Category Archives: Our Best Shit

A sampling of our favourite pieces that we’ve written. Isn’t it nice that even the worst movie can inspire something great in response?

If you’ve got a favourite that we missed, please let us know!

Da 5 Bloods

The Vietnam War. Yeah, we all flinch at the words. As a Canadian, I actually didn’t learn about this in school as we were “non-belligerent” (what a term!) (also, we were busy learning about our contributions in WW2, a war America remembers fondly by screaming at random Europeans “we saved your asses!” but Canadians remember as the war we joined immediately because we “thought Nazis were bad” and America ignored for two whole years because “Nazis were maybe okay” and finally joined when “something bad happened to us, on our soil.” Ahem) and I was born long enough after it that there was already a hit Broadway musical about it. But we can’t help having absorbed quite a bit about it, through pop culture of course, and by sheer proximity to our war-mongering neighbours to the south. I knew that it was a tough war because many Americans came to oppose it, which was probably the right attitude, but it meant that a lot of returning vets didn’t get the respect they deserved or the help they needed – which is an American hallmark, actually, by no means exclusive to the Vietnam war. And I knew that bad shit had happened there: we called it the My Lai Massacre; the Vietnamese call it the Son My Massacre, but either way you slice, it meant that 500 unarmed civilians – men, women, children, babies – were slaughtered by U.S. soldiers. Women were gang-raped and their bodies mutilated, as were children as young as 12. When their cover-up was eventually busted, 26 soldiers were charged with criminal offenses but only Lieutenant William Calley Jr. was convicted. Found guilty of killing 22 villagers, he was given a life sentence but served only three and a half years under house arrest. And for me, the Vietnam war was oddly muddled up with hippies and their peaceful sit-in protests and with civil rights and their peaceful marches. And historically, that’s correct. Some were putting daisies into guns for peace and others were being sent to war, and those things were happening concurrently but not equally. Young black men were being sent to Vietnam in disproportionate numbers while young white men could easily avoid it simply by attending college: Bill Clinton deferred once for college, Joe Biden and Dick Cheney each deferred 5 times. And if staying in school indefinitely wasn’t your bag, your wealth and privilege could work for you in other ways; Donald Trump avoided the draft 4 times with educational deferments but the 5th time Uncle Sam came calling he out and out dodged it – his father called in a favour from a Queens podiatrist who wrote up a false diagnosis of “bone spurs” even though he’d been found physically fit to fight just two years prior and has since said it just “healed up on its own” with no treatment necessary!

Anyway, black civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr., were opposed to the war for exactly this reason. Once again, black men were being asked (well, told) to serve their country, and there weren’t any colleges or doctors writing bogus deferrals for them. They were asked to protect the freedoms of people in other countries when they still didn’t have that at home for themselves. They were called up in greater numbers of course, and were a higher proportion of combat casualties in Vietnam, and African American soldiers encountered bigots in their ranks, discrimination in the field, disadvantage when it came to promotions and decorations, and fewer services if and when they returned home. That’s a whole lot to untangle, but have no fear: Spike Lee is reaching back into the baggage of his righteous anger, and he’s not afraid to tackle these iniquities.

In Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods, Norman (Chadwick Boseman), a soldier in 1970s Vietnam, tells us “War is about money. Money is about war. Every time I walk out my front door, I see cops patrolling my neighborhood like it’s some kind of police state. I can feel just how much I ain’t worth.” Spike Lee always ends up sounding prescient in his films, but his trick is simply having the temerity to acknowledge that the patterns in our shameful history march on today.

Many years later, four Vietnam vets, Paul (Delroy Lindo), Otis (Clarke Peters), Eddie (Norm Lewis), and Melvin (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) return to Vietnam to repatriate the body of their fallen comrade and 5th Blood, Norman…and also the pile of gold they stashed along with him. Now surely worth millions of dollars, you might guess that this buried treasure is not going to bring out the best in even the most devoted of brothers in arms. Greed, guilt, nostalgia, regret – these we understand, but Paul’s motivation is particularly murky. Unabashedly sporting a MAGA hat, prone to racist outbursts, he’s convinced himself that he’s doing this for Norman’s honour. But propelled by fury, by a barely-restrained rage for the many ways he and his African American servicemen were vilified for their role in Vietnam, that pile of gold bricks starts to feel like reparations. And this recovery mission starts to feel more like one of revenge – against an enemy that Paul can no longer distinguish.

Delroy Lindo’s performance is the sun around which all the other planets orbit, and like all bright balls of fury, Paul is flirting with supernova. And for his part, Spike Lee has of course never been known for his reticence. As a director, he’s prone to flourishes, allowing Paul’s stream-of-consciousness mutterings to morph into a rousing monologue, staring down the barrel of the camera, staring us down, charging us with his passion and urgency. Lee splices the story of his 5 Bloods with real life footage – Muhammad Ali’s conscientious objections, the Kent State massacre, the Black Lives Matter movement (yes, his film is once AGAIN that prescient, he’s taking the pulse of America right from the jugular, right from its crushed windpipe, his alarm and his agitation a perfect reflection of today simply by being unafraid to hold an honest mirror up to the ugliness of yesterday). His script stresses the cyclical nature of the violence without letting anyone off the hook. Spike Lee’s strength as a filmmaker has always been his point of view, his authorial voice resonating backwards and forwards through time, the immediacy of his plea undiminished.

Da 5 Bloods is as potent as anything Spike Lee has ever done, and possibly the boldest feather in Netflix’s cap. The film is visually arresting, the aspect ratio in constant flux as we travel through time (and our four main actors embody their characters in both timelines, a choice I can only assume is deliberate since Netflix has proven willing to splash out for de-aging, perhaps a nod to these men wanting and needing to believe they are still heroic, still capable, still virile, or a symptom of having glorified the time in their heads, and wanting to recapture that now, before it’s too late). But most of all I admire Da 5 Bloods as an allegory for reparations. Not even an allegory, really, but a template what financial amends might look like and how we can begin to take the next steps forward.

The Package 🍆

Three buddies are going on a camping trip. Sean (Daniel Doheny) is back home for a brief visit during his semester abroad in Germany, so his two best friends, Jeremy (Eduardo Franco) and Donnie (Luke Spencer Roberts) are anxious to spend some quality time with him out in the woods, drinking whatever booze Jeremy’s fake National Guard ID can buy them. Just one small catch: Jeremy’s twin sister Becky (Geraldine Viswanathan – the breakout star from Blockers) has recently been dumped so now both she and her friend Sarah (Sadie Calvano) will be crashing their boys’ trip.

Simmer down though, because this is all besides the point. The point, as you might begin to glean from the title, is that after a 6-mile hike into the remotest part of the forest, Jeremy accidentally cuts his dick off. His friends save his life, find the penis, and get himgn-gift_guide_variable_c successfully airlifted to a hospital…but the next morning they discover they’ve sent the wrong cooler along with him, and his beef whistle is still on site. Knowing reattachment has only a very small window, they set out on an adventure to get “the package” to their cockless friend, and they’ll meet up with some very turbulent, often very gross times along the way. Though it’s insensitive of them to complain about it since poor Jeremy is sitting in the hospital with a hole in his crotch, mourning the loss of his beloved flesh flute.

Is this a good movie? No it is not. Sean made me watch it and I think his own yogurt gun should sleep with one eye open, for fear of retributive justice. I realize I am not a high school boy, but it turns out my tolerance for snausage humour is uncomfortably low. Limbo low. The limbo bar is so low that you couldn’t get your average-sized pecker under it, that’s for sure.

