Archive for July, 2009

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Lady Luck and Me, a history.

July 30, 2009
this movie sucked but this is a killer poster.

this movie sucked but this is a killer poster.

Oh lady Luck she’s a crafty dame.

My lucky number is 17. In grade 4, I entered a cake walk, which is a fundraiser where the people who need money bake a shitload of cakes and then tape a bunch of numbers corresponding to each cake on the floor of the school gym. Then people like me pay a buck to walk around from number to number until the music stops, at which point a winning number is called and if you are standing on that number you win the corresponding cake.
Me and my buddies at the time had been outside running for most of lunch hour– the game where you steal one guy’s shoe and play tackle keep-away until he gets it back. Then whoever got tackled loses his shoe. It’s a pretty badass game and we were hungry as a hippo so i used my last buck to enter the cake walk.
Round and round i walked, and the music sucked (I think it was Wham or something) there were only about six other people in the cake walk by this point and when the music stopped they called number seventeen. I was standing on number fifteen but before anyone could notice i slid a few feet to my left and “BINGO!” I won an icing smothered cake for me and the boys and seventeen became my lucky number and hockey jersey number for ever after.
Of course, how can it be lucky if i cheated? I know, which is probably why i’ve never really won anything since. Until now.

Thanks to snowboard photographer Mark Gribbon for turning me onto this contest at SBC Skateboard Magazine. hit the link to check it out.

Off The Wire – Summer BBQ Contest Winner

Feet Banks.

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notes from the back row- Funny People

July 30, 2009
there is nothing at all funny about this poster- bad sign

there is nothing at all funny about this poster- bad sign

Notes from the back row – July 28

by Feet Banks

Geek News.

The freaks come out at night but the geeks own the lazy days of summer– As witnessed last weekend at Comic Con 2009 when geeks of all varieties converged in San Diego to get boners in their jogging pants over the coolest upcoming films, games, comics, and Megan Fox.
Fox was on hand to promote Jennifer’ Body, a Diablo Cody- scripted (Juno) demon cheerleader flick that’s out this fall and Jonah Hex,a comic adaptation Western flick set for release in 2010. Fox plays a prostitute and geeks love corsets so this will be a hit.
Other Comic Con highlights included a teaser for Iron Man 2 with Robert Downey Jr joined by Scarlett Johansson, Mickey Rourke as a villain, and the next set of armour – War Machine. Comics continue to rule the box office and this one is out May 2010.
Disney unveiled some special Alice in Wonderland footage. It’s 3D,  directed by Tim Burton, and Johnny Depp is the Mad Hatter. ‘Nuff said.
As well, Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko) has just finished a sci-fi flick called The Box which is already garnering comparisons to Hitchcock and early Kubrick. And James Cameron debuted footage of Avatar, his first feature since Titanic. Cameron is one of the best filmmakers of the last twenty years so expect him to return with a bang with this 3D sci-fi epic slated for release December 18.
Speaking of returns, Adam Sandler hits the big screens of the Village 8 this Friday in Funny People, the third directorial effort from platonic-male-love guru Judd Apatow who’s attempting something new with this one, an adult comedy.
Apatow mines his own experience and creates a personal picture, an attempt to infuse his eternal-adolescence shtick with some pathos and drama. Sandler plays an aging comedian diagnosed with Leukemia who hires Seth Rogen, (slimmed down and aw shucks-ing his way through the first half) as an assistant/writer/friend– someone to tuck him into bed at night as well as go on wild double dates with hot chicks.
Jonah Hill and Jason Swartzman appear to add chuckles and there are still plenty of one liners and dick jokes but the flick shifts gears for the second half. Sandler gets a new lease on life and goes after his ex-fiance, the one who got away (because he cheated on her) played by Leslie Mann. Rogen is relegated to babysitter as Sandler and Mann rekindle the past.
Mann is Apatow’s real wife and, as the sister, she was one of the highlights of Knocked Up but in Funny People her part is a bit flat. I guess it supposed to be funny when she butchers an aussie accent to her philandering husband (Eric Bana) but for people like us who hear that all the time it just kind of drags.
The whole movie does, actually. It isn’t terrible (there are some laughs) and you can’t blame Apatow for wanting to try something new, but his personal catharsis film goes on for 146 minutes and isn’t nearly as funny as it’s title proclaims. Not garbage, and Sandler shows some dramatic talent, but a tad disappointing all in all.
Also opening Friday, Aliens in the Attic. A kiddie movie about Aliens living in an attic and the family that has to deal with them. Directed by the guy who made Like Mike, this looks like a renter.
And for all the geeks who missed Comic Con, check out this Where the Wild Things Are featurette where original author Maurice Sendak goes to bat for Spike Jones and the new film set to hit theatres this October.

