Squirrelly Awards For Film 2017

Feature Films: 
- Okja
- The Shape Of Water
- Lady Bird
- Baby Driver
- Get Out
- Dunkirk
- Blade Runner 2049
- Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
- A Ghost Story
- The Last Jedi
- War For The Planet Of The Apes
- Colossal

Documentary Feature:
- Kedi
- Dawson City: Frozen Time
- 78/52
Animated Feature: TBD
Animated Short:
- Mamoon

- Guillermo del Toro, The Shape Of Water
- Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
- Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk; Edgar Wright, Baby Driver
- David Lowery, A Ghost Story
- Joon-ho Bong, Okja

- Sally Hawkins, The Shape Of Water
- Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
- Seo-Hyun Ahn, Okja
- Rooney Mara, A Ghost Story

- James McAvoy, Split
- Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
- Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

Acting Ensemble: Mudbone

- Jonathan Amos & Paul Machliss, Baby Driver
- Lee Smith, Dunkirk
- Sidney Wolinsky, The Shape Of Water

- Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor, The Shape Of Water
- Aaron Sorkin, Molly's Game (for dialogue)

Production Design/Art Direction:
- Paul Austerberry & Nigel Churcher, The Shape Of Water

- Alexandre Desplat, The Shape Of Water
- Bear McCreary, Colossal

- Dan Lausten, The Shape Of Water
- Hoyte Van Hoytema, Dunkirk
- Roger Deakins, Blade Runner 2049
- Andrew Droz Palermo, A Ghost Story 


Squirrelly Awards For Film 2016

Feature Film: A Monster Calls / Arrival
Documentary Feature Film: Miss Sharon Jones / O.J. Made In America
Animated Feature Film: Trolls
Animated Short Film: Blind Vaysha / Pear Cider & Cigarettes

Director: J.A. Bayona, A Monster Calls / Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
Script: Joel & Ethan Coen, Hail, Caesar! / Fences, August Wilson
Cinematography: Linus Sandgren, La La Land / Roger Deakins, Hail, Caesar! / Rodrigo Prieto, Silence
Editing: Julian Clarke, Deadpool
Score; Michael Giacchino, Rogue One
Actress: Ruth Negga, Loving / Margot Robbie, Suicide Squad / Viola Davis, Fences
Actor: Adam Driver, Paterson / Aiden Ehrenreich, Hail, Caesar! 

There's lots of ties and there's a few films I still need to see (+ a couple of scripts I want to read).

Mini-Review - Jackie

Not a warm movie. Natalie Portman’s performance as Jackie Kennedy doesn’t make you like her but that may not be the point. You do come away from the movie with an understanding of what Jackie went through following the assignation of President John F. Kennedy. This is an Actress’ movie though at times it’s hard to see past Portman’s acting. 

Too much score  - there are moments when less score would allow the movie to breathe.

Five 5/10/16

Five (things of interest to me and maybe to you)

1) Record Store Day May 16, 2016
I used to look forward to Record Store Day but as each one passes I look forward to the next one less and less. The records on my list it is getting near impossible to find. The top item on my list this year was the Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet box set. I went to 8 stores, only 2 of them had ordered it (and I wasn’t going to stand in line at Amoeba - the line up started 8 hrs before the store opened). I did pick it up at Touch Vinyl (after a search on the internet). The other records on my list I did eventual see (many several weeks later). The RSD people need to change their policy on no-returns of RSD product, the smaller indie stores can afford to get stuck with stock and order less and less each one (and some have stopped participating altogether).

RSD several years ago at the late, great Origami Records. I'm in the photo somewhere.

RSD several years ago at the late, great Origami Records. I'm in the photo somewhere.

2) Prince

3) Karel Zeman Films at Cinefamily
Cinefamily screened four (The Fabulous Baron Munchausen, A Journey To The Beginning Of Time, The Stolen Airship, Invention For Destruction) of Karel Zeman’s incredible inventive feature films (+ the documentary, Karel Zeman: Adventurer In Film). These we are new restorations by the Karel Zeman Museum. I only made it to Invention For Destruction (though I have all the new restorations on DVD). It’s amazing how well these films hold up against today’s CG VFXs films.

4) Directors Guild List - The 80 Best-Directed Films
No Lubitsch, No Sturges, No Renoir, No Lang, No Eisenstein, No Murnau, No Cukor, No Vidor, No Borzage, No Animation - Not much of a list.

5) Cal Arts Producers Show (for Character Animation)
Each year Cal Arts presents a showcase of animation from its Character Animation program to the Industry. It’s almost always a fun night, this year was no exception. There were some good films, see for yourself (not all these films in the showcase): https://vimeo.com/channels/calartscharanimfilms2016/page:1


Still Waiting - Prince
If You See Me (Instrumental) - 94 East
10 - Madhouse
Le Grind - Prince
Purple House - Prince

Still more Bernie bumper stickers than Hilary (only one so far). Have seen one Trump sticker. 

