Saturday, October 31, 2009
THAT WAS THE YEAR THAT WAS!
On Saturday November 14, from 8:30 until 12:30,
I have always liked to celebrate anniversaries, even unhappy events like the receivership of my former employer. Saturday November 14 will be another anniversary...one year since the last election. While it too was a somewhat unhappy day, I thought it should be commemorated.
I am therefore pleased to promote an event that has been organized with my friends Gordon Price and Bob Ransford. Three panels of Vancouver thought leaders will review and discuss the highlights of the past year on the Vancouver Municipal Scene. The event will take place at the SFU Wosk Centre for Dialogue.
Presenters will include Gordon Price, Bob Ransford, ThinkCity's James Fletcher, Peter Ladner, and John Tylee of the Vancouver Economic Development Commission. We will review achievements in housing, planning and development, as well as the city's proposed Green Capital initiative and budgetary issues. The morning will wrap up with commentary from some of the city's most thoughtful, and yes sometimes outspoken pundits including Frances Bula, Monte Paulson, CityCaucus.com and Jonathan Ross of Civicscene.ca.
Coffee and Muffins at 8. More details to follow. I hope you will join us.
ps. And thanks James Basnett for creating the event poster. You're a very talented guy. And quick too!
Friday, October 30, 2009
halloween wishes | Halloween Quotes, Halloween Jokes and Halloween Sayings for All Hallows Eve Parties
Perhaps the best Halloween quote of all comes from The Huffington Post, "Halloween Is The Second Highest Grossing Commercial Holiday After Christmas. What used to be just a singular holiday with minimal things to purchase has turned into an entire "Halloween Season." Between decorative lights and lawn ornaments, elaborate costumes and loads of candy, the average American spends a pretty penny on this fall holiday."
Funny Halloween Quotes and Sayings
"I'll bet living in a nudist colony takes all the fun out of Halloween." – Unknown Author
"There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin." – Linus from 'It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown'
"Charlie Brown is the one person I identify with. C.B. is such a loser. He wasn't even the star of his own Halloween special." – Chris Rock
"Nothing on Earth is so beautiful as the final haul on Halloween night." – Steve Almond
"On Halloween, the parents sent their kids out looking like me." – Rodney Dangerfield
"This Halloween the most popular mask is the Arnold Schwarzenegger mask. And the best part? With a mouth full of candy you will sound just like him." – Conan O'Brien
"Just like a ghost, you've been a-hauntin' my dreams, So I'll propose on Halloween. Love is kinda crazy with a spooky little girl like you." – The Classics IV
"Studio 54 made Halloween in Hollywood look like a PTA meeting." – Lorna Luft
"They did that little thing on South Park, and they mentioned my name and had a character of me judging a Halloween contest. It was really funny. That made me the coolest aunt on earth." – Tina Yothers
"Being in a band you can wear whatever you want - it's like an excuse for Halloween everyday." – Gwen Stefani
Scary and Creepy Halloween Quotes
"Eye of newt, and toe of frog, Wool of bat, and tongue of dog, Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting, Lizard's leg, and owlet's wing, For a charm of powerful trouble, Like a hell-broth boil and bubble." – William Shakespeare
"Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble." – Shakespeare's 'Macbeth'
"From ghoulies and ghosties And long-leggedy beasties And things that go bump in the night, Good Lord, deliver us!" – Scottish Saying
"Bring forth the raisins and the nuts- Tonight All-Hallows' Specter struts Along the moonlit way." – John Kendrick Bangs
"Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brain." – J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
"My candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open..." – Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
