Two-Lane Blacktop

Sideline from movies today..... Reading the Globe & Mail this morning, the lead editorial was about the RCMP and how that can't seem to get their shit together these days. Somethings never change it seems because completely by coincidence, my old pal Brad relayed a great story last night, partly about the Mounties, from 15 or 20 years ago. Most of you are too young to remember, but in the mid '90s there were a couple of murders in Caledon, ON, followed by the abduction of two young woman in BC, all perpetrated by a creepy nut job named David Snow from around Orangeville. They captured him in BC and he was subsequently tried and locked away forever. A year earlier, Brad had rented this guy an apartment for a few months and so knew Snow in a casual sense. A friend of Brad's, a complete wild man named Darus had had business dealings with Snow and around the time he was arrested in BC, the RCMP wanted to talk to Darus about Snow's movements in the previous months.

I only met Darus a couple of times but I don't think I ever laughed as hard as I did when he was around. He was, without a doubt, the most bizarre person I'd met to that point (Remember, this is pre-Reed days). Half cowboy/half Newfie-drunk, he spoke (and as it turned out, also drove) at 300 miles an hour and lived life right on the edge. Around the time of the Snow arrest, he'd coerced Brad into driving out west with him to Vancouver in his bright red 1980 Cadillac convertible. Brad's job was to continually feed Darus beers out of a huge cooler in the back seat because they were “driving straight through” - no unnecessary stops. They pissed in empty beer bottles, cranked the Dwight Yokum cassette as high as it would go, aimed west and drove at a 100 miles an hour straight across Canada in less than 3 days, stopping only for gas, junk food and smokes. Oblivious to the fact that the RCMP had issued a Canada-wide alert to find Darus, the two of them barreled across 4333km of Canada, 3 sheets to the wind in a 35' long candy-red Cadillac with I'm a Honky-Tonk Man playing on repeat at 600dB. Brad said Darus would slow down to around 80 MPH in cities and towns, but beyond a half dozen pit stops to take on fuel and drain this piss bottles, it was straight on through to the Vanishing Point with the needle floating up around 100.

In this case, the Mounties never quite got their man. Once Darus had sobered up in Vancouver, he read in the newspaper about Snow's arrest and that he was wanted to assist the RCMP in their ongoing investigation. He and Brad wandered into the RCMP office in Vancouver to see what all the fuss was about, with Darus announcing rather loudly on his arrival, “What do ya need boys? I just blew into town and I feel like shit”. The Mounties nation-wide dragnet hadn't snagged Darus and Brad, in spite of the fact that you could hear and see them from space and there was only one road that they could have been on..... the Trans-Canada. Not the force's most shining moment.

Who knows how much of this story is true but it's just the kind of thing you'd expect from Darus. Brad lost touch with him over the years which is too bad. He's probably got some great new stories to tell.


Eastside story.

