Monday, April 25, 2011

Last week, HBO unleashed a new show on the cable-viewing public called Game of Thrones. Based on a series of wildly-popular fantasy novels by George R.R. Martin, the show has been dubbed by many of the critics as a Must Watch if you are into the men-killing-other-men-while-pimped-out-in-fur-coat-style-period-garb-and-bare-breasts-exposing fare that cable has come to be known for these days. Hello, Tudors-fans. Nice to see you.

I have never been much of a fantasy fan, generally, but when I mated with a geek and we made a boy-child, I felt it was my motherly duty to embrace the genre. I watched The Lord of the Rings trilogy dutifully; re-watched all of the Star Wars films of my youth and their urine-soaked prequels. I bought in as best I could. But this Game of Thrones business is some weak kung-fu. Even my husband, who likes all of this crap, proclaimed it bad from the start. And this is the same dude who spent every Wednesday for four years telling me that "This is the absolutely last time I ever watch Lost, again", only to return to the exact same spot on the couch the following week. In short, he invests. But this stuff, he has walked away from after the first episode. If he is a canary in the coal mine then this does not bode well for the Game of Thrones people, I'd say.

Now, I know it takes a while for a series to find it's legs. The first couple of episodes of Lost and The Sopranos were watchable for me only because they managed to mine an atmosphere of claustrophobia and couple it with shadowy mystery and the occasional terrifying example of raw aggression. But GofT's is faltering because there is no nuance. Zero. It just keeps hitting the same tone of impending doom over and over again. And hits it, it does. Like a fat kid on a Smartie. Over and over and over again. Isn't this a show that is supposed to be based on an elaborate fantasy world? Yes, there are magical wolf-dogs and women who wear their hair in a long, overly-brushed style but between the incest, rapes and beheadings, it's difficult not to watch this pretend world without questioning humanity. Did you have to keep the worst aspects of the real world, George R.R.. Martin? (And, by the way, is it necessary to have two initials if you're a writer of epic fantasy tales? And can I see other hands up besides Mr. Tolkien and Mr. Martin to this question?) Heck, even fantasy-world crime solving is based on finding hairs. Can we have some magic here, please?

Actually, don't bother 'cause I'm out. I'd be better off watching Dragon's Den. At least there is some fantasy involved. And Dragons, apparently.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bridesmaids Movie Trailer Official (HD)

Can this start today, please? Thanks.

Globe Piece

Here's a piece I wrote about the cottage that appeared in today's Globe and Mail. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Persistent Myth of "Women Aren't Funny"

read the full text...

In 1985, cartoonist Alison Bechdel and her friend Liz Wallace decided to come up with a way of examining movies for gender bias. No small feat. The test they came up with posed three questions: Does a movie contain two or more characters who have names? Do those characters talk to each other? And, if so, do they discuss something other than a man? Most movie-goers - of both genders - would not expect movies like "The Expendables" or "The Fast and the Furious" to pass this exam. They don't. But would it surprise you to hear that the majority of comedies you love, also fail? 'Cause the list is long: The 40 Year Old Virgin, The Hangover, The Princess Bride, The Big Lebowski, anything with Adam Sandler. So, why are female roles in comedies lacking when there are so many funny women working in Hollywood?

According to most studio heads it's largely due to date night. Not the mediocre studio comedy of last year starring Tina Fey and Steve Carrell, but actual dates. Here is how it was laid out in The New Yorker:

Studios believe that making comedies for women flout the almighty laws of Date Night, which hold as follows - Men rule. Men decide which movie a couple will see on a given weekend, and any hint that a film involves fashion, pedicures, or female troubles is "man poison"

Both men and women can relate to Kevin James in Paul Blart: Mall Cop.....if that character is played by Tina Fey, it wouldn't work, for the same reason that men can't relate to Rene Zellweger in Bridget Jones Diary. Men just don't understand the nuances of female dynamics. "Often, the woman in the picture is in a movie just to make sure the audience knows the guy is not gay," says actress Catherine O'Hara.

Breathe, Laura. Breathe.

Why does this myth of women not being funny still persist? Is that women are just "fundamentally not funny", as the late John Belushi once said of his female counterparts (What a peach, huh?) or that those who make the movies have simply decided to see it as a cash issue and not a laughs issue? The last ten years or so have brought about some very positive changes in the narrative of women in comedy. Have these studios peeps ever watched an episode of 30 Rock? Seen Kirsten Wiig on SNL? Lifted their knuckles off of the ground long enough to hear the hundreds of female comedians that are out there pounding the pavement in comedy clubs nightly? I thought we were past the days when we let one gender decide what was funny for another.

