The Man Who Souled the World

The Man Who Souled the World (Mike Hill, 2008)

THE MAN WHO SOULED THE WORLD tells the story of Steve Rocco, the irreverent genius who transformed the skateboard industry from corporate to skater owned with a do-it-yourself punk attitude.

For those who are regulars on this film oriented blog you know how I like to digress to my other interests. And boy, do I have lots of interest: Cinema & Films, History, Snowboarding, Skateboarding, Graphic Novels, Music, Drums, etc.  Well, this review combines three of my main interests this summer. Mostly Skateboarding, History, and films more specifically documentaries. This very fun documentary narrated by Jackass’ very own Jason Acuna aka Wee Man. Brought me back to my high school days when I was skipping classes to go skate, until dawn and destroy shoes, decks, wheels, etc. Not being a big fan of documentaries, except when they treat about subjects I have in heart might be a flaw for this review but I think it is interesting to still review The Man Who Souled the World.

Centering on Steve Rocco a pro skater who decided to found his own skateboard company and get the actual money into his pockets and the skater’s instead of letting the big guys behind their desks who owned the companies back then. He founded World Industries and it became one of the bestselling brands of skateboards in the 1990’s. However, in the process Rocco didn’t only made money and friends. He attacked the other companies directly in the publicities and always kept a “fuck it all” “do it yourself” attitude towards the business. Using the mottos of Punk Rockers he built an empire by crossing every rules of his enemies.
World Industries' Logo
 The format of the documentary is pretty standard letting the people involved at the time getting full expressions and punning each other in response. Besides Rocco’s interviews one of the most supernatural skaters Rodney Mullen has a lot of air time. We also see Steve Berra, Jason Lee, Mike Carroll, and many other skating legends.

Rocco crossed so many lines that he had to create his own magazine to run his publicities and it was the genesis to Jackass. He also gave film director Spike Jonze first directing job to shot a skate video.

At the end we feel that the community of skate has respect and hate towards Rocco. He publicized and made a whole bunch of money because of the sport but also pissed so many of his friends in the same time. This is a very good documentary on the coming of a sport that was considered as counter culture but that is now available in shopping malls and skate shops are as frequent as clothes shops. This is a character that can be as interesting as Mark Zuckerberg who revolutionized another aspect of our 21st century lives. Recommended.


Thoughts and reactions on John LaRue's 50 Greatest French Films List

While I was on vacation, my dear blogger friend John LaRue at The Droid You’re Looking For published his annual list of the 50 Greatest French Films of All Time. Being a Francophile and a Francophone myself I couldn’t get more excited about his wonderful yearly achievement.


Escape From Alcatraz

Escape From Alcatraz (Donald Siegel, 1979)

With Dirty Harry, Escape From Alcatraz is one of the best collaborations between director Donald Siegel and actor Clint Eastwood. The sober and slow moving prison escape film of Siegel distinguish itself by the low-key camera placing and the slowly coming climax of the film.

Opening with Morris’ (Eastwood) “welcome” onto the Rock we discover his world and the other prisoners. Having been on The Rock in 2010, his introduction is the path they make us visit the closed prison and it is very interesting to see how the buildings are well conserved in the movie. When I was there I was surprised on how Alcatraz was almost entirely abandoned and in such bad shape. Then, the story brings us the immediate confrontation between Warden the director of the prison (Patrick McGoohan) and Morris. It sets the tone of the film. The relationships of Morris with Doc (Roberts Blossom) and Litmus (Frank Ronzio), are touching and reveals the camaraderie of this world of men. And indeed, Clint fits perfectly for the few words but very keen and bright multi times escapist he portrays.

Just like Siegel’s other work, there is a feel of TV editing and storytelling. It is almost in vignettes and many scenes aren’t all linked together but are there to represent how slow and monotonous life is in prison. Siegel doesn’t use superfluous effects to present the actual escape and he lets the tension raise just from the depicting of the events without much music or useless fast pacing. It reminds a little to Robert Bresson’s much stronger work A Man Escaped clearly a masterpiece of greater depth and meaning.

Siegel was a good director in his mastery of his elements. Clint Eastwood dedicated his Unforgiven for him representing him as his master and the man who showed him everything he knew. It is clearly an influence on the work of Eastwood because both directors don’t need to use too much cinematic tricks to exploit their strong naturalistic mise en scène that can also relate to the master of Westerns John Ford. Sobriety, correctness and precision is what can define their directing.

