The Fast Forward Revue


The Dark Knight by kswitz
July 25, 2008, 1:49 am
Filed under: Author: kswitz, Cinema | Tags: ,

Fast Forward Rating: FFFFf (4.5 out of 5)

The Dark Knight (2008)

The Dark Knight (2008)

SPOILER ALERT (Kind-of).

Alright, well I guess it is time for someone to review the box-office behemoth that is Batman’s The Dark Knight. I saw it a few days ago, so I guess I will do the honours.

I don’t have too much to say about the film, so I’ll try to keep it short.

The essentials: a) It’s good. It’s very good. Go see it, even if just to say you were part of the highest grossing film in history (to tell your children and grandchildren, etc).

b) It’s dark. It’s very dark. This film is by far the darkest of all Batman films to date, featuring a completely dystopic Gotham, where evil trumps good at every turn. The city was bad before, of course, but now it’s worse, and anarchic to the point where even a whole army of Good Guys (Batman and his friends on City Council and the police force) can’t face up to the evil of just one super-villain, The Joker. It’s horribly depressing. Which makes you crave Batman even more, praying that he will rise from the flames of the burning city and make everything right like it’s supposed to be, and save the world. Which leads to my next fact:

c) Batman seems powerless. To play on the Rick James quote, “The Joker’s a hell of a villain”, and Batman’s bat-skills get an endless string of tests, most of them showing how powerless one man really is against the evils of the world. It’s a depressing lesson, and he even begins to lose faith in himself. Except the world needs Batman… So it totally makes you root for him even more. [‘Ere’s a good quote from the movie: “You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain”].

d) Heath Ledger’s performance is good. But not Oscar-worthy good, I must say. While I really have no problems with the character he created in The Joker, to me his performance seemed more like the stepping-stone start to a really solid future acting career, and the kind of role that leads to other, greater roles for actors like him. I think it’s a shame he died (obviously), as this film does show the start of something promising. I just wouldn’t necessarily say it’s already all there, especially since the character he evokes doesn’t really touch the audience on an emotional level, like, say, . But I’ll let y’all judge for yourselves.

(Something small that I might as well mention here is that pity-Oscars have been a sad and awful trend in the past (often to directors), where awards have either been given to recognize a lifetime achievement (as in “let’s honour this guy before he kicks the bucket”), recognizing standard-quality films by long-standing patrons, to the detriment of younger directors whose work is more deserving. These people are then in turn sometimes given pity Oscars, and the result is just a bloody mess… 

Suffice it to say that I hope Heath Ledger gets what he deserves in terms of Oscars… Whatever that may be.)

e) Breathtaking Visuals. Watch the first five seconds of the trailer and you’ll know what I mean. 

So I would write more but I am le tired.

This film is awesome, and y’all should go see it if you haven’t already done so. I would even recommend waiting for it on Imax… I plan to go again.



The Rogers Picnic: Rain, rain… stay here? by kswitz

The Rogers Picnic (July 20, Historic Fort York)

Official Promotional Poster

Official Promotional Poster

So it’s 4:54 am… and I can’t sleep.

But that’s unimportant, since there is blog-fun to be had!

So this isn’t really going to be a concert review, so much as a hodge-podge of random things I noticed about concerts while attending the Rogers Picnic yesterday. And here goes:

a) RAIN AS A BONDING EXPERIENCE: Seriously, once it started pouring, everyone got in closer, got more into dancing, and cheered louder than ever as the bands expressed their sympathies for our soggy bottoms. It even bonded audience members individually, as umbrellas were shared between neighbours, and tarps were put up by those who brought them and stretched to fit as many concert-goers as possible. Rain is the great equalizer.

