explore their lives, but rather than examine the intervening years between 1966-1986, he needle-dropped his curiosity in 1986, initially bringing the two former lovers together before separating them again.

As much as he may have wanted to avoid, his sequel – A Man and Woman: 20 Years Later – was a classic boy reunites with girl, gets girl, loses girl, and reunites again for better or worse – and it ultimately feels like an exercise with earnest intentions gone semi-clichéd.

As I stated at the end of the review for the 1966 film, Warner Home Video needs to revisit both films as a double-billed Blu-ray special edition. With the exception of the sequel, new extras aren’t required (well, maybe an interview with Francis Lai is due).

Why the studio chose to release the sequel only in Europe in 2003 is a mystery, unless WHV felt there was no North America interest in Lelouch, which is nonsense. The sequel recently debuted in Region 1 land as part of the Warner Archives series, but having seen the film, its incredible visuals – much like the cinematography in the original film – scream for a HD release.

See, there are French speaking folks in Canada, and there are aficionados of Lelouch in North America, so there’s no reason why a BR edition isn’t possible, unless it’s that current dilemma of shrinking demand for physical media; if that’s the case, then let the Europeans follow through with a region-free BR double-bill, because I’m sure a good chunk of French film fans would be delighted with any Lelouch film in HD.

In spite of its inherent flaws and weaknesses, the sequel is visually stunning, and I can imagine how much better it would play on a big home theatre screen.

In any event, uploaded is a review of the aforementioned Silva Screen CD [M], plus the original LP [M] of A Man and a Woman, plus the film [M] (released by Warner Home Video in a nice special edition), plus the sequel [M] (released in Italy via WHV’s Italian arm on a gorgeous DVD, albeit lacking English subtitles).

Both films comprise one of the few adult-themed fairy tale romances about the longing between two adults who should’ve given in to instinct instead of fear and ghost emotions from prior loves. If Lelouch’s ’66 film is stripped of its style and music, what’s left is a simple but compelling drama, and that’s why A Man and a Woman is so affecting 44 years since its theatrical release.

It’s just that good.

Mark R. Hasan, Editor

New & Imminent Soundtrack Releases

Here's the latest tally of new and upcoming soundtrack releases on planet Earth, including titles regular and limited, plus a few you totally missed out on because you blinked too slowly.

(Relax, I too missed Les Baxter's Fall of the House of Usher, which Intrada released Feb. 7th. Two specific points related to an argument: it's Baxter, it's a classic Poe film, so why didn't you press more for the other few hundred that wanted the blasted score? I wonder if I have to wait another 25 years to finally get a copy. Ha-rumpf.)

New to the list is nascent DVD label Twilight Time via Screen Archives Entertainment, who plan to release films on disc with film music goodies, such as isolated scores - a special feature pretty much restricted now to the odd indie title (such as Synapse Films' recent DVD/Blu-ray combo of Vampire Circus [M]) or select Fox Blu-ray titles. More info on the series is available via the Film Score Monthly Message Board.



Online only via iTunes and Amazon.com (Soundtracks)

Dead Space 2 (Jason Graves)





Alhambra (Germany)

Hindenburg (Dirk Leupolz)





Anti (USA)

Rango (Hans Zimmer) --- Mar. 15





Beat Records (Italy)

Il cinico l’infame il violento / The Cynic, the Rat, and the Fist (Franco Micalizzi) --- ltd. 1000 copies, Feb.

Notti porno nel mondo n.2 / Sexy Night Reporter N.2 (Gianni Marchetti) --- ltd. 500 copies, Feb.

Roma a mano armata / Brutal Justice – Tough Ones (Franco Micalizzi) --- ltd. 1000 copies, Feb.





BSX Records (USA)

Bounty, The (Vangelis) --- re-recording, 2000 copies

Night Sins (Mark Snow) --- ltd. 1000 copies





Cinevox (Italy)

Giu’la testa / Duck You Sucker (Ennio Morricone) --– 2CDs, Feb.





DigitMovies (Italy)

Albert e l’uomo Nero (Franco Micalizzi)

Il Massacro della foresta near (Carlo Savina)

Roma l’altra faccia della voilenza + La banda vallanzasca (Fabio Frizzi, Franco Bixio, Vince Tempera, Gian Paolo Chiti, Sergio Montori)

Signora Gioca bene a scopa? La (Alessandro Alessandroni) + L’infermiera (Gianfranco Plenizio)





Disques Cinemusique (Canada)

Guy de Maupassant (Georges Delerue)

Musique pour l’ecran (Raymond Alessandrini)





Film Score Monthly (FSM) (USA)

Big Bus, The (David Shire) --- ltd. 2000 copies

Lassie Come Home: The Canine Cinema Collection (various) --- 5 CDs, ltd. 1000 copies

Poltergeist (Jerry Goldsmith) --- 2 CDs, ltd. 10,000 copies

Rich and Famous + One is a Lonely Number (Michel Legrand) --- ltd. 2000 copies





GDM (Italy)

Assassination (Robby Poitevin)

Boccaccio ’70 (Nino Rota)

Che c’entriamo noi con la rivoluzione? – expanded (Ennio Morricone)

Disubbidienza, La / The Disturbance (Ennio Morricone) --- late Feb.

Nuovo Cinema Paradiso / Complete Edition (Enno Morricone) --- Feb.





Harkit Records (UK)

Depart, Le + Bariera (Christopher Komeda)

Green Hornet, The (Billy May)

Mambo in Paris – non-film (Lalo Schifrin)





Intermezzo Media / Mask Records (Italy)

Alessandro Alessandroni: Prisma Sonore --- mid-Feb.





