Thursday, February 28, 2013

Today I have a busy schedule of braving the Hoth winter wonderland like outdoors to get some more tattoo stuff done, followed by a Mozart performance from the NAC orchestra. Not ideally planned, as having an arm covered in fresh tattoo work isn't ideal for dressing up or applauding. Before that I have to get in a big meal too, always must remember to at before all the needle related pain and blood loss.

Added to all that excitement of tattoo's, high brow entertainment and is also new Dunny day! The new line of collectible vinyl art toys feature 13 new designs, all from fan-favourite artist Huck Gee. Some folks look at stuff like Dunny's as waste of money, dust collectors. I admit that I can understand that point of view, but I've become hooked on the things and can't resist. I don't see them as junk, but as genuine lil' pieces of limited edition (and for the most part affordable) pop-art.

Sometimes I look at my collection of Dunny's and get a brief flash that logically I could have spent that money better elsewhere. Then I remember that if I hadn't of purchased all of them, I wouldn't have any Dunny's! That's not a world that I want to be a part of.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Yes, I am running behind on my tevee watching, but thanks to the Netflix baby steps are being made towards having a slightly shorter 'to-watch' list. Last night we made a marathon through a batch of Dexter's and finished off season six. Maybe it helped that I heard from a number of sources that this was a weak season, but despite negative reviews that I came my way, I really enjoyed the whole season.

Six seasons in, the show has a very different feel than when it started, but I still find that it's quite gripping episodic entertainment. The true compliment to a teevee show is if when you finish watching an episode you can't resist and want to watch the next one right away. Last night we watched five episodes back to back. When the show began, it was really a mystery as to whether Dexter had a soul or not. The series and it's central character expertly swayed back n fourth that his whole life was a sham as to help cover up his murderous ways, then would hint that he actually had feelings and cared for his sister and co-workers and love interests. This far in, it's pretty clear that Dexter does care about the people in his life, that hasn't made the series any less enjoyable from my view-point though.

If Dexter had been adapted from it's novel source material into a feature film, I think that a much different story would have been told. Back when I was in film school another student argued against teevee, thinking that teevee storytelling didn't have the scope of film. I love movies, but that train of thought is hugely incorrect. If Dexter had been a movie you would have gotten two hours or so of character and story development, or maybe six or so hours if it was successful and became trilogy. In six seasons of Dexter you get 72 episodes (I think ranging from about 45 to 50 minutes) of story...logically it's easy to see that characters get a lot more to do in all that time.

This season of Dexter had a religious over-tone. The story points ranged from Dexter being uncomfortable at putting his son into a catholic school run by nuns, to the villains of the arc having an end times biblical theme to their killings. Dexter seasons seem to be broken up and identified by their guest supporting cast, and this one excelled with a pair of villains portrayed by Colin Hanks and Edward James Olmos. And if that wasn't enough talent, Mos Def (currently known as the less rapperly moniker of Yasiin Bay) shows up as a born again auto-body shop preacher with a criminal past who befriends Dexter.

Dexter season six didn't feel stale or worn out of character development or ideas, and made me greatly look forward to watching season seven. After that will come the eight season, which I do believe is the big series finale. I'm still on the fence on whether I want the series to end with him going to jail or continuing along with his murderous anti-hero ways.

PS - If you are a Dexter fan and want to get a hold of one of these awesome posters for your very own wall-space, link on over to the Showtime site.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Last night my team was successful in our defense of the Geek Trivia crown. There is no actual crown or trophy or medal or reward...the undertaking is purely taken for pure geek pride and bragging rights. Even though we were stumped in our lack of Jem & the Holograms and My Little Pony history, we made up for it with big points for soundtrack, Star Wars and comic book knowledge. As an added brainiac bonus, the other Rideau Valley Roller Girl team got the Silver Medal (no actual Silver Medal was awarded). We need to get a third RVRG team out there so we can sweep the night.

If you are unlucky enough to not live in Ottawa and hence attending Geek Trivia won't quite work out, equally enjoyable are the Unreasonable Action podcasts. You can keep up to date of the next Geek Trivia night, or listen to over 50 podcasts ranging in topic from the New 52 to Politics & Superheroes to Rad Monsters, over on the Unreasonable Action site. By doing so, I'm sure that you will learn about all kinds of geek stuff which will in turn help you out at any manner of Geek Trivia event.