b) ENERGY IS KEY: I found that the bands onstage who had tonnes of energy (Chromeo and Dizzee Rascal, to name two) ended up being the bands I liked the most out of all the performers. This surprised me ’cause I’m something of a huge Animal Collective fan, but I still liked Chromeo‘s set way, way more, because of their connection with the crowd, and the cool factor of their high energy level. Their late-night DJ set in the back of the Nokia DJ Tent (or whatever it was called) was also a great picker-upper for all those who’d been there all day and noticed their energy flagging. We danced like crazy-people.

c) ENVIRONMENTAL CONSCIOUSNESS: Is the new cool. And rightfully so! I love how it’s gotten to the level where there are “Zero Foot Print” tents at concerts! The concert was also co-ordinated to be as close to a zero-waste event as possible: there were sorting-style recycling bins, separated into Aluminum/Plastic, Paper, and Compost. Serious snaps for that!

d) TEXTING SCREENS: Amusing but annoying, as they are just so damn distracting! Everyone ends up staring at the boards instead of the bands! But they are hilarious, like when people write “I am the hiphoppopotamus, my lyrics are bottomless”, or comment on the large number of Urban Outfitters wearers in the crowd (read: hipster-bashing is the new cool)It’s also a bit sketchy, though… I was trying to get in contact with my brother throughout the show using the service but who knows if our Katie/Graeme texts were actually between me-Katie and him-Graeme? (Skeeettcchhhyyy. I clearly need to just get his number…).

e) FREE REDBULL: Is bomb. Just saying… (PS If anyone from Redbull reads this (not likely), feel free to do it at more concerts! I will love you! So will everyone else!).

f) CITY AND COLOUR: Actually isn’t too bad. They’re a touch emo but they have a good amount of energy, and I like Dallas Green‘s jokes.

Alright, so it’s bedtime.

Hope y’all enjoyed this.



Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson by kswitz
July 19, 2008, 2:26 am
Filed under: Author: kswitz, Cinema, Literature, Politics

Fast Forward Rating: FFFF (4 out of 5)

Gonzo (2008)

Let me just begin by admitting that I have always had a love-fear relationship with Dr Thompson and his writings: on the one hand, I think they’re brilliant, full of life, and hilarious; on the other hand, the conservative in me (I confess: it is there) gets a bit scared at times by all this seemingly senseless talk of guns, motorcycles, and trashed hotel rooms… (The psychedelia and drug-talk, however, I dig).

But anyway, going in to the film with this pre-existing leeriness, I must say that I left the theatre convinced completely and totally that old Dr Gonzo was the best thing to happen to journalism (and probably politics) in the modern era.

And why is this? The guy’s philosophies, on first glance, seem shallow and all about “straight-laced greedy political swine vs. freak power”, and guns, good times, and lots and lots of drugs. But upon closer examination, and placed in context of the world in which they were written, Thompson’s words take on a new, and ultimately nobler meaning: his writing, and in fact many of the actions in his life (he ran for Sheriff of Aspen once) were a well-disguised fight for the truth-speaking underdog, the man who would never be popular with Those In Power, but who, if elected, would shake some Truth and Right into the system of the government, giving the people a People’s kind of fair, as opposed to the law’s kind. It becomes more and more apparent throughout the film just how awesome and well-meaning Hunter’s ambitions were, and by the end you can’t help but love him and wish there were others like him (albeit calmer), everywhere.

So: about the film itself: biographically its focus is on Thompson’s years as a journalist (it mentions little of his family history, etc), chronicling his author’s debut as biographer of the Hell’s Angels biker gang in the California area in the 1960’s, to his celebrity-making success with counter-culture portrait Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, all the way through to his political years, first in a bid for the position of Sheriff in Pitkin County, Colorado, and finally his years as political journalist and commentator covering many of the primary and presidential elections of the 1960’s and 70’s. It goes into his personal life in some detail, though it is more about his political and personal beliefs, and it chronicles the start, pinnacle, and slow decline of Thompson’s skills and determination as a both a writer and an activist, ending with his suicide in 2005, which the film attributes to his loss of belief in his power to change the world, as well as his “all or nothing” nature in competition.

