Tattoos as a form of unconventional art

Photo by Madelayne Hajek

The idea of an ‘artist’ can bring several images to mind. Some might envision a painter standing in front of a canvas with a dirty smock and a brush in hand. Others could see a writer bent over their computer or a director squinting through the lens of a camera. How about a woman in a short-sleeve shirt, exposing arms covered by tattoos, coming at you with a needle?

While tattoos are commonly considered art, they can conjure an image that some would deem below the standard of other artists. As Chicago Tribune writer Jon Anderson commented back in 1996: “Tattoo. What a loaded word it is, rife with associations to goons, goofs, bikers, tribal warriors, carnival artists, drunken sailors and floozies.” Yet the art form can’t be held responsible for the negative stereotypes associated with it, and if one were to walk up Bernard St. W., he or she would encounter Bodkin Tattoo, a shop every bit as respectable and visually appealing as an art gallery.

Stepping into Bodkin Tattoo you are met with a warm and inviting atmosphere. It becomes instantly clear that each of the three tattoo artists (Dominique Bodkin, Vincent Brun and David Choquette) are passionate and dedicated, not just to their work but to making the customer feel at home. Every facet of the interior design appears angled at destroying the preconceived notions of tattooing.

Bodkin has run the shop since its inception two years ago. Bodkin Tattoo is clearly her vision and represents her style of tattooing. “The shop is very old school. It’s my thing. I love those kinds of tattoos,” she said. This means those dying to receive Justin Bieber across their forehead might want to look elsewhere. If the patron is looking for a retro design reminiscent of 1950s, then they’ve come to the right place. Bodkin specializes in both custom and traditional designs, but does everything with a certain flair which reflects the passions and style of her artististry. The result is a very cool and unique tattoo image.

“For me it’s a bit different, for me my father was a tattoo artist too. And he tattooed all the time. I grew up in it.” Her father operated a tattoo shop in Quebec City for twenty-five years before Bodkin opened her own in Montreal.

When asked about the challenges of tattoo design and the obstacles of running a shop, Bodkin presents a very upbeat attitude: “It’s not really a big challenge. You do what you like and the process is not very difficult, you just have to work every day to get the reputation. When you do what you like, it’s never difficult.” However every business has its challenges. “Every day you learn something. Tattooing is a long process, it’s tough, you know. You need to figure everything [out] in the moment.”

For anyone considering the path of becoming a tattoo artist, Bodkin provides an interesting starting point. When asked if she ever drew or made any other type of art, she responded firmly, “No, I always have done tattoos.”

Montreal is fortunate to house a diverse selection of tattoo artists. Bodkin Tattoo is far from the only tattoo parlor in the city, although it is one of the finer and more well-respected ones. For those artists who feel the desire to create on something more living than a page, Bodkin offers strong advice: “Tattooing is the best option. It’s a language of art, it’s a language of expression, of self-expression.”

Bodkin Tattoo is located at 55 Bernard St. W..


ARTiculate: I can has cheezburger. Iz I art?

Webster’s Dictionary defines art as “the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects.” This definition makes sense—after all, a painter learns to paint, a filmmaker develops the skills they need to make movies and a writer learns how to meld words together on a page. All of these are established artistic pursuits in today’s world. But do popular Internet memes, fit into it?

A meme is defined as “an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture,” again that comes from the well-respected Webster’s Dictionary. Memes take hundreds of forms in today’s world but the most common is a screenshot from a movie or film, or a drawing, accompanied by text. They have become a dominant force of the modern Internet culture to the point where entire websites such as 9gag and Imgur are devoted entirely, or nearly entirely, to their distribution. They are definitely an important tool to understanding culture, but are they art?