Interscope Records (USA)

127 Hours (A.R. Rahman)





Intrada (USA)

Battlestar Galactica (Stu Phillips) --- ltd. 3000 copies

48 HRS. (James Horner) --- ltd. 5000 copies

House of Usher (Les Baxter) --- 1200 copies





Kritzerland Records (USA)

Casino Royale (1967) (Burt Bacharach) --- 2CDs, ltd.1000 copies, Jan. 18

Dry White Season, A (Dave Grusin) --- ltd. 1000 copies

Fear Strikes Out / The Tin Star (Elmer Bernstein) --- ltd. 1500 copies, early Mar.

Gone with the Wind (Harold Rome musical) --- ltd. 1000 copies, early Mar.

Gorky Park (James Horner) --- ltd. 1000 copies





Lakeshore Records (USA)

Beastly (Marcelo Zarvos)

Blue Valentine (Grizzly Bear)

Drive Angry (Michael Wandmacher)

Faster (Clint Mansell)





Milan Records (USA/Europe)

Oldboy (Jo Yeong-Wook)





MovieScore Media (Sweden)

Amalia (Nuno Malo)

Cool Dog (Stephen Edwards)

Cuckoo (Andrew Hewitt)

Herencia Valdemar II: La Sombre Prohibida, La (Arnau Bataller)

Monster Mutt (Chris Walden)





Music Box Records (France)

L’Incorrigible / Va voir maman, papa travaille (Georges Delerue) --- ltd. 1000 copies





Normal Records (Germany)

Alpha 0.7 (Christopher Blaser, Steffen Kahles)





Perseverance Records (USA)

Death Warrant (Gary Chang) --- ltd. 2000 copies





Quartet Records (Spain)

Harry & Son (Henry Mancini) --- ltd. 1000 copies

Il Peccato / Noche de Verano (Antonio Perez Olea) --- ltd. 500 copies






Bette Davis: Classic Film Scores of Bette Davis (Max Steiner) --- Mar. 1

Citizen Kane: Classic Film Music of Bernard Herrmann – Mar. 1

Elizabeth and Essex: Classic Film Scores of Erich Wolfgang Korngold --- Mar.1

Laura + Forever Amber + The Bad & the Beautiful (David Raksin) --- Mar. 1

Now Voyager: Classic Film Score of Max Steiner --- Mar. 1

Spellbound: Classic Film Scores of Miklos Rozsa --- Mar. 1

Sunset Boulevard: Classic Film Scores of Franz Waxman --- Mar. 1





Silva Screen (USA / UK)

Brighton Rock (2010) (Martin Phipps) --- Feb. 7

Doctor Who: Series 5 (Murray Gold) --- 2CDs

Eagle, The (Atli Orvarsson) --- mid-Mar.

Francis Lai: The Essential Film Music Collection --- Jan. 11

Next Three Days, The (Danny Elfman)

Promise, The (Debbie Wiseman)





Trunk Records (USA)

Primitive London (Basil Kirchin)





Twilight Time / Screen Archives Entertainment - DVDs with isolated scores (USA)

Kremlin Letter, The – DVD with isolated score track --- ltd. 3000 copies, mid-Mar.





Varese Sarabande (USA)

Battle: Lost Angeles (Brian Tyler) --- March 8

Fringe: Season 2 (Michael Giacchino) --- Mar. 8

Ironclad (Lorne Balfe) --- Mar. 1

Largo Winch II (Alexandre Desplat) --- Mar. 22

Ligne Droite, La (Patrick Doyle) --- Mar. 8

Princess of Montpensier, The (Philippe Sarde) --- Apr. 5

Pushing Daisies: Season 2 (Jim Dooley) --- Apr. 5

Randy Edelman: ThePacific Flow to Abbey Road --- Apr. 5

Sanctum (David Hirschfelder)

Unknown (John Ottman) --- Feb. 15

Way Back, The (Burkhard Dallwitz)

Yeux de sa mere, Les / His Mother’s Eyes (Gustavo Snataolalla) --- Mar. 22

Your Highness (Steve Jablonsky) --- Apr. 15





Warner Bros. Records (USA)

Danny Elfman & Tim Burton Anniversary Music Box, The --- 16CD deluxe set + 1 DVD + book, Feb. 15 [non-limited set; does not incl. 17th Bonus Disc with ltd. pre-order set from Dec. 2010]




This handy-dandy list was compiled from various sources, including catalogue announcements at Screen Archives Entertainment, Soundtrackcollector.com, Chris’ Soundtrack Corner, and Intrada.

Mark R. Hasan, Editor

Rituals returns! and other cult DVD news

The demise of Code Red (or rather the company's decision to fold) left a number of announced projects in the air, but two of the label's classic Cancon titles are back on the release schedule of Navarre, to be released in Canada via E1's Vivendi.

Peter Carter's Rituals is on again, with a release daye of April 5, just in time for some spring hunting. Rue Morgue magazine did a cover story on the film (issue 96), packed with pictures and interviews, so maybe this time the special edition will actually hit the street.

One suspects fans will snap it up fast, just in case a vengeful orthodontist from Yorkville pops up from the woodwork and claims 'participating financier status,' and delays the release yet again. Alongside Dario Argento's Door Into Darkness TV series - announced by NoShame, then postponed when the label died, but finally released a few years later via new label Mia - Rituals may be the most delayed cult film on home video.

