Arts and Culture Exhibit

Wandering eyes behind the mask

Shary Boyle is a Toronto-based artist whose imaginative approach cultivates her unique world-building abilities. The fantasy worlds that Boyle fashions through painting and sculpture are unsettling and sophisticated, surreal and theatrical. Boyle provokes the curious minds of the visitors through her multimedia and multi-dimensional works. She invites us all to discover our inner imaginative self. Her exhibition Vesselling is now on view at the Patel Brown Gallery.

Curator and writer Anaïs Castro’s accompanying exhibition text explains that Vesselling, at its core, refers to “the act of holding space for a vulnerable community, a safe and contained environment to share and reflect on complex or difficult realities.” Boyle conjures this notion through her unique craftsmanship, complexity and world-making to guide the audience’s experience. The works within the exhibition creates a space that invites the viewers to take a journey to a mystical reality, in which the materiality, their nature and their relation to reality is being challenged.  

Upon entering the gallery space, a long podium displays several sculptures that are shaped and entangled in twisted forms. The podium provides the viewers with the ability to walk around the sculptures to explore each angle of their disproportionate bodies. 

A two-coloured sculpture is placed in the center of the podium, displaying two pot-shaped bodies entwined in a close and intimate embrace. The larger, dark figure spreads its legs, inviting the smaller, white figure to fill the space between them. The figures constitute an abstract, continuous shape—their relationship is dynamic and romantic. 

“Dysfunctional ceramic vessels serve as metaphors for human connection and receptacles for human values—contained forms that embody the complex processes of personal, and societal, relationships,” Castro explained. 

The series of paintings that hang around the periphery of the gallery space is entitled Grafters. The collection seems to represent As a collective, it seems as if all the paintings are frozen moments of a mystical puppet show or a ritualistic ceremony that can be compared to  theater plays, television shows or everyday chores that we witness in our surroundings. Traditional painting canvases display figures with ceramic masks covering their faces. Some paintings incorporate everyday objects such as ribbon, hair, jewelry, buttons and so forth.

These paintings play with reality and imagination, bringing up curious, mystical,  dreamy and metamorphic narrative within different visual frames. The ceramic masks, on one hand, function to prevent the viewers from seeing who is underneath. This may prompt the viewers to curiously look closer to see the set of eyes behind the mask. On the other hand, the masks give the paintings a sense of liveliness as if they are emerging out of the painting to confront the viewers with their tangible presence in our world. In Castro’s words, paintings in Grafters series “function within the logic of a double-performance.”  

In one of the paintings, titled The florist, Boyle depicts a mysterious space with the main figure in the center holding two flowers—Anthurium and pink Gladiolus. Even though the ceramic mask covering the florist’s face emphasizes the ambiguity of the work, the irises penetrate through the mask and follow you, establishing the figure’s presence in the moment. The flowers, along with the smooth painting technique and the decoration of the upper part of the painting, offers a soft and feminine setting. In contrast to the softness of the work, there is a hidden violence that is projected via the appearance of a knife.

Vesselling will be on view at Patel Brown from Feb. 29 to April 20.

Arts Arts and Culture

Má Sài Gòn: Documenting Queer Vietnam

Vietnamese-Quebecois director Khoa Lê’s new documentary highlights queer lives in Saigon.

On Friday, Feb. 2, Cinema du Parc hosted the much-anticipated Montreal premiere of Quebecois director Khoa Lê’s documentary, Má Sài Gòn—which has been making the rounds in film festivals since 2023. Má Sài Gòn, which translates to“Mother Saigon” in Vietnamese, fixes its bold and inquisitive gaze upon Saigon’s queer communities, all while triumphing its subjects in their most mundane acts of courage.

Though not explicitly autobiographical, for Lê, Má Sài Gòn represents a profoundly “personal quest” of reckoning with his conflicted feelings towards Vietnam—a motherland that feels both familiar and foreign, both loving and suffocating. “Should I live again one day, I still want to be your son,” is a refrain that echoes throughout the documentary. 

Having moved from Saigon to Quebec at the age of six, Lê is now a successful queer filmmaker who seeks to explore the imagined, alternative paths he could have lived if he had stayed in Vietnam. “Connecting with that landscape and those people helps me search for the person I could have been,” he said. 

Má Sài Gòn. Photo by Danny Taillon

Indeed, there is an undeniable poetic and surrealistic quality to Má Sài Gòn, especially in its dream-like sequences which feature distorted visions of Vietnamese flora and fauna. Borrowing the naturalistic qualities of cinéma vérité, the loving way that Lê’s camera captures hidden beauty in even the most mundane scenes astounds in its subtlety: the studied, careful peeling of a pomelo, framed with the glow of an afternoon sun; the soft bickering of two husbands snuggled up in the same train cabin; the proud, adoring gaze of a mother watching her son’s drag performance for the very first time. These snippets of everyday life—offering so little yet so much—allow viewers to understand Má Sài Gòn’s protagonists in intimate and unexpected ways.

