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I Love Screens.

16 Jan

I love screens. Big screens, little screens. I love where they can take you.

The big screen is a phone-free oasis where you can plunk yourself in a room with hundreds of strangers and laugh and cry along with them with no judgement. (Although if you were seated anywhere near me during the Notebook I’m sure judgement was cast and I just didn’t notice because my mascara was running so ferociously I thought I’d never see the light of day again.)

I love movies. Funny ones, sad ones, romantic ones. NOT scary, or ones where animals die or appear to have died or come close to dying or leave for months and return after their families thought they were dead.

I also LOVE TV. In the same way a movie is so carefully crafted to hook you in one seating, I love the idea that somewhere a group of people works tirelessly to keep you coming back episode after episode, season after season.

I also loveeee finding a new show. And with 2015 in the rear view mirror, I’d like to share my thoughts on my fav new shows from the year and my 2016 top picks. ( Making a Murderer aside because I can’t even get started.)

Scream Queens.

Not gonna lie. I judged this one HARSHLY. While travelling in the states this summer everywhere I turned Lea Michellescream-queens-hester-brace or Nick Jonas was staring at me and I just kept thinking whhhhhy!!?!

Well, shame on me. This campy, over the top tale of sorority girls fighting against the Red Devil Serial Killer is insanely entertaining. Cameos galore, unreal wardrobes and a great plot have me wanting more week after week.

 

 

Master of None.

master-of-none

Aziz Ansari has found a way to bring topics that impact 30 somethings in a laugh fest like no other. From group chats with your parents to being the friend without kids in a group full of friends with kids. It hits close to home AND has you laughing until milk comes out of your nose. Or wine. Whatever.

Schitt’s Creek.

schitt

Canadian comedy has rarely hit me as hard as this one. I watched the first episode twice back to back because a) I didn’t realize there was a second one yet and b) loved it so so much.

Yes, the original hook for me was Dan Levy. As a die-hard After Show lover, I was so excited to see him back in my living room on a regular basis. However, I quickly came to love each and every character as each episode went on. The show is not only ridiculously hilarious, but timely, and heartfelt while all the while being oh-so-dramatic and over the top.

You pair that with Catherine O’Hara’s wigs and Eugene’s eyebrows, winner winner, chicken dinner.

Letterkenny.

letterkenny

OK so, hear me out, this one is TECHNICALLY not out yet, but anyone previously reading the blog will know that Letterkenny is near and dear to my heart. Letterkenny was inspired by growing up in Listowel, Ontario. Jared Keeso (of 19-2 notoriety), penned some YouTube shorts that took off faster than a coyote in heat, and the people wanted more. Thus, Letterkenny became Crave TV’s first original series.

The show drops on February 7th on Crave TV,and I can promise that for fans of the YouTube series, you will not be disappointed.

 

Movie Review: “Cashback”

15 Aug

Cashback” is a 2006 film by Sean Ellis that recently made its way to Netflix Canada. Intrigued by the poster (potentially NSFW), I gave it a shot.

Ben breaks up with his girlfriend, realizes he can pause time, and looks at a bunch of exposed boobies.

For a film that’s impenetrably crass, Cashback manages to be the least titillating film involving excessive quantities of exposed breasts that I have ever seen.

Have you ever looked at an artist’s work, full of paintings of nude women, and wondered, “Did they just get into art because they wanted to see naked girls?” You may, as I have, immediately attempted to ignore this feeling and imagined that it’s only a way for you to excuse your own lack of creativity (not to mention meager charm). Cashback instead demands that the viewer embrace this feeling as the only way to appreciate the film at all.

This is a drama/comedy so lacking in wit or intelligence that one wonders if there could possibly be any other motive behind it beyond the opportunity to pay beautiful women to expose their breasts. The audience’s only purpose is to bear witness to this awkward transaction.

In the scene that first demonstrates Ben’s ability to pause time and disrobe (and draw) his paused victims, a supermarket aisle is shown containing four stunning women in various levels of exposure. These women are the type that you only see rarely, and sport the sort of carefully selected beauty typically reserved for actors in the pornographic arts. And yet here they are, and we are expected to believe that, not only did they all end up at the same supermarket on the same night, but in the same aisle at that.

The sheer unbelievability of it all defies even what one might be used to seeing in porn. Who are these people, and are we really expected to believe that they’re real?

In almost every scene containing women, the person in charge of casting made every effort to ensure that only improbably pretty women made it into frame, but made no similar attempt for the men. It is so noticeable that it becomes everything the film is about.

But it gets worse than that. Ben, the main character, also narrates flashbacks to his young childhood where he is obsessed with girls of perhaps 10 or 12 years old. Once again, we’re left to wonder who was in charge of finding “beautiful” children, meant to be sexualized and studied.

