“You’re doing a play based on a book that was written 60 years ago, for a thousand rich old white people whose only real concern is gonna be where they go to have their cake and coffee when it’s over. And let’s face it, Dad, it’s not for the sake of art. It’s because you want to feel relevant again. Well, there’s a whole world out there where people fight to be relevant every day. And you act like it doesn’t even exist! Things are happening in a place that you willfully ignore, a place that has already forgotten you. I mean, who are you? You hate bloggers. You make fun of Twitter. You don’t even have a Facebook page. You’re the one who doesn’t exist. You’re doing this because you’re scared to death, like the rest of us, that you don’t matter. And you know what? You’re right. You don’t. It’s not important. You’re not important. Get used to it.”
The first Mexican movie I remember seeing was Like Water For Chocolate, in my first-year film class. I still remember the sensuous portrayal of food, the magic realism, the feeling of danger with the Mexican Revolution, and the intense passion. However, it was one of many memorable movies I remember seeing that year: Battleship Potemkin, Blow-Up, Vivre Sa Vie, The Celluloid Closet, American Dream. Every week a new world opened up, and it was beautiful as well as overwhelming, a lot for my brain to process. By the time I saw Y Tu Mama Tambien, however, in theatres a year later in the summer of 2002, I was a bit more ready, able to appreciate the arts of watching for the mise-en-scene in the frame and understand a movie through its historical context and vice versa.
The TED Talks are in Vancouver this week, which is a big deal for the tech industry here. I first became a fan of the TED talks as a teacher, finding that the succinct, interesting and motivating talks were very useful as a dynamic listening activity for my students, often leading to interesting discussion. They also bring together a lot of things I’m most passionate about–film, technology, education and social change. I may not have $8500 to attend the conference but I did go watch a few talks at the livestream at the Vancouver Public Library. However, the best thing about the conference is that the talks are put online, eventually, for everyone to enjoy. Here are five talks worth checking out:
It’s funny. I started taking courses at BCIT to get employable skills, but in a lot of ways I’ve ended up as more of an artist and writer than before. One course got me writing this blog, and another has got me learning how to create vector graphics, which has got me producing art. In the process I’ve learned a lot about how many of the images we now see in advertisements and film are now produced, especially in animation.
It’s already mid-March, but it’s still early in the movie-watching year. Sometimes it can be kind of frustrating that all the best movies are released at the same time which means a bit of binge-watching and burnout afterwards. The Sundance and Berlin festivals have already happened, and in Vancouver there are a number of festivals that I will try to make it to as well.
It seems natural to begin with Life Itself, the book by and movie about Roger Ebert, because that was where my interest in movies began. Some accused his long-running TV show, Siskel and Ebert, of dumbing down film, but for me as a twelve-year-old it meant that film criticism was something that was accessible, and I was exposed to movies that otherwise I never would have known anything about. This led to me first getting a copy of Cinemania, a CD-ROM that was the precursor to the Internet Movie Database, with an index of titles, casts, descriptions, awards and reviews: not only all of Ebert’s but those of Pauline Kael’s as well, and through that I learned about film on a deeper level, and saw that it could be written about in a personal and subjective way. The titles of her first book says it all: I Lost it at the Movies. “I go into the movie, I watch it, and I ask myself what happened to me,” Ebert quotes her as saying in Life Itself, and he writes about feeling a similar sense of wonder when watching, especially in the days when going to the movies was an experience in an old-fashioned theatre with balconies, curtains and live performers.
Welcome to my blog! In this space I plan to write personal essays related to film. The plan is to produce a longer essay every couple of weeks, and in the meantime share videos, brief reviews and any other related news.