Cooking with Wine

April 28, 2011

An animated film I made in super-8 when I was in high school. Nothing to do with cooking.

A super-8 home movie made by yours truly in 1983 (music added this year). I recommend watching it in full screen (far right button on the control bar at the bottom).

That’s my sister digging up the garden. Her (then) husband is the first victim. Their daughter (my niece) makes her screen debut. She’s meant to be dead at the end but didn’t take direction well. Her older sister was also supposed to be in the film but was busy that day or didn’t want to do it, I forget which.

Okay, the creatures aren’t radioactive and they don’t come from space. Like many a low-budget exploitation film, the lurid title came first and has little to do with the actual content. The film’s title was randomly generated by selecting words from four lists, something like this:

A

Attack
Curse
Invasion
Night
Orgy
Return
Revenge
Valley

followed by “of the”

B

Blood-Sucking
Flesh-Eating
Giant
Hideous
Prehistoric
Radio-Active
Teenage

C

Cave
Hell
Moon
Sea
Space
Swamp

D

Aliens
Creatures
Monsters
Mutants
Robots
Things
Zombies

Using this formula there are 2,352 possible movie titles (8 x 7 x 6 x 7). With ten word in each list, the number increases to 10,000. If I had the programming skills I’d make an internet sci-fi movie title generator – but I don’t. If you do, you’re welcome to use the idea.

Thanks to Vanessa (my niece not in the movie) for having the film digitized. It was my Christmas present this year. She also had an animated film I made in high school digitized (coming soon).

Today for a Victoria Day treat, I went to a matinee with a friend. It was The Trotsky, a movie that doesn’t water-down or explain its Canadian cultural references for an international audience (like dissing Ben Mulroney – right to his face). It was set in Montreal and I wish I could have seen it with my nieces so they could say “yup, that’s what it looks like alright.”

Before the feature, they ran this trailer:

I was excited because 1. I love the nightlife 2. I got to boogie, and 3. last year I heard a fascinating radio documentary (also called Funkytown) about Montreal’s disco days, and thought the subject would make an excellent movie.

It’s a fiction film but apparently based on real Montreal personalities and clubs in the peak years of Montreal’s disco craze to its decline, 1976-1978.

I’m looking forward to this (another movie I’d like to see with my nieces). Hope it doesn’t suck.

Here’s that documentary (get comfy – it’s 54 minutes long).

One Big Week

December 13, 2009

I picked up a pre-enjoyed copy of Michael McGowan’s One Week on DVD a few days ago. It stars Joshua Jackson as a man diagnosed with terminal cancer. He buys a vintage Norton motorbike on a whim and heads west from Toronto, ending up in Tofino (Vancouver Island). I have to say I found the “what would you do if you had one week (one month/one year) to live?” theme less compelling than the “love letter to Canada” aspects of the film. Or maybe I just really liked all the “big” attractions and monuments Jackson’s character visits:

World’s largest Muskoka chair, Gravenhurst, Ontario.

World’s largest fire hydrant, Elm Creek, Manitoba.

World’s largest photo mosaic, Port Carling, Ontario.

Giant nickel, Sudbury, Ontario.

World’s largest Inukshuk, Schomberg, Ontario

Canada Goose, Wawa, Ontario

Terry Fox monument, Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Husky the Muskie, Kenora, Ontario

World’s largest smoking pipe, Saint Claude, Manitoba.

Hockey stick and puck, Duncan, B.C.

World’s largest red paper clip, Kipling, Saskatchewan.

Camel, Glenboro, Manitoba.

World’s largest teepee, Medicine Hat, Alberta.

World’s largest Tyrannosaurus Rex, Drumheller, Alberta.

The filmmakers cheated the geography some, shuffling locales around for their own dramtic purposes – for example, the big hockey stick in Duncan, B.C. is presented as being outside a hockey rink in Manitoba (where Jackson’s character has a dalliance with the Stanley Cup). I think it’s great that this film revels in (and romanticizes) its Canadian settings – something I wish more Canuck films would do.

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I’m overdue for another report from the film festival which ended last weekend.

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Keriann studies her options

One of my favourite parts of the EIFF is the Sobey’s Lunchbox Shorts, held every lunch hour during week.

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MJ rocks the funky specs

For ten bucks you get a 45 minute program of short films from around the world plus lunch provided by the sponsor – perfect for people who work downtown.

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The lunches are awesome – a choice of 5 or 6 really substantial sandwiches, a cookie (turtle was the best) and juice or water. It made me wish they gave out sandwiches before the evening movies too. In fact, now I want a sandwich with every movie I see.

