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Showing posts from February, 2020

One More February Movies Post

The Call of the Wild (U.S. 2020 ) This tall tale directed by Chris Sanders is the latest of many versions ostensibly inspired by the 1903 Jack London novel.   The main character is a large canine named “Buck”, apparently some kind of splotchy brown-and-white St. Bernard/Shepherd cross.   Actually our furry hero is created through computer-generated technology and motion capture (by Terry Notary) as are the other critters (husky sled dogs, wolves, a bear …)   Buck goes from being a one-dog wrecking crew to being dog-napped and traded for duties from Alaska to Yukon during the gold rush.   His first new owners are dog-friendly—an unlikely pairing of a supposedly francophone black man “Perreault” and vaguely Inuit-looking woman “Françoise” doing a mail route by sled—though Buck has to overcome their jealous dogteam alpha male named “Spitz”.   Then the route gets cancelled and Buck is acquired by a greedy gold-seeker (Dan Stevens) w

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”.   Bu

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 legendar

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 r