Summer Movie Picks - theHumm July 2021
Summer Movie Picks - theHumm July 2021
By Matt Roche
Summer is upon us, and this is the time for blockbusters and money-makers, for a quick escape into the dark cool movie theaters, supplying crisp air and buttery popcorn, for movie lovers to gather and… oh yeah, that’s right. Covid. Well, maybe not the theatre, then. On the bright side, we can still see these movies at home, or on whatever device may be your weapon of choice. Whether you miss the social exchanges or prefer the intimacy of your living room, we still got the movies! And there has been quite a slew of releases lately. Majority of them, if I’m being honest, I am thrilled I did not have to pay admission to (I’m looking at you, Cruella). It is comforting, in a strange way, to see continuously see unoriginal, misguided, monotonous schlock oozes out of the Hollywood pipeline. Consistent if nothing else. What these films provide, aside from time wasted, is an appreciation for those films that are brave and unwavering in their fearlessness and determination. Anyways…
Starting off on a positive note, the action blockbusters have not disappointed for the most part, and the horror films are all slightly above par, which is a relief. Nobody came as a surprise. I knew Bob Odenkirk could do pretty much anything, but an action hero was not what I expected, and Odenkirk really delivers. He uses his dry sarcasm to great effect and looks pretty damn good beating the crap out of some Russian punks. I expect Nobody 2 in a couple years. Boss Level is another unexpected action flick that seemed to have eluded my radar. I have been a fan of director Joe Carnahan ever since Narc (2002), and he has proved himself a talented filmmaker and storyteller with flair (Smokin’ Aces in 2006, The Grey in 2011) but also can be excruciatingly self-indulgent (The A-Team, 2010; Stretch, 2014). With Boss Level, Carnahan returns to his focused, testosterone-infused best. And he’s found a perfect actor to carry out his plans in Frank Grillo. Grillo commands every frame of the film with a strong physical presence and good sense of humor. The film is basically Groundhog Day on steroids. And it’s a heck of a lot of fun. Welcome back, Joe. Oh, and Mel Gibson’s in it, too, in a solid villainous role.
Chaos Walking (by Doug Liman and starring the surprisingly versatile Tom Holland) is a film that really shouldn’t have worked. It’s more interesting and less aggravating that it has any right to be. All this is helped by Mads Mikkelson in yet another great performance. You could just have him stand there and say nothing and he’d be compelling. Oh yeah, he already did that in Valhalla Rising. Mads is the man. For a sci-fi action flick, it doesn’t get bogged down by any fancy rhetoric or over-your-head terms. It is all very grounded and human. The only real problem in the film is Daisy Ridley, who seems to be capable of only a handful of facial expressions and lacks any sort of charisma. Had there been a more capable actress in the role, this may have become an underrated classic. But for now, it seems like it’s another good creative effort for Doug Liman.
Zack Snyder released two epic films this year as well — his long-awaited version of Justice League and a return to zombies (and hopefully, a return to form) with Army of the Dead. While Snyder’s Justice League is an immeasurably better film than Joss Whedon’s horrible handling of the material four years ago, the film still seems overly indulgent and a good 30 minutes could have been cut out. I mean, I know Snyder loves his slow-motion shots, but I can only watch Jason Momoa get hit by waves before he jumps into the ocean for so long. Still, everything was improved upon. I actually understand what Steppenwolf was doing and felt a little empathy for him. And all the big characters in the League have fleshed out stories and, well, everything makes sense now. It goes to show taking your time and caring about your material can go a long way (Mr. Whedon…).