Funny Halloween Jokes
Q. What do the skeletons say be for eating? A. Bone appetite
Q. What happens when two vampires meet? A. It was love at first bite!
Q. What's a Vampire's least favorite song? A. Another one bites the dust!
Q. Why was the mummy so tense? A. Because he was all wound up.
Q. Why didn't the skeleton go to see a scary movie? A. He didn't have the guts.
Q. What do you call two spiders that just got married? A. Newlywebbed
Q. Why did the skeleton cross the road? A. To go to the body shop.
Q. Who was the most famous ghost detective? A. Sherlock Moans.
Tags: halloween sayings, halloween poems, halloween, halloween quotes, halloween quotes and sayings, halloween wishes, halloween, halloween 2009
Source - halloween wishes
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Also, I just noticed that the Butt Magazine Blog put up some great photos of Rossy de Palma, one of my favorite of Almodóvar's muses. de Palma, who has an all-too-brief appearance in Broken Embraces [Los abrazos rotos], was interviewed in a recent "straight" issue from Butt.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
By limiting his second full-length album to close to half the self-titled's songs, a single disc and a lot less "Daft Punk Is Coming to My House" obnoxiousness, LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy crafted an amazing, layered electronica album in Sound of Silver. The sole pop album, Kylie Minogue's X, felt disappointing upon its release, but, at least for me, has managed to hold up two years later, certainly better than M.I.A.'s Kala, a step up from her debut (aside from the grudgingly overplayed "Paper Planes") but an album whose delights reveal themselves too quickly. No Age's Weirdo Rippers filled in at the eleventh spot as it technically isn't an album as much as it is a compilation of their previous EPs. The rest of the albums below are listed in vague order of preference.
LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver
Blonde Redhead - 23
Beirut - The Flying Club Cup
Benjamin Biolay - Trash yéyé
Justice - † (Cross)
Studio - Yearbook 1
Kylie Minogue - X
Montag - Going Places
M.I.A. - Kala
No Age - Weirdo Rippers*
Again, I've singled out the best songs, in my not-so-humble, extremely-biased opinion. Below you'll find the Top 35, an arbitrary round-ish number, in descending order of preference. Below that you'll find 85 more songs, not organized in any way. Strangely, I have little to say this year.
I will, however, point you to some of the more impressive music videos (some of which weren't released until 2008 with the actual single). Naturally, Feist's lovely "1234" [d. Patrick Daughters], Kanye West's "Flashing Lights" [d. Spike Jonze], Justice's "D.A.N.C.E." [d. Jonas & François] (which was nominated for MTV's Video Music Award for Best Video, only to lose to Rihanna's "Umbrella." Similar to the year the Academy nominated David Lynch for Mulholland Drive, MTV should have just not nominated the video if they weren't going to give it to them), Björk's "Dull Flame of Desire" featuring Antony Hegarty [d. Christoph Jantos, Masahiro Mogari, Marçal Cuberta Juncà] (a collaborative video combining three fan-submitted ideas that works rather seamlessly) and M.I.A.'s "Jimmy" [d. Nezar Khammal].
Special mention for two live-recorded Beirut videos, for "Nantes" and "Cliquout" (with Ed Droste of Grizzly Bear lending his vocals instead of Zach). And for the person who got Beyoncé and Shakira to look like the same damn person!
