Culture & Conversation

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.

Of mice and men and corporations

In 1990, the US Supreme Court granted a patent on a mouse. I was in attendance at a major environmental conference in Vancouver when that decision came down and we were shocked. Can anyone own a life form? Would ownership evolve from rodents to bovines to, gasp, humans? And what is life anyways?

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.

MaisonMcFarlane

“Let them eat compost”

POLITICS. In this mayoralty race urban agriculture has hardly been on the lips of the front-runners. When asked by a Radio Canada journalist if he composts, Denis Coderre quipped: “I eat my compost,” a one liner that surely sums up his party’s well thought out environmental program.

Risky theatre

Let us just say that this reviewer has never been a fan of hip hop. It was only fair then that I brought with me an aspiring actor who is. That said, I realized pretty quickly that this play was so much more than a musical. It had all the dramatic structure and passion of a great tragedy.

Taking an info-dump

The last time we saw Benedict Cumberbatch, he was maniacally driving a burning starship into a centre of military power. It might be said that his character in The Fifth Estate is up to much the same thing, though arguably with a bit less wrath than is summoned by Star Trek’s arch villain, Khan.

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.…

Carefree highway

Michael Hingston is a writer who knows what he wants in a book. As he should – he’s been reviewing books for several years for the National Post, the Globe and Mail, and the Edmonton Journal. But while developing good critiques is an art in itself, crafting stories is, to employ an under-used expression, quite a different kettle of fish. It was with some relief and much delight that The Dilettantes, Hingston’s first novel, proved to be an uproarious and thoroughly readable debut, one this reviewer isn’t hesitating to recommend.

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.

METAfizzycal fun and prizes

Does Montreal’s Anglo theatre scene crave glamour? You bet. Some 230 artists, critics, friends and loved ones gathered last night in the sumptuous Rialto Theatre for the first annual META ceremony. Tuxedos and gowns were in abundance. Either a lot of people on the indie scene have secret lives, or they’ve kept the costumes from a slew of fancy plays.

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.

Girls gone wild

The Black Roses is a girl gang. The members ply their trades – ATM scams, car theft, drug sales – on Vancouver’s gritty Downtown Eastside (with a little high-end shoplifting downtown thrown in). Mac and Mercy were working for the Vipers, but when Mercy gets beat up while hooking on the corner, they decide to go out on their own.

Hitting all the right notes

It is terrific to watch fourteen, yes count them, fourteen young actors singing their hearts out. And that’s just the cast; they share the stage with a seven piece orchestra on a minimal set at Calixa Lavallée in the middle of Parc Lafontaine. Just for historical context, it is amusing to see the play that influenced some of the most important playwrights of the twentieth century and was censored in so many countries.