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Showing posts from September, 2011

Empire List #434: The Cat Concerto

I am glad there is a cartoon on this list. Granted it’s a bit of a stretch to consider a 7-minute Tom and Jerry cartoon a movie, but it is the best kind of cartoon. “The Cat Concerto,” directed by cartoon masters William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, is simple, entertaining and has inventive animation.
This short may have come out in 1947, but like most of the great cartoons, I got to watch it in the mid-90s. This was before Tom and Jerry, Bugs Bunny, Tweety Bird, Yogi Bear, and The Flintstones all ended up on Teletoon Retro and Seth MacFarlane swooped in with Family Guy. For me these cartoons weren’t just a form of entertainment, they were teaching tools. Back then I was living in Chile so the cartoons were always in Spanish. They didn’t teach me grammar, but I did learn that “What’s up doc?” in Spanish is “Que hay de nuevo Viejo?”
Not that I could ever get any language lessons from Tom and Jerry. With these two it’s always the same basic premise. Tom the cat is doing something around the …

TIFF: One Year Later

A year ago I had the chance to attend the Toronto International Film Festival for the first time. I had only heard about it over the years through news articles, blogs and TV coverage. Like everything on TV, it doesn’t seem real until you get to see it in person. Sure enough, I got to see “Monsters” directed by newcomer Gareth Edwards and even got to ask him a question after the movie. If you haven’t seen it yet, you should do so as soon as you can.
I also got to see “John Carpenter’s The Ward” his first movie in nine years. A horror movie, of course. Not his best one, but still pretty solid work from one of the masters of horror.
My friend Shannon Scott, who used to work for the festival, was nice enough to explain to me where I could buy tickets and what places to visit. I would have bought tickets for every day of the week, but I was living off student loans and was starting a semester at Sheridan College, in Oakville. Still, thanks for the information Shannon.
At the time I was study…

Empire List #435: American Psycho

Five years before he donned a cape and played Batman, Christian Bale played a truly monstrous man in “American Psycho.” His Patrick Bateman is a vane, arrogant, misogynist Wall Street trader who loves to stare at himself while having sex with two prostitutes in his rich Manhattan penthouse. He values money above all else, dresses well, works out obsessively and uses more skin care products than some Hollywood actresses. Oh, and he occasionally kills people with axes, knives and chainsaws. As if working on Wall Street wasn’t bad enough.
The violence and depravity in this movie is legendary. Based on a 1991 novel by Brett Easton Ellis, the adaptation attracted the likes of David Cronenberg and Oliver Stone as directors and Leonardo DiCaprio as Bateman. Fortunately, the task of filming and performing the scenes of sex and violence fell upon the shoulders of Marie Harron (“I Shot Andy Warhol”) and Christian Bale. The result was a cult movie whose violent scenes were both brutal and somewh…