Showing posts with label Guy With a Library Card. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Guy With a Library Card. Show all posts

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.

Apr 21, 2011

Guy With A Library Card: Issue 07

Written by M

Usually these writings have come inspired by a trip to the library concerning something topical in my life. Straying from that a little bit, I'm gonna talk about some movies I have watched in past trips but actually relate to something relevant today. This entry that may need some parental guidance due to some X-rated controversy. Now I have your attention. So let's begin this story with something you should write down. In the words of my hero, Van, “Sex Sells”.

Last Monday, I was going through the LeaderPost during my lunch break and came across the story of a 14 year old boy and his school administrator. Frankly, I didn't know how to take it because the whole thing seemed made up, just like a classic episode of Jerry Springer. But I kept reminding myself that the story came to the LeaderPost, a reputable newspaper, from another reputable source the Montreal Gazette. Sources so good I couldn't get it out of my head. Anyways the gist of the story is that the 14 year old exposed the administrator for starring in porn. Not sure what is more wrong with this situation, the fact she made such a decision, or the fact that a 14 year old was watching it. I recommend reading and watching the stuff from CBC. It's pretty bizarre.

A long time ago, I took out a movie called Inside Deep Throat. Up until this point I was pretty indifferent on the subject of pornography. If you don't know, this documentary covers all the issues of the 70's porn movie Deep Throat. Which is most noted for being the most profitable movie of all time. As we follow several story points, you slowly come to terms with how pornography shaped our society. I left this movie thinking everything is the way it is today because of porn. If you think about it the legacy of Deep Throat is huge. Money and Mafia aside, it spawned the name of the Watergate scandal mole or if you watch Slap Shot, Deep Throat is the movie playing at the theatre as the parade passes by. All of this commercial recognition through the fights, the censorship and lawsuits. Deep Throat stirred up a nation and spurred a new generation of filmmakers, piracy and endless debate.

I came away from this movie thinking that it is actually hypocritical that we have a film school that studies all genres except for pornography. I even had this conversation with a feminist film prof who to my surprise, agreed with me. Although she hadn't seen either film she knew enough about the social impact back then and still today. Done intelligently enough, the class could have been one of the most educational classes in film school. With all that said, I find Inside Deep Throat is a movie that most people don't know about despite rave reviews. This movie has everything a great documentary should have, in parts it's funny, in others it's serious, it makes you think, its topic is more interesting than just dissecting a movie and it's entertaining. So when the appropriate time comes, if you can stomach some graphic content and get over any ridicule you might face, I highly recommend Inside Deep Throat.

In 1969 there was a movie called Midnight Cowboy, starring Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman that won three Academy awards including Best Picture. It is the only X rated film to ever win the Best Picture. Which brings me to movie number two on my list This Film Is Not Yet Rated. The MPAA is the organization that rates movies. It gave the X rating to Midnight Cowboy and for some reason changed its rating system. That is the basis of the movie. Who runs the MPAA and how do they make decisions? With testimonials from filmmakers and the rating issues that had them scratching their heads will leave you doing the same. The only fallback of the film for me is the fact that they did some undercover investigating and really didn't answer anything. However, at times it made the show a little more entertaining. Not quite as intriguing but a little lighter, This Film Is Not Yet Rated may be a good film to work up to Inside Deep Throat. Also, I would recommend after watching, you  create a wobbly pop game in which you watch old movies you like and guess how they got their rating. Good times ahead.

Now I hope no one takes this the wrong way, but I am not trying to condone porn or other inappropriate material. I just want you to educate yourself and come up with your own opinions of exploitation, the difference between media's influence and which way that influence flows. How these inappropriate influences shape our world we live in whether its good or bad. Think of what this means to the story of the 14 year old and the school administrator. The access the 14 year old had to pornography and how it's regulated. The guidance or lack there of in the decision process of the administrator. And where we go from here as a society. We regulate and regulate but human freedoms tear the walls down and social disorder prevails. There is no right direction in life but I can guarantee you we all create the direction we are going. History is what it is and the topics of these two films play a pivotal roll in this direction whether you like it or not. Its a small piece of the pie that forms our society but to understand where we are it may be helpful to know why and how we got there.

