Basia Bulat @ Guelph Lake, Guelph, ON for Hillside Festival - July 27, 2014. Photos: Tom Beedham

Hamilton Leithauser.

Hamilton Leithauser.

"Here comes the mystery of it all."

The Walkmen always maintained a collective composure on stage, so it’s wild to see bassist and organist Peter Matthew Bauer strutting around like a natural frontman on his solo project.  The video for “You Are The Chapel” was directed by Brian Melton.

Film Review: Haemoo (2014)


Directed by Shim Sung-bo.  Starring Kim Yun-seok, Park Yoo-chun, and Han Ye-ri.

One of the reasons why the South Korean new wave has been so popular in North American subculture is its ability to take reliable narrative tropes and absolutely smash them to pieces.  Take Haemoo for example.  It’s the story of a ragtag fishing crew led by Kang (Kim Yun-seok), a captain who inspires loyalty by always looking after his men, even in hard economic times.  When the financial climate turns especially desperate and his beloved boat is in danger of being seized, Kang takes on the risky but lucrative enterprise of smuggling illegals from China to South Korea.

With a setup like that, a regular film would hit upon the following: a cold-hearted captain who sees the immigrants only as cargo; a fierce storm that puts the ship in danger; bonding between passengers and crew (maybe a sacrifice too); the captain, realizing no amount of pay is worth a human life.  Haemoo has no such sentiment.  Instead a cruel, irreversible tragedy occurs midway through and suddenly what seemed to be an epic nautical adventure turns into a claustrophobic deliberation on madness and violence.  The turn is so jarring, full credit goes to the screenwriters - director Shim Sung-bo and Bong Joon-ho - for having the bravery to pull it off.


But for all its brilliance, the screenplay has one damaging flaw.  This involves Hong-mae, one of the few females smuggled onto the boat.  Han Ye-ri does a wonderful job with the role and her presence is one of the film’s high points; it’s the reactions of the characters around her that’s problematic.  There’s nothing wrong with exploring the sexual implications of a lone woman on board a boat full of men.  Some might argue the script is an indictment of narrow-minded alpha male behavior. But Haemoo dumbs down the issue by sheer repetition.

The worst offender is crew member Chang-wook (played by Lee Hee-joon), who only opens his mouth to remind everyone how badly he wants to get laid.  It’s as if his character stepped out from a parallel sex farce called Hey, What’s Everyone Doing in the Engine Room? Near the end, Chang-wook is literally waist deep in water, about to die, and he’s still lamenting how he wants to be the first to have sex with Hong-mae.  Haemoo also boasts one of the most implausible love scenes ever.  If you were hiding in fear on a boat only to watch a stranger get brutally murdered, would you be able to have passionate sex right after in the same room?  We hope you never have to find out, but we’re guessing your answer would be no.

In a regular film these kinds of shortcomings might be forgivable but because the rest of Haemoo is so stellar, its blemishes stand out even more.  The atmosphere and sense of being aboard a vessel is truly outstanding, framed by superb cinematography from Hong Kyung-pyo.  And of course that midpoint genre flip is just plain mind-blowing.  If only the screenplay had been tightened up, Haemoo would’ve been a much more solid ride from start to finish.

Han Ye-ri.


Exclusive clip: Tina Belcher takes the ice bucket challenge.

It took her a second to work up the courage, but she did it!

Emma Watson represents the UN, in her role as UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, in Uruguay where she was campaigning for a higher representation of women in politics.

Emma Watson represents the UN, in her role as UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, in Uruguay where she was campaigning for a higher representation of women in politics.

(Source: vogue.co.uk)

The Canadian hardcover edition of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami.  The front jacket and cover was designed by Chip Kidd.

The Steelbook edition of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Film Review: Before We Go (2014)


Directed by Chris Evans. Starring Chris Evans and Alice Eve.

In Before We Go, an art dealer named Brooke (Alice Eve) misses the final 1:30 train, stranding her in Manhattan. Nick (Chris Evans) meanwhile is a trumpet player busking in Grand Central Station as he mulls over an invitation to a late night wedding reception. Learning that she’s lost her purse and is ill-equipped to spend the night alone, Nick offers to help Brooke get back home to Boston before the sun comes up. At an hour when most of us are asleep, the pair traverse New York on a series of personal quests, learning more about each other along the way.

In order to open the lines of communication, the screenplay wisely strips Nick and Brooke of modern conveniences such that neither has an operating cell phone, credit cards, or cash.  Obviously that won’t last long but it adds to the sense of this being a unique yet fleeting experience for both of them. Evans and Eve have an amiable chemistry which is fortunate because in truth there’s not much depth to either character. They’re both nice people who’ve run into some heartbreak but that’s about it. Evans in particular has played this type of conflict-free, morally upright figure before so it’s surprising he doesn’t take more risks to deconstruct that persona considering he’s also the director this time around.

Even as a romantic drama Before We Go isn’t the most thought-provoking piece mainly because the problems of Nick and Brooke are of little consequence to the other person. Still, Evans and Eve keep the movie afloat with their energy and charm. If you come in with low expectations, the film is fine and fun as a ninety-minute diversion.