Oh wow, I can’t believe it’s already been a month (note: it hasn’t) since we last put one of these out? Well good news, readers, the nextest and freshest edition of the Doggy Baggy is ready for your perusal!
Curious as to what left us thinking or wanting for more this past February? Look no further, than just below this hastily written intro to find out!
My love of high-skill competition sometimes surpasses my distaste for the Olympics, and this was one of those years. I really appreciate a sport where you can see the tactics in action. This is especially true in curling, where since they mic the curlers you get to hear everything they say to one another. My favorite winter sports are Ice Dancing and Figure Skating, but snowboarders are also super exciting in how they are constantly pursuing wilder things to do.
Standout performances for me were the Canadian ice dancers Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir, American snowboarder Chloe Kim, Japanese figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu, and Canada/Germany tie-ing for gold medal in the two-man bobsled. A special mention goes out to Kurt Browning’s announcing, as well as this video of him ice dancing I watched on YouTube.
Ryan Tomko: Sadly I didn’t get a chance to watch much of the Olympics this year. I blame that partially on the time difference, partially on spending time with my new baby taking precedence, and partially on Gary Bettman’s decision to forbid NHL players to take part in the games. But I was lucky enough to randomly catch that amazing two-man bobsled run where Canada tied Germany for the gold. It was so exciting!
Competitive StarCraft 2, IEM Pyeongchang & GSL Code S Season 1
The Intel Extreme Masters are a series of eSport tournaments held around the world. The IEM Pyeongchang was held just before the Olympics, and was supported by the International Olympics Committee. GSL Code S is a competitive series taking place in Korea a number of times each year, in which the highest caliber of StarCraft 2 players compete against each other.
Tied into the Olympics was the IEM PyeongChang StarCraft 2 tournament which occurred just before the Olympics. I’ve never had an easy time following along with traditional sports, and I think part of that is never having a team I felt like cheering along to. With so many events out there, I always have a hard time deciding which to watch.
I ended up following along with Scarlett, one of my favorite competitors (who also happens to be Canadian) and boy howdy was I ever impressed. Scarlett also went on to have an exciting run in the first season of GSL Code S this year. Watch this series against INnoVation to see what I mean.
The Mummy (1999)
STILL A GOOD MOVIE. While I don't find it as scary as a I did when I was a child, I still find it just as enjoyable to watch. I am just absolutely in love with the Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz and how they just dive in and become these characters. It's still a fun and funny adventure, with Arnold Vosloo still coming across as imposing. My favorite performances are still those of Erick Avari as a grumpy curator and Kevin J. O'Connor as a cowardly (yet somehow still like-able?) villain.
What stuck out to me (as compared to the next movie I watched) was the jokes, the story, and the characters all held up almost 20 years later.
I could just say this movie was bad - that I didn’t like the acting, or the plot; however, the thing that actually bothered me the most was how quickly they do away with the fear around the Velociraptors. You have Chris Pratt swaggering around and having them pretty much act like mildly-aggressive hounds. Both Jurassic Park and The Lost World revolved around how intelligent and terrifying they were, and you do away with that in the opening act of your supposed Epic Return of the series?
Black Mirror, USS Callister
I was told that relative to other Black Mirror episodes, this one wasn't quite as dark… which means I won’t be watching anymore Black Mirror. The injections of humor made everything more disturbing to me, and even though it ends more... positively, as Ryan stated last month, I didn't go away feeling very good. Which is fine! But I wasn't necessarily expecting it to be so disturbing.
Ryan Tomko: Yah, Black Mirror is definitely an acquired taste. I still love it for it’s dark take on all things technology and sci-fi, however it certainly leaves you in a state of depression if you watch too many in a row.
Ugly Delicious is an 8 episode series about food, created and hosted by David Chang (and everything around food) on Netflix.
I feel like I could dedicate a whole article to this show, but I'll be brief. I appreciate how this show is willing to delve into the impact and culture of food, and where that intersects with issues like racism, on a global scale. It was willing to grapple with a number of complex issues, and didn't shy away from providing a number of views, even those that many would rather wish away (such as an immigrants perspective on other immigrants).
I feel like the goals of Ugly Delicious - the idea that food can connect people across cultures - is a lofty idea, but one that the show itself makes a strong case to be true.
