Saturday, July 28, 2012

Manifesting in Montreal / Dark Knight Rises Review

The 'Red Squares' of Montreal's student movement take over Rue Berri on the afternoon of July 22, 2012

As we enter the middle of summer, events take a new direction here in Montreal. The students of Montreal's 'Maple Spring' continue to manifest, but not with the frequency they did of a few months ago. I took part in the last major demonstration, which was on Sunday, July 22. Several hundred Montrealers and students, if not close to a thousand, marched from Place Emilie Gamelin, north on the Rue Berri, and on before dispersing late in the afternoon.

The students are protesting tuition hikes proposed by Premier Jean Charest's Liberal government. Their battle with the province has been going on for months now - since March 22. The 22nd of the month has since become a date of significance for the protesters, who are markedly tamer than they were during the first two months of their strike.

"We think it's important to remind the Charest government the crisis is not over, and we'll continue to be in the streets, because we are still against the tuition hike and this is still our fight," said CLASSE interim spokesperson Hugo Bonin.

At least one leader of the student movement is running in an anticipated provincial election in this province. 20-year-old Leo Bureau-Blouin is running for the Parti Quebecois. He announced his candidacy this week, his red square, the mark of the student movement, was noticeably absent. 

Premier Jean Charest said Bureau-Blouin's candidacy, "consummates the marriage between the PQ and the student movement.” The campaign may end up forming around the social unrest that has gripped Quebec in recent months. Student leaders and other members of the movement have expanded the issue beyond raising tuition to make it a social justice movement.

The governing Liberals will likely make this a ballot question, drawing a line in the sand between themselves and the Parti Quebecois. For a time PQ leader Pauline Marois was seen wearing the red square in the National Assembly. The Liberals have already run a commercial that shows Marois marching in a protest banging pot lids, or as the marches are known here, manifs casseroles.

It will be interesting to see how the children of the Quebec Spring play their role in election season.


The Dark Knight Rises

This will be the last movie review in my blog for awhile. It's not that I don't enjoy movies anymore, I do. But I want to move my blog in a different direction. It will be an account of my life in, and involvement with, Quebec. Anxious Urbanite has served its purpose as a space for reviews and armchair analysis, and will now evolve with its creator.

That said, The Dark Knight Rises demands a review, as it was the only other 'must watch' movie on my list this summer besides Cosmopolis.

The Dark Knight Rises is a brutal, punishing force of a movie. The theme, in a word, is suffering. All of the characters must endure it in one form or another. For Bane, the villain, it's the mask he wears as a result of having his face mutilated in childhood. For the Batman (Bruce Wayne) the punishment is physical. 

"You do not fear death," Bane says to Batman before beating him senseless. It's one of the more difficult scenes to watch. Even more difficult is Bruce Wayne's recovery in the prison from which he must escape. Director Christopher Nolan really pushes the physical agony and torment of the place on you. All the better so you root for the hero when he overcomes. As the prisoners chant toward the ending, "Rise! Rise!" 

There are so many characters here, but to his credit Nolan holds them all together and keeps the plot moving at a fast pace. Never once was I at a loss for what was going on, even when Nolan throws new characters into the mix.

Being a writer I should advise you The Dark Knight Rises is worth seeing for the dialogue alone. Nobody can write (and pull off) highbrow comic book character dialogue like Nolan and his brother Jonathan. They share writing credits for the movie.

The actors are all exceptional at their craft. Two standouts for me are Joseph Gordon-Levitt as rookie policeman Blake, and Ben Mendelsohn as Daggett, a loathsome board member at Wayne Enterprises. Just as impressive as Tom Hardy's Bane, except Daggett is less worthy of your sympathy. He's a cartoonish exaggeration of corporate villainy, and he plays it beautifully. 

And that's a wrap, folks.  

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