Category Archives: Do They All Die?

Do They All Die?: “Bon Cop Bad Cop”

dtat.jpgSalut de Québec!

This writer is presently on a five-week program attempting to learn French in La Belle Province. Part of this program is the cultural experience, which for me amounts to the consumption of poutine – french fries with cheese curds and gravy – and Unibroue and Boréale beer. (How jealous are you, TC?  Editor’s Note: Very jealous, Andy.  Do you know how much Unibroue costs down here?) However, the animateurs – those in charge of giving us things to do and making sure we speak only French – program Québecois films for our viewing pleasure and cultural benefit. Last night, they screened us a brilliant Canadian picture called Bon Cop Bad Cop. I pray the reader will forgive any factual inaccuracies as a result of my inability to understand all of the film, being that it was screened in French with French subtitles. The film is generically predictable: an action comedy cop-buddy movie in the Lethal Weapon/Beverly Hills Cop vein. As a result, the film is a fun ride with plenty of action and great dialogue and a pretty sweet sex scene.

But beyond that, this film is about the fragile Canadian identity and the tension between French and English Canada. It begins with a killing and a body found perched on a sign. The sign reads “Welcome to Ontario” on the east side and “Bienvenue au Québec” on the side facing west. Instead of calling in the federal police, two provincial cops, one from Toronto and the other from Montréal, partner up to solve the case. What follows is a commentary on creeping Americanization, hockey, and what it means to be Canadian.

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Do They All Die? 10: Transformers

dtat.jpgIntroduction

Because I was born in the early 1980s, I grew up with an immortal adulation for the best two hours of Saturday morning cartooning ever conceived for a growing boy. In succession (though the order fails me now) I faithfully watched GI Joe, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Thundercats, and, best of all, Transformers. Transformers, of course, was a program about the ongoing, interstellar war between robots. The greatest among them, leader of the Autobots, was Optimus Prime. He was the main character of the show. He was a Superman kind of character. Noble, just, uncompromising, and impossibly good. And, apparently, a talented concert pianist.

Because the rumors of a live action Transformers move have circulated around magazines and the internet as long as I can remember, I had no choice but to see this extraordinarily expensive film, regardless of how bad it looked, or how prominent involved Michael Bay (director of Pearl Harbor, Armageddon, and the Bad Boys movies) was.

What I found was, in fact, much worse and much better than I could have hoped or expected. No less confusing, the most surprising thing I found was one of my favorite dead white guys: Mr James Joyce.

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Do They All Die? 9: Once

dtat.jpgFyodor Dostoevsky once wrote, if my memory serves me, in his story White Nights, that all a man really needs in his life are moments. Dostoevsky may have just said “a moment”, but the point he makes is this: the most important things–the only important things–in life, are those brief, fleeting times of perfect joy. Those moments can carry a man.

John Carney’s film, Once, is a movie about such a moment. It takes place over the course of about a week, with your basic “Irishmen in Dublin meets adorable Czech immigrant and they both learn to make wonderful music together”. There is a lot of time spent in the film’s hour and forty minutes on the music. Glen Hansard, whose dayjob is singing lead for The Frames, a band I have never heard before, plays the male protagonist. Markéta Irglová, who is only 19 and thus, probably doesn’t have a dayjob, plays his female counterpart.

Hansard is a street musician and vacuum cleaner repairmen. Irglova is a Czech immigrant, and mother, with a broken vacuum cleaner. And she happens to be a big fan of Hansard’s, and a fairly accomplished pianist. On a whim, he fixes her vacuum and they play some music together, and, it would seem, their stylings jive nicely. There’s no real conflict here–the characters all get along and no one dies and the music is wonderful and all that. Drama isn’t really the point here. Neither is the film a comedy, though it has enough humor, I suppose. It is largely a vehicle for the songs, which are good in that Cat Power/Iron and Wine/Damiens (Jurado and Rice), empassioned folksy music kind of way.  Ya know, it’s earnest.

Likewise, I suppose, is the rest of the movie.  These two people may have nothing else in common outside of music.  Neither lives in a perfect world, but the movie isn’t about Life as Fucking Pain or the misery of bad relationships or death or poverty, or anything like that.  It merely reminds us that, sometimes, everything will come together for one, ephemeral moment of unadulterated happiness.

A marvelous, joy of a film.   Recommended for anyone in need of a reminder of the value of things that don’t last.

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Do They All Die?: “The Elephant Man”

dtat.jpgTC is cracking the whip now that he’s decided to blog again. This is all well and good except back at the ranch, my mother is also cracking the whip. From when my eyes open at 8:00 AM, there are a thousand things to do and none of them feature me at a computer writing about a movie (it goes without saying that none of these thousand things are me sitting at a television watching said movie). So I’ve been conforming to my mother’s demands all day and now I yield to TC’s. I was born free and am everywhere in chains.  [Edit. Note: For all his whining, young Master Andrew has, in fact, skipped the last three of his “weekly” columns with barely a peep from me.]

As is so often the case, Rousseau has provided us with a handy transition to this week’s film: David Lynch’s The Elephant Man (1980). After the break, we’ll talk about David Lynch and the Industrial Revolution.

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Do They All Die?: “Long Life, Happiness and Prosperity”

dtat.jpgMina Shum’s Long Life, Happiness and Prosperity (2002) may have been the film that got Sandra Oh cast in Sideways which may have been the role that got her cast on Grey’s Anatomy which may very well be the reason that her face is plastered on the Earth. I was reading one of these many articles on Oh that mentioned a DVD I was given ages ago but never got around to watching, Shum’s film. So I decided to check it out and see what this film was all about, besides Sandra Oh. Turns out it’s a modern day fairy tale that is really interesting and well worth serious consideration.

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Do They All Die?: “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints”

dtat.jpgDito Montiel’s A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (2006) is serious stuff. I watched it last Wednesday to write this piece and it’s been turning around in my brain ever since. It’s now Friday morning and my piece should be up by now. So I’m just going to share some thoughts. It will be none too structured and I ask your forgiveness in advance. After you click, we’ll discuss the plot, the editing, and then we’ll take on the title.

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Do They All Die?: “Death of a President”

dtat.jpgGabriel Range’s “Death of a President” premiered amidst heavy controversy at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2006. When you consider the plot, it’s pretty easy to see why. The film is astoundingly multi-leveled and multi-modal: a fictional narrative about the events following the assassination of President George W. Bush in October 2007 done as a documentary a year after it “happened,” all within the overarching framework of a mockumentary/shockumentary, since October 2007 has not happened and George Bush has not been assassinated nor will he be, insh’allah, as they say [insh’allah is Arabic for “God willing”]. Politicians across the American political spectrum roundly condemned the film, though it is unclear if they ever saw the film, when one considers that their comments were irrelevant and that the film couldn’t get distributed in any mainstream theatre.

The film’s modal confusion leaves us with the answer to our question (President George W. Bush dies) but little else. The film refuses to make truth claims and questions our capacity to know any kind of absolute truth in the American political climate minutely covered by 24-hour network news. More on this ambitious picture after you click.

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