Escape From Alcatraz is a very pertinent film that demonstrates how a real story can be rendered simply and almost like a documentary without falling into the stereotypes of heroes and the superman syndromes. Recommended.


We Will Be Back After a Short Break

I wish I could go on a vacation with Clark
 Since the coming of summer in Quebec City we have been more than spoiled of superb weather and sunny days. In fact, since I moved in my house, July 1st, there have been so few rain that my lawn is practically just dust.

However, since our Honeymoon late August early September 2011 I haven’t been on a real vacation except a little stop at New York City at Easter. To be honest, your host here at Le Mot du Cinephiliaque needs a little rest. This is why there won’t be any new posts until ten to fifteen days. This break will give me more fuel in the tank to attack what’s coming and give you better content and be more active in the blogosphere.

When we’ll come back, I’ll get more seriously on the Movie Watching Goal I’ve been bragging about lately. And I’m glad to have been able to reboot my Je me souviens feature about the films from my little corner in the world.

So lots of great things to come in September, and I’ll try for once to have some Horror Films reviews in order for October. Having not seen Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Innocents, The Devils, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), Cat People, I Walked With A Zombie, and The Haunting it will be my challenge to try to watch a bunch if not all those films for the time around Hallow’s Eve.

Until then behave and don’t be too sad that I’m not around. I’ll be back I promise!

Just a little something for the Movie Geeks out there - I'm one too!


À l'ouest de Pluton

Note: this a new series of reviews I'm installing on Le Mot du Cinephiliaque. Since I was born and raised in the Province of Québec I've decided to present and review some of the films that populate my culture and that represents the Cinema of here. The feature will be called after our license plate motto: "Je me souviens" for "I remember".

À l'ouest de Pluton (Henry Bernadet & Myriam Verreault, 2008)

A mosaic look at a day in the lives of twelve Quebec high schoolers strikingly captures the unique nature of the teenage years.

This little known movie entirely shot in Quebec City, Loretville to be more precise, the suburb I grew up in, is a superb independent work of cinema. Far from being the regular coming of age story. We follow a group of teenagers doing what teenagers do in their evenings and interacting between themselves, their parents, and teachers. There is nothing very extraordinary going on in À l’ouest de Pluton. This is life at its simplest and raw form.

The story is almost nonexistent since we kind of follow the teens and that it has a natural and almost documentary feeling of the camera of the filmmakers. In an interview, they said that it was an important collaboration with the young non actors. They were always making adjustments on the situations, the action, the dialogues to make it feel more real and less staged.

The cast is almost entirely formed of non actors and they are pretty much all very natural in their roles. Well, they seem to be themselves and not play a part. It reminds the films of Abbas Kiarostami or some foreign filmmaker that pictures life and the little moments of banality that populates the most common moments of our existence more than the typical Hollywoodian clichés of High School movies. It can also be linked with one of the best films of the genre and one of the most unique films of the 1990’s Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused.

The documentary approach here can relate to the great masterpieces of fellow Quebecer filmmakers Denys Arcand, Pierre Perreault, and Michel Brault. The first films from Québec to really distinguish themselves were documentaries. We often forget about that and I suspect Verreault and Bernadet to have made a reference and being influenced by those greats.

This little gem of independent Quebecer Cinema gives hope for a better and greater Cinema than the simplest comedies released summer after summer in Québec that doesn’t even deserve some words posted on an humble blog. A film that makes me very proud of the Cinema of Québec. Highly recommended


Bon Cop, Bad Cop

Note: this a new series of reviews I'm installing on Le Mot du Cinephiliaque. Since I was born and raised in the Province of Québec I've decided to present and review some of the films that populate my culture and that represents the Cinema of here. The feature will be called after our license plate motto: "Je me souviens" for "I remember".

Bon Cop, Bad Cop (Erik Canuel, 2006)

When the body of the executive of hockey Benoit Brisset is found on the billboard of the border of Quebec and Ontario, the jurisdiction of the crime is shared between the two police forces and detectives David Bouchard from Montreal and Martin Ward from Toronto are assigned to work together. With totally different styles, attitudes and languages, the reckless David and the ethical Martin join force to disclose the identity of the Tattoo Killer, a deranged serial-killer that is killing managers of hockey.