On the other hand, we have Army of the Dead. When I heard Zack Snyder was releasing this movie on Netflix I got very excited. I was introduced to Snyder through his beautiful gorefest Dawn of the Dead (2004). Since then, he has proved he is capable of creating visual masterpieces like 300 (2006) and Watchmen (2009), but is also capable of creating distended, derivative crap like Man of Steel (2013) or Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). And it pains me to say that Army of the Dead falls sadly into the latter category. The film has so much going for it but is focused too heavily on style over substance. When it did try to add substance and humanity, it became laughable and dull. And most of the scenes that were supposed to be funny weren’t. I didn’t care about any of the characters and the writing was atrocious. Yes, it had a neat kind of twist on the zombie genre. Yes, there was a really cool zombie tiger. And yes, it has some of the best zombie kills I’ve been since the first few seasons of The Walking Dead. But that’s not nearly enough to save it. Plus, it was just way too long. Call me crazy, but I feel that a good zombie flick should be a tight hour-forty-five. Army of the Dead is two-and-a-half hours. 45 minutes could have been cut out and nothing of value would have been lost.
With this nice little segue into the horror genre, some pretty decent horror films got released over these last couple months. The Saw franchise continues its bloody traditions. In hopes of rejuvenating the series, they’ve cast Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson and have made a crooked police department the focus of Jigsaw’s always-insightful wrath. It’s called Spiral: From the Book of Saw. I can report with pleasure that it delivers a lot of what you expect. Dark and creative. But I can say with dissatisfaction that it doesn’t bring anything new to the table. Chris Rock here is the best I’ve seen him. He’s fine at what he does. But when you see him beside Sam Jackson, you can’t help but notice the difference. Spiral is one of the better entries in the series… but it’s still just another entry in the series.
If I had to pick the best film I’ve seen in 2021, I would have to nominate, without hesitation, Guy Ritchie’s Wrath of Man. Here is a film that took me by surprise. For me, his creative and brilliantly innovative style is endlessly fascinating. I figured Wrath of Man to be no different, but what I was presented with was a tightly wound story — one story, with a focus I have not seen in a Ritchie film before. He took his time with the actors, he focused on the characters. It wasn’t flashy and kinetic. Sure, it had Ritchie’s trademark tough guy talk and manly man banter, but even that seemed to have a deeper purpose. Is this perhaps because the film is a remake of the 2004 French thriller Le Convoyeur (Cash Truck), and he didn’t want to offend the original filmmakers by butchering it with his particular style? Or maybe he saw a simple, compelling story that he wanted to tell himself, and perhaps even expand on it a little. And boy, did he. Here is a story of a stranger (we only know him as H.) who gets a job at a cash truck company and fits right into the job. Almost too well. We soon find out why. And it’s glorious. When it all comes together at the end, there is such a sense of exhilaration. Elation. That nagging feeling you get between your shoulder blades that creeps down your spine, sending signals of sizzling anticipation. With a precise, powerful and unblemished ending. This is also one of Guy Ritchie’s finest, most mature films. What I’m saying is, when you get a chance, watch Wrath of Man.
Good movies aside, I can’t resist talking about the blunders, the missteps, the turkeys — the ones that met every one of my cynical expectations. But I really just want to talk about one. I mean, the Mark Wahlberg vehicle Infinite is an incoherent mess and The Woman in the Window is painfully predictable and an absolute waste of talent, but it’s Disney’s Cruella that I want to give special mention to. Here is a film that didn’t really need to be made. You could say it’s the epitome of a money-grab or a gamble that didn’t pan out. You could say it’s the rich and visually arresting origin story of Cruella DeVil, the villain of Disney’s 101 Dalmatians (1961), who, I remind you, wanted to kill those dogs so she could make coats out of their fur… but I digress. Or you could say it’s a garish, uneven steam-punk daydream origin story gone wrong. Cruella doesn’t have a single relatable character, no grand victory for our protagonist (and I use the word protagonist lightly), nothing gained, nothing lost. Any semblance of a plot was destroyed in a shower of costumes and dresses. I’m not sure who the target audience for this film is exactly, but if you’re an angsty tween who’s into fashion and punk rock, this is probably gonna be your favourite film of the year. The only redeeming factor come in the shape of the ever-reliable Emma Thompson. Here she shines at her bitchy best. Still not enough to save this massacre. Why Disney greenlit this will forever boggle the mind. Avoid the anguish by avoiding this film.
All that being said, happy movie watching!