Monday, February 25, 2013

I just found out that it's National Cupcake Day, which I'm pretty sure means you can skip work and disregard any obligations that you might have in order to eat cupcakes instead. I also found out that
Thimble Cakes, my friends cupcake shop, is offering 'em up at 2 for the price of 1 today. Which means I gotta go and buy some cupcakes! A life of free cupcakes tis a wonderful life indeed.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

I have no reason to buy more t-shirts, seeing as I have a closet full of all manner of geeky t-shirts already. I used to be hooked on Threadless for artsy cool indie cred attire, but then they started making shirts with Disney characters on them and put their stuff up for sale at the Gap. I have nothing against Disney or the Gap, but those two things don't exactly stand hand in hand with what the initial Threadless mission statement seemed to be.

Somehow via the interwebs, I found out about TeeFury, an online only t-shirt factory that produces a new design every 24 hours. After that 24 hours is up, the shirt is gone forever and ever. On top of the 24 hours then it's gone gimmick, the other cool thing about the company is that anyone can submit a design for consideration. Considering that there are 365 days in a year, that's a lot of artists that can get a shot at some geeky t-shirt fame. The artist doesn't loose copyright of the image and they get a buck for every shirt sold (the two most successful designers have earned over $60,000).

The latest TeeFury design which I couldn't resist is this latest one featuring the Teenage Mutant Ninja Gremlins. The one I bought before that was one featuring a similar joke, but with Koopa's. I can't help but wonder how they get away with such rampant copyright infringement. I think it has something to do with parody laws...not positive.

The only anger induced from this lovely design and website is that on occasion my eyes wander south to the comments section. Comments sections are something I try to avoid on any website, mainly because they always seem to be populated by people placed there for the sole reason to make me furious. This specific thread highlight was a person who was angry that the artist got the shirt design wrong by putting all red headbands onto the Gremlins. They were confused, thinking that the Ninja Turtles being parodied here-in should have multi-coloured headbands. We all of course know that the real TMNT have all red headbands since they are of the same clan, that the multiple colours only came to be in an attempt for the toy companies to sell more action figures.

I don't mind someone being curious or mistaken about a geek topic such as this, it's just the attitude that they come across with. It's all anger and self righteousness in thinking they've caught someone in error and hence they are better than them. Not only do the real TMNT all have red headbands, most of the comics I read were in black & white...and I was always able to tell them apart.

Anyhow, anger at people who frequent message boards to spread negativity aside, I am looking forward to adding yet another cool geeky shirt to my collection.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

I always get pissed off and offended when someone says that there's nothing to do in Ottawa, my home-town and place of residence. Without fail, such a statement either comes from a Torontonian, and it's that kind of snarky attitude that makes the rest of the country not like 'em. Or the bad attitude comes from someone complaining about being bored, to which my rule of only boring people can be bored rule applies. Every time that someone complains of the lack of night life in Ottawa, I am always quick to counter their opinion and point out excellent things I have done in Ottawa at night.

Last night for example, when I went to see one of my favourite bands perform. Going to a Reverb Syndicate show is a worthy enough way to spend one's time. Going to a somewhat secret Reverb Syndicate show at an unlisted unadvertised venue hiding in a former auto-body shop off an alleyway is even higher levels of awesome.

When we walked into the place I was ready for a little latch to open up in the door and to be asked a secret password. To make the evening even more enjoyable, there were a couple of very cool lead-in bands, and there were a bunch of arcade games and pinball machines. Best of all from my friends point of view was Galaga, her favouritest video game of all time. I was most excited by an incredible piece of geek memorabilia in the form of a Doctor Who pinball machine (featuring the first eight incarnations of the Doctor).

So, I spent my night in a packed little club, listening to live rock n roll, playing pinball. See, there are always fun things going on here...just don't tell anyone from Toronto. Don't want any boring people cramping our style.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Black vs White RVRG Roller Derby tomorrow night! All pertinent info can be found by looking slightly up to that snazzy Spy vs Spy poster right above these words, or via the link in the previous sentence. It is unlikely you have something more awesome to do on your Saturday night.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

I don't really care about awards that are given out to films. Although they often effect box office receipts in a positive manner for a nominated or award winning film, the amount of awards that a film has does not influence my opinion or interest in any given film. Although the movie business is indeed a business, I would still like to think that there is an art-form to filmmaking.