Mimi Ha, a fellow Vietnamese-Quebecois and recent graduate from UQAM who attended the screening, expressed how moved and excited she was to see more diverse representations of Vietnamese people in a Quebecois-made film: “Vietnamese people and culture is so much more than just the typical immigrant boat people story. It makes me feel good to see that, even in Montreal, we can see another side of Vietnam that no one’s really seen yet.”Lê hopes that his work’s resonance with audiences will open up more opportunities for fellow Vietnamese filmmakers to challenge the white-dominated, homogeneous standard in Quebecois cinema: “That is the engine that motivates me to work harder,” he said.

Music Quickspins

Burna Boy – I Told Them…

The Nigerian singer’s latest effort is tried and true to his Afro-fusion style and the success it has brought him.

Burna Boy is a force to be reckoned with. Whether it be for a few hundred people at Montreal’s 212 nightclub or 60,000 fans at London Stadium, his hits “Last Last” and “Location” can gather every voice in the room, ringing out in unison like a celebratory chant. His latest album I Told Them… supports this reality: it is both an Afrobeats record full of charming melodies and a testament to the success he has achieved.

Lyrically, I Told Them… is exultant, backed by a sentiment of pride and fulfillment. In the opener and title track, Burna Boy reflects on the ambitions and aspirations he spoke about in the past, hopes which he has since fulfilled: “For some reason they didn’t believe it, so here we are,” he sings in the chorus of “I told them.” 

“Big 7,” another song on the album, is a description of the singer’s now lavish lifestyle. On the closing track “Thanks,” he prides himself on bringing forward Afro-fusion music and making his people proud. However, the track also reads as a backhanded compliment. Despite priding himself on his fans, he implies that they do not do good by him by criticizing him (especially in regards to controversy), asking: “Is this the [expletive] thanks I get?”

Burna Boy continues to prove himself as a master of hooks on this album. They are repetitive and memorable, thanks to his simple yet catchy flows. His vocal performances are smooth and syrupy, but he also excels at layering his own vocals and harmonizing, which gives his choruses a larger, anthemic feel.

Afro-fusion is evident on this album, with Burna Boy borrowing production elements from vintage hip-hop, 2000’s R&B, pop, traditional Afrobeats, and acoustic music. The opening and closing tracks both utilize congas and other percussion to create minimalist, soothing, rhythmic backdrops. 

“Normal” feels like a traditional Afrobeats instrumental revamped with hip-hop drums, and “Sittin’ On Top Of The World” is a vintage hip-hop beat backed by a sick groove and a Brandy sample. “City Boys” is another R&B sample flip which borrows its melody from Jeremih’s hit single “Birthday Sex.” “If I’m Lying” stands out due to its foundational guitar melody, one so soft and entrancing it brings The Weeknd’s 2011 track “Rolling Stone” to mind.

With the exception of fellow Nigerian singer Seyi Vibez, Burna Boy exclusively enlists rappers for the guest slots on the album. He reconnects with the UK rapper Dave on “Cheat on Me,” for the first time since “Location” in 2019. In this collaboration, however, Dave’s verse lacks the tight flow and lyrical substance of his own Afrobeats tracks (check out “System” featuring WizKid). 

Elsewhere, 21 Savage is a simple yet effective addition to “Sittin’ On Top Of The World,” and J. Cole’s speedy verse on “Thanks” includes clever one-liners and multisyllabic rhymes. Wu-Tang Clan members GZA and RZA also appear in some lyrical segments.

Overall, I Told Them… is further proof of Burna Boy’s merit. Between his fusion of genres, he can create hits from existing ones (as seen in “City Boys”) and seamlessly bridge Afrobeats and hip-hop together via production and guest appearances. The inclusion of “Talibans II” as a bonus track makes perfect sense: by adding his signature melodiousness to an already hypnotic track “Talibans” by Byron Messia, he gave the latter his first Hot 100 hit— which further proves Burna Boy as an Afrobeats heavyweight.

Trial Track: Normal

Score: 7/10

Festival Review Music

My first experience at a Music Festival in Europe

After booking my escapade in Europe this summer to mainly visit family, I stumbled upon the lineup for the twentieth edition of Primavera Sound (PS) taking place in Barcelona, Spain. The music festival’s main weekend took place from June 1 until June 3 which perfectly fit at the start of my trip. 

