I’ve been running on overdrive the last couple of weeks, preparing for a big move, writing papers, and knitting up a storm. Today’s the first day of the All-Handmade Craft Sale that you should come check out. Items in the photo may or may not be available for purchase.
Also, today marks the arrival of Breaking Dawn, Part 1, that probably none of you should go check out, but feel free to admit it if you do.
And finally, if you didn’t get a chance to check out TGS’s fantastic two-month campaign yesterday, you should most definitely check that out.
I’ve had a rough go at attending VIFF over the last three years.
Year one was a seizure inducing, nearly-unwatchable art film about the loss of nature. Year two was a hodgepodge of short films ranging from brilliant and depressing to downright amateur. Year three was a tragic Spanish film that refused to give the audience anything to hope for.
So when fellow TGSer Linette asked me if I wanted to go see something last week at VIFF, I was a little hesitant. “Have a look at the list and let me know if you find anything interesting,” I said, admittedly half-committal. But when she emailed me with a short list that included The Artist, a silent film that made waves at Cannes, I had to say yes. I was so intrigued by the trailer that I’d put it on my short list of films to see this fall.
The show was sold out, but there was a chance rush tickets would be available. So we waited in line an hour before the show in the fall chill, holding on to hope that some tickets would be released just before the show.
We were in luck. We missed the first five minutes, and were given the worst seats in the house– two in the front row that caused neck cramps and discomfort through, but it didn’t matter. The film was pure delight. An artful crowd-pleaser that was both a tribute and a renewal of the silent film genre. The Artist is set to hit theatres again on November 23rd, and it’s one of those rare films that I am proud to recommend to anyone and everyone.
Tiff’s little, more modest sister. Launching this week, the theatres are your oyster with more than 350 films for the pickin’. I have tickets for Sarah Polley’s second feature Take This Waltz. Polley’s directorial hand and Michelle Williams’ nuanced style of character development seem like a match made in heaven. Also on my list is to see Elizabeth Olsen (of yes, the Olsen clan. But also the next Maggie Gyllenhaal) in Sean Durkin’s Martha Marcy May Marlene. I have high recommendations that this is a must-see. Bring courage, this tale of shedding the emotional scars of a sinister cult will prove to be challenging. Have any of you begun to navigate through the hefty guide? Suggestions, hot picks? Do tell.
What can you do with a square sheet of paper? Do you remember making paper cranes and airplanes in elementary school? I do, and they looked nothing like this:
Flying Crane, opus 563 by Robert J Lang
This week I sat down to watch a documentary that’s been calling my name ever since I wandered across it on Netflix. Between the Folds by Vanessa Gould takes a close look at the art of origami, or paper-folding. Of course, this is a film that appeals quite naturally to those of us who consider ourselves to fall on the more ‘artistic’ side of living. But the first thing you’ll notice when you press play, besides the Philip Glass-like score by Gil Talmi, is that this movie is full of computer geeks and brilliant mathematicians. Dr. Erik Demaine, for example, can’t be more than in his mid-twenties, and is the youngest professor ever to be hired at MIT. He’s also the world’s leading origami theorist.
At a mere 55 minutes long, Between the Folds is a worthwhile perusal for you this weekend. Download some paper-folding diagrams, sit back with a glass of wine and put away the scissors and tape. Make something beautiful from a square today.
Fall is my least favourite season. This comes as a shock to most of my friends, but I just think it’s wet and miserable. But it has its consolations. For one, great movies. The summer fluff is gone, and in its place the movie gods give us some serious shit. Here are the five films that I’m most looking forward to:
Contagion, Sept 9
Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, The Informant!) gathers a stacked cast (Matt Damon, Kate Winslet and Marion Cotillard to name a few) into his thriller about the world fallen mercy to a deadly virus.
Drive, Sept 16
Ryan Gosling seems to be snatching up every compelling role he can get his hands on, including this action/art flick with Carey Mulligan by director Nicholas Winding Refn (who nabbed the prize for best director at Cannes).
The Artist, Nov 23
I’ve never seen a silent film before, but this one looks incredible and has me intrigued.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Dec 9
Based on the John Le Carre novel, this Cold War era spy thriller features Gary Oldman, Colin Firth and Tom Hardy.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Dec 21
Last year, The Social Network delivered on the most intriguing trailer of the year. Let’s hope David Fincher can repeat the feat with his adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s novel.
On Saturday, the first summer day in Vancouver in a fortnight, Lauren and I did what some might call unconventional, foolhardy, hell, even crazy: we spent the afternoon in a dark cool movie theatre. We had been trying to see The Tree of Life for over a month, and we finally had an afternoon free to do so, so we jumped at the chance. And before you say this is a waste of a beautiful Saturday afternoon, I assure you that the beauty we beheld in that 2.5 hour viewing matches or surpasses anything we might have seen outdoors.
The Tree of Life is like nothing I have ever seen. I highly recommend it, but to properly enjoy it you must approach it with the proper expectations: this is not a normal narrative, linear film. It’s a Terrence Malick masterpiece. One part poem, one part prayer, one part spiritual reflection, and another Planet Earth. Its pace is its own: patient, some might say crawling, but the film has a way of building upon itself so that its ideas are meditative. There are long tangents, lots of space without dialogue, perhaps too many static shots of boys staring just off screen, but I take it all for its overarching and nearly overwhelming beauty.