One unbearably humid midsummer evening we foolishly decided to get together at my small un-air conditioned abode and take in some films broken up by our other hobby, drinking beer. Of course we don't simply quaff pints and watch movies, we've simply far too many opinions for that. We taste and critique, watch and analyse, like good snobs should.
Upon arrival Jules immediately de-shoes which after a 5-hour shift at Film Buff East smells somewhere between a ripe Stilton and hot garbage. The good news is he has a heavy looking bag and this week the beers are courtesy of him and his last trip over the border to Buffalo.
It’s my movie pick this week and I’ve gone for To live and die in L.A., a William Friedkin flick starring Willem Defoe as a counterfeiter. What can go wrong? Jules cracks the Unibroue ‘Quelque Chose’ dark/brown ale with cherries and we drink it over ice. It is sour, fruity, cold and cancels out Jules' feet immediately.
The movie starts really well. Great cinematography and music and there are a few killer montages of Willem Defoe screen printing cash in a warehouse. Counterfeiting is such a fascinating subject and showcasing some insider techniques is always gonna win the audience over. He ages the bills he makes by putting them in a laundry dryer with poker chips, dope!
We’re all enjoying it. I’m secretly thinking “This is going straight into my top 10 movies” and Joe reckons the woman on screen is one of the most beautiful he's ever seen, we discuss.
Next up is a sour cherry lambic from Brouwerij Drie Fonteinen in Belgium. It’s oak aged but Jules ensures us it’s “ache oajed”. The film is widening it’s net of intrigue as we’re introduced to the police tracking the counterfeiting ring. They are always one step behind. And sometimes they get shot, not good.
Just as we are dipping our eager proboscises into a super weird "Red & White" malt beverage from Dogfish head brewery I notice this man:
Apparently, you may recognize him from current CSI but I've been fortunate enough to never see him before. His name is William Petersen, he plays one of the main cops hunting down the counterfeiters and he is about to drop nuggets all over this film. He hails from the school of daytime TV soap actors and has all the on screen charisma of a genital wart. His presence is bothering me, must keep drinking. Our final beer is a Yeti Imperial stout from great divide brewery. It tastes like gravy filtered through the charred remains of a narcoleptic arsonist.
I can only think that Friedkin had only pitched the first half hour of the film and thought he would blag the rest. We’ve all lost interest. What am I doing here? By now Jules is drunkenly yabbering between extended stints of choking or coughing. I’m already home so I can’t leave. I wonder what Kris is doing tonight. I fall back on my old faithful, Cameron’s auburn ale and drink into oblivion, it was a beautiful evening, in a way. To be continued...


Kick-Ass (2010)

With the comic book sludge Hollywood has been squeezing out there's only one thing a film based on a comic you can be guaranteed of: it's gonna make a shit load of money. Yet Kick-Ass is unique as a comic based film because it failed miserably at the box office. Is it the caliber of the film that caused this or simply because it wasn't in Imax 3d? Only time will tell.

Kick-Ass is based on the comic of the same name by writer Mark Millar the same guy who wrote Wanted. That may make you balk at Kick-Ass but you have to remember that Wanted the book was leaps and bounds ahead of the film. Instead of bending bullets (which doesn't happen in the comic) the book focuses on what it would be like to be a super-villain. It's dark, shocking, and downright mean very unlike the film.
Kick-Ass is also a shocking and dark tale of a nerdy comic book obsessed high school kid who takes it upon himself to actually become a superhero. What makes the story unique and worth a read is that it's rooted in reality. This kid gets his ass handed to him by bigger, stronger, and dangerous people but he has heart. It also makes for a good commentary on society at large and our celebrity obsessed lifestyles.

Kick-Ass the film however, fumbles with this idea and instead is your typical superhero movie. Directed by the relatively green Matthew Vaughn, who has helmed two pictures before this; 2004 Brit actioner Layer Cake and 2007's well reviewed fantasy flick Stardust, the film extracts the more depressing elements and conclusions of the book and replaces them with some good ol' Hollywood schlock.
My feelings after seeing the film was that the film lacked many engaging points and I felt left behind as a viewer.

Shortly after, I came across Roger Ebert's scathing review of the film and really thought if the film was as morally bankrupt as he claims. I didn't see the moral bankruptcy in the book, is this because the book is cartoon violence; did I believe in the character motives so strongly, or am I turning into something terrifying?

By a stroke of luck I saw Kick-Ass again as it played after a double bill in a drive-in. This time I was ready for the film. All the times the story veered off Millar's original vision became less annoying and I began to watch the film as just simply a superhero film. Kick-Ass plays much like Raimi's first Spider-Man, the first half focuses on a regular Joe (not our irregular Joe) training himself to become a hero and the latter half finishing the arc by having him become that which he wants to be.
The film is bright and full of colour. The scenes are lush spectacles giving the film a sense of other-worldliness. It also helps that Kick-Ass probably has the best score I've heard in some years that propels the film into it's own grand scale reality.