I try to attend at least one big music event each year, especially during the summertime, hence I felt no hesitation before booking the three-day-long festival, being fully aware that I’d be going solo to an event starting only two days after landing in a country I had never stepped foot in. 

One of the decisive factors for me was the lineup. It included artists I had been listening to for years, and even the artists had become very fond of quite recently. The festival started at 4 p.m. and the last sets finished at 6 a.m., following the same schedule every day.  Being relatively sleep deprived is one thing, but standing up for the majority of those 14 hours while constantly hearing music through humongous speakers is another— and it’s not for the faint of heart. 

My most memorable performance was by NxWorries, the duo made out of record producer Knxwledge and recording artist Anderson .Paak.  I was near the barricades and got the chance to get on the stage during one of my favourite songs off their 2016 album Yes Lawd! titled “Link Up.” 

It was pretty surreal but for some reason I wasn’t nervous at all. I had an absolute blast dancing with everyone and singing whilst interacting with the crowd. The most unexpected interaction happened when I was in the food court at 3 a.m. on the third day, and a stranger came up to me because she had recognized me from the show. She then airdropped me footage from the performance… the world is too small sometimes. 

Definitive highlights from other performances I attended started with the musical duo Jockstrap’s energetic and experimental set. Georgia Ellery pulling out a violin to play on top of the track “Concrete Over Water” was too awesome of a sight before Taylor Skye pulled out a water blaster to the crowd. Moments after, a remix of the theme song from the show Succession played. Despite the song having nothing to do with the band, the crowd got ecstatic due to its extreme popularity. 

Kendrick Lamar — also a headliner at Osheaga — had everyone shouting his name and lyrics even before the large-scaled canvas unveiled behind him. This impressive painted backdrop accompanied Lamar throughout the coverage of his music catalogue from Section.80 up until Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers. His cousin Baby Keem also hopped on stage to perform their infamous “Family Ties” and other tracks, making the energy even hotter than the actual fire rising up by the stage.

Singer and rapper Channel Tres’ performance was overflowing with grooviness, made even better with witty and calculated dance moves. Listening to his song “6am” almost at 6 a.m. was so much fun to say the least, and he couldn’t believe people were still out and about for his set at that time. JPEGMAFIA, an American artist that’s collaborated with Tres, made a similar comment about how ridiculous and awesome it was to play at 4 a.m. the next day. 

It isn’t surprising that American artists aren’t used to PS’s different schedule. Osheaga, for instance, ended around 10:30 p.m. — just about the time some folks at PS Barcelona would start showing up. The earlier curfew of cities in North America completely shifts the magnitude that a music festival could ever become, counting less artists to begin with. 

Seeing Rosalía perform her album Motomami in her hometown was also very special. She rallied a wide variety of fans (the Spanish ones being more than passionate and not letting anyone squeeze their way in any closer).

Talking about the audience, it seemed like the entirety of Europe came to Barcelona for this weekend. Locals as well as Canadians and Americans were in attendance so I heard an extensive range of languages when passing by foreigners. 

The Concordian’s Assistant Music Editor and fellow student, Stefano Rebuli, attended this year’s sixteenth edition of Osheaga and recalls there being a lot of traffic from stage to stage. Getting around between the two main stages was tricky due to clashing crowds entering and exiting between two consecutive performances. 

“It left everyone packed and nearly caused a crowd crush between Kim Petras and Kendrick Lamar’s sets on Sunday. Everyone tried to get forward, but nobody was allowed in for a good 30+ minutes,” Rebuli said. As for PS, the crowds seemed to always be mobile which made getting in and exiting smooth. Getting home after the shows is another story— whether it be Montréal or Barcelona, the metro is a hot spot for waiting and waiting behind a stagnant crowd.

The security at Osheaga could have been “much more rigorous” according to Rebuli. His friend had a glasses case which was left unchecked, which means he probably could’ve snuck anything inside. PS’s security also let me in quite easily, with a filled water bottle in my pocket which they didn’t check. 

Moving on to some numbers, PS in Barcelona held 16 stages whereas Osheaga counts 5 across its site. Both are near the water, but PS is impressive with its clear views of the sea. In terms of prices, however, it’s expected that the food or beverages aren’t affordable at any festival.

I brought some granola bars to keep my food purchases low but on my second night I had to have actual food so I ended up spending about $15 for a burger. Osheaga charged $13.75 for a poutine, tax included (taxes not being something to consider in Spain was pleasant at least). For beer however, I spent about $7 for a regular sized cup at PS, whereas Osheaga charged around $10.  

