I feel like I crossed a threshold with this little scene. I'm not sure that the subtleties show up terribly well on camera, but I tried to add some depth and texture to the items by using different shades of the various greens and browns you see here, along with some dark washes to bring out details.
Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Monday, June 29, 2020
Sunday, June 28, 2020
Saturday, June 27, 2020
Friday, June 26, 2020
Thursday, June 25, 2020
Wednesday, June 24, 2020
Tuesday, June 23, 2020
Monday, June 22, 2020
As for Men with Brooms (Paul Gross, 2002), well, if you're not put off by the incredibly creepy CGI beavers that open the film, you might enjoy the performances (Molly Parker is particularly effective) and the and the few sitcom-level jokes that don't fall completely flat. Oh, and if you like curling, you might be amused by the scenes that take place on the rink. Finally, there are also a handful of love stories, two of which are kind of sweet if you're sentimental (as I tend to be). All told, however, most of the humour is stale, the drama flat, and the plot beats predictable. It's not that the film is terrible, but it does have an awful lot of wasted potential: a mildly interesting central idea, a strong cast, and a chance to explore one of the few aspects of Canadian culture someone outside the country might be able to name.
Someday someone will make the great Canadian curling movie. This isn't it, but writer-director-lead actor Gross deserves credit for taking his best shot - even if it misses the button by a couple of kilometres.
Sunday, June 21, 2020
Saturday, June 20, 2020
Friday, June 19, 2020
Thursday, June 18, 2020
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
I went into Jean-Claude Lord's Visiting Hours (1982) with low expectations, but as it turns out this is a pretty effective slasher film set apart from the big slasher names of the 80s--the Friday the 13ths, the Halloweens, and the like. There are two major differences: there's not a hint of the supernatural in this story, and both villain and victims act in (from their different perspectives) reasonable and realistic ways.
Michael Ironside plays Colt Hawker, an unhinged psychopath who hates women, particularly strong women who advocate for themselves. Gradually, through a series of flashbacks spread throughout the film, we discover that Colt's mother attacked and disfigured Colt's father after suffering years of abuse from her husband. Those same flashbacks also imply, in subtle yet truly nauseating fashion, that Colt's father may have been sexually abusing their son. While this disturbing background doesn't excuse Colt's actions, it helps explain his twisted motivations.
Colt's breaking point, it seems, comes when television journalist Deborah Ballin (Lee Grant) advocates for an abused woman who was put on trial for defending herself from her husband. Station manager Gary Baylor (William Shatner) plays a supporting role as Deborah's rather ineffective boss and friend, and he's fascinating to watch, especially in contrast to his heroic turn in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan in the same year. Baylor is well-intentioned and advocates, somewhat weakly, for Deborah's right to speak out, but it's the women in this film who provide the strongest thematic and story opposition to Ironside's Colt.
First among them is Ballin, of course, who fights back gamely during Colt's initial attempted murder but winds up in the hospital, badly hurt and forced to endure an extended recovery before she'll be able to return to work - and to her advocacy for women's agency and rights. But interestingly, Ballin fades into the background for about the middle third of the picture, and in her place as protagonist steps nurse Sheila Munroe (Linda Purl). When Colt learns that Deborah Ballin is in hospital, he makes multiple attempts on her life in the hospital, killing other patients along the way, and he's foiled by Sheila, which puts her on his list of targets.
The focus shifts yet again as we follow Colt's grimy life outside murder, when he picks up a young woman named Lisa (Lenore Zann) and violently rapes and physically abuses her during what she thought was going to be a date. But Colt doesn't kill her, and she winds up in hospital under Shelia's care. We learn later on that Lisa took revenge offscreen by rounding up some of her friends to invade and trash Colt's apartment, an incident that occurs offscreen and is revealed only later in the film, but struck me as an interesting display of women's agency. (Perhaps even more fascinating, all three female leads are presented as single, either explicitly or via implication by absence.)
Lisa later becomes instrumental as her raid on Colt's apartment uncovers evidence of his crimes, which she hands off to Sheila. Unfortunately, Colt is one step ahead of everyone and sets a trap for her, gravely wounding the nurse and putting her, ironically, back in her own hospital. At this point, the focus shifts back to Deborah Ballin for the final confrontation. In the best traditions of the "final girl" trope, she of course dispatches Colt and sets the world right again....until the next slasher film comes out.
Many reviews of the era slammed Visiting Hours for its exploitative violence, and that's fair, particularly in Lisa's case; the scene where Colt assaults her is definitely exploitative and deeply discomfiting. On the other hand, most Lisa-like characters in this genre don't get to fight back and survive like Lisa does, which doesn't necessarily redeem the film, but I think speaks to its sincerity when it comes to the movie's central theme, that of female empowerment. I think it's very telling that none of the male characters, including alleged heroic lead Shatner (who's barely in the film, really) nor the scores of determined but hapless police officers, really contribute at all to the film's ultimate resolution. The collective bravery and actions of Deborah, Sheila, and Lisa lead directly to Colt's defeat. In effect, there are three "final girls" (and we really should be calling them "final women" if we're going to use the trope at all).
I wouldn't go so far as to call this a feminist movie (far from it!), but I think given the limits of the genre, it's more progressive than many similar films of that era. And it has other merits, of course--effective cinematography and production design, solid editing, and good performances all around, particularly from the women leads and Michael Ironside. It's no classic, but I think Visiting Hours deserves a better reputation than it has.
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
Monday, June 15, 2020
Sunday, June 14, 2020
Saturday, June 13, 2020
Friday, June 12, 2020
I'm currently aware of two YouTube creators who are sharing their amazing work: Denis Shirayev and Restored Footage. Each has posted only a handful of clips (my favourite may be Restored Footage's reconstruction of the Hindenburg newsreel) but each is amazing in its own right, at least to my eyes. If you're a fan of history or technology, their channels are worth exploring.
(I'd post a video, but Google has willfully made it harder to embed them on Blogger.)
Thursday, June 11, 2020
Wednesday, June 10, 2020
Monday, June 08, 2020
I painted a forge! I was a little worried about painting a thin enough sheen of red and yellow on the coals to allow the LED to shine through and glow, but it looks okay. You can't really see it in this photo, but I experimented with multiple coats for this model: a base stone grey, followed by two layers of black-ish washes in an effort to make the forge look old and well-used.
Sunday, June 07, 2020
Saturday, June 06, 2020
Steve generously donated a 3D-printed 28mm-scale Old West bank to me a couple of months ago, and this morning I painted it. This is the largest miniature I've yet painted, and the first building. I went with green and yellow for their association with dollar bills and gold coins. It looks pretty muddy to me, and I feel like should probably have painted the second-story columns yellow to match those below. Obviously I'm still having trouble colouring between the lines, as it were, but I feel like I'm slowly getting better at that particular task. Patience seems to be the best help, along with lots of light.