Plenty of publicty, plus a local screening of the film built up a lot of anticipation in 2009 (yeah, it's been that long), but if the p.r. sheets are reflective of finished product, Rituals will contain a new 16x9 transfer, and audio commentary + on camera interview from actor/producer Lawrence Dane. I guess Code Red's hope of getting Hal Holbrook to contribute an interview for the DVD never materialized, but we've got the Rue Morgue Q&A to fill in some gaps.

Also coming from Navarre, slated for April 12, is The Last Chase, a sort of post-apocalyptic, end of the oil reserves eco chase variant of Vanishing Point (it's all there) starring Lee Majors and Chris Makepeace, plus Burgess Meredith as another grumbly old man. The DVD will sport an audio commentary with director Martyn Burke, and marks one of the last feature film scores by jazz & electronic music whiz Gil Melle (The Organization [M]), whose other Cancon credit is that fantabulous stinker, Starship Invasions.

Also coming from Navarre (April 19) is Marcy, Joe Sarno's 1969 erotic film, and Julie Darling (due April 26), featuring a new HD transfer, and audio commentary and on camera interviews with stars Sybil Danning and Isabelle Mejias. I wonder if the latter release will yield Spasms, aka Death Bite, the other film produced by John Pozhke. Director William Fruet’s cult shocker (“You scream, you expand, you explode. A new source of evil is discovered and is out of control”) is in need of a proper DVD release after kicking around on international VHS tapes for decades.

Lastly, Shout! Factory continues mining the exploitation realm, starting April 5th with Roger Corman's Cult Clasics Triple Feature Action Packed Collection, featuring with Georgia Peaches, Smokey Bites the Dust, and The Great Texas Dynamite Chase, plus undisclosed extras.

On April 12, the label is releasing a double-bill of two out-of print titles: Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry and Race with the Devil. Extras are also undetailed, but the DVDs sport new anamorphic transfers.

Lastly, also from Shout! is The Ernie Kovacs Collection, a 6-disc set to be released April 19 with reportedly previously unreleased material among its 780 mins.

No details as to whether material from a prior 2-disc set released in 2000 by White Star is included, but here are the basic specs for Shout's set:


- Disc 1: The Early Years

- Disc 2: The NBC Morning Shows

- Disc 3: The NBC Evening Shows

- Disc 4: The Late 1950s

- Disc 5: The ABC Specials

- Disc 6: Classic Pieces


Spring is looking good already!

Mark R. Hasan, Editor

2011 BAFTA Winners on Home Video

Even BAFTAs know placing sharp objects near the eye 
can yield unfortunate repercussions.

The 2011 BAFTA Awards were handed out Sunday, and those curious about the nominees and winners can check out the full tally at the organization's website, or at the IMDB (with colour banners!).

The real interest here is which titles are indeed available / soon to be on home video, so below is a list of the nominees and winners in alphabetical order, with links to Amazon.ca.

Titles only available thus far in the U.K. are linked to Amazon.co.uk. (Further information regarding Amazon ads, linked text, and sundry is available HERE.)







Alice in Wonderland

Another Year --- Region2 DVD to be released Feb. 28

Arbor, The --- Region 2 DVD to be released March 14

Biutiful --- Region 2 only

Despicable Me

Exit Through the Gift Shop

Four Lions --- to be released on DVD March 8

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 --- to be released on DVD April 15

How to Train Your Dragon

I Am Love


Kids Are All Right

Made In Dagenham --- to be released on DVD March 29


Of Gods And Men --- Region 2 DVD to be released April 11

127 Hours --- to be released on DVD March 1

Secret in Their Eyes


Social Network, The

Town, The

Toy Story 3

Mark R. Hasan, Editor

Soundtrack Awards & Reviews

This past weekend yielded two awards shows, with the BAFTA’s Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music going to The King’s Speech (Alexandre Desplat), beating out 127 Hours (A.R. Rahman), Alice in Wonderland (Danny Elfman), How to Train Your Dragon (John Powell), and Inception [M] (Hans Zimmer).

In the Grammy Awards, the golden trophy for Best Score Soundtrack Album went to Toy Story 3 (Randy Newman), beating out Alice in Wonderland (Danny Elfman), Avatar (James Horner), Inception (Hans Zimmer), and Sherlock Holmes (Hans Zimmer). The music related categories are available HERE, as well as the full tally of winners.

Just uploaded is a quartet of soundtrack reviews:

Cliff Martinez’ Solaris [M] (La-La Land Records) is a work of art, and I’m not the only one who’s spun the album repeatedly because of its hypnotic and often soothing quality. It’s riveting & mournful, and the composer’s finest work, after Traffic. He’s reportedly reteamed again with director Steven Soderbergh for the upcoming virus thriller Contagion.

Murray Gold’s epic Doctor Who music continues to get the deluxe 2-CD treatment, and fans of Series 5 [M] will enjoy the rich variety of material in Silva Screen’s new set.

Also from La-La Land comes an expanded release of Christopher Young’s Haunted Summer [M] for forgotten director Ivan Passer, and John Morris’ shockingly good music for Gene Wilder’s unfunny Haunted Honeymoon [M].

Mark R. Hasan, Editor

Oh, dear... Ms. Drewe

Nope - Haven't disappeared. The past week's been spent tweaking a novel grant application for next week's deadline, hence the general lag time in getting new reviews up.

