Wednesday, February 28, 2007

This Mortal Trouble

French Pop Wednesdays goes all Last Year at Marienbad on you this week - Serge goes wandering through a mansion full of beautiful, silent women and ignores them all. How... predictable of him.

The song is 'Ce Mortel Ennui'.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

A Change Is As Cool As A Rest

For the next few weekends, there will be a cool detour for Toronto straphangers - the TTC is closing Bay subway station to do tunnel repairwork, which will necessitate a re-routing of Bloor-Danforth trains down to the University line. Eastbound travelers will have to cross the platform at Museum station to switch trains. And Museum will still be utilized for Yonge-University-Spadina service so it should be a bit crazy on the platforms for the crowd to figure out which train goes where - just like New York! And travellers will find themselves on a train going down service tunnels that haven't been visible to the public for years, including zipping past a rare gem most people don't know about - the closed-off station below Bay Station that is mostly used for movie shoots but was once a platform for a hybrid Bloor-Yonge service, using Bay as a turnoff point between downtown and crosstown service. The TTC tried it for a few months in 1966 but the problem was if there was a service breakdown it would affect the whole system, not specific lines.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Santo Gold Telethon

You learn something every day.

Not only was there a man named Santo Gold, a "24 karat" "gold" product you could buy (and supposedly sell to people) called Santo Gold, a rock-and-roll wrastlin' movie starring Santo Gold called Blood Circus, where he sang a song called 'Santo Gold' (the film was unreleased), and an infomercial for all three entities called Santo Gold in the late eighties, but I found out today there was also once a Santo Gold telethon, to raise money for (and awareness of) Santo Gold!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

You Can Fight City Hall

They're fucking with Nathan Phillips Square. The bids are in on the further T-Dotification of Toronto, updating our Modernist, Brasilia-esque city square into a more "revitalized" (their jargon) rethink. All the designs call for the removal of the amazing elevated walkway that circles the square and hooks up to the Sheraton Centre across the street - very classy, but it's been locked off from the public for years.

City Hall has shown up in the strangest places in pop culture. Playing itself in the William Shatner Canuxploitation thriller The Kidnapping Of The President. An episode of Star Trek. Pursuit of Happiness videos. That crap Kiefer Douglas thriller The Sentinel last year.

Well, they're "revitalizing" it now. Whatever design wins, it won't be as cool as this one!

This is the kind of movie that makes you wish we still had grindhouses like the Coronet or the Rio, or crumbling seventies multiplexes like the last incarnation of the Eaton Centre Cineplex. I used to go to there on two dollar Tuesdays without knowing what was playing. I'd just pick something tawdry off the marquee like it was off the menu. This is how I got in on the ground floor with the whole Steven Seagal thing.

Les Yeux De Bette Davis

French Pop Wednesdays presents the soundtrack for a 1981 shoplifting spree in the Haute Couture section of Eatons in Montreal, including valuable fashion tips! It's 60's survivor Sheila, with 'Une Affaire D'Amour'.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Monday, February 19, 2007

It's Hard Out Here For A Nymph: Oscar Night '07

I'm usually pretty good at predicting these things... and that's not bragging this year, where most of the categories appear to be coronations. But there will be a surprise or two.

Best Picture - Little Miss Sunshine
Yes, I'm afraid so. It's all Crash's fault. The Academy voters are developing a taste for overrated, obvious, Sundancey films with ensemble casts. Just as Crash was awarded for finally exposing America's ugly racist tendencies, Sunshine will be rewarded for knocking those tasteless children's beauty pageants down a peg or two. I realized a few months ago that the most painful film festival imaginable would be a retrospective of the last 15 years of Best Picture Oscar winners, shown in chronological order (or shown in one marathon event, with Roberto Benigni set loose in the theatre as a bonus).

Best Director - Martin Scorsese, The Departed
Finally. Although it would be hilarious if Eastwood beat him again.

Best Actor - Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland
This would be gratifying for me to see, having lost all hope for Forest a few years ago during his wilderness years (directing Waiting To Exhale, co-starring in Battlefield Earth). There was talk early in the race of it being between Whitaker and Peter O'Toole but that talk has since died down.

Best Actress - Helen Mirren, The Queen

Best Supporting Actor - Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine
The beneficiary of the 'Anyone But Norbit' movement, which also works out to be a semi-career achievement award for him. I wish the Academy had the good sense to give it to Mark Wahlberg, who was fantastic in The Departed, basing the abusive character he played on a real life cop who continually busted his balls when he was a young punk in Dorchester.

Best Supporting Actress - Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls
People love that "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" song and want to give someone an award for belting it out.

Al Gore will win for documentary. Children of Men will win for cinematography. Original screenplay will go to Sunshine, despite its similarities to National Lampoon's Vacation. The Departed will win for editing and adapted screenplay. The Lives of Others will get foreign language film. Celine Dion will do her best to fuck up the Ennio Morricone lifetime achievement award. And Britney Spears will show up unannounced, painted from head to toe in gold.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

A Taste of The Apple

The Apple (1980) is the answer to the question "What's the worst film of all time?".

It's a chilling vision of the future (1994 to be exact) where a sinister corporation uses disco music, glitter, silver lamé and star filters to control the masses...(okay, maybe they got that part of the prophecy right). Two innocent Canadians (from Moose Jaw Saskatchewan!) are pawns in the diabolical Mr Boogalow's nefarious mind-control plans. This movie starts off bad and goes through the floor to the earth's core. Dancing Riot Police! Orgies! Biblical Allegories! The worst songs you've ever heard in your life! A literal deus ex machina ending (spoiler alert!). Directed by none other than Menahem Golan of Golan-Globus fame. It has to be seen to be believed, even though you still won't believe it.