PJ Harvey - "Dear Darkness" [White Chalk]
LCD Soundsystem - "All My Friends" [Sound of Silver]
Beirut - "Nantes" [The Flying Club Cup]
Björk featuring Antony Hegarty - "Dull Flame of Desire" [Volta]
of Montreal - "The Past Is a Grotesque Animal" [Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?] (note that the link is not the full 12-minute track]
Blonde Redhead - "23" 
Architecture in Helsinki - "Heart It Races" [Places Like This]
Jens Lekman - "A Postcard to Nina" [Night Falls Over Kortedala]
Yelle - "Ce jeu" [Pop up]
Dizzee Rascal - "Pussyole (Oldskool)" [Maths + English]
Róisín Murphy - "Overpowered" [Overpowered]
Kanye West - "Flashing Lights" [Graduation]
Feist - "I Feel It All" [The Reminder]
Studio - "No Comply" [Yearbook 1]
Animal Collective - "Fireworks" [Strawberry Jam]
PJ Harvey - "The Mountain" [White Chalk]
Beirut - "Cliquot" [The Flying Club Cup]
Shellac - "End of Radio" [Excellent Italian Greyhound]
Justice - "Genesis" [†]
M.I.A. - "Bamboo Banga" [Kala]
Electrelane - "To the East" [No Shouts No Calls]
No Age - "Every Artist Needs a Tragedy" [Weirdo Rippers]
Benjamin Biolay - "Dans la Merco Benz" [Trash yéyé]
Kylie Minogue - "Stars" [X]
!!! - "Heart of Hearts" [Myth Takes]
Chromatic - "In the City" [After Dark, compilation] (the video is an abridged version)
Escort - "All Through the Night" [All Through the Night EP]
Montag - ">(Plus grand que)" [Going Places]
Simian Mobile Disco - "I Believe" [Attack Decay Sustain Release]
Kevin Drew - "TBTF" [Spirit If...]
Mark Ronson featuring Amy Winehouse (though not in the video) - "Valerie" [Version]
Aesop Rock - "None Shall Pass" [None Shall Pass]
Timbaland featuring Nelly Furtado & Justin Timberlake - "Give It to Me" [Shock Value]
Air Formation - "Adrift" [Daylight Storms]
Rihanna featuring Jay-Z - "Umbrella" [Good Girl Gone Bad] (also worth listening to: the Umbrella/Cinderella Remix featuring Jay-Z, Chris Brown, Young Platinum & Lil' Mama; I don't know from where it originates, likely an online mash-up of the various remixes)
Les autres 85
Dr. Dog - "Heart It Races" [Architecture in Helsinki - Heart It Races single]
PJ Harvey - "Liverpool Tide" [The Devil single]
Spoon - "You Got Yr Cherry Bomb" [Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga]
LCD Soundsystem - "Get Innocuous!" [Sound of Silver]
Feist - "1234" [The Reminder]
Rekid - "Next Stop Chicago" [Next Stop Chicago]
King Khan & The Shrines - "Le fils de Jacques Dutronc" [What Is?!]
Jens Lekman - "The Opposite of Hallelujah" [Night Falls Over Kortedala]
Beyoncé & Shakira - "Beautiful Liar" [Beautiful Liar single]
Timbaland featuring Keri Hilson & D.O.E. - "The Way I Are" [Shock Value]
Le loup - "We Are Gods! We Are Wolves!" [The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations' Millennium General Assembly]
Kylie Minogue - "Wow" [X]
Pieter Nooten - "Head Circles About the Body" [Ourspace]
Deerhunter - "Wash Off" [Fluorescent Grey EP]
Lil' Mama - "Lip Gloss" [Lip Gloss single]
Radiohead - "Reckoner" [In Rainbows]
Blonde Redhead - "Spring and by Summer Fall" 
Montag - "No One Else" [Going Places]
No Age - "Neck Escaper" [Weirdo Rippers]
Efterklang - "Mirador" [Parades]
Rich Boy featuring Polow Da Don - "Throw Some D's" [Rich Boy]
PJ Harvey - "Silence" [White Chalk]
Ra Ra Riot - "Dying Is Fine" [Ra Ra Riot EP]
Justice - "D.A.N.C.E." [†]
Deerhunter - "Cryptograms" [Cryptograms]
Matthew Dear - "Deserter" [Asa Breed]
Carla Bruni - "Those Dancing Days Are Gone" [No Promises]
Caribou - "Melody Day" [Andorra]
Rihanna - "Please Don't Stop the Music" [Good Girl Gone Bad]
