Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap of Faith

Only thing to do is jump over the moon!

Sorry this was a little late, I needed my computer cables.
This is of course my best attempt at capturing the lunar eclipse last week.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Ah, English class!

I saw this book advertised and it gave me a really good laugh. It also made me think of University.

How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read

by Pierre Bayard

Have you read Shakespeare? Proust? War and Peace? Moby Dick? Middlemarch? Ulysses?

(Has anyone actually read Ulysses?)

Let’s face it, you can’t read everything. You probably don’t want to read everything.

So what are we supposed to do when the polite conversation turns to a classic book, or the latest Atwood, Ondaatje or Vassanji we haven’t actually read?

Fear not! Professor Pierre Bayard is at hand to save us from literary humiliation and social ostracism with his book, How To Talk About Books You Haven’t Read.

“It’s totally possible”, he assures us, “to carry on an engaging conversation about a book you haven’t read — including, and perhaps especially, with someone else who hasn’t read it either.”

In fact, “it is sometimes easier to do justice to a book if you haven’t read it in its entirety — or even opened it.”

With examples from Oscar Wilde, Graham Greene, Montaigne, Umberto Eco, Marcel Proust, and even the movie Groundhog Day, How To Talk About Books You Haven’t Read steers us through the social minefield of literary conversation (what exactly is the proper course of action when you meet an author whose book you haven’t read?), and offers advice to turn sticky social situations into opportunities for creative brilliance.

Charming, erudite, and mercifully irreverent, How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read is a must-have for anyone with reader guilt (or a dinner party to attend).

Monday, February 25, 2008

I love Jon Stewart

Top 5 favourite Jon Stewart moments of the night:

#5- “Democrats do have an historic race going, Hillary Clinton vs. Barack Obama. Normally when you see a black man or a woman president, an asteroid is about to hit the Statue of Liberty.”

#4- "In case you're wondering what we all do here during the commercial breaks, mostly we just sit around making catty remarks about the outfits you're all wearing at home"

#3- "I happen to have taken Spanish in high school. I believe he told his mother where the library is."

#2- (with regards to Barack Hussein Obama's unfortunate name) "It's not easy to overcome. I think we all remember the ill-fated 1944 presidential campaign of Gaydolf Titler."

#1- Getting Markéta Irglová back up on stage to do her acceptance speech after she was unceremoniously cut off. Totally classy, and she gave the best speech of the night.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

"You know, it's not so hard being a film cricket"

Just a quick note. I did not do a "should win"/"will win" kind of thing. I mostly discussed this in my blurb of each section. I have also only commented on categories in which I have seen at least 60% of the films in question (with one exception).
* denotes the movies I have not seen.

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for: MY OPINION!

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

*Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men

*Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson's War

Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild

Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton

This is not my being anti-no country, this is sctrictly routing for a deserving under-dog. Bardmen was convincing enough that when I see him at awards shows on TV I want to shout to the actors around him "Get away from him, he's a maniac!" (on the flip-side I hope that Ben Mulroney and Ryan Seacrest will ultimately sheild the stars from the attack). Anyways, Tom Wilkenson rocked my world.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Cate Blanchett, I'm Not There.

*Ruby Dee, American Gangster

Saoirse Ronan, Atonement

*Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone

Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton

I'm rather partial to Cate Blanchett, it can't be helped. I am also partial to taking risks in acting and this has got to be one of the big ones. Though I suspect her big competition is Ruby Dee and I have yet to see American Gangster, so I will reserve judgement if Cate is not victorious.

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth: The Golden Age

Julie Christie, Away From Her

*Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose

*Laura Linney, The Savages

Ellen Page, Juno

Okie-dokie, here it goes. Julie Christie was brilliant, no doubt about it- but a huge part of why her performance was so moving was Gordon Pinsent. I understand why he wasn't nominated, but he was a huge part of why that movie and her role worked so well. Ellen Page on the other hand carried Juno. She was Juno, and will have a hard time transcending that role. She acted brilliantly despite some sketchy writing here and there, and her age. She showed a depth and maturity in tackling that character that would be difficult for anyone. I love Julie Christie, but the nod's to Page to me.