From an artist cancelling their set last minute to discovering a new favourite song at a random show you decided to check out, music festivals are a chance to fully immerse yourself with passionate people all day— or all night. Whether in my own city or overseas, music in a festival setting has proved itself to be a driving force for a boisterous time.


Check out Mile End’s Bernie Beigne

Tims ain’t got nothing on Bernie’s

Ever get a hankering for a delicious treat but don’t feel like going to your local Tims? Doughnut worry about a thing— there’s a solution.

Walking into Bernie Beigne, located on 23 Bernard St. in the Mile End, you are greeted with freshly glazed doughnuts hanging on drying rods. 

Dean Giannarakis, alongside his father John, and family friend George Giannopoulos, opened the doughnut shop in May 2021.

Bernie Beigne itself is a very simple store from the inside. Walking into the shop, to your right, you can see the open area where the Giannarakis family dips the freshly fried doughnuts. The sweet-smelling glazes migrate up your nose and right when you walk in, the doughnut display catches your eye.

“I never thought in a thousand years that I would work with pastry. So, for me it was going in and learning the basics of how dough works. Knowing the science behind it and translate that into doughnuts,” said Giannarakis, speaking about his time in culinary school.

Behind the counter, every kind of topping imaginable is at John Giannarakis’ disposal, from Kit-Kats to caramels, from sprinkles to every kind of glaze. John is the creative mastermind behind all the doughnut creations.  The famous pink glaze for their Simpson’s doughnut catches the eye from a mile away.

“The perfect doughnut, I haven’t created it yet. I always joke with Dean, and I tell him my dream is to make a sweet curry doughnut. When I perfect that, it will be the first of its kind, then I can retire,” says John Giannarakis.

Bernie’s is known for two types of doughnuts. They have their cake doughnuts, including the double chocolate and red velvet flavours. They also have the classic yeast-raised doughnuts, which include Simpson’s, Kit-Kat, Oreo and many more.  

The decorating station at Bernie’s. Photo by Dalia Nardolillo/THE CONCORDIAN

They also sell drip coffee and their own merchandise. This includes caps, hoodies and mugs.

My personal favourite is the Simpson’s doughnut. The classic pairing of the sweet pink frosting with the light doughnut – you could easily eat a dozen more. 

I also love the seasonal doughnuts that they make around Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s day. I always tend to go for the heart-shaped doughnut or the Lucky Charms decorated doughnuts.

For the family, quality is in the ingredients and great customer service.

“We didn’t open this because we wanted to be the best doughnut shop in town, we weren’t trying to pump our egos. We wanted to do something where it’s fun, you enjoy going to work every day, and you have to do it because your day starts at four in the morning,” says Giannarakis. 


Dumpling Hut Review

Check out the Dumpling Hut on a break in between your classes!

Located on Clarke Street, the Dumpling Hut is almost not visible to the naked eye. If you drive past it you will probably miss it if you do not look up and see the sign.

Walking through the front door of the Dumpling Hut, you are greeted by an entrance full of post-it notes from guests who have tried the restaurant. 

Post-It note entrance at the Dumpling Hut. Photo by Dalia Nardolillo/THE CONCORDIAN


I decided to try out the Dumpling Hut on a Friday afternoon. The restaurant itself is pretty small, but you instantly get warm and homey vibes when you walk in. Something that I found pretty interesting was a huge traffic light in the corner of the restaurant.

I was expecting the place to be packed but to my surprise, it was only my boyfriend and I in the restaurant and we got to pick our seats. 

In terms of service we got waited on pretty quick by a very friendly server.


The menu itself was pretty compact. The restaurant offered portions of dumplings in either 10 or 16 pieces. You can also choose to get them steamed or fried for an extra charge.

Dumpling Hut menu. Photo by Dalia Nardolillo/THE CONCORDIAN

I’ve had experience in the past with fried dumplings and whenever I ordered them, they would always sit pretty heavy in my stomach; so out of caution, I went with the steamed ones.

Out of all the filling options on the menu, the combination of lamb and coriander was speaking to me. My boyfriend and I ended up ordering the same thing. I ordered 10 dumplings and he ordered 16.

While we were waiting, we could see the chef preparing our dumplings. We could view her laying the outside dough of dumplings and carefully filling each one. 

When we got the food, we dug in. The dumplings were a delightful explosion of flavour, as the coriander in the filling brought a level of freshness to the dumplings. I absolutely loved it.

Lamb and coriander dumplings at the Dumpling Hut. Photo by Dalia Nardolillo/THE CONCORDIAN

I dipped my dumplings in the spicy sauce that they had on the table and it elevated the flavour for me. I rate the dumplings 9/10.