By Sally Hansen
Art… and Soul
“Nature is the place to be,” according to nature and wildlife photographer Danielle Barabé-Bussières. Danielle celebrates her love of the natural world by capturing stunning images and transforming them into works of art. She has a gift for composition, a talent for exploiting the extensive capabilities of current post-processing software, and the dedication and patience needed to create an extraordinary photographic work of art from an excellent photograph.
Take a ......
Red TrilliumStudio Tour, July 3 & 4 - theHumm July 2021
The 43rd Red Trillium Studio Tour will take place over the weekend of July 3 and 4, showcasing the studios of some of West Carleton’s most talented artists and fine craftspeople. Just twenty minutes beyond Kanata into the scenic countryside around Carp, Dunrobin and Kinburn, you will be welcomed at studios featuring paintings, jewellery, sculpture, photography, woodturning, pottery, glasswork, designer clothing and fine art textiles.
Artists will be on hand to discuss their wo......
Almonte Celtfest is Turning 25! - theHumm July 2021
By Makayla Moore
Celtfest is a free afternoon of Ottawa Valley and Celtic entertainment, typically performed in the natural amphitheatre of Gemmill Park in the heart of Almonte, that has moved online almonteceltfest.com for the 2020 and 2021 installments of the festival.
It is hard to believe that this long-running event has been bringing the community together in Gemmill Park (and online) to dance, sing, and celebrate all things Celtic for 25 years!
By Glenda Jones
My clothesline suffered a slow and painful collapse one day last fall, and after a couple of estimates I convinced myself I could use a lot of dryer time for what it was going to cost to erect a 14-foot pole and re-string that line. But every wash day through the winter I yearned for the fresh smell of frozen laundry. I was tired of lint on the dark clothes, jeans shrinking, socks disappearing, everything in a wrinkled tangle like day-old spaghetti. I needed that clothesline.
A casual c......
MidSummer Herbfest is going virtual again in 2021 with a week-long event running from Sunday, July 25 to Sunday, August 1. Stay tuned to midsummerherbfest.ca for more details about this celebration of healthy living. This year, Herbfest will be showcasing parsley — the international herb of the year. You’ll find musical sets from Ottawa Valley artists Vicki Brittle and Khloe B Music, as well as online vendors, videos, kids’ crafts, an......
Music at Daisy Dell Farm - theHumm July 2021
By Kris Riendeau
As we emerge from months of lockdown and take our first tentative steps back into the “real” world, one of the first experiences many of us are seeking is that of live performances. Remember that elusive but transformative feeling of sharing a great vibe with musicians and fellow audience members? Tapping your feet and grooving along, mouthing the words to your favourite songs? Fortunately for the Ottawa Valley, Barb (Mattiacci) McIlquham recalls all those great feelings, having experienced them both as......
By Miss Cellaneous
Strévé Gallery Celebrates Canadian Local
In celebration of Canada’s Birthday and the Support Local Movement, Strévé Design Loft Gallery is featuring three Perth area artists and artisans during the summer months. Owner Cheryl Straby explains that: “supporting local emerging and professional artists has always been the mandate of the gallery since moving into my wonderful space three years ago. I guess that’s reason enough ......
Born in the historic Métis community of Lac Ste. Anne, Alberta, Tony Belcourt’s career spans over 50 years of experience and significant achievement in Indigenous affairs, the corporate, government and not-for-profit sectors. As founding President of the Native Council of Canada (1971-1974), he was instrumental in creating a national voice for Canada’s Métis and Non-Status Indians, and his efforts were an important contributing factor in the Métis being recognized in the Constitutio......
Submitted by Carolyn Piche
It’s no secret that our forests and wetlands provide us with countless environmental and health benefits. Being in wild areas can lead to improved emotional, spiritual and physical wellbeing, while Nature purifies our air and water. Wild areas are also a key resource in our efforts to slow climate change because they sequester large amounts of carbon from the atmosphere.
Were you among the thousands who visited the Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust (MMLT......
