Culture & Conversation

Posts by Devon Gallant

beauty

Dionysian melancholia

FILM: THE GREAT BEAUTY. From the moment that actor Toni Servillo enters the stage with a dastardly grin you know that Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty will be a wild and wonderful ride.

Bass Drum of Death hates you

A young Jack White once ironically asked an audience at a White Stripes concert if going to a rock and roll concert was the same as going to a museum. For my part, Ron Mueck has enthralled me, Dale Chihuly filled me with wonder, but the Bass Drum of Death show last Sunday at Casa del Popolo rocked me to the core.

5 Songs: New Psych, Vol. 3

What will future generations think of the music from our era? I often ask myself this question as manufactured popular culture propels itself farther and farther from anything I could consider art. And yet, miles away from the lollypop glow of Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus, there are stratospheres of musical culture that continue to thrive. One of the supreme benefits of a population 7 billion strong is that a multiplicity of musical styles grows and flourishes in all the nooks and crannies. Welcome to my nook.

Be mine

Her is the strangest confluence of films. On the one hand, it is a science fiction film that predicts the arrival of hyper-intelligent AI operating systems. On the other hand, it is a film that is paradoxically rooted in human emotions and the deeper core of our inner selves.

Who’s hustling who

Running strong off the success of both The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook, David O. Russell delivers another knock out success with American Hustle — loosely based on the notorious ABSCAM operation of the 1970s.

Out of the Furnace, Into the Mire

As we approach Christmas, the big Oscar contenders are beginning to trickle out. With all the buzz that surrounded Cooper’s last film, Crazy Heart, it’s obvious that Out of the Furnace was meant to be a tour de force follow up, garnering accolades and prestige. Unfortunely, despite stellar performances and skillful direction, a woefully broken screenplay leads to the film’s ultimate demise.

The golden ticket

Alexander Payne’s new film Nebraska is what American art-house cinema would look like if it was directed by Frank Capra. It is a perfect blend of aesthetic refinement and classic Hollywood sentiment which elevates its rural setting while grounding its characters with heart.

Enter the Rot

When DC Comics re-launched their entire line-up of back in September 2011 for their New 52! campaign, one of the highlights was their line of Dark titles. Part of this dark little corner of DC included an Arthurian fantasy featuring Jack Kirby’s The Demon; the re-vamping of I, Vampire, an obscure 1980s serial which originally appeared in the horror anthology House of Mystery; and a new team book entitled Justice League Dark, which united host of characters from DC’s mature Vertigo branch into a more mainstream, action-adventure series, exploring the supernatural side of the DC universe.

No country for criminals

When we talk about the success or failure of a film, all too often we are implicating the strength of the script — the narrative choices made within the film and the effectiveness of the dialogue. In this auteur-driven age, we are apt to place the burden of responsibility on the shoulders of the director. However, most directors are simply craftsmen confined by the parameters of the script. In light of this, it is surprising that, aside from Charlie Kaufman and a precious few, screenwriters are a generally undervalued group. The Counselor is an excellent example of the difference a scriptwriter can have on a film.

5 Songs: New Psych, Vol 2

If I had had 6 slots instead of 5 when I initially wrote my first New Psych article, the Wavves would have been on it. The Wavves are the epitome of sun-drenched stoner rock, conjuring images of skateboarding, surfing and endless summers at the beach. Their exclusion from that list was a major impetus for me to add this second instalment.

Manifest destiny

Although there has been a cornucopia of talented black actors in film since the early days of Paul Robeson, black directors are something of a rarity.…

Enter the labyrinth

In a few weeks I will be wrapping up a trilogy of film reviews of South-Korea-invades-Hollywood. Interestingly, I could easily begin a new series entitled Quebec-invades-Hollywood with Villeneuve’s Prisoners, Jean-Marc Vallée’s The Dallas Buyers Club, and Ken Scott’s Delivery Man. However, fans of Quebec cinema shouldn’t be at all surprised by this turn of events. With the critical and commercial success of films like Villeneuve’s Incendies, Vallée’s Cafe de Flore, and Scott’s Starbuck, it was only a matter of time before Hollywood sniffed blood.

La vie en bleu

Winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes, Blue is the Warmest Color tells the story of Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulosas) she struggles to understand her own sexuality in a passionate coming of age tale about two lesbian lovers. But aside from depicting a convincing lesbian romance, there isn’t much else in the film. However, having just returned from Paris where I witnessed first hand the hordes of anti-gay marriage protesters that flocked to the streets throughout the year; perhaps a humanizing and heart felt LBGT romance is exactly what France needs right now.

Standing alone

Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine is a tour de force of pyschological trauma, anxiety, and aging in this return to the dramatic for the ever prolific director of comedy. I don’t imagine that there are many people sitting on the fence about Woody Allen. He has drawn a sharp line between avid fans and dedicated detractors. For those who do not enjoy his particular cinematic style, Blue Jasmine will probably not be the film to change your opinion.

Love and sex

Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut follows the exploits of a ladies’ man who is secretly addicted to pornography. Don Jon is a confident, assured, and entertaining release for the actor turned director. If you have already seen the trailer then much of the film will feel like an extended version, which normally wouldn’t appeal to me. However, Don Jon magically pulls off something more, offering up a slick, humorous and entertaining flic.