Sep 30, 2011

Sweet Caporal Painted Wall

In downtown Medicine Hat there was a fire in the Central Block a few years ago.  After the building was torn down this giant painted ad for Sweet Caporal cigarettes was revealed and has since become a common focal point for local photographers.  I've seen numerous wedding parties and couples taking shots here, and walking home a few nights ago I decided to shoot a few photos of the facade for myself.  I'm not sure how old the ad is, but Sweet Caporal cigarettes have been around for over a century. 

Sep 29, 2011

Sofia Coppola's Somewhere

I first heard about Sofia Coppola's latest film, Somewhere after coming across several scathing reviews that touted it as a pointless and pretentious train wreck.  As ridiculous as it might sound, it was actually those reviews that made me fall in love with this film before I even saw it.  The truth is, I knew exactly what kind of movie this would be and why its reception was coming off as polarizing as it was.

Let's be clear, nothing really happens in this movie.

If you want to fault Somewhere, chances are this is what killed (or will kill) it for you.  Fair enough.  If I was going to pitch a movie, this probably isn't how I'd want to describe it.  However, I found the entire presentation eerily hypnotic and fascinating.  This isn't a film driven by plot points, it's a film driven by observation and perspective. 

Somewhere is about an established male celebrity named Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff), the routine of his career, and his relationship with his daughter (Elle Fanning).  The overall arch of the picture is really about balancing the excess with the simple pleasure of a meaningful relationship, like the one Johnny finds with his daughter.

Sofia Coppola has a distinctive style that's made up of long takes, ambient establishing shots, and loose cuts.  Her style has never been more aptly used or tested than it was here.  It's like Coppola always keeps you hanging on a scene longer than you need to see it in an effort to disarm your expectations.  An early scene where a set of twin strippers dance in a private hotel room is a classic example.  After a while it becomes less about the strippers and more about the actual situation.  As the scene plays out it becomes more real, and the private show that Dorff's character, Johnny Marco is enjoying just starts to look lonely and even a bit sad.

The idea of showcasing celebrity life as a routine littered with perks is a captivating approach.  The long takes with deliberate and extended reaction shots start to strip the glamour of celebrity life away.  Yes, it's easier to get laid.  Yes, you have an awesome car.  Yes, you get to travel all over the world.  What really gets you excited if you've come to expect and live with these things for an extended amount of time though?  With fewer people to relate to or sympathize with you for your awesome life, those few meaningful relationships you do have become the most valuable thing in your life.  I can't say that I ever felt sorry for Johnny, but I did empathize with his search for purpose and substance.

Somewhere is a slice of celebrity humdrum and the undetermined, open-ended maze that we all navigate in our own pursuits towards happiness.  I'll admit that you have to be in the right mood to truly appreciate this flick, but when you are it washes over you and you can't help but admire it.  

No matter your personal means, there are some things in life that we all want and some things that we all need.  I couldn't help but consider both as I watched the poetry play out. And maybe that's what really makes Somewhere special.  It's what your view of celebrity is and how you address that culture that really dictates how you'll perceive the message being presented.  Is it too much? Should we even care? What do we really value? And is there ever enough? 

As I said at the start, it's not for everyone.  But, at only 97 minutes long it's also not the biggest cinematic risk you'll ever take.  If you're craving something a bit different, this might just hit the spot. 8.5/10

Sep 26, 2011

Fall Photog

It's best to make the most of this weather while it's here, because you know that in just a few weeks everyone won't need any excuses to stay indoors.

A faint breeze swirled the warm autumn air around my feet as the leaves rustled overhead.  It was a Saturday afternoon and the streets were quiet; peaceful.  I was out walking to clear my head and to enjoy all of the colours before they disappeared again.  I snapped a few pictures along the way.

Everything has changed so quickly this year. It feels like hardly any time has passed since I was out admiring how spring was coming in.  Now here I am again on the cusp of something I can't control.  It's beautiful and poetic, but fleeting.  I just wish I could hold on to some of these moments longer.     