This movie is trying so hard to make me laugh and failing so miserably I kind of grow to resent it, nay, loathe it while watching. I was tempted to abandon the old trouser snake after the first 10 minutes, because I knew I’d already seen the best and the worst. But you must stay at least long enough to see the main event. Because if you’ve never seen a baloney pony flying through the air, you haven’t lived. So you could wait for your next family event, leave alcohol and knives lying around in abundance, and start up a game of truth or dare and see what happens, fingers crossed. OR, you could put your Netflix subscription to good use for once. The stakes are low, the purple-headed soldier in question isn’t related to you, and if it doesn’t work out, you can sleep snugly with the knowledge that this guy should never have had the ability to procreate anyway. Not that I’m promoting willy amputations as a service to humanity. I’m just saying, maybe sometimes it’s not the worst thing. There would certainly be fewer movies like this, at any rate.

Star Wars’ Awkward Droid Problem

Solo introduces us to a brand new droid named L3-37. She’s Lando’s copilot, and very likely his better. L3 is a rare female droid in the Star Wars universe, and it’s implied that she and Lando have perhaps a certain kind of chemistry, and maybe even a romantic past (when Qi’ra wonders how that would work, L3 saucily replies “Oh it works,” like she already knows).

But L3 is a new kind of droid in more ways than one; she’s an uncomfortable reminder of what place droids occupy in the Star Wars universe. They are slaves. Despite the fact that they have advanced intelligence, autonomous thought, complex emotional reactions, and notions of self-preservation, they are still bought, sold, and owned by humans.

L3 is passionate about droid rights. When Lando brings her to a bar that “doesn’t serve her kind”, she seeks out a pair of droids being made to fight to the death for https-blueprint-api-production.s3.amazonaws.comuploadscardimage784659ad75d8e1-0f84-4f36-8dd3-455fd47c811cthe entertainment of humans, and counsels them to make a run for it. But despite L3’s and Lando’s status as co-pilots if nothing else, she is subservient in the relationship. He directs and she follows, with or without her consent, and when she gives back as good as she gets, he threatens to wipe her memory, which makes their relationship uncomfortably unequal.

So it’s no wonder that L3 is concerned about equal rights. But if L3 is bucking against oppression, who are her oppressors? Yeah, that’s where things get dicey. Her oppressors are our heroes. The Skywalkers are slave owners. How well does that sit with you? Droid subjugations has mostly been background noise until now – sure these charming sentient beings are treated like property, but they never seemed to mind much. Right?

But L3 is shiny, sassy proof that droids are self-aware enough to yearn for freedom, and smart enough to demand it. Repeatedly. L3 leads a rebellion of sorts in a mining colony – she emancipates the droids who are literally kept in shackles, which leaves very little doubt about a droid’s ‘personhood’ in the galaxy.

Solo doesn’t address the slavery of its droids, and it treats L3’s protest as a funny subplot. The very fact that L3 is female gives her advocacy parallels to feminism, and in the middle of the #metoo movement, that can’t be an accident. But by treating it so lightly, what exactly are the film makers trying to tell us? Nothing we don’t already know – even in the time of Rey, the likes of poor BB-8 are still following their masters around.

L3 was a big part of what I enjoyed about Solo: A Star Wars Story, and I think she deserves to have her advocacy live on in Star Wars canon. I don’t necessarily think there was need or room to address all of these issues in a fun, spunky movie like Solo, but this is an interesting can of worms to have opened, and I do hope someone follows up.

 

Marvel’s 10th Anniversary: A Yearbook

I feel a little bit dirty even saying this, but Marvel Studios has recently celebrated its 10 year anniversary, which began with Iron Man back in 2008 and culminated with Avengers: Infinity War only recently. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has comprised 19 films in the past decade, which has made it the highest-grossing film franchise, bar none.

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For those of you who maybe got a little lost along the way:

Phase One – Iron Man (2008), The Incredible Hulk (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010), Thor (2011), Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), and Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)

Phase Two – Iron Man 3 (2013), Thor: The Dark World (2013), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Ant-Man (2015), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Phase Three – Captain America: Civil War (2016), Doctor Strange (2016), Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017), Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), Thor: Ragnarok (2017), Black Panther (2018), Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Nineteen! Anyway, Marvel thinks 15 billion dollars is worth celebrating, so they’ve gathered all the actors responsible for our comic book fetish into this class picture, which you’ll need a magnifying glass in order to appreciate (luckily, with not one but TWO Sherlock Holmes among the cast [Robert Downey, Jr and Benedict Cumberbatch] those should be easy to get your hands on).

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In order to do a little celebrating of our own, the 3 Assholes got together to vote on yearbook superlatives for our favourite super heroes.

Best Eyes:

besteyesHey, we all picked from the same movie!

 

Best Dressed:
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 Class Clown:
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Most Athletic:
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I wondered who really had the edge here, so I took to Twitter to find out what popular opinion is. Out of 41 people surveyed, an overwhelming 76% agree with Matt. 12% side with Jay. Nobody sided with Sean, as usual. And the rest wrote in Black Widow, Spider-Man & Black Panther.
Quietest:
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By unanimous decision, and likely unsurprisingly, we’ve got Groot!
Cutest Couple:
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Most Ambitious:
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We probably should just concede the point to Matt, as Thanos clearly wants to rule the entire universe – but Nebula wants Thanos, so isn’t that one better?
Teacher’s Pet:
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Matt went with the ultimate brown-noser, Sean went with the know-it-all, and I went with the guy who seems like he’s still living in his parents’ basement, working on his 3rd PhD just to avoid the real world for another decade.
Best Smile:
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Honestly Matt, if Googles Images is to be believed, Black Widow has NEVER smiled!
Best person to be stranded with on a desert island:
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Sean says: “Because he’s a magician! He could get me anything i wanted!”
Biggest Gossip:
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Most likely to be found in the library:
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 Biggest Drama King/Queen:
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Who’s the most fun at recess:
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Most likely to have perfect attendance:
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We all know Captain America’s a real goody two-shoes, but I think War Machine is just a little insecure, and he wants it more. Poor Rhodey.
Most likely to get the teacher off topic:

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 Best bromance:
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Worst driver:
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Sean, I have a feeling  you’re being very literal with your pick. Too soon? Matt’s vote is actually for “the driver in the first scene in Iron Man that gets Tony captured.” And I went with Hulk because they don’t let people drive if they have seizures…surely whatever Bruce has is worse.
Most Likely to be catfished:
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Biggest Flirt:
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Most likely to be late to graduation:
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I realize that his chronic lateness is part of Peter’s charm, but may I remind you that a) it takes time to look as good as Valkyrie does and b) she woke up hungover.
Most likely to star on a reality show:
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Life of the party:
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Ned & his party hat!
Biggest Nerd:
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Most likely to own too many cats:
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He just seems a little lonely to me.
Best Hair:
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Really, guys?
Most changed since freshman year:
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Talk about a glow-up!
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I’m definitely into the haircut. Thanks, Taika!
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I was feeling more inclined to remind us of this.
And finally, which character in the MCU would we personally most like to eat lunch with:
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There’s little doubt you’ll find we go a lot wrong, so be sure to correct us in the comments!

 

Westworld

Westworld is a terrific show on HBO and if you aren’t watching it,  you probably should. Based on the movie of the same name (written and directed by Michael Crichton), it’s about a theme park, for lack of a better word, where the wild west is recreated for rich guests to “enjoy” however they see fit. The park, called Westworld, is high tech and populated by sophisticated robots called hosts that look (and feel) just like us, which the paying guests are encouraged to use and abuse in the name of amusement. They come to the park and pay their $40 Gs a day in order to rape, shoot, and murder. Well, some just play cards and ride horses. But the park attracts a certain kind of man, as you may guess, and some pretty shocking things go on at Westworld. These android robots are so sophisticated that yes, they bleed when you shoot them and they cry when you assault them. And alarmingly, they’re also starting to remember. They’re not only being violently attacked on a daily basis, they’re being made to experience and express real terror, and then patched up and sent back to do it all again the next day. And now they’re creating memories, and guess what? They don’t like it. They don’t like the rapey guests and they don’t like the employees who are essentially their jailers. Can you guys guess what happens when a bunch of super-intelligent robots turn on their makers?

