Music Video Of The Day: Feel It By Jakalope (2004, dir by My Pet Skeleton and Lisa Mann)


Today’s music video of the day is Feel It by Jakalope, one of my favorite Canadian bands!

I’m a huge fan of both this song and this video.  The song, which was co-written by Trent Reznor, first appeared on Jakalope’s debut album, It Follows.  It Follows was also co-produced by Reznor and perhaps it’s appropriate that the video itself is reminiscent of some of the videos that Mark Romanek directed by Nine Inch Nails.

(The video itself was directed by Lisa Mann and graphic artist Vincent Marcone, aka My Pet Skeleton.)

One of the great things about being a fan of Degrassi is that it’s exposed to me Canadian bands, like Jakalope.  In fact, from season 4 through 7, Jakalope performed the show’s famous theme song.  As for Feel It, it can be heard in Ghost In The Machine, the premiere episode of Degrassi’s fourth season.

In fact, the entire fourth season was full of great music!  In particular, Islands in the Stream, the season’s 6th episode, featured a beautiful song called Pretty People, which was performed by the Robber Who Robbed The Town.  I have searched and searched and I have yet to find Pretty People ANYWHERE!  Seriously, it is sooooo frustrating!

Oh well.  At least I have Feel It

Back to School Part II #28: School’s Out (dir by Kit Hood)


schools-out

School’s Out, a 1992 film that was made for Canadian television, is historically important for two reasons.

First off, it featured not only the first use of the F-word on Canadian broadcast television but the second as well!  The first actor to say the word was Stefan Brogren who, in the role of frustrated lifeguard Snake Simpson, complained, “Joey Jeremiah spends his summer dating Caitlin and fucking Tessa!”  About a minute later, Stacie Mistysyn (in the role of Caitlin), yelled, “You were fucking Tessa Campanelli!?”

I’m not sure what exactly went on behind-the-scenes before School’s Out broke the F-word barrier.  Help me out, Canadian readers.  Was this a big deal in your country?  Was this controversial?  Did you get weeks of warning or was everyone taken by surprise?  And was happened afterwards?  Does the F-word now show up regularly on Canadian television?  I’m sincerely curious and I guess I’ll find out for myself when, after the presidential election, I move to Toronto.

Still, regardless of whether there was any drama behind-the-scenes, it’s interesting that, in 1992, Canada had already progressed beyond America, as far as censorship and broadcast standards concerned.  24 years later, actors on American network television are still not allowed to say what Stefan Brogren said during School’s Out.

Of course, if you’re a fan of Degrassi, you can probably appreciate the irony of Stefan Brogren being the one to break the Fuck Barrier.  Brogren plays Archie “Snake” Simpson.  When Degrassi: The Next Generation began in 2001, Archie was a teacher at Degrassi Community School.  Over the course of the series, Archie married, became Emma Nelson’s stepfather, and was eventually appointed principal.  Through it all, Archie has been a well-meaning but somewhat dorky authority figure.  Simpson has always been the guy who you can depend on to explain why condoms are important and stalkers are bad but he’s also always been the guy who inevitably says something unintentionally humorous and then wonders why everyone is laughing at him.

But before Degrassi: The Next Generation, there was Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High.  These two shows aired in the 80s and featured Brogren (and Snake Simpson) as just another student, worrying about getting a girlfriend and occasionally dealing with an issue-of-the-week.

That brings us to the other reason why School’s Out is historically important.  School’s Out was meant to serve as the finale of Degrassi High, a chance for the show’s fans to get one last chance to hang out with Snake, Caitlin, Wheels (the tragic Neil Hope), and Joey Jeremiah (Pat Mastroianni, with hair!) and perhaps get a glimpse of what the future held in store for them.

Though the producers may not have realized it at the time, School’s Out also perfectly lay the foundation for Degrassi: The Next Generation.  I have to admit that, as much as I love Degrassi, I haven’t seen many episodes of Degrassi Junior High or Degrassi High.  Fortunately, that didn’t make it difficult for me to follow School’s Out.  In fact, many of the things that happened in School’s Out would regularly be referred to in Degrassi: The Next Generation.

The film opens with the senior class of Degrassi High graduating and preparing for their final summer before university and responsibility.  Joey Jeremiah plans to ask his longtime girlfriend, Caitlin, to marry him.  However, when Joey proposes to Caitlin, she turns him down.  She’s not ready for that type of commitment, not when she’s about to leave town to go to college.  (For his part, Joey failed a grade during Degrassi Junior High and, as a result, he’ll finally be starting his senior year while all of his friends are getting on with their lives.  While Caitlin is studying journalism at university, Joey will presumably still be trying to pass Mr. Raditch’s history class.)  Hurt over being turned down by Caitlin, Joey ends up sleeping with Tessa Campanelli (Kirsten Bourne).  Soon, he is — as Snake memorably puts it — dating Caitlin and fucking Tessa.

