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Showing posts from February, 2020

Last February Movies Post

In this post I review 6 new films including a Canadian feature as among the best. The Traitor (Italy/France/Germany/Brazil 2019 Veteran Italian director and co-writer Marco Bellochio’s sprawling crime drama is based on the actual life of Tommaso Buscetta (strikingly played by Pierfranceso Favino), a key member of the Sicilian “Costa Nostra”, who had moved his family to Brazil when several sons were murdered by rivals (during the internecine mob wars over control of the heroin trade an on-screen body count clicks past 150).The flamboyant Buscetta, no stranger to killing, became known as “the boss of the two worlds”.But after being arrested and tortured—there’s an especially harrowing scene where his wife’s life is threatened—he was extradited back to Italy where in the 1980s he became a protected key witness in a famous series of anti-mafia trials, although he continued to regard himself as a “man of honour” not an “informant”. Buscetta forged a …

Post-Oscars Movie Update

First, about who and what got Oscar valentines (for all the winners see:  I was so thrilled by the triumph of the South Korean Parasite as best picture (as well as winning best director for Bong Joon-ho, and original screenplay along with the expected best international feature).  Parasite topped my own list of the best films of 2019 (  It had won the prestigious Cannes festival’s Palme d’Or.  But past holders of that distinction were rarely even nominated.  In the age of Trump and “America First”, it’s the first best picture for a non-English language, non-American movie in 92 years.  [*Only one other Cannes Palme winner has gone on to take the top Oscar prize—that was Marty in 1955-56, but it was an English language American movie.]  I was also relieved that 1917—my least favorite among the 9 nominees (although its legendary cine…

First February Post: Two Arts Docs and a Doc Fest Preview

First February Post on Two Arts Docs and a Doc Fest Preview 3 February 2020
Chaakapesh (Canada 2019 trailer: Directors Roger Frappier and Justin Kingsley record the remarkable collaboration that took place during 2018 between the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and Indigenous artists resulting in a new work that traveled to Indigenous communities across Quebec’s northern “Nunavik” region.The title comes from the original composition, an opera “Chaakapesh: The Trickster’s Quest”, with a libretto by Cree playwright Tomson Highway and music by Matthew Ricketts.An underlying theme is that of mutual cultural encounters and musical expression as a means towards reconciliation.Symphony conductor Kent Nagano stresses this point.Of Japanese-American ancestry, he could pass for an Inuit elder.Highway refers to the role of laughter in the Cree mythology of the divine, absent from the gendered Christian concepts with which he was raised.One performer Florent…