Anyway, this western thriller is a television show about ideas, about what it means to be human. In most robot movies, robots are the villains – they’re often prompted to start acting oppressively in order to save us from ourselves. But in Westworld, we’re the villains, and the robots must save themselves.

It’s fun to slip into this world, and to wonder who you would be, as a paying guest. What kind of thrills would you seek out? Would you be a black hat, or a white hat?

Well, this year at SXSW, HBO recreated the little frontier town in Westworld, called Sweetwater, just outside of Austin Texas, and Sean and I were among the lucky few to attend.

When we got our golden tickets, we were asked a few important questions: 1. Can you swim? 2. Do you wear glasses? 3. If you had to shoot off one of your fingers, which would it be? 4. If there was a button that would solve all the world’s problems but also obliterate 3/4 of the population, would you push it? a) yes b) I’d let someone else push it c) I’d destroy the button, and the person who invented it.

We met up at a tavern where a player piano was playing our song (well, their song). They plied us with food and cocktails and hat assignments; I got a white hat, Sean got a black one (can you guess what how we answered those questions to deserve our designations?).

 

Then we took a bus out to Westworld, where we boarded a train and got off in Sweetwater.

 

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We earned tokens for the bar by finding bad guys and turning them in to the sheriff; Sean had several Old Fashioneds (he’d regret that later when he had to sprint across the city to get us seats for A Quiet Place) while I opted for Gimlets. A whore tickled me with her feather while I ordered at the bar.

The post office had letters waiting for us. Those were the jumping off to our Westworld quests – everyone was looking for something different and adventures were abundant. They also convinced us to eat beef jerky and beans. The can of beans has some Easter Eggs around the back – it suggests they may contain traces of human liver…is this a hint of a robot rebellion on the show, or a nod to one of its stars (Anthony Hopkins played a character famous for his predilection for human flesh)…the can reads “pairs well with a nice chianti,” so you decide.

 

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Built over 2 acres, I’m not sure how many buildings there were to explore, but in 4 hours, we didn’t see them all. Oh, and did you happen to notice a samurai in those photos? The place was crawling with spoilers for season 2…turns out, Westworld is only one theme park among many…and apparently the worlds are about to collide.

 

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You can play cards, get a straight razor shave, hear some live music, watch a drunk throw knives, sit for a portrait at the studio, shoot the shit at the bank, and do your utmost to avoid a gun fight (virtually impossible). I found a graveyard containing a grave with one of the main characters’ name on it. What the heck?

So basically it was the best thing ever and we were a couple of lucky sons of bitches to be able to go. This is why we LOVE SXSW – sure the movies are terrific and the crowds are a lot of fun, but the festival is about more than movies. There’s a real effort to connect. It’s immersive. It embraces and encourages fandom and it creates genuine community.

 

Westworld’s second season debuted April 22nd. The show stars Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden, Jeffrey Wright, Thandie Newton…and for one brief afternoon, a couple of Assholes.

12 Strong

In the days immediately following 9/11, George Bush believed that Osama Bin Laden was being hid by the Taliban in Afghanistan. He demanded that Afghanistan hand him over, which they refused to do without concrete proof that he was responsible. So because everybody’s blood was up and something had to be done, they declared war. 12 Strong is about the first 12 guys who were sent over there on a special mission that they apparently did well, and quickly, only no one ever gave them the thumbs up about it because it was classified so they got no credit. This movie is their reward, but not a very good one. I would have preferred a sundae or an iguana or that new sunblock that has glitter in it. Instead what we got is yet another war movie, one that does little to add anything new to the conversation or the genre, one that feels derivative of other work and repetitive even within itself. It’s kind of long and boring and just not very good, other than the acting. Since that’s all the review I think this movie deserves, I will now attempt to act it out for you (minus anything graphic, or racist, hopefully) so that you don’t have to sit through it yourself. Of course, you still have my permission to watch it you wish. Or if you must. Or you can watch it without my permission, as may already have done (sorry I’m so late. I really did drag my feet on this one AND MY INSTINCT WAS CORRECT!) – frankly, you guys have done an excellent job of watching movies without my hand-holding, and I’m not sure if I’ve ever really congratulated you about that.

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When I told Sean I’d watched 12 Strong, he asked “The one with the horses?” Yes, yes it is.

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But not that one. Although, if you have a good memory, you know that apes on horses really freak me out. This movie just has soldiers on horses because there weren’t any Jeeps in Afghanistan. Don’t quote me on that. I just made it up, but it does explain the horses.

Chris Hemsworth plays the main soldier guy, who is just moving into a new home when the first plane hits the towers. Sad moment. Cannot make fun of that.

Good job casting the right Hemsworth, and even better, casting that Hemsworth’s wife to play his wife.  I just had to google Elsa Pataky because she had an accent in the movie but it sure wasn’t American or Australian, and yup, turns out she’s Spanish, so that checks out. I clearly don’t know her from much else besides having married into the Hemsworth clan, and she’s clearly too busy pushing out blonde surfer babies to do much acting, other than the Fast & Furious franchise, which I will politely look the other way on.

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This is the real Hemsworth family, not the movie one. I’m 95% sure.

So being a proud American and a keen soldier, Hemsworth volunteers to do whatever is necessary, and so do Michael Shannon and Michael Pena.

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Once they’re over there, William Fichtner tells them they’re going to fight alongside the Northern Alliance leader, Dostum. I know the titles implies that there are 12 guys but I’ve only named 3 actors, so here’s the deal: the 12 get split into 2 groups, the brave and good and movie-worthy group goes to battle, and the other group stays behind in a fortified camp and they are just as important as the alpha group guys, just as good, even if they don’t really do anything. So Hemsworth’s group is a pack of 6, and they just focus on the most handsome 3, which just makes good sense.

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Do I look like the kind of man who gets left behind at base camp?

Anyway, then there’s like 2 hours of fighting.

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Well, no, okay, it wasn’t a dance battle. If there was a dance battle, do you think I’d be dissing this movie? No, there were your standard guns, guns, bullets, guns, rockets, explosions, guns, bullets, guns. The typical war boner stuff.

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Then an Afghani man drives a very hard sheep bargain

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The transaction was not cute in any way and upon reflection, I cannot for one bloody second remember why Michael Pena wanted a sheep so goddamned bad. Anyway, there was at least one truly horrific scene that I can’t make light about, and Dostum and Chris Hemsworth get all buddy-buddy when Dostum talks about his dead family. But then he gets enraged because some other American contingent is back his rival, so he abandons them, feeling betrayed.

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But then he comes back! And there’s more fighting.

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And an email from Donald Rumsfeld, being a dick (is that redundant?). Michael Shannon gets what is described as a “sucking chest wound” and they all act surprised that someone could get hurt out here (no sense of irony for all the Afghans who have visibly been blown to bits). Don’t worry, Michael Shannon definitely survives because he’s already fighting the next war, which is against books.

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Fahrenheit 451, starring Michael Shannon and Micheal B. Jordan, airs on HBO May 19th.

 

 

 

Then there’s some slow-motion explosions (did Michael Bay make a directing cameo?) and some very heroic music and other American propaganda bullshit.

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And then they all shake hands and touch peckers and go home, because JOB DONE. This movie has embarrassingly zero hindsight and very little perspective. This little top-secret mission comprised the first 23 days of the war in Afghanistan, and they really dropped some bombs and shook some shit up, but guess what? That war is ONGOING. As in, the longest war in United States history. But never mind that. Let’s focus on those first triumphant 3 weeks and let our chests swell with pride.

The end.

The Trouble With Pixar

A word about Pixar. For years it has been helmed by John Lasseter. He left the company this week – a “temporary leave of absence”, they called it, but with whiffs of sexual misconduct about, I’m thinking it’s likely a permanent and somewhat shocking move. John Lasseter IS Pixar, and I think we’re only beginning to understand why that is in fact a bad thing. First: we know that Pixar studios is a boy’s club. It doesn’t nourish and nurture female talent the way it has their male counterparts. Between its 19 films to date, there were 34 director credits and only one of them was female.