Benjamin Biolay - "Dans ta bouche" [Trash yéyé]
Beirut - "Cherbourg" [The Flying Club Cup]
Mark Ronson featuring Daniel Merriweather - "Stop Me" [Version]
The National - "Fake Empire" [Boxer]
BARR - "The Song Is the Single" [Summary]
Kylie Minogue - "2 Hearts" [X]
Apostle of Hustle - "My Sword Hand's Anger" [National Anthem of Nowhere]
The Clientele - "Bookshop Casanova" [God Save The Clientele]
Étienne Daho - "L'invitation" [L'invitation]
Eve featuring Sean Paul - "Give It to You" [Give It to You single]
Yeasayer - "Wait for Summer" [All Hour Symbols]
Tracey Thorn - "It's All True" [Out of the Woods]
Tegan and Sara - "Back in Your Head" [The Con]
The Honeydrips - "Fall from a Height" [Here Comes the Future]
Yoko Ono - "Walking on Thin Ice (Pet Shop Boys Electro Remix)" [on both Ono's Open Your Box and Pet Shop Boys' Disco Four]
José González - "How Low" [In Our Nature]
Studio - "West Side" [from Yearbook 1]
Jay-Z featuring Beanie Sigel - "Ignorant Shit" [American Gangster]
Interpol - "The Scale" [Our Love to Admire]
The Shins - "Sleeping Lessons" [Wincing the Night Away] (I hate the lyrics to this song, but it's undeniably pretty hard to resist otherwise)
Glass Candy - "Beatific" [B/E/A/T/B/O/X]
Arcade Fire - "Black Mirror" [Neon Bible]
Queens of the Stone Age - "Sick, Sick, Sick" [Era Vulgaris]
M.I.A. - "20 Dollar" [Kala]
Vera November - "Our Last Night Together" [Four Songs by Arthur Russell compilation]
Mark Ronson featuring Tiggers & Ol' Dirty Bastard - "Toxic" [Version]
Yeasayer - "Sunrise" [All Hour Symbols]
Kylie Minogue - "Like a Drug" [X]
Jens Lekman - "A Little Lost" [Four Songs by Arthur Russell compilation]
Bon Iver - "Flume" [For Emma, Forever Ago]
Pieter Nooten - "Stop Time" [Ourspace]
Mika - "Grace Kelly" [Life in Cartoon Motion]
Kanye West - "Stronger" [Graduation]
Montag - "Softness, I Forgot Your Name" [Going Places]
Sophie Ellis-Bextor - "Me and My Imagination" [Trip the Light Fantastic]
Benjamin Biolay - "Bien avant" [Trash yéyé]
Kevin Drew - "Back Out on the..." [Spirit If...]
Pinback - "Kylie" [Autumn of the Seraphs, bonus track]
Electrelane - "The Greater Times" [No Shouts No Calls]
José González - "Teardrop" [In Our Nature]
Alicia Keys - "No One" [As I Am]
Björk - "Wanderlust" [Volta]
LCD Soundsystem - "Someone Great" [Sound of Silver]
Justin Currie - "Still in Love" [What Is Love]
Yelle - "Je veux te voir" [Pop up]
Pantha du Prince - "Saturn Strobe" [This Bliss]
Shannon Wright - "Everybody's Got Their Own Part to Play" [Let in the Light]
The Field - "A Paw in My Face" [From Here We Go Sublime]
Hilary Duff - "With Love" [Dignity] (Obviously I have none)
Ted Leo and The Pharmacists - "La Costa Brava" [Living with the Living]
Band of Horses - "Is There a Ghost" [Cease to Begin]
Burial - "Archangel" [Untrue]
Dirty Projectors - "Rise Above" [Rise Above]
Kylie Minogue - "Sensitized" [X]
Glass Candy - "Candy Castle" [B/E/A/T/B/O/X]
Soulja Boy Tell 'Em featuring Arab - "Yahh!" [souljaboytellem.com] (Super fucking annoying)
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
- 9, 2009, d. Shane Acker, Focus Features, also on Blu-ray, 29 December
- A Perfect Getaway, 2009, d. David Twohy, Rogue/Universal, also on Blu-ray, 29 December
- Fifty Dead Men Walking, 2008, d. Kari Skogland, Phase 4 Films, also on Blu-ray, 5 January
- Ballad in Blue, 1964, d. Paul Henreid, Lionsgate, 12 January
- Blood Creek [aka Town Creek], 2009, d. Joel Schmacher, Lionsgate, 19 January, w. Dominic Purcell, Henry Cavill, Michael Fassbender
- The Escapist, 2008, d. Rupert Wyatt, IFC, 26 January