Best Actor in a Leading Role

George Clooney, Michael Clayton

Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood

Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

*Tommy Lee Jones, In the Valley of Elah

Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises

Le sigh. Daniel Day Lewis will win, but let's be clear, just because he was ROBBED in 2003 from his Gangs of New York oscar, doesn't mean he gets it now. Same goes to Johnny Depp, who is not allowed to win just because they wanted to give it to him for something artier than Pirates of the Carribean. I thought Viggo Mortenson was brilliant. BUT I would like to give an honourary mention to someone who should at the very LEAST be on the list. James McAvoy gave far and away the best performance in Atonement, and was probably the best thing about the movie. Given more screen time (rewrite! rewrite!) he could easily have been on the list.

Best Achievement in Directing

Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood

Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, No Country for Old Men

Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton

Jason Reitman, Juno

Julian Schnabel, Scaphandre et le papillon, Le

The Coen Brothers are poised to take it and I agree that they should. No Country was a well paced, well acted, well shot movie, and I will be damned if I admit that it should be best picture. So this is what you get instead.

Best Adapted Screenplay


Away From Her

*The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

No Country for Old Men

There Will Be Blood

Quite frankly anything apart from Atonement should probably win. It will become clear as this list goes on that I was no great fan of the Oscar favourites this year No Country and There Will Be Blood so I suspect that's shading my opinion of the writing. Away from Her is beautifully written and it's an absolute shame that Sarah Polley isn't up for Best Director so I'm defaulting to giving her the writing oscar.

Best Achievement in Cinematography

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007): Roger Deakins

Atonement (2007): Seamus McGarvey

No Country for Old Men (2007): Roger Deakins

Scaphandre et le papillon, Le (2007): Janusz Kaminski

There Will Be Blood (2007): Robert Elswit

This is a no brainer. Whatever I liked and didn't like in No Country, it is undeniably well shot and well paced. It is absolutely an "achievement in cinematography".

Best Achievement in Art Direction

*American Gangster (2007): Arthur Max, Beth A. Rubino

Atonement (2007): Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer

*The Golden Compass (2007): Dennis Gassner, Anna Pinnock

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007): Dante Ferretti, Francesca Lo Schiavo

There Will Be Blood (2007): Jack Fisk, Jim Erickson

My brother and I will disagree on this, but I'm a big fan of Sweeney for this one. I thought that it was a visually fantastic movie, and while I agree that it was (as Scott brilliantly put it) "Tim Burton at his Tim Burton-est", it was the artistic elements of the direction that stood out (as opposed to the acting and pacing elements that made No Country so excellent)

Best Achievement in Costume Design

Across the Universe (2007): Albert Wolsky

Atonement (2007): Jacqueline Durran

Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007): Alexandra Byrne

*Môme, La (2007): Marit Allen

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007): Colleen Atwood

I'm seriously divided between Sweeney Todd and Atonement on this one. As you know I tend to look at the Academy Awards in context of "What really stood out about that movie?". For Sweeney Todd I think that the costuming was a big part of is, but Atonement's military garb was spot on. I wasn't that convinved at the period authenticity of Keira Knightly's green dress though, so I suppose that tips it for Sweeney Todd.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song

*August Rush (2007): Jamal Joseph, Charles Mack, Tevin Thomas("Raise It Up")

Enchanted (2007): Alan Menken, Stephen Schwartz("Happy Working Song")

Enchanted (2007): Alan Menken, Stephen Schwartz("So Close")

Enchanted (2007): Alan Menken, Stephen Schwartz("That's How You Know")

Once (2006): Glen Hansard, Markéta Irglová(“Falling Slowly” )

This was a pretty cool movie, and the best part of it was naturally its music. I recommend it, unless you really can't handle poor production quality (I couldn't help whispering "Buy a fricking tripod" to my brother when we watched it). But obviously this has no effect on the music. Right. Still see Once.

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year

Persepolis (2007): Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi

*Ratatouille (2007): Brad Bird

Surf's Up (2007): Ash Brannon, Chris Buck

I suppose the favourite is Ratatouille, so I ought not comment on Persepolis's vast superiority. Though I inevitably assume it :)

Best Documentary, Features

*No End in Sight (2007): Charles Ferguson, Audrey Marrs

*Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience (2007): Richard Robbins

Sicko (2007): Michael Moore, Meghan O'Hara

*Taxi to the Dark Side (2007): Alex Gibney, Eva Orner

*War Dance (2007): Andrea Nix, Sean Fine

This time around I've only seen one of the pictures, but I felt the need to comment. I watched an illegal copy of Michael Moore's Sicko before it was released in theatres. It was very Moore in fashion: basically tells you a lot of what you already know, makes some statements that are bold, some gutsy, some unfair. What I will say for Moore is that he had a lot of balls taking 9/11 rescue workers to Cuba for the free medical treatment they couldn't receive in the US. Some will say that he painted an unfair picture of Cuba- I argue that it makes one consider how bad the American health care system can be that Cuba can ever be made to look like good-guys.

and finally...