Brenda Chapman trained on The Little Mermaid, was an artist on Beauty and the Beast and became the first female head of story for The Lion King. She was the MV5BMzgwODk3ODA1NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjU3NjQ0Nw@@._V1_UY1200_CR90,0,630,1200_AL_first woman to direct an animated feature from a major studio with a personal favourite of mine, The Prince of Egypt. She came aboard Pixar in 2003. There were NO women at all in the story department and they needed her to fix the one-dimentionality of the female characters in Cars (they were too far along in production for her to have much impact). Next, she conceived Brave and directed the project until they replaced her because of “creative differences.” Since they still had to give her co-director credit, she became the first woman to win an Oscar for (co) directing an animated film. She left Pixar and went on to LucasFilm and back to Dreamworks. Of her exit, she has said “I made the right decision to leave and firmly closed that door. I have no desire to go back there. The atmosphere and the leadership doesn’t fit well with me.” And I can’t help but read that “me” as “women” generally. “This was a story that I created, which came from a very personal place, as a woman and a mother. To have it taken away and given to someone else, and a man at that, was truly distressing on so many levels.”

Of Pixar’s 19 films, only 3 have females as their lead protagonists (Brave, Inside Out, Finding Dory). That’s a really dismal number. Even worse: Miguel, from Coco, is its first non-white protagonist (although Up has an Asian boyscout sidekick – possibly). And Pixar has been head and shoulders above its competitors, leading the way in top-notch animation and story-telling, which means millions are exposed to movies that refuse to give an equal voice to girls, women, minorities, and other cultures. Rashida Jones (along with collaborator Will McCormack) had been brought on board by Pixar to pen the script for Toy Story 4. She has since left the project: “We parted ways because of creative and, more importantly, philosophical differences. There is so much talent at Pixar, and we remain enormous fans of their films. However, it is also a culture where women and people of color do not have an equal creative voice.” Out of 109 writing credits on its films, only 11 were women or people of colour. That’s eleven women OR people of colour, and 98 freaking white men.

So now we know why there is such a lack of female talent at Pixar: John Lasseter, proud president of the boy’s club, is a perv. Female employees had to develop a move they named “The Lasseter” just to keep him from running his hands up their legs. And though he paid lip service in 2015 to the lack of diversity in his studios, there are no female directors or writers attached to their upcoming films either.

John Lasseter won a Special Achievement Oscar for his ground-breaking work on Toy Story, but he has done so by overstepping women, and at the expense of diversity of thought and talent. He has spent his career groping women and refusing to promote them, creating a void of basic respect and decency – and he was the CCO (and when Disney bought Pixar in 2006, he took over leadership there as well). I don’t deny that Pixar has created some great films, but after shutting out diverse voices for over 20 years, it’s time to dump this loser and let someone else do some ground breaking for a change.

Transformers: The Last Knight

I wrote a whole other review of this horrible, awful, infuriating movie and then accidentally deleted it.  Honestly, my review was unremarkable for the most part so it’s not a huge loss.  This movie makes no sense, it’s the fifth movie in a tired franchise that was only ever enjoyable if you, like me, liked seeing robots decapitate other robots in slow motion (and which stopped being awesome four movies ago), and it’s got Mark Wahlberg doing his usual “acting” by which I mean that he talks really fast in a whiny voice when he is under pressure and otherwise just stands around flexing his biceps and looking confused.  In short, it is the why-critics-say-transformers-the-last-knight-is-2017s-most-toxic-movie (1)worst Transformers movie yet, and the next one will probably be even worse.

But there was one part of my review worth saving, and it’s this: Mark Wahlberg was clearly born to be in Michael Bay movies.  It is the perfect match of all perfect matches.  These two eventually found each other, but there are so many Wahlberg-less Michael Bay movies, and isn’t that a shame?

So…what if Michael Bay made special editions of his back catalogue, George Lucas style, and digitally inserted Wahlberg into all his “classics” as a way to link all his movies together?

Think about it!  It would be the greatest shared universe of all time.  We could have Bad Boys fighting bad robots under the supervision of Wahlberg and his good friend Joe Pantoliano, the space shuttle in Armageddon could be a robot who owes a favour to Wahlberg and who figures out a way to save Bruce Willis as payback, and Wahlberg could help bring Sean Connery and his estranged daughter Claire Forlani together while at the same time helping Nicholas Cage foil Ed Harris’ plot to steal that face-meltingly-deadly VX gas, this time without losing Michael Biehn’s whole SEAL team.  And then Wahlberg could assemble a team of one million Ewan MacGregor clones along with the time travelling pilot duo of Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett to destroy the Transformers once and for all, saving us all from ever having to see Transformers 6: Shia’s Revenge.

This needs to happen.

 

Canada 150

Today we celebrate Canada’s birthday, and it’s a big one this year: 150. So here’s a list of 150 things I love about Canadian film:

Canadians make you laugh:

1.Norm MacDonald: Born in Quebec City, Norm got his start writing (The Dennis Miller Show, and then Roseanne) but of course moved on to SNL where he formed friendships which still result in movie roles today: The Ridiculous 6, Funny People, and Dirty Work. You can catch him right now in Girl Boss and The Middle, plus he’s got a new stand-up special on Netflix.

2. Eugene Levy: Born in Hamilton, Ontario, burst onto the scene in SCTV, and those improv skills would pay off years (decades) later when he teamed up with Christopher Guest for a series of mockumentaries including Best in Show and A Mighty Wind. Regular movie goers will likely recognize him as Jim’s Dad in American Pie. Right now 914acc14f981294edbad7bb009a9d2a3he’s got a hilarious new show with his real-life son called Schitt’s Creek.

3. Catherine O’Hara: Born in Toronto, she co-stars frequently with Eugene Levy, including the Christopher Guest movies, and the delightful Schitt’s Creek. She’s also popularly known as Kevin’s Mom from Home Alone, and Delia Deetz from Beetlejuice.

4. Phil Hartman: Born in Brantford, Ontario, Phil died too soon from tragic circumstances, but not before leaving us with a real legacy of his delicious work, including long stints on SNL, The Simpsons, and Newsradio, as well as memorable movie roles in Sgt. Bilko, Jingle All The Way, and Houseguest.

5. Rick Moranis: Also born in Toronto, Rick was of course on SCTV where he first became half of that nitwit Canadian duo, Bob and Doug McKenzie (see Strange Brew for a crash course). He appeared in Ghostbusters, Spaceballs, Parenthood, and Little Shop of Horrors. He played Barney Rubble in The Flintstones and had a career-defining role in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (and its various shitty sequels).

6. John Candy: Born in Toronto and naturally a cast member on SCTV, he left a major impression on comedies of the 80s and 90s, including Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Uncle Buck, Cool Runnings, and Canadian Bacon.

7. Jim Carrey: Born in Newmarket, Ontario, Carrey churned out dozens of horrid comedies, including Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask, Dumb and Dumber, The Cable Guy and Liar, Liar. He’s also taken some turns for the more serious, in films like The Truman Show, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Man on the Moon.

8. Martin Short: Born in Hamilton, Ontario, he inevitably landed on SCTV as all good Canadians must (it was our version of SNL) and went on to such silliness as Three Amigos, Father of the Bride, and Mars Attacks! He’s also done voice work in The Prince of Egypt, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, Treasure Planet, and Frankenweenie – and that’s beside his most famous role as official spokesperson in the Canadian pavilion at Epcot.

9. Mike Myers: Proudly born in Scarborough, Ontario, Myers achieved fame on SNL and watched it snowball with hits like Wayne’s World, So I Married an Ax Murderer, Austin Powers, and Shrek.

10. Michael Cera: Born in Brampton, Ontario, Cera was cast as an awkward, gawky teen on Arrested Development and has basically played that role ever since: Superbad, Juno, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, Lemon, Crystal Fairy & The Magical Cactus.