Oct 5, 2010

Guy With A Library Card: Issue 06

A Brand New Day
Written by M

Welcome back to another episode of Guy With A Library Card. It’s been a while, in fact all summer and then some. I hope you all enjoyed your summer holidays, maybe went somewhere fun and got a lot of needed R&R. I know it was nice to take a break from things and even got my own chance to get away a few times so all was good here.

As with all things, when you get back from holidays, you have to play catch up. I know why do you really have to get back to work? It’s balderdash. Even here in the Internet blogosphere ketchup is necessary...not just on my fries. Over the last few months a lot has changed in Saskatchewan Libraries. Every Library in the province amalgamated into one. With that came new web changes, some good and some bad. There have been changes in how I request materials and when and how I get them. Some aspects have improved and some have gone down the drain. I can also now post reviews online for others to see and rate material from the library. Thankfully the staff and the Library are very helpful when I have any issues and as always walking into a library never changes. As more and more library systems are going this route expect changes at your own branches and be sure to pick up any library publication, usually at the front desks, about what’s going on at your branch.

Really you don’t want to hear all that crap. With summers passing I have noticed that my taste has changed like the seasons. So I think the best way to go is with the high (forget the lows) and how they all changed to my current interests.

First summer hit I actually wrote a piece on it and then lost it. White Dog is a movie from the early 80’s about a white German Sheppard which was trained to attack people with dark skin. Naturally the dog would be at the hands of a black trainer and the drama would unfold. I kept looking at the case in the library as I thought the cover art was interesting, very minimalist but very good. When I read the synopsis I also thought that was interesting but it took a few months before my summer adventure aspirations took over and I gave it a try. Needless to say I enjoyed the movie. Actually I can’t think off hand of an early 80’s drama which I have enjoyed more. It also captivated three other 20 something’s who had no interest in even hanging around. I was so intrigued by this movie I did some more digging (not real deep) and thought these two things were of interest. First I wondered why I never heard of this movie before and why the DVD was dated 2008? The movie was censored out of rotation, made in 81 slated for release in 82 but after a few select screenings Paramount locked the movie up. In the early 90’s another small release happened, with great review across seas. The DVD in 2008 is the official US release of the movie and the only ever release in Canada. The film was also rumored to be Tony Scott’s debut but Sam Fuller who had a history of controversial material insisted on the directorial rights. Lastly the movie is based on a book which does have some historical references to real incidences however there is no such thing, at least not that I could find, of any evidence to support that a “white dog” ever existed or was trained by any group.

Next summer time fun movie is a documentary called Shark Water. I had wanted to see this for a long time as I heard good things but it just never happened. Being a huge fan of most nature videos this was sure to please but I had also just come of a weekend of Shark Week on Discovery. It was kind of funny in retrospect. Shark Week seemed more focused on the “killer shark” and how powerful and wild the animal is. Sure they made reference to the fact that Jaws isn’t really how sharks are but really they exploited the fact that we all want to see sharks kill seals. Shark Water takes the approach of almost humanizing the animal. They point out how we don’t really know much about sharks despite the fact they have been around actually longer than we have. Ultimately it turns into a crusade to save sharks from poachers. It’s beautifully shot and well put together plus there is a real run in with real Pirates, how cool is that? It’s intense and totally amazing while you sit in the safety of your home.

Then came the transition period and it all started with a phone call. A while back I requested that the library get in some material, a pack of DVD’s that for some reason are more rare than they should be considering their historical cultural content. I had completely forgotten that I had requested them yet by some magic of timing my phone rang and there was something to pick up at the Library. So I headed down and what I found turned me into a 7 year old. At my cross roads with hockey, whether I play competitive still or not and with all the leagues starting the arrival of The WHA Chronicles was impeccable. I could barely contain myself. The transition of the new adventurous to the old regular grind had started.