Sweet City Saul

Spoiler Alert - Better Call Saul…..

The opening of this weeks episode (March 28th, 2016) of Better Call Saul and its use of The Stampeders “Sweet City Woman” put a big smile on my face. The Stampeders where either the first or second band I saw live (at the London Western Fair, the other group being Thundermug at the Woodstock Arena - don’t remember which was first - third was Lighthouse at Massey Hall).

Sweet City Woman was a hit in 1971, didn’t realize it made all the way down to Albuquerque, New Mexico - or the small southern town where the opening is set (it did make to#8 in the USA charts). The Canadian Radio and Television Commission requirements for Canadian radio to play a percentage of Canadian content (thanks Pierre Juno) paid off in spades, developing Canadian music artists and giving them exposure, exposure that led to international touring and record releases. At one point BTO the biggest touring act in the US south.  That being said I’m often surprised at what Canadian records where released in the US. I was flipping through 45s last week and came across The Kings “Switchin To Glide” - a hit in Southern Ontario but didn’t reach much beyond that, or so I thought; and a couple of weeks ago I came across a US released 45 of FM’s “Phasers On Stun”, FM where very much a Toronto-based band. (If you are standing near me and I’m flipping through records and start to chuckle, that’s why - found another Canadian record).

It’s disappointing something like the CRTC Canadian content regulations didn’t get applied to film (it was applied to TV as well). At times it seemed that Cancon in the cinema would happen - at one point Telefilm & a few production companies seemed to focus on developing Canadian filmmakers (Atom Egoyan, Bruce MacDonald, among others); and Cineplex did make a few screens available to Canadian films -  but thanks to lobbying from Jack Valenti and Motion Picture Association of America it never happened (there was a proposal to add a tax to cinema tickets to fund Canadian production that the MPAA fought).  I’ll get off my soapbox (but this is one of the reasons Canadian hasn’t development a strong indigenous filmmaking community like in the UK or Australia - all that being said there are still some wonderful films being made in Canada by Canadians. One of the films I’m looking forward to seeing is “The Sleeping Giant”, a coming of age film set on Maniitoulin Island. (And given all the Canadian talent in animation it’s disappointing that there have not been many Canadian developed/written/produced/directed feature films - though many are trying - I am looking forward to Anne Marie Flemings “Window Horses”). 

To bring it back to Better Call Saul, a number of Canadian’s have directed episodes of BCS (and Breaking Bad) including Queen’s grad Michelle MacLaren (who also produced Breaking Bad). Though the writer and director this weeks episode are American and British.

Bon, ci bon, bon, bon, ci bon, bon
Bon, ci bon, bon, bon, bon, bon
Bon, ci bon, bon, bon, ci bon, bon
Bon, ci bon, bon, bon, bon, bon

Five (to catch up)

Five (things of interest to me and maybe to you)

1) The Squirrelly Awards for Film, 2015
Film - Mad Max: Fury Road
Director - George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
Screenplay - Quentin Tarantino, The Hateful Eight
Cinematography - Robert Richardson, The Hateful Eight
Editing - Margaret Sixel, Mad Max: Fury Road
Sound - Star Wars: The Force Awakens
VFX - Mad Max: Fury Road
Score - Ennio Morricone, The Hateful Eight
Song - none
Actor - Jacob Tremblay, Room
Actress - Daisy Ridley, Star Wars, The Force Awakens
Supporting Actor - Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Supporting Actress - Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight (and Anomalisa)
Ensemble Cast - Spotlight
Animated Feature - Shaun The Sheep, Mark Burton & Richard Starzak
Animated Short - If I Was God, Cordell Barker
Documentary Feature - Don't Think I've Forgotten-Cambodia's Lost Rock and Roll, John Pirozzi
Documentary & Live Action Shorts - didn’t see many (theatrical) in 2015

(Yes, no Revenant)

2) We Stand On Guard, Brian K. Vaughan & Steve Skroce, 2015
Set in 2124, the USA is at war with Canada.  Over six issues Vaughan and Skroce tell the story of war between the USA and Canada. The Canadian Resistance - the Two Four - have been driven to the far North finding themselves battling Giant American Robots. The art is fantastic, my one quibble is with the story - with only six issues the story seems truncated. 

3) Hail, Caesar!, Joel & Ethan Coen, 2016
Maybe saying that Hail, Caesar! is just a fun piece of entertainment doesn’t do the film justice but it is 106 minutes of fun (Coen fun) - I came out of the screening with a big grin. All Hail the Coen Brothers!