The short answer is yes. The slightly longer answer is that, according to Webster’s, a meme by itself is an idea. Therefore, the posting of memes to the Internet, the area widely regarded by the world as the last safe haven for the free exchange of ideas, would be an expression of that idea. American poet Amy Lowell called art “the desire of a man to express himself, to record the reactions of his personality to the world he lives in.” There are a vast number of memes devoted solely to expressing personality—such as grumpy cat or trollface. Therefore memes expressing an aspect of personality should be considered art.

But wait; Webster’s defined art as needing both the use of skill and creative imagination. The fact is, memes do require skill, just not in the same sense as other art forms. Creative imagination is used to either draw or find the image and if your first reaction is to say that those who capture images rather than draw them are not artists, there are a few photographers who would disagree. Other skills are used in the crafting of the meme—creating the text, background etc.—which allows the artist to express their idea. That indicates a practical knowledge, not just understanding how to accomplish creation on the Internet but how the World Wide Web functions as a tool for spreading information. This would not be the first time such a thing has happened; films spread art into cinemas while mainstream papers allowed writing to take place in homes.

Whether memes can be compared to the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel or Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather, for example, is not the point up for debate.

Memes are an important expression in culture and the role they play grows daily. How many people would be aware of the Kony 2012 movement; would there have been any political pressure on that topic at all if not for memes? They are more than ideas; they are an expression which flows as the freest form of art on the internet right now. Consider memes to be art: it makes putting off essays sound a lot more reasonable when one is indulging in artistic expression.


ARTiculate: An Unexpected Journey not a Phantom Menace

Martin Freeman plays Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Press photo.

The undisputed blockbuster this past holiday season was the highly anticipated The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first part in Peter Jackson’s movie trilogy based off the book by the same name written by J. R. R. Tolkien.

While the film has merited an enormous box office success, (over $21 million so far), the film has met with a decidedly mixed reaction from professional critics. Scoring a mere 65 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes and an even lower 58 per cent on Metacritic, The Hobbit finds itself in similar company to another trilogy-first of this generation, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. According to the current opinion held by many critics, Peter Jackson is poised to repeat George Lucas’ controversial exercise in storytelling, yet according to the movie-going public, this is not the case.

The Rotten Tomatoes summary, which is based on all of its critical reviews, summarizes The Hobbit as, “an earnest, visually resplendent trip, but the film’s deliberate pace robs the material of some of its majesty.”

The Phantom Menace fared equally bad in its summary: “Lucas needs to improve on the plot and character development, but there’s plenty of eye candy to behold,” read the review. Both reviews stress the films’ visual prowess but emphasize problems in the script. While The Hobbit may have a deliberate pace, is this a fair criticism? While it does render an experience significantly different from its source material, The Hobbit is a far more competently made film and stands well on its own merits.

There are several key areas where An Unexpected Journey and The Phantom Menace vary greatly. The essential difference, however, is in the strength of characters. In The Hobbit, Bilbo follows a clear path of character growth throughout and serves, as an outsider, to introduce the audience to the world of Middle-earth. There is no clear protagonist in The Phantom Menace, that burden is split four ways between the characters of Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala and none of them serve as a conduit to introduce the audience to George Lucas’ fantastical Star Wars world. This cripples the storytelling capabilities of The Phantom Menace to the point that you could start at Episode II without missing anything of real relevance to the trilogy’s plot. The Hobbit serves as the first part of a trilogy whereas The Phantom Menace comes off as the most expensive prologue ever made.

Much of the film’s criticisms centre on scenes that have little impact on the current film and were not present in the source material (The White Council, Radagast the Brown, Azog the Defiler). There is an entire subplot present in The Hobbit film trilogy which did not exist in the book. This may anger some book enthusiasts but really, it is hard to judge a beginning without knowing the middle and the end.

While critics are currently judging Jackson’s Hobbit harshly, fan support has been present. The Hobbit ranks far higher with user reviews on both Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes as well as enjoying an 8.4 on IMDB. This differs greatly from fan reaction to The Phantom Menace. Proof that Peter Jackson may yet be doing more good than given credit for. As Gandalf states at the beginning of The Hobbit, “every good story deserves some embellishment.”