World Hockey Association Documentary

The Chronicles was an interesting piece. I don’t know if you’ve ever watched old hockey games before but they lack the playoff excitement that you get when you are committed to a sport for some time. However the games featured on the 3 disc set did include several championship games and the last ever Avco Cup game between the Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets. There was also a game featuring the New England Whalers (best logo ever) against the Soviet Union, a game that should have taken place 5 years earlier. Yes the famed 72 series was actually product of the WHA who wanted to promote an upcoming league as being able to compete with any team but obviously that fell through, the NHL took over and the rest is history bad blood and all. Really though out of this DVD set all you needed was the last disc which contained interviews with Bobby Hull and The Great One. Both very insightful, it was amazing to hear The Jet talk about how hockey transformed around him and his role while Wayne resembles and excited school boy with his first pro hockey experiences. Both interviews made one gain a lot of respect for each player and at the same time made you feel like they could have been just one of the guys in the dressing room. Also was a historical feature that comically went through the massive changes the league underwent. Lastly, for those of you who know the legacy of the WHA there was a 6 min fight real which was as good as one would expect. I am still can’t believe some of the violent images I saw.

So now that summer is over the regular grind has me in full swing. I’ve planned something a little larger for GWLC which may take some time but will come. With September, I also have some none library watching to do as every year a personal favorite is with out question bought on DVD. So while you enjoy your next trip to the Library I will commence with the Kenny vs. Spenny Season 6 Marathon. I bid you well.

Jun 14, 2010

Guy With A Library Card: Issue 05

Weapons of Mass Distraction
Written by M

I like days like today. After a week of plus twenty and more, the weekend dropped ten degrees and spring rains have greyed our skies. It is a perfect weekend to edit video. Not because I will be inside all day, quite the opposite. I prefer to be out, driving around enjoying the sights, the sounds and the smell of rain. I know it's weird but I love this weather, it calms me and there is no better time to relax. This is why it is perfect for editing.

First, I want to paint you a picture. When I edit, I am in my basement. It's always cooler and I prefer that. In the north west corner of the room sits a sticker-ed up beer fridge. Beside it, sits my PC and on top of the fridge sits the monitor for this computer as well as various office and computer contraband. Next to all of this is where I sit. My desk hosts an assortment of equipment making everything fairly accessible as well as two more monitors that wrap me in screen. Beside my desk are where my Mac and hard drives sit. Moving on are two small filing cabinets. The grey one that hosts my paperwork also holds my printer. The rooms is then divided by the door and a small wall about two feet long. On the other side of the wall the room is set up to be more of a lounge. There is a futon along the north wall and at the foot of that sit a TV and PS2. To the right of the TV is a fireplace. It's actually a very cozy place to work any time of the year.

Editing is tedious and, to some degree, boring. You sit at a computer for hours and meticulously rip apart your camera work. You play around trying things out and trying to figure out what works best for this specific instance. You try to remember/guess what you had in mind for edits while shooting. It is affected by the pace of your entire project, the shots before and after, the sound scape and so many other slight differences, it is hard to wrap your head around what you are doing. And you do it over and over and over again. It really is a black art. For anyone to say they understand it, I believe it is a lie. It's always changing and is dictated by trends and technology. It is impossible to truly know if what you are doing has some sort of mass appeal at this stage. It is frustrating and for these reasons it could very easily be one of the hardest aspects of what I do.

However, because of the challenge, it is often the most rewarding aspect when things turn out or are better than expected.

This is why I prefer days like today to edit. I am calm and the weather helps with that. I prefer to work in the dark. It makes the screens pop making visual adjustments easier, the clouds provide this all day. I also find that my eyes are fairly sensitive to light, so having the dark room prolongs the time I can work. This light issue also helps with relaxation. Thus, the weather has the profound effect of making the process a little more enjoyable. I understand this is likely not for everyone but for me, today, is money. My productivity will go way up, while the day feels like I haven't worked at all.

Part of the reason it won't feel like work is because of the process. This is where the library and my room set up comes to play. This week I picked up a few movies from the library. Before I start to cut, I run to the nearest 7-Eleven and grab myself a Dr. Pepper Slurpee. Today I will cut for a bit when I get bored I will pop in a movie and watch part of it. Then cut again while drinking my icey goodness. Sometimes I will keep a movie on in the background just so there is something that can take my mind away at times. At this time of year, often, it is the playoffs. I will continue to work and break all day with the many things I have to distract myself with. Before I know it, I'm tired and ready for bed. Things get done but it feels like I had a weekend to hang out at home. I accomplished some work, watched some movies I wanted to and possibly souped up my Subaru in Gran Tourismo. That's a decent weekend. Calm, relaxed and accomplished.