check it out here

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notes from the back row- Summer Romance

July 22, 2009
Love is in the air

Love is in the air

Movie reviews- 500 Days of Summer, The Ugly Truth, Orphan

by Feet Banks

Summer Lovin’

Summer is the season of love. After a long winter of frog-choking and a quick-and-dubious springtime seal-breaker or two, Summer is when you can relax and focus on the romance – The mirrored-sunglasses at the beach while you secretly check each other out, the drunken patio or BBQ flirting, the turning on the charm, the private skinny dipping followed by some good old-fashioned outdoor banging, caveman style. Yes, it seems when the sun shines our nature is to get ourselves into the places where it doesn’t. Love is in the air.
Or at least it’s on the silver screens, and the big romantic comedy everyone’s talking right now is 500 Days of Summer a new kind of love story directed by newcomer Marc Webb.
By ditching the usual Hollywood RomCom formula Webb delivers an engaging, almost realistic, love story about Tom (Joesph Gordon-Levitt) and Summer (Zooey Deschanel) and their 500-day long relationship. Using non-linear storytelling to act as a kind of post-breakup retrospective, Joe relives the good and bad of his 500 days with Summer examining them for hints of what went wrong. Toss in some nifty filmic devices, split screens and dance numbers, along with an uber-hipster soundtrack (a necessity in indy films these days) and 500 Days of Summer is the sleeper hit of the season. Problem is, it’s not playing in Whistler, maybe next week.
Instead, romantic movie fans up here get The Ugly Truth, another film from the brilliant minds behind Legally Blonde (still one of only two movies I’ve ever walked out of.) The Ugly Truth stars Katherine Heigl (Knocked Up) as a successful TV producer who’s sacrificed her social and love life (and therefore her happiness) for a career. Gerard Butler (300) slums as the crass sex guru Heigl is forced to give airtime to for ratings. Of course, she hates him but he schools her, helps her, and in the end… well you can guess.
The Ugly Truth has all the usual stupid jokes and predictable obstacles (including a microphone/earpiece coaching date scene where she says stuff she isn’t supposed to) and the obligatory shopping montage that seems required in any film targeting women. (The shopping montage in Pretty Woman is still considered the standard to which all others are held up against– it just makes being a hooker look so fun!) Basically The Ugly Truth is ugly indeed, and has the romantic appeal of stepping in dog shit or finding a band-aid in your French onion soup. Skip it.
Romantic movies are overrated anyhow. If you’re really looking for some cinematic foreplay, horror is always the best– fear and love go hand in hand. Opening this Friday at the Village 8, Orphan stars Vera Farmiga (The Departed) and Peter Sarsgaard (Jarhead) as two poor suckers who adopt a sweet little dark-haired girl named Esther who is actually not that sweet at all. There were no advance screenings of this one but judging by the trailer it looks decent, especially if you enjoy watching kids hurt each other. Orphan is directed by the guy who made the House of Wax remake and that isn’t necessarily a good sign but compared to the options this week it’s still the best new date movie in Whistler.
The other option being G-Force a 3-D animated flick about gun-toting, super-agent hamsters or guinea pigs or something. It’s produced by Jerry Bruckheimer so it’s a safe bet to say there will be a lot more action than romance. The only thing romantic about hamsters are their breeding habits– those little buggers like to hump more than an Earl’s waitress. Yee haw, Summer!