I feel that for the location and the price of the dumplings, it was excellent. The other dumplings on the menu vary in price, depending on the quantity, filling and whether you get them fried or not. For $15, I got a great plate of food, great service and a very cool atmosphere.

I definitely recommend trying out the Dumpling Hut if you are in the area or even if you have a break from classes.

Part of the wolf pack

A look into one of the only wolfdog sanctuaries in North America

Over March break, I visited Banff, Alberta. During my time there, I went to an interesting place called the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary.

Over the past summer, I had been seeing a lot of friends of mine travel to Banff and it was always at the back of my mind. So, I proposed we go there and Anthony, my boyfriend, was completely on board with the idea.

During my research for activities to do in Banff, I came across the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary visit, a center where you can learn exactly what wolfdogs are and what the sanctuary does. This trip was the first one I’ve ever planned on my own and I wanted to use it as a learning experience.

I was immediately enticed and bought two tickets for our first full day in Banff.

We left for our trip on Feb. 26, and waking up to our first day in Banff the day after was amazing; I was so excited to be there. It was a beautiful sunny day in the Canadian Rockies.

Upon arrival we were greeted by a scenic sanctuary entrance, accented by these huge gates that have outlines of wolfdogs on them. Wolfdogs, in a nutshell, are the result of mixing canine and wolf breeds together.

Alyx Harris, the operations manager at Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary, explained the sanctuary was started by founder Georgina De Caigny back in 2011. Harris said, “Essentially she got inspiration when she got a wolfdog of her own and she saw how challenging they are.”

According to the Yamnuska website, when De Caigny noticed a rise in wolfdog breeding, she felt the need to make a safe place for the wolfdogs to have a forever home.

In the intro tour, we were introduced to one of the packs. It featured a sibling trio: Grizz, Aspen, and Quinn.

The tour guide began to explain that the packs in the sanctuary are usually composed of two wolfdogs, or three at the most.

“The wolfdogs tend to have a lot of same-sex aggression and territorial behaviors. It is easiest for us to pair a male and a female together. Once we have that male and female pair it is very unlikely that we will have a new member join that pack,” Harris said.

An interesting fact that the tour guide told us was the three different types of wolfdogs that you can find living at the sanctuary.

“When we discuss wolfdogs, we always say it depends on the wolf content. […] So essentially, a low content, a mid content, and a high content wolfdog,”  Harris explained.

What these categories mean in a nutshell is how much wolf there is in a wolfdog. A high content wolfdog has more wolf characteristics than a dog, while a low content wolfdog has a higher percentage of canine characteristics than their higher wolf content counterparts.

After our very informative intro tour, we were free to walk around the sanctuary and visit the different wolfdog enclosures. It got me thinking: where exactly do all of these wolfdogs come from?

“We do have wolfdogs from essentially all around North America. The wolfdogs come from different situations. Most of the time, the owners surrender them, they come from transfers from other organizations, and sometimes cruelty situations like backyard breeding,” said Harris.

According to the International Wolf Center, people that own hybrids [wolfdogs] often have a difficult time caring for them. Due to their genetic composition, it leads to their behavior to be more inconsitent.

Visiting this sanctuary was one of the highlights of my trip and it was very surreal for me while I was there. There was a moment when all the wolves in the sanctuary started to howl and you could hear the howling sweeping through the sanctuary.

With the wolfdogs coming from all kinds of backgrounds, the sanctuary has future goals of becoming a resource for the conservation of wolves in the wild. I recommend visiting the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary if you are in the Cochrane, Alberta area.


Photo by Dalia Nardolillo


Mank sets out to pay homage to Citizen Kane

David Fincher’s latest film falls flat in revealing Herman J. Mankiewicz’s inner life

Mank was hard to sit through. This is both surprising and disappointing to me, as an avid fan of director David Fincher’s work. But when it comes down to it, Mank simply doesn’t pack the punch it needed to keep me engaged.

The film follows Hollywood screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz as he heals his broken leg in a far-away lodge, writing what would become Citizen Kane. Meanwhile, we jump sporadically into various moments of his past, exploring the people who’ve inspired the script and significant events that affected the writer. These flashbacks, which make up most of the film, attempt to reveal Mankiewicz’s inner life.

The problem is that the flashbacks are confusing and feel disconnected from each other. More generally, Mank has a big editing and writing problem — the entire structure is off. The introduction of flashbacks and the end of “present-day” scenes lack motivation; nothing in a previous scene clearly triggers the succeeding flashback. At points, it almost feels random.