The only things I have to say against this film, which is absolutely brilliant, is that it runs a biiit too long (118 minutes, but remember it’s a biography), and that towards the end it gets a bit depressing… which makes sense, as they’re dealing with suicide, but I don’t like it… Y’know?

I would highly recommend that everyone who reads this review goes out and sees the film as soon as possible, and tried to learn a lesson or two from good old Hunter S.

God knows this world will need it.



Brideshead Revisited (in its various forms) by kswitz
July 15, 2008, 2:47 pm
Filed under: Author: kswitz, Cinema, Literature

So I’m sure many of you have seen the trailers for the modern re-make of Evelyn Waugh’s 1945 classic Brideshead Revisited. But what you may not have known is that this is not the first remake of the book, and that an acclaimed television series was made in Britain in the 1980’s, and that this series, from the look of things, will actually remain the more true-to-text adaptation, and likely the favorite of fan of the book.

(But first, a personal anecdote:

I’m currently reading the book, with about 50 pages to go…. But last night I lost it on the Bathurst streetcar, after spending the day filling it with various bookmarks out of papers I’d found… Seriously hoping to get it back later today…)

Cover of Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh

Cover of Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh

Well anyway, the book itself is set up as “the Sacred & Profane Memoirs of Captain Charles Ryder”, and is the lavish and indulgent depiction of the youth and adulthood of Oxford-educated Charles Ryder. The main plot of the book is centered around Charles’s relationship with an Oxford friend named Sebastian Flyte, and then with the rest of the long-established and extremely wealthy Flyte family, proprietors of Brideshead Castle. This connection with the family leads Charles into the high-society circles of England’s oldest and most powerful families, as well as drawing him into the dark conflicts within and surrounding the Flyte family itself, and years later leads to an adulterous romance between Charles and Julia. (And this is where I got to, 250 pages in, before I lost my book).

Brideshead Revisited (1981 Mini-Series)

Brideshead Revisited (1981 Mini-Series)

In 1981, the book was adapted into an 11-part British television serial, starring Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews as Charles and Sebastian, and Diana Quick as Julia Flyte, Sebastian’s sister. The adaptation, which won two Golden Globes and an Emmy award in 1982 and 1983, goes on for over 13 hours, and includes many scenes with dialogue taken exactly as it is written in the book.

Brideshead Revisited (2008)

Brideshead Revisited (2008)

The puzzling thing is that there’s a remake coming out July 25th, shot in the exact same location (Castle Howard in England), but this time the movie is set up as a love-story between Charles and Julia, not the story of the adventures of Charles and Sebastian, the major theme of both the book and the previous screen adaptation. Seems rather more like Cruel Intentions or Titanic (minus the shipwreck) than like Brideshead Revisited…. But we’ll see….

(I’ll review it when it comes out).



David Lynch mini-retrospective, this Monday and Tuesday at Bloor Cinema by kswitz
July 13, 2008, 11:21 pm
Filed under: Author: kswitz, Cinema, toronto | Tags: , , ,

Saturday morning, right before heading out the door to that photo shoot I mentioned in my last posting (pictures to be posted soon), I did my habitual CinemaClock movie schedule check, and quite literally teared up a bit as I realized that this week’s listing at Bloor Cinema (506 Bloor St West, right next to Bathurst subway) includes FOUR out of David Lynch‘s ten feature-length films. 


Eraserhead (1977)

Eraserhead (1977)

The Schedule:

Eraserhead, Monday 7 pm

Blue Velvet, Monday 9 pm

Lost Highway, Tuesday 7 pm

Mulholland Drive, Tuesday 9:35 pm

So okay, they’re a bit squished in there, but hey, so completely and totally worth seeing, and especially since movie tickets cost $5 for members at Bloor Cinema… which is pretty much the cost of renting a movie, anyways.