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Notes from the farm- The Farmer Blow

July 16, 2009
Real farmers don't use tissues

Real farmers don't use tissues

photo- Kristen Dillon

The Farmer’s Blow
By Feet Banks

The morning air out in the field is clean and cool, filtered from the night’s dew and mist from the irrigation. But even so, to live on a farm is to have a runny nose.
Even if you don’t suffer from hayfever farm life is a hot, dusty affair and the clean morning air loosens up another day’s worth of dust, seed, pollen and the occasional bong hit. And here is where the Farmer’s Blow comes in.
Utterly unpopular with mothers, fiancés, girlfriends and spouses of any kind, the farmer’s blow, when performed properly, is a quick and easy (not to mention sanitary and environmentally sound) way to keep the sinuses clear and the fresh air a-flowin’.

Step one – Inhale deeply, hold.
Step two – Place a single forefinger alongside the least plugged nostril, push it closed.
Step three – Ensuring one nostril is sealed, lean forward in the direction of the nostril you want to clear, away from your shirt and overalls.
Step four – Blow hard and sudden. Visualize a whale’s blowhole spouting water into the sky.  Try to achieve that same sound.
Step five – Check nose and upper lip for hangers. It should be all clear but less experienced farmer’s blowers may need to drag a finger and thumb across to catch residual shrapnel. Wipe on sock, pants, or if nearby, dog.
Step six – Repeat on other nostril, if needed.

It sounds gross, and when improperly attempted it often is, but the farmer’s blow is truly the only option when you’re ten acres from the nearest roll of toilet paper. Only children wipe their snotty noses on their sleeves and while handkerchiefs were popular back in the day I’m against carrying around a snotty rag in my pocket all the time. And those little plastic packets of drug store tissues will only get you laughed right out of any farming town worth its salt.
So the farmer’s blow it is. Practice makes perfect but there is no cleaner air than in the middle of a hay field at sunrise so you might as well clear up the passages and enjoy it.  This is what people talk about when they say, “Good country living.”

© Feet Banks 2009

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notes from the back row- Killer Documentaries

July 15, 2009
cove

The Cove

The Cove, The Union

by Feet Banks

Who doesn’t like dolphins? Those cut and playful marine mammals (don’t call them fish) with the permanent smiles that just might be as smart as some of us. Everyone loves dolphins, right?
Nope. Not everyone,  not the Japanese. The Japanese hate dolphins, so much that every year they lure a shitload of them into a small cove near the town of Taiji and capture and slaughter them all. The best dolphins get shipped off to Marine parks, zoos, and illegal fish tanks around the world, the rest become lunch meat,  (labeled as “whale” but containing near-poisonous levels of mercury) and sold to many markets, including some of Japan’s elementary schools. “Who’s so smart now, eh dolphins?” The Japanese taunt. “We getcha every year in Taiji and you keep coming back.” The Japanese in Taiji slaughter 23,000 dolphins over a 30-day period and they do it year after year after year.
In The Cove, a great documentary opening this Friday (not here in Whistler, try the city) the waters around the cove in Taiji are fenced off and guarded so as to keep the illegal capture and slaughter a secret. But dolphin activist Richard O’Barry, who feels a bit responsible for the popularity of dolphins due to his work as a trainer on that old TV show Flipper, teams up with filmmaker Louie Psihoyos to make a real cloak-and-dagger activist film that’s as harrowing as any spy movie in recent years. The pair hire free divers to infiltrate the cove with mics and use super high-end hidden camera equipment to capture some truly horrifying scenes of the slaughter.
Being trailed by the Japanese police at all times, the filmmakers of The Cove deliver a real suspense story with geopolitical elements to rival any Hollywood fiction– why is the International Whaling Commission and Japan so hell bent on oceanic destruction?  Money, of course.
O’Barry is the perfect eco-warrior hero and The Cove never gets preachy but after watching the brutal, horrorific final sections of the film even the most hardened, pessimistic, degenerate fish-hater will be wondering, “What the hell is wrong with these people?”
To be fair, not all the Japanese hate dolphins, most of the country has no idea of the horrors going on in their own backyard. Check out the official webpage for more info, a killer trailer, and how you can take action. Like Sharkwater, the epic shark-finning movie (where the Chinese are the villains) this one is worth a drive down to the city.
Up here at the Village 8, no new flicks are opening due to Wednesday’s release of the latest Harry Potter film. This one is the start of the end for that franchise and is a lot less kiddie than prior episodes, good stuff if you’re into Potter.
Even if you’re not into Pot, the online movie of the week is The Union-The Business of Getting High, a in-depth look at BC’s marijuana industry, a $7 billion/year enterprise. Filmmaker Adam Scorgie take a long (almost 2 hours) hard look at why weed is illegal and who’s making all the money. The answers might surprise you– Private prisons are one of the US’s largest growing industries but only as long as they have more and more people to lock up. And what would the Pharmaceutical companies do if people were allowed access to a plant that can remedy any number of health problems but is easily grown by anyone?
From industrial hemp to the guys who’ll take the effort to bury 20 train boxcars in the ground for a grow-op , The Union is a cohesive look at one of the biggest shams running these days. The criminals make money, the big business makes money, cops have something to do, everyone wins except the rest of us.