If you're wondering what kind of movies I watch, well, it's usually a mix of things. Most often, it will consist of a documentary and an action film. This weekend I have at my disposal an Imax movie called Everest, Shaun White's First Descent and a very acclaimed documentary called Trouble the Water. With these, I also got The Last Boy Scout and Over the Top. So by the end of the weekend I will have learned something and it will be confirmed that Bruce Willis is the coolest action hero of all time, football and I mix well for movies and Sly had his time with this classic. I am pumped for it.

The bottom line is that inspiration is overrated. I go through great lengths to keep myself pre-occupied. Editing in this way keeps my mind going, the wandering off keeps it fresh, and when you mix this in with a long period of time it keeps your outlook and critical thinking sharper. Plus, at any given time, these aversions can offer some practical use as far as how you style your edit, pick and pace your music and visual effects to try out. Throughout film school, I used major distractions to keep me fresh, like playing hockey and associating with people not in film. This tactic works for large scale creative formation. Your creativity is defined by being open to all aspects rather than only being a complete film dork or 'what ever it is you do' dork. A one track mind will be a one trick pony. It's taken me a few years to find what works for me and everyone will have a different strategy, but I believe the aim is all the same. A good distraction will keep your mind open, your ideas fresh, your eye for detail critical and make the process as relaxed as possible. And if you ever watch Over the Top you'll want to put a weight set by your computer.

Apr 20, 2010

SCN, The Death of a Good Thing

This issue of Guy With a Library Card takes a brief intermission to call attention to the recent news surrounding the downfall of SCN - the Saskatchewan Communications Network. Speaking personally as someone who had many film school friends that ended up either working here or taking advantage of the services it provided after university, this really is an unfortunate turn of events.

SCN, The Death of a Good Thing
Written by M

It's hard to imagine that a government could kill one of the few cultural outlets in any nation in less than 4 years, but it happened in Saskatchewan, Canada. SCN went from being the largest independent station in Canada to mediocre, the second the Sask Party took over. With the finger pointed at Brad Wall, know that it was made possible by the Conservative Government. Honestly, the details are unimportant because come this May SCN will close its doors regardless of who did what and how many people will support the station.

Why would the government do such a thing? Because the arts are expendable. Even working in the industry, an individual is expendable. In the eyes of our own community, we are expendable. Not to mention, it's basically a crap shoot as to whether or not you'd even get a chance to work. The two empowered Governments have, from the get go, showed a tendency to disfavour the arts. It really was only a matter of time before a major art cut would be made and what better reason than the economy being in the dump. Do not mistake it, SCN is a major art cut. Cuts needed to be made and did people really expect those cuts to come in Education or Healthcare or, God forbid, Indian and Northern Affairs.

So you make cuts where it seems like the best bang for your buck. Although the 5 Million dollar cut and 35 jobs lost are very inaccurate. SCN was worth over 20 Million a year and the Sask Party cut promises made by an overzealous NDP government, which in turn led to the fall of federal funding which accounted for almost half of this tab. No other province had anything even close to this budget. SCN single-handedly created a growing, profiting industry and now suddenly Saskatchewan fell behind every province. The 5 million they now count is actually closer to 6 million of government money and in actuality we only save 2.5 mil as they have to honour outstanding contracts. Not to mention, we lose the other 2 to 3 Million SCN generates on its own in order to fund projects. All of which in turn pumps money into the Saskatchewan economy. Then these projects get funding from other stations. This happens because SCN funds television shows so that other stations had less risk to take. Then, once again, all this money gets dumped into the economy as restrictions are made by SCN to spend a percentage in Saskatchewan.

