It’s Turbo Kid!


PCAS

Just judging from this short teaser, the upcoming film Turbo Kid looks like something that quite a few of our readers might enjoy.  It certainly got a good reaction when it premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.  It’s a post-apocalyptic adventure film that features some familiar Canadian actors.  In the role of Turbo Kid, we have Munro Chambers, who is best known for playing Eli, everyone’s favorite bipolar, aspiring filmmaker, on Degrassi.

From some of the same people who brought you Hobo With A Shotgun, here’s the teaser for Turbo Kid!

 

Shattered Politics #47: Agency (dir by George Kaczender)


Agency

“Who are the other two lugs on this poster? And who’s the dame? Baby, I just don’t give a damn…” Robert Mitchum in Agency.

Like a lot of writers who occasionally have issues when it comes to balancing ambition with time management, I’ve discovered that it helps if I listen to music while I write.  For instance, while writing the majority of the reviews for Shattered Politics, I’ve been listening to Big Data’s Dangerous.

And that choice of music has actually turned out to be extremely appropriate.  No, not just because it’s dangerous to write about politics.  But also because the official music video for Dangerous deals with advertising and, more specifically, how sex and violence are used to sell everything from shoes to politicians.

Now, I don’t know about you but, whenever I see that video, I feel like I’m ready to put on a sports bra, running shorts, and of course my Big Data running shoes so that I can take control and headbutt my way through life!  A good commercial can do that.  (And don’t even get me started on what I’m going to do to the next person I see eating a hot dog…)

Interestingly enough, the 47th film that I’m reviewing for Shattered Politics also deals with the power of advertising.  First released in 1980, Agency stars Robert Mitchum as Ted Quinn, the mysterious new owner of a major ad company.  Out of all of the old school movie stars, Robert Mitchum is one of my favorites because he was not only a great actor but he was also a very honest one.  If he didn’t give a damn about a role, he wasn’t going to try to fool the audience otherwise.  Instead, he was going to deliver his lines and kind of smirk with his eyes, his way of subliminally asking the audience, “Are you actually watching this shit?”  And while this may have led to Mitchum giving several performances that were unworthy of his talent, it also means that if you see Robert Mitchum actually invested in a role than that means the film must be something really special.

Unfortunately, Agency is not one of those “something really special” films.  And Mitchum’s bored performance reflects that fact.

"Just try to make me care." Robert Mitchum in Agency.

“Just try to make me care.” Robert Mitchum in Agency.

Anyway, under Ted Quinn’s leadership, the ad agency is doing commercials for all the usual clients.  The movie starts with one of those commercials — a leather-themed, disco-scored short film extolling the virtues of No Sweat deodorant.  And then there’s also the big chocolate energy drink commercial.  However, copywriter Sam Goldstein (Saul Rubinek) suspects that Ted might have sinister motives.  After a right-wing  candidate comes out of nowhere to win a seat in the U.S. Senate, Sam suspects that the deodorant commercial may have contained subliminal messages…

That’s right!  It’s exactly like that episode of Saved By The Bell where Zack Morris brainwashed Mr. Belding by giving him that subliminally-spiked tape of the Beach Boys.

Well, before you can say “Zack Morris is a blonde Tom Cruise,” Sam has been murdered and it’s up to Sam’s best friend, Philip Morgan (Lee Majors), to reveal the truth about Ted’s sinister agenda…

Like many U.S.-set thrillers from the 1980s, Agency was actually a Canadian film.  Montreal stands in for an unnamed American city where it frequently snows and the supporting cast is full of actors with noticeable Canadian accents.  Mind you, that’s not a complaint.  I love Canada, I love Canadians, and I especially love Canuxploitation films.

That said, Agency is probably one of the least interesting Canadian thrillers that I’ve ever sat through.  (I should add, of course, that I saw Agency on a very low-quality DVD that was released by Miracle Pictures.  And I really do have to say that this was absolutely one of the worst transfers that I’ve ever seen.  It appears that the DVD was copied from an old VHS tape.)  It’s not so much that it’s a terrible film as much as it’s just not a very interesting one.  With the exception of Rubinek, the actors go through the motions with little enthusiasm and the story plods along.  Maybe back in 1980, the whole idea of subliminal advertising seemed exciting and relevant.  But seen today, it just all seems incredibly silly.