This time around I absolutely adored the film. Chloe Mortez is the stand out as Hit Girl, an 11 year old assassin with action scenes that play like a kid version of Kill Bill only here the scenes may be a bit bloodier... if that's possible. The protagonist Aaron Johnson does his job well as narrator and nerd turned hero. Christopher Mintz-Plasse took me a little while to get into (try as he might people will always remember him as Mclovin', seriously typecasted) but he makes the most of his turn as Red-Mist and ends the film on a high note. And then of course there's the man of the hour Nicholas Cage bringing in my personal favourite performance of the film as Big Daddy. A batman looking superhero complete with yellow utility belt and Cage giving his best Adam West impersonation. The only problem here is that Cage isn't in the film enough to let us enjoy the West persona which is too bad. Andy Garcia is the villain a mafia boss.... sorry I meant Mark Strong plays a mafia boss out to finish Kick-Ass. Also, Clark "I look like a lesbian and make internet jokes" Duke is in the fray, thankfully away from all the good stuff like a horrible side of mixed vegetables you don't wanna let touch your roast beef and mashed potatoes.

Millar's book took into account the harsh reality of what it would take to be a superhero and ends his story on a low note.
Vaughn's picture gives us a high flying hoo-ray of a conclusion that keeps the film from feeling real.
For me the most interesting thing about these two versions of the story is that the cartooned comic is a far more depressing realistic tale than the live action film which feels like a cartoon.

Is Roger Ebert wrong in his review? Well, I'm not gonna be the guy to disagree with the Herzog proclaimed "soldier of cinema" and I agree that morally the film lacks a sensitivity chip. Most of the customers who are going to want to rent this are likely going to be from the under 18 camp. The film is sold as a fun action romp with little kids killing adults and even from the cover art I'm sure many parents will be conned into picking this up for their precious little ones. The film is a heavy R, not only for the blood and gore but the strong language, nudity, and sexuality. And for once I agree with the rating and don't think anyone under 16 should give this one a go. The message will definitely be lost on the young ones and instead just come across as a colourful collage of extremely violent images that are all coupled with positive results. I can only imagine the implications it would have on an impressionable mind, then again i was watching Reservoir Dogs over and over by the time I was 12 so who am I to say?

While I much prefer the Millar cautionary tale of the horrible world we live in, Vaughn's Kick-Ass is so embracing of society with its flaws and insanity that it comes off as a well delivered satire. The happy conclusion of the film here isn't possible in our reality but in the realm of cinema of course it is. It takes the usual outline of superhero films and instead of stripping it bare and "Nolanizing" the world to make it feel real, the film uses the grandiose storytelling of the Superman films while keeping one foot grounded in reality enough to blur the lines between fantasy and real life. At first glance the film may not sit well and seem offensive but look again and you'll see a film that is such a well crafted satire that maybe the film itself isn't aware of it.

A fun action romp that is miles ahead of Iron Man 2. Out on DVD, Blu-Ray, and on our shelves August 2nd.

only YOU can stop me from kicking your ass


Just Five Things About Serving Ice Cream...

5. Parents who force their children who actually haven't learned to speak English yet. order their own ice cream when there is a line-up out the door.
Hoisting the child in the air, with the little creature invariably leaving his DNA all over the glass, the parent encourages the child:
"Tell the man what kind of ice cream you want?"
Kid looks at you, then looks away in shyness because even it knows how ridiculous this is going to be.
Parent insists:
"Go on, tell the man what kind of ice cream you want."
Finally, after the child has been air-lifted for a matter of minutes by its crotch, it opens its mouth:
And then the parents looks at you as if you should understand.