Sep 23, 2011

Charlie Chaplin Inception Speech

This video has been floating around for some time, but I was reminded of it after watching Inception again last night.  What someone did was take Hans Zimmer's track, Time from the Inception soundtrack and overlaid it with the powerful speech that Charlie Chaplin gives at the end of the Great Dictator (1940).  Not only does the music sync up surprisingly well without alteration, but as is usually the case with music, it serves to make Chaplin's words that much more epic.  His message rings just as true as it did 70 years ago, and because of that you can see why this video has been spreading. 

Sep 22, 2011

Guy With a Library Card: Issue 08

Written by M

No, that's not in reference to myself. Yes, it has been a while. But let me explain. It all started two years ago. I decided then I'd like to make some money on my own. So I got a loan and started working for myself. Well not entirely. I started temping, which worked out great. I had fairly easy jobs which eased the stress and it allowed evenings and weekends to do my work. Skipping ahead to now, I have a full time day job at an office and come home to work more on evenings and weekends, not to mention I am doing a lot more for my own business, which took a year and a half to get going properly. That's a story in itself.

But I'm not here for that story, I'm here for a story about the Library. I just told you all of that so that maybe you can get a glimpse that my time is limited. Even with all of this work, I do frequent the Library. It just takes a little more work. Thankfully, the Library is fairly organized which allows me to organize.

A lot of Libraries offer many different resources and do what they can to keep you updated. For example my Library hosts not only books but many other print material, electronic material and audio/visual materials including a film theatre. They release monthly updates on the website and a paper hand out, which I grab every time I see a new one in the entrance. The film theatre is really a treat to have, I know smaller communities don't have this luxury. What's also great is that it offers a different playlist than theatres Angry Charlie likes to visit or, for that matter, most people.

Thanks to this sheet of paper I picked up, I planned a date with the lady friend to watch a documentary. Now if you follow GWLC, you know I'm not a fan of Michael Moore, however he has very well cleared the path for a gentleman I do quite like. I find him interesting, controversial, always making a social commentary and most importantly, delightfully funny. That man is Morgan Spurlock. You might remember him from Supersize Me or the lesser Where In The World Is Osama Bin Laden. He's also been behind the scenes and in TV. These stints include the Simpsons, Freakonomics, 30 Days and Comic-Con. His latest is...wait for it...

Pom Wonderful Presents The Greatest Movie Ever Sold

The movie follows Morgan as he tries to get a documentary paid for by advertisers and product placement. With the odd touches of actual insight into the world of mix marketing, most of the movie seems to follow Morgan, meeting with people, organizations and companies to buy and sell ad space. Whether it's the hilarity of Mane and Tail or pondering the issue of schools generating funds through advertisements, Morgan makes everything easy to grasp. But then again, his approach seemed like we should already know what/when we are being sold, so why not have some fun with it. It's kind of the same approach he always seems to take and it fits, as usual, perfectly. It was everything I expected and unlike a lot of popular movies I do watch, PWPTGMES wasn't a let down. I left laughing, thinking and talking, which is exactly what I wanted.

The three greatest things about the movie are actually what I was thinking during the movie and these three things make me appreciate the fact that people like Morgan exist and do things like this.

1.  At some point you have to question his motives. Where did promotional deals cross with what he “has” to say, do or present? This point could have been a downfall but, given the content, seems like Morgan's way of creating audience participation. Only it's more fun because it seems like a game of cat and mouse.
2.  I could hardly imagine the legal/contract work of this movie. It would be unbelievable to try and decipher what you had to do between all the deals, how to keep them organized and keep clients happy.
3.  I want more. The movie didn't seem like a movie, it seemed like it was the behind the scenes of a movie so now I want the movie. And a collector cup. I also know there is a lot he did that is not in the movie and would be in the DVD Special features. So I am eagerly awaiting the release.

I want so much more, so I am now looking for the DVD release of 30 Days which I missed on TV. I can't seem to get enough Spurlock, and if you have been living under a tree for God's sake go check out his stuff. He started strong and continues to be strong. He's like the Pixar of documentarians.