- Frontier of the Dawn [La frontière de l'aube], 2008, d. Philippe Garrel, IFC, 26 January
- Heaven's Heart [Himlens hjärta], 2008, d. Simon Staho, IFC, 26 January, w. Lena Endre
- In a Day, 2006, d. Evan Richards, IFC, 26 January
- Mermaid, 2007, d. Anna Melikyan, IFC, 26 January
- Pontypool, 2008, d. Bruce McDonald, IFC, 26 January
- Quiet Chaos [Caos calmo], 2008, d. Antonio Luigi Grimaldi, IFC, 26 January, w. Nanni Moretti, Valeria Golino, Alessandro Gassman
- Warszawa, 2003, d. Dariusz Gajeweski, IFC, 26 January
- Worlds Apart [To verdener], 2008, d. Niels Arden Oplev, IFC, 26 January
- Triangle, 2009, d. Christopher Smith, First Look, also on Blu-ray, 2 February, w. Melissa George
- Flame & Citron [Flammen & Citronen], 2008, d. Ole Christian Madsen, IFC, 9 February
- The Pleasure of Being Robbed, 2008, d. Joshua Safdie, IFC, 9 February
- The Trial Begins [L'ora di punta], 2007, d. Vincenzo Marra, IFC, 9 February
- 20th Century Boys 2: The Last Hope, 2009, d. Tukihiko Tsutsumi, Viz Media, 16 February
- Women in Trouble, 2009, d. Sebastian Gutierrez, Screen Media, also on Blu-ray, 16 February, w. Carla Gugino, Marley Shelton, Elizabeth Berkley, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Simon Baker, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Josh Brolin
- Bliss [Mutluluk], 2007, d. Abdullah Oguz, First Run Features, 23 February
Monday, October 26, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Michael Geller, Special to The Vancouver SunPublished: Saturday, October 24, 2009
Recently, I overheard a prominent Vancouver art dealer questioning the wisdom of Vancouver city council's decision to allow condominium buyers to rent out a portion of their apartments.
"How can anyone live in such a small space?" he wanted to know.
As an early proponent of the suite-within-a-suite concept, I was eager to respond.
While few of us would want to live in such a small suite forever, most of us have happily lived in very small spaces at some stage of our lives, when those were all we could afford.
Ironically, one of the benefits of allowing apartment buyers to rent out a small portion of their suites is that this might encourage the construction of larger apartments.
Let me explain.
Today, most new apartments have two bedrooms or less. Suites with three or more bedrooms are rare, since most developers worry that they will not be affordable by younger buyers, who make up a significant segment of the market.
However, just as many first-time buyers can afford to purchase a single-family home by renting out the basement, the suite-within-a-suite concept allows someone to purchase a larger apartment by renting out a portion of it.
Think of it as a mortgage helper in the sky. Over time, as the household grows or financial circumstances improve, the suite can be incorporated into the rest of the apartment.
While this idea will appeal to some, it will not be for everyone.
However, as apartment living becomes more acceptable for both "move-up" and "move-down" buyers, I hope we will see more three- and four-bedroom apartments being built close to shopping, transit and daycare. They will accommodate families with young children or households with an aging parent, a caregiver, or older children away at college. And just because these apartments have additional bedrooms does not mean they need to be overly large.
After all, many of the post-war three-bedroom bungalows built across Canada measured little more than 800 square feet. They still had room for a kitchen with an eating area, a combined living/dining room, and three-piece bathroom.
