Who is Queen of Today’s Cinema?

Queen of Today Cinema

Jennifer Lawrence
– 3 Oscar Nominations, 1 Win
– 3 Golden Globe Nominations, 2 Wins
– All within first 5 years of career

Meryl Streep
– 18 Oscar Nominations, 3 Wins
– 24 Golden Globe Nominations, 7 Wins
– Holds the world record for most nominations in both major film awards by an actress

Cate Blanchett
– 6 Oscar Nominations, 2 Wins
– 7 Golden Globe Nominations, 2 Wins
– Longest she’s gone without an Oscar nomination: 6 years

So who is the most deserving?


The Horror!


Yes, the movie of the week is a three-way tie. This is the only time this has happened and I don’t plan on repeating it. Here are the reasons:

1) If you look at the comments added to the last post, each one of these were given a vote. Not one got a lead on the other. This is no big deal, but…

2) All three have been movie of the week before. So I couldn’t  say, “Well, this one didn’t get chosen yet.” Also…

3) All three put together would make an awesome movie! “Alien Psycho Jaws.” And…

4) Finally, I could make a connection of all three of these horror movies with the recent events in Ottawa. Please keep in mind, these are not irreverent nor shallow correlations. They fit. And as part my grieving as a proud Canadian I’d like to reflect on this tragedy through these movies:

Psycho. My first reaction was that this movie fits best. The shooter was a psycho. Bam! (Interesting, however, that this is the only movie of the three that doesn’t involve a gun.) Now when we say that someone is ‘pyscho’ it can mean two things. Firstly, when we are angry at the aggressor we often share sentiments such as calling him/her a monster, a sicko or worse. This is normal and understandable, though truthfully it doesn’t do us any good. If anything we are responding inadequately. Please understand I am in no way defending him—nor Luca Magnotta, Karla Homolka, nor any other—but it’s true. Lashing out is always tempting and usually feels good. But deep down it is neither heroic nor right. Secondly we could use this term to state positively that this individual is, indeed, sick. Any physical illness can draw pity from the majority of us, though mental illness tends to bring out the worst in us. That’s why this movie was so scary in 1960 and still is today. An illness of the brain means inexplicable behaviour and, sometimes, the dreaded unknown. Again, I hate what he did. And I don’t pass off his actions as mental illness (though anytime someone does something like this, including terrorists, I believe they are not right mentally—call that whatever you may) I just refuse to wallow in hatred of another human being and pretend it’s the noble thing to do. As Yoda put it, “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate.” In short, hatred itself is psycho.

Jaws. With Jaws we have a very natural and good thing that has gone wrong. Sharks are a fact of life. They live in the ocean, eat the craziest things (I read in a library book when I was in high school that random objects like a bucket of nails and a full suit of armour have been found in the belly of sharks.), and every year they kill on average one human in North America. Cows, deer, and bees kill 5x, 10x and 25x as many humans each  year respectively. But these fish do look scary. Can’t deny that. As natural and normal as they are, if one was to go rogue like this one did, it would scare the tartar sauce out of us (thank you Spongebob). In Ottawa it was a man who shot a soldier. Just a man. And violence, I hate to say, is quite an ordinary part of our lives. People hurt people all the time. We see it constantly right before our eyes. But this act of violence was different. This man was different. Something very natural suddenly snapped. I think we all fear this. What if I just happen to step into an elevator that’s about to break? What if on my hike I see a bear who’s hungry? What’s to stop another crazy individual to walk with a deadly rifle right into a mall where I am shopping? What if there really is a killer hiding behind my closet door? Something ordinary going wrong is scary. Something ordinary went wrong in Ottawa.

