May 2009

A Tour of Europe: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

Most of my time here at Foreign Entertainment has been spent hopping along the strangely-proportioned stones of anime in the river of Japanese culture. The whole point of my Anime Friday feature was that I'm an exceedingly Western person who needed a change in my pop culture diet. I got that and then some, but now it's time for me to settle back into more familiar territory. Every week, I'll be exploring one work of European film, television or music in a feature I'm calling A Tour of Europe.

For the first entry in this new feature, we'll be visiting France, the home of some of the greatest cinema in the world. Specifically, this entry is about La Parapluies de Cherbourg ("The Umbrellas of Cherbourg"), Jacques Demy's dreamy 1964 musical.










You've heard about Tsotsi. It was nominated for a number of awards and also won an Oscar. It made such waves in the movie industry, or at least in part of it, that Gavin Hood was signed up for major flicks. Yes, let's not go into the epilogue; let's talk about Tsotsi.

Cinema a la Canada: Zero Patience

In the 1980's and early 1990's, the cultural consciousness surrounding HIV/AIDS was littered with myths, misconceptions and outright lies. The confusion wasn't helped by books like And The Band Played On by Randy Shilts. In it, Shilts promoted the "Patient Zero" theory that HIV came to North America through the promiscuity of a single, gay flight attendant named Gaetan Dugas. This theory came out of a single cluster study that was riddled with flimsy science and anti-gay prejudice. The book came out in 1987. By 1993, a film maker and erstwhile activist named John Greyson put together a fun, informative and delightfully campy movie called Zero Patience with the help of just about every major film organization in Canada.

Things that make you go "...Uhmmm"

Alright, so it might not necessary tease that exact reaction out of you. In fact you just might opt for the traditional three letter expletive. And that will be at the audience reaction and not at the so-called offending material itself. What am I going on about? So-called controversial content that have riled up people over time. Specifically I want to mention three ads that have annoyed a number of usually sensible people.

These are ads that were meant to make you laugh. Or at best, run off to buy their new-fangled product. Personally, I don't find anything offensive about any of them, even the last one. All of them seem quite innocent and silly at best. That's what makes all the spewing angry words from the general public so ... weird.


Virgin ad that some call "That Branson Ad"

Shouf Shouf









Shouf Shouf, the Dutch comedy series, is based on the movie by the same name. Sometimes the movie is known as Hush Hush Baby which, I must admit, is a bit of an arbitrary title. But then, I've only watched the series and have no clue what the movie is all about. Well, it's supposed to the same concept, carried through into a series and, if the series is anything to go by, it's main source of inspiration must be just as funny.

Anime Friday: Conclusions

For this week's Anime Friday I was going to cover Dragon Half. The intention was to do a compare and contrast with last week's entry, Slayers. They're both inspired by Dungeons & Dragons, they both employ Chibi art and they're both at the same level of not-too-serious adventure fare. Ultimately, I decided against it. There's nothing much more I can say on that topic.

When I started this project nearly six months ago, I had every intention of carrying it for an entire year. That amount of time would give me an opportunity to explore as many facets of the genre as possible, spending equal time with the big names as with the obscure fan favorites. It's been an interesting run and I'm glad I did it, but I think it's time to move on.

Anime Friday: Slayers

I think I've finally pinpointed the source of my problem with most anime. In order to do so, I had to reach back more than a decade into what turned out to be a very different era for the art. Anime in the first half of the 90's was, for the most part, neither slick nor self-conscious. Watching Slayers is like watching a playful puppy you know will one day turn into a neurotic, old dog with no new tricks.

Everything I've ever called bad about any of the movies or series I've watched for this project occurs in some form in Slayers and yet I enjoyed this show more than most of the things I've watched for Anime Friday. The animation is often laughably bad. The camera pans over obvious stills, the color work for a character's hair bleeds over into their eyes, stock cycles are employed. And yet, none of this bothered me.