Compare that with today's "starter home." It is expected to have a double-volume entry, two-and-a-half bathrooms, a family room off the kitchen, and a two-car garage.
According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., the average size of a Canadian house in 1945 was just over 800 square feet; in 1975, it was 1,075 square feet; and by 2000 it was 2,266 square feet. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the average home size in the United States more than doubled from the 1950s to 2,330 square feet in 2004, up from 1,400 square feet in 1970.
During the same period, the average household size decreased.
However, the trend appears to be changing.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median size of a new house dropped to 2,114 square feet in the fourth quarter of 2008, down more than 100 square feet from the first quarter of the year.
Perhaps in reaction to the "McMansions" that have been built across North America, there has also been a growing interest in very small houses. This has led to the "Tiny House Movement", which promotes smaller, detached single-family homes that can range anywhere between 65 square feet (yes, 65 square feet) and 750 square feet.
People are joining this movement for many reasons, but the most popular are environmental concerns, financial situations and a desire to simplify one's life. Devotees can join The Tiny House Village Network and read the Tiny House Newsletter.
This past summer, I went on a pilgrimage to Langley, Wash., on Whidbey Island, where local architect Ross Chapin has designed and built some wonderful tiny houses.
The Third Street Cottages project was the first to be built under this innovative code. The project is comprised of eight detached homes on four lots; they are approximately 650 square feet, with lofts up to 200 square feet, and are situated around a shared garden with a commons building and tool shed.
Parking is provided in garages and surface spaces separated from the housing.
The houses are one-storey, and although they are similar to one another, each is unique. Nine-foot ceilings, large windows and skylights add to the sense of space.
There is a surprising amount of storage, with walk-in closets, built-in shelves and an attic. Large porches, built-in eating alcoves and small nooks further enhance the livability and design interest.
As I look around our region, I cannot help but think that many people would like to buy smaller detached cottage-style houses such as these, especially if they were developed close to their existing neighbourhoods.
To make this happen, we will need to change our attitudes and zoning bylaws. We will also have to be prepared to share our living spaces and bathrooms, too, just like we did when we were growing up.
- - -
Michael Geller is a Vancouver architect, developer and Simon Fraser University adjunct professor. E-mail: email@example.com
However, having just avoided a small collision at a new roundabout on Blenheim Street, I agree with my wife that the new roundabouts at many smaller Vancouver intersections, such as those on Vancouver's Westside are accidents waiting to happen because many drivers don't really know what to do!
In most roundabouts throughout the world, those in the roundabout have the way. However, in smaller roundabouts, it is often not clear whether someone is in the roundabout. Having watched traffic trying to navigate these intersections, it seems that many people assume that the right thing to do is to give way to those on the right. But is this what you are supposed to do?
I think the new landscaped roundabouts look terrific. However, I would love to know from ICBC and the Vancouver police whether there has been an increase in accidents since these small roundabouts have been created. And please let us know what a driver is supposed to do!