Best Picture



Michael Clayton

No Country for Old Men

There Will Be Blood

Away from Her

Fine. Michael Clayton. Just because I liked it the best. And because it has no chance of winning. It's like my Toronto Maple Leafs of film.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Finchy is a Death Eater

Those of us who are fans of the British Office have known it for years.

Ralph Inerson, who plays Chris Finch (the travelling salesman) on The Office (Gervais's), will be playing Amycuss Carrow in the final two Harry Potter movies. If anyone else has seen The Office Christmas special (again UK), and read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, you'll appreciate that I now have a very clear picture of Professor McGonagall telling Amycuss Carrow to "Fuck Off"

Now I know some people are going to say "Liz, by bringing up his role on The Office, while talking about his newest casting project, you are just encouraging people to see Ralph Inerson as his character and not an actor". Well maybe you aren't saying it, but I still want to weigh in on this particular acting issue.

Personally, if I do ever become a famous actor and I have one particular role follow me around the rest of my life, I will take it as a great accomplishment to have so embodied that part that people are so attached to. Granted I do kind of feel sorry for Mackenzie Crook getting called "Gareth" on the street, but he should know that it's because he's fricken awesome.

I was thinking about this last night as I watched Family Guy. Something I don't make a big habit of doing, but there was nothing else on. James Woods was the guest star, and the plot was that he had taken over Peter's identity (props to Family Guy: they had James Woods say "it's just like that time..." and Peter go into a rage that he was stealing his "cut scene" jokes). The whole time I was listening to James Wood's voice on his animated body being evil...

I'm sure that James Woods does not consider this the pinnacle of his acting career, but it's my favourite thing he's done... possibly apart from being a clerk at the Kwicki Mart.

I love character actors. Even actors who have a great "range" have at least one character that they are often identified with- A recent favourite character of mine has become Dr. House played by the incomparable Hugh Laurie (are you listening David Yates? Rufus Scrimgeour!). Yes, Hugh Laurie is a remarkable actor with a lot of range, but House will probably follow him everywhere from now on. I have a sneaking suspicion that he'll still get work. He's a pretty amazing actor. Plus I want him to look at my charts and figure out what I'm allergic to. I'm sure he can.

Shortly I will be weighing in on the Oscars, and I'm sure the topic of acting will re-surface. The question of whether or not an actor has stretched themselves, created a memorable character, and whether they maintain that character without slipping into THEIR character (*cough Sweeny Sparrow* cough*) always surfaces amongst critics around Oscar season. I am renting Elizabeth this week, and hoping to get out to see There Will be Blood before Sunday. By Saturday I ought to be well versed enough to make a few predictions. Until then!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Litmus Test of Music-Dickery

The Are You a Music Snob? Quiz
an original quiz by Liz Buchanan

Pick the answer that is the most right for you.

1. When you download music you use:

a) Puretracks <1>
b) iTunes <2>
c) Kazaa, Limewire, or something else free <3>
d) I don't listen to Mp3s, they will never surpass the great sound of vinyl <4>

2. As a musician the highest honour you can recieve is:

a) The Cover of the Rolling Stone <2>
b) The Polaris Prize <3>
c) A Grammy <1>
d) Not getting ripped to shreds by <4>

3. Music to you is:

a) What makes life worthwhile <3>
b) Not that important <1>
c) Something you really enjoy <2>
d) The purest expression of the soul through the rythm of the human spirit <4>

4. You rock out to:

a) Angels and Airwaves <4>
b) The White Stripes <3>
c) Greenday <2>
d) Celine Dion <1>

5. The best musical guest star on the Simpsons was:

a) The Smashing Pumpkins <3>
b) George Harrison was pretty cool <2>
c) The Simpsons jumped the shark a long time ago, who even watches that anymore? <4>
d) Starland Vocal Band <1>

