Monday, September 27, 2004

Indian Films at VIFF

Saturday, September 25, 2004


My dedication to the film fest has already started to waiver. I went to see two films the first night, but yesterday i didn't see any and today i am not seeing any. Hopefully i will be able to pick it up again for tomorrow, but, you know, sometimes other stuff just gets in the way.

So first up, i went to see The People of Angkor, a French/Cambodian effort to give insight into the lives of those that live in the shaodws of the famous Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia. The thing that makes this movie distinct from anything else you've ever seen on Angkor is that it is about PEOPLE, not the place. The film takes on a distinctly anthroplogic/ ethnographic perspective in telling the stories of a labourer involved in the reconstruction of parts of Angkor, a paddy farmer in the vicintiyt and a young 'tour guide' trying to make a buck selling souvenirs to tourists. Some of the most interesting scenes involve debates over the interpretation of various sculptures. The tour guide gives an upbeat interpretation that delight German and American tourists, whereas the farmer sees it as a story of oppression. For the most part the doc is shot in the unihabited areas of Angkor, though scenes ot the main temple and tourist throngs are interspersed throughout so that you never forget the significance of Angkor in the national imaginary of Cambodia.

The second movies i saw was Beatiful Boxer, a Thai film based (and i stress 'based') on the life of boxer Nong Toom as a self made woman. That's right, Toom was a boy boxer, fighting his way to the top until he had enough money for a sex change operation. The film was beautifully shot, particularly the opening sequence and training sessions, but as with all 'sports' movies, there was a little too much sport in it. The lead's acting was inpecable, especially since this is his first stab at it. My only criticism of the movie was that it was soft on the harsh realities of being transgendered in the hyper male environment that is the world of boxing. Overall, it was light, funny and feel good.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

To Fresh Starts

Wow, there is so much going on in my life right now that i am a little overwhelmed!! and most of it is somewhat new.

1/ The Mad Scientist left this morning, so it is time to get down to some serious work!! About time, i would say. I haven't even looked at my dissertation in far too long. To help me get started my advisor has kindly volunteered me to present the first chapter (revised) of my dissertation at a grad seminar on Wednesday. I have to get it to the other seminar members by monday so that they can read it before the seminar, so i only have a few short days to polish. URGH!!

2/ The Vancouver International Film Festival starts today, so i am going to be super busy trying to jam in as many films as possible. So far i have 16 on my roster, but that is highly tentative. I bet i will make it to less than ten. Tonight i am seeing 2 docs, which i will report on tomorrow.

3/ And finally, our game schedule for hockey just came out. It is not up on the web yet, but when it is i will give a link. Next week we have two games. My body hurts already!! After that we go down to just one game a week.

Oh yeah, and i almost forgot... I am a student again!!! yes, my extension is granted and i have been given my identity back. Tomorrow i will go out to campus, get my new student card and take an obscene number of books out of the library. I can't wait.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Movie Mania

The Mad Scientist is out visiting right now, and since the Brain is out of town, it is just us grrls left to our own devices. For someone like the Mad Scientist, no vaction is conplete without a challenge of some sort, so she has challenged us to see a movie everyday. So far we have hit three. First off was Garden State, written and directed by Zach Braff. Now this is a young film maker who we can expect big things from. Garden State was a truly enjoyable movie - quirky at times, poignant at times. The one downfall may have been Natalie Portman's character - how many times do we need to see a cute and quirky pretty young thing bring out the best in a brooding, lonesome guy?

Then yesterday, lured by a trailer claiming that it was made by the makers of Notting Hill, we went to see Wimbledon. Not the romantic commedy we were hoping for. Too much tennis for one thing. Secondly there was no ST (sexual tension) between the two leads. I just didn't really care if they got together or not. Now if Ewen McGregor had been the male lead instead of Paul Bettany, the movie would have had me at hello.

We rounded out the weekend with Mean Creek, another fabulous movie by a young writer/ director. Great acting by Rory Culkin and Carly Schroeder.

Good night, it is time for bed.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I used to think fall was among the worst seasons. Days get shorter, weather gets cooler, winter can't be far off. But when i really think about it. there are so many things about fall that i really like. As Amardeep so insightfully pointed out, September is like spring for geeks, nerds and other scholarly types. You get new note books and highlighters, even if you aren't starting a new project you go back to the old one with renewed vigour. It feels great. I even kind of like the excited buzz of first year students in the library (as long as they aren't sitting to close to me!).

But better than the new year of school is the fall book season. This is when all of the best books are published. The Christmas rush is fun too, but there is nothing like fall book releases. I went to two bookstores today and was floored at the number of new and exciting book titles. I even made off with two new books (er uhm, i mean graphic novels) - PERSEPOLIS II by Marjane Satrapi and IN THE SHADOW OF NO TOWERS by Art Spiegelman. There are tons of others i want to buy, but patience is a virtue and i will have to wait until most of them come out in paper back.