Friday, October 23, 2009
- Jennifer's Body, 2009, d. Karyn Kusama, 20th Century Fox, also on Blu-ray, 29 December
- End of Love, 2009, d. Simon Chung, Breaking Glass Pictures, 5 January
- Amreeka, 2009, d. Cherien Dabis, Virgil Films, 12 January
- A Man Called Adam, 1966, d. Leo Penn, Lionsgate, 12 January
- Trucker, 2008, d. James Mottern, Monterey, 12 January, w. Michelle Monaghan, Nathan Fillion, Benjamin Bratt
- According to Greta [Greta], 2009, d. Nancy Bardawil, Anchor Bay, 19 January, w. Hilary Duff
- Chevolution, 2008, d. Luis Lopez, Trisha Ziff, Magnolia, 19 January
- Just Like the Son, 2006, d. Morgan J. Freeman, Breaking Glass Pictures, 26 January, w. Mark Webber, Rosie Perez, Brendan Sexton III
- The Last Stage [Ostatni etap], 1948, d. Wanda Jakubowska, Facets, 26 January
- I Hate Valentine's Day, 2009, d. Nia Vardalos, IFC Films, also on Blu-ray, 9 February
- Anna, the Pleasure, the Torment [Anna, quel particolare piacere], 1973, d. Giuliano Carnimeo, MYA, 23 February
- Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, 2009, d. Werner Herzog, First Look, also on Blu-ray, 23 February
- Car Cemetery [Le cimetière des voitures], 1983, d. Fernando Arrabal, Cult Epics, 23 February, w. Juliet Berto, Alain Bashung
- The Fernando Arrabal Collection, Volume 2 [Car Cemetery / The Emperor of Peru / Farewell, Babylon], 1983, 1982, 1992, d. Fernando Arrabal, Cult Epics, 23 February
- Taxi Hunter, 1993, d. Herman Yau, Eastern Star, 23 February
- Fame, 1980, d. Alan Parker, Warner, 26 January
- The Crazies, 1973, d. George A. Romero, Blue Underground, 23 February
- Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead, 2006, d. Lloyd Kaufman, Troma, 23 February
- Fantasia, 1942, d. Various, Disney, 2 March
- Fantasia 2000, 1999, d. Various, Disney, 3 March
I was very sorry to wake up early this morning only to learn about the passing of Jack Poole. I first met Jack in 1981 when he headed up Daon, and I worked for Narod. Although we were never really friends, I always had a great admiration and respect for him and his accomplishments. Jack made things happen....the Daon Building, VLC Properties, Concert Properties and ultimately the Olympics in Vancouver. He was a mentor to a lot of people who went on to do very well in life. My thoughts are with his family and very close friends, especially Dave Podmore who worked so closely with him over many years. Thanks Jack.
What words could I possibly add to the ones already given to the most notorious film of 2009? Greeted with what those of us not in attendance can only imagine as a fury of loud, mixed reactions at Cannes in May, I begin to wonder if anyone seeing it after that premiere screening could really get the full effect of Lars von Trier’s Antichrist. While some people might be better off knowing about the more salacious aspects of the film before seeing it, I don’t count myself among them. Fueled by an unfortunate curiosity, I couldn’t help but read the various reports from Cannes, all of which expressed in detail the “finer” aspects of Antichrist, so when I finally got my chance to see the film, how could I pretend I didn’t know what lied ahead?
The experience of seeing a film without a single notion of what to expect is an enviable one, especially when considering a film like Antichrist. But, while the real “doozies” hardly even registered, I witnessed something strange and powerful around those elements, a film that certainly was, but never felt like, the film I had read about. With the right spin, the plot specifics of Antichrist could (and did) sound like a two-hour-long fuck-you from von Trier, from its biblical parallels to its dedication to the late Andrei Tarkovsky. But what I saw wasn’t that.
For its first hour, Antichrist unfolds like one, seemingly endless panic attack, made all the more unsettling and human by Charlotte Gainsbourg’s staggering performance. Stricken by the unimaginable guilt that she (or more specifically, her own sexuality) was responsible for the death of her child, Gainsbourg, the “She” to Willem Dafoe’s “He,” suffers a devastating paralysis, leading her husband to aid her in confronting the underlying fears triggering this guilt.
Perhaps the boldest aspect of Antichrist is the way von Trier takes his loudest criticism (misogyny) and magnifies it. Even his detractors should admit one of the director’s finest gifts is his ability to elicit brilliant performances from his actors, even if his methods have raised some eyebrows after his onset spats with Björk, Nicole Kidman and John C. Reilly have been made public. Gainsbourg’s performance, which won the Best Actress prize at Cannes, is what levels the magnification, allowing some of the dubious proceedings to haunt even if they happen to revile at the same time.