What does it mean when a bad man saves someone’s life?

Press photo for Jodie Martinson’s Stronghearted /NFB

It is difficult to fully articulate an idea in less than five minutes. It is such a skill that class projects are given in many Concordia courses with the exact intention of developing that ability. Precise thought, word choice and presentation are needed to correctly convey the speaker’s intention. While it is a rare feat to articulate a full-bodied idea in such a minimal amount of time, Vancouver filmmaker and journalist Jodie Martinson’s Stronghearted conveys two.

This short film, which is a splendid mix of both live-action and animation, tells part of the life of Evelyn Amony, specifically her first encounter with Joseph Kony when she was 12-years-old. Many will remember Kony as a popular Internet meme that spread across the web early last year. History will most likely remember him as the leader of Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army and a kidnapper of children who essentially created his own cult where he viewed himself as a kind of divine prophet. This short film provides an opportunity to gain insight into who the man Kony is beyond the Internet and the media.

What the film presents about this man, and more importantly how it is presented, provides much of the mental fuel packed into Stronghearted’s message. Protagonist Amony narrates her first ordeal with the Lord’s Resistance Army with shocking honesty and realism. Her presence is the sole part of the film that is live-action, which helps bring home the fact that this is a real story that happened to a real person. The surreal drawing of Kony goes a long way to distance him from an actual human being. At first glance, he is more boogeyman than man. Yet this is not a story about how Kony raped Amony, or of how he beat her and forced her into servitude: this is the account of how he saved her life.

This is an odd subject for one of the most demonized human beings still living on the planet. That is what makes it such an important piece of filmmaking. It is easy to forget that people and not monsters are responsible for the atrocities of humanity’s history. Stronghearted in no means defends Kony, but it provides an instance where even an “evil” man does an act of “good.” These portrayals are needed to showcase the duality that many believe exists in the human soul.

Jodie Martinson could have made this film two hours — it is a credit to her directing skill that she was able to accomplish so much in so little time.

Stronghearted is available for viewing free online at


What’s worth watching in 2013?

2012 was a very strong year for movies. For the first time since its rule change, the Academy Awards might have reason to nominate a full list of 10 films for “Best Picture.” With the close of epics like Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Rises and Spielberg’s thought-provoking, performance-driven Lincoln, 2012 cinema definitely had legs to stand on. The real question now is what is there to look forward to? What will be the films to watch in 2013?

Box Office Blockbusters

Star Trek into Darkness: This follow up to J.J. Abrams’ 2009 reboot reunites the stellar cast of Chris Pine, Karl Urban and Zachary Quinto — Kirk, McCoy and Spock respectively. With what appears to be a darker tone than the first film, Star Trek into Darkness is poised to raise the stakes and the income for this franchise. Add in the enormous presence of Benedict Cumberbatch as the new, shadowy villain and you already have a drastic improvement from the first film’s Eric Bana.

Benedict Cumberbatch plays the villain in Star Trek into Darkness

Iron Man 3: The third film of Marvel’s Iron Man series and part of the wonderful world of The Avengers, Iron Man 3 brings Robert Downey Jr. back into the role of playboy-philanthropist Tony Stark. This time, Ben Kingsley plays the arch-villain, The Mandarin. With a new director onboard, this movie could represent the sequel that fans wanted after the semi-disappointing hodge-podge that was Iron Man 2.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: Peter Jackson’s return to Middle-earth continues in this second installment of The Hobbit. While it is still unclear where the break will come, it is very likely that this film will contain the entirety of the Smaug confrontation so those looking for the dazzling special effects of a dragon in full battle need to look no further. Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen and Richard Armitage all return to their roles and welcome newcomer Benedict Cumberbatch as the film’s villain.