Sep 21, 2011

A Heartfelt Thank You

Since I posted about the loss of my close friend, Dave last week, the response and show of support has not only been amazing, but surprising too.  To be honest, for most of this time I've written about my experience for the sake of going through my own mourning process.  I felt there was a lot I needed to say and by writing about it I was helping myself to better understand what I was going through. 

If the phone calls and messages from family and friends weren't enough, I've been reminded that there's actually an audience behind the views that show up on Editing Luke everyday.  They're often quiet folks, and most of them never leave comments.  That was until this happened.  One after the other I started seeing messages in my inbox from complete strangers expressing their condolences.  They shared their thoughts and offered their words of support, and I can't begin to tell you how much this has meant to me. 

This outpouring has reminded me about why I even began this site. It was all about finding a way to get feedback, to connect with people, and to create a more communal creative experience.  I often feel like my blog is still a very one sided undertaking, but the messages I've received and the response to the video I created for Dave have proven otherwise.  I am genuinely moved and honored to have had so many people make this experience easier by simply letting me know they were there. 

Likewise, the response from Dave's friends and family has been just as impressive.  While I used my blog to express my own emotions, in person I wanted to be strong and dedicate as much of my energy to them.  To be honest it surprised me to hear them say I needed the support as much as they did.  Maybe I just didn't want to admit it, I don't know.

I feel like I've already worked through a lot of the shock and pain as a result of simply talking with friends and sharing stories.  There are moments of weakness that will probably continue to hit me when I realize how certain things have changed, but that's to be expected.  In the meantime, the support continues to take the edge off, and you, the readers, have played a big role where that's been concerned.  

For all of this, I sincerely thank you.  

Sep 20, 2011

Tokyo Slo-Mode by Alex Lee

In this portrait of Tokyo, Alex Lee creates a visual wonderland with rhythmic slow motion, quick cuts, and heavy filters.  The result is a beautiful collection of city scenes and faces presented with a fresh and vibrant energy.  Check it out!

Sep 19, 2011

Running To Stand Still

As I've struggled and began to make peace with my own emotions and thoughts over the last week,  I've realized that there are no easy answers.  The healing comes from leaning on friends, from sharing stories, from thinking about the future, and from finding ways to best honor and remember who our friend Dave was.

The funeral was on Friday and I allowed a lot of those feelings to come to the surface.  It's a lot to think about and deal with in the course of a week.  It was great to see so many old friends together in one place after years of separation.  We laughed and cried, and did our best to make sense of how we got to this point.  It was a reminder that we're all going through our own stages of grief and healing.

I was still very close to Dave at the time of his death, but a common sentiment after losing someone is always that you wish you had spent more time together.  If anything, Dave's funeral reminded all of us that we need to make more of an effort to get together at least once a year.  I think we owe it to each other to create new memories and stories.

When I arrived in Kindersley on Friday a small group of us took a quick trip to the church before the funeral to see Dave's body and add our mementos to his casket.  Wendy, Dave's girlfriend, had gone earlier with Dave's family and expressed how difficult it was.  We all shared the same thought.  It was his body, but it wasn't him.

I placed a film strip in Dave's casket.  It was from our first year of film school together, from one of the first times either of us had ever shot on film.  The strip showed Dave walking across Wascana park.  I wanted to place something with him that I still had a part of.  The strip was a spliced piece that we didn't use in our finished reel.  I still have that film to remember him and to remember that project we worked on together.

After that we all headed back to the house to get changed and to prepare.  It was a sobering experience to think about why we had all gathered.  

The service was obviously emotional for everyone, but Wendy seemed especially strong when she spoke of Dave.  Hearing so many stories and shared experiences gave us all moments to smile between our tears.

At a small cemetery outside of town, we carried Dave's casket to his grave.  As it was set in place I stepped back only to have my numbness return.  I can't believe I'll never see him again.  I can't believe this is where we are, I thought.  I watched as Wendy and Dave's parents said their final goodbyes before stepping away.  It was after that moment that I really felt awake.  

