Cold War

   28 January 2019, early evening

The trailer for Burning was Cold War. A polish film about the complicated and tumultuous relationship between a pianist and composer played by Tomasz Kot, and a fiery singer and dancer played by Joanna Kulig. The movie starts in 1949, ends in 1964, following their relationship from Poland to France and back again. It’s a beautiful film, shot in Black and White, and in what looked like 4:3—what a throw back. The music is incredible. The song playing in the trailer is beautiful, and apparently sung by the actress. What!

Read more about Cold War at TIFF.

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Burning

   28 January 2019, early evening

I watched Burning at TIFF before the holidays. My last film of 2018. Burning opens with Jong-su (Yoo Ah-in) bumping into a girl he knows from his small town, Hae-mi (Jun Jong-seo). He doesn’t recognize her, she’s beautiful now. They begin a relationship of sorts, when a new fellow enters the picture. Someone rich and handsome. And so we have a love triangle. A strange film. Far more sinister than I had expected. Ambiguous. The actors are all superb. I really liked it.

Read more about Burning at TIFF.

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Shoplifters

   17 December 2018, early morning

A posse of us went to the members’ premier of Shoplifters at the TIFF Lightbox last week. This is the latest film by Hirokazu Kore-eda, who made Nobody Knows. I haven’t seen any of his other movies, but now feel like tracking them all down. The premise of the film is simple enough. A family of petty criminals find a girl seemingly abandoned by her abusive parents. They take her home and start raising her as one of their own children. The movie moves on from there. It’s an incredible film. Such a sweet sad film. The acting is so great. It’s playing at TIFF still, you should watch it while you can.

More about Shoplifters at TIFF.

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She-Ra

    2 December 2018, terribly early in the morning

She-Ra Netflix Poster

Finished watching the new She-Ra with my daughter. It’s really well done. Noelle Stevenson—of Nimona and Lumberjanes fame—has done a great job here. There is a clear vision and arc for the whole thing, all about friendship and junk like that. The show doesn’t completely repudiate the origin story of the original, but it’s doing its own thing. This first season is about Adora learning she’s She-Ra, working to unite all the princesses of power so they can all be part of a rebellion against the horde. They also give She-Ra and Catra a deeper relationship, and a lot of the show is about each of them realizing they have grown apart. But also it’s a show for like 7 year olds so keep that in mind when you’re watching it. It’s aesthetic is closer to anime I’d say. I don’t think it’s a bold statement to say it’s better than the original.

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Roma

    1 December 2018, evening time

I ended up with a free membership to TIFF. My first film as a member was Roma, the latest film by Alfonso Cuarón. When I watched Children of Men I said, “Children of Men is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Holy shit that was good.” I know I am quick to throw superlatives around when it comes to cinema, but Roma was fucking fantastic. It’s one of the best movies i’ve seen in my entire life. The film is clearly autobiographical. There is so much detail and specificity in the 1970s Mexico the film shows us. The movie’s protagonist is Cleo, the servant of a rich family in Mexico city. The film is slow, sometimes funny, sometimes tense. There are two scenes in the movie, one in a hospital, and one on a beach, that are so masterfully put together they make the whole film worthwhile all by themselves. And they are just two scenes. You must watch this film. If you’re in Toronto you’re lucky enough to be able to watch it at the Lightbox: you should do that.

Read the Guardian’s review of Roma.

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Go Back to China

   31 October 2018, early morning

“Go back to China,” some old man yells at some old lady at Lansdowne station. I am walking in to the station, while he is leaving. We come to the same shitty Presto turnstile.

You often wonder what you’ll do or say when you bump up against stuff like this. It’s been so long since I have heard some proper-ass racism in the city. (Has it? I can’t recall, anyway.)

“What the fuck did you say?” So I guess that’s what I am doing.

I stop him from leaving because I want to hear him say something, but he mumbles and pushes past me. The moment is over in seconds. I realize I wasn’t going to get anything worth hearing.

So I turn and yell at the two men working in the operator booth, dealing with the women who was told to go back to China. She’s agitated as well. “What are you even doing when this shit is happening right in front of you?” None of us our white. I bet this old brown dude I am now talking to has seen some shit.

“This happens all the time. Some people are crazy. You just got to ignore them.” Now I am the crazy person he needs to calm down.

I tell him nothing changes if no one says anything as I walk away, but I suspect he is the one that’s right.

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Demons in Paradise

   18 October 2018, terribly early in the morning

It turned out Demons in Paradise was a documentary. I’m not sure why I thought it was going to be a fictional retelling of the war in Sri Lanka. No matter, it was an interesting film all the same. Directed by Jude Ratnam, the film is a look at the violence of the civil war through the lens of his family’s experience with the war. The movie’s narrative seems to move from violence inflicted on the Tamil community to violence inflicted by the Tamil community (upon themselves). The movie opens in Colombo, discussing Sinhalese violence. The movie ends in Jaffna, discussing Tamil violence. In between is a brief coda in Kandy, that feels a bit out of place except that it separates these two chunks of the film. Ratnam managed to get people to be quite candid about their experiences. An ex-LTTE fighter talks about the TELO massacre. People from other groups talk about the random violence they committed. The film also asks the question (but doesn’t answer) why the civilian population was so blasé about the violence being committed in their name. I liked the film. My friend Fathima (who shuttered her blog!) thought it was muddled and poorly executed. We are a complicated peoples.

I saw Demons in Paradie at Jackman Hall as part of the Rendezvous With Madness Festival.

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