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Stories We Tell

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Every family has at least one story to tell. Whether it’s the immigrant story or a historical legend or the adventures of that one weird uncle, there’s always some labyrinthine mixture of truth and fantasy that entrenches a family’s history. Stories We Tell is a documentary about one humble tale. Directed by critically-acclaimed filmmaker Sarah Polley, the film delves into her parents’life and her upbringing, spiraling into rumours of infidelity and her heritage. It’s a marvellously self-indulgent film, but one that is a delight to watch.

Stories We Tell starts with candid moments with each member of Sarah’s family. They all question her approach, why the movie is being made and give some pretext to the dialogue between the documentary’s creator and her subjects. Sarah then delves into her parents’ relationship, focusing on her mother’s side. Her mother is long dead and as a result, much of the movie is about her absence. The movie is constructed so that it appears as if we have almost every piece of the truth, we’re just missing her own perspective. That absence leads to the greatest mystery of the film, her mother’s trip to Montreal to act in the play, Toronto in the late 1970s.

The film goes over that trip several times, each time adding in the new facts Sarah’s uncovered. First it appears that Montreal is where her mother and father, Michael Polley, rekindled their waning relationship. Then it becomes the centre for a likely infidelity, as family members joke that Sarah looks nothing like her father. And finally, it transforms into the place where her mother found love once again. It just so happened to be in the arms of another man.

From the start a savvy viewer will be able to anticipate each new development. Real life has a way of playing into established storylines, and as such Sarah’s living family is at the crux of the film. The reveal that she is not Michael’s biological daughter is not as impressive as her sister’s tearful reaction to learning that their mother recaptured love. Nor is it as draining as her brother’s disappointment in their mother’s irresponsibility. These very human reactions transcend the documentary’s occasional banality. The intrigue comes from each family member’s reaction, not least of which is her father’s.

Michael is perhaps the most endearing subject in the film. He narrates the film with his self-depreciating memoirs. They’re well-written and his voice comes off as both mournful and yet complacent. He has a pleasant demeanour and ever present voice.  As a result, Sarah’s attempts to discuss her heritage are all the more stressful for the viewer.

The only portion of the film that is disconcertingly philosophical is the discussion about who owns the drama. Sarah’s biological father debates with her about who should be telling the story and attempts to directly address the subjective nature of truth. But the truth is that these scenes drags on. These questions are best used as themes permeating the documentary, not spoken aloud. Plus, the director has clearly embraced that reality is subjective since most of the flashbacks are recreations made to appear like Super 8 home movies. It is an indulgence too far in an already decadent film.

Stories We Tell is a well-built documentary about family legends. The film’s construction flows in and out of moments in time, like memories connected by a thematic thread.  The movie is never quite chronological, and is better for it, pulling together stories that feel emotionally relevant. Sarah Polley may not have the most unique family in the world, but the execution makes the story feel heartfelt.  It exemplifies how out of control family stories can get, even the recent ones, to the point that the film’s final punch line is a perplexing, but entirely satisfying end.

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Articles – Tis Not the Season For Spending

I spend a good three hours writing articles that only one or two people end up seeing. So, I might as well post the ones I’m proud of here, no matter what cp style says. Here’s my one on Christmas Spending, uneditted, because I don’t really care anymore.

Heading into the end of November, the Eaton Centre is rife with activity. Shoppers buzz in and out of stores, looking for the perfect item. Some are simply taking the time to go window shopping with loved ones.  Not much has changed from last year, not even the amount of money they’re spending.

“I’ll be spending about the same. Why not? I don’t really see the need for more stuff,” says Pete Bradbury, a home project manager for a construction company, who was waiting with his six months old son outside the Gap. “If anything we might spend less on the rest of the family and more on him.”

Canadians just aren’t feeling the urge to splurge this year. According to a survey done by Deloitte, a little over half of Canadians don’t intend to spend more than last year. The remaining half says they will spend less. A small minority, 4 per cent, say they’ll be buying a little more this year. Overall the report predicts most Canadians will be careful with their Christmas budgets.

Greg Morris is a student at George Brown’s general arts program. He was browsing through video game strategy guides in HMV. He would pick one up, search for some tidbit of information and then put it back where he found it. He says he’ll be in the second category, and try to keep some of his pennies.

“Tuition sucks you dry. I had a job but I quit it because of school. It was either school or work, and I have to prioritize.”