And while you’re trying to figure out the connections between scenes, the excruciatingly long dialogue sequences only add insult to injury. Everything seems so convoluted as characters talk a whole lot about nothing, only making me wonder “Why is this here, and what am I supposed to be learning?” It seemed as though the real story of the film was hidden somewhere in these flashbacks, but the confusing back and forths only make it difficult to know what exactly that is.

I believe that Mank’s structure fails itself because it tried too hard to pay homage to Citizen Kane. The black and white cinematography and 1940s sound is done well and works as intended, but it should have been kept at that.

The reason Citizen Kane’s heavy use of flashbacks works is because the story supports that structure. It’s about a journalist interviewing people who knew the titular character after he died. Its structure is what helps make the story so dynamic. The film also makes explicitly clear the connection between the present scene and the flashback. Mank falls flat relying heavily on flashbacks because its story just doesn’t support it, or at least it didn’t need it. There is no doubt that Fincher can direct complex films, he’s made an admirable career out of it. He just lost something with Mank.

Fincher has had an ability to adapt real stories and novels and transform them into thematically rich pieces; The Social Network is about the development of Facebook on the surface, but really, it’s about friendship, loyalty, betrayal, and the fine line between ambition and greed. Zodiac follows journalists’ and detectives’ search for the Zodiac Killer, but it’s really about the consequences of obsession.

Mank just doesn’t have the same spark. Obviously, it would be ridiculous to assume that every film needs to be deeply philosophical, political, or personal, but Mank seemed like it was setting up something more. When I compare Mank to Fincher’s previous work, I don’t see the same strength in his themes.

Ultimately, Mank is confusing and long, which makes it hard to care about. There is no attempt to connect to its characters, to make them likeable, or to make themes and plot clear.  It’s harsh to say this, especially as a fan of David Fincher, but at the end of the day the descriptors “confusing” and “boring” are accurate, and that is just a bad combination to have.


Last and First Men: a warning to humankind

Not your usual sci-fi movie

“Listen patiently.” Tilda Swinton’s voice reverberates against an orchestral score while the camera pans out on a sculptural installation. Then, the screen goes black.

Directed by Jóhann Jóhannsson and originally released in 2017 prior to his passing, Last and First Men, presented by the Festival du nouveau cinéma, is not your average sci-fi movie.

Based on Olaf Stapledon’s 1930 science-fiction novel Last and First Men: A Story of the Near and Far Future, the film tells a message from billions of years into the future. The message is an alert to humanity, warning them of their inevitable extinction.

If you’re looking for an action-packed sci-fi movie, this is not it.

The experience resembled that of watching a nature documentary (Swinton might just be David Attenborough’s female counterpart). Her narration, which is similar to a dramatic audiobook reading, spans the length of the film and can be heard over the liturgical-style instrumental music composed by Jóhannsson himself.

The film offers an abstract anecdote of a post-apocalyptic world; there is no acting, there are no characters. Throughout the film, the camera pans over grayscale futuristic architectural details and archaeological sites. The stark architectural elements, which are socialist-era monuments and can be recognized as Spomeniks from the former Yugoslavia, contrast Swinton’s smooth voice. Her narration is at once compelling and deadpan.

Like watching a documentary or walking through an exhibition gallery, Last and First Men requires full and undivided attention. Jóhannsson’s film captures what it means for a film to be considered art.


Nuestras Madres: an untold tale of resilient Guatemalan women

The film depicts the unheard voices of Guatemalan women that were victims of the civil war

Nuestras Madres, directed by César Díaz, a Belgian-Guatemalan film director who’s worked on multiple documentary films, takes place in Guatemala in 2018 during the trial of soldiers who started the civil war. Nuestras Madres won the Caméra d’Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.

The Guatemalan Civil War, which spanned from 1960 to 1996, was a war between the Guatemalan government and leftist groups due to unfair land distribution. The war led to the killing and disappearances of many civilians, but also the genocide of Mayan communities.

Ernesto (Armando Espitia) is a young anthropologist from the Medical-Legal Foundation in Guatemala City working on the massacre of civilians and guerrilleros from the country’s civil war. One day, he is acquainted with a Q’eqchi’ woman named Nicolasa (Aurelia Caal) seeking his help to exhume the body of her husband, Mateo, who was tortured and shot by soldiers.

In one scene, Nicolasa shows Ernesto a picture of guerrilleros. Ernesto is shocked as he recognizes the face of his father, who disappeared during the war. He goes to his desk and comes back to her with a picture of his father as he tries to compare both faces from the photographs.

This leads Ernesto to embark on the search for his father and strikes a need to understand his disappearance. In the end, Ernesto will be surprised to know the untold story of his mother Cristina (Emma Dib) who kept her experience during the war secret from him.

