1.31.2010

I love this baby you guys

Just in case you're unfamiliar, I'd like to take a moment to introduce you to Kate Beaton and Hark! A Vagrant.



She has a degree in history. She's from Nova Scotia. She also draws historically-flavoured comics, frequently Canadian in content. And she's freaking hilarious beyond mortal comprehension.

Kate Beaton makes me want to stop drawing comics. She's funnier than I could ever hope to be, and her quick, seemingly-effortless drawings depict such specific emotions and gestures (especially the facial expressions!), that I can't help but laugh out loud at each strip.



I once emailed her to tell her what a crush I have on her comics, then regretted it instantly feeling like nothing more than a creepy, weird fan (of which I'm sure she has many). She soon responded with modest words of thanks.

Fact: Kate Beaton is a class act all the way.

In short, read her comics. Love them. Buy Kate's book. Support her.

This is one of those moments that will make you proud to be Canadian.



A Few Words About Antichrist


After seeing this film Friday night at the RPL, it has taken a couple of days for me to gather my thoughts on the film.

I went in forewarned, I already knew that there is some terrible things that happen in the course of the film and what they were. After all it's a Lars von Trier film. All his films are uncomfortable to watch.

But what is the film really about? This is von Trier's horror film so it is horrifying but the point of the film seems elusive.

On the surface it seems to be about He (Willem Dafoe) and She (Charlotte Gainsbourg) as they try to work through the grief of losing their child. The film is told in six parts. A prologue which is shot in black in white with Handel's Rinaldo playing. It's in slow motion as He and She make love while their kid gets up and falls out of an open window. The rest of the film is in colour and features some of the most amazing cinematography I've seen in a while.

Chapter One: Grief deals with She as she is hospitalized after the funeral. She can't seem to deal with the grief. She is kept on drugs on the advice of her doctor but He is a therapist and takes it upon himself to make her better. He does this in a cold and clinical manner. She: "You were always distant." He: "Give me an example." He draws a chart as She moves through her grief and into anxiety. The chart is suppose to be about her fears. The only fear that she can come up with is a fear of the forest. So he decides to take her to their cabin in the woods called Eden.


Chapter Two: Pain (Chaos Reigns) They make it out to Eden. Before they arrive, He makes She describe what it will be like once she arrives. As they walk to the cabin He sees a deer in the forest with a dead baby deer coming out it.

Chapter Three: Despair (Gynocide) Things start getting worse. He discovers that She's thesis was about the persecution of women during the witch trials and that She has come to some disturbing conclusions about nature and human nature. She: "Nature is Satan's church." Many horrible things begin to happen. Some are too horrible to describe.

The final two parts of the film are entitled Chapter Four: The Three Beggars and Epilogue which ends the film the same way as the Prologue.

On top of all the terrible stuff that I had heard about, it also occurred to me that the film seems to be misogynistic. Looking at von Trier's films, all his movies seem to be misogynistic. Breaking the Waves has Emily Watson getting brutally rapped because God likes rape apparently. Dancer in the Dark has Bjork's life just get worse and worse until the horrible ending. (Also von Trier drove Bjork into a breakdown while shooting that film to the point where she swore that she'd never act again.)

Dogville and Manderlay once again treated the women pretty shabby, although von Trier is tough an all his actors.



And yet here is a filmmaker that turned his major film studio into the first film company to produce porn for women.

But despite all the shock and horror of Antichrist, I'm not sure what this film is really saying. She seems to have suffered M√ľnchausen syndrome by proxy and He doesn't seem to be really helping her or really noticing what is truly wrong with her. The film almost deserves a repeated viewing to appreciate all the subtle references but who really wants to subject one's self to such extreme gore? My friend that I went to the film with closed his eyes and looked away at a particular scene but has since complained that he can't get the imagine out of his head and he didn't even see it.

I revisited John Ford's The Searchers just recently and I was watching Martin Scorsese, John Milius and Curtis Hanson discuss the film on the special features. They had mentioned how dark and violent the film was. In one scene John Wayne and Jeffrey Hunter have returned to farm and have discovered it had been attacked by the natives and is burning to the ground. Wayne finds Aunt Martha's bloody dress and looks into a shack - discovering her body. Ford doesn't show anything but Wayne looking into the building and then knocking out Hunter before he can look in. Milius pointed out that whatever happened is left our imaginations and that it's so terrible that even the Duke doesn't want to look.