So, in the end, Agency did not make me want to headbutt my way through life.

Sorry.

(I still love you, Canada!)

(And you too, Robert Mitchum!)

"Baby, I just don't give a damn."  Robert Mitchum in Agency.

“Baby, I just don’t give a damn.” Robert Mitchum in Agency.

 

Here’s What Won In Toronto! Love you, Canada!


Love you, Canada!

Love you, Canada!

Here are the Toronto Film Critics Awards.

BEST PICTURE
“Boyhood” (Mongrel Media)
Runners-up
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” (Fox Searchlight)
“Inherent Vice” (Warner Bros.)

BEST ACTOR
Tom Hardy, “Locke”
Runners-up
Ralph Fiennes, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Jake Gyllenhaal, “Nightcrawler”

BEST ACTRESS
Marion Cotillard, “The Immigrant”
Runners-up
Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”
Reese Witherspoon, “Wild”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”
Runners-up
Josh Brolin, “Inherent Vice”
Edward Norton, “Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”
Runners-up
Tilda Swinton, “Snowpiercer”
Katherine Waterston, “Inherent Vice”

BEST DIRECTOR
Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”
Runners-up
Paul Thomas Anderson, “Inherent Vice”
Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

BEST SCREENPLAY, ADAPTED OR ORIGINAL
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”, screenplay by Wes Anderson
from a story by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness
Runners-up
“Boyhood”, written by Richard Linklater
“Inherent Vice”, screenplay by Paul Thomas Anderson
based on the novel by Thomas Pynchon

BEST FIRST FEATURE
“The Lunchbox”, directed by Ritesh Batra
Runners-up
“John Wick”, directed by Chad Stahelski
“Nightcrawler”, directed by Dan Gilroy

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
“The Tale of the Princess Kaguya” (GKids)
Runners-up
“Big Hero 6″ (Walt Disney Studios)
“How to Train Your Dragon 2″ (20th Century Fox)
“The Lego Movie” (Warner Bros.)

BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM
“Force Majeure” (filmswelike)
Runners-up
“Ida” (filmswelike)
“Leviathan” (Mongrel Media)

BEST DOCUMENTARY
“The Overnighters” (filmswelike)
Runners-up
“Citizenfour” (Entertainment One)
“Manakamana” (filmswelike)

JAY SCOTT PRIZE FOR AN EMERGING ARTIST
Albert Shin, director of “In Her Place”

Ghosts of Christmas Past #21: Ghosts of Degrassi Past


Today’s ghost of Christmas past comes to us from my favorite country in the whole entire world, Canada!

Admit it, longtime readers — you knew that I was eventually going to have to find an excuse to include an episode of Degrassi in my holiday series, didn’t you?

Ghosts of Degrassi Past is a mini-episode from 2009.  Holly J is, as usual, stressing out so the ghost of J.T. appears and teachers her a lesson about Christmas spirit.

It’s Degrassi at its best!

 

Ghosts of Christmas Past #14: Dave Foley’s The True Meaning of Christmas Specials


I came across tonight’s Ghost of Christmas Past while I was doing a search on Christmas specials that have been posted to YouTube.  Apparently, this is a Canadian show that aired way back in 2002.

And, watching it, I could really tell that was the truth.  This show is not only very Canadian but it’s very 2002 and as well.  Fortunately, while I can pretty much do without 2002, I happen to love Canada.

