A Tale Of Two Movies

By Briane Nasimok

(TORONTO, ON) – This past week I returned to the cinema to see two vastly different films – “The Man of Steel” and “Twenty Feet From Stardom’. Undoubtedly you heard of the former, so let me tell you about the latter, first.

Full disclosure: “Twenty Feet From Stardom” was part of a fundraising event for the “Big Life Foundation”, an organization whose mandate is to help stop poaching of exotic animals in Kenya and other parts of Africa.

Please be advised that for my social situation it would be better for me to spend a few paragraphs talking about this most worthy cause. On the other hand my editor, who is not accustomed to editing or fixing spelling or grammar, might slash some of the information I am sharing if I went on too long, as it goes against my normal practice of writing lighter fare.

So, let me just say if the poaching of many of the animals native to the African continent is not stopped (and it especially being done for a specific market or two – primarily the people from an unnamed country whose food I love, especially their Hot and Sour soup, and whose goods one can procure at a store that allegedly sell things for a mere dollar, if poaching is not stopped, African elephants will be extinct in our lifetime; if you are going to live over 10 years.

The brief short film that screened before their feature – available on Big Life’s website – will turn you into a believer. Big Life Canada is closer to its goal of setting up a Canadian camp because of the funds raised at the event and could still use your help. Moving on,

“Twenty Feet From Stardom” is a captivating documentary (a little long perhaps) focusing on the women (mostly) who back up music stars; everyone ranging from the Rolling Stones to Michael Jackson. It was well received at the Sundance Festival and will be showing in Toronto the first week of July at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema.

Other than that you might have to track it down on the Internet.

Being someone who was married to a back-up singer who tried to take those steps to the lead microphone yet never made it, their stories resonated personally.

My ex-wife was a talented performer who recorded a solo album, but it was an R&B CD, in Canada, so, enough said.

But the rest of the audience for the film, most of whom I believe did not have that intimate background about the business, left the theatre happy they attended.

The same could not be said for how I felt about the latest Superman offering. My original title for this article was “it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s TOO loud”, which might give you an inkling, about my review of the effort.

“The Man of Steel” did a phenomenal showing at the box office its first week in distribution, so the designated stepson and myself decided to take in the flick at a Cineplex near and dear before his portage to work at a summer camp.

The dear part of the exercise was the price that we had to pay to see the epic. Not only was there a surcharge for the 3D glass, but since we took in an AVX presentation – meaning we could choose our seats in advance – the cost before snacks $35.98.

AVX gives you the opportunity to not have to sit directly next to or behind another human being – but as this was a late afternoon matinee, the theatre was not exactly filled – so we really did not need that extra service.

Being the all-knowing consumer that I am, I also bought a “Father’s Day” gift card for $30 additional dollars and received a coupon for a free, small popcorn.

Before I get to the actual film, let me share a bit of the “experience” leading up to the Feature Presentation.

Of course we got to see endless commercials on the big screen. The most compelling was the one that revealed the biographical details of that well-known commercial icon, Mr Clean.

Yes, a commercial about Mr Clean’s history, charting his early life and extensive travels before he made the world a better place for womankind and everyone else who has to clean.

Author’s note: This is not a sexist remark. How many times do you ever see the “men folk” pick up a mop or broom or clean a toilet bowl? We are too busy out hunting and gathering!

I do not want to spoil any of the plot points in this compelling story but I will just say – who knew about his failed marriages? And early problems with addiction? (Author’s note – taking a dramatic license here – Proctor and Gamble please do not sue).

In his early days he was bald and without the signature earring and unfortunately we were never shown when and how that distinctive piece of jewellery, came into being. Maybe in the sequel.

Also this may inspire advertiser to follow the trend and give us the back stories on Charlie the Tuna, Uncle Ben and Speedy Alka-Seltzer (look him up kids!)

From there it was off to Time play, the interactive game that I was unable to play because I own a Blackberry.

Although we entered the contest late, with my help, the I-Phone owner beat the other players in the theatre and won himself a free soft drink – with the purchase of regular popcorn. I hope that he learned that there is no free lunch in this world – or popcorn.

And then more commercials – followed by trailers.

I love previews but sitting though what will be coming to a cinema in the near future makes me think that I may try spending the summer doing something novel – reading novels.

First trailer – “The Lone Ranger.”

If you have seen either of the Robert Downey-Sherlock Holmes movies, you might feel the same way as I about the adaptations – he is no Sherlock.

Where was the deductive reasoning – the classic approach to solving crimes – the mystery, the intrigue? Okay there were explosions. And romance. But that doesn’t happen on Baker Street.

And it looks like the same fate is in store for the Lone Ranger. And in 3D.

I was brought up on the black and white TV series, with the strong silent Jay Silverheels as Tonto, stoic by Kemosabe’s side.

This new feature, produced by the same people who gave Pirates a bad name in the Caribbean, Tonto seems to have taken top billing mainly because Johnny Depp is playing him, with a bird on his head. Next!

More 3D is coming this summer in R.I.P.D., a division of the police force inhabited by the dead. This looked like a very bad take off of Men in Black.

Pacific Rim followed – which I believe was originally called Monsters versus Robots – or if not, that’s what it should be titled.

Wanna-be Godzilla-type monsters are unleashed on the world and the only way to stop them – in 3D – is through giant robots.

The movie was co-written and directed by Guillermo del Toro of “Hellboy” fame – so I may sneak into this one – and check my mind at the door.

And now to our feature presentation.

Spoiler alert – there is nothing really to spoil.

From my working title you will understand it was loud – even for my 16 year old, iPod-inundated companion.

The film marked the 75th anniversary of the Man of Steel’s first appearance in “Action Comics” and he has come a long way… in some ways – but not others.

Most of the traits that we know about Superman from comics and other films evolved his character and mythology over the years – his ability to fly, kryptonite, his sex drive… so “Man of Steel” went back to the basics and jumped around for the first hour or so, giving us snippets of his history.

By now anyone who glances at various media knows the burning question that accompanies this film… what razor does Superman use?

Yes, I believe for the first time in his history, our hero has a beard. And then magically it is gone.

Gillette has its scientists working on the answer.

Also I believe in the history of Superman portrayal, Henry Cavill has the best bod of any of the other pretenders to that throne.

George Reeves, the TV Superman, has muscles that you could tell were sewn into his costume. Nonetheless, he was a likeable, mild-mannered hero.

The film’s creative team has given “Super’ a Dark-Knight feel, maybe because Christopher Nolan was the producer.

But the last hour turns into nothing more for me than aliens versus Americans and an alien (Zod and other Kryptonian outlaws fighting it out with the Man of Steel and soon-to-be earthling casualties).

And of course, lots of loud things blowing up!

Save your money (especially the 3D surcharge) and go on line and rent “Twenty Feet From Stardom” and send the money you just saved to Big Life Canada.

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About the Author

Ian Shalapata
Ian Shalapata is the owner and publisher of Square Media Group. He covers politics, the police beat, community events, the arts, sports, and everything in between. His imagery and freelance contributions have appeared in select publications and for organizations in Canada and the United States. Contact Ian with story ideas.
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