Alien. Just as ordinary-gone-wrong is disturbing, perhaps even more would be something that looks alien to us. In the movie The Passion of the Christ Satan is portrayed brilliantly. There was no red skin nor horns, but for those who have seen it you no doubt remember how disturbing the character is. Everything about him is creepy. And the reason is simple: everything looks differently than what we are comfortable with. The actor is actually female with a male voice dubbed in. And her eyebrows are shaved and fingernails long and unkempt. At one point she (…or he? I don’t know… I…. I… Ahhh, so creepy!) is carrying a baby with hair on its back and an adult face that can make your skin crawl. Everything is odd, warped and unnatural looking. That’s why the idea of seeing an alien is so terrifying. It’s not what we know. Even when I watched E.T. as a ten-year-old I was scared at first of the alien. My heart leaped into my throat when he and Elliot saw each other. I couldn’t figure out why some were laughing. As much as the shooter on Parliament Hill was an ordinary human being, I am so proud to say that the cowardly act of shooting a man in the back is alien to most of us. His victim also had a gun, but it’s purpose was to protect. The men and women searching for the shooter all had guns, and one of them shot the killer with his. But even for the police officers and soldiers of our country, shooting a person never becomes normal or commonplace. To borrow from Ash in this film, this shooter was “primordial, deep cold, way below the line.”

The shooter at the war monument was psycho. He was a rogue like Jaws. He actions were, and must remain, very alien to us.

Congratulations Psycho Alien Jaws. This is your week.

And the Oscar goes to…

Best Actress: There is no competition for Sigourney Weaver this week. She was a great Ripley (a role initially intended for a man, and is equally as great in the sequel seven years later.

Best Actor: Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates. A sad bit of info: He died young in 1992 (only 60 years old) and his wife and mother of his two children was aboard one of the planes that crashed in the World Trade Center on Sept 11, 2001.

Best Quote: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” That one never gets old for me.

I heard the news listening to the car radio in Halifax. I was trying to find a good station but kept hitting country and western ones (And under my breath I cursed my musical arch nemesis, The Sailing Mom!). Hearing the news was disconcerting and heartbreaking. One of the commentators said something like, “This changes everything for Canada.” My hopes is that he is wrong. Yes, there will be changes. Good changes. But may we not fight fear with fear. May we not adopt paranoia as a new ethos from which to view people in the world who are different than us. The area where he struck was the centre of our nation, a purposely open and inviting landmark that defines who we are and what we are like as a people. Please don’t let that change.

I told each of my kids when I got home, “If this kind of horror ever happens in Sussex or wherever you are, you must remember this: don’t be afraid.

This one is dedicated to you Cpl. Nathan Cirillo. I’ll bet Don Cherry has already lamented, “What a beautiful boy. Doesn’t he look like a hockey player?”

The Monster Inside


I’ll never forget the scene in Monsters Inc when little Boo sees Sulley do his scaring thing. He’s the kind of character that a viewer will love right away: a cool, inviting blue colour; a fuzzy, comfy coat of fur; a disarming wave; a big smile and eyes that say he’s approachable and safe. For Boo he seemed to be a mix between a big teddy bear and a favourite uncle. But she saw that ugly side come out. The side he used for work and making money. A side he didn’t want her to see. She hid from him and cried.

I hate it when my inner monster comes out. I have three kids and I can remember times when they gave me that same look that Boo gave Sulley. And it comes out at the stupidest times. I’m certain that it even happened one night when one of them spilled milk. Seriously. Spilled milk. That’s like the one thing that should have made me go, “Um, maybe this isn’t such a big deal.” LITERAL SPILLED FREAKING MILK!

It’s not just in parenting that that happens of course. Sometimes I snap at someone who’s serving me behind a counter. It didn’t make me feel any better and it didn’t change the situation. But I did it. Reminds me of a song that Luke and I love to listen to. It’s by the band Skillet and it’s an entrance theme for one of our favourite local wrestlers. It’s simply titled “Monster.”

I feel it deep within
It’s just beneath the skin
I must confess that I feel like a monster
I hate what I’ve become
The nightmare’s just begun
I must confess that I feel like a monster

Losing our cool aren’t the only times that we see the scary monster come out. It’s any time we give into what we know is wrong. When we’ve lied, used someone for our own gain, take something that is not ours, take credit for something we didn’t do, etc. And this brings me to a question that has been haunting me and nagging me for a couple of years now. It all starts with a theory about children.