Díaz did a remarkable job in illustrating stories that depict realities that many Guatemalans lived throughout the civil war. The movie is a testimonial to the many Indigenous women who suffered during the civil war as they were the main target during the early 80s.

The movie is filled with sincerity. Through the characters, one can feel the pain and the suffering that has lived inside the victims for so long.

A poignant scene from the film occurs when several Mayan women from Nicolasa’s village decide to give their testimony about the war to Ernesto, while he visits to dig up Mateo’s body. A series of women’s faces are then shown on the screen, each of them having a different portrait but sharing the same pain for several years. They were once living in silence; now, they are heard.

Their faces represent the many people who endured the atrocities of the war. They allow people from around the world, who’ve experienced similar events, to have the possibility of connecting with this community.

Díaz’s work is a recognition of the people who lived through the war and who are still healing from it. The movie serves as an opportunity for the audience to understand the way in which these events can be traumatizing.

Many viewers may be unaware of the Guatemalan Civil War. Nuestras Madres gives people the opportunity to find out how a war that is little spoken about can leave a country with disturbing memories and many suffering in silence.

Nuestras Madres  is playing at Cinéma Moderne on 5150 St-Laurent Blvd. The next viewing will be on Oct. 3. Tickets are available online


The Broken Hearts Gallery: The art of holding on (and letting go)

The Concordian staff discuss what items they’d include in the Broken Hearts Gallery

Lucy is, to be quite frank, a hoarder. Every imaginable surface of her room is covered with a bauble or an ornament. She sees everything as a piece of art: her bookshelf is lined with trinkets — so much so that you cannot really see her books — and a selection of random items are taped and pinned to her walls. These items, however, are not as random as they may seem upon first glance. They all have one thing in common: each item is a souvenir from a past relationship.

I guess you could say Lucy has some trouble letting go.

Directed by Natalie Krinsky, The Broken Hearts Gallery follows a New York City gallery assistant, Lucy Gulliver (Geraldine Viswanathan), as she curates an exhibition consisting exclusively of mementos, souvenirs, and knick knacks from past relationships.

While by no means a cinematographic masterpiece, and despite its ending being obvious within the first 15 minutes of the movie, it’s predictability lent itself to being a somewhat comforting, feel-good film — in the same way that most cheesy rom-coms are.

That being said, its exaggerated attempt at creating a romantically-inclined protagonist, alongside the incredibly loose and ill-defined use of the word “relationship,” led many questions to cross my mind throughout the duration of the film.

Among them, how is Lucy able to fill her room with mementos from all the people she has dated? And why is she heartbroken after seeing someone for a little over a month? Ultimately, leading my cynical self to think: No wonder she is miserable and if she is always that devastated after only a few weeks … maybe she shouldn’t be dating.

Despite these shortcomings, the film did yield many relatable moments which offered opportunities for a good laugh. Subsequently, this made me forget the apathetic questions I’d been asking myself throughout its duration, and the irritation I often felt towards Lucy’s overt optimism.

One question, however, did remain at the back of my mind: What item would I include in the Broken Hearts Gallery?

Here is The Concordian staff’s very own Broken Hearts Gallery:

Lorenza Mezzapelle, Arts Editor

I only have one item remaining from past relationships: a stuffed toy duck. My two dogs use it as a toy now. Do with that information what you will. Depending on how loosely we are applying the term “relationship,” I have a roll of unused black and white film that was gifted to me over a year ago… it’s probably expired. I guess the toy duck is what I’d exhibit, chew marks, drool, and all.

Elyette Levy, Assistant Commentary Editor

Maybe the matching phone case I got us on a whim one day. We were both very spontaneous people, and I think that’s a bit what that represents to me: having fun by doing things on impulse. I also really like to tell people I got it for $8 at Lionel-Groulx metro.

Chloë Lalonde, Creative Director

I’ve been in a relationship for the past seven years. But from before that, I’m pretty sure I have a stuffed Spider-Man somewhere in my parents house (too iconic to get rid of). And if deep, ex-friendships count, I have a pink flowery mug and a little wooden tray that goes along with it, which still hurts to look at. There used to be a spoon and a little teapot-shaped infuser, but the spoon broke and I lost the infuser. That would be what I’d exhibit, I think.

Michelle Lam, Social Media Manager

My partner and I recently separated. For my birthday last year, he gave me a necklace that I’ve been wearing ever since. Maybe one day, if I have it in my heart to take it off, I will include it in the Broken Hearts Gallery.

Hadassah Alencar, News Editor

I’ve been with my partner now for 10 years, married for eight of those years, so I really had to dig around my house to find something for this gallery. After all my Marie Kondoing last year the only memorabilia I can find is a hard cover, comic book version of The Little Prince, given to me by an ex in the beginning of a relationship that just wasn’t meant to be.