4. Questioning the Pricing.
"Can I try the Crunchy Frog?"
"Hmmm.... (looking around) Can I try the Watermelon?"
"Of course."
"Hmmm... Oh that's sweet. What's in the Peanut Butter Chocolate?"
"Excuse me?"
"Can I get a baby scoop in a waffle cone with two flavours?"
"Why not?"
"Because it costs 3.25 to get two flavours, and an extra fifty cents to get the Waffle cone."
"But I will pay 1.25 and get two flavours in a waffle cone."
"I don't think that is on the menu."
"Well, why not?"

3. Getting blamed for your scooping technique.
"Can I get my kid a large Espresso Ice cream cone?"
(Really you want to give your kid Espresso Ice Cream...?)
The parent passes the cone to the kid, who you see begins to wave the cone in the air like a samurai sword.

2. Can I get the same but...
Boyfriend: Could I a scoop of Love boat in a Waffle cone?
Us: Yeah, sure. (Scoop) Here ya go.
Boyfriend: Thanks.
Girlfriend: Ummmmmmmmmmm...... Can I get the SAME?
Us: Okay -
Girlfriend: But can I get Chocolate and -
Us: In a Waffle Cone as well right -
Girlfriend: Ummmmmmm.... Yeah - no - a regular cone - actually just in a cup, but can I also get a scoop of Rocky as well?

1. Hurry-up, and wait.

Child and a parent, (again). The family walks in and instantly:

Parent: Okay. Hurry up and make a decision.

Kid looks around, bobbing around the front of the ice cream display.
Not ten seconds have passed and the parent is going beat red in the face, and his shoulders are rising to meet his ears in rage.

Parent: Come on! What would you like? Make a decision or we're going home.
Child: Umm -
Parent: Come on! Just make up your mind!
Child: But the pink one -
Parent: Did you want the pink one or what?
Child: What kind is the pink one?
Parent: It is Chuckberries!
Child: Chuck - ?
Parent: It is Strawberry! Okay it is Strawberry - would you like Strawberry?

It has been seriously less than a minute now, and the parent's asshole has begun to tighten, and his eyes are going red and I swear flames are going to shoot out of nostrils and burn his child.

Child: What's a college fund?

Parent is now looking like Chernobyl, and we're still under a minute thirty.
Child decides; turns out to be one of the nice ones.

Child: Can I please have a cone of Atomic Chocolate?
Me: Of course.
Parent: Thank you. Finally!

I pass the cone, which I have put a touch extra on.
Now, it's the Parent's turn.

Me: What would you like?
Parent: Ummm... is the Mystery Flavour Mango Sorbet.
Me: It is.
Parent: Could I try a little bit of that?
Me: Sure. (Waiting) Do you know what you would like?

The IP Crowd

Ip Man (2008)

Ip Man is a highly-acclaimed martial-arts action flick from 2008 starring the world's most boring action superstar Donnie Yen as Ip Man - who, in his later years, became Bruce Lee's master, mentor and teacher. Focusing on Ippy's life prior to and during the Sino-Japanese war (1937-1945), this handsomely mounted period epic is in the Once Upon A Time in China vein. A huge hit in Asia, the film garnered a dozen or so nominations and took home the best picture award at the Hong Kong Film Awards. It isn't perfect and plays fast and loose with some historical facts, but if you're in the mood for a cool martial arts flick you could do far worse than this one. The Ipster's Kung Fu is strong.
Post Script: Apparently in 1945 the Japanese surrendered to the Chinese because the Ipilator kicked a Japanese General's ass in mano-a-mano combat. No mention of the American's gigantic atomic bombs (and to whom the Japanese actually surrendered, according to my round-eye propaganda-ladened history books), but if you're willing to forgive a little Sino-supremacy and reworked history, ass-kicking fun is to be had here. Once again, forget the politics and focus on the fu.