For those of you who don’t recognize the name, David Lynch is one of THE masters of the modern horror/mystery film genre, having created such cult masterpieces as Eraserhead, Mulholland Drive, and Twin Peaks, as well as my (perhaps) most favorite film ever, Inland Empire. This man is a master of suspense, weirdness, and all-out creepiness. Expect mystery, suspense, uncomfortably creepy imagery, sex, drugs, darkness, and a complete loss of connection with reality, which typically occurs at least once per film. His work is also art-directed to the nines, as he actually went to art school (The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts) intending to become a painter, before deciding to become a film-maker instead.

And this guy is legit: his work been honored in such ways as France’s César Award for Best Foreign Film, the Palme d’Or from the Cannes Film Festival, and the Gold Lion lifetime achievement award at the Venice Film Festival, as well as receiving four Academy Award nominations for the Best Director category.

So go do it!!

Ps if anyone wants to join me, I’ll most likely be at all of these screenings…



animals in art: some of the weird and wonderful creatures i’ve met on my travels through the internet. by kswitz

(testing still, or maybe that’s my excuse for having nothing new and exciting to say… sigh.)

Recently, while doing visual research for a photoshoot (cats in suits at a picnic) I have planned for the all-too-near future, I spent a few hours revisiting several music videos, websites, and photos from my own collection (from art shows I’ve documented). And what I found was very interesting, as I followed my little heart’s desire through tangents and hyper-links.

Do you dare to follow?

Good.

Well, I began with the old standby, Radiohead‘s haunting video for “There There”, which is creepy as anything, and has been imprinted on my mind since the very first time I saw it, like one of those haunted houses you simply cannot keep out of… (or maybe no one else shares this problem with me..) The video is directed by Chris Hopewell, and is said to be inspired by the British television show “Bagpuss”, a similarly eerie television show constructed from old photographs, some random live clips, and a lot of stop-animation, all narrated by Oliver Postgate, the show’s English-accented creator/writer. But really, “There There” has always reminded me more of “The Wind in the Willows”, the 1984 television version.

Anyway, from there I remembered about Bat For Lashes‘ video for their 2008 single “What’s A Girl To Do?”, a similarly dark (literally, it’s nighttime) and disquieting video, directed by Dougal Wilson, featuring animals in clothes performing bike tricks behind the charmingly beautiful bike-riding singer. Interestingly enough, Bat For Lashes recently opened for Radiohead for roughly a month (June) of their recent 2008 tour. Probably not connected… but maybe…

Next stop on my weird and wonderful internet-indigenous animals tour was this crazy fan-created video for Boards Of Canada’s “Everything You Do is a Balloon”, based on Dale Jennings’ 1963 bicycle safety video entitled “One Got Fat”. I think this video is an exercise in awesomeness… but it is a little bit creepy.

Though creepy is nothing compared to this next clip I found (or, rather, remembered, since none of these clips I’m sharing I discovered on my journey, only revisited), from Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 epic “The Shining”. Now don’t feel bad if you’ve seen the movie but for one reason or another (ex. trauma) have forgotten about this clip. Yeah…

Something else I found years ago (and who knows how, or why I remembered it and saved it in my Bookmarks files…) was this crazy site, Bunnylicious,  full of various photoshoots featuring rabbits. Oh no wait, nevermind, I remember how I found it: singer Alison Goldfrapp’s rabbit phase

Alright, well I’m going to bed… I’ve been at this for over an hour…

And by bed I mean I’m going to keep getting ready for the aforementioned fast-approaching photoshoot…

I shall leave you with this, as a final example of animal-creepery: David Lynch’s “Rabbits”. Made as a series of stand-alone shorts in 2002, some of the clips can be seen in his movie “Inland Empire” (my favorite movie of all time, or something like that). Their tagline is “In a nameless city deluged by a continuous rain… three rabbits live with a fearful mystery”…

And one of them’s Naomi Watts.

 

G’night, all.