Man of Steel: The likely candidate for largest blockbuster that is not a sequel, Man of Steel puts director Zack Snyder at the helm of realizing the Nolan brothers’ vision of Superman. With a far less cheesy approach than 2006’s Superman Returns, it will be interesting to see if this Superman is the right one for this generation. Actor Henry Cavill has big shoes to fill as the titular protagonist.

For Laughs

Anchorman: The Legend Continues: Will Ferrell returns as Ron Burgundy in a sequel that has long been demanded for by fans. With Ferrell’s declining popularity at the box office (Land of the Lost, Semi-Pro), it will be interesting to see if this film represents a return of comedic genius or a last stitch effort to cash in on established property.

This Is The End comes out June 2013.

This is the End: This film starring James Franco, Seth Rogen, Emma Watson, Jonah Hill and a host of other comedic talent, all as themselves, takes a much-needed humourous approach to the Mayan apocalypse nonsense of 2012. If you’ve ever wanted to see how a bunch of comedians would react to the end of the world, give this one a look.


Evil Dead: This remake of the 1981 classic looks every bit as disturbed and bloody as the original. While horror remakes have been genuinely disappointing in the past few years (Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street) this adaptation might be one to watch, despite the lack of Bruce Campbell.

The Award Winners

The Great Gatsby: Based on one of the great works of literature, this drama starring Leonardo DiCaprio looks like a surefire award winner.

Elysium: Director Neill Blomkamp returns from stunning the world with District 9 in 2009. This time, he has a budget and actors like Matt Damon and Jodie Foster. This may very well be the film of the year as science fiction claims an even tighter hold on cinema.


King of Horror

Can words on the page be truly scary? While some choose to read the classics like Lovecraft, and others enjoy the pulp of Clive Barker, there is only one King.

It is hard to argue the impact that Stephen King has had on the horror genre. For the past forty years, King has contributed dozens of works to the realm of horror, including such influential classics as Carrie, Salem’s Lot, The Shining, Misery, and It. If you haven’t read King, you’ve heard of him, and even if he isn’t your cup of tea, you still have to respect his talent.

“Stephen King has done a tour of just about every horror concept that you can imagine. He might be kind of a dirty word in the world of ‘literature,’” says Jessica Marcotte, a graduate student at Concordia. “But when you write as much as he does, you’re bound to write something good – he’s a master of the short story and novella. Different Seasons is one of the best collections of novellas I’ve ever read.”

What Marcotte points out is arguably King’s greatest strength. His sheer prolific nature has forced him to be recognized. While much of King’s work is still outside the realm of academia, he has become such a presence in the world of fiction that it is impossible not to encounter his work, whether it be in their original literary form or in the film adaptations.

Many authors are lucky if they can have one book or series become a successful film. King has enjoyed so many quality adaptations of his work that even his short novellas like The Mist and Secret Window have become major Hollywood films. Currently, King’s Dark Tower series is undergoing the film treatment, which has the possibility to set him alongside the likes of J.K. Rowling and J.R.R. Tolkien.

While King’s reputation is unquestionable, how did one author from Maine become an international name in horror? The answer is that his novels and consequently his movies employ three techniques of horror that never fail to frighten; the gross-out; severed body parts, mysterious green goo dripping on someone’s arm, the horror; huge spiders, zombies, something grabbing you in the dark, and atmospheric terror; “when you come home and notice everything you own has been taken away and replaced by an exact substitute. It’s when the lights go out and you feel something behind you, you hear it, you feel its breath against your ear, but when you turn around, there’s nothing there…” BOO! you jump a foot in the air.


The changing face of horror

The monster from popular 2002 horror movie The Ring

Imagine seeing the face of the Frankenstein monster in theaters for the first time. Imagine that you were one of the first to see the haunting image of Dracula’s castle or hear the howl of the Wolf man.

Those images, now so mundane, were at one point considered frightening. The Frankenstein monster was grotesque, the castle was rich in haunting atmosphere and the werewolf’s howl sent chills down people’s spines.