Life is cruel and unfair sometimes, but these are exactly the things that challenge us to be better people.  To make our time count as best we can.  I looked at Dave's casket one last time and made my peace. 

Back at the house all of Dave's friends began to gather.  The mood became instantly lighter as we joked and talked.  We caught up with one another, reminisced about good times, and laughed.  We smoked cigars in honor of Dave and watched the video I edited.  It was a gathering he would have been proud of.

Ward, Mike, Me, Wendy, and Tyler

As the night wore down it was just the five of us left.  We joked around, snapped some pictures, and played with little Darwin.  It became increasingly clear as things wrapped up that while the loss of Dave marked an ending, it also introduced us to a brand new chapter that we're all going to be a part of.  

When Ward, Tyler and I drove out to his parents place to stay the night, a huge display of northern lights lit up the prairie sky directly in front of us.  The symbolism was all too apparent as we fell silent for a moment. When things get rough I think we all need a reminder to keep looking forward and to rediscover the beauty that abounds in this unpredictable world.  Dave's gone, but now his story will live on through us, and for better or worse, it's something that we'll always share.

Sep 16, 2011

Dave in Video

When you sit down to review all of the photos and video footage that you've taken throughout a friends life, it's surprising to realize how little you've really captured.  There were so many moments and events that it didn't even cross our minds to pick up a camera. The irony is that as film students we didn't shoot near as much of one another as we should have.    

I was keen to edit something with all of the footage I had of Dave from our Indio road trips, and thankfully Tyler was interested in collaborating to help me pull something together.  Tyler deserves a lot of credit for finding his footage of Dave and a bunch of his photographs and overnighting them to me so I could edit something.  The project wouldn't be near as rich without his contributions.  Thanks, buddy! 

Of course, the task of editing something under these circumstances wasn't easy.  My goal was just to capture the essence of who Dave was.  To show him happy.  To give him a send off that would make him proud.  And, I think he would be proud to see just how much we cared about him, and how much we still care. 

R.E.M. was his favorite band so I wanted to include Losing My Religion in the edit.  Knowing that Dave and Wendy weren't religious people, but that there were those around them that were, I tried to create a balance.  I cut Losing My Religion to contrast with scenes of us at Salvation Mountain, a place adorned with Biblical quotes and messages.  I then ended the edit with a song by The Killers which has a closing lyric stating 'it seems like heaven ain't far away'.  

I'm also not a religious guy, but I can understand and respect it.  If there was ever a time you wanted to believe, it would be times like this. 

Today is the day of Dave's funeral.  It's going to be difficult, but I know being around friends will help.  This is for you, Dave. 

Sep 14, 2011

Preparing For the Funeral

Everything has kind of been a blur since the weekend.  I feel like I've been fairly composed for the most part, but then I'm also separated from everyone in Regina right now.  I have a feeling that things will be different when I see everyone.

Dave's funeral is taking place this Friday in Kindersley, SK which is about 3 hours away for me.  It's his hometown, and it makes sense to have it there.  Wendy, Dave's girlfriend, asked me if I'd like to be a pallbearer and I said I'd be honored.  It still seems so crazy to think about.  It's such a foreign situation to be in when you're dealing with someone who you knew so well.

The one bright spot in all of this is that I'll finally get to meet their baby, Darwin.  As I had mentioned in my previous post, the last time I saw Dave and Wendy was in August just days before Darwin was born.  He was already overdue and there was an expectation that they'd already be settled with the baby by the time I visited Regina for a wedding I was going to.  I obviously wish the circumstances for our first meeting were different, but here we are.

Everything has felt so symbolic over the last few days.  The leaves have just started to turn, my iPod keeps shuffling songs that remind me of Dave, and it was this very week just one year ago that we returned from our cross country drive.  It's still so surreal.

My week has otherwise just been a mix of getting work in order, buying myself a new suit (one piece at every store it seems like) and responding and talking to a lot of family and friends.  I want to thank everyone who has called, emailed, and left me messages.  Times like these are not only about the person we lost, but about the people we have around us for support.  It really means a lot, and I'm fortunate to have people around me who care.

