Tag Archives: movies

Vancouver International Film Festival

VIFF on Granville
The Vancouver International Film Festival is on. There are lots of great films to see – many of which you’ll never be able to see again. So it’s a great opportunity to see some unique and amazing movies.

We’ve already seen:
Flower Power Comes Full Circle – an interesting documentary about hippies in Eastern Washington. It was about 15 minutes too long, but fascinating.
Leave Them Laughing – an inspiring story of a woman who deals with ALS with a wicked sense of humour. I often use humour to deal with troubling situations, but I can’t imagine having to deal with a fatal illness.

In the coming weeks we’ll be watching:
Tamara Drewe – British chick-flick
Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie – my personal hero
City of Life – life in Dubai is unreal
The 4th Revolution – Energy Autonomy – solutions for a green future
and a maybe a few more

Auditory Pain

Thursday night, while most people were watching either the Canadian Leaders Debate or the American Vice-Presidential debate, I was watching a film featuring a cacophony of annoying noises and a disturbingly graphic scene of a sheep birth. Tulpan is an antithesis to Borat, a movie about the life of a big-eared, hapless nomadic sheep herder in Kazakhstan. It was interesting, but my ears took a beating. Most of the movie’s soundtrack was a mix of sheep and camel noises, children screaming, and the wind whipping across the Kazakh steppe.

After the movie, I had to listen to soothing music for a while to recover, but soon decided to risk further damage by watching the Canadian Leaders debate (posted in amazing quality on CBC’s website).

I really enjoyed the format they used this year. The moderator did a good job of ensuring only one person was talking, and gave everyone time to respond. I thought Layton and May were the best debaters, although they were my favourites going in, so I’m sure confirmation bias is playing a part in that opinion.

Jack Layton – Definitely had the best zingers of the night. His sweater comment to Harper was hilarious. And he really hammered Dion about being an ineffectual opposition leader. He had some good arguments and looked his best when he was agreeing with May or Duceppe about points they made.

Elizabeth May – I thought May had the best factual arguments. She did a great job picking apart Harper about the environment and his time as president of the National Citizens Coalition. I think she convinced people that she’s knowledgeable about more then just the environment. She earns my respect for bringing up proportional representation and the the fact that Afghanistan is monopolizing foreign aid, something that Harper tried to claim was positive. I’m kind of surprised how far to the left the Green party has moved under May’s leadership. They used to be more conservative and free market, but now they seem much closer to the NDP – with May talking about nationalizing private clinics and helping out struggling pulp and paper mills.

Stephen Dion – He did ok, but didn’t have the same punch that Layton and May had attacking Harper. He didn’t have any memorable comments and was often sidelined by Layton or May in their attacks on Harper. Commentators said his English was better then usual, but there were still numerous times where I had no idea what he was talking about.

Stephen Harper – He was wailed on by all the other leaders, but managed to hold his ground, which was impressive. He got hammered for not releasing a platform yet, and really had no response. His lies about trying to help the environment were annoying, but the other leader’s made sure he didn’t get away with it. The only response of his I liked was when he said the manufacturing jobs that were lost are gone for good and we need to look at replacing them with jobs in the other sectors.

Gilles Duceppe – He was my favourite debater last election, but I don’t think he did that well this time. He had a few good points, but for the most part was irrelevant and only whined about Quebec.

For anyone interested in how the election is going so far, my favourite political site, democraticSPACE runs a seat prediction model based on the latest polls. I think polls are often inaccurate (no one with cellphones are ever called), but the model is still interesting. Current standings are:
Cons: 141 (155 need for a majority)
Libs: 81
NDP: 37 (including one in Alberta!)
Bloc: 47
Green: 0

Canadian Top Ten Shorts 2007

Pacific Cinamatheque is showing the best Canadian films of 2007 this month, and last night we checked out the Top Ten Shorts. They were all amazing (well, except for POOL which was really bad, especially when compared to the rest).

I hope you get a chance to see some of these. They really are amazing.

I found trailers for some of the videos:

Month in Recap

Lots has been happening in the past few weeks. Emily and I spent a day on Bowen Island. We also found time to check out a play, watch an anti-Olympics movie, go to the ballet, and rock out at the Pipettes concert. We also spent a weekend building Emily a custom bed in her new place. I need Emily’s permission to post most of the pictures, but I’ve put some of the ones of me and nature up on Flickr.

Bowen Island was awesome. It’s a little island about a 10 minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay (which took as an hour to get to on transit). We hiked around for a bit, saw tons of snakes and a deer, and then spent a few hour kayaking around the island. We saw a bald eagle swoop down and pick up a fish not that far from our kayak, which was pretty cool.

The play, The One that Got Away, was this crazy unconventional musical and most of it took place in a dimly lit swimming pool. We had front row seats for most of it – which meant we sat on flutter boards on the edge of the pool and got splashed every time something exciting happened.

The ballet was modern performance called La La La Human Steps. It was really good but I’m ashamed to admit I got myself nodding off for most of it. I blame it on the dark lighting and the classical music, which always puts me to sleep, because I really enjoyed the dancing.

The Pipettes concert was weird. I enjoyed the music, but I’ve never seen a crowd pretend to enjoy themselves. Between songs they would cheer loudly, but during the songs everyone stood still even though the Pipettes were trying to to get people to dance. I’ve heard the complaint about Vancouver before that all the hipsters rock out standing still with their hands in their pockets, but it was weird to witness. You know there’s a problem if I’m dancing more than anyone else around me.