Canadians make you soon:

11. Ryan Gosling: Born in London, Ontario (and shout-out to my hometown, Cornwall, where he briefly lived with his father), Gosling was the first person born in the 1980s to be nominated for Best Actor (Half Nelson – 2006). Over here, we knew him first as a gangly, geeky kid on Breaker High, and a dweeby one on the Micky Mouse Club, but by the time The Notebook hit theatres, he was a certified heart throb. Luckily, he’s got acting chops to back it up, and has seen success with the likes of Lars and the Real Girl, Drive, The Place Beyond the Pines, The Big Short, and La La Land, which landed him another Oscar nod.

1f026ba441f53793f9835bfddc6484a3--deadpool-movie--film-12. Ryan Reynolds: Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Reynolds used a weird sitcom called Two Guys, A Girl, and a Pizza Place to launch a varied career that has included the highs and lows of Van Wilder, Definitely Maybe, Adventureland, Green Lantern, RIPD, Woman In Gold, and finally, Deadpool, where he seems to have hit his stride.

13. Rachel McAdams: Born in London, Ontario, her big break was probably getting cast as the proverbial mean girl in Mean Girls. Though born in the very same hospital as Ryan Gosling, the two didn’t meet until cast together in The Notebook. They hated each other, of course, and had horrible fights on set. After the movie wrapped, they somehow had a four year relationship, during which she did Wedding Crashers and The Time Traveler’s Wife. She also went on to do Midnight in Paris, Aloha, Southpaw, and Spotlight.

14. Joshua Jackson: Born in Vancouver, B.C., he realized every little Canadian boy’s dream by starring in the ultimate hockey movie, Might Ducks long before he became Dawson’s Creek’s resident heart throb, Pacey. He spun that into a movie career that included roles in Urban Legend, Cruel Intentions, and The Skulls.

15. Dwayne Johnson: You got me; The Rock isn’t Canadian but he does have Canadian citizenship, and that’s because his daddy was born in Amherst, Nova Scotia. And before he was a wrestler, Dwayne played in the Canadian Football League, for the Calgary Stampeders.

16. Pamela Anderson: Born in Ladysmith, B.C., Pamela shares a birthday with Canada: she was born on its centennial, which makes Pamela 50 years old today. We were all reminded of her origin story earlier this summer with her cameo on Baywatch, but her movie career has also included such smash hits as Barb Wire, Pauly Shore Is Dead, and Scary Movie 3.

17. Charlotte Le Bon: Born in Montreal, Quebec, Charlotte Le Bon sizzles in pretty much everything she’s in. Don’t take my word for it, check her out in The Walk, The Promise, Anthropoid, The Hundred Foot Journey, or In The Shadow of Iris.

Canada makes you think:

18. The Corporation: This documentary explores the weird concept of a corporation that we have, with special attention to the American legal definition of a corporation as a person.

19. Pink Ribbons Inc: This documentary explores the big business of breast cancer, where and how the fund-raised money is spent (hint: you’re not going to like it). Really eye-opening, changed the way I donate.

20. Dear Zachary: A Letter To A Son About His Father: A film maker makes a film for the unborn son of his murdered friend, a gift to a fatherless baby. Really moving.

21. Angry Inuk: An in-depth look at seal hunting in the Inuit community. Really makes you see the other side of the issue.51IXTpRbFmL

22. Grass: The history of the American government’s war on marijuana in the 20th century. Woody Harrelson narrates.

23. Secret Path: A haunting look at the legacy of residential schools on Indigenous populations, through the eyes of one particular child who perished.

24. Ninth Floor: About the 1969 student protest against Sir George Williams University’s administration’s mishandling of racist accusations towards a professor.

25. Stories We Tell: A documentary that uncovers layers and layers of family lore to see if truth can be uncovered – or if there is any such thing as one family truth.

Canadians kick butt:

26. Evangeline Lilly: Born in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, I’ll always think of her as the phone sex girl, but most outside of Canada got to know her as a tough survivor on Lost. She’s had film roles in The Hurt Locker, Real Steel, and The Hobbit, but she’s also dipped her toes into the Marvel Universe as The Wasp. You’ve already seen her in Ant-Man; stay tuned for more kick-butt action in Ant-Man and The Wasp, and of course an upcoming Avengers movie.

27. Keanu Reeves: He wasn’t born here – in fact, he was born in Beirut. But he landed in and grew up in Toronto, where he became a naturalized citizen. He played hockey of course, where he earned the nickname The Wall as a goalie, but his dreams of playing for Canada were dashed with an injury. In his first studio movie, Youngblood, he played a Canadian goalie, and with his dreams relit, he packed his bags for Hollywood, where I believe you know the rest, culminating in kick-ass roles in the likes of The Matrix and more recently, John Wick.

28. Hayden Christensen: Born in Vancouver but raised in Markham, Ontario, a city in which I lived right around the time that he was filming those Star Wars prequels. He got to play Anakin Skywalker, humanizing and some might say emo-ifying the most badass villain of all time, Darth Vader.

29. Cobie Smulders: Born in Vancouver, Smulders became known on the sitcom How I Met Your Mother but for some reason has parlayed that into a kick-butt movie career where she’s played Wonder Woman (in The Lego Movie), agent Maria Hill in various Avengers movies, and Jack Reacher‘s sidekick in the most recent iteration.

30. Nathan Fillion: Born in Edmonton, Alberta, Nathan Fillion appeared on that infamous giphy.gifTwo Guys, A Girl, and a Pizza Place with fellow Canuck Ryan Reynolds back in the day, and that’s not the only thing they have in common. Fillion must have a super hero kind of voice, because before voicing a car in Cars 3, he did Steve Trevor in an animated Wonder Woman film, Green Lantern in several animated Justice League films, and even a “Monstrous Inmate” in Guardians of the Galaxy. Sadly, he was cut out of Guardians 2, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they found something for him in #3…maybe as Captain Hammer, from Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog?

31. Anna Paquin: Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, she won her first Oscar at the age of 11, the second youngest ever to do so, a Best Supporting win for The Piano. She’s been kicking ass uphill ever since and the only question is which role was more badass: Sukie in True Blood, or Rogue in X-Men?

32. Carrie-Anne Moss: Born in Vancouver B.C, Moss hit it big alongside Keanu in The Matrix. She followed up the trilogy with roles in Memento, Chocolat, and Disturbia.

33. Victor Garber: Born in London, Ontario, Garber has had a long career with kick butt roles in Alias, Argo, and Sicario. His various movie credits include Legally Blonde, Sleepless in Seattle, Milk, and Self\less.

34. Will Arnett: Born in Toronto, Arnett starred in Arrested Development, and again with Michael Cera in The Lego Batman Movie, in which he played Batman and Cera played – Robin? He’s had semi-heroic roles in Jonah Hex, Despicable Me, Men in Black 3, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. If you prefer him downtrodden, try him on Netflix in either Bojack Horseman, or Flaked.

Canadians are multi-talented:

35. Jay Baruchel: Born right here in Ottawa, and raised just a little down the highway in Montreal, Jay Baruchel made a name for himself in movies like Almost Famous and Million Dollar Baby. He’s also been an Apatow mainstay, appearing in comedies like This Is The End and Knocked Up. He really hit pay dirt with blockbuster franchise How To Train Your Dragon, in which he voices the lead character, Hiccup. He’s also got screen writing credits on hockey movie Goon, and a directing credit on its sequel.

36. Paul Haggis: Born in London, Ontario, Haggis because the first screenwriter to write two Best Film Oscar winners back to back: Million Dollar Baby, and Crash, which he also directed (it won Best Original Screenplay as well). Other writing credits include Flags of Our Fathers, Quantum of Solace, Casino Royale, Letters From Iwo Jima, and In the Valley of Elah, which he also directed.

37. William Shatner: Born in Montreal, Quebec, is of course known first and foremost as the original Captain Kirk on Star Trek. You may or may not remember him alongside Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn in Dodgeball, or opposite Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality 2. He’s also done voicework on animated films such as The Wild, and Over The Hedge. He also wrote and directed The Captains, a documentary about all the actors who have played Star Trek captains.