Ten Years #41: Our Lady Peace


Decade of last.fm scrobbling countdown:
41. Our Lady Peace (765 plays)
Top track (30 plays): Angels Losing Sleep, from Healthy in Paranoid Times (2005)

We are all entitled to a guilty pleasure or two. I would humor calling Our Lady Peace mine, but only if we agree to restrict their cause for lameness to the lyrics. Their popularity, especially as those “Canadian softies” emerging amidst much heavier U.S. trends, overshadows the fact that they are absolutely amazing. Raine Maida’s voice is capable of making anything sound great, and capable of making me not give a shit about singing a falsetto at the top of my lungs at traffic lights with my windows down. Even as I was signing the final divorce papers with my radio in the late 90s and letting my affair with Napster and heavy metal be known, I was probably listening to 1999’s Happiness…is Not a Fish That You Can Catch more than any other album on the market. I’ve definitely listened to it more than most other 1990s albums–even the grunge greats–in my more informed years to follow.

How people have experienced OLP over the years probably varies drastically depending on where you’re from. The late 1990s and early 2000s marked the final days of musical segregation, with Americans barely having a clue who Radiohead, Blur, and Muse were. (Didn’t one of them do that “woo-hoo” song?) The U.S. and Canada were a bit more in sync, but Our Lady Peace was definitely not the overhyped megaband down here that my Canadian friends recall. They were just “that band that did Clumsy and Superman’s Dead”. The singles on Happiness received minimal air time, and the only song since that I’ve really heard extensively here was “Somewhere Out There” (Gravity, 2002). (I can’t honestly speak for their last three albums of course. Maybe “Angels Losing Sleep” was huge–it deserves to be–but I hadn’t listened to mainstream radio in years by then.) My main point here is that, while OLP might have been played to the point of annoyance in Canada, down here they were presented modestly enough to not face serious media pollution. I had a better opportunity to engage them by choice–and choose which songs I liked best.

Our Lady Peace are a band that has definitely catered to the radio single. Even on their first album, Naveed (1994), a few tracks stood out as decisively more catchy than the status quo. Their albums by and large are never perfect; there are plenty of second-rate tracks in their discography. What they have really accomplished throughout their career is a consistency of top-notch quality among the handful of main focus tracks they produce for a given album. They are a band better set to a playlist, and even as recently as Burn Burn in 2009 they’ve pumped out new material worthy of that mix. (“Signs of Life”, “Paper Moon”–featured above) Happiness…is Not a Fish That You Can Catch remains, I think, their best album by far, because it is the only one for which I can safely say there are no downer tracks. Every song on that album could be a single. But I really do enjoy the full discography, and I have a tendency to queue it up from start to finish when I’ve got a long project to work on at home. Something about the more ho-hum tracks projects a sort of humility on the big picture–the sense that these guys are down to earth, not supernaturally brilliant in the sense of contemporaries like Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam. Their lyrics are frequently incredibly lame, but that’s the only major fault I hear in a band that was perhaps a bit too successful to be appreciated for their real worth.

Our Lady Peace: a guilty pleasure? Maybe, but I’ll keep singing along.

Before I Abandon America For Canada, Here’s 6 Trailers To Remember Me By.


Hi everyone!  Yesterday was election day here in the United States and what can I say other than that I’m taking my cute ass to Canada!  That may sound extreme but earlier this month, I promised that if Hello Kitty and Tuxedo Sam did not win this election, I was heading up north.

And in honor of my future life in the land of Degrassi and Ryan Gosling, here’s another edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Film trailers.  And guess what?  This edition is dedicated to Canadian films!

1) Abraxas: Guardian of the Universe (1990)

This is less of a trailer and more of an advertisement designed to entice retailers to keep Abraxas in stock.  But, what’s really important here is that it’s Canadian.

2) Expect No Mercy (1996)

With a title like Expect No Mercy, it has to be good!  Plus, it was made in Canada.

3) Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter (2001)

Who needs Abraham Lincoln?

4) The Playgirl Killer (1966)

“The Playgirl Killer … in color!”  I think the Playgirl Killer looks like he might be distantly related to Steve Buscemi.

5) Starship Invasions (1977)

I think this film might involved starships invading something.  It’s hard to tell from the trailer.

6) Rolling Vengeance (1987)

It’s out for revenge!  And it’s … rolling, apparently.

What do you think, Trailer Kitty?

Don’t Blame Doc! (Photogapher: Erin Nicole. Model: Doc Bowman)