Disco Sucked

Saturday Night Fever (1977)

Spurred on by my recent Clash of the Titans Bee Gee's-as-Gods Photoshop exercise, on Friday night I revisited Saturday Night Fever after about 3 decades. SNF is one of those films where nostalgic recollection seems to have have all but eclipsed the actual narrative of the original film. The pulsing disco soundtrack, general kitsch associated with the era and John Travola's subsequent career oscillations have overshadowed the despair and grit contained in this surprisingly provocative and unsettling film. If you can manage to strip out and look past the disco duck, SNF is a relatively engaging and rather downbeat look at a '70s youth subculture. The language, mood, dark sexuality and violent brutality of the film's main characters is real throw-back to the brave world of '70s film making. The populist horseshit we are force-fed these days simply sucks in comparison. Can you imagine the Jonas Brothers taking turns gangbanging Hillary Duff in the back of a car in an R-rated film made about club dancing these days? No, me neither. Current pop culture is bland, safe, boring and corporate and it's a bit of a shock when you see what it used to be like. Rewatching SNF all these years later was a real eye-opener to what has been the slow devolution of pop culture into the turgid stew of mediocrity it's now become.
Still, I'm glad it's not still 1977 either. Those clothes were simply ludicrous. 


Shrek 4

Green Zone (2009)

Paul Greengrass's Green Zone is a sort of backward-looking thriller about the lack of WMD's found in Iraq after the 2003 invasion. At the risk of undermining what was actually a pretty good cat-and-mouse action flick, I'm getting bored with the idea that individuals are invariably at the intersecting points of all American missteps. In this case, it's an interim government hack (played by the always-forgettable Greg Kinnear, and I mean that in a strangely good way that I can't properly explain) charged with the post-invasion occupation of Iraq. What bugs me about this kind of film is the proclivity scriptwriters have for inserting a single bad guy who's overstepped his authority to take the place of (and fall for) a hawkish government and warmongering people. It smacks of oversimplification and hypocrisy. It might make for good copy and movie scripts but Green Zone is just too black and white to be taken seriously.
This is Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham stuff and serves to deflect criticism away from the systemic failures of the American people and their institutions. It might be naïve to ever expect, but a truly honest American film about Iraq has yet to be made. This one scratches and sniffs around at accountability, but never quite has the balls to place blame where it belongs... which is squarely in the hands of Americans themselves. Forget the politics and treat this as Bourne-lite in Persia and you'll have same fun. Thankfully, Paul I-can't-hold-the-fucking-camera-still Greengrass reigns in the jackhammer tripod cinematography a little bit this time and it makes the process of watching Green Zone less headache-inducing than his last few films.
And what gives with Greengrass always picking scripts where we all know the outcome?  


Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)

If you are going to see a film entitled Hot Tub Time Machine you should probably know what to expect. I have found it odd that some who see this movie dislike it so. Not to say HTTM is an exceptional film, in fact it does not reach its full potential but nevertheless, this one is a few notches above average.

The movie is about three aging friends whose lives are in miserable states. Their marriages are falling apart and they hate their jobs. When one of the guys tries to commit suicide the other two decide that something needs to be done and they all plan to head up to a ski lodge they used to frequent when they were younger. Instead of it being the raucous hay day of yesteryear it turns out the skiing town and lodge are barely standing and our three heroes are pretty much the only people who check in for the weekend. Instead of letting this depress them more they decide to make the best of it and after a heavy night of inebriation in a hot tub they wake up to find themselves in the year 1986.
To everyone else around them they look like their 1986 selves, younger and with bad haircuts. They must find a way to get back to the present while still living out their 1986 teenage lives.

The film had me chortling throughout the duration. Rob Corddry's hair metal loving Lou is incredibly hilarious and easily this is the best work he has ever done. While the humour through out the film can be crass and at times the script relies too heavily on genital and homophobic based jokes, the most memorable laugh out loud moments come from the actors themselves. There are many unexpected deliveries by the cast that really hit the funny bone.