And let us consider for just a moment that Ben can pause time. And, essentially, he only uses this incredible power to draw naked strangers. Surely the filmmakers could make some attempt to justify this, full of revisionist symbolism, about how this demonstrates how we all waste the time we’re given and the privileges we have, etc. etc. Or even that Ben cannot, in fact, pause time, but it is just his rampant imagination and insomnia that grant him the ability to think he has. But that explanation would fall as flat as every other component of this movie.

Of course, brooding voiceover fills most scenes, ostensibly to deliver the insights that the film does not contain (about anything, let alone life or love).

In the end, this is a film in which nothing interesting happens among a cast of boring characters, where the least absurd element is Ben’s ability to manipulate the fabric of time.

The Bachelorette – WTF?

5 Jul

Full disclosure – I almost-never watch the Bachelorette. I recall seeing a few episodes when it was Trista, but in general, it’s just not my kind of show (if there’s no singing or dancing, laughter-inducing moments, mystical creatures, or crime-solving then I’m probably not on board).  The other night, at roughly 9:02, I was flipping through and saw the opening credits rolling, so I thought ‘Hey, why the heck not? There’s nothing else on anyway.’ Well, that was a bad call. For the next 2 hours I watched, and with every commercial break I became increasingly more confused and agitated. My main question is just… What?!? So, if you can enlighten me on this whole Bachelorette phenomenon, please get in on the conversation. Here’s what I’d like to know…

1) What made this girl the bachelorette in the first place? Aren’t they supposed to be kind of fun and wild and a little bit crazy? I’m sure Ashley is a nice girl, but she is to personalities what taupe is to wall colours. Neutral, inoffensive, kind of blah, good for resale. All in all, I’m underwhelmed.

2) What happened to her to make her keep going on about how insecure she is? That needs to stop. Reinforcing how insecure you are at every on-camera opportunity makes you look quite sad – and not in an endearing sad-puppy way, but in a ‘jesus lady, grow a pair!’ type of way. Everyone has their insecurities, but there’s no need to shout it from the rooftops.

3) What is the deal with Bentley? I’ve seen enough Entertainment Tonight and read enough Us Weekly to know that this guy said or did something quite mean to Ashley. He left the house and said he didn’t find her at all attractive, and would rather swim through an ocean of pee than be with her. Something to that effect, right? So WHY did I just see him on this episode? So he could come back and tell her again that he doesn’t like her?  So just to get this straight – the moral here is: if you act like a Grade-A a-hole on television, you will earn yourself a free trip to Hong Kong so you can reinforce how much of a prick you are. Again… what!?

4) What does a guy have to do to get a rose around here? There seem to be some guys in the mix that Ashley has never been on a ‘solo-date’ with, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she didn’t actually know all of their names, yet they are still in the running. Is Ashley handing out ‘I think we could be friends’ roses? She clearly has some favorites already picked out. (I’d put my money on JP for the win.) But keep in mind I have seen none of the other episodes.

5) Finally – What are the odds Bentley is going to be the next bachelor? I’m going to say… quite good. Objectively, he is good looking, and has a pretty great head of hair. He’s clearly a massive slimeball, but doesn’t that make for the best kind of TV? I love a good reality TV villain – so why not make the villain the star of the show? I’m pretty sure if this guy isn’t the next Bachelor, he will be getting his own TV show of some description. Bentley’s BadBoy Bootcamp? Bentley’s Badmouthing Bonanza? Bentley’s Babymomma Battles?  Those I might watch.

“Never Let Me Go” — Movie Review

24 Jan

Never Let Me Go is my favourite film of 2010, hands down. – Review by Joel

Never Let Me Go is a film about love. I’d say it’s about death, but that would suggest that love isn’t always, in some way, about death and loss:

The context in which love is experienced is the knowledge that it will one day be lost.

I won’t say too much more about the themes or plot because knowing too much will only prepare you for the end. And it would be an insult to the characters in some way, I think, to have steeled yourself against what you will experience in the last act.

You will cry. Or at least want to. As the credits rolled no one in the theater made a motion to move, as if the slightest disturbance might shatter everyone’s constitution at once.

This is no Notebook. This is a plausible narrative that makes you sad because of how the world actually works, or could.

You will wonder, however briefly, whether it’s ever really worth loving anyone.

Never Let Me Go was easily missed during its theatrical run (who is the audience for this sort of tragedy?), but you should absolutely pick it up when it is released on DVD on February 1st.

So why should you watch it? Because it is an amazingly well written, directed, and acted film about a series of thoughts and feelings that have never been expressed this well before.

Starring:
Carey Mulligan (also fantastic in An Education)
Andrew Garfield (from The Social Network, and soon to be Spider-man)
Keira Knightley (the “big name” in the film, but you really do forget it’s her)