It’s blessed by some wonderful performances. The three boys are convincing throughout, and Brad Pitt is as stern and as masculine as he’s ever been. Some have called it the performance of his career, and I wouldn’t argue. Jessica Chastain balances Pitt’s dominant presence with a contrasting grace and elegance. Sean Penn, admittedly, doesn’t do much, but he doesn’t need to, the film lifts its characters on high. At one point Chastain’s character is seen dancing on air.
Matinée decisions. The copy of The Runaways is cracked in half (is it time to give up on Zip? That postal strike hurt). Hanna is still playing at the repertory and we have free tickets, but maybe I am just drawn by the VFS connection and not the storyline. My co-workers want me to go see Crazy Stupid Love (no arm-twisting required). In the end the clouds blow over and we forgo a movie. It’s apparently summer after all.
But I wonder, am I limiting my choices by not reaching for the classics in this movie muddle? A self-proclaimed film buff who doesn’t know the classics. Terrible! I still recall a friend taking me to a screening of All About Eve at the Art Gallery of Ontario’s theatre and the horrified look on his face when he discovered I wasn’t learned on the subject of Bette Davis. Shameful. So folks, tell me…what should I be catching-up on? What should I be adding to my library holds?
Daniel Dale Johnston is a genius. He’s not the flashiest pop star you’ve ever seen but he’s got a lot of great things to say, and he’s a genius. Mostly his music (and his art) is about unrequited love, unappreciated undertakings, and unsuccessful living generally. I like that kind of thing, and probably all of us do, but today I want to be a little more upbeat than that. True love will find you, but it’ll make you work for it.
Here’s Daniel Dale Johnston reminding us that life is hard, and sad, and lonely, but that true love will find us if we just hang in there:
I’ll give you a second to think about how great that was.
It’s worth noting that a lot of Daniel’s art and music is about his loneliness, his struggle with Manic Depression, and his one true love – who married some other guy. With that in mind lets move along to some of his encouragement to stay positive and start each day with a little hope:
If you’ve got the time I highly recommend watching a documentary about his life and creative endeavors called The Devil And Daniel Johnston. You can invite me over for that if you want.
Otherwise, if you’re a busy little beaver, and don’t have time for documentaries you can watch this montage of home movies. That’s film he shot as a teenager set to “Story of an Artist” which is also by Daniel Johnston and is also a great and encouraging song – especially if you’re an artist, and feel like a failure sometimes.
In today’s world, when you travel, you don’t just leave your first life behind for the second. It’s constantly alongside of you, brushing up against you in a crowd of tourists within which you see someone else with the same umbrella you left at home (and wish you hadn’t), or when you watch a dad buy his daughter a red frosty-cup on a far-too-hot day next to the Thames—and you start to wonder how your niece’s fifth birthday party is going today, back home in Canada. I iTouch my way through this beautiful wander through England, both grateful for the moments where unknown becomes known, and the moments in which the already-known breaks through and says “hello.”
I like this film by JW Griffiths, shared with me by my dear Hannah. In the UK, instead of saying “What’s up?” folks say “Y’alright?” I like it, too. Although I’m expected to spill as my response everything new that’s just gone on under the ever-fluctuating London sky, I just sorta feel like saying, “Yeah. I am, thanks.” This film makes me believe that despite our differences, we can usually somehow meet in the middle and speak the same language, that we’re waiting for someone to ask, just so that we can say, “Yeah. Thanks.”
Finally, (and because last week’s post was slim, as might be next week’s while I dilly-dally in Scotland), one more thought on travelling that I tapped out on an email to someone close, and still sorta liked the next morning, even after the champagne had worn off:
We sometimes have such strange reminders that we are alone and seeking something unforeseen. We can regret the moves along the way but we should never regret the desire to make the journey. That is often all we have left at the end of the day: the desire. And it is enough, I think. It is enough.
Knowing that I’ve got cool and loving people on either side of the sea is what makes this split-frame Saturday a happy one.
Ok, I know this is not exactly a new development, but has Hollywood run out of ideas? This summer’s lineup of films is a paltry rehashing of old movies, sequels, and a slew of new comic book adaptations. I’m not entirely opposed to some repetition; I’ll admit I just saw the new X-men, and am excited for Super 8, yet another alien movie. But last year we at least had the originality of Inception and the surprise hit, The Hangover (which of course was re-purposed in Bangkok and called The Hangover II). This year the box office doesn’t look so bright. I’ll stop before this becomes a rant.
As a remedy to this lack of inspiration, I’m offering you my list of indie films I’m excited about this summer, in order of appearance:
Beginners, June 3rd
Is it just me, or does Christopher Plummer seem to be in the prime of his career? He’s everywhere these days, and looks to deliver another charismatic performance. Filling out the bill are Ewan McGregor and Melanie: “The year’s most appealing screen couple, their scenes together so realistic they seem improvised.”
The Tree of Life, June 17th
Director Terrence Malick’s fifth film in 30 years won the Palme d’Or at Cannes a few weeks ago, and contains what some have called the best performance in Brad Pitt’s career.
General Orders No. 9, June 24 (Limited)
The culmination of over eleven years’ work from first time writer-director Bob Persons, this contemplative documentary of the loss of nature looks truly stunning.
The Future, July 29th (Limited)
Writer, director, artist, and all around good person Miranda July is known for creating thought-provoking, heartwarming, and sometimes mildly creepy works of art. Her second film, The Future, was an audience favourite at Sundance this year.