These horror movies inspired fear in their time but one would argue that they no longer have that same power. A lot of the techniques of horror from the age of Frankenstein are still employed today but to a different degree.

For one thing, the advent of technology has greatly increased the realism of horror movies. Also, film standards are less stringent than they were in the 1930s when movies like Frankenstein and Dracula were released. The Motion Picture Production Code of 1930, also known as the Hays Code prohibited the portrayal of brutal killings in detail or murder in a way that could spark imitation. This is not the case today, as exemplified by such brutally violent films as Saw, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre or The Human Centipede.

Dir. James Whale’s iconic Frankenstein (1931)
The older films were about the atmosphere; the horror of the unnatural in unnatural places. They featured uninhabited castles with dripping stone walls, locked rooms, secret dungeons, abandoned and overgrown graveyards, creaking staircases, clanking of chains, swirling mists and sudden shrieking winds.

Atmosphere still plays a key role in modern horror films such as Paranormal Activity and Silence of the Lambs but is enhanced with help of technology. The atmosphere of modern horror movies are less about the supernatural and more about the everyday gone wrong.

As technology has progressed so have the techniques of terror. An increase in the quality of sound, costume and visual effect serve to make the horror all the more realistic, and therefore more terrifying, for viewers. Dracula or Frankensteinare no longer as terrifying to modern audiences because we’ve come to expect horror films to be incredibly realistic and engaging as a result of technology.

In movies of old, evil creatures and monsters were supernatural beings, they were costumed to resemble nothing remotely human. These days, evil is more likely to have a human resemblance, suggesting that modern viewers find the idea of evil that looks human scarier than evil in a mask.

In a sense, the fundamentals of horror have not changed all that much over the years. As human beings, we still find the same fundamental concepts frightening but, thanks to our imagination and technology, there will always be new methods of conveying those fundamental fears and new frights are to be had from them. In the words of Edgar Allan Poe, “Perversity is the human thirst for self-torture.”

With files from Amanda L. Shore


ARTiculate: All genres are equal, some are more equal than others

In the world today there are many places where prejudice is tolerated. However, there exists in idealism, several establishments where free thinking and expression are valued and encouraged. A university is one such place, but sadly idealism is not reality. Concordia’s creative writing program promotes individuals to step forward and express themselves through fiction, but only if it’s a certain type of fiction.

For people who write in the realm of science fiction and fantasy, many doors in the literary world are closed. There exists an unspoken understanding that these genres are not worth the time of serious writers. It has become commonplace to see this exclusion and there are many publications, most of which claim to support all forms of creative fiction, that will not touch these genres.

One needs look no further than Concordia’s own Soliloquies, a student-run anthology that publishes bi-annually. On their website, Soliloquies advertises its goal: “to showcase writers that you might otherwise never encounter and be able to enjoy.” This mission statement sounds very encompassing and encouraging.

Yet it is not the whole story as the submission page presents two restrictions: no science fiction and no non-creative essays. The latter is easily explained since Soliloquies markets itself as a fiction platform.

“Soliloquies, if you look through past issues, has never accepted sci-fi, and I don’t think that the graduate journal, Headlight, has either. The reason for this is simple. I am sure that you remember that when you applied to Concordia’s creative writing program that portfolios had a similar restriction: no sci-fi, no fantasy…The reason for that is because none of Concordia’s creative writing professors specialize in the genre…therefore it is not something that we, as a program, specialize in. Journals like Soliloquies and Headlight exist mainly to showcase talent from the program, and since we do not specialize in sci-fi or fantasy, we do not accept those sorts of submissions,” said Soliloquies editor-in-chief Lizy Mostowski.

