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Showing posts from 2020

August Civic Holiday Viewing Update

I’ve finally been back to my favorite independent Ottawa theatres, the ByTowne and the Mayfair, with precautions and limitations (mask-wearing, distancing and a 50-person audience maximum). But let me start with streaming suggestions from Netflix which already has over 36,000 hours of content to which it is constantly adding. Dark (Germany, three seasons 2017-2020, 26 episodes, Netflix) A- I only discovered this title recently but it appears to have been Netflix’s first original German series, concluding with the final season released in June. Although extremely strange as well as dark, the production is of high quality. The setting is the small German town of Winden in the shadow of the twin towers of a nuclear power plant.Linked to that facility is a spooky cave with subterranean passages storing barrels of radioactive waste and, more importantly, a time-travel portal on which is inscribed the Latin phrase “ Sic mundus creatus est” (“Thus the world was created”) Scenarios affecting mu…

A Mid-Summer Viewing Menu

Cinephiles mourned the loss of the great Italian composer Ennio Morricone who died at age 91 earlier this month, especially remembered for his iconic film scores for the Clint Eastwood “spaghetti westerns” of the 1960s and for “The Mission” among other classics.Also on the music front, although my last post was quite critical of the Netflix series “The Politician”, the best thing about it is to have introduced a wide audience to Ben Platt who has the title role.Platt, who has been on stage since childhood and became a Broadway star, is a supremely talented musician, singer, and songwriter.Check out the Netflix special Ben Platt Live from Radio City Music Hall, a fantastic performance, immensely appealing and candid, recorded last September. As the “politician”, Platt’s character is determined to become president. So my favorite Platt quote is: “I’m counting the days until Trump is just a stain on history …”.On the acting side, Platt has joined an 18-year project by master filmmaker Ri…

More Online Viewing Options -Canada Day Edition

The already vast amount of streaming content keeps growing. Some is on established specialty TV channels like HBO.I’m grateful to it for showing the wondrous 2018 Quebec feature Une Colonie (A Colony), from first-time director Geneviève Dulude-De Celles, which has garnered numerous awards including best film at the 2019 Canadian Screen Awards. I remember watching “Perry Mason” as a kid with Raymond Burr in the title role.Check out HBO’s new 8-episode version with Matthew Rhys as “Perry” and Canadian Tatiana Maslany as “Sister Alice”.Also just arrived on HBO is David France’s searing Welcome to Chechnya (https://www.welcometochechnya.com/) about LGBTQ persecution, particularly deadly in this ravaged Russian province ruthlessly ruled by Putin’s chosen strongman.Amid harrowing scenes France observes the courageous work of activists in rescuing endangered individuals and getting them out of Russia (Canada is a noted country of refuge).This is guerilla-style filmmaking at its finest. Here’s…

More Viewing Options into the Pandemic Summer

I’ve raved about the German series Babylon Berlin on Netflix.Thanks to Hugh Finsten for pointing me to other terrific German series on Crave: Deutschland 83 and Deutschland 86. The New Yorker’s Richard Brody alerted me to free screenings available on the Tubi platform (https://tubitv.com/home).There are 18 films by German master Werner Herzog. (I caught up on the anarchic Even Dwarfs Started Small from 1971 and the absurdist 1977 feature Stroszek.).Included is Aguirre: The Wrath of God, among my 2018 book’s 20 greatest films of all time. Influence (Canada/South Africa 2020, available on CBC Gem and documentary channel) B+ Directed by Richard Poplak and Diana Neille, this probing exposé of the dangers of public relations manipulation was one of the HotDocs selections picked up for broadcast by CBC in May. The villain of the piece is Timothy Bell, head honcho of the firm Bell Pottinger.Clients on the right included Margaret Thatcher and Chile’s Pinochet.But the firm also worked for post-So…