This local box-office success, is a mix of comedy and action. This is an attempt to accomplish a Quebecer version of Die Hard sans Bruce Willis and the originality that the first film of the franchise set to raise the bar of action films. This attempt at coupling a French Quebecer cop with an English speaker policeman like a screwball comedy is another recipe we’ve been served hundreds of time. The only way the film works is because the lead, Patrick Huard is a famous and widely loved comedian in the Province of Québec.

The co-star, Colin Feore, playing the straight man and the Ontarian, gives a much better performance than the overrated Huard. The later never hide the fact that he wanted to someday win nothing less than an Oscar. He also directed two films (Les trois petits cochons, Filière 13), his presence in Ken Scott’s Starbucks is more memorable and demonstrates more subtlety and depth.

As for the story, this is a classic almost racist attack of the differences between the Quebecers and the Ontarians. Sometimes the material can be interesting but most of the time it is more on the old jokes that’s been in the air since the 1960’s in Quebec.

In remember seeing Bon Cop, Bad Cop in theaters and having almost not laugh or even chuckle at all during the film. Being a fan of comedies and a good public, it was not a good sign. This is a tired recipe that was made to please a specific public considering that people would get the jokes and the many forced situations. However, most of the general public liked the film which made it one of the greatest successes of the Quebec film industry. Approach with caution.


Reactions on the new Sight and Sound Poll 2012

Having been most of my writing and “blogging” time on my hosted poll of the Most Influential Directors of all time, I almost forgot to react on the new Sight and Sound list. Back in 2002, I was discovering most of the films on the list back then. The list looked like that below:


The 10 Greatest Films of All Time by the voters of The Most Influential Directors Poll

With Great power comes great responsibility. Just like Peter Parker, every important director had a great power in the way his/her films were/are made. With this year’s Most Influential Director’s Poll I’ve asked voters to list the director’s most significant movie.

Just in time, the new Sight and Sound poll got out the eve of the closing of the ballots. I could that way compile those results with the voters’ lists.

The goal here is to take the Top ten films voted and include them into the nomination of a virtual Hall of Fame here at Le Mot du Cinephiliaque. Once the movie is listed in the Top 10 it is sacred as a representative work of the director. Each director needs five films to be inducted into our Hall of Fame. This way, the list won’t have the same films over and over again. Let’s look at the first ever list.


Another Liebster Blog Award

Earlier this year, Barry from Cinematic Catharsis gave me the first Liebster Award and I was very proud to receive this recognition from one of my peers. Especially, one I admire and see as an excellent blogger/film writer.   

Then, on the day of my birthday, the film historian and critic that almost pushed me towards film writings and into the dementia of my cinephilia, Kevyn Knox of The Most Beautiful Fraud in The World awarded me this one. This is a great recognition from one of the first film critic I ever read and still follow since the debuts of his now defunct The Cinematheque.

Admitting that Movie blogging is a tough thing isn’t really a jaw dropping sentence, but I have been struggling to write in English, my mother tongue is French and the commenter: John, Bonjour Tristesse, Chip, Groggy are loyal and keep coming back but I wish that my readership would get wider and more diverse. Receiving an award like this is always a great recognition and it brings huge confidence into my insecure mind. Thank You!

11 (non movie related believe it or not) things about yours truly:
1. Snowboarding is my favourite sport and I write on two blogs about it.
2. I play the drums and music is a big part of my life.
3. Cooking and eating are a real pleasure for me. Gourmand is one of the best adjective that can describe me.
4. It will be 11 years on September 20th that I am with my girlfriend/wife and 1 year that we are married on August 20th.
5. My day job is for a big company in Computer, Consulting, and Technologies. I am a consultant in Records Management.
6. I am a diehard fan of the sitcom Friends. I know every line of the show.
7. Ironically, I don’t have many friends but the ones I have are very close.
8. Lots of people are impressed to learn that I can dance the entire choreography of Thriller.
9. A collector I am. From DVDs to Records (vinyls) to Hockey cards.
10. I suffer from insomnia since my childhood and Films have been one of my night companion.
11. I have been wearing a beard since 2006.