Finished ProductWhat else…oh the bed. My father is now the proud parent of one cordless drill wielding, wood cutting, bed building son. Emily’s room in her new place had an awkward ledge that’s part of the foundation. So we designed a bed to fit on top of it. We bought all the wood from Home Depot (who will cut your wood to the right lengths – super handy for us!) and assembled it with my new, fancy cordless drill. I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out.
Added new pictures:
Emily at Work  Man at work  Something Sexy about Girls with Power Tools  Going Under

Cambie Street Mayham

Canada Line construction Cambie St at 48th Vancouver BC 2006_1026_1259Emily and I had a dinner and movie date tonight. I wanted to see Once, but it was only playing at the Park Theatre on Cambie. No problem, that’s only a short bike ride from work and even though Cambie Street is a war zone with all the Canada Line construction, I thought it should be easy enough to get there. And it was, but I wasn’t prepared for the sight that awaited me.

Along with the movie, I was hoping to eat at Tomato Fresh Food Cafe, just up the street from the restaurant. But I noticed on there website they had moved. No problem, Om Vegetarian Restaurant was also right next door, and I can’t pass up a good vegetarian restaurant. But when we arrived we were greeted by a “Sorry Closed” and a “For Lease” sign. And it was the same up and down Cambie. I couldn’t believe the number of restaurants that were closed. We finally found a restaurant that was open – the Don Don Noodle Cafe, but even they had a sign informing patrons that they too were closing in 2 weeks. Then just before our food arrived the power went out (probably construction related) and we had to eat in the dark. Kudos the the staff or battling through and cooking meals by flashlight.

I was a bit surprised by the state of Cambie street. I knew the construction was bad, but I didn’t realize so many businesses were closing because of it. I found the carnage even more surprising because I had just read an article about the NDP trying to get support for small business owners on Cambie, but Mr. Kevin Falcon, god forgive his black soul,

denied there are fewer businesses open now than there were before construction began in late 2005. “There’s no difference in the number of empty businesses that there were before this project started and today. It hasn’t changed by one.”

Has he even walked down Cambie Street? How could he make such a statement? The Globe and Mail has an article about the affect on businesses and how many have closed already.

It’s too bad too, because once the Canada Line is complete, Cambie street will be a great location for many businesses. But for small businesses that rent their space, it makes no sense to slug it out for the next 2 years of construction. Especially when afterwards they can probably expect rent increases. I’m not sure that much can be done to help the businesses on Cambie – the NDP proposal is a bit lame.

Oh, the movie – Once, was excellent. It’s a modern rock musical and love story, although it didn’t seem like a musical. The music was great, the characters were genuine, and the story really sticks with you. A romantic movie without any of the cheese.

Photo by Stephen Rees.

You Never Bike Alone

For pedestrians and cars moving in the other direction, it’s a marvel of creativity and wonder. For people stuck in their cars behind it, it’s a frustratingly slow moving monster made of hippies, punks, and no-good beatniks. For me, it’s a monthly liberation. Biking up up and down streets, no cars around you, your peers in crazy costumes, and the sound of honking urging you on.

Of course, I’m talking about Critical Mass. I went to Critical Mass on Friday. It was a good ride, about 200 cyclists. I had one irate motorist curse and swear at me, but most people were happy to see us. I’m really looking forward to the rides this summer when there’s many thousands of cyclists.

On Saturday, I saw a documentary about Critical Mass in Vancouver called You Never Bike Alone. It was amazing. Most of the movie was about Critical Mass and biking culture in Vancouver in general. There were some cool bits about the history of the mass and the progress that has been made with more bike lanes and better access to the bridges. There were also some great bits about pimped out chopper bikes (I want one!) and various cycling groups in Vancouver.

But the most relevant part was the future challenges and the Gateway Project in particular. $4.5 billion to expand highways in the Lower Mainland. Can you image how amazing the public transit and bike paths could be here if they spent that much money on public transit? Wow! We’d be the talk of the world, but with more freeways we’ll just be another Los Angeles or Toronto. And ask Toronto how well expanding highways works to relieve congestion. You add more lanes and more cars will just fill them up – I’ve seen the 401 in gridlock even with 16 lanes. Now, add another Skytrain route and now we’re talking. The alternative solutions are pretty clear.

You Never Bike Alone - Vancouver's Critical Masses
You Never Bike Alone – Trailer

Carbon Neutral Living

Early Morning Glory over LondonGlobal Warming is happening and we are the cause. I didn’t need to see Al Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth, to learn that. But it did help give me some ammo to beat down anyone who might disagree.

Strangely ecodude(Dylan) already posted about this today, but I was planning on doing it for a few days. We must have both watched the movie recently. Odd.

The conclusions in the movie were scary but there is hope. I hope enough people see it and realize how serious the threat is. I hope people start changing their habits. More importantly, I hope they push our government to do something about it. Leadership needs to come from the top, especially on this.

I was thinking of what I could do to help. I already bike to work. We barely heat our apartment. I replaced the old light bulbs with low-power compact fluorescents. I vote NDP. I don’t eat meat or much dairy. I buy local or organic groceries whenever I can. So far, so good. But I fly a lot, which eats a lot of gas and pumps out tonnes of CO2.

But I think I may have found a partial solution. Offsetters is a Canadian website that allows you to buy carbon dioxide credits. My return flight from Vancouver to Winnipeg was responsible for 0.414 tonnes of C02, so right now I’m purchasing $7.80 in carbon credits. The money serves two important purposes: easing my guilt and funding several projects like restoring a rainforest in Uganda and installing efficient lighting in households in South Africa. Westjet has even partnered with Offsetters to make it easier to figure out how much carbon you need to offset on each flight. Very cool.

Emily, your flight from Accra to Vancouver (and all 1.7 tonnes of C02) is covered now too. So, you can fly here guilt free now. 🙂