Ain’t Misbehavin’ is the Real McCoy

The Segal Centre kicked off its season with a delightfully rambunctious musical revue. Ain’t Misbehavin’ celebrates music from the Harlem Renaissance, a period in the “Roaring Twenties” when African-American artists sought to affirm pride in a new black identity. First conceived by Richard Maltby Jr. and Murray Horwitz with music[Read More…]

The dirty dozens

12 Years a Slave is agony in the fullest sense of the word. Chronicling the life of Solomon Northup, a free black man from New York kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841, the film sees director Steve McQueen (Hunger; Shame) at the very zenith of his formidable artistic talent. It takes a horrific portrayal to capture a horrific institution. 12 Years is a mesmerizing, intoxicating tale of man’s capacity for both unspeakable cruelty and incalculable courage.

Despite ethereal visuals, Gravity is full of narrative antimatter

For a space film, Gravity is fairly un-spacey. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney star as astronauts who must struggle to survive when a space mission goes horribly wrong. Gravity doesn’t disappoint visually—director Alfonso Cuarón’s famous long takes seem particularly amiable to outer space—but the film repudiates much of the intellectual legwork done by previous sci-fi masterpieces. Insofar as Gravity’s message is being reduced to humanity finding itself in adversity, the film is as thematically sophisticated as a made-for-TV space horror. But such a criticism may mean little to some. As a straightforward action flick, Gravity is certainly meritorious, with some flashy technical bells and whistles thrown in.

Groenland: The Chase (Bonsound)

Groenland: The Chase

A title like The Chase begs the question: chasing what? The album is purposefully coy in providing an answer, but one can rule out ‘talent’ as a possibility—Groenland already has that in abundance. The Montreal six-piece’s release is staggeringly accomplished for a first effort. The Chase occupies a nebulous arena[Read More…]

BrightonMA: Oh Lost

Brighton MA: Oh Lost

“We weren’t built to last; we were built to explode,” croons Matt Kerstein. The lead singer of Chicago-based quintet Brighton MA delivers the line evocatively in “Bulletproof,” the opener for the group’s sophomore release Oh Lost—and at first, one is tempted to believe him. Unfortunately, the sonic vitality seen in[Read More…]

Stoker dazzles with a “heady mixture of lust and bloodlust.” Here, Mia Wasikowska as India Stoker. (www.iri.ie)

Fanning the flames of violence

I loathed Django Unchained—Tarantino’s masturbatory exercise in self-aggrandizement. Yet even I can admire the beauty of one particular shot from the film, when a rich ruby blood spurt  sprays across a field of snow-white cotton. Not only did this visual reinforce the horrific human toll of commodification—it also looked downright[Read More…]

An accessible opera brings mixed results

Rather than deter crime, religion may stimulate it. That is the controversial conclusion of a new criminological study published last month, which found that criminals—sometimes with rudimentary if not outright false understanding of religious tenets—often use faith as a justification for their crimes. This finding was in the forefront of[Read More…]

Dead Man Down is dead in the water

In the land of action-thrillers, there is a fence. On one side lies territory that is ‘edgy,’ ‘atmospheric,’ and ‘cool.’ The other side is ‘stifling,’ ‘slow,’ and ‘boring.’ Nicolas Winding Refn found himself on the former side of this fence with Drive and Bronson, and the latter with Valhalla Rising.[Read More…]

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