Pick your movie of the week: Oscars 2018! (Mar 4-10/18)

Now’s your chance to pick a winner of the 2018 Oscar for best picture. You may not have seen any of them, but perhaps you’ve seen posters or heard scuttlebutt that piques your interest in one over the others. But what’s more important than which one wins the Oscar is… which one is our movie of the week??

*Click on any and you’ll get their IMDb page in a new tab if you’d like to read the cast list, plot synopsis, etc.

1. Call Me by Your Name

2. Darkest Hour 3. Dunkirk

4. Get Out

5. Lady Bird

6. The Post

7. Phantom Thread 8. The Shape of Water

9. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri











Well, there’s good news and there’s bad news… and then good news again

I think I’ve found a solution to the pain we are all too familiar with: the pain of having to deal with the noisy, tacky, impossible-to-escape circus known as “news media.”

But first, let’s identify the problem. The reason news has moved from a b&w paper to a 5:00 shirt-and-tie interlude to a giant ticker-scrolling bull in china shop is for one reason: it has become a business. And business means the bottom line is money, not necessarily good journalism. We all know of news networks that are politically slanted with their reporting, usually pretending they are not. Why they do this is simple. They have a target audience to satisfy. If you are trying to sell cereal and your target audience is children, then you get a cartoon mascot, brightly coloured TV ads, and a catchy jingle. Why? Because that’s what sells to kids. It’s what they want. The target wants, the supplier delivers. One must use the same kind of marketing if one wants to be the “leading source” of news to conservatives, liberals, libertarians, etc. You have to convince grown adults that you have the “real news,” aka the news they want to hear.

To present my solution, I’d like to continue with the cereal analogy. Imagine you are with a child you know and love. Perhaps a family member. The TV is on and you’re enjoying some quality programming with little Junior. Suddenly, a cartoon bird with a brightly coloured beak appears on screen telling viewers that his cereal—which is just as colourful as his beak—is crazy delicious. He acts goofy, smiles, and shares said cereal with cartoon children who “mmmmmmmm” upon tasting it. It is at this point that Junior loses his mind. He wants that cereal SO BAD! How do you talk to Junior about it? Do you say, “Holy crap, you’re right! Let’s get to the Superstore! Post haste!!”? Chances are you’ll do what I tried to do with my kids when they were young (the jury is still out on whether or not I was successful in my efforts). You will talk to him about commercials,what they’re purpose is, etc. etc. You might get him the cereal as a treat, treat, but you won’t sell your soul to that company to make sure Junior is happy. The child probably won’t understand, but eventually he’ll come around. He’ll realize that the contents of the cereal and its taste are the only good reasons to buy it. He’ll still enjoy the commercials, but maybe more for entertainment value than anything.


And there’s the solution. Let’s just look at the news media today with the same lenses we wear when commercials flash before our eyes. Commercials are even more annoying than news media, and certainly more omnipresent. But we’ve learned to live with them. Sure they bug us. Sometimes to our chagrin they even work on us. Yet for the most part we see them, get the info we need from them, and that is that.

It’s a bit unsettling to hear people refer to “mainstream news media” as if they are all a part of a giant evil conspiracy to destroy our society. If that is the case, we are buying into political rhetoric every bit as much as Junior buys into a toucan’s cereal pitch. Only our situation would be worse than Junior’s if we cling to our ignorance. None of us want to know what it feels like to live in a culture where our news media is taken away from us.

Yes, there is “fake news” out there, though most of it is a collection of random websites that make outrageous claims that they hope will make its rounds on social media. Though we make mistakes sometimes, most of us can spot the fakes. (e.g. Obama isMuslim, Putin is gay, Trudeau is Castro’s love child, etc.). Look on the bright side. They are all over our world leaders. They can’t get away with anything today. If it happens, it will get leaked. Sure they can be annoying, but demonizing legit newspapers and news networks because they don’t lean the way we do is unwise at best. I’m sure Kim Jong Un would disagree.

Congratulations All the President’s Men. This is your week.

And the Oscar goes to…

Best Actress: Rachel McAdams as Sacha Pfeiffer in Spotlight.

Best Actor: Robert Redford as Bob Woodward in All the President’s Men. Though I should acknowledge Michael Keaton who appeared in two of this week’s nominated movies.

Best Quote:  “Sometimes you can just smell a horrendously shitty day on the way, can’t you?” — Michael Keaton as Henry Hackett in The Paper.

The Oscars are fast approaching and I’ll be posting my picks soon. If any of you make picks, please let me know. I find it fun to talk about. Also, if you’ve seen any of the films nominated for best picture, let me know that too. Again this year I managed to watch all 9 nominees. Yes, I’m a geek. But I’m having fun!


The countries I didn’t know about

Sometimes when watching the Olympics you look at the screen and say, “Who’s that? Germany vs who?” You can’t figure out the three-letter abbreviation and the tiny flag is unrecognizable. Here are some you may or may not have realized were competing in PyeongChang this year:

Eritrea — A nation in northeast Africa, it’s about the size of Newfoundland (not incl Labrador) and has a population of almost 5 million. Their name is derived from the Red Sea, they separated themselves from Ethiopia in 1958, and the temperature stays within 17-26 degrees celsius all year round. They have one olympian this time around: a male alpine skier.

So, how does an African become an Alpine skier? Well, his parents had fled Eritrea in the 80’s when there was political unrest there and moved to Alberta where their son, Shannon-Ogbani Abeda, was born. Right here in Canada he learned how to ski and would go on to represent his homeland in South Korea as we speak.

