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Matewan (1987)
7/10
It's okay, but a bit sanitized
20 January 2019
This is a fairly good union strikers film, but I had some issues with it. Primarily, the capitalists, bankers, wealthy families and politicians are completely absent here. They take on an abstract identity, referred to as "big people," but we never really get a sense of who the miners are actually struggling against, and who is making the miners' lives a living hell. Instead all we get are 2 contracted union busters who seem a bit foolish, a quite pathetic spy, and a few random henchmen. I would have preferred to see a more authentic look at the true enemy: the capitalist class, as the TV show Damnation did so well, for example.

Another issue I had with this film was the poor plot design and writing. There was some good here, but the plot surrounding the spy was quite absurd in execution, and generally we didn't get too much of a perspective on the real treacherous conditions they were facing, or the social and economic background behind it. Instead we hear more conventional ideas like not letting the workers be pitted against each other.

Finally, the movie depicts the Wobblies as being pacifists, insofar as the main character pleads for the workers not to resort to violence; but this I found unconvincing and anachronistic, likely a result of the anti-war and pacifist movements a decade or so before this film was made.

Ultimately this movie comes across as one written and directed by someone who's interested in a 'centrist's' or status quo take on history, but who hasn't done their research into the real material conditions. This isn't surprising, as this film was made in the late 80s, when anti-union and anti-communist rhetoric was at its peak in America. On the bright side, this movie does escape having any feeling of the 80s, which is rare for other films of its time.
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6/10
Great style, horrendously simple plot and way too much exposition
16 August 2018
This movie is worth watching, but you have to remember it's meant for teenagers who probably haven't been exposed to too many films about time travel. If you've watched your fair share of films, this movie will come off as overly simplistic. Exposition is quite common in Japanese films, but it did not work favourably here. The male characters actually reminded me a bit of the film Idiocracy. In any case, I laughed out loud a few times and most people here seem to like it. I'm a voice of dissent.
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6/10
Okay show but Joe Kenda has a hard on for putting kids in solitary confinement
9 February 2018
Look, this show USB great for the first season. He dazzled you with his orality and his neat perfect memory. He's smart, unlike most detectives you see on other shows, or even in movies. But by the time you get through season 2, the trick gets old and the cases are pretty stale. After all, most of his cases involve detective manipulation and interrogation of murderers who don't ask for lawyers, and so forensics isn't used much. If you want interesting cases, watch Forensic Files. These are run of the mill. Eventually through it becomes a bit disgusting to watch: Joe Kenda has a hard-on for putting kiddies in jail for long sentences, often in solitary confinement ('for their own safety'-well fuck, if you can't afford a prison that takes care of its youth, they shouldn't be sent to prison). The state attorney or whoever was hard on youth crime at the time, but Kenda shows no critical thinking abilities (intelligence for a detective can only go so far) and no remorse. It's disgusting, he's disgusting, I'm done with this show.
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The Stairs (IV) (2016)
8/10
Well worth a viewing
14 August 2017
I watched this on an Air Canada flight. The characters are fun to watch and have some amazing stories to tell. It's not the most mind-shattering of documentaries on homelessness and drug addiction, but it serves a good reminder that occasional crack use doesn't necessarily lead to devastation, and that those who have lived on the streets for years can still provide quite a powerful and productive input back into society, unlike the people in suits we see on Bay Street, who only make things worse for everyone else.
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9/10
Brilliant Film with loads of sociological imagination
17 June 2017
I just wanted to leave a quick review to express how brilliant this film is. It's certainly underrated on IMDb at the time of this review. Anyone who has interest in the rise and fall of social scenes in urban areas, especially under the wrath of capitalism, will enjoy this film. The director has a sociological eye in the way the film is put together, and there is so much subtext underneath so much of what is said.

From what I gathered, class certainly plays a role here too, as both of the successors of the original Chinatown Fair seem to require a bit more money for entry and participation. Although I was happy to see new generations of teens in the new Chinatown fair, I couldn't help but notice their designer brand clothes in contrast to the patrons of the original arcade. I wish the film could have unearthed that shift a bit more clearly.
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8/10
The Albertan Condition
20 December 2015
The Valley Below is Kyle Thomas's directorial debut of a feature-length film and I have to say I'm impressed, especially with the writing. Coming from BC, I always wondered why Albertans are the way they are, and while this movie doesn't exactly answer that, it does give a glimpse of the Albertan condition in various forms: teenage love, alcoholism, family ties, marriage, responsibility, solitude, community and helplessness. Whether a pregnant woman, a drunk man, an optimistic and caring police officer, a successful artist, or whatever, nobody can seem to escape the inward pull of Alberta, the refusal to let go of the last economic haven in Canada.