Good book. Bad hair.

For many years I’ve been a believer that there is “no such thing as a bad kid.” This is a philosophy communicated by youth care worker Charles Appelstein back in 1998 in a book titled with the same phrase. It’s a philosophy I agree with wholeheartedly. I bring this up with people from time to time and find that most, if not all, agree. But then I ask this question (the nagging one): “Is there such a thing as a bad adult?”

Again, most of the people I talk to all seem to agree that there is, indeed, such a thing. I’m sure that serial killers, child molesters, oppressive overlords and people who talk during movies are probably who come to mind when we say yes to this. Then I ask, “So, at what point do people transition from being “not a bad kid” to being “a bad adult.” I asked this on facebook, but didn’t get any good answers. I’d get something like, “there comes a time when…” or “people fall into…” etc. So I’d reply with something like, “Ok, so like age 13?” No answer.

I hate to admit this, but I actually want to believe in the idea that there’s no such thing as a bad adult. Now hear me out…

It’s not that I don’t think anyone is responsible for anything. In fact, I am a firm believer in personal responsibility. Own your mistakes and misdemeanors, pay for them, move on. For many, paying for them takes a very long time with a great deal of pain. I just think it’s useless for any of us to believe anyone is “bad.” So Hitler and Manson, I admit, make me want to say, “oh yeah, they’re bad alright.” But what good does it do me? Other than making me feel good about myself in comparison—a weak reason—I can’t think of a single benefit. Besides, most of the time the scary monster inside is just an injured animal.

What about child rapists? Hey, I want to hate them as much as anyone. But again, that doesn’t stop child rape from happening. Seeing the good in everyone first isn’t easy, especially when it comes to individuals like I just described, but maybe it’s the way we will advance as humans. Maybe it will help us all lessen the probability of hurtful wrong doings. Maybe?

Congratulations Monsters Inc. This is your week.

And the Oscar goes to…

Best Actress: Why Emma Watson of course. She was adorable as a child actor and you can see her abilities getting better with each new HP movie that came out.

Best Actor: Eric Idle. I find him the funniest of the Monty Python crew aside from John Cleese. His bit in the scene of the Black Beast of ARRRGGGHHH is hilarious.

Best Quote: “Please! This is supposed to be a happy occasion. Let’s not bicker and argue over who killed who.” – King of Swamp Castle, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

I love my children so much. I often think of that beast inside and think, I just hope that in the end they will hug the big blue furry one and forgive me for the scary one.

“Thank you clarity.” – Alanis Morissette

I did not respond to the challenge on Facebook to post something I’m thankful for for seven days in a row. It’s not that I have a problem with it, it’s just that I didn’t want to break my perfect record. Most of us have seen posts that tell us we should re-post if we care, if we love God, if we agree, etc. and like most of us I have ignored those words and refused to “share.” I guess I’ve done so well that I don’t even want to give in to the nobler Facebook challenges. HOWEVER, I am going to use this time to communicate things that I am thankful for. But first, the following must be crystal clear:

First, I will try my best to not mention my wife, kids, nor any friends or family. Let me explain. When Thanksgiving rolls around people are often asked to state what they are thankful for. Any guesses on what the number one answer is? That’s right, friends and family. After that, everyone else around the table is like, “Oh yeah, me too.” You can sit in  on a 500-person family dinner and if they all took turns they would each say it. Is this out of guilt? Perhaps fear that someone might gasp and say, “Oh no! He didn’t say friends and family! Monster!” Or are we just so freaking lazy? “Thankful? Oh sure, many things. I guess if I gave it some thought… ah screw it. Friends and family.”