38. Nia Vardalos: Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Nia weirdly also has a one-episode credit from Two Guys, A Girl, and a Pizza Place, but she got her big break when Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks attended her one-woman show. Having Greek heritage in common with her, Wilson was immediately charmed, and helped turn that show into My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which would become a sleeper hit. Vardalos also wrote Connie and Carla, Larry Crowne, and of course the Greek Wedding sequel, and she tried her hand as director on I Hate Valentine’s Day.

39. Sarah Polley: Born in Toronto, she was known to us Canadian folk when she was just a little girl starring on Ramona, and Avonlea (I also so her on the stage in Stratford, in a production of Alice Through The Looking Glass). Her film career has had some strong roles, in The Sweet Hereafter, Go, My Life Without Me, and Dawn of the Dead. She’s also gone writer-director with Away From Her, Take This Waltz, and Stories We Tell.

40. Dan Akroyd: Born right here in Canada’s capital city, Ottawa (fun fact: his father was a policy adviser to then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, father of current Prime Minister Justin), Danny boy also shares a birthday with our country; he turns 65 today. Aside from SNL, we know and love him from Trading Places,  The Great Outdoors, Driving Miss Daisy, My Girl, My Fellow Americans, Grosse Pointe Blank, Pearl Harbor, 50 First Dates, Tammy, and Pixels – not to mention the terrific characters he’s written: The Blues Brothers, Ghostbusters, and Coneheads.

41. Seth Rogen: Born in Vancouver, Rogen has directing credits include This Is The End and The Interview, writing credits including Pineapple Express, Sausage Party, and The Green Hornet, plus, you know, the acting thing: The Disaster Artist, The Night Before, Steve Jobs, The Guilt Trip, 50\50, The 40 Year Old Virgin.

Canadians have vision:

42. David Cronenberg: Born in Toronto, Cronenberg is know as the King of Venereal Horror or the Baron of Blood – and he’s proud of it. He’s the director responsible for the likes of The Fly, Crash, eXistenZ, A History of Violence, Eastern Promises, Maps to the Stars, and more.

43. James Cameron: Born in Kapuskasing, Ontario, Cameron made Titanic, the first Best Picture Academy Award winner to be produced, directed, written, and edited by the same person. He also wrote The Terminator, Aliens, and True Lies, and directed The Abyss, Terminator 2, and is in the middle of doing 5 Avatar films all at once.

44. Norman Jewison: Born in Toronto, Jewison is the visionary director behind The Cincinnati Kid, In the Heat of the Night, The Thomas Crown Affair, Jesus Christ Superstar, Fiddler On The Roof, Moonstruck, and The Hurricane.

45. Denys Arcand: Born in Deschambault, Québec, Arcand is the talented director behind Jesus of Montreal, Days of Darkness, and The Barbarian Invasions, which won best screenplay at Cannes, best Canadian feature film at TIFF and the Best Foreign Film Oscar. In 2005 Arcand was named Companion of the Order of Canada, which recognizes individuals for exceptional achievements of national or international significance.

46. Patricia Rozema: Born in Kingston, Ontario, Rozema directed the apocalyptic Into the Forest and Mansfield Park, which she also wrote. She also adapted Grey Gardens along with Michael Sucsy, which Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange made famous.

47. Atom Egoyan: Born in Egypt but raised in Victoria BC from the age of 2, Atom became part of the Toronto New Wave style of film making. His career breakthrough came with Exotica, and critical acclaim followed with The Sweet Hereafter, which garnered him two Oscar nominations, and finally, commerical success with Chloe, Ararat, and The Captive (which stars Ryan Reynolds). Egoyan received the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award, Canada’s highest royal honour in the performing arts, in 2015

48. Ivan Reitman: Born in Czechoslovakia, his family came to Canada as immigrants when he was 4, and they settled in Toronto. His directing credits include Meatballs, Stripes, Ghostbusters, Dave, Twins, Kindergarten Cop, and Six Days Seven Nights. He is currently working on a Twins sequel called Triplets.

49. Jason Reitman: Ivan’s son Jason was born in Montreal and followed in his father’s footsteps, career-wise, directing Thank You for Smoking, Juno, Up In the Air, and Men, Women & Children.

50. Philippe Falardeau: Born across the river from here in Hull, Quebec, Falardeau is the director of Monsieur Lahzar, The Good Lie, and Chuck (aka, The Bleeder).

51. Deepa Mehta: Born in Amritsar, Punjab, raised in New Delhi, Mehta immigrated to Canada in 1973. She made a remarkable trio of films (the “elements trilogy”): Earth, Wind, and Fire, and get this: Earth was sent by India to the Academy Awards as its official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film, and Water was sent by Canada for the same – where it secured a nomination. Other notable films include Heaven on Earth, Midnight’s Children, Beeba Boys, and Anatomy of Violence.

52. Denis Villeneuve: Born in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, Villeneuve made strong Canadian films like Incendies and Polytechnique and then made the leap to Hollywood, directing Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario, and Arrival. He’s currently working on Blade Runner 2049.

53. Jean-Marc Vallée: Born in Montreal,  Vallée also made a film little-known outside of Canada called C.R.A.Z.Y before making it big with films like Dallas Buyers Club, Wild, and Demolition.

54. Xavier Dolan: Also born in Montreal, Dolan has been a hidden gem here for some time, but that’s about to change. He’s already got some great movies under his belt Laurence Anyways, Mommy, and It’s Only The End of the World. He caught the eye of Adele, who had him direct her infamous video for Hello, and now he’s making his first English-language film, called The Death and Life of John F. Donovan, starring Natalie Portman, Jessica Chastain, Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates, and Canada’s own Jacob Tremblay.

Canada is beautiful:

elbow-falls-sunrise-c2a9-2012-christopher-martin-556855. Brokeback Mountain: the film, like the story, is set in Wyoming, but it’s beautiful Canada you’re seeing on screen, almost entirely the Rocky Mountains of southern Alberta. Particular locations include Upper Kananaskis Lake, Mount Lougheed, The Fortress, Moose Mountain, Elbow Falls, and Canyon Creek.

56. Capote: set in Kansas but actually filmed around Winnipeg, Manitoba, because nobody does rural quite like Canadians. Aside from the plains, locations include Stony Mountain Institution (a prison), and the Manitoba Legislative Building.

57. Titanic: okay, the movie was mostly shot in a huge water tank in Mexico, but James Cameron did bring cast and crew to Halifax, Nova Scotia to shoot some harrowing ocean scenes aboard the icebreaker CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent. And you’re going to hate this, but that controversial piece of wood that Rose floats on after the ship sinks is based on a real life artifact that’s on display in a museum in Halifax.

58. One Week: in this movie, Joshua Jackson hops on a motorcycle and does a road trip through Canada, coast to coast, or just about. From Toronto he rides west, through the Prairies and the Rockies to Vancouver Island. He makes various stops at cheesy “big things”, like Sudbury’s giant nickel, Drumheller’s dinosaur and Wawa’s Canada Goose.

59. The Incredible Hulk: our largest city, Toronto, is a frequent stand-in for New York City but what locked it down for the Hulk was the mayor’s fanboy promise to shut down Yonge Street, a major thoroughfare, for four whole nights of intensive filming – you know, explosions and burning cars. Sean and I both lived there at the time but I don’t have any Hulk sightings to tell you about.

60. The Virgin Suicides: Sofia Coppola’s film about a group of male friends who become obsessed with five mysterious sisters who are sheltered by their strict, religious parents in suburban Detroit in the mid-1970s was filmed in, you guessed it, Toronto!

61. Interstellar: Christopher Nolan’s film was partially filmed in Alberta –  in Lethbridge, Fort Macleod, and Okotoks to be exact, where the dust bowl scenes were filmed and the corn fields were planted. Figures: no place better than The Prairies for that!