The first to be uploaded is Tamara Drewe [M], a promising, teasing visual gem that turns to be just shallow and woefully uneven. Not even the excellent cast have room to expand their limited roles, and at nearly 2 hours, it's a deadly dull film.

Alexandre Desplat's score [M] is nice, but it's unfortunately married to the film's lack of diverity, and depth.

Mark R. Hasan, Editor

2011 Genie Award Nominees on Home Video

My, what big eyes you have, little Genie

This week the 31st Annual Genie Award nominees were announced, with the ceremony to be broadcast live from the National Arts Centre in Ottawa on Thursday March 10 on CBC.

I wonder if the host or a presenter will make a crack or three about digital locks, the monopolistic behaviour of the major telcos (Bell, Rogers), or the CRTC’s approval of metered internet billing which the Harper government is trying to quash because 416,000 Canadians ostensibly said ‘Bell Sucks.’

Possibly, but those wanting the full tally of the Genie nominees (Remember: Genies = Film, Junos = Music, Geminies = TV), the organization has a list in PDF format (see link on this page), and Tribute has them broken up into easier to read categories.

Below is a list of the nominated feature films, docs, and miscellaneous, which are available or are slated for home video release soon (and linked to Amazon.ca or Archambault.ca).

Before we get to that, how exactly did Resident Evil: Afterlife, winner of the 2011 Golden Reel Award, become “the most successful production in Canadian feature film history”?

Yes, $280 million in worldwide sales rocks, but it’s a Brit director with an American cast whose Cancon is probably the crew, secondary actors, extras, and Mike the Muffin Man, who kept everyone smiling with his organic fudge creole muffin tops and Barracuda milkshakes. I guess the investors are happy.



NOMINATED FEATURE FILMS (Fiction & Documentary):

7 Jours du Talion / 7 Days

10 1/2

Amours Imaginaires, Les / Heartbeats


Fubar 2


High Life


Last Train Home

Resident Evil: Afterlife

Shine of Rainbows


Trotsky, The

Wild Hunt

You Don't Like The Truth: 4 Days Inside Guantanamo


Note: Jephte Bastien’s film Sortie 67, winner of the Claude Jutra Award, is slated for a release April 26.


Lastly, those wanting to catch some of the nominees on the Big Screen in Big Sound can check the tally of films to be screened at the TIFF Bell Lightbox as part of Canada’s Top Ten Feature and Short Films, with some panel discussions.


Mark R. Hasan, Editor

Eros II: If It Feels Good, Do It

Yes, that last post was a bit of a downer, but I hope it illustrates why some financial cutbacks toyed by a city have consequences, and what seems like a boondoggle actually provides a needed service when nefarious are easily picking people off for their own lazy kicks.

So, from TTC buses, vintage music players and losers we move on to the latest pair of reviews related to, er, smut – or erotica, which is a much nicer way of saying ‘films that provoke happy responses above and below the belt’ for some.

Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel [M] (Phase 4 Films) isn’t actually smutty, but it’s an amusing, if kind of one-sided portrait of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, the publishing pioneer who helped make it safe for boobery to flourish through the U.S. postal system, and found the right chemical formula to blend the uncanny combination of naked women, literature, comics, art, and essays on social & political topics.

Maybe the art and serious stuff was a teaser for the law – ‘See? We’re a real magazine!’ – but the approach legitimized smut on the magazine stand, even though Playboy and its raunchier imitators were generally placed way back in the nosebleed row of the magazine rack. (I used to work in a book store, and it was a pain removing and restocking the titles.)

Using the mag’s first issue with the famous Marilyn Monroe centerfold picture, there are two straight thoughts in Brigitte Berman’s doc: the image was a rapturous celebration of the healthy female form, or debasing smut, and it’s amusing (to some, like myself) that almost 60 years later, that image which caused a scandal and appalled conservatives is now available via a simple mouse click. (Note: you will see bare boobies if you venture here, so you’d better be an adult in your realm, or at least European.)

Hefner is as iconic as his magazine (not to forget the term centerfold), but where director Berman also stops short is addressing the current problem of the mag’s viability as a print and online publication, and whether the proceeds from the Playboy brand is enough to keep the company solvent for another 60+ years.

Also reviewed is the first Radley Metzger film to be released on Blu-ray.

Fans of the erotic director who blurred the lines between drama and adult-styled content in the sixties and seventies with characters and stories taken from literary sources will be thrilled his films are finally making their way to home video in proper high-def transfers.

Synapse Films made the first real jump around 2002 when they released The Image (1976), which marked the first time the negative of one of Metzger’s films was sourced for a home video transfer. I interviewed Synapse’s Don May [M] soon after that DVD’s release, and he discussed the challenges in convincing the director to loan the negative, as well as be open to really preserving his work.

Moreover, there were probably rights issues that kept the other classic titles away from HD transfers. First Run Features released the bulk of Metzger’s output, and later repackaged them in 3 separate boxed sets. Eventually they went out of print, and Cult Epics apparently picked up the rights to get the ball rolling.

Score [M] is the first of their BR editions (the film’s also available on standard DVD), and it includes Metzger’s first commentary track – a big step to preserving a pioneer’s personal experiences in the exploitation / erotica / art house world during its blossoming period (sorry).

The next titles will be The Lickerish Quartet (1970) and Camille 2000 (1969), which should look incredible in HD after years of generally mediocre DVD editions.

Big hope: isolated score tracks, because Stelvio Cipriani’s Lickerish score has ever been released, and perhaps the tracks for Camille might yield more of Piero Piccioni’s organ-drenched score (even though it did receive a superb CD release via Italy’s Easy Tempo label).