The next time I am present where this ritual is taking place, I think I will say something like, “Before we start, let’s see hands raised by anyone who is NOT thankful for friends and family. Look. No hands up. Therefore, it can be assumed and accepted that we are all thankful for both friends and family. Now would everyone please use a bit of creativity and state something they are thankful for? Or have those blasted video games stolen all of your imagination?” Wait, not the last sentence. I wouldn’t say that.

Second, may I share with you how annoyed I am with hearing the same useless argument every second Monday of October AND every fourth Thursday of November? Twice a year, every year, snoopyI hear and read comments from people about when the real Thanksgiving actually takes place. When I was young I used to chime in on this. If an American said it wasn’t really Thanksgiving in October I would immediately feel the need to defend my motherland. Why how dare they? But, let’s look at it this way: If you were in China for the Chinese New Year, would you insist that each Chinese person around you understand that the new year does not begin in February? Or would you be a big boy / big girl about it and simply join in the fun? Both when I lived in the United States and when I taught at a school that had a large American representation I learned that there’s a much brighter side than the one that demands loyalty to a particular day of the year. And that was the fact that I got to celebrate twice. That’s right. Two turkeys. Two feasts of stuffing, cranberry sauce, squash and sweet potato casserole (Sweet hosanna that stuff is taste bud paradise!). Why wouldn’t that be a great thing? No Thanksgiving isn’t ruined by being observed on a Monday north of the border and no it is not a mere kick off to Christmas south of the border. No, the second Monday in October is not “Canadian Thanksgiving,” nor is the fourth Thursday in November “American Thanksgiving.” It’s Thanksgiving. My fellow Canadians, you behave or I’ll have to open up a can of maple whoop-ass on all of you. Americans… don’t make me come down there!

Ok, so now that I’ve gotten all of that off my chest, here are my be-thankful-fors:

1. Sweet potato casserole. That stuff is like crack cocaine. Of course, I’ve never tried crack, but from what I hear this stuff can totally rival it.

2. My sister for making sweet potato casserole every year. Though she is both my sister and friend this doesn’t count as lazy thankfulness. The casserole is part of the statement, so that gets me off the hook.IMG_3365

3. My shepherd incense burner. It was passed down to me from my aunt and uncle who took note of how much I loved it when I was a kid. Love the look, the smell it gives off, and the memories attached to it.

4. Wrestling. I realize that I am part of a smaller representation who loves this, so I will refrain from expounding. But let me just say that Dean Ambrose is tearing it up right now! Whooo!

5. Scrabble. Love that game.

6. Planes Trains and Automobiles. This is one of my favourite movies of all time and it is set at Thanksgiving. I really miss John Candy.

And the final thing I am thankful for is…

7. Friends, family, and that I live in the right country that celebrates the real Thanksgiving in October. HA! Got ya!

Congratulations Citizen Kane. This is your week.

And the Oscar goes to…

Best Actress: Joan Fontaine in Rebecca. A very soul-bearing performance that earned her an Oscar nomination (the real kind).

Best Actor: Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator. This movie is awesome. It’s one of the few roles Chaplin did as a speaking actor. His speech at the end of the movie is famous for being inspiring and ahead of its time.

Best Quote: “In the seventeenth chapter of St. Luke, it is written that the kingdom of God is within man, not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people, have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.” Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator.

Oh, I’m also thankful for this week’s movie of the week. I’ll admit, it’s long and when I first watched it I did get bored and looked at the clock. However, the ending is quite powerful. Makes up for it all. Which I guess is more than can be said of this blog entry.

Decade: 1940’s; Week: Oct 10-16/14

Oct 10-16-14

Here’s an idea for you. If you haven’t seen any of these movies, go to IMDb or Wikipedia and read the description of each. Then vote for the one you think sounds most interesting. I can tell you this: one of them is a Hitchcock psychological thriller, one makes fun of Hitler and the Nazis long before everyone was totally on board with that, and one is considered by many movie critics to be the greatest movie ever made.

The Great Dictator (1940, #55)

Citizen Kane (1941, #65)

Rebecca (1940, #142)