Category Archives: Movies

The worst of Québécois film and television for your viewing pleasure

A friend pointed out to me today that he was planning to pop his Fantasia cherry by going to an interesting showing this evening. One mention of the words “Total Crap” and I knew exactly what he was talking about.

For those who don’t know, Total Crap is the brainchild of Simon Lacroix, who has for some reason taken it upon himself to collect the worst of Quebec television, from dancing lessons for overweight baby-boomers, to local wrestling previews, cheesy commercials and, every now and then, an appearance by Celine Dion. This is a pretty good example, but there’s much better.

Now, you might think “wow, that’s a really weird hobby”, and you would be wrong. You see, there’s someone else in town who’s doing the same thing. DJ XL5 (Myspace link, sorry) is also a local practitioner of what they call “zapping” and showing awful clips to eager audiences.

Last fall, someone had the brilliant idea to have them square off against each other. On Halloween at Club Soda, they did battle. The audience couldn’t decide between them, and there was no winner declared, but they did agree they wanted more.

So today at 7 p.m. at Concordia’s DB Clarke Theatre (Hall Building, 1455 de Maisonneuve W., corner Mackay), comes DJ XL5 versus Total Crap: La revanche. Here’s the teaser.

Next Friday afternoon, DJ XL5 returns solo with a showing of some pretty insane shorts with DJ XL5’s Kaleidoscopic Zappin’ Party (Teaser).

Tickets to both are $7.50, which you can get at Admission or on-site. (Bell Mobility is running a promotion with $5 tickets if you want to play their cellphone games)

Guzzo is doing searches

The federal government’s new law against recording video inside movie theatres has come to its inevitable conclusion: Cinema Guzzo is now searching people who enter its theatres and seizing any type of camera, whether it takes video or not.

As you might expect, some people are not happy about this.

Guzzo can’t really be blamed for this. The law makes the cinema owner just as responsible if the law is broken, so they’re just looking after their own asses. But the idea that so much is contraband — food, drink, bags, cameras — inside a room where all they’re doing is projecting an image onto a screen kind of boggles the mind. Even aircraft luggage doesn’t get this kind of treatment.

Of course, it goes without saying that, other than proving the U.S. movie industry has our government by the ballsack, this bill doesn’t do anything. Michael Geist (whose blog should be on everyone’s reading list) has a roundup of its problems (and a cool video about it too), to which I will only add this: Movies recorded in a crowded movie theatre are of such bad quality that I’m surprised anyone actually does it.

Take this badly-camcorded Family Guy / Star Wars bit. It includes a laugh track, viewer commentary, a partially obscured, darkened, oblong screen (that the camera pans away from every now and then) and a barely-discernable original audio track. Is this kind of stuff the world’s greatest threat to the movie industry?

Today in “who cares?” news

Warner Bros. is cancelling advance screenings of its blockbuster summer films in order to combat rampant camcording piracy in Canada, and especially Montreal. So we won’t be able to see Harry Potter and Emma’s enhanced breasts before it’s actually released. Who cares? Well, the papers do, since they won’t be able to review films in advance of opening weekend. Instead, they’ll have to do what they did with Snakes on a Plane, and review it with real people sitting in the theatre with them.

I suppose I should mention that the claims — that people camcording films in Montreal’s movie theatres is the biggest source of pirated movies — have already been debunked, and that Latin America is more of a problem than Canada. But if I did that then we wouldn’t be able to write big feature stories about Canada’s rampant piracy problem.

In other non-news, the Eastern Townships School Board is in “trouble” because it spent $38,000 sending 34 people to Texas for a conference on integrating computers into the classroom. Who cares? If you ask me, getting people to a conference like this for about $1,000 a person is a pretty good deal, and considering their laptop program costs something like $15 million, spending a tiny fraction of that on proper training seems to me to be a good use of money.

The Justiciers Masqués fooled Nicolas Sarkozy, pretending to be Stephen Harper with his bad French, and inviting Sarkozy to a “diner des cons” with George W. Bush. Listen to it here. Who cares? They did the same thing to Jacques Chirac last year.

So a librarian, an archivist and a graphic designer walk into an auditorium…

Yesterday I stopped by the H-110 auditorium at Concordia University’s Hall Building, a room I haven’t been to in a few years, to see the local premiere of Helvetica, the movie. It’s a surprisingly fascinating and well-done documentary about one of the world’s most prolific fonts, with tons of pictures of signs and logos that use it and conversations with type designers (like Hermann Zapf of Zapf Dingbats fame and Matthew Carter, who created Verdana and my personal favourite Georgia).

The surprising thing about both the movie and its presentation was how funny it was (granted, the room was filled with geeks so it might not be so universally funny). The designers (type and otherwise) all had differing opinions on Helvetica, calling it ubiquitous, genius and boring. You couldn’t help but laugh at how absolute they were about their opinions.

To add to the fun, the screening staff had t-shirts that read “Helveticrew” and there was a small group of Arial enthusiasts in the crowd (they were playfully booed as they were announced and again as one of them won the first door prize – a Helvetica movie poster).

What got much fervent applause was the line right after the Arial introduction:

“We’ve stopped the Comic Sans people at the door.”

P.S. There really were a librarian, an archivist and a graphic designer among the people I knew at the screening. The librarian and designer are sisters, for what it’s worth.

How can it still be before time?

Remember The Land Before Time? I do. It was a well-regarded 1988 animated movie about tiny dinosaurs separated from their parents. It had a happy ending (sorry if I spoiled it for you) but for a young kid watching it, there were some tense emotional moments there.

For some reason (greed), its makers decided to turn this story into an industry.  They produced 11 sequels, about one every year and a half. Instead of a well-written, gritty adventure story that can be enjoyed by young and old alike, they turned it into a musical farce that a four-year-old would quickly find boring.

Their latest outing comes out on DVD this week. I just saw a commercial for it on TV. I know all movies pick and choose what critics they’ll quote, but in this case the only two quotes were from a parenting magazine. In fact, it was Parenting Magazine. This magazine. Somehow I don’t think their movie critics are as harsh as the L.A. Times or Roger Ebert.

This spring, they’re adding a Cartoon Network TV series to the empire.
God help us all.

Dollar Cinema is dead. Long live Dollar Cinema

Tonight, in order to overcome an incredible surge of boredom, I went to Dollar Cinema to catch Casino Royale with the new Bond, Daniel Craig.

As I entered I noticed the Dollar Cinema is now a $2 cinema. It’s still worth going (popcorn and soda are still $1), but on principle it seems strange. Kind of like seeing stuff at the Dollar Store that’s more than a dollar.

The movie itself was OK. Craig makes a believable (though incredibly naive) Bond. But … is there a second part to this movie or something? I feel unsatisfied. He doesn’t even get a girl at the end! (Sorry if that spoiled it for you)