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The films? They were pretty good too. In fact, I’d say there wasn’t a real stinker in the bunch, which is a rare feat. My favourite was called Chili & Cheese: A Condimental Rift. Despite the unpromisingly clunky title it was a lovely little character piece about a former physician turned convience store owner, his employee and a troublesome customer. Nicely detailed, shrewdly observed, with nuanced performances – well done!

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I also enjoyed The Wednesdays, about an elderly couple who take ecstasy to help get them through hump day, Multiple Choice, a comedy with a very effective punchline, and Trolls, which has to do with what 9-year-olds imagine sex is about (something to do with collecting points).

I was less impressed with Gone Fishing, which won the grand jury award for best short film (and awards at other festivals). I though it was overly slick and inauthentically nostalgic, the way tv commercials for anything “old fashioned” are.

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Keriann suffering the zombie-like effects of film festival overload

There, now I’ve reviewed the washrooms and sandwiches at the EIFF. My work as a critic is done.

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.

Bye Bye Blues Blues

September 19, 2009

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Watched Anne Wheeler’s fine Bye Bye Blues in Churchill Square last night. It was an unseasonably warm fall evening, very pleasant for sitting outdoors watching a movie.

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It’s just wrong that this 20 year old film hasn’t had a dvd release. C’mon Canadian producers & distributors, get your shit together. And EIFF get your shit together too – show movies in their proper aspect ratio (end of rant).

My Saturday

April 12, 2009

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Breakfast: pancakes with real maple syrup, sausage, two eggs sunny side up and endless cups of the most wonderful smelling and tasting coffee.

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What the heck? The Emergency Relief thrift store was open on Good Friday but not today?

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The new art gallery under construction. It seems you either hate it or hate it. I think I like it. Right now it looks like something collapsed – this is what it’s supposed to look like when it’s finished:

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webcam

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Bought my ticket to see this dude.

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To the library for cds and dvds

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but my membership had lapsed and I didn’t want to wait in line to renew and risk a parking ticket.

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Made the thrift rounds in the northeast part of town which I don’t get to very often.

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…because it sucks. No thrift finds. I also trolled a couple of Giant Tiger stores I hadn’t been to before for remaindered dvds.

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Score.

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Late lunch at Sunterra market on the south side. Delicious soup (more like a stew) chock full of chicken chunks in spicy coconut milk broth. Then grocery shopping at Spinelli’s for pizza fixin’s.

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Homemade pizza with bocconcini, feta and olives.

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Enjoy your Easter.

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Reasons To Be Cheerful

October 5, 2008

(With apologies to I’m Learning to Share)

This has been a fine week all around.

1. Film Feast

I went to a mess o’ films at the EIFF (Edmonton International Film Festival).

Bruce McDonald (Highway 61, Hard Core Logo) and Stephen McHattie, director and star, respectively, of the cerebral Canadian “vampire” film Pontypool.

Steve “Lips” Kudlow of the Canadian heavy metal band Anvil. Sacha Gervasi’s documentary Anvil! The Story of Anvil was a real charmer. I also liked Man On Wire about Philip Petit’s guerrilla highwire walk between the twin towers in 1974, and the Spanish horror film [REC], a movie so wonderfully scary grown men were screaming like little girls.

2. Indian Summer

The weather has been wonderful – as nice a fall as you could ask for. As often as I could I walked downtown to festival screenings, about an hour each way through the river valley.

3. You can always go…

saturday farmer’s market, 104th street

Downtown doesn’t seem as desolate as it’s been. I guess all the new condos are starting to make a positive impact with lots of new stores and services starting to pop up to meet the demand, and human activity taking place at street level.

I’veĀ  been taking pictures of my favourite downtown buildings. Above and below: The Federal Public Building, sort of a truncated art deco skyscraper.

It’s been vacant since 1989 but it’s being refurbished and will reopen in 2011.

Above and below: Free Masons’ Hall.

4. Birthday Brunch

For Sandra’s birthday we took her to the Santa Maria Goretti Community Centre for Sunday pranzo (lunch).

She looks amazed and appalled by my present.

5. Velvet Vahine

I found an authentic fake Leeteg black velvet painting at the Sally Ann for 5 bucks. If it was a genuine Leeteg it would be worth a few thousand, but it’s an authorized copy, apparently painted in Japan in the 60s. I’m still happy – it will look nice in my home tiki bar (when I have one).

6. Up From Down Under

My niece returned from nearly two years in Australia. We took advantage of the good weather to hang around at outdoor cafes.

She took this picture of me that delights me so much I think I’ll use it as my avatar for everything.

7. Moai-to-Eye

We discovered this flock (is that the collective noun?) of Moai at a landscaping place near my favourite Goodwill store.

That’s all.

good advice

Squaresville

September 17, 2008

This has to be my favourite mid-century house in Edmonton…

…quite possibly because it reminds me of my favourite movie – Jacque Tati’s Mon Oncle.