Also on the book front, I have finished reading THE WAY THE CROW FLIES by Ann Marie MacDonald. As i have already hinted at, it was great. Perhaps 200 pages too long, but the prose and imagery were astounding. Now i have moved onto Vernon God Little. I just started it so i don't have much to comment about yet. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Reader Wanring

Just a little warning here, DO NOT pick up Anne Marie MacDonald's latest The Way the Crow Flies unless you have alot of time on your hands to read. It is almost impossible to put down. I have been reading it everywhere ... even standing up on the bus! I am staying up far too late at night reading. Last night and the night before until 2AM. I don't want to say anything else, but the story is well written, gripping, upsetting, unsettling, political, and a whole lot more.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Bumber Books

At Bumbershoot there was a really neat area for geeks and nerds. It was called Ink Spot, and basically it was just a big book fair with all sorts of Indie book publishers. I came across one press, Evil Twin Publications, that i really liked. Originally most of the books were written by one twin and illustrated by the other. Cool. After some speed reading in unlikely places (the Pixies weren't actually on stage yet!!!) I finished ON THE NAIVE BUT HONORABLE SELF-DETERMINATION OF TEENAGE GIRLS by Amber Gayle, one of the evil twins. Good in a campy sort of way, especially if you are into teenaged angst. I also boughtNotta Lotta Love Stories, also by Amber Gayle but won't get to reading it for a while. My current read is The Way the Crow Flies by Ann-Marie Mac Donald. I am only about 20 pages into it but i can already say it is very good and appears to be quite different from her last novel. I should be reading it for quite some time as it is a veritable tome - almost 900 pages!!

All things Bumber

Well, i've been so busy lately that i haven't had time to blog and i don't even know where to start. Well that's not true - i am going to start with Bumbershoot, which was amazing. Now i am sure that most people who went are still raving about the Pixies' show, but i am going to focus on some of the less pedestrian events that went on.

One of the highlights was of course the mini film festival they had going on there. I went to the South Asia Series, but the films, aside from Mehreen Jabbar's BEAUTY PARLOR, were a bit of a let down.

On the final night we also went to 'The Best of the Fest' and saw some great shorts. Among my favorites were Rent-a-Person and Pol Pot's Birthday. The first is a quirky musical about finding love, business acumen and a men's washroom. Though not all reviewers liked it, i though it was a moving and simply hilarious 12 minutes of fun. The second film was also brilliantly funny. You walk a fine line when you make a film about one of the 20th centuries most brutal leaders, and yet the film maker pulls it off brilliantly. Not to mention that the cinematography was of the highest standard.

Whew, i am about Bumbered out, but one last thing to mention. I took a short book binding workshop at the 'Shoot. And while i may not be binding my own dissertation (if it ever gets written) i am sure that friends and family members can expect some well bound Christmas gifts.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

The Final Count Down

The start of school is just mere days away and as much as i like the first day of school i am still trying to prolong the summer the only way i know how - by having as much fun as possible!! Today's festivities include a rousing game of hockey courtesy of Russia and Canada at the world cup, followed by a birthday shindig for DJ Cool. Good food, drinks aplenty, and even better company.
Then early Sunday morning Bumber Weekend starts. As a musically challenged person i think most of the musical acts will be lost on me but there are a number of exhibits i am interested in going to, not to mention a small film festival. We will return to Van late Monday night following the Pixies already to start school not so bright and early Tuesday morning.

Friday, September 03, 2004

End of an Era

I finished reading SOMETHING ROTTEN by Jasper Fforde the other day. It was the final book in the Thursday Next series, and perhaps that's a good thing. I just didn't like it as much as the others. I felt that there weren't as many literary in jokes, or alternatively there were tons of them and i didn't get them! When i read THE EYRE AFFAIR, the first book in the series, it was the most original thing i had ever read. It was intelligent, adventuresome and funny. The second and third books were just as good, with THE WELL OF LOST PLOTS rating as my favorite. But this one was lack luster and i think it has to do with the fact that Thursday spends almost no time in BookWorld. Fforde's version of the real world is unique (croquet is the major sport of choice) but it's not enough.

Now i am on to reading Word Freak by Stefan Fatsis. This non fiction pick is about the nitty gritty world of competitive Scrabble. Now why, you may ask, would i read such a thing? Well, here's a little moment of truth... this hockey thing isn't working out as planned. I don't think i will make the Canadian Women's hockey team for the 2010 Olympics, and i have considered moving to Zimbabwe in case they field an Olympic hockey team, but ultimately i think i have to face up to the truth. I will not be playing in the Olympics for a home town crowd. So i thought, what about Scrabble, but after reading part of this book i am not sure if i am ready for the cut throat world of international Scrabble competition. But, alas, i would still like to try and improve my game. And i may even join the Vancouver Scrabble Club. They all seem to have pretty high rankings, and i would definitely be interested in a novice league and i know that i would have to study alot...

Wednesday, September 01, 2004


Whew! I just read through the Vancouver International Film Festival's sneak preview guide, and it looks like another good year for film! I have already come up with a few must sees including a movie about a family temporarily living at Bamiyan, a short film on Edward Said and The Motorcycle diaries. Subcontinental fare includes another Tagore favChokher Bali, and Final Solution, dealing with the Godhra riots in Gujarat. And of special note to bloggers, VIFF will be screening Baghdad Blogger/ Salem Pax - Video Reports for Iraq.
I start volunteering for the festival on Tuesday, so be prepared for much movie talk in the weeks to come.

Meanwhile, right here at home i feel like i am in the middle of a monsoon. The sky suddenly turned quite dark, there was thunder (we never get thunder) and the heavens opens up and down came the rain. Makes me nostalgic for India, but then everything does.