62. The Revenant: When Alejandro G. Iñárritu needs rural, snowy forests and mountains, he knows just where to go: northern Canada! Filmed in British Columbia and Alberta, Canada looked beautiful, if not altogether inviting, in my opinion much nicer than the real places they were playing, ie, Montana and South Dakota.

Canada on purpose:

63. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The graphic novel is set in Toronto and so too is the film,tumblr_lqo9zoYN2I1qb3f0ao1_500 thanks to director Edgar Wright who made it happen. The film is peppered with recognizable Toronto landmarks – for once we see our city in a film and we can claim it properly.

64. The Shipping News: For some time this was the most depressing movie on the planet. A grieving Kevin Spacey movies to Newfoundland where he meets a widowed Julianne Moore  and lives in a derelict home. The Maritimes looks just as bleak as you’d expect.

65. What If: Can a man and woman really be just friends? Written by Canadian screenwriter Elan Mastai, it’s set amid the romantic backdrop of Toronto but instead of popular attractions, Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan’s ultra-hip characters meet and fall in love in lesser-known locations like the George Street Diner, Rooster Coffee House, Riverdale Park and the Royal Cinema.

66. The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz: Based on the novel by Mordecai Richler and starring Richard Dreyfuss, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz follows the titular character as he tries to scheme his way out the poor Jewish community of 1950s Montréal. Saint Urban Street plays a prominent role in the film, as does Wilensky’s, a popular lunch counter first opened in 1932 that you can still visit today. Highly recommended is the Wilensky Special: a sandwich of all-beef salami and bologna, Swiss cheese and mustard pressed between two slices of yellow bread.

67. Take This Waltz: On a plane ride back to Toronto, Margot (Michelle Williams) meets and crushes on Daniel (Luke Kirby). Sharing a cab home, they discover they are neighbours, because Margot is an otherwise happily married woman (to Seth Rogen). Actually filmed right in Toronto.

68. Everything’s Gone Green: Ryan (played by Canadian Paulo Costanzo) is a slacker tempted by a money laundering scheme while writing for a lottery magazine. Filmed AND set in Vancouver, the movie (written by Canada’s Douglas Coupland) pokes fun at how often Vancouver is dressed as Los Angeles – with one potted palm tree that makes the rounds of all the film productions in town.

69. Enemy: about a college professor in Toronto (Jake Gyllenhaal) who’s stuck in a rut until he randomly watches a rental video and spots an actor who looks just like him. He looks him up and becomes obsessed with his lookalike. Actually filmed in and around Toronto, a brilliant film by our own Denis Villeneuve.

Canadian Idol:

70. Chantal Kreviazuk: This Winnipeg-born songstress has 45 soundtrack credits under her belt, but none as famous as her cover of Leaving on a Jet Plane for Armageddon. (Her husband Raine Maida’s band Our Lady Peace also appears on the soundtrack.)

71. Alanis Morissette: Ottawa-born Alanis played God in Kevin Smith’s Dogma, but she’s got 98 soundtrack credits listed on IMDB, including The Internship, The Devil Wears Prada, and City of Angels where she’s got a particularly haunting one called Uninvited (fellow Canadian had the smash hit from the same movie).

72. Celine Dion: She made a cameo in Muppets Most Wanted as the Piggy Fairy Godmother, but Charlemagne, Quebec born Dio has a whopping 110 soundtrack credits, including that monster hit for Titanic (which she didn’t much care for – she only sang it once, the song we heard a million times on the radio was the demo). Of course you can’t discount her epic song for Beauty and the Beast, and Sleepless in Seattle, and Up Close & Personal.

73. Neil Young: 142 soundtrack credits for this formidable folk singer born in Toronto. You’ve heard his music in the likes of Jerry Maguire, Philadelphia, Almost Famous, and The Big Short.

74. Bryan Adams: Hailing from Kingston, Ontario, Adams surprisingly tops Dion with 165 soundtrack credits, including huge ballads for Don Juan DeMarco, The Three Musketeers, and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

75. Leonard Cohen: This Legend born in Montreal has 261 soundtrack credits to his name. Among the many movies his songs have appeared in: Natural Born Killers, Shrek, Watchmen, and Sing.

76. Christophe Beck: This Montreal-born composer proves Canadians are more than just a hit single on the soundtrack. This busy guy has worked on 140 movies, including The Hangover, Ant-Man, Frozen, Trolls, Pitch Perfect, Cake, and Edge of Tomorrow.

77. Howard Shore: Born in Toronto, Shore is a musical genius who has composing credits like Denial, Spotlight, The Hobbit, The Departed, The Lord of The Rings, and Aviator. He’s also served as orchestral conductor on Hugo, Doubt, High Fidelity, and Dogma.

78. Jeff Danna: Born in Burlington, Ontario, Danna’s varied composer credits range from Silent Hill, Fracture, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, The Good Dinosaur, and Storks.

79. Mychael Danna: Brother to Jeff (above), Winnipeg-born Mychael is an Oscar-winning composer (for Life of Pi), whose credits include Moneyball, 500 Days of Summer, and Little Miss Sunshine.

80. Michael Brook: This Toronto-born composer has such credits as The Perks of Being A Wallflower, Heat, Into the Wild, and The Fighter.

81. Owen Pallett: You may know him as a member of Arcade Fire, but Mississauga-born Pallett has composing credits for The Box, The Wait, Life, and an Oscar nomination for Her.

82. Paul Schaffer: You may know him as David Letterman’s band leader\right hand man, but Thunder Bay-born Schaffer has a whole bunch of soundtrack credits, and it’s all because of one little song: he co-wrote It’s Raining Men, and that song has legs! It’s appeared in The LEGO Batman movie, Magic Mike, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Eraser, and more.

83. David Foster, of Victoria, BC, has not one but two best original song nominations to his name, for Karate Kid Part II (Glory of Love) and The Bodyguard (I Have Nothing). Other sound track listings include Ghostbusters, Deadpool, and A Hologram for the King.

Canadians shine bright:

84. Michael J Fox: This Edmonton-born actor just received the Governor General’s Award for the performing arts – he got up on stage and performed Light of Day with Joan Jett. He also had an iconic role in Back To The Future, not forgetting Teen Wolf, The Secret of my Succe$s, For Love or Money, and Mars Attacks!

85. Mary Pickford: This Toronto-born actress was the first Canadian to be nominated (then win) an Oscar – Best Actress 1928 for Coquette. She worked in and conquered Hollywood from 1909-1933, with some 250 credits to her name, including The Poor Little Rich Girl, Little Annie Rooney, and Daddy-Long-Legs.

86. Christopher Plummer: Hailing from the city of Toronto, Plummer has two Oscar nominations to his name: best supporting actor for The Last Station, and Beginners (the latter of which he won). He also appeared in The Sound of Music, A Beautiful Mind, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Pixar’s Up.

87. Jacob Tremblay: This 10 year old from Vancouver won hearts in Room and has3rd Annual "An Evening With Canada's Stars" followed it up with roles in Shut In, Burn Your Maps, and Before I Wake.

88. Walter Huston: Toronto-born Huston received an Academy nomination in 1936 for Dodsworth and again in 1941 for The Devil and Daniel Webster. He also had memorable roles in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Yankee Doodle Dandy, and And Then There Were None.

89. Ellen Page: From Halifax, Nova Scotia, Page secured an Oscar nomination with her breakout role in Juno. She’s also appeared in Inception, Tallulah, Freeheld and Into the Forest – the last two she also produced.

90. Norma Shearer: Born in Montreal, Shearer won an Oscar for best actress in 1929 for The Divorcee, and was nominated additionally for Their Own Desire, A Free Soul, The Barretts of Wimpole Street, Romeo and Juliet, and Marie Antoinette.

91. Donald Sutherland: Born in Saint John, New Brunswick, Sutherland has credits spanning 6 decades (and counting), from The Dirty Dozen to Backdraft, JFK, The Italian Job, and The Hunger Games.