I've always known that it isn't always necessary to show graphic of violence. But in this case it's seems to over power the film. Whatever point von Trier wants to make is overshadowed by the graphic violence.

It seems that Hollywood is content with being bland. It's nothing but film after film of annoying CGI singing chipmunks and non-offensive action films. On the other side of the equation, there seems to be more and more independent filmmakers who feel that they must shock audiences awake. Michael Winterbottom’s (9 Songs) latest film The Killer Inside is another example of this extreme reaction.

There doesn't seem to be any happy medium anymore, dull action films like Avatar or films like this.

And I still don't know what to make of Antichrist.

Holy Blockbuster Trade, Bettman!

So the Leafs pick up Phaneuf and Giguere, the ducks get Toskala and the Flames get...a new team. Wow. Bizzy bizzy Burkey. Read more in the Calgary Herald and Toronto Star. Personal comment: never been a fan of teams that don't develop their own stars. Probably good trades for everyone, though--teams and players and fans. And Calgary sure needed a shake-up. Then again, what do I care? None of these teams have stolen my hockey heart, which belongs forever to the NHL's most lovable losers.

Fundraiser Set for New Theatre Company

When it comes to live theatre, Regina's scene is generally not regarded to be as strong as the one in Saskatoon. In prairie dog we've written on this issue before. There's no magic formula for creating a vibrant theatre scene in a city. Rather, you need a mix of things. Playwrights, performers, theatre companies, quality venues, savvy promotion, critically engaged media, supportive sponsors and, finally, audiences who hunger for more than just the TV/movie experience.

Feb. 12 at 7 p.m, a fundraiser's being held in the atrium of the T.C. Douglas Building (3475 Albert St.) to raise money to help launch Regina's newest theatre company. Golden Apple Theatre Company is the brainchild of veteran local impressarios Robert Ursan and Andorlie Hillstrom who are the driving force behind Do-It-With-Class Young People's Theatre.

According to the press release, Golden Apple is a professional theatre company dedicated to delivering cutting edge Canadian and international musical theatre and drama to Regina audiences. Plans currently call for the company to launch its inaugural season in the fall. In addition to hors d'oeuvres and desserts, the fundraiser will feature a performance by former Reginan Kyle Golemba (pictured) of his well-received cabaret of Canadian musical theatre Making Love in a Canoe. Accompanying Golemba on piano will be Robert Ursan.
Tix are $35, or $250 for a table of eight, and are available at Bach & Beyond in the Golden Mile Mall and at the door.

Pick of the Day: Get It Legal Tour

We've written on marijuana reform before, although usually somewhat tepidly. Cause, you know, DRUGS are a big concern in our society. And even though probably three-quarters (or more) of Canadians have smoked pot in their lives (and many likely continue to do so), it's not something you can easily discuss in public. It's against the law, after all. People can get arrested, fined, jailed, and even (horror of horrors) barred from entering the U.S., simply for possessing it.

Before Harpo prorogued Parliament I believe there was legislation in the works to decriminalize possession of small amounts of weed. At first glance, that sounds like a progressive measure. But the amount was extremely small -- maybe enough for three or four doobies. If you were caught with more than that, you'd still face criminal sanction. And if you were caught growing it, the new legislation, if I recall correctly, carried significantly more severe penalties than those currently in place.

Yeah, that's a real breakthrough.

Which brings us tonight. Cheech & Chong, the notorious comic duo who virtually invented stoner culture, are at Conexus Arts Centre as part of their cross country Get It Legal Tour. Not "Get It Decriminalized". Get it Legalized. It's marijuana for Christsakes.

I remember seeing the Tragically Hip's Another Roadside Attraction in Vancouver in '97. It was the one with Sheryl Crow, Wilco, Ashley McIsaac and Los Lobos. It was held at Thunderbird Stadium on the UBC campus on an absolutely gorgeous July day. Unlike other stops on the tour, like the cow pasture beside what was then known as SaskPlace on the outskirts of Saskatoon, there was no beer garden at this concert.

Which was just as well, as there were over 30,000 people in attendance. There did, however, appear to be a relatively liberal attitude toward smoking pot. Which was no biggie for me. Because I'll take 30,000 stoned people over 30,000 drunk people any day.

It doesn't do the movie's cultural impact justice, but here's the trailer for Cheech & Chong's 1978 comedy Up in Smoke. (YouTube) And if you're checking these guys out tonight, have a hit for me.