Now there's just one final detail I need to finish editing for Dave . . . 

Sep 12, 2011

Remembering Dave

Some of the greatest tests we're up against are the ones that we can't prepare for, that we don't see coming, and that make us confront our own worst fears. 

Dave's girlfriend Wendy called me on Saturday night.  She was crying, and with the kind of news that knocks both the wind and sense out of you, she told me that one of my best friends, Dave, had passed away suddenly that afternoon from health related complications.  

He was a friend that I had grown up with through film school, who I had worked on numerous film projects with, who I drove cross country to California with twice, and who I considered one of my closest allies.  He was many things to me and those who knew him, but in an instant it felt like they all disappeared under the weight of that call.

Going for a drink with Dave in Las Vegas in 2010.

There's never the right words for situations like these, not that I've ever been through anything like this before. Between my own numbness and shock, I'm only further saddened by the cruel and poetic twist that over the last year Dave had found the love of his life in Wendy, and just weeks ago welcomed a new baby boy, Darwin, into their lives.  He had never been happier.  It seemed that after 27 years of striving for this very life, he finally got it, and then left us before he even got a chance to settle in.

Dave, Wendy, and their new born son, Darwin.

I met Dave on my very first day of film school in 2002 at orientation.  He was a character to say the least.  Awkward and a bit clumsy, he had a passive aggressive temperament that always made being around him hilarious and eventful.  He was witty and smart.  In those early years what he occasionally lacked in self assurance he made up for with biting criticisms and commentary about how he felt the deck was always stacked against him.  As we grew older, it was this very thing that made him so unique and interesting and helped him find his own voice and style. 

There was no one quite like Dave.

One of the old hangouts at Sparky's in Regina, SK in 2009.
A reunion of the first year film crew in 2009.
Dave and I rocking some Michael Jackson during karaoke at Sparky's.

It was towards the end of my film school career in 2007 and 2008 that I feel like our friendship became more meaningful and deeply ingrained.  Tyler, Rowan, Dave, and I became a more tight knit group.  We would hang out and discuss film ideas, aspirations, relationships, and where we were going.  These conversations would inevitably become philosophical, often motivated by Dave's curiosity about something going on in his own life.  He was always an open book, and for better or worse he wanted people to know how he really felt. He admired honesty as much as he gave it. 

He was always one of my favorite people to talk to simply because he had an opinion on everything.  He always seemed fascinated by how someone else did something compared to how he would have done it. In the context of film production, this provided countless hours of creative brainstorming and constructive conflict. His scripts, blogs, lengthy emails, and songs were the proof that this formula inspired results. 

High fives after Dave got his new condo.

On the ferry to Alcatraz Island in 2010.
On a return visit we went out to the Regina city sign to recreate a moment we all shared a few days before I moved away from the city.
By 2009, with university behind us and our new struggles with adulthood more apparent than ever, Dave and I discussed the idea of a road trip to Indio, California where his parents had just bought a vacation home.  We didn't know it at the time, but the trip would end up providing some of the most genuine and thought provoking moments of our entire friendship.  From mountains to deserts, the discussions we had were as varied as the scenes that complimented them.

Driving through Joshua Tree in California.
At the Cabazon dinosaurs, a site we admired because of its relation to The Wizard starring Fred Savage. Need I say more?

We had never spent so much time one on one together before then, but what came out of that experience was a greater appreciation and understanding of who we both were.  Indio may have been the destination, but it was the feeling that we were both setting out to create and find experiences along the way that made it seem so defining.  We always jokingly referred to the trip as our Sideways.

Our friendship had never been stronger.  So much so, that in 2010 neither of us hesitated when we casually proposed the idea of taking even more time to do the same road trip again, this time driving home up the coast.  Those moments are not only some of the most memorable that I ever had with Dave, but are actually some of the most memorable experiences that I've ever had. Period. 

I can't believe your gone Dave, but I need you to know what a huge part of my life you were.  You brought out the best in me, you encouraged me with your honesty, you made me laugh without trying, and you shared in some of the most defining moments of my twenties.  I'm never going to know another person quite like you, and I can't begin to express how much that hurts after all we've been through.