Concordia’s creative writing program does actually accept works of science fiction in the entrance portfolio. The instructions for submitting a portfolio as part of the application to admission to the undergraduate creative writing program states: “Work in a specific popular form (for example, fantasy, science fiction, horror, or romance) will be considered only if it does not constitute the entire portfolio, as our program does not focus on these areas.”

Despite this, Mostowski still feels science fiction would look out of place in the publication.

“It would be like accepting romance genre submissions and trying to put them alongside experimental works of poetry and a short story about a road trip, it would not work with the curation of the journal. That being said, we only accept pieces that are highly literary, which can include short stories that can fall into the category of magic realism, but I’m not interested in reading a story about aliens,” said Mostowski.

The question then becomes: why is science fiction not included? Such a restriction directly implies that the genre of science-fiction is worth less than the others. There is no way around the implications of such wrongful restrictions. Yes, everyone out there will admit that there is bad science-fiction. But who can honestly claim to have never read a bad romance, boring comedy, tedious drama, or pretentious satire? There is nothing innately better about any of the other genres but for some reason science-fiction is singled out.

Soliloquies and the other literary publications that restrict science-fiction are all well-run organizations but this prejudice hurts them as well as their readership. It is an unfair judgment that says there is no difference separating writers like Jules Verne, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, and H.G. Wells from the mass of poorly written science-fiction works. Even Margaret Atwood’s, novel A Handmaid’s Tale was science fiction; a book, it should be mentioned, that is often used in academia.

However, many would still dismiss science-fiction as inferior to works of poetry and literature. It is seen as light reading, a means of escape and therefore not an intellectual pursuit. Arthur C. Clarke disagrees with this assumption, “There’s no real objection to escapism, in the right places…We all want to escape occasionally. But science fiction is often very far from escapism, in fact you might say that science fiction is escape into reality…In fact I can’t think of any form of literature which is more concerned with real issues.”


Whose festival is it anyway?

Photo by Joseph Ste-Marie

For many of us, our experience with improvised comedy extends only as far as the late-night comedy, Whose Line is it Anyway? The show featured a troupe of actors who would perform various skits, gags, and songs without the aid of a script. Since the show is no longer on the air, Montrealers looking for a laugh should check out Mprov’s 7th annual Improv Festival.

The festival opens its doors to the public on Oct. 10 until the 14, and anyone with an inclination for improvised entertainment will be able to experience a variety of improv groups and performances at the Montreal Improv Theatre and at Theatre Ste-Catherine. For the small fee of ten dollars at the door, Mprov aims to greet a wide array of audiences, from first-timers to lifelong fans.

Mprov will feature local talent as well as professional performers. Well known improv group The Curfew, noted for their appearances on Adult Swim and Late Night with Conan O’Brian, Dave Morris, a prominent solo act from Vancouver, and the musical improv group Way The Hell Off Broadway are among those set to perform. Easy Action and Théâtre de L’Instable are two local groups who will also be in attendance. It is worth noting that Théâtre de L’Instable will be performing in English, something that the troupe is not known for.

Yet Montreal Improv Festival still offers more. For an additional fee, those interested in learning the art of improv will have the opportunity to enroll in workshops offered throughout the festival’s duration. These workshops will be headed by the various troupes and individuals performing, each one focusing on a different element of improv. Dave Morris will sit down and discuss the art of storytelling while Get Up will teach the effective use of special effects. Those interested should check out Mprov’s website to enroll.

Mprov runs from Oct. 10-14 at The Montreal Improv Theatre (3713 St Laurent) and Theatre Ste-Catherine (264 Ste. Catherine E.). For more information visit


Action outside of the box

Joseph Gordon-Levitt (right) plays Bruce Willis’ younger self in Looper.

There is a moment of blessed relief when the older, Bruce Willis version of Joe tells his younger self, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt to shut up and stop talking about time travel.

It is a welcome difference in this film when compared to other time travel movies. Looper is not concerned with the mechanics of its science fiction element but simply uses it as a narrative tool. The result: Looper comes across as much smarter than the average action film.