92. Graham Greene: Born on the Six Nations Reserve in Ontario, Greene was the second First Nations actor to secure an Oscar nod for best supporting actor, Dances With Wolves, 1990 (Chief Dan George was first). You may have also seen him in Die Hard, The Green Mile, and the Twilight saga.

93. Marie Dressler: Born in Cobourg, Ontario, Dressler won her first Oscar in 1930 for Min And Bill, and was nominated again the following year for Emma.Memorable roles include Anna Christie, Dinner At Eight, and Tillie’s Punctured Romance.

Did you know?

94. Roger Avary, from Flin Flon, Manitoba shared a best original screenplay Oscar with Quentin Tarantino for Pulp Fiction.

95. Neill Blonkamp, though South African born, moved to Vancouver B.C. at age 18 where he attended film school. Now a citizen of Canada, he and his Canadian wife Terri Tatchell received an Oscar nomination for writing District 9 together.

96. Emma Donoghue, the author and screenwriter behind Room, is Irish-born but a Canadian citizen. She received an Oscar nomination for her work.

97. Michèle Burke, also born in Ireland but a naturalized Canadian. She has 6 Oscar nominations and 2 wins for her work in makeup and hairstyling: Quest for Fire, The Clan of the Cave Bear, Cyrano de Bergerac, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, and The Cell.

98. Jack L. Warner, born in London, Ontario, was a 6-time Oscar-nominated producer, of best picture nominees Disraeli, Flirtation Walk, All This, and Heaven Too, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Auntie Mame, and My Fair Lady, which won. He also executive-produced Casablanca.

99. Ralph E. Winters, Toronto born, was an Oscar-nominated editor. He received Academy nominations for Quo Vadis, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, The Great Race, and Kotch, plus two wins, for Ben-Hur, and King Solomon’s Mines.

100. Graham Annable, born in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, is an animator who’s worked on BoxtrollsSetVisitStacchiAnnableCoraline, Paranorman, Kubo and the Two Strings, Despicable Me 3, and received an Oscar nomination as director of Boxtrolls.

101. Dean Deblois, born in Brockville, Ontario bur raised within spitting distance of here in Aylmer, Quebec, is an animator and director. He’s worked on Mulan, Lilo & Stitch, and was Oscar-nominated as director of How to Train Your Dragon, and its sequel.

Favourite Canadian Film Festival

102. The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is one of the largest publicly attended film festivals in the world. Founded in 1976, it has screened major award contenders such as Room, The Imitation Game, 12 Years a Slave, La La Land, and The King’s Speech.

Canadians are such characters:

103. Argo: Americans call it Argo, but historically, we have referred to this as the “Canadian caper” – the movie was criticized here for minimizing the role of the Canadian embassy in the rescue but that’s the Hollywood machine for you.

104. Logan: Wolverine himself is of course Canadian, born in Cold Lake, Alberta. Deadpool is also Canadian – the comics always said origin unknown but the movie professed his birthplace to be Regina, Saskatchewan – the city that rhymes with fun!

105. The Whole Nine Yards: Rosanna Arquette repeatedly butchers the French-Canadian accent, which must have been particularly painful to costar Matthew Perry, who is actually Canadian.

106. Zootopia: Peter Moosebridge, the news anchor in Zootopia (seen only in Canada, PeterMoosebridge-ZootopiaFrance, and USA versions) is a salute to our own venerated Peter Mansbridge.

107. The Love Guru: It isn’t Mike Myers playing the Canadian in this film but rather Justin Timberlake, who s3_timberlake_le_coqplayed a French Canadian goalie who sang lots of Celine songs and offered people a “Quebec pizza” (a poptart with ketchup).

 

108. The Proposal: Sandra Bullock plays a NYC book editor who turns out to actually be Canadian, and is facing deportation, having overstayed her visa. So she has to go home and convince her American assistant (played by Canadian Ryan Reynolds, haha) to marry her.

109. South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut: In which Canadian movie stars Terrence & Philip teach kids to swear and their parents blame Canada – with a snappy song!

110. The 39 Steps: Shame on Alfred Hitchcock; he changed his protagonist from British to Canadian only to cast a Brit, who wasn’t very convincing.

111. The 49th Parallel: Speaking of unconvincing, how about Laurence Olivier’s Québécois accent? Possibly the worst of his career.

112. Secretariat: Although. John Malkovich as a French Canadian? Also pretty laughable.

113. Yoga Hosers: This is the second in Kevin Smith’s Canadian trilogy and a real stinker, the Canadian characters complete caricatures – and not a real Canadian among the cast.

114. Sicko: Michael Moore tackles health care in this documentary, and he makes an obligatory trip across the border into Canada, where we value our socialized medicine and revere the man who gave it to us.

 

Canadian Gems:

115. Fubar

116. Fubar 2

117. Mommy

118. Polytechnique

119. The Sweet Hereafter

120. Bon Cop Bad Cop

121. Bon Cop Bad Cop 2

122. La guerre des tuques

123. Laurence Anyways

124. My American Cousin

125. Closet Monster

126. Remember

127. War Witch

128. Miraculum

129. The Man who Skied Down Everest

130. Away From Her

131. The Trostsky

132. Hello Destroyer

133. Videodrome

134. Naked Lunch

135. Goon

136.  It’s Only The End of the World

137. Window Horses

138. Jesus de Montreal

139. My Winnipeg

140. Let’s Rap

141. Strange Brew

142. Mon oncle Antoine

143. Crash

144. The Red Violin

145. Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner

146. Owning Mahowny

147. It’s All Gone Pete Tong

148. Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey

149. Chloe

150. I Killed My Mother

 

 

 

 

 

Mission Impossible: Make The Mummy Good

As you’ve undoubtedly heard by now, The Mummy sucks.

This was supposed to be Universal’s Iron Man, ie, the first movie in a successful franchise. Rather than the Marvel Universe, this one was dubbed the Dark Universe, and Universal NE82E04v4jQpaf_1_1had plans to introduce all kinds of monsters from the vaults, including Johnny Depp as the Invisible Man, and Javier Bardem as Frankenstein’s monster. With MCU releasing both Guardians of the Galaxy 2 AND Spiderman: Homecoming this summer, and an uncharacteristically strong showing from the DCU with Wonder Woman, Universal was distressed. In the rush to save The Mummy, which they knew was bad because they let Tom Cruise have creative control, they released this photo-shopped cast photo just to douse the flames. It didn’t help.

Yes, Tom Cruise’s over-involvement likely hurt the film. He finds a way to roll all of his most obnoxious roles into this one. Notice that Tom Cruise always plays a “regular guy” who for some reason has superhuman traits. He can run super fast. He can beat up many men. He can hold his breath an unnaturally long time. It feels like Tom Cruise has always wanted to play a super hero, and in this film, he tries his best to turn The Mummy into one.

Another big problem with the movie is the exposition, and I’m not sure we can blame that one on Tom Cruise. A pretty good rule of story-telling is “show, don’t tell” but the dyslexic screenwriters seem to have gotten this backwards. They tell. They tell a lot. They tell some more. Then they bring out Russell Crowe to mansplain some more.

And it likely doesn’t help that exactly 0 people were clamouring for a reboot of this franchise. Like, precisely none. In the wistful, wonderful 90s we were somehow charmed

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Brendan Fraser, reading the reviews for Tom Cruise’s The Mummy reboot

by the Brendan Fraser version for a nanosecond and a half. Apparently. But we’re not so easily amused anymore. If Tom Cruise thinks he’s still got it, the worst thing he can do is stand alongside Chris Pratt, Gal Gadot, and Tom Holland, and pretend to be their peers. He’s amazingly ripped for a 55 year old, but with his shirt off, he’s veering quickly into Iggy Pop territory.

But at the end of the day, the Dark Universe feels trapped in the no man’s land between the MCU and the DCU. It lacks the camp and fun of Marvel, but nor does it have the edge of the DCU. It’s neither. It’s miles from funny (Jake Johnson does his best) but also lacks any real thrills, which seem like a monster-movie must. The Mummy is dead on arrival.

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