Mark R. Hasan, Editor


Reviews and more standard editorial blather will follow shortly, but in light of the recent developments in possible TTC service cuts, I've pulled out a piece originally written in 2009, and finished it because a personal experience has some slight relevance to the argument of preserving late night bus routes.

News Briefs

On Monday January 10th, local media reported the TTC was considering fare hikes and the reduction of late night bus routes in under-performing areas in light of a cash shortfall. Mayor Rob Ford said he wasn’t happy, as did TTC chair Karen Stintz, and their speeches pointedly repeated the terms “not happy” to make it very, very clear neither was content with upsetting riders still riling over the 2010 fare hikes.

The new increases were to have affected token and Metropass fares, but not cash payments of $3 – poor comfort to the 91% of riders who don’t use cash because the savings lie in buying packets and bundles and passes.

Metropass users, for example, would’ve been slammed with an extra $60 in light of passes going up $5 to a monthly total of $126. (When I was in high school, the Metropass debuted at what was then the crazy cost of $26 per month. Boy, were we being taken to the cleaners back then!)

A day later, Mayor Ford flip-flopped and reversed the hikes, either because the pressure and distaste among the 1 million riders was so pungent, or more than likely it was a litmus test to see how deep lay the rage in users, if not the old P.R. stunt of announcing ‘things are a mess and we have to make drastic choices’ to shock and prep people for the absolute worst, and then follow-up with less severe cuts designed to show a semblance of fairness, rational thinking, and being simpatico with the electorate.

Remaining on the chopping block in January were proposed reductions of 48 bus routes in areas where late night rides were yielding less than 11 passengers per ride.

On Feb. 1, the proposals were modified in that the 48 bus routes would require 10-15 boardings per hour instead of per ride in order to remain active past 1am, with another 19 routes in North York being modified.

This past Wednesday, City Council sifted through the ideas, the complaints, the suggestions and came up with a mellower set of changes, but there are still routes slated to lose part of their late night service come May 1st.

The Leslie 51 bus, which I used when I lived up in North York, was going to be among the affected, but as of Wednesday, the only changes will be a roll-back of sorts to no bus service after 10pm on weekends and holidays.

I no longer live in North York, so any current or future changes no longer affect me, but what follows is a lengthy, detailed, and perhaps windy examination of what a suburban bus line was like before the expansion of service, during its late night expansion (which continues today along Leslie), and the time-wasting subway closures that made the trip home an annoying, chilly winter ordeal.

What follows is also an account of a familiar violent act that occurred to me, and could recur in areas destined to lose their late night bus runs where common thugs tend to worm their way onto the streets after midnight.


In the fall of 2007 I moved from an overpriced home to a basement apartment as part of a consolidating plan. The move was a breeze because it was just a few blocks away, on an eastbound street called Nymark Avenue, which begins at Leslie, at an intersection about two lights north of Sheppard, where the Leslie subway (or stubway, if you prefer) station lies.

My place was close to the Leslie & Nymark intersection. On the north east side lies a busy plaza where I used to gas up my 1991 Honda before the mass of salt the TTC tossed at Finch station corroded her wheel well panels to paper-thin metal.

In late January of 2008, the Honda’s catalytic converter died, and it made no sense to rebuild a rusting car that would only yield another pricey repair, months later. I ultimately sold her for scrap, and started to use my legs again after years of being devoted to The Car.

The only option was the TTC, whose subway I already used to make the night shift, taking the trains either from Finch or Leslie station to get to work downtown.

Because the Leslie 51 bus came at an erratic 15-20-40 mins. intervals in the afternoon, I'd just walk the distance to the subway station. Everyone always moaned the route’s vague arrival times, and cab hailing was actually quite frequent, because it wasn’t unusual to see two northbound buses pass us with not a single southbound in sight.

For myself, work finished at midnight, and with no car to drive home in a blink of an eye (less than a 10 mins. drive home), the alternative was the bus, except in early 2008, the Leslie bus ran until 10:46pm weekdays, and there was no Sunday nor holiday service in spite of that street having its own subway station – which for anyone living downtown, sounds stupid.

Broadview station, for example, is a vital hub to several lines that turn east and west north and south of the city, and it’s an important link for locals who head into the city each day.

Even though the Leslie bus started to run late past 1am in November of 2008, I had gotten used to the boring 15-20 mins. uphill walk from Sheppard to Nymark.

I listened to music I had to review that week and was rewarded by some modest cardio benefits, plus I discovered calf muscles grow if you use them twice daily, so there were decided perks to being Without Car.

Once, on a rainy day, a bus driver slowed down and asked if I wanted a ride, but I declined (“Are you sure?” he carefully asked). I figured it just seemed silly to take the bus for 2 stops. I was asked again not long afterwards during a snowstorm, but again declined because the street looked rather pretty, with white flakes dusting past the streetlamps, like a picture-perfect moment from a movie scene. The walk home was particularly affecting when listening to tomandandy's opening cut for the film Right at Your Door (2006), a sometimes ethereal electronic score about a bomb blast in Los Angeles.

Not long afterwards, about once a month I started to see a mass of police cars pouring past me, often emanating from the Grado and Adra Villaway townhomes, a public housing complex probably built in the seventies. I think the record count one time was 7 police cruisers, which was pretty startling.