Behold the trailer...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Oh Yé-Yé

French Pop Wednesday, yo, finding treasures in the trash.

Before Antony and the Johnsons, there was Antoine et les Problèmes.

Every country had a Dylan in the sixties, it seemed - Antoine was France's. This is the Monkees-esque Scopitone video for his 1966 hit "Les élucubrations d'Antoine". The song was notable at the time because it made fun of France's increasingly mindless yé-yé pop music scene; Jacques Dutronc took this ball and ran with it.

Monday, February 12, 2007

What Else Don't We Know About Osama Obama?

Heaven forfend! Fox News implicitly criticizes Big Tobacco in this expose of Barack Obama's secret smoking habit! There must be something else we don't know about him (well, eventually there'll be nothing we don't know about him, but the campaign is still young).

The guy they have on here is from the Manhattan Institute, a completely bi-partisan think tank out of New York - a quick perusal of their website is amazing - here are some op-ed links from their home page:

Surge In Birth Rate Among Unwed Hispanics Creating New U.S. Underclass - here's a quote: "Dr. Sanchez feels almost personally involved in the problem: 'I'm Hispanic myself. I wish I could find out what the Asians are doing right.' "

Teachers Are Better Paid Than You Think - What?! They're paying these people?

It Will Take an Injection of Capitalism to Free Ourselves - a piece encouraging America to switch over to a capitalist economy

What Is Blackness? - here's the last sentence: "I must admit a certain discomfort with Barack Obama, despite his sharpness and individuality, being treated as America’s newest Mammy." (that's strange, I thought that title was held by Eddie Murphy...)

(thanks to Tim for the headz)

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Happy Black History Month!

Eddie Murphy's latest crime against humanity, Norbit, opened this weekend and made 34 million dollars!

Eddie is the front runner to win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor at the end of the month for his performance as Little Jackie Cooke Brown Gaye in the musical Dreamgirls but apparently an anti-Murphy backlash is coalescing among Academy voters, as many in Hollywood feel either Murphy hasn't done enough drama or simply cannot be rewarded with an Oscar considering his career is made up (especially in the last ten years) with lowbrow freakshows like The Nutty Professor, Daddy Daycare and The Adventures of Pluto Nash. This movement points to the billboards for Norbit as their best argument against giving Murphy the gold - and I think it will work. Or I did think so, before I read about Norbit making 34 million dollars. Now all bets are off.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

An Inconvenient Truth

From the wires...

"A new poll suggests Canadians are not impressed by Conservative party TV ads that attempt to discredit new Liberal Leader Stephane Dion.

The survey by Decima Research found that 38 per cent of respondents — out of a sample of more than 1,000 — recalled seeing the attack ads.

But among the 388 Canadians who remember watching the unusual, non-election-period political advertising, 59 per cent said the ads were unfair in how they described Dion. Only 22 per cent felt the ads were fair." (italics mine)

Note to the bullies at the ad agency who put these amateur attack ads together... it was probably a bad idea to allow your target to use the word 'unfair' repeatedly throughout your unfair commercial. It's like a subliminal message that you use against yourself. It may help to explain your unexpected, unflattering poll results.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Mamet! At The Disco

Quiz Time!

Which of the following are pretentious song titles from corporate-sanctioned emo arena rock bands for 15-year-olds with babysitting money to burn like Panic! At The Disco and Fall Out Boy, and which are overripe lines of dialogue from David Mamet's 2004 Val Kilmer mind-melter Spartan?

a) I’m Like A Lawyer With The Way I’m Always Trying To Get You Off

b) There's A Good Reason These Tables Are Numbered Honey, You Just Haven't Thought Of It Yet

c) You Had Your Whole Life To Prepare For This Moment, Why Aren't You Ready?

d) Lying Is The Most Fun A Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off

e) The Only Difference Between Martyrdom And Suicide Is Press Coverage

f) I've Got Two Things For You, A Stiff Dick And Bubble Gum And Guess What, I'm Out Of Bubble Gum

g) I Write Sins, Not Tragedies

h) I Love You Baby, But The Season's Over

i) We Got Until Her Monday Morning Class, Then It's Meet The Press And "Where Is She?"

j) I’ve Got A Dark Alley And A Bad Idea That Says You Should Shut Your Mouth

k) You Don't Fake The DNA, You Issue A Press Release

l) A Minute Of Perfection Was Worth The Effort. A Moment Was The Most You Could Ever Expect From Perfection

m) Honey, You Got All The Slack In The World Until I Leave This Room And Then I'm Going To Zero You Out

n) This Ain't A Scene, It's An Arms Race

o) Watch The Weather Baby, Because It's Going To Change, Yeah

Answers in the comments section.

On The Chopin Block

French Pop Wednesdays has a cure for the deep freeze this week: Jane Birkin and her Gainsbourg ballad Jane B.

This video rules.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

You Hang Around Me And I'll Undo Your Mind

My hero Lee Hazlewood has just released what he says is his final album, Cake or Death (he has been diagnosed with renal cancer). He's not going out like Johnny Cash with a series of stark Final Statements - the new album sounds about as weird as anything in his catalogue (a version of 'Some Velvet Morning' performed by his eight-year-old granddaughter Phaedra, for instance). Sorry to hear he's gotta go.

This is the man who in one lifetime brought us Duane Eddy, Phil Spector, Gram Parsons and Nancy Sinatra. So of course he's in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. (Correction - of course he isn't.)

From his TV special to go with his country-psych masterpiece Cowboy In Sweden - "Hey Cowboy"; I'm a sucker for Little Red Riding Hood / Big Bad Wolf duets and this is one of the sleaziest.