What amazed me, as I watched School’s Out, was just how much of asshole Joey Jeremiah was truly portrayed as being.  If, like me, you previously only knew him from Degrassi, then you know Joey as being a widowed used care salesman, a loving father, and an all-around good guy.  So, it’s strange and a little bit jarring to see him here as a remorseless cheater who brags about betraying Caitlin and who cruelly teases Snake for being a virgin.

(Then again, seeing School’s Out adds an interesting shading to Joey’s character.  Watching the film, I suddenly understood why Joey often seemed so overprotective of his stepson, Craig.  During the third season of Degrassi, Craig made many of the same bad decisions that Joey previously made in School’s Out.  Much as Joey was “dating Caitlin and fucking Tessa,” Craig was dating Ashley and fucking Manny.  Watching School’s Out, I finally understood that, during seasons 3 and 4 of Degrassi, Joey was often looking at Craig and seeing himself.)

Of course, it wouldn’t be Degrassi if there weren’t a few other subplot going on at the same time as the Joey/Caitlin/Tessa love triangle.  Seriously, hardly anyone gets a positive ending in School’s Out.  Not only does Joey cheat and Snake curse but there’s also an unplanned pregnancy.  There’s a party that leads to a major character driving drunk, killing a child, and blinding a classmate.  Yes, the film does end with a wedding but we barely know the people getting married.  Nobody, it seems, gets a truly happy ending.

Seriously, Canadian readers, how traumatizing was School’s Out when it was originally broadcast!?

Fortunately, I was able to watch School’s Out with the knowledge that, as bad as the summer was, Joey would eventually find love and Snake would get a job.  As for Caitlin, she would not only end up hosting a public affairs show called Ryan’s Planet but, at the end of the 4th season of Degrassi, she would have a brief flirtation with director Kevin Smith.

(Both Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes were in Canada, filming Jay and Silent Bob Go Canadian, eh?  It’s a long story.)

Anyway, I’m very happy that I finally watched School’s Out.  I may even go back and watch Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High.  They’re all available on YouTube now!

On a final note — LOVE YOU, CANADA!

degso

Music Video of the Day: What I Know by Downtown Sasquatch (2004, dir by Stefan Scaini)


I’ll be the first to admit that it’s probably debatable whether or not today’s music video of the day is actually a music video.  The fictional Canadian band Downtown Sasquatch performed What I Know at the end of the Rock and Roll High School episode of Degrassi.  The video below is taken from the end of that episode.

But, you know what?  I think this does qualify as a music video.  It’s certainly shot like a music video and, to a large extent, it reminds me of something from the pop culture fueled imagination of Spike Jonze.  In some ways, it’s even better when viewed out of the context of the rest of the episode.  So dammit, it’s a music video!

Add to that, I love this song!

As for Downtown Sasquatch, they were the most popular band on Degrassi and they went through several lineup changes.  Fortunately, What I Know was performed with the first and best lineup.

On bass, we have Marco Del Rossi (played by Adamo Ruggiero), whose epic coming out story played out over five seasons of Degrassi.

On lead guitar, we have Jimmy Brooks (played by Aubrey Graham, though he’s now better known as Drake).  Since this took place during the third season of the show, Jimmy could still walk.  This would change during the fourth season of the show when he was shot in the back by Rick Murray.

On drums — Spinner Mason (Shane Kippel)!  How important a character was Spinner to Degrassi?  He was so important that, despite the fact that he started the show a year ahead of all the other characters, it still took him seven seasons to graduate from high school.  Seriously, some of us were wondering if Spinner was going to end up celebrating his 40th birthday in Mr. Simpson’s media immersion class.  Incidentally, just a season after Downtown Sasquatch’s performance here, Spinner would be involved in the prank that would eventually lead to Rick Murray shooting Jimmy in the back.  However, Jimmy and Spinner would eventually reconcile and start a T-shirt business called Squatchwear.

And finally, we have our lead singer and founder of Downtown Sasquatch, Craig Manning (Jake Epstein)!  A bipolar photographer and a musialc genius, Craig not only started Downtown Sasquatch but he also impregnated Manny Santos and broke the hearts of not only Ashley Kerwin but Ellie Nash as well!

Speaking of Ashley (Melissa McIntyre) and Ellie (Stacey Farber), they’re both sitting in the audience and watching Downtown Sasquatch perform.  If you look closely, you’ll notice that they’re both wearing t-shirts that depict Craig burning in Hell.

Anyway, after all that, here’s the video!

O Canada! Here are the Toronto Film Critics winners!


Love you, Canada!

Love you, Canada!

Here are the films that the Toronto Film Critics picked (on Sunday) for the best of 2015!  Love you, Canada!

Best Picture: Carol

Best Director: Todd Haynes, Carol

Best Actress: Nina Hoss, Phoenix

Best Actor: Tom Hardy, Legend

Best Supporting Actress: Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina

Best Supporting Actor: Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies

Best Screenplay: The Big Short

Best First Film: Ex Machina

Best Foreign Language Film: Phoenix

Best Documentary: The Look of Silence

Best Animated Feature: Shaun the Sheep Movie

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”