Hence I've always thought that films can be discussed and studied and torn apart, but that awards just don't really make sense. Someone can win an award for being the fastest or being the strongest or getting the most goals in a hockey season...but giving a statuette to a film and proclaiming it the best film of a calender year seems like a bit of a waste of time. Especially since every single year people disagree with the winners and are fond of pointing out films and directors and actors who they think should have been nominated but weren't. These kind of awards shows, though at times rewarding very excellent films, are often really nothing more than a popularity contest vs true judge of merit. I mean...John Wayne won an acting Oscar...have you ever seen John Wayne act? Army of Darkness was nominated for exactly zero Oscars, and yet it is still one of my favourite movies of all time.

Having said that, even though I don't think that the Oscar ceremonies and what happens at them matters in the grande scheme of things, they can still be fun to watch. If you enjoy watching the Oscars with your friends in your living room with some snacks...just think how much better they would be on a big theatre screen with a crowd of a couple hundred other cinema aficionados. You can do just that at the Mayfair on this upcoming Sunday night. There is no better way to enjoy an awards ceremony hosted by a guy who created a bunch of offensive cartoons. Plus we'll have a bunch of prizes to give away, a liquor license, and the always popular Oscar Poll guess-the-winner contest that always seems to come down to a complicated last minute showdown. All this is absolutely free for members (and if you aren't a member you can join up for a mere $10 bucks).

So why stay home when instead you can have a fun night out partaking in a one of a kind experience that you can only get at the Mayfair? Another reason for out-of-towners who don't live in our fine city of Ottawa who don't have access to a Mayfair of their own.

Doors open at 7:45pm to the live Academy Awards telecast at the Mayfair on Sunday February 24th.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

It seems that at the Mayfair that we have a habit of showing fascinating and yet over all depressing environmental themed documentaries that leave you with a feeling that human beings have messed everything up to such an extent that there's no point in trying to set things right.

The latest in our series of slightly disconcerting end-is-nigh documentary features that we are hosting is Chasing Ice. If you had any level of interest or concern about global warming or the melting of the ice-cap's or other such humanity crushing disasters that continue to loom over-head, then this is the movie for you. All inducing of a sense of dread aside, Chasing Ice is an intriguing documentary focusing on a heroic character and features absolutely mind-blowing photography (like ice flows the size of Manhattan breaking apart and flipping over).

Chasing Ice screens twice more at the Mayfair, tonight and tomorrow (Feb 20 & 21) at 7:00pm

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Another piece of popular pop-culture that I was late to the party for and completely unknowing of until recently is the cartoon phenomenon that is Adventure Time. I had the briefest knowledge that Adventure Time was a thing, overhearing someone talk about it once, and maybe seeing some merch at a comic store or convention. I had no specific hint as to what the cartoon was actually about though.

Then last Christmas, Adventure Time stuff made it onto my brother's wish list. My mum got him a DVD of season 1 and I got him a trade-paperback collection of some of the comics. I read said comic before wrapping it up and passing it off to him on Christmas morn. Even though I didn't know the voices of the characters as they would appear in their cartoon source material, and entered the reading of the comic not exactly sure what I was getting into, I really loved it. It was bright and colourful and fun and new and full of imagination. All of those things are a nice thing to have in both the comic book and animation mediums, since so much now-a-days seems to be dark and mean and not so kid friendly.

Long on my list of stuff to watch, I finally got around to viewing the actual cartoons. Similar in my description of the comic book, the cartoon was also bright and colourful and fun and new and full of imagination. All of those positive traits with the added bonus of music and sound effects and voice actors helping the story along.

What I like about Adventure Time, is that it's clear that the idea came before the merchandising. It's not just a half hour commercial to sell something, like so many cartoons of my youth were. It's a high quality show that just happened to be lucky enough to get a fan-base who were then interested in buying stuff spun-off from a show they love.

Like shows along the line of other modern classics like Powerpuff Girls or Spongebob Squarepants that came before it, Adventure Time is a showcase of kid friendly television animation at it's best. I've only managed to watch two episodes so far, makes me sad that there are all those other distractions in a day that keep me from just getting to watch cartoons more frequently.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Last night we finished up watching the first season of House of Cards. I thought it was just a mini-series, but evidently the second season is already in production. House of Cards is an extremely dark Shakespearean soap-opera set in the back-stabbing chess game political world of Washington, DC.