Comedy has always been a man's world, but there were some bad-ass, ballsy (for lack of a better term) ladies who clawed their way in, who refused to believe the popular assumption that dismissed an entire gender as incapable of making people laugh. Mae West's first movie was in 1932 but before that, she went to prison on morals charges for writing, directing, and starring in a play called “Sex.” You want a bad boy, that's a bad boy. Funny women have always been around — we were just much less willing to see them.

And the great part is, once we realize that we must open our minds, there are twice as many people to laugh at.

N.B. An essay I wrote about buying my cottage will appear in the Fact and Arguments section of The Globe and Mail next Tuesday. I'll be sure to link or repost it here once it appears.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

In Dreams

Dream by Vjekoslav1
Dream, a photo by Vjekoslav1 on Flickr.

This week, on three separate occasions, friends or acquaintances made mention that I had occasion to appear in their dreams. When someone is brave enough to confess my role in their night life, I, like a needy actor, almost always find myself curiously inquiring into the status of my role: cameo, supporting or starring? This week, I am pleased to say, I received top billing in all three. You could do worse. Remind me to send my dream agent flowers.

I enjoy appearing in dreams. If, however, if they are not slightly weird or disorienting in the telling, I fight the urge not to show my disappointment. Like the one in which I appeared this week that was dreamt by the lady who runs our local dry cleaning establishment. I've felt a slight chill of late with her and now I know why. It turns out I snubbed her for drinks in a dream and when she awoke it left a bad taste in her mouth that she carried around for the better part of a week. Now that she's confessed, we are on better terms. I've apologized for my un-dream-like dream-behaviour and she no longer unnecessarily scorches my husband's shirts. Everybody wins. Secretly, though, I hoped that she'd tell me that we drank from giant martini glasses filled with Kool Aid while wearing squirrel pelts. She couldn't even remember the outfits we were wearing. Very disappointing.

That said, I try never to dismiss my night dreams or the dreams of others because -without sounding like a total kook -I have always believed that on some level, our dreams are an extension of who we are and how we view the world. And I don't mean this in a pat, over-wrought, I-Believe-The-Children-Are-Our-Future kind of way. I truly believe that dreams are our subconcious' way of sending us a message about the world around us. The fact that it's written in code is just nature's way of having a laugh.

I know my theory is true because I've kept a dream journal for several years and it never, never fails to inform me about how messed up and hilarious I find the world around me. Here's a particular favourite entry from last year (N.B. Please bear in mind that most of the entries are written while half-asleep. It explains alot, trust me....):

In my dream last night, I was back working on Special Events. This time, the preparations were taking place in a barracks-type of building that reminded me of guest's quarters at a cheesy resort in the Poconos. Or a leper colony. We were surrounded, for some reason, by mechanics who were also doing their jobs but, for some reason, this was not bizarre or unusual in any way. I drove my bike everywhere and, occasionally, the mechanics would stop their work to fix my bike or give it a wash. This appeared routine for them and, for some reason, was not considered an inconvenience or break in their day.

I worked for designer, Vivienne Westwood but it was a young Vivienne Westwood with long hair and slightly boring clothes and not the funky older lady with the tremendous fashion sense and automatic sense of humour. Young Vivienne was slightly humourless.

She and I would occasionally take trips around town to look @retirement residences. Not sure why. On these trips, Young Vivienne would take her time to point out the interesting architectural features we drove past. We never took hills and when we reached one would dismount and walk our bikes up, a ritual that was clearly established at some point in the past but which we now stuck to for reasons unknown. When Vivienne was not around I gunned up the hills because I could.

There was a looming deadline that was to be met but no one seems to be worried about it, except for me. It was unspoken: the deadline would be met and we were so good at what we did that it is almost pointless to even throw our worries into this thought. What was more important was keeping our bikes in good, clean and running order and taking full advantage of the facilities around us.

Nice, huh? What does this mean? I wouldn't know where to begin.....

Here's one last one, chosen at random.

In my dream last night I was a child sitting by a river bank with a girl I' ve never seen before. We are shooting rocks into the water when a Canada goose floats by. We stop shooting rocks to let it pass.

You're like a Canada goose, my companion tells me.

How so? I ask.

A little bit white but mostly black.

I shrug my shoulders and we continue shooting rocks into the river. A river made of chocolate.

This one is clear, actually. Totally clear.