Christine Beaudoin, Photo Editor

I’ve been in a relationship for the past three years. Before that, I spent several years as a single lady. During that time, I moved a lot, so all I have left from my past relationships are Facebook photos taken with Mac’s photo booth application. Applying rainbow-coloured filters, we made weird faces and kissed in front of the screen. For this gallery, I think I would have one of those printed and framed.

Lillian Roy, Editor-in-Chief 

I have a USB-key full of pictures from my first serious relationship that I couldn’t bring myself to permanently delete. While I could care less about looking through it now, I hope to stumble upon it one day as an old lady. I’ll spend a lovely afternoon getting tipsy and looking back on old memories.

Rose-Marie Dion, Graphics Editor

Last semester, I was in Melbourne, Australia for a student exchange and sadly had to come back earlier than expected due to the current situation. While I was over there, I went on a date to see a movie at this cute movie theater down the street from where I was living. I kept the movie ticket and put it in my travel journal. Everytime I see it, the first thing that comes to my mind is: aahh, what could have been.

Maggie Morris, Head Copy Editor

I ended a three-year-long relationship a couple years ago when I went back home to Ottawa for Christmas. When I got back to my apartment in Montreal a month later, I got wine drunk and took down all the photos I had framed and hung around my apartment of the two of us. I couldn’t bring myself to throw them out, and wanted to keep the memories (just, not on display to look at every day) so I bought a pretty box and filled it with the photos. I keep it on a bookshelf; there if I ever need to reminisce.


I’m Thinking of Ending Things: A bizarre time-bending ride disguised as a break-up movie

Charlie Kaufman’s Netflix Original is odd, complex, and thoughtful — in the weirdest way possible

Charlie Kaufman doesn’t want to spoon-feed us. If you’ve seen Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Being John Malkovich, or Adaptation, then you know that most of his films are open to different interpretations. If you haven’t seen any of these, then you’ll maybe be weirded out (or turned off) by the director’s newest Netflix movie, I’m Thinking of Ending Things.

Kaufman’s latest work, an adaptation of Canadian author Iain Reid’s novel of the same name, is a puzzling one to review. I don’t want to dive into deep plot details because that would pretty much ruin most of the enjoyment that comes from his off-kilter storytelling, but essentially, the movie is about a nameless young woman (Jessie Buckley) who’s been thinking about — you guessed it — ending things with her boyfriend Jake (Jesse Plemons). Before committing to this decision, the couple decides to go visit Jake’s parents, in the middle of nowhere, during a blizzard. From here, the only thing I can say that won’t spoil anything is that it gets weird.

I’m Thinking of Ending Things then takes a turn as the movie diverges from its more-or-less linear story and jumps from scene to scene, forward and backward in time, detailing key moments in both the young woman and Jake’s lives. At times, the main story branches out in so many different directions, it becomes difficult to figure out what’s real and what isn’t.

There’s no one true answer as to what happens in the movie. It’s important to keep in mind that you really should be paying attention to what each character says. Sometimes, a keyword from dialogue earlier in the film will be an essential piece in understanding moments that happen later. I’m Thinking of Ending Things demands to be rewatched. Kaufman’s storytelling is so open-ended that it begs the viewer to come up with their own interpretation — a task that may not be viable to complete upon a single viewing.

Every character in this otherwise small cast is fully fleshed out. You could not cast a more awkward couple than Jesse Plemons and Jessie Buckley. Both were fully invested in the oddities of their characters, such as the bleak intensity of the young woman’s recital of a rather morbid poem to Jake on the way to his parents’ house.  Jake’s parents, played by the wonderful Toni Collette (Hereditary, Knives Out) and the absolutely creepy David Thewlis (Big Mouth, Fargo), elevate the movie to surreal heights. The main cast feels at home in Kaufman’s film, but they aren’t weird for the sake of being weird. Every line of dialogue is essential, perhaps not to the story, but to the character development and overall understanding of the film.

I’m Thinking of Ending Things is yet another winning entry in Charlie Kaufman’s labyrinthine filmography. It requires patience, deep observation, and critical thinking, but at no point is it a slog or boring, despite its hefty length. The good thing is, it’s a Netflix original, perhaps the best platform for a movie like this to exist since it allows the viewer to watch the movie over again and pause it at critical moments to reflect on scenes they wouldn’t have thought about upon their first viewing.

There are multiple moments in Kaufman’s movie that call back single lines of dialogue mentioned earlier in the film. Some of which might be apparent, others, less so. All these idiosyncrasies are precisely what makes Charlie Kaufman a standout director.

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