Having a series starring Oscar winner Kevin Spacey with the first couple of episodes directed by David Fincher (Fight Club, Seven, Alien 3...yes, I liked Alien 3) is noteworthy enough to grab one's attention. Even more of a point of interest in the scheme of pop-culture history is that this is a series showcasing that kind of talent, and it's not even on traditional teevee. House of Cards is an original series for the great and powerful Netflix.

When Netflix began, I think it was viewed as a second hand video store of sorts. Now brick and mortar video stores are pretty much completely extinct, and network television is floundering with the worst ratings in its history and terrible tabloid reality offerings. I have become quite the fan of Netflix. I see a lot of movie for free, so I make use of Netflix mostly to catch up on teevee offerings, of which there is no shortage. I seem to bump into people quite frequently who say there is nothing on Netflix, these people clearly haven't actually looked at the thing. Every-time I turn it on there seems to be another couple of series and another batch of movies that I want to watch.

I feel very old in thinking that very soon (or currently actually) there will be young folks who have no concept of time-slots or networks or commercials or not getting to watch whatever you want to watch whenever you want to. When I was a kid you couldn't even pause tv. When I was a kid you could only watch all the cool cartoons on Saturday morning! Now I can make my way through 26 episodes of Avengers at my convenience and leisure. So, with House of cards I was able to watch a dozen episodes over 17 days, instead of having to do so over 12 or more weeks. All with not a single commercial interrupting the viewing experience.

The only thing that I love more than Netflix is the fact that soon Netflix will be showcasing new episodes of Arrested Development. It truly is the golden age of televison...or whatever Netflix is.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Man! That Field of Dreams poster is one of the most terrible posters I've ever seen, and Hollywood has been quite skilled in the past few decades at putting out really terrible poster-work. What's Kevin Costner even doing? Just kinda standing there all by himself with his legs strangely crossed and his hands dead mannequin placed on his hips. And they couldn't just stand him in front of a corn field? Those corn behind him look like they were plucked straight from an 8 bit video game.

Well, sub-par poster aside, Tracy Arnett is being generous enough to present a free screening of the fantastical baseball story at the Mayfair tomorrow for Family Day. Not only that, but everyone in attendance can also ger a free small popcorn and a free small drink. Tis truly a Family Day miracle like no other that has come before in the entire history of hundreds of Family Day's that have come before!

Field of Dreams screens tomorrow at the Mayfair at 3:00pm. Tracy Arnett will be accepting donations on behalf of The Hospice at May Court.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Throughout 2012, we at the Mayfair Theatre undertook an ongoing fundraiser campaign in an attempt to purchase a new digital projector. The reason we had to do this was: (A) The world of movie distribution and presentation is on the end of a major over-haul and technological switch up as 35mm film goes extinct, and (2) Although we all wish that repertory theatres were more successful and profitable enterprises, we simply don't have $45,00 in the bank (I'm not sure if we have $45 in the bank). Thanks to our amazing and generous patrons, the fundraising campaign was successful. All the needed monies were acquired, a fancy new DCP projector was purchased, and our lovely old theatre can happily stay open and continue to screen movies new and classic.

As a thank you to the loyal Mayfair fan-base, this-afternoon we're presenting a free screening of the western cult classic Johnny Guitar. If a free screening of an awesome movie isn't enough to entice you out of the house for a cinematic afternoon, we will also have a whole bunch of awesome prizes to give-away.

Johnny Guitar screens at the Mayfair Theatre later on today at 3:00pm

Friday, February 15, 2013

Most of my travels seem to be roller derby related, and my latest roller derby trek is a whirlwind trip across the provincial border into Quebec this-afternoon to visit derby friends and attend a bout between Montreal Roller Derby's New Skids on the Block and Kitchener's Tri-City Thunder. I am not a sports fan but I am a roller derby fan, and if you are in the Montreal area tonight (specifically at 8931 Papineau Ave) at 7:00pm, there's not much more fun you can have than attending a Montreal Roller Derby bout.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

It might seem like a slightly mean opinion, but I've always thought that the people who don't like Valentine's Day are the ones who have nothing to do on Valentine's Day. If folks who "Bah humbug!" the day had someone ask them to go out on a go to dinner or a movie or the theatre...I can't help but think that a person would have no logical reason to be so negative about the day.