I’m not sure how Antichrist brought von Trier out of a serious bout of depression or if pushing the misogynistic claims to their limit succeeds at destabilizing them. I’m not really sure about a lot of things about Antichrist, aside from the fact that it worked for me, with all its idiosyncrasies. Antichrist opens in select theatres in the United States today and bows on IFC On Demand Wednesday, the 28th.
With: Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg
Screenplay: Lars von Trier
Cinematography: Anthony Dod Mantle
Country of Origin: Denmark/Germany/France/Sweden/Italy/Poland
US Distributor: IFC Films
Premiere: 18 May 2009 (Cannes Film Festival)
US Premiere: 25 September 2009 (Austin Fantastic Fest)
Awards: Best Actress – Charlotte Gainsbourg (Cannes Film Festival)
Fans of François Ozon, once dubbed the garçon terrible of French cinema in the late ‘90s, seem to diminish with each passing film. Though few will argue that the year 2000 marked the highest point of his career (with Under the Sand and Water Drops on Burning Rocks both bowing in that year), I haven’t fallen off the bandwagon, despite a number of reservations I have toward his two most widely-seen films, 8 Women [8 femmes] and Swimming Pool, both blissfully entertaining but severely lacking beneath their polished veneer. Ozon’s thematic sequel to Under the Sand, Le temps qui reste (correctly translated as The Time That Remains), shares the same traits that bothered me about 8 Women and Swimming Pool, but they feel like less of a disguise here.
Le temps qui reste, 8 Women and Swimming Pool all follow closely to their own genre allusions; more than its predecessor, Le temps qui reste pays tribute to melodrama, a genre which Ozon has always toiled with in smaller doses. In the film, Ozon gives himself completely over to the idea, dislodging the tongue-in-cheek sensibilities of his previous flirtations with his Sirkian tendencies. While much of the film relies on artifice, I sense a peculiar, refreshing honesty in what Ozon’s trying to do.
While he situates an attractive gay male in central role, a position often held for women in the genre, Ozon doesn’t set his sights on redefining or updating the genre. While spotted with bits of superficiality (Melvil Poupaud seems to get more handsome the closer he gets to death), the moments of beautiful clarity truly resonate. From the point early in the film when Romain (Poupaud) discovers he’s a few months away from death as a result of a spreading tumor, the film follows his grief process through the designed closures Romain concocts for the people closest to him, some successful, others not. For his unhappy, older sister Sophie (Louise-Anne Hippeau) and his younger, German boyfriend (Christian Sengewald), Romain uses his remaining time to sabotage these relationships, while finding a solitary comfort in his grandmother (Jeanne Moreau), the person in the film he finds the closest bond, both in personality and in approximation to death.
While Ozon does strive on some level to avoid overt sentimentality, it’s more accurate to say that he keeps his drama on a low flame. I hope my friend Tom doesn’t mind, but he highlighted one of the biggest complaints I’ve heard about Le temps qui reste in an e-mail exchange earlier this year. He said, “Ozon's formal restraint may have suited his subject matter, but… I thought a showier technique wouldn't be so much inappropriate as less bland.” Perhaps it’s in Le temps qui reste’s blandness that I find the “honesty” I think Ozon is producing. In keeping the film on the subtle(r) side, Ozon delivers a number of rich moments, especially when Moreau is onscreen, that the showiness he painted 8 Women and Swimming Pool with would have only clouded. Le temps qui reste isn’t a grand triumph for the director, but it’s one that has always lingered for me, whether I can successfully defend my feelings or not (likely the latter).
With: Melvil Poupaud, Jeanne Moreau, Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, Daniel Duval, Marie Rivière, Louise-Anne Hippeau, Christian Sengewald, Henri Le Lorme, Walter Pagano, Ugo Soussan Trabelsi
Screenplay: François Ozon
Cinematography: Jeanne Lapoirie
Country of Origin: France
US Distributor: Strand Releasing
Premiere: 16 May 2005 (Cannes Film Festival)
US Premiere: 14 July 2006