The film centers around the character of Joe, an assassin with a very special job. He only kills people from the future. These assassins, called loopers, kill victims who have been sent from the future, disposing of their bodies in the past.

If this sounds complicated, then don’t think about it, as the movie tells you adamantly not to. The point to understand is that loopers kill people from the future, which can become problematic since the last person a looper always kills is himself. Not in the average suicide sense, but rather the past looper will shoot his future self and then go live out his retirement, knowing full well how it will one day end. The younger Joe faces this problem when his older self appears and then escapes.

As stated before, best not to think about it. What really makes Looper work is its performances. There is great supporting work done by Jeff Daniels, who plays a tired-looking mafia leader from the future. Emily Blunt is above satisfactory in providing more than just the usual sort of love interest. The young Pierce Gagnon should also be given enormous credit for a thoroughly powerful child performance, especially since his face is able to convey a wider variety of emotion than any other character. But really, there is only one person most people will talk about coming out of this movie and that is Gordon-Levitt.

The uncanny nature in his performance does not come from the makeup. Despite the best efforts of Hollywood makeup, there is no point where Levitt could be believed to be a younger version of Willis. The appearance just doesn’t cut it. What sells it is the acting. Gordon-Levitt could not act more like Willis if the two had lived together for years. In a performance that harkens back to Zachary Quinto’s style of mimicry in Star Trek (2009), Gordon-Levitt perfectly copies the mannerisms of Willis as well as his method of speaking and facial tics. The result is the audience believing that they are seeing a version of Willis that is thirty years younger, despite knowing full well what the actor looked like at the time.

These powerful performances, combined with an intriguing plot that does not unfold exactly as expected as well as coherently-shot action sequences will leave you feeling very satisfied with Looper. This may not be the next Blade Runner but it is well more than a cut above many recent action films. The movie may not want you to think about time travel and that’s fine, it doesn’t stop it from using it very effectively. The first blockbuster by Rian Johnson (Breaking Bad) is not to be missed. This is the film that action and science-fiction audiences have been waiting for: a reason to return to the cinema.

Looper opened in theatres Sept. 28. Check your local listings for showtimes and locations.


ARTiculate: Equal footing; lit and the graphic novel

What comes to mind when you hear the words ‘comic book’? Spider-Man swinging through the streets of New York after the Green Goblin? Batman chasing the Joker down a dark alley? Superman catching a burning plane as it falls from the sky?

Comic books have become synonymous with superheroes. In the minds of the general public, there is little else that comics could possibly be about. Thus, in an attempt to avoid genre restrictions, the term ‘graphic novel’ was born.

Yet what does it mean to read a graphic novel? While there are many perceptions that illustrated fiction is still the domain of capes and crusaders, the truth is that graphic novels cover as wide a variety of topics as their more wordy counterparts.

One needs look no further than famous graphic novel writer Alan Moore to find a greater depth in the medium. While Moore’s more famous works include superhero epics such as Watchmen and V for Vendetta, the author has written numerous graphic novels that have nothing to do with beings of incredible power. In his graphic novel From Hell, Moore chronicles the horrific, brutal history of Jack the Ripper and presents a stark, realistic portrayal of the events. Indeed it is arguably more real than any other historical account, as life-like illustration adds a new layer of horror to Jack the Ripper’s crimes.

Moore has also explored issues of sexual identity in his work. His graphic novel Lost Girls presents an erotic in-depth look at the tales of Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz and Peter Pan from the eyes of their female protagonists. The novel, rife with nudity and sexual exploits is not fit for children but challenges a new adult understanding of older stories as well as examines the development of female sexual identity.

In an interview that asked if he only wrote for one genre, Moore denied it adamantly, stating: “Life isn’t divided into genres. It’s a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical, science-fiction cowboy detective novel. You know, with a bit of pornography if you’re lucky.”