The other complaint against the day that I've heard over and over again is that it's a fake made up day. I've never quite comprehended this argument, seeing as by that point of view pretty much everything is a fake made up day. Once upon a time someone made up Halloween and Canada Day and lunch-time and Thursday. Everything was made up by someone, and before that point it did not exist, and after it did exist it evolved and adapted and maybe even came to mean something else than it did at the beginning. So pointing at poor ole' Valentine's Day and accusing it of being unworthy to other high calibre calendar dates the like of Groundhog Day and Family Day seems a bit strange to me.

For Valentine's Day this year my girlfriend and I will enjoy a tasty meal and cupcakes and go see a Beatles cover band. Plus a received the extremely romantic gift of The Avengers and Brave on Blu-Ray. Any day in which all of that awesomeness happens cannot be all that bad, whether it's a fictional day or not.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I don't know if you have Valentine's Day plans for tomorrow, but if you are looking for something to do, may I suggest coming to see African Queen or Amelie at the Mayfair (or both!). A nice romantic viewing of a Hollywood classic or slightly more recent French classic is the perfect addition to your other romantic plans for the day. Or, if you have no plans, you can easily just bring your loved one to our romantic evening of programming. I promise not to tell that it wasn't your plan all along.

For our annual Mayfair Valentine's festivities (on Thurs Feb 14th), The African Queen screens at 7:00pm and Amelie screens at 9:15pm.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

If you would have told me a few years ago that the guy from those Kevin Smith movies and Daredevil and a J Lo video would some day be one of my favourite directors, I would simply not believe you. Yet here we are in a strange but true world where Ben Affleck has directed three impressive films in a row and now it seems like he may be on a career path akin to the one that Clint Eastwood took when evolving from actor to filmmaker. Interestingly enough, Ben's current film Argo is produced by another super successful movie star turned respected filmmaker, George Clooney. In the same vein, I would have similar disbelief if I were to learn back in the late 1990's that Clooney would go on to an incredibly diverse and impressive acting, producing and directing career after the disastrous Batman & Robin.

Argo is the third directorial effort from Ben Affleck, the declassified story of a CIA/Canadian rescue of diplomats from Iran. A rescue revolving around a fake sci-fi film shoot as the cornerstone of the plot to sneak the endangered Americans out of the country. Like all 'Based on a True Story' films, one can never be quite too sure how much of the thing is genuinely factual and how much is truth-bending Hollywood screenwriting. I don't really care about the truthiness of such films though, they aren't documentaries so I don't expect it to be 100% factual. All I care about is if the final product is worthy entertainment, and this film definitely is. Argo has won a dumptruck full of awards so far, and I expect it to win a couple more come Oscar night.

Just as I was looking for a poster to attach to this blog post, I found another amazingly interesting piece of trivia in regards to the real life events from which Argo was based. As referenced in the film, the plan involved building up a back-story of source material like a script and story-boards and production design to help make their fake movie endeavour seem all the more real. The artist who was commissioned to do this work was none other than my favourite comic artist of all time (and artistic mastermind behind The Avengers, X-Men, New Gods, etc...), Jack Kirby! I think Argo is well deserved in it's current success, but like it a little bit less knowing that Jack Kirby could've been a character in the movie. What an awesome geeky missed opportunity that was! I'm a bit angry and disappointed to learn that we could have seen someone playing Jack Kirby in an Oscar nominated movie.

Although Kirby-less, I none-the-less suggest you still check out Argo, which screens tonight (Feb 12th) and Feb 13th at 7:00pm at the Mayfair.

Monday, February 11, 2013

When I was a lil' kid, buying a video game cartridge the calibre of the Fix-It Felix Jr game as seen in Wreck-It Ralph would cost you $50 or $60 bucks. Now, thanks to the magic of the interwebs, you can zap over to the Disney site and play the fake 8-bit Fix-It Felix Jr video game classic which inspired the movie for free! It's little bits of attention to detail and touches like this that Disney does that makes me think that Marvel and The Muppets and Star Wars are all in good hands. We truly live in an age of geeky wonder.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Just as excellent as watching Wreck-It Ralph at the Mayfair this weekend, was getting to watch the added bonus of a really great short film that preceded the feature film. I love it so much that the Pixar folks have added their tradition of shorts in front of features in front of the Disney films as well. Paperman is an amazing Woody Allen-esque New York City romantic genre mash-up of classic animation and computer animation at it's best.

