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We Love the City Posts

Dredd aims low, gets the job done

Despite spending more than two decades of my life reading comic books, I don’t know much about Judge Dredd. I know he’s an icon, and many great British writers and artists have worked on his books, but they’ve had limited availability in North America. I read a Batmand-Dredd teamup book once, but that’s about it.

I’m not sure, after watching Dredd, if I know anything more. This is a film that seems largely removed from the source material: Outside of the concept of a paramilitary police force and a post-apocalyptic future, there’s not a lot here that say “Dredd!” beyond some occasional scenery and a few sci-fi props. This story could translate to present-day reality without losing much.

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What car commercials can teach us about bicycles

How do you get more people to give up their cars and ride bikes?

Danish cycling advocate Andreas Rohl attended the Ontario Bike Summit last week, and as a representative of a city with quite a lot of bicycle usage, he had a few things to say on the subject. In the National Post, he said:

“I like to say we have no cyclists in Copenhagen. We have citizens who use bikes to get from A to B.”

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Game of Thrones 2.4: Bad Boys

I’m not a terribly squeamish person when it comes to violence in my entertainment. I’ve seen a lot of Takashi Miike films, I’ve read American Psycho, and I enjoy some brutal violence and gushing blood when it’s presented the right way. I don’t think any behaviour or act is truly out of bounds in fiction, though its relevance or usefulness to any given story may be questionable. I’m a fan of chasing characters into trees and then throwing rocks at them – whether physical or emotional – because that’s where drama  and character development happen.

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Game of Thrones’ Women Troubles

If you set your story in a medieval-style world, are you obligated to treat your female characters like crap?

This is the question Game of Thrones struggles with, both on page and on screen. Westeros is unquestionably a male-dominated world, but George R.R. Martin has created more intelligent and interesting female characters than the average fantasy author, and for the most part he manages to treat characters of all genders terribly at one point or another.


Parks and Recreation 4-14: Operation Ann

Parks & Recreation defines its characters extremely well. Everyone has a role in the dynamic of the show, and while the nature of comedy & drama demands those roles be stretched and challenged from time to time, the show always knows what its characters are about.

The major exception to this rule is Ann Perkins. Ann started off as a plot device: She wanted the pit behind her house filled in. She volunteered to help Leslie get it done, and followed her through all the bureaucracy and crazy shenanigans that involved. Along the way she and Leslie bonded as friends, and Rashida Jones settled into the role of playing straight man to Amy Poehler’s insanity.

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Battlestar Galactica 1-11: Colonial Day

My Battlestar Galactica retrospective kind of disappeared for a few months; partly on account of me being lazy, part of which, perhaps, was that I wasn’t looking forward to writing about Colonial Day. It’s not that it’s a bad episode – I had a lot to say about Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down, one of the worst of the series – but it’s a dull, perfunctory episode.  It does one important thing – make Gaius Baltar the new Vice President – and throws in some meaningless conspiracies and a couple of fistfights. But as I watched it this time, I found it was notable for the many things it didn’t do.

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The Wisdom and Impact of Before Watchmen

There was a time when I would have been genuinely offended that DC is publishing new Watchmen comics. Watchmen is one of the greatest comics ever published, a masterpiece of cohesive writing and art, and an massive influence on superhero comics. Publishing prequels or sequels seems inherently wrong, a line that everyone knows you shouldn’t cross lest you risk being struck down by the vengeful gods Alan Moore might talk to.

But the more I think about it, the less it bothers me.


Midnight in Paris and the terrible power of nostalgia

midnight-paris[1]For most of my life, I’ve been the biggest Woody Allen fan I know. I’ll defend his body of work until the cows come home, and sing the praises of everything from Annie Hall and Love & Death to Sweet & Lowdown and Deconstructing Harry. I adore his scripts, themes, and general philosophies, as well as his ability to get the best out of any cast, no matter how naturally talented they may be.

So it comes as a bit of a shock that I find myself annoyed by the accolades bestowed upon his latest film, Midnight in Paris, up to and including three Oscar nominations. It’s a fine film, and easily one of the best he’s made in the past ten years, but seems grossly out of place when talking about the best films of 2011.

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Parks & Recreation 4-11: The Comeback Kid

Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) and his claymation.

One of the things I love about Parks & Recreation is its sense of continuity. The writers have created a mythology for Pawnee and its citizens that makes everything just a little bit more real, albeit also more ridiculous. Running gags like the terrible history of Pawnee, often depicted in its murals, absurd media personalities like Perd Hapley, and the utter horribleness of the library show up in bits and pieces; while any given bit may or may not be a winner, they have a cumulative benefit to the show.

For instance, when you watched Season 3’s Ron & Tammy Part Two, you probably noted Ben Wyatt’s preference of calzone instead of pizza, and how absolutely everyone thought that was a terrible idea. Maybe you didn’t come away from the episode thinking “Hey, I hope Parks & Rec explains more about Ben’s attitude toward Italian fast food,” but then, BAM, this week comes along and gives you even more about Ben’s attitude toward Italian fast food and how it’ll lead to financial and personal success, and it is awesome.

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