Moore may be the most famous example, but he is far from the only one. Neil Gaiman, another well-known writer, has also used the graphic novel medium to relate complex stories. His series of Sandman novels tell an incredibly rich literary tale with many forays into myth, fable and historical anecdotes. The main character, Sandman, while possessing supernatural abilities, has far more in common personality-wise with protagonists like Dorian Gray than with superman.

There are also many graphic novel versions of famous literary works. Classics like The Scarlet Letter, Pride and Prejudice, Moby Dick, and A Tale of Two Cities have all had graphic novel adaptations yet many would not associate these works with the common perception of comics. This transformation has opened the readership of these classics into a wider audience. Any readers out there that are put off by the perceived wordiness of older literature will be more likely to read the graphic novel version. It follows the saying: a picture is worth a thousand words.

If the process can work one way, then logically it can work the other. Would The Sandman and From Hell gain more recognition with the illustrations removed or would they lose the feature that enhanced their effectiveness? There is a good chance that many out there who feel that graphic novels are only for children would read and appreciate these books if they were in a different format. These are literary prejudices and they should end, on both sides. Books should be appreciated as books and graphic novels should be able to have serious literary value in their illustrated form. It is time for society to recognize the value of the graphic novel medium.


ARTiculate: No viewing required

When picturing Frankenstein, what comes to mind? What does Dracula’s castle look like? Imagine a shark swimming in the water, what music accompanies it?

Odds are your mind has a thought for all three. A tall, greenish corpse with bolts in its neck, a sinister man in a black cape standing at the top of stairs covered in cobwebs, and a sinister two-note melody. Frankenstein (1931), Dracula (1931), Jaws (1975): three film classics that have rooted themselves into our culture, so much so that even people who may not have ever even seen the films, still recognize them. That is the nature of a classic; it is a film that is so famous, you don’t even need to see it in order to know it.

Jurassic Park (1993) was one of the most financially successful blockbusters from our generation’s childhood. That initial image of the brachiosaurus walking across the screen while the music slowly plays and the actors in the movie stand transfixed with the same awe as the audience. Not enough time has passed, however, for this film to be deemed a classic. Many critics do not look at Jurassic Park as anything more than just another blockbuster and the film has received little in the way of special honor. For our generation it may be a classic since most saw it as children but for those outside our age, it is still too early to accurately tell.

Now examine Frankenstein. Those who have read the book will know that there is no mention of bolts or that the monster lumbers with arms outstretched, yet both of these things are directly associated with the monster, because of the Boris Karloff iconic film. The film, Frankenstein, was so popular in the thirties that it spawned a number of sequels and planted a seed in our culture that has germinated into an archetype.

It is also interesting to point out that if many of us saw films like Frankenstein, Dracula, Lawrence of Arabia, or Jaws: we may not even like them. Since film appreciation is a subjective art, it is difficult to concretely cement the quality of any film. There are many opinions that some of the films defined as “classics” have not held up over the years and now feel dated and boring to watch. Indeed some of us may even find the best use for a “classic” is to cure the insomnia caused by a stressful night of schoolwork.

There aren’t any requirements for films seeking to become classics beyond being popular enough to succeed. People simply need to see it. This is evident today when looking at what may be the next vampire phenomenon, Twilight. Many would say that the quality of the movie is not sufficient enough to warrant it a place in history but no real argument can be made against it being a prevalent presence in culture. The word “vampire” is starting to have new image associations because of this film, and that is the mark of a potential classic.

Likewise Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy may someday fall under the term classic as it took an already well-established character and propelled him to an unprecedented height of popularity. Many superhero movies are now made with a higher degree of realism in an attempt to emulate the style of Nolan’s films.

It is difficult to predict the nature of the classic. They have become an unusual genre all to themselves, defined by what the public deem popular at the time. To view them is to view an aspect of culture.

For your fix of classic films check out Cineplex’s Fall Classic Film series.

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