Then one night in January of 2009 – a year after the car had died – I was walking home along the same lonely stretch I'd been using for a year, listening to Atli Örvarsson's Babylon A.D. album (a classic case of a score transcending the mediocrity of a film) and thinking of a faraway friend when I heard shuffling sounds from behind me, and two figures dressed in pitch black winter gear grabbed my arm and started shouting “No! No! No!” followed by “Give me the laptop! Give me the laptop!”

I’ll skip the emotional reaction and stick to the basics at this point.

The lead punk grabbed my left arm and kept insisting I hand over the computer, while the second punk hovered around in case I bolted. The first punk kept motioning his free arm in a cutting motion to my face. I thought it was a knife, but after a few closer glances it looked like the muzzle of a pea-shooter. It might have been a real gun or some old metal toy kids like me played with in the seventies, because there was some frayed paint on the tip.

Or maybe it was real?

I waved to an approaching car, but the driver kept on cruising. There's little doubt he saw and knew what was happening, unless he was some twit yapping on his phone, or texting to someone an important message, like maybe 'They were out of #&$% milk! Got skim instead. Satisfied???'

The lead punk was getting nervous about potential oncoming traffic, so when he shook harder I gave him the wallet from which he took out $10-15 cash, dumped the rest of the contents onto the snow, and took the heavy bag which also had my vintage Rio MP3 player.

I yelled as they ran across the street and disappeared into the black alleys of the townhouses - a pristine black hole where they completely vanished.

For a few minutes I hoped one of those police cars would pass. At the Nymark & Leslie bus stop, a TTC driver asked if I was alright. I shouted I’d just been mugged, and then bolted home to call the police.

Perhaps 10-15 mins. later I was riding back to the scene of the crime with an officer, and found about 5 police cars packed against the curb, and one officer bringing out a dog. I showed them where the incident occurred, and they made note of the boot prints, and to where the punks fled.

The police attempted to cut off likely / known exit routes, called up known names and visited a few homes, but found nothing resembling my bag nor its contents.

After an hour it was clear they had little chance of catching the punks, and the lead officer was getting pissed off, undoubtedly aggravated by the fact the faces of the two muggers were covered, and I wouldn’t be able to identify them.

As a suspect, I was useless, but I figured calling the police and getting the offence on record was important, and if they managed to catch the two, all the better.

While I was sitting in the cruiser, I was surprised that my memory of the event was getting fuzzy from the stress, the angst, and the worry of what to do tomorrow night on the trip home. When I asked the officer about walking home again, he advised against that, and suggested the bus or taxi.

According to the officer, between Sheppard and Nymark, in addition to parts of Nymark, about once a day someone is mugged. Usually at night, usually an immigrant, often Asian because of the stereotype of carrying cash and electronic toys, and the assumption that deep shame will ensure no one will admit what happened to the police.

The officer referred to the muggers as young punks; I prefer scum, because they have no societal value, and managed to acquire things using intimidation, violence, and an almost fool-proof system that’s frustrated police for a while, and up until January of 2008, hadn’t led to a solid conviction.

Now, the punks didn’t say ‘Or else’ or threaten to kill me, and besides some shoving and holding my arm, there was no other violence, although you wonder what would’ve happened if I attempted some kind movie reflex.

The muggers succeeded because of victim fear and the element of surprise, and the environment also yielded some advantages.

From the front, the townhomes look small, modest, and extend a short distance, but they actually penetrate quite deep to the edge of a ravine that is littered with the cast-off goods by muggers.

I would’ve liked to have retrieved my bag – some story and article notes I’ve been compiling were inside – but it seemed risky; neither myself nor the punks would’ve likely recognized each other, but maybe I would’ve resembled a potential thief, snooping around private homes.

In the daytime, the area is a neatly manicured area with kids, busy backyards, and a verdant ravine that eventually expands south of Adra Villaway, with a large hill and huge trees sloping down to the water’s edge, while a narrow paved trail snakes to the bottom.

If you stand at the north west corner of Leslie and Sheppard, certainly in the summer, it looks gorgeous. The intersection sits over the ravine, and the street level is almost level with the tree tops.

In summer, the area is smothered with green leaves from a variety of trees (some with apples) and shrubs, and it’s heavily packed with birds – a great nesting place because of the tall trees and obvious food in and around the ravine.

Diagonally across from that intersection and at the top of the hill sits Leslie subway station, where there’s a car park, and across the lot is where the IKEA van picks up patrons.

A pair of Canada geese often claimed a patch of the TTC garden by the parked cars as their own, and the last summer I lived there, the honking water fowl decided to nest atop the nearby chiropractic clinic for more security.

Prior to the mugging (circa 2008), I had walked home, through all four seasons, and never experienced anything, even when passing the odd walker with a slice of pizza, or one particular nitwit who talked to his shrink about a paranoid episode.

At night, I strode fast because I knew northbound Leslie Street bisected two income areas: the public section on the west, and the middle-to upper tier on the east, with their deep backyards flanking the sidewalk.

As is typical of suburban developments, streets are dotted with orange-coloured street lamps and tall backyard fences. Large mature trees also dot the sidewalks, but they also block the lighting on the east side in the summer.

On the west, one only sees the dimly illuminated sides of townhomes, and between Marrowyne Drive – the last street on the east – and Nymark Avenue, the east side of Leslie is one long stretch of sidewalk, with pits of blackness.

Back in the eighties, the south west corner of Finch & Leslie was known by some of my classmates as an easy place to get drugs. My landlord’s cousin added that while he was waiting for his girlfriend at the north east corner plaza in 2008, a guy rapped on his car window asking if he wanted drugs, and was puzzled when his business offer was refused.