6. Your favourite part of Juno was:

a) Haven't seen it <1>
b) When Ellen Page and Michael Cera play quitar at the end. Nice cover. <3>
c) The fact that she named her guitar Roosevelt "not Ted- Franklin. You know, the cute one, with polio." <2>
d) When she rips on Sonic Youth. <4>

7. If you owned a music store it would most likely resemble:

a) A Sunrise Records <2>
b) Empire Records. Damn the man, save the Empire! <3>
c) Rob Gordon's record store in High Fidelity <4>
d) I would just franchise an HMV <1>

8. The most tragic death in modern music history was:

a) John Lennon <2>
b) Kurt Cobain <4>
c) Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper <3>
d) Britney Spear's career <1>

9. Jim Morrison was:

a) Pretty Cool <2>
b) The Greatest Musician Ever <3>
c) Over-rated <4>
d) That guy from the Doors, right? <1>

10. If your all-time favourite band's name describes you, you are a:

a) beetle <1>
b) led zeppelin <3>
c) rolling stone <2>
d) tool <4>



Music is defined as the art of arranging sounds in time so as to produce a continuous, unified, and evocative composition, as through melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. American popular music is largely traced back to its african and european roots, reflecting both traditional folk music and african beats and syncopation. To learn more about music and it's place in popular american culture buy a fricken radio.

You have your tastes in music and other people have theirs. You are mostly familiar with mainstream music and you enjoy listening to the radio. Nothing wrong with that, but you might enjoy expanding your tastes and developing a broader range of musical choices. You have the good sense to listen to what you like, but not rip on everyone else for disagreeing with you.

You've probably got "good taste in music", whatever the hell that means. You won't just listen to any crap because it's popular, but you aren't going to be an ass about it either. Make sure that music stays fun, and you're as open-minded about pop-music and country as you are about rock. You don't have to like it, you just have to be reasonable.

You're a music snob. It's OK, I kind of am too. But seriously... Angels and Airwaves? Have you seen their new album cover? What a bunch of dicks. That aside- dude, get over it. There's always going to be someone who knows more about music, has more discerning tastes and is a bigger douche than you. I suggest a cleansing. Go put on K-Lite FM for a half an hour and make yourself sing along with "So you had a bad day". Seriously, it'll be therapeutic. Or torture. Either way...

You should consider these results legally binding, as I am a certified Music-personality-ologist.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

In the meantime however...

Don't get me wrong, I support the WGA- but you can't write late night TV this great:

PS: I have made it to temporary Word Sandwich glory:

Today´s top five
rank name city score date quickest avg
1 terrio Hayward 13402 2/5/2008 6 10.2
2 Liz Toronto 12582 2/5/2008 7 11.4
3 peter hartford 12396 2/5/2008 10 12.4
4 Vainamoinen Kalevala 12264 2/5/2008 11 12.6
5 smilla seattle 12216 2/5/2008 8 12

indicently not my best score, but my best record of the day... what the hell time is it?

Monday, February 04, 2008

A Call for Submissions

I have decided to have a theme for February's posting here. I am going to examine my own, and other people's influences. This is a look at the things that move me, be they artistically, politically, personally, whatever.

My first project is Words that Move. So I'm giving everyone here 1 week to think of their favourite segment(s) from a book or play that have had an impact on their lives. It can be any book or play regardless of genre, with the exception of a quotionary, as I am doing spoken word later.
I am then compiling them and we shall take a look at themes, sources and overlaps.

Thus please do not be afraid to submit anything from Milton to Munch, Shakespeare to Seuss. No one is judging your literary prowess here, I already know everyone here has a degree/Masters in English and/or reads at an 800th grade level (why else would you be at my blog?- ha ha).

Just show me the passages that make you love this great passtime we call reading.

"The so-called Mysteries have been with us forever. There is not a society on the face of the earth that does not and did not have its own version of what these Mysteries reveal of the Great Spirit, God, the gods and their relationshio to our lives- and our lives to theirs...
In modern times we call such Mysteries art. Our greatest Shamans of the moment are Rodin, Stravinsky (much as I hate his music) and Mann. And what else are they telling us but: go back and look again. In time, these shamans will be replaced by others- but all speaking in a single voice. It was ever thus. But no one ever listens."
-Pilgrim, Timothy Findley