I did think it took a few episodes to really get going, so if you have limited time I would recommended checking out Home Cooking, Fried Chicken, Fried Rice.
Ok I’ll be honest - This was not my choice. The only reason I watched this movie was because it was my wife’s turn to pick. Going into this film, I didn’t really know what to expect. Sure, I knew that Natalie Portman played the titular character of Jacqueline Kennedy, that she played it well enough to garner a nomination for Best Actress at the Oscars, and that I would of course see something about the assassination of her husband. But I was a bit shocked that that would be pretty much all that I would see in this movie. It’s very surprising that a biopic would chose such a shallow area of a person’s life to showcase; nothing about her childhood, nothing about growing up and meeting John, and nothing about the woman she would become years removed from that tragic event in November of 1963.
Looking back on this film, the one scene that I can still vividly picture is that of Jackie’s escape in the presidential motorcade, moments after the assassination. The shock of it all. The sudden confusion. And the secret service officer hanging off the back of her convertible as it races away down the highway.
The Cloverfield Paradox
I’m sure there are thousands of people just like me, who sit down on the Sunday of the Superbowl more excited for the new movie trailers that we will be treated to during the commercial breaks than for the game itself. And luckily this year, us Canadians (for the first time in as long as I can remember) actually got to see them firsthand too! No more Canadian Tire and Home Hardware commercials for us! (Thanks, CRTC!)
And while there were many great trailers this year, I was the most excited for ‘The Cloverfield Paradox’, which shocked everyone with its announcement that the movie would be airing on Netflix immediately after the game!
I adore the Cloverfield movie universe. More like episodes of ‘The Twilight Zone’ or ‘The Outer Limits’ than the typical franchise, it lets its writers and directors tell whatever type of stories they want, as long as they somehow connect to the bigger picture.
The trailer promised a story of a crew aboard a space station, who are working on some top-secret science-y mission, that inevitably goes wrong. And then, somehow, monsters are there. This sounded like a perfectly reasonable addition to the Cloverfield family, so I was beyond excited that I got to see it so soon, instead of having to wait a few more months to watch it in the theatres. My mind started wondering if this was some sort of prequel to the other films, or if it were perhaps in a different universe altogether? How would it line up with ‘Cloverfield’ and ’10 Cloverfield Lane’?
Unfortunately, even with only a few hours to do so, I hyped myself up for the movie too much, and was ultimately let down. There was a great cast and a decent setup, however the story seemed very disjointed and didn’t really make too much sense. Their science experiment zapped them to a different universe for awhile, but they were originally from the same universe as the other two films? I think? Am I supposed to write off the timeline and technology differences, and the fact that their world was on the brink of World War III when this wasn’t mentioned in either of the previous films? Or maybe they were actually from a future universe that was different from the other movies… usually I’m pretty good at deciphering multiverse/parallel universe storylines, but this time I wasn’t given enough info to work with, and that left me more confused than entertained.
There seemed to be a lot of random things happening, and people kept getting put in situations seemingly just to have them get killed in strange ways. There weren’t even any creepy monsters in space to deal with! And in the end our hero coincidentally crash landed back to Earth right over top of New York where, surprise, the giant monster from the first film just happened to be as well. (Or maybe this universe just had giant monsters all over the place?) It felt like they tried too hard to shoehorn in as many connections as possible to the original film, at the expense of telling a solid, cohesive story.
Out of all of this, the thing that stuck with me the most was the severed arm bit. Why did they decide to change the tone of the whole movie with this silly, all-knowing severed arm crawling around the station? I’m assuming this arm was being controlled by some other-Universe body, but how did that body know it’s arm was even on another space station? Or that this other crew would also be missing a Gyro, and that it would be inside another crew member? Oh well, at least we got to see a severed arm crawling around a space station. It’s like if Thing from ‘The Adams Family’ were an astronaut!
Ryan Troock: I also watched this movie; it was fucking bad. There are scenes early on that seem like they are going to set up a mystery to be referenced through, but instead it’s as though these moments were forgotten. It is quite apparent that this was a troubled film which got stuffed with references to the Cloverfield universe in an attempt to get people furiously searching wikipedia for answers, but I doubt anyone will be able to find answers in such a shoddily cobbled together film.