Graduates have a similar problem. “It’ll be a little bit less this year. I’m trying to pay off student debt at the moment. I’ve got a tight budget this year,” explained Rachel Van Geest, who currently works as an office administrator. “[My family] usually spends a good day exchanging gifts, but I guess I’ll have a little less to offer.”

Spending less or the same doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Only a few metres away from Bradbury and his son, Emmett Ishak grinned as he played with his young daughter. She ran in a circle, waiting for her father to catch her. He eventually grabs her and then hoisters her into the air. “We’ve never been a things family. This is only my second Christmas in Canada since I came from Malaysia. I’m pretty comfortable with the way things are.”

By the same token, real value can come out of spending more. Dwayne Daniel sat, tired, beside a drained fountain in the Eaton Centre. He is a visitor from the Caribbean and a pastor in his home parish. He claimed he will be among the few people in Canada spending more this Christmas than last year.

“Christmas is about love right? So if you care about the world, you’ll give more to others as you grow. I spend the entire year helping people, but I like to give as much as I can [on Christmas].”

Awww. If only every article ended on an anecdote about love. If only writing this didn’t make my cold, cold heart vomit.

 

Only a few metres away from Bradbury and his son, Emmett Ishak grinned as he played with his young daughter. She ran in circle, waiting for her father to catch her. They laugh as he wrapped his arms around her and then hoisters her into the air. “We’ve never been a things family. This is only my second Christmas in Canada since I came from Malaysia. I’m pretty comfortable with the way things are.”

How I beat Joe Quesada in A Cage Match and Made Him Cry

I bet you wanted to punch someone tremendously hard before. For me, that person is Joe Quesada. And down at Fan Expo, things were getting pretty ugly between me and him. We both fought hard yesterday, but when it came down to it, Joe Quesada got his ass whooped by a high-schooler. He didn’t take it too well. Read the rest of this entry

山崎まさよし One more time , One more chance

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G.A.M. uPDATE 2

Alright, I missed a week kinda. Arman is currently screaming at me to post this thing up, but I go at my own pace. And I like sleeping.

This week they talk about:

  • The return of Hunter X Hunter
  • The screw up of Tonari no 801-chan
  • Second Death Note Movie in the US
  • New Initial D anime
  • Eugene Zombies

There are no reviews this week, proving that they are just as lazy as I am. Oh and remember to comment.

Hancock’D

Alright so Wednesday I had that churning feeling in my stomach, which meant it was time to leave the house and watch a movie. So after some coercion from my friends I saw Hancock. I never really had high standards for that film, and by not having high standards I mean I expected it to suck. It seemed like a film Will Smith took part in simply because he was bored. Well, I was pleasantly surprise to find that it wasn’t terrible. Unfortunately, it wasn’t all that great either.

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Big Smith is watching you!

Hancock seems like a neglected film. It’s almost as if the cast of the film was unoccupied for the summer and decided, ‘Hey let’s make a superhero movie! You can bring the cameras, I’ll bring the wine.” While the movie isn’t bad, it’s just not all that good either. A lot of it seems rushed. For example at the start of the film it’s the general consensus of the people of Miami that Hancock is an @#$hole; however after a single act of true heroism, they act like he’s been a great guy all along. On top of that the acting isn’t all that great and the humour is hit and miss at times, varying from extremely funny to slightly awkward.

Plot-wise it isn’t half bad. Will Smith plays a jaded Hancock, who because of his amnesia is a jerk. Through the plot he tries to better himself and eventually wins the hearts of the people. Okay so it’s a bit cliché but the film knows it. It seems they knew that it was going to be from the start and so they threw a couple punches at the traditional view of the superhero. The best part is the main villain is can even be seen as a throwback to ‘good’ old Dr. Claw. Also while it does try to explain Hancock’s origins, it doesn’t do so very well, leaving you with a lot more questions than anwsers.

In the end though the movie seems like a one and half hour introduction to nothing. It brings a couple good characters, but doesn’t really do anything with them. There seemed to be some sort of romance in it but it never really developed. Seriously though, I found myself enjoying most of the film regardless of how mediocre the movie can be. What I really want to see now is a television series or sequel or something that couple elaborate on the characters and introduce some new ones. In fact I would probably watch a Hancock sequel.

This movie really could have been a whole lot better had the actual movie been the first 45 minutes of it, while the remainder was some sort of cataclismic event. Maybe a little less cliché, but at this point what isn’t.