Once in a while you’d hear someone got shot at the little plaza, where the restaurant Jerusalem used to be before the owners perhaps got fed up, and moved to Nymark Plaza.

Just as weird for the area was one night in the summer, months before the mugging, when some woman on a cycle kept following me and said something like this:

‘Scuse me sir, but my friend’s been in a terrible accident, and he’s been taken to a hospital and I need cash. I left my wallet in the ambulance with him, and if you could help me with cab fare, I can give you my Master Card, and I’ll pay you back.’

To a pre-teen, this sounds like steaming, acrid bullshit, so when I expressed my disinterest in her scam, she rode off ahead, looking for another sucker for the dumbest scheme I’ve ever heard.

Moving On

The day after the mugging, I made a point of walking to Leslie station because I wanted to see the area in daylight where the punks disappeared.

Late that night, I rode the Yonge train homewards to Sheppard station, took the ‘stubway’ to Leslie, and then sat in the station. Two guys were periodically checking me out. One talked on his phone, while other seemed to keep looking at me, and while I was reading a Metro newspaper, I kept thinking, ‘Is it them? Could they be the ones?’

When the bus came roughly 35 min. later, the driver glanced at the two strangers, and said to me, ‘I bet those two were making you nervous.’ (I'll explain in a moment why the driver and I shared a high degree of candor.)

During rush hour, Leslie station is busy, but dead quiet in the evening. At 12am, few people get off; those that do often walk home because the bus comes every 20-30 mins. There is no one manning the street-level entrance, nor the upper level automatic entrance. One night a kid rode his bike off the subway, sat on his bike as the escalator carried him to the top level, and he rode to the turnstile and pass-backed his Metropass to another kid he’d been talking to on the phone.

When I used to drive home from Leslie around 12:25am, a few TTC workers would be in the process of finishing off a night shift, and the stench of cigarettes would waft into the station, passing the ‘no smoking’ placards on the walls. Regardless of what the rules state in red and black ink, smoking is allowed on TTC property, as long as it’s out of sight.

The bus driver whom I saw virtually every night from January to around March was a veteran, and he was the same fellow who offered me a lift on that rainy night – not due to the bad weather at the time, but the punks down the street that were known to pick off night shift walkers now and then.

He said he’d been shot at, and had also seen the police cruisers now and then, leaving the townhouse complex dejectedly in a caravan when their efforts to catch a mugger(s) didn’t succeed.

According to the driver, the area Leslie bisects is known for muggings, and some of the thieving scum used to aggravate the Peace Lady who lived in the ravine behind the townhomes, flanking part of a green belt that helps horny raccoons migrate and copulate on summer nights. (Incidentally, the sounds of Raccoon Sex are akin to a shrill pair of cats being beaten to death with a baseball bat. It’s the ugliest thing you’ll ever hear in your life. Worse than ABBA and Celine Dion.)

Over the few months I took the bus home, I saw a few regulars, including a quiet guy who sat a few rows back, and a young girl working temporary night shifts.

I was known as ‘the guy recently mugged’ and the event served to promote a bit of related and time-passing chatter until the bus stopped at Nymark. There never was a problem walking home from Nymark to my apartment (less than 5 mins.), but the driver once refused a lady’s request to ride the bus around the northern tip of the route, citing prior suspicious activities.

By February, a TTC cleaner started working Leslie station, so that added some comfort and chatting activities, because my trip home became longer when the TTC found it wise to shut down the north-of-Bloor Yonge line at 12:30am.

Actually, 12:30am was utter bullshit, because even though you may have hopped on a train at Bloor and pulled into Lawrence station at 12:22am, the managers were under orders to kick patrons off the trains. Many muttered complaints to the waiting staff – “It’s NOT 12:30 yet!” – but all the managers could do was refer them to the TTC’s complaints line.

My routine to get home usually went like this:
  1. kicked off the train
  2. run like hell up the escalators and stairs to the bus bay to be first in line for the buses
  3. when the bus pulled into Sheppard, run like hell down the crumbling steps, shut off escalator, and up a ramp to the north platform in the hope of making a waiting train because they came far less after 12:30am.
When the TTC were still trying to implement the shuttle bus system, the odd ‘last train’ that made it as far as Sheppard station didn’t guarantee a faster travel time home, either.

You’d run up the stairs (an activity specifically frowned upon by management), and sometimes the train would be on the south platform, sometimes it would arrive but be out of service, sometimes a train would unexpectedly arrive on the north platform, and you’d have to run a marathon down stairs, down the platform, up the stairs, up the ramp and into the train because the tunnel going over the tracks was already blocked off. Pro-active pre-planning at its finest.

Once I was dependent on the bus due to the mugging, I’d have to wait at Leslie station, whose upper bus platform reaches below zero temperatures because of the louvers above the windows and broken automatic doors.

Sitting on one of those two-seater steel benches in Leslie’s drafty bus terminal for 35 mins. was awful, but at least I could sit. Most riders along the Sheppard line are aware there are 2-3 steel benches per platform, offering 4-6 seats, which apparently reflects an operating philosophy wherein no more than 4-6 people are ever in need of a seat among 30,000 peak period riders.

Even better, though, was the night a bus almost didn’t come. I waited from 12:25am to 1:20am, checking the time stamp on the transfer dispenser, and there was no announcement or anything. I just had to sit and wait in the cold, empty station hoping a bus would come instead of trying to hail a cab in snowy weather in deepest darkest North York. One did eventually pull in, and the driver explained someone had called in sick, and the replacement never showed up.