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notes from the back row – Bruno and Potter

July 8, 2009
Flaccid

Flaccid

July 8/09- Bruno and Potter

by Feet Banks

There’s been a lot of flaccid male full-frontal in the movies lately (Zack and Miri make a Porno, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Hangover) but when was the last time you saw an erect cock on the silver screens of the Village 8? Well the wait is over this week with the release of Bruno, the latest shock comedy from Sacha Baron Cohen and Larry David, the guys who made Borat.
Bruno is another scripted-reality movie with Baron Cohen playing an overtly gay German fashionista who is booted from Fashion Week in Milan, heads to LA, starts a celebrity talk show that uses Mexican immigrants on their hands and knees as chairs, then hits the road to find love, fame, and to “go straight.”
The only thing straight about Bruno is his face, as he lures regular people and minor celebrities into his web of politico-comedic madness. This movie goes beyond Borat in almost every way and if you squirmed during that film’s fat, naked, wrestling scene the opening ten minutes here will certainly shock. This might be some of the most riské filmmaking to ever hit screens in North America and the Village 8 is classifying Bruno as 18A (which means it sucks to be a kid this week.)
Baron Cohen’s incendiary style of prank humour is nothing new, its roots go through Jackass, CKY, Ashton Kutcher’s Punk’d, those French Just for Laughs skits and vignettes that sometimes come on the CBC just before the hockey game, and all the way back to Candid Camera. But no one has ever gone at it as balls-out (literally and figuratively) as Baron Cohen.
But of course it isn’t all for laughs, Bruno sets out to expose the most outrageous prejudices of American Culture, mostly those dealing with narcissism and homophobia. By spraying his audience with gay sexuality taken way, way over the top Bruno makes us laugh, squirm, and some people might up and leave the theatre. The scariest segment involves what some parents will subject their children to for a shot at stardom and there’s a good joke in there about John Travolta being gay as well. Bruno isn’t for everyone– it watches like an 83-minute fragmentation grenade of gayness and cock– but there’s comedic genius in there as well– like it or not.
For more family-friendly entertainment, you need only wait until next Wednesday, July 15, when Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince hits the screen. This film, the 6th installment in the boy-wizard epic, is less action-packed than previous outings but has more humour, way more romance, and a deeper sense of foreboding and fear. Evil wizard Voldemort is tightening his grip on the world and Hogwart’s school is not the safe haven it used to be. Dumbledore is preparing Harry for the big showdown he knows is coming, and hormones are raging through the castle as the kids grow into their awkward years. Love is in the air.
The final book of the Potter series will be released as two films and Half-Blood Prince is kind of a set-up for that. At 154 minutes it’s long and takes a little bit to get into, but few movie franchises have ever maintained this level of quality through six films. This one could have used a more defined villain or sub-villain (Voldemort is a scary cloud, big deal) and the climax isn’t as good as the opening but for the most part Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is good family fun– all the cocks are kept in their pants but there is a good broomstick joke.