Bloomfest Garden Art Show and Sale - theHumm July 2021
By Suzanne Patry
Last year, during the third week of July, Whitehouse Perennials hosted our first garden art show and sale. Late July is a particularly beautiful time because the display gardens and daylily field are in full bloom. It was a great success, and customers and artists were enthusiastic about making it an annual event. Beginning on July 21, the work of 14 artists will be installed throughout the three display gardens and the daylily field. The art will remain in place until August 2. The gardens ar......
A Lifelong Learner, Still On the Go - theHumm July 2021
By Sally Smith
There’s a “thief” in Araina Clark’s life.
“It takes away a lot of things, things you never realized it could, but one by one it marches through and takes….” Araina talks about the thief bluntly: “Reading has become more challenging. The thief took it early.”
She talks about “him” waiting around a corner, waiting to steal again next week, next month, in a few minutes.
“For me, the progression [of Parkinson’s Disease] has been slow, but I felt every loss, was amazed how my life was broken do......
By John Pigeau
With live music venues set to open outdoors again, I actually feel a little silly trying to write about the transformative power of live music. I can’t, really. Because that power comes from the genuine human experience between musician and audience — and that transformative power is created live. In the moment. With music and voice, spontaneous gestures and impossible-to-describe feelings. And anyone who loves live music knows that. They don’t need it explained to them; they merely need to he......
Submitted by Joanna Jack
Youth Circle for Mother Earth (YCME) will be hosting a youth-led BioBlitz across Ontario, online and on-site at the local Plenty Canada headquarters over a two-week period during the month of July. A BioBlitz is an event that involves searching for and identifying as many species as possible over a short period of time. Not only will this event be a fun and exciting way to contribute to crowd-sourced western science, but participating youth will also be contributing to I......
My name is Renée Kokonya Sullivan. I am from Kenya and have been living in Canada now for four years. I didn’t have a library growing up. I loved to read though. My only books were my textbooks from school. I loved reading through them, especially my English and Swahili books. The first time I entered a library was in university. I was in awe! So many books, such little time. I was hooked. Libraries and bookstores became some of my favourite places to hang out. I loved the smell of books, the qu......
How-Tos for Happier Hiking - theHumm July 2021
By Vickie Walsh
Are you prepared for emergencies while hiking? Is your child? Do you have supplies and know how to care for your dog?
Now that provincial restrictions are lifting (knock on wood), mud season is over, and maybe, just maybe, the worst of bug season is behind us — hiking is in full swing! Whether it’s inner-city trails or country escapes, there are plenty of trails (literally hundreds upon hundreds) for us all to enjoy. Safety is sometimes an afterthought when it comes to getting......
You can now declutter and support the Carleton Place hospital at the same time!
The Carleton Place & District Memorial Hospital (CPDMH) Foundation is thrilled to announce it has partnered......
Building for a Bright Future How our Expanding Rural Population Can Help with the Climate Crisis - theHumm July 2021
By Chandler Swain
Lanark County will see many new neighbours move to our towns, villages and countryside in the coming years. All the homes these folks will need must factor into how we manage to slow down and rev......
A volunteer group is collecting used bikes throughout Eastern Ontario to send to Cuba, and is asking local people for donations and help.
“More than a million Canadians normally travel to Cub......
Jul 1 - Aug 25 Canadian Local: paintings, handweaving, jewellery
Jul 4 - Aug 31 Head Over Heels
Jul 8 - Sep 2 Jazz Night w/Spencer Evans Trio
Jul 21 - Aug 2 Bloomfest Garden Art Show & Sale
Aug 2 The Co-conspirators
Aug 8 Henry Norwood
Aug 9 David James Allen
- Chris Lemaire — Powerful Art
- A Dramatic Turn of Events for Live Theatre!
- Festival of the Wild Child Outdoor Scavenger Hunt Returns on August 28
- Go Play Outdoors! An Interview with Summer Theatre Smiths Falls
- Get Your Art Fix in the Valley!
- Magic Returns to Smiths Falls! OUTERBRIDGE – Clockwork Mysteries Shows Start on August 6
- A.D. Redux — Almonte Art Crawl & Show
- Merrickville Festivalof the Arts
- Artist and Studio Tour in Perth
- A Midsummer Night in Perth Landscapes Interpreted through Art and Fashion