When the Yonge trains were shut off “at 12:30am” and we had to take shuttle buses from Eglington instead of Lawrence, the whole process of getting home went like this:
  1. subway from Bloor to Eglington
  2. shuttle bus from Eglington to Sheppard
  3. subway from Sheppard to Leslie
  4. bus from Leslie to home
Total travel time pre-mugging, pre-subway closures: about 50 mins. After all that crap, about 70-75 mins., and this is to a house on a main street connected to a subway station bearing its name.

When I had the car, I was home within 30-35 mins. That’s what The Car gives you, and why people like it: it saves them time.


When used to drive home from Finch station, I remember passing the odd figure on Finch Avenue, walking home alone along the bottom of the valley between Bayview and Leslie, and I’d remark to my Honda (whom I nicknamed Sweetheart), ‘Promise me you’ll never break down, because I don’t want to be that guy, walking a long isolated stretch in -25 degrees.’

Funnily, there was an incident that now feels like karmic payback. One night I though I saw two guys in dark winter clothing roughing up someone on the sidewalk in that valley. I drove on, hoping it wasn't a mugging, and just thinking about getting home, seeing how I neither knew the exact specifics of that odd behaviour, nor had a cell phone to call for help. Not long after that, I was the guy waving to a passing car.

Someone once told me of a trip home to Sherbourne and Bloor one night. He found himself suddenly surrounded by punks who demanded his money, and no one bothered to help, even though passersby heard his pleas. Shit happens all the time, just like the old man robbed in the subway by two scumbags, and no one pressed the help line. during the assault.

Now, the Leslie 51 bus takes a patchwork of routes which few of the bus drivers care for, because once they hit Leslie at Eglington, the start to enter the long, dark sections of North York.

The regular driver certainly felt ‘looney lefty’ Mayor Miller was wasting taxpayers’ money for bus routes taken by less than 4 or 5 people, but those people used the service because it was the only alternative to a cab ride on top of a TTC fare. I figure one month’s worth of night rides home via cab would’ve added an extra $100+ to my Metropass. At $200-225/month, I’d be better off driving a car again.

I no longer live in North York, but that bus route was a lifeline when I was doing long commutes for late night shifts. There are riders aggravated by the subway closures (with a seemingly murky end date), and in spite of the reprieve of sorts for the Leslie route, there are others facing the reduction of service riders depend on for time, for money, and for safety.

I was lucky in never being robbed during the year I walked home, but after the mugging I depended on that lone bus ride for safety, and each time I stepped on and off the bus, I respectively greeted and genuinely thanked the driver – for working a shitty route for the benefit of myself and the handful of people. Each driver knew the passengers were better off inside than on the sidewalk.

You could call that dependency on a ride as living in fear, but try this for size: every day you have to take that long walk home at night. To the west are the dark alleys of townhomes where predatory scum watch the patterns of pedestrians, traffic, and police patrols, and to the east are he high-fenced backyards of large upscale homes with mature trees dimming street lamp illumination.

No one can see you, no one will hear you, and even if you outrun them, there’s tomorrow, and next Tuesday, and next Friday – working nights that will have you walking down that same isolated stretch, and passing through the same sweet spot for mugging, where the distance to the next major streets north and south is identical, and long.

The police are fighting crime in similar areas, and I’m sure my muggers’ brethren will be particularly happy that Miller’s bucket of sloshing gravy will no longer run so freely in May of 2011, now that Team Ford is on patrol.

Regardless of where you live, if your bus link to getting home safely is set to be cut, you have to voice your concerns to the TTC, its chair, and the Mayor. Even an allowance for one bus per hour until 1am provides a small measure of meaningful security.

The Leslie 51 may have been left largely untouched because the density is changing due to several condos being built near the station, close to IKEA, and the venerable Canadian Tire store. It's either a case of maintaining transportation infrastructure for an increasing in density over the next 5 years, or servicing the middle class.

In May of 2009, Shawn Micallef wrote a fair piece in Eye Weekly regarding the development, the obvious natural beauty of the ravine, and the public housing complex that’s been denigrated over the years because of a few rotten punks that perpetuate violence and give the area a bad rap.

Mine is a banal little crime story and means nothing, except it’s an indication of what I would still face if I lived in that location and service times were knocked down. Those bus routes were extended in the fall of 2008 because they run through some seriously underserviced areas, and I bet most are worth fighting to retain.

As for the residual emotional impact from the smooth heist managed by those two punks, on the one hand, the joke was on them: they didn’t get a laptop, but a bag leadened with Zip-loc food containers and a stainless steel Thermos for tea. Their take-home pay was $15-10 bucks cash.

My physical losses were a few papers, and a vintage Rio MP3 player that I had to replace via eBay for $130.00.

Emotionally, the nightmares went on for a few months - the usual waking up in shock, the brain replaying the worst aspects of the event as well as tormenting you with what you could and should have done had you possessed any guts - and there were colleagues who though 'You should've fought back.' Whatever. I did what I could in the moment, and no one got hurt, but there are lasting effects that influence where and when I walk, how fast, and the possible virtues of my new steel Thermos.

Maybe the muggers reformed themselves or occasionally laugh about the good scares they gave without actually killing or maiming anyone, but I don’t care. I don’t forgive, and being a writer, whether the creative offshoot of the experience emerges in prose or in film form, their fates won’t be so neat and clean.

Mark R. Hasan, Editor
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