DVD of the week is Role Models because of the Potter tie-in– at one point Paul Rudd describes McLovin’s Character as , “He’d probably come in his pants if I mentioned a game of Quiddich.” Role Models was also the funniest movie of ’08

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notes from the back row- Movie Theatre Etiquette

July 4, 2009

banz skull

From the archives- How not to get stabbed in the dark.

by Feet Banks, illustration  Dave Barnes

Movie Theatre Etiquette– or how to avoid bad habits that might get you publicly humiliated and/or stabbed in the throat at the Cineplex.”

  • Lesson one– Don’t talk during the movie.
  • Lesson two– Don’t talk during the movie. And while high school kids are the worst, this is important for people of any age. Don’t even talk during the opening credits, just shut your hole and watch the movie. People pay big cash to sit in that dark, cozy room full of flickering images and some of those people take movies very seriously. Do I come and yap in your ear when you’re at home reading a book? Or when you’re in bed screwing? Can you imagine how annoying that would be? So please, I implore you, don’t talk during the movie.  Talking during the previews is tolerated, but barely and only at reduced volumes. And all you romantics out there – If you’re on a date with an English as Second Language student and feel you have the right to translate the entire movie into Cantonese, French, Swahili or any other language that sounds like marbles in a coffee can to our uncultured North American ears, please have the decency to do it in a near-empty matinee and sit as far from any other patrons as humanly possible. And be aware, translating still counts as talking so don’t come crying to me if someone beats the crap out of you with a rolled up coming-attractions magazine and makes you look stupid in front of your new friend. Smart daters will clam up and wait for the DVD.
  • Lesson two and a half– Mothers who bring newborns or really young kids to adult movies-. Are you kidding me? Either take that squawker to one of those special infant-friendly screenings or dose the little bugger with enough Baby Nyquil to keep him sedated for the entire flick. Otherwise DVD players are cheap these days and underage babysitters are probably ten bucks an hour or less. Babies have no place at the movies.
  • Lesson three–When you walk into a nearly empty theatre, don’t sit directly in front of someone and ruin their view. For sure you’ll look like a prick, but you also run the risk of getting yelled at, kicked, or having that fake butter popcorn topping poured discreetly down the back of your jacket.
  • Lesson four– Speaking of snacks, do you know why they don’t sell potato chips at theatre concessions? Because the sound of a few hundred people crunching away and rustling chip bags would lead to a three thousand percent increase in movie-theatre mass killings. Loud chewing is bad form. On the flipside, there’s nothing wrong with sneaking in your own food– no one should be forced to spend six dollars for a paper bag full of warm air, fake butter, and corn. The price of corn today was $4.12 per bushel. A typical bushel weighs 25.4 kilograms (56 pounds) and contains about 72,000 kernels. Theatre popcorn is good but it’s a total cash grab and why is the kid at the front always working the up-sell to large size? Don’t even get me started on what a large soda is actually worth, value wise.  Guerrilla food is not bad etiquette, it’s good fiscal sense (especially these days) but even if you don’t mind being fleeced at the concession, please, for the love of God, Allah and Jeffery Lebowski, eat quietly and try not to chomp, smack and slurp right in the ear of the poor sucker next to you. Do I really have to even explain this??
  • Lesson five– Even if you’re totally digging the new Angelina movie, don’t fondle yourself in the theatre. It’s unsanitary and if anyone notices it can really harsh their mellow. Didn’t you learn anything from Pee Wee Herman?
  • Lesson six– After the movie, whether you paid for snacks or not, just take your garbage right back out with you and chuck it in the bin that’s conveniently placed two inches outside the theatre door. Yes, I know they hire people to clean up but those kids don’t make much and imagine how happy they’d be if, just once, the theatre was already tidy and clean? Seriously, don’t be so lazy, help a person out once in a while. You’ll be surprised how good it makes you feel.

And on that note, I’m done. I’m glad we had this little talk. Enjoy the movies.

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Notes from the Back Row is a weekly movie column Feet writes for Pique Newsmagazine in Whistler, BC.