A Futile & Stupid Gesture
Another Netflix original film, this time about the creation and history of the ‘National Lampoon’ magazine and movie brand. When I saw that Will Forte was set to play the lead in the movie, I was down. He was all I needed to give Netflix another few hours of my life.
Before watching this movie, I knew almost nothing about Doug Kenney, the co-founder of the National Lampoon humour magazine. The movie ran through his eventful career, and listed all of the other (more famous) careers that he launched along the way. It was entertaining enough, provided lots of laughs and fun self-aware gags along the way, and surprised me with its ultimately sad ending.
I’m still thinking about how seemingly easy it was for Doug (not necessarily for co-founder Henry Beard, however) to take their simple idea for a business and make a go of it. To be able to make a life-long career for yourself out of doing something you are so passionate about – how fun and rewarding that must be!
The crazy film about the FBI vs. a Mexican drug cartel, directed by Canadian Denis Villeneuve. This movie was sitting on my PVR for a long time, but I was never in the right frame of mind to finally tackle it – until now. It’s a very gritty telling of how a fictional special government task force gets results in the war on drugs which, terrifyingly, is probably not too far from reality.
Outside of the ever-present feeling of tension and dread running throughout the film, the part that stuck with me was the opening scene where Emily Blunt’s character raids a seemingly mundane home in Arizona. After dispelling the few bad guys she encounters inside, she investigates a hole in the wall only to discover this house is anything but ordinary. Acting as a drug cartel graveyard, she finds countless dead bodies housed inside the walls. Victims of the drug war currently ravaging the southern US, symbolically just out of our view but very real and very horrible.
Ingrid Goes West
A very timely film starring Aubrey Plaza dealing with some of the dangers of social media. Aubrey plays a young woman named Ingrid who doesn’t have any real connections or relationships in her life. Mixed with some underlying mental health issues, she believes that social media ‘likes’ equate to real friendship or love, and will stop at nothing to become internet famous.
Ingrid discovers the Instagram feed of a very popular internet celebrity named Taylor (played by Elizabeth Olsen) living in Los Angeles, and decides to up and move to LA to try and befriend her. She buys into Taylor’s heavily stylized and curated Insta-feed, and because she feels Taylor’s life is so glamourous and perfect, she decides to emulate her life in an effort to become her best friend.
This goes well at first, however inevitably Taylor discovers that something isn’t right with Ingrid, and everything implodes. I don’t want to give away too much about the film, because I really enjoyed it, and I think you should watch it!
I am a pretty big fan of social media, and I’ve never been too concerned about what and how often I share online. Because I sort of grew up with the technology, I understand that there are some things that just shouldn’t be posted, and more importantly, often what people choose to present to the world isn’t a true reflection of their real lives. But after watching this film, I started thinking more about the image I have chosen to present to the world via my own social media. For the most part, what I share is pretty indicative of the ‘real Ryan.’ Sure, sometimes I play up a caricature-version of myself in an effort to be funny, but all of the important stuff is fairly accurate; I’ve never tried to use social media to try and trick people into thinking I’m something I’m not.
And that’s the part of this movie that stuck with me the most. The idea that there are millions of people out there who on a daily basis log into their social media accounts and, either knowingly or unconsciously, lie to their followers. This is the new norm. Instead of people using the power of the internet to broaden their horizons, to seek out unique knowledge or share in others’ experiences, or to form real bonds with exciting new people from across the globe, we have popularity-hungry wanna-be-celebrities shilling cheap products to hordes of bot-followers, desperately trying to become the next Kardashian. I suppose it’s a living, but it’s not one that I’m interested in.
It’s Hermione and Finn vs. Tom Hanks as an evil Steve Jobs. Also, is that Beck?
I’d explain this movie in greater detail, but it was pretty forgetful. The writing was unbelievably lazy and heavy-handed, and there was no real ending to the story at all. My take home from watching this was, “Wow, so pretty much anyone can just up and write a movie for Hollywood these days, eh?”
Ryan Troock: much like The Cloverfield Paradox, this is a film that seems to be lacking a purpose or point. Questions about the ethics of social media are raised, but there is no attempt to even suggest at an answer by the end of it. It feels like an attempt to be complex by way of not coming to any conclusions.