4) John Sayles at Cinefamily, February 1016
Cinefamily launched their two month tribute to 80’s American Independent Cinema with a three day salute to filmmaker John Sayles. Each screening included a discussion with John Sayles (often with Sayles collaborators - Ernest Dickerson, David Strathairn). Unlike many filmmaker discussions these were detailed, informative and interesting (it helps that Sayles likes to talk) - some of the best film discussions I’ve heard.


5) Christians Catch Hell, Various Artists, 2015
Along with Numero Group’s “Ork Records: New York-New York”, “Christians Catch Hell” are my two favourite music reissues from 2015. 

In the later part of the 1970’s, record label Gospel Roots, a subsidiary of TK Records (home to KC and the Sunshine Band), licensed masters from regional churches, artists and labels - 50 releases over a three year period (it was cheaper to license existing material then record from scratch). The label was run by Henry Stone and Timmy Thomas (Thomas, who had a hit record with Why Can’t We Live Together, is another of my favourite artists). 

Many of the songs easily fit into an easy listening Soul of the 70’s playlist. 

For the past few years I’ve been picking up Gospel 45s, LPs and compilations when ever I find them. A number of folks/labels have issued some great collections (Mississippi Records, Dust To Digital, Tompkins Square, Mike McGonigal), Christians Catch Hell is up there with the very best. 

If you want to go deeper down the Gospel Music rabbit hole start with Dust to Digital’s Goodbye Babylon.


After The Rain, Pastor T.L. Barrett
Baby It’s You, The Shirelles
Com’e Il Cafe, Ennio Morricone
Hail Caesar, AC/DC
O Canada, William Shatner

Still haven't seen any Hillary bumper stickers, just Bernie (and no Trump either). Have seen one Hillary lawn sign (seen in one of Hollywood canyons).

Five 11/18/15

Five (things of interest to me and maybe to you)

1) Macintosh Apples - Until recently I thought MacIntosh Apples were grown only in Southern Ontario. Last year I came across a fruit vendor at the Fairfax and 3rd (Hollywood) Farmer’s Market who carried them, grown locally. If anything is a trigger to my childhood it’s MacIntosh Apples - they loom large. My mother’s apple pies I can still taste (and came close to replicating last Christmas). As a Cub we sold apples door to door each fall, our baskets brightly colored with green and yellow crape paper. One bite and all this comes rushing back.
(Yes, I should have put two and two together - Apple Inc + MacIntosh Computer + from California)

2) All Things Must Pass, Colin Hanks, 2015 - I visited the Tower Records on Sunset many times, didn’t buy much there (I did find a bunch of Bob Marley Live concert CDs - quasi-bootlegs - from Japan about a year before they closed). Tower Video, both in West Hollywood and Sherman Oaks, where more of an interest (great selections of used video tapes). Better CD prices could be found at the indie shops. I was surprised when they opened in Toronto - with both Sam The Record Man and A & A at the top of there game (or just past). I remember Tower-TO having a large stack of cassettes of Nirvana’s Bleach that never seemed to shrink. Last Tower I visited was Tower-Dublin, still open, bought the Nuggets Reissue and Africa Screams LPs.

The documentary does a fine job of exploring the rise and fall of the Tower Empire. Lots of interviews with staff as well as founder Russell Solomon. It’s easy to explain Tower’s demise on the growth of the MP3 but they didn’t have any plan except to expand - no rainy day fund. 

(Side Note: One of the staff mentions treating customers a la “High Fidelity”. The best “High Fidelity-type” clerks I’ve come across was at an indie store in Boston - that was fun a visit)

3) Fargo Season 2, FX, 2105 - Season One was great but in it’s own way Season Two might be better. I love the loopy-ness of it (especially the first couple of episodes). The writing is fun. The camerawork and editing stellar. But the real star is the color of the light - it’s this fantastic shade of yellow courtesy of Calgary’s winter sun - even though it’s the middle of winter the light is warm.

Brilliant use of Jeff Wayne's The Eve of The War (from Wayne's War Of The Worlds) in Episode 2

4) Ork Records: New York, New York, Numero Group, 2015 - Reissue/Box Set of the year. This is a great listen - top to bottom. One of the ‘“first punk” labels founded by Terry Ork (details here https://numerogroup.wordpress.com/2015/09/25/who-the-fuck-is-terry-ork/). Ork only released a couple dozen tracks (Television, Alex Chilton, Feelies among those) - all worth repeated listens. 

5) Trumbo, Jay Roach, 2015 -  good story, good acting, good TV movie


1) Little Johnny Jewel - Television
2) Tower Records Commercial 1968
3) Dalton Trumbo HUAC Testimony 1947
4) Fargo, North Dakota, Carter Burwell
5) Johnny Appleseed, Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros

Bernie is still ahead on Bumper Stickers