Do yourself a favour and link over to my friends at Animationews to check out the short for yourself right now if you haven't had the pleasure of seeing it up on the big screen. I hope that Disney promotes everyone involved in Paperman up to a feature project making use of the same beautiful styling.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

A few years back when Disney bought up Pixar, my initial concern was that Disney was going to ruin Pixar. Not too long before the acquisition went down, Disney was rather underhandedly threatening to go ahead with films like Toy Story 3 without Pixar talent (or Tom Hanks or Tim Allen) involvement. Also, the straight-up non-Pixar Disney animated output from around that time wasn't exactly stellar classics for the ages.

Luckily, just the opposite happened and Disney did not spoil Pixar, Pixar in fact managed to improve upon Disney. Smartly, Disney not only continued to allow Pixar to operate as it had before, they also placed a number of Pixar veterans into positions of Disney power. The new and improved Pixar run Disney fixed up the theme parks, re-instigated documentaries, short animation, classic animation, and got rid of the sub-par straight to DVD sequel money-grab.

The latest example of the new and improved Disney is the Oscar nominated Wreck-It Ralph. Wreck-It Ralph is a Toy Story-esque tale with video game characters in place of action figures and dolls. It is an excellent piece of filmmaking for kids and adults, and much like Toy Story is chock full of characters from multiple generations of the video game playing past. I haven't been a serious video game player for years, but after watching Wreck-It Ralph I felt like diving back in. With hopes high for Disney's future tales of Muppets and Marvel super-hero's and Jedi...maybe we should just let them handle everything in Hollywood.

The Mayfair is screening Wreck-It Ralph this-afternoon and tomorrow at 1:00pm.

Friday, February 08, 2013

One step closer to roller derby fame and fortune as our Four-Wheeled Furies teevee documentary was mentioned on episode 141 of the influential and world famous Derby Deeds podcast!

Thursday, February 07, 2013

It's October 19th!

Ok...I'm not going to name names or point fingers or admit to anything...but from what I understand television programs are available via the interwebs from a thing called a morrent or zorrent or torrent or something like that.

Most people I know, and myself, do not subscribe to expensive cable television. We modern technological egghead types get our entertainments through a series of tubes and computers.

I know we all want to watch the new episode of Community as soon as possible. If you do not have a teevee, might I humbly suggest that you watch Community 4.01 from the City TV website (or if in the States the NBC website). Yes it means that you have to watch a couple of commercials, but it also means that Community will actually get much needed statistical proof that human beings are actually watching it.

Since I want Community to last for 6 seasons and a movie as much as the next guy, I want to give the show all the help it can get.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Are you a fan of Doctor Who? If the answer is no, you are a fool! If the answer is yes, then you are probably sad that we are still ages away from the next new episode of the teevee series. May I suggest the IDW comic book series for a fill-in dose of Matt Smith era Doctor Who adventures? The books are lots of fun, and the writer is pretty skilled at capturing the voice of the characters and the feel of the series. Either in monthly comic book form or in collected editions, the offerings published from IDW are easily available from your local comic shop, book store or bought off the interwebs for your futuristic tablet reading devices. They are of course not quite as amazing as the real thing, but are an excellent bit of Doctor Who entertainment to hold you over until the next teevee adventures are released to the geeky masses.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

With directorial efforts the like of Back to the Future and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and producing stuff like Tales from the Crypt and The Frighteners, I used to be quite the fan of Robert Zemeckis. Then he decided to try his hand at trace-o photo-realistic animation and my love quickly turned to something closer to hate. First up was Polar Express, featuring the cold dead likeness of beloved super-star Tom Hanks portraying everything from a hobo to Santa. Then came a retelling of the classic tale of Beowulf, featuring the cold dead likeness of Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins and an evil naked Angelina Jolie (even the promise of a naked Angelina could not make the movie appealing). And in his most recent delve into the not really animated genre he presented his take on A Christmas Carol starring Jim Carrey. Thanks to the tracing motion capture motion picture technology, Jim Carrey appeared as equally cold and creepily dead faced as all the other characters who have ever appeared in any of these movies. I was extra upset by this one because Christmas Carol is my favourite story of all time, so his butchering of the tale made me extra upset.