What should have been the most ingenious casting call of the year with John Cusack as the lead is instead a somewhat wasted opportunity. The world has not had a time travel comedy since the 80's and here we have a time travel comedy that is not only set in the 80's but the leading actor is an 80's film icon. The film would have benefited from more references to 80's nostalgia especially references to 80's cinema. Cusack should be channeling himself from Better Off Dead or Say Anything and although some of that classic charm does shine through the cracks he doesn't let loose enough to recapture that presence he once had. Also when the main characters look into mirrors and see their younger selves why the hell didn't the filmmakers superimpose images from Cusack's 80's roles instead of hiring an actor who slightly resembles him. It's been over 15 years since Forrest Gump, that technology must have come down in price since! To hope that there would have been a reference or parody of Cusacks most iconic scene involving a stereo from Say Anything would be asking too much.
The film does use it's setting to good effect and the overall feel is somewhere around Revenge of the Nerds meets The Hangover. It is too bad though, that the filmmakers did not use the freedom of such a strange idea to make a nostalgic piece on 80's teen comedies but played by older actors now that would have been a fantastic movie.
Not to say the idea here is completely squandered, there are some great cameos by Chevy Chase as well as Crispin Glover and the soundtrack hits all the right notes except for an impromptu rendition of Black Eyed Peas "Let's Get Retarded" which could be taken as a vague Back to the Future reference.
The script could have been much stronger and Clark Duke could have been written out completely. Less emphasis on dick and gay jokes and more on 80's nostalgia and this could have been one of the best comedies of the past ten years.

Laughs or no the film itself is much more entertaining and engaging than The Hangover. The cast including the supporting roles, minus Clark Duke but especially my celebrity crush Lizzie Caplan, really make this one. A fun comedy that is definitely worth a look.


Losers isn't, but Cop Out is.

In the mid-nineties, Kevin Smith was one of the defining American cinematic voices of a generation. Clerks ('94) and his more-mainstream followup, Mallrats ('95) were fresh, inventive and vibrant works that explored the disconnected melancholy of the Gen X cohort with wit and verve. His next (and in my estimation, perhaps best film), Chasing Amy ('97), was an interesting continuation of (and extension upon) the themes he'd plumbed in his earlier projects, leading one to believe that Smith's subsequent film output might just follow the ebbs and flows of his generation as they grew into middle age, mortgages and maturity.

It happened.... but not quite in the way you might have expected it to. Somewhere around Dogma ('99), the wheels came off the Smith-mobile. Not to put too fine a point on it, but Kevin Smith stopped making interesting films right around the same time that the entire generation he had been chronicling since their late teens stopped being interesting. It wasn't Smith's creativity that fizzled out, it was the source material he depended upon that dried up. Instead of finding a voice and defining themselves, a goodly portion of the Gen X generation turned out to be lazy, stupid people who are perfectly content going through life without an original, interesting thought in their heads. Rats, and it was going so well.

If we travel up to 2010, Smith's latest film Cop Out, starring Tracy Morgan and Bruce (I-need-a-new-agent) Willis, is a sort of quasi-acknowledgment of the depressing fact that most of Smith's generation have morphed into iPhone-app dullards who play World of Warcraft 7 hours a day and communicate in word-sounds and txt bursts about where they're going after they finish work at Starbucks. Smith's later films have nothing to say because neither does the rest of his generation. In many ways, Smith's mid-career output parallels that of Orson Welles. Welles also started with a 5-year creative burst and then pissed away much of his immense talent on works of dubious merit for the following 25 years. Here's hoping Kevin Smith has a Touch of Evil left in him too because if all that's left in the tank is more Cop Outs, he might as well just stop making pictures now.

That said, not every movie needs to be a deep, spiritual or grandly intellectual experience. Movies can be dumb and still be great. What movies shouldn't be is background noise. The 'turn off your brain' contingent are about movies that don't engage on any level, that require no participation from the viewer, and that disappear completely from your mind the moment the credits roll.