I admit I only discovered this film on an Air Canada flight, and it was somewhat surreal that the film ended just as we were coming over Alberta. I looked out the window and wondered what kind of enchanting, mystical things were going on down there right at that moment. A first kiss on a deserted mountain range? A drunken brawl in a shady bar? Perhaps one day I will escape to Alberta, and find myself yearning for the condition that shields me from the horrors of the outside world. I hope this filmmaker continues to explore Alberta in its authethenticity.
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Eight (II) (2016)
9/10
A Day in the Life of OCD Hell
10 November 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Eight is a harrowing tale of the first 80 minutes of the morning in the life of a woman suffering from a debilitating comorbidity of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), agoraphobia and mysophobia. Sarah (played by the fantastic Libby Munro) takes excruciating measures to keep her house clean, and yet finds herself in her own self-made hell.

Peter Blackburn along with Munro deserve endless praise for this film. A description comparing it to Enter the Void with OCD sold it to me, and I was blown away. The depiction of this particular type of OCD is as realistic as ever, as confirmed by certain members in the audience in the post-screening Q and A with the director and Munro. For her part, Munro interviewed several people with OCD and did her research. It paid off: a tremendous achievement in acting.

Personally, I felt the film had traces of horror built into it, and really captured the horror of living in a debilitating state like that. Having volunteered at a crisis centre in the past, I have spoken to people in that state but this was the first time I really felt like I had a more encompassing perspective of just how much hell people can go through in their own homes. The film ends on a positive note, a tribute to the countless people who have experienced OCD in some form and have taken an immensely difficult step to learn how to manage it and recreate their life and self-worth.
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7/10
Another Tribute to Console Gamers of Old
14 October 2014
I've been a fan of James Rolfe since the 80s so I can say I'm a bit of an expert here. My question to most of these reviewers is: why would anyone think this film would be anything other than Rolfe's pleasure child? It's a fan-funded film. I can't imagine that anybody involved would expect a studio to pick it up or fund a sequel. It doesn't have enough of an advertising budget for that. Rolfe made this for himself and for the fans, and it shows. It's his life's work (and at such a young age!).

It's clear that he threw his absolute creativity into this. His love for Godzilla-like movies took the stage in what was for me the best part of the movie. Lots of console-cult-culture pumping. Some jokingly obvious lesbian overtones that border on the erotic (perhaps too much).

This film's not exactly good, but it certainly has enough creativity to keep me watching. I can't say that for most of the films many of you watch these days.

Makes me sad, as always, that an equivalent 80s-90s PC gaming culture never flourished outside of the deep dark caverns of the 'true' nerds who still have yet to see much cult recognition, save for a few legendary RPG and RTS developers.

Anyways, congrats to Rolfe on this, and keep doing what you do best.
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Zero Patience (1993)
10/10
One of the funniest movies I have ever seen
31 December 2013
I couldn't stop laughing for most of this movie. Each time I started to settle down, a new joke or song or something would come about and kill me again and again.

I'm straight and have barely seen any queer cinema, and this is so far out there I don't even know what to think. Brilliant.

The boner in the shower song was my favourite part, makes me want to try out a gay bath house.

And the super square and straight clueless scientist is an almost perfect resemblance to all straight people I know, including myself.

Creative genius!!!!!!
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Star Trek: The Next Generation: Datalore (1988)
Season 1, Episode 12
4/10
First horribly scripted episode of the series.
1 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
After reading a few of the other reviews here, it came to my attention that none of them mentioned the faults that I think ruined this episode. The episode reminded me of current, bad horror films in which the characters are so stupid that it seems that they have no brain to think with.

I enjoyed this episode greatly up to the point where Lore disguises himself as Data; the initial search on the planet and the interesting story behind Data and Lore was enjoyable and interesting to watch.

However, the irrationality of the crew (particularly Picard) lacked consistency with their normal behaviour. After Wesley suggested that Lore might be disguising himself as Data, Picard seemed furious at Wesley's disrespect in talking to a senior officer. That by itself seems quite normal of Picard, but the failure to even consider in the slightest the possibility truth in Wesley's warning does not make any sense. Perhaps if Wesley was a troublemaker "boy who cries wolf" character, I might forgive Picard's overlook; but the fact that Wesley has only ever shown complete devotion to the ship combined with his obvious intelligence gives no rational reasoning behind Picard.

With any reasonable thinking, we realize that the simple inspection of Lore's body to confirm that it is Lore and not Data far outweighs the potential security risks of letting Data, who may be Lore, wander the ship freely without question. Yet, this inspection does not occur until far later when Wesley and his mother are kicked off the bridge rudely by Picard.

"Shut up Wesley!" yells Picard after Wesley suggests the possibility of a security breach. Is it not part of any star fleet officer's duty to report such possibilities? Picard even makes this sort of claim earlier in the episode to the security chief!

I do not buy the idea that Wesley was not listened to because of his age - even if the crew and Picard were so ignorant to his repeated proofs of his ability, the potential security risk could not be ignored in any rational mind.

To top off the episode with annoyance, Wesley and his mother follow Data to confront Lore at the end. While I openly consider the possibility that there was no time to call the security team, I still find it far fetched and silly. And if that was the case, how does Picard and Ryker and Tasha Yar come in afterwards ready to fight before any other security guard!?

Otherwise, the episode was well done including Data and Lore's superb acting, so I give this episode a 6/10 rather than 3/10.
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