Chillin' on the deck of the Queen Mary in Long Beach.

Our Christmas gift exchange in 2007.

Dave taking some time to daydream as we explored the Salton Sea.
When I saw you for what would be the last time in August, just days before Darwin was born, the last thing you said to me was how excited you were for all of us to get to be a part of his life.  It seems that statement means more now than you could have imagined.  I'll do my part to tell Darwin all about you and let him know how great his Dad really was.  We all will. 

I miss you, man.  I'll never forget you.

Here's one of the videos I made after we got back from our 2009 road trip.  The tone seems even more appropriate now.

Sep 11, 2011

Where Were You On September 11th?

Like most everyone else, I played witness to September 11th on the television and the radio that day in 2001.  It might as well have been any other day, but with chaos unfolding over every media outlet and no clear understanding of why it was happening, I think everyone felt paralyzed.   

I was 17 years old at the time and when my radio alarm went off that morning things were already underway in New York.  The tone in the announcers voice was still casual, but it was a big story that a plane had crashed into the WTC.  I remember going to the TV as soon as I heard that because I was sure there would be pictures.  In my mind I was picturing the tower to look like it did in Independence Day after the attack - I had no idea by the end of the day both towers wouldn't even be there.

I ran upstairs where my parents were in the kitchen preparing their breakfasts.  I asked them if they'd heard about a plane hitting one of the towers.  They hadn't.  I clicked on the TV and we watched as a second plane hit.  I don't remember getting ready that morning.  I remember sitting in front of the TV with my family and throwing a tape into the VCR just before I had to leave to capture things as they were unfolding.

Being in high school made the event resonate that much more.  Everyone had an opinion, there was lots to discuss, and teachers reminded us that this would be one of those events that we'd remember where we were when it happened.  Every classroom was a buzz with theories, stories from family connections, and tempered shock that this was actually happening. 

I always attribute 9/11 to a major shift in goals, not simply because of the event itself, but because in my own timeline it happened right as I was starting my final year of high school and trying to make plans for college.  The event, retrospectively, divided two distinct periods in my life and the dramatic changes taking place at the time.

The thing that sticks with me the most from September 11, 2001 is that it was school picture day.  All of the class pictures in our yearbook were shot when we were still figuring out what was happening.  I just remember a long line of students shuffling through the gym and the gossip becoming more ridiculous.  The towers had collapsed by this point and the idea of posing and smiling just seemed so ill-timed.

I went to work that evening at Staples.  I worked the customer service desk and the store was eerily quiet all night.  I remember everyone still wanted to talk about what had happened but we didn't have anything new to say.  It was confusing and consuming, and as the weeks rolled on I just remember wanting the conversation to change.  My curiosity finally shifted to escape.  It was such a bizarre time.  It made everyone restless and even a little crazy.  

I've got yearbook pictures to prove it.

Sep 10, 2011

Nike Air Mag Shoes

The infamous self lacing shoes from Back to the Future 2 have finally become a reality!  The Nike Air Mag shoes are being auctioned on eBay to raise funds for Michael J. Fox's foundation, which means they're on a limited release and will be selling for big bucks.  You can check out a promo for these kicks below.  And yes, the word is still out on the development of any hoverboards.

Sep 9, 2011

One More Mile

It was a year ago that my friend Dave and I kicked off our second road trip to California (two years since the first) and I couldn't help but get a bit nostalgic once facebook reminded me what I had been posting last September.  

I'm not sure when the opportunity to do something like this again will come up, but I know it's something I should push myself to do as often as possible with as many people as I can.  It seems that traveling like this not only allows me to see and do a lot of memorable things, but it also makes the conversations seem to resonate because you remember where you were when you had them.  

The entire time you're in a bit of a haze.  You can't wait to see what happens next or where you'll be.  And even though you're tired and maybe even a bit lost, in that frame of mind you're keen to push on that one more mile simply because you feel like you're always close to something new, something different, something you know you'll remember.  It's like nothing else.