Luckily, and hopefully it's a decision that he sticks to, Zemeckis has returned to live-action territory with his latest film. Flight tells the story of a pilot who heroically saves the lives of most the people on board of his plane by expertly handling a crash scenario. The twist being that this hero is a horrible drug addict, an alcoholic and pretty much a bad guy, as portrayed by Denzel Washington (who has received another Oscar nomination for his impressive efforts). On top of the Oscar nomination for Best Actor, the film also got a nod for Best Original Screenplay. Considering that we live in a world where a truly original screenplay is a very minimal thing amongst adaptations and sequels and remakes, it's nice to see an original script be rewarded and recognized.

With the positive critical response, awards and box office success ($146 million off a $31 million budget), we can only hope that Zemeckis stays in the world of live action for his future projects.

Flight screens at the Mayfair at 6:30pm pm on February 5th, 6th and 7th.

Monday, February 04, 2013

If there is one thing that I am sure of, it is that Christopher Walken is awesome. Whether it's in Annie Hall or Batman Returns or True Romance or Catch Me If You Can or hell...Kangaroo Jack or Gigli, Mr. Walken always brings his A game. I always appreciate an actor who will seemingly do just about anything in whatever cinematic sub-genre, I never see it as them being greedy for more pay-cheques or uncaring towards the quality of the script. For actors like Christopher Walken or Michael Caine (another great who are in such peculiar low quality work like Jaws IV), I look at their filmography and see it as an actor acting and being their best in whatever they do.

Another movie in which Christopher Walken does his best is the dramatic character piece about a famous NYC classical music group, A Late Quartet. Walken delivers a rather brilliant and quietly powerful performance as the senior member of the group that is in the midst of falling apart due to soap opera quality twists and turns. Every movie would be better thanks to Christopher Walken being an actor in it.

The Mayfair has A Late Quartet for one more screening, tonight at 7:00pm.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

I love all forms of comic book storytelling, but not so shockingly, I do enjoy the super-hero genre when done well (which sadly now-a-days isn't all that often I find). Just like in mainstream teevee or movies or novels, there is the occasional gem amongst the trash. One book that I have been very much enjoying from DC's New 52 line is Batman & Robin, the ongoing adventures of the Dark Knight and his bad-ass somewhat douche-bag of a son with delusions of side-kick Robin grandeur. This series was originally written by Grant Morrison (my favourite writer in all the land), hence stepping into the run classifies as filling in rather larger creative shoes. I enjoyed Tomasi's work in over in the Green Lantern corner of the DC Universe, and he's handled the switch-over to earth bound Gotham crime-fighting tales with style.

The biggest (and deserved) complaint about super-hero stuff from DC and Marvel is that it's hard to find a jump on point to a storyline, and that if you do start a book you then have to buy a bunch of other books in the same shared universe to know what's going on. So, publications like Batman & Robin Annual #1 serve as a great stand alone offering for someone who might be looking to read a cool Batman & Robin story without having to buy two dozen additional comics to know what the hell is going on. Plus it features Titus the Bat-Dog...who is almost as awesome as Bat-Cow.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

There are a lot of dumb things that human beings celebrate, but near the top of that list might be Groundhog Day. Sure, on one hand Groundhog Day is a harmless and fun lil' event that the people of Pennsylvania celebrate in a cold winter-time surroundings. On the other hand, when I stop and think about the day, it blows my mind that the event is reported on CNN and in newspapers and listed on calendars. A bunch of people of power gather around and pull a portly rat creature out of the ground and theorize whether it saw it's shadow or not, and then depending on the answer they predict upcoming local temperature levels. Try explaining that to some aliens...hell, try explaining that to someone from a different continent. Oh well, at least we got an awesome Bill Murray movie out of it.

Friday, February 01, 2013

I admit that I was not familiar with the artist Wayne White until we booked the documentary Beauty is Embarrassing to screen at the Mayfair. The rather distinctive theatrical poster caught my eye, and then I learned that he was one of the masterminds behind one of my favourite teevee shows of all time, Pee Wee's Playhouse.

The Pee Wee years play an important part of the artists life story, but that is just one aspect of a fascinating creative career and life. Any career that encompasses puppet making, animation, pop art painting and live performance with banjo accompaniment is not so surprisingly an interesting one. It's one of those doc's that not only makes you want to go out and re-watch Pee Wee and pick up Wayne White's coffee-table book of also an inspiring piece of filmmaking that makes you want to get out there and be creative.

The Mayfair screens Beauty is Embarrassing tonight at 9:15pm, with encore screenings the next three nights. You can also check out the official Beauty is Embarrassing site for further info, stuff to buy and other means available to check out the doc. I highly recommend that you do.