Tonga — Actually, you have heard of Tonga, because their flag bearer for the 2016 Olympiad got everyone’s attention. He was ripped, handsome, and oily. Yes, NOW you remember. They had 7 athletes then, and Pita Taufatofua was one of them: the Taekwondo competitor covered in coconut oil. Well, this time around he’s the only one competing, only this time as a cross-country skier. All the best to you Pita!

Image result for chinese taipei flagChinese Taipei — So we already know that Hong Kong is kinda-sorta a country. They are a part of China who has given them a tremendous amount of autonomy. Anyone from there (incl. the one living in my house) does not like to be identified with China. Now we might assume Chinese Taipei is simply Taiwan, since its capital city is Taipei. However, from what I’ve read, it represents a more broad term known as The Republic of China, which exists within China (The People’s Republic of China). So China recognizes them as a separate country in the Olympics only, and they take on a flag and anthem completely void of any meaning connected to China. They have one male luge athlete, two male speed skaters and one female speed skater.

Togo — Just a tad larger than Nova Scotia with a population closer to Quebec’s, it sits in the northwest end of Africa, about 4 blocks over from Sierra Leone. They have 1 female athlete in the category of cross-country skiing: Mathilde-Amivi Petitjean. She moved to France with her family when she was 4, took interest in skiing at 7, and came to excel in the sport as a teenager. Her home country actually called her and asked her to compete. She said, “I don’t know how they found me and at first I thought it was a joke. I spoke about it with my parents… As far as I was concerned, the time had come for me to do something for Togo.”

Korea — We all know Korea and saw the athletes from both North and South all march in together, hand-in-hand, during the opening ceremonies. And they have 35 athletes competing together under one unified flag; however, that represents only one sport: women’s ice hockey. 23 of them are from South Korea, 12 of them from North Korea. All of the other athletes are competing for either North (10 athletes) or South (122 athletes).

And you’ll be glad to know that after 30 years Jamaica still has a bobsleigh team!

Congratulations Cool Runnings. Not only is this your 25th anniversary, this is also your week.

And the Oscar goes to…

Best Actress: Patricia Clarkson as Patti Brooks in Miracle.

Best Actor: Kurt Russell as Herb Brooks in Miracle. It’s actually one of my favourite performances.

Best Quote:  Derice Bannock:Sanka, you dead?Sanka Coffie: “Ya mon.” — Cool Runnings.

This year’s Olympic mascot is Soohorang. He represents a white tiger (though he has teddy bear ears) and his name is a combination of Sooho, meaning protection, and Rang, which has two meanings. Rang is short for tiger in Korean and is also part of the title of a favourite/famous folk song of the region where the games are being played. So, Soohorang is to be the protector of the athletes, spectators, and other participants in the Olympics. As for me though, I think I’d rather call on Kung Fu Panda than this guy. Does he look like he could protect much?


Tribute to the Hitch

I love this director, one of the most influential ones of all time. Here are some little trivia facts about Alfred Hitchcock that you may or may not know:

  • He once planned to shoot a scene in Disneyland, but Disney refused him because they didn’t approve of Psycho. They described it as “that disgusting movie.”
  • He’d never tasted eggs in his life. He thought they looked sickening. He said, “Have you ever seen anything more revolting than an egg yolk breaking and spilling its yellow liquid? Blood is jolly, red. But egg yolk is yellow, revolting.
  • He directed the very first British “talkie.”
  • He started out in the movie business as a title card designer. These are the cards that help narrate (for lack of a better term) in silent movies as well as list credits.
  • His first successful movie, The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog, was highly influential in shaping the thriller genre.
  • His parents were in the food business and they did well for themselves. Young Alfred was first hit with the reality of classes and “haves/have-nots” was when on vacation observing the difference between tourists and locals.
  • He doesn’t ever remember having a playmate as a child.
  • His father had a policeman lock him in a jail cell to show him what they did to “naughty boys.” Ever since he’d had a paralyzing fear of policemen and refused to even drive a car for fear of the possibility of a parking ticket.
  • His wife, Alma, converted from Protestantism to Catholicism by being baptized a year after their wedding… at the insistence of Hitchcock’s mother.
  • She was also a very close collaborator with Hitchcock. One film critic remarked, “The Hitchcock touch had four hands. And two were Alma’s.”
  • His movie The 39 Steps is considered one of the first to use the “MacGuffin” plot device, which is an object or a goal that the protagonist of a film is pursuing (e.g. the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the one ring in The Lord of the Rings, Doug in The Hangover, etc).
  • In 1945 he was a part of a team that produced a documentary on the liberation of Holocaust concentration camps. It was intended to show to the people of Germany but was considered too shocking for people who’d just come out of such a terrible war. It was put in a vault and stayed there until 1985. In 2014 it was fully restored by scholars at the Imperial War Museum in London.
  • The famous caricature silhouette of Hitchcock that was used in the opening of his TV show Alfred Hitchcock Presents was made up of only 9 strokes, and was drawn by Hitchcock himself.
  • When he was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Film Institute, he joked with his friends about the name of the award and that he must be due to die soon. Then he died a year later.

Congratulations Rear Window. This is your week.

And the Oscar goes to…

Best Actress: My favourite is Grace Kelly, but I think Kim Novak should get it for Vertigo.

Best Actor: James Stewart as John Ferguson in Vertigo AND as L.B. ‘Jeff’ Jefferies in Rear Window.

Best Quote:I didn’t realize you were an art collector. I thought you just collected corpses.” — Cary Grant as Roger Thornhill in North By Northwest.

Here’s how I would rank the Hitchcock movies I’ve seen to date:

  1. Rebecca (1940)
  2. Rope (1948)
  3. Strangers on a Train (1951)
  4. North By Northwest (1959)
  5. Dial M for Murder (1954)
  6. Rear Window (1954)
  7. Vertigo (1958)
  8. Psycho (1960)