Every now and again a movie slips into the mix that is completely engaging without actually being any good. Losers ('10) directed by Sylvain White and based on the DC/Vertigo comic-book series from writer Andy Diggle and the artist Jock, is just such a picture. This one nearly slipped under my radar this month and that would have been shame because, as comic book flicks go, Losers is competent and a lot of fun. I've been down on comic flicks recently because they tend to cast a long shadow over the industry and eclipse pretty much everything else. Between Dark Knights and Iron Men, (and a healthy dollop of Avatar), the DC/Marvel output has dominated mainstream American film making for a couple of years now and it was starting to get a little tiresome. Losers repositions the comic book movie back where it belongs, squarely in the slightly-giddy boyhood world of escapist fantasy. The participants seem completely aware that they're not creating high art but they haven't reduced the whole affair to camp either. As a result, Losers is a nicely balanced, PG-rated summer action flick that's easy to recommend and surprisingly engaging if you go in with your expectations in check.



Dropkick finally watches Double Indemnity (1944)

In order to save my job (and my dignity) I finally made time for this much praised noir classic. Some people say this is the definitive film noir and maybe that's true. I'd like to think that with film noir being such a hard to define genre for so many that maybe noir is relative to the viewer. While being a terrific film and a definite must see for anyone who is as silly as me and has yet to see it, it isn't the definitive genre piece. It's not the end all and be all of film noir, at least not to me. That tittle belongs somewhere between Blast of Silence and Le Doulos.

Still, the story is fantastic. Instead of the usual noir protagonists of killers, thieves, or hard boiled detectives the story here follows an insurance salesman. While making a house call about auto insurance he meets the wife of a wealthy older man. Before the salesman knows what hit him he falls in love with this woman. She convinces him to take out a life insurance policy on her husband and then kill him to collect. There is a double indemnity clause in the contract which means that if it's an accidental death the recipient of the insurance gets paid double what they are owed. Needless to say this is one well woven tale of deceit, murder, and greed.

The plot is intricate yet not as hard to follow as say Kiss Me Deadly. Barbara Stanwyck has got to be the best femme fatale I've ever seen next to Rita Hayworth a la The Lady from Shanghai. Stanwyck whose looks at first i found odd had me drooling by the end of the film. The cast is adequate but Edward G. Robinson stands out as the street smart, fast talking, always without matches, insurance man Barton Keyes. Fred MacMurray plays the headstrong insurance salesman Walter Neff who is our protagonist. Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler write MacMurray gold, but he lacks the bravado of many other great performances of the genre. He does have a terrific voice but his range seems a little stunted. Glenn Ford in The Big Heat gives us a strong male lead with depth, Allen Baron in Blast of Silence portrays a stone cold killer who is deeply flawed and emotionally unbalanced, and even Ralph Meeker in Kiss Me Deadly gives us a protagonist that's hard willed yet full of charm. MacMurry here lacks charm or depth and his flaws don't go beyond what the script tells us. He doesn't convey his inner turmoil as much as I would have liked. Although he picks up the slack in the most emotionally tense scenes.

If you say you're a fan of film noir and have yet to see this one well stop telling lies and get to it. A terrific film not just by film noir standards.

"How could I have known that murder could sometimes smell like honeysuckle?"


Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)

Street art has been a rapidly growing movement in the last 20 years. The idea is to utilize public spaces for artful expression. Street artists push the boundaries of graffiti to new heights by not using spray paint to "tag" an alias on a hard to reach place, they instead display pieces of various mediums intended to evoke a reaction out of the common passerby. Many themes have been explored through street art, however the movement is most effective and controversial when pieces carry a social commentary.

I personally know very little about street art. I have heard of "Bansky" and have seen some of his more prolific work (only through a computer or television screen, of course). When the documentary was announced I wasn't as excited as say Tom was, and I doubted very much if I would ever see this film. On a whim I decided to head down to the Toronto Underground Cinema to check out something on celluloid, I originally intended to catch an Australian neo-noir called The Square but arrived too late for the screening. Instead of biking home defeated I decided to stick around and check out Exit Through the Gift Shop, which was highly recommended by one of the managers of Toronto Underground Cinema; Alex Woodside. Thank the film Gods I stayed because Exit turned out to be (and pardon me if this comes across as hyperbole) one of the best documentaries I have ever had the pleasure of viewing and not only that but it was also one of the best movie-going experiences I ever had.

