Scenes from a film festival

September 28, 2009

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Director Dilip Mehta, actor Don McKellar and programmer Tony King at the Q&A following the opening night gala Cooking With Stella.

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Torn between attending the afterparty or seeing Not Quite Hollywood, a documentary about “Ozploitation” movies (Australian exploitation movies of the 70s, like the Mad Max films), I was swayed by the lure of free Indian food and the sponsors’ wine, beer and Irish whiskey…

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…not to mention the opportunity to meet and chat with triple threat Canandian film icon Don McKellar (actor/screenwriter/director, and now a Tony award winner to boot).

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Ukulele cover band The Be Arthurs.

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The Empire Theatres complex has been renovated since last year’s festival. The lobby area is a bit monochrome and subdued but sure beats the old 80’s brass and glass shopping mall ambience it used to have.

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The auditoriums have been converted to stadium seating with great sightlines and comfy new seats…

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…with lots of legroom.

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The absolutely spotless washrooms look like they could be aboard Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 orbiting space station.

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The appropriately named hand dryers sound like jet aircraft taking off, especially when several of them are going at once.

So after 3 days I’ve seen 6 features and a program of short films – and I’m reviewing a bathroom.

Summer Holiday

August 18, 2008

I got back from vacation a few days ago. Me and my buddy Gary made a quick trip down to Seattle to celebrate International Tiki Day with friends. I’ve documented the tiki aspects of this trip elsewhere on the internets – I’m only going to blog about other stuff here.

We really liked this moose sculpture made from horseshoes. In northern Idaho somewhere – I forget where exactly.

At Mary Lou’s Milk Bottle in Spokane they make insanely fabulous milkshakes.

I really need to add this to my Big World website.

More Spokane funkiness. The Garland Theatre – “Tops in Shows”

Thunderbird Motel in Ellensburg WA.

Americans like biscuits and “gravy” for breakfast.

Booze is cheap in the States. Air? Not so much.

Returning through Spokane: Downtown has many beautiful historic buildings and a lot of them are being refurbished.

The newly restored Fox Theatre, a former Art Deco movie palace, is impressive. Too bad the box office person wouldn’t let us poke around inside.

Spokane again. Frank’s Diner in a beautifully restored presidential rail car.

This was creepy.

The food was nothing special – canned corn, chicken fried chicken, more of that pasty white gravy.

My favorite roadside building on this trip was this “barber ship” in Bonner’s Ferry, Idaho.

Darling, isn’t it?

Some of the thrift stores I stopped at along the way.

My favorite thrift find, in Cranbrook BC: A Trader Vic’s of Hawaii seahorse mug for a buck (been looking for one of these babies for awhile).

The Dollar Show

March 12, 2008

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I went to a movie today with my friend Gaenor – except that she calls it going to “the show.” We went to “the dollar show” which is her name for Movies 12 (it used to cost a dollar at one time – now it’s a whopping $3.50 to see a second run movie).

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Gaenor loves the dollar show. It reminds her of ’70s/’80s New Wave style (per Wikipedia: “a desire to embrace contemporary synthetic materials as a protest and celebration of plastic. This involved the use of spandex, bright colors (such as fluorescents), and mass-produced, tawdry jewelry and ornaments, typified by the dayglo aesthetic of the band X-Ray Spex. As a fashion movement, then, New Wave was both a post-modern belief in creative pastiche and a continuation of Pop Art’s satire and fascination with manufacturing.)

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It just makes me want to poke my eyes out.

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I’m pretty sure Gaenor would be thrilled to have her birthday in the party room at the dollar show.

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The movie we saw was Persepolis, which I adored. It was almost worth the irreversible retinal damage.

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The only crime here is the decor.

Red Deer, AB

July 17, 2007

movie marquee, red deer alberta

knocked up nightly

Paramount Importance

May 6, 2007

Paramount Theatre

I’m totally bummed by the news that a Calgary developer (Procura Real Estate Services) wants to demolish Edmonton’s Paramount Theatre to build a 40 storey office/condo building. The Paramount opened in 1952 as the flagship of the Famous Players cinema chain in Edmonton. It played all the big blockbuster films until it closed as a movie theatre in 2003, a victim of suburban multiplexes and home video. Since then, it had a brief life as a “multipurpose arts facility” and is currently a church.

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The building is a prime example of the Modern style of architecture and embodies mid-century cool in its sleek, sophisticated lines (this article from a real estate newspaper has a nice appreciation of the building). If it’s torn down, Edmonton will lose an important piece of its architectural history and another chunk of its soul! Procura president George Schleussel doesn’t agree, of course. “I did not see any historical importance to what is there,” Schleussel told the Edmonton Journal, “I think the downtown needs modern, good quality retail storefronts.”

I agree that Jasper Avenue needs more storefront action to revive the cold, cold corpse of downtown. I’m always struck by how much street life downtown used to have in old photos. It changed in the 1970s during an oil-fueled economic boom eerily similar to what we’re experiencing today. In a frenzy of con(de)struction, most of the human-scaled buildings were razed to erect highrise towers that have no engagement with life at street level.

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I’m dubious that the building proposed will be the saviour of downtown. It’s more likely to be another undistinguished, life-sucking monolith like the IPL tower to the immediate east (left in the picture above), which took out the historic Strand Theatre.

Paramount Theatre

I have many movie-going memories of the Paramount, but I’ll only offer this one: cutting class with some high school buddies to go to the first screening of The Exorcist in 1973. It was pretty heady stuff – the place was packed, we were underage and worried we’d be busted before we could get in, and there was so much buzz about the movie (people barfing, passing out, speaking in tongues) that we feared for our very souls, sanity and life. As it turns out, we didn’t have to worry about demonic possession – the crowd was so giddy and noisy (quieting down only to watch Linda Blair spew pea-soup vomit) that we could barely hear the film.

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