11 Answers:

1. What is your favourite film of all time? Taxi Driver
2. What was the first film you saw in a theater? Die Hard: With a Vengeance.
3. What is your opinion on the Oscars? A big commercial break for movies. Not what it used to be. But I will always watch it with my homemade pulled pork sandwich.
4. On average, how many movies do you watch per year? Used to be more than 200. Now more around 100 or so.
5. What is your favourite decade in cinema? The 1970’s.
6. If you could switch places with any movie character, who would it be?
7. What is your favourite guilty pleasure movie? I don’t believe in guilty pleasures because if you like something you like it. But I don’t want to be a pain in the ass I’ll say National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. I watch it every Christmas Eve or so.
8. Audrey Hepburn - worthy of her hype? I don’t think so. But still an icon of sophistication.
9. How long have you been writing about movies? Since 2009, so three years.
10. Who is your most hated movie character?
11. What is your favourite movie musical number? The Red Shoes

Pass it along to 11 of my peers:

11 Questions for 11 award recipients:

1. What is your real name?
2. How many movies do you watch every week?
3. Black and white or color films?
4. What is the best film you watched recently?
5. Your best movie watching experience (movie, context)?
6. Do you watch movies alone or with friends, life partner, your pet?
7. Which film opened you the door to be a serious movie watcher?
8. What is the film you could watch every day for the rest of your life?
9. Who’s your favourite director?
10. Take a guess, what will be the next Best Picture Oscar Winner?
11. You have to save one film because we have to delete the entire History of Cinema. What will you save?

The Top 9 Films of 1983 aka The Year I Was Born - Redux

As a Classic Film lover I am a man/boy who loves traditions. This is the third time I do this list and every year I try to watch films from the year I was born to see a little bit of what happened in this year.

I'm very proud to say that most of the films I wanted to watch I had the opportunity to watch them this year. However, I missed A Christmas Story (Bob Clark) during the last Holidays. It is still on my DVR but I wanted to wait to watch it for December. I'll have a little something coming up for December this year but I don't want to say too much so I'll stop here.

By the way, this is birthday and this is why I annually do this. I invite other bloggers to do this and tell us their favorite films on the day of their birth.

Below you will find my long awaited Top 9 films of 1983, starting from number 1 to number 9.


The Cameraman

The Cameraman (Buster Keaton & Edgar Sedgwick, 1928)

Hopelessly in love with a woman working at MGM Studios, a clumsy man attempts to become a motion picture cameraman to be close to the object of his desire.

This is the first official review of my new feature that I hope to get running longer than the last ones I intended. Since, it’s a part of my film buff quest, to watch the entire list of the 1000 Greatest Films of All Time of the Website They Shoot Pictures Don’t They?, this new feature available on your left by the label Pantheon Directors, must be a more sizable goal to achieve. Starting with one of the few Buster Keaton films left on the list that I needed to see, I wanted to be able to fully judge if I’m still more of a Charlie Chaplin kind of person or if my heart will switch to “The Great Stone face”. This goes out to the good old adversity of Chaplin vs. Keaton or Keaton vs. Chaplin. Well, it ends up that even the most respected film critics don’t agree.

With The Cameraman Keaton does what he knows best while clearly injecting some melancholy and maybe a little bit of pathos. It is interesting to observe that it was Keaton’s first film for the MGM Studios and that they tried to impose their rigid style of film making and impose him their writers. This is one of the main reasons that Keaton felt into alcoholism later and lost almost everything. Hopefully, The Cameraman is clearly a Buster Keaton masterpiece and the MGM reform didn’t altered his touch.

Our main character named Buster just like the actor portraying him, meets a woman (Marceline Day) and wants to be with her. She works at the MGM studios and he wants to get a trial to get to be with her and eventually ask her out. However, he is a clumsy man and even if the road is filled with obstacle he is also stubborn and in love. Just like Keaton said himself, his little fellow is an honest man who works and want to get the girl fair and square. Chaplin’s tramp, on the contrary was a bum with a bum attitude and if he had to steal he’d steal. Another aspect of Keaton’s world is how he represents women and his character’s relationship with them. He treats them as his equal and while having respect for them he also insert them in his gags. Chaplin idolized women and would never touch their goddess-like aura.

With The Cameraman, Keaton proves again that he is a funny man that can make multiple physical gags but moreover that he is a marvellous storyteller displaying emotions with the deadpan expression and his long shots. Even if it’s a guy gets the girl classic story, the universality and the quality of this picture is quite something. One of Buster Keaton’s best Silent comedies.
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