It's a film that is impossible to talk about if you haven't seen it. I can tell you the basic plot that is revealed simply by looking up a listing or reading the back of the DVD box when it eventually hits our shelves (hopefully! Looks like a September release.). The film starts with footage captured by a French man named Thierry Guetta who lives in California and owns a vintage clothing shop. Once he acquires his first video camera he quickly discovers a new obsession with recording his everyday life. He brings his camera everywhere recording mundane and unspectacular events such as brushing his teeth and using public restrooms. Through his obsessive lens he makes a chance discovery while visiting his family in France. He walks upon a cousin of his creating "street art" in his basement. His cousin is about to become the famous street artist "Space Invader" and Theirry is about to film him do it. Our cameraman becomes very interested in Street Art and meets other big names in the movement through his cousin, the artists all come to trust Thierry while he films them under the belief that he is a filmmaker who is making the definitive Street Art documentary.

Along this journey Thierry realizes that there is one important street artist that has eluded his camera; Banksy. Banksy is the most mysterious and prolific of all street artists, his pieces have made major headlines countless times with controversial works such as placing his own artwork among the collections of various New York art museums and painting various images on the Israeli West Bank Barrier. Like a child rounding out his baseball card collection Thierry seeks out Banksy, only problem is no one knows who Banksy is or how to get in contact with him.
Lady luck smiles upon Theirry and brings the two together, however, when they finally meet Banksy decides to flip the camera on the cameraman and the film takes a turn.

Exit Through the Gift Shop much like the Street Art movement itself breaks as many conventions as it possibly can and pushes the idea of what a documentary is and can be. The film follows many themes and never stays in one place long enough to put your finger on what exactly it is. For awhile it feels a lot like a skateboarding video going from artist to artist showing them in the act of creating their works, then it plays like an introspection of self and where our drives and dreams can take us, and then it turns into a film about the disenchantment of modern art. The film is continuously taking on new forms until finally your mind is blown.

Perhaps my feelings on this film are more rooted within my overall viewing experience than I would like to admit. This was my first time watching a film at Toronto Underground Cinema, I sat alone in the spacious theater. The movie-house was filled with other like minded viewers who were guffawing, yelling and applauding at the same moments I was. When the lights came back on I shook my head like a dog in the rain trying to get free of the spell the film had me under. I walked out with the rest of the procession amidst others who were smiling and talking vigorously of what they had just witnessed. When I reached the lobby Alex asked if I had enjoyed the film and he could tell just by the look on my face that I had. He then led me across the street from the theater and pointed to a space on a brick wall on the side of a building and said "check it out". There painted among the brick was a bona fide piece from Banksy. The Toronto night seemed to expand in depth and meaning in the moments I stared upon the painted rat. The film I just walked out of had just entered my real world, it had just reached out of the screen and appeared physically in front of me. Alex and I then went for beer and talked about the film and street art for the rest of the night.
I hope that my enthusiasm for this film doesn't make anyone approach this film with skepticism or raised expectations. Like Banksy himself says in the opening shot of the doc "It's not Gone With the Wind, but there's probably a morale in there someplace." This film somehow displayed both the best and worst aspects of art. It's riotously funny, informative, completely engaging and a mind fuck all in one.

Highly recommended.



This life celebrates its 23rd birthday.  Congratulations on a job...done.


Cauliflower Flavour

Half Way There......

A big thank you to all of you who have manned the scoops this summer thus far. It's been a busy season and we appreciate all of your efforts. By my calculations we have crested the half way point of our traditional ice cream season so it's closer to the end than the beginning, if that helps.
It could be worse......


Just saying.