This number is not added to the total of SCN's budget. As for the 35 jobs, yes, it is true that SCN only employs this many people. However, the effect is on thousands of jobs that trickle from this. SCN didn’t operate like other government agencies. Meaning that infrastructure was a small part of it. The large majority of the money was to go to other companies to make shows. SCN was the governing body that allocated this money. Needless to say, this money went into the hands of Saskatchewan people and businesses with stipulations of the money being spent in Saskatchewan, then trickle, trickle, trickle. The last major flaw is that it was made to seem like people don't watch SCN. Studies were done to find that only 5% of the province's population watched SCN. While this may reflect on certain demographics, it clearly leaves out the North who likely get SCN as their only “local” channel because of the availability it had. On top of this, as I said before, the show SCN funded got funding elsewhere which means these shows were broadcast nationally and globally on hundreds of other channels. Saskatchewan product and stories reach far and wide all because of SCN.

From a personal budgeting level, I understand the decision. For example, if I make $1000 a month that is my budget for the month. Rent and bills, take up the large majority of a budget like this. For argument sake lets say $750. This I relate to infrastructure, you know the stuff that keeps you at home with the water running, power working or rather people working to keep these things working. The other $250 would go to things like food, general health and maintenance, or if you would, healthcare and the raw material to fix roadways etc. Sadly, this is likely very close to how a budget like this would work. As you can see there is no room to go to the movies, drinking or any other sources of entertainment. So, in short, I see the government doing what they have to do in order to keep the province going. When it comes time to cut things out, you cut those that are expendable, what you don’t really need, even if they make life a little nicer.

Yeah, I get the move. Yea, it does suck. It’s those nice things that make life great. The unfortunate reality is that this is the first step in a move that will crumple an industry. Pretty much any company that deals with television deals with SCN. Whether they are industry giants or small independent producers. The real truth doesn't lie within the reports the government used to make this decision. The large majority of the Saskatchewan film industry is independents, meaning the 35 employees that lost their jobs will likely translate to 35 companies going under who employ a range of 5 to 20 people each. These people will leave for opportunities in Vancouver and Toronto. As more and more leave for the opportunities elsewhere this will soon lead to the demise of large movie making. The industry giants will have a harder time convincing anyone to come here and spend their money if there is no industry on its own. The positive of the giants is that they are established and will have other areas of their business that will pick up the slack, while they still make their own cutbacks and or outsource in other markets.

However, the outlook isn't as bad as you think. The economy shows signs of turning around and this is an industry where when time and money provides, you can pick it up again. It will cost more, but that is the sacrifice. Technology gets outdated and to keep up with the Jones’s you gotta continually grow. The loss of continual push is irreplaceable. Not to mention the talent pool drought. We will have to start back up from scratch and instead of having professionals you’ll have wanderers who don’t know what they are doing. Which incidentally is how the industry began in Saskatchewan. The entire process will be a rebuild regardless of the short term solutions and new series and shows being shot here. The other sad loss is the resources, the equipment, the millions put into the Soundstage and those are just a few that are not trickle. From here, the support the film industry provides this province is felt in the pocket book of simple companies. A-1 Rentals, Talman Lumber, CMS Equipment, local restaurants, local caterers, Supreme Basics, Gale's, Mondrian and so many more are taking a tough hit.

The real tragedy is the cultural loss. Whether you watched SCN or not it was a part of what made Saskatchewan unique and it celebrated that in every aspect of its daily business. Which is a lot more than most can say of what they do. Yet it is SCN that will be gone. No matter how much support it gets, how many have joined a facebook group or the immense public outcry the station will be shut down. Sure SCN had its cons but they would have never outweighed its pros. I am not going to try to encourage you to participate in the ongoing struggle to keep SCN alive but I do encourage you to check out the information on it. Go to and read everything. By the time you are done you will feel a little more patriotic about this province and you will feel the cultural loss that SCN is. No matter what happens, SCN will live on in the hearts of many. It will be a social icon for years after its demise. This can be seen in every petition and rally, SCN really does matter to this province.

Mar 3, 2010

Guy With A Library Card: Issue 04

My Hero
Written by M

If I had to pick one musical hero it would be the Foo Fighter's Dave Grohl, but this isn't about Dave. This is about someone who I feel I should respect but I can't bring myself to completely enjoy what this man does. By now you're probably cursing my name by the fact I'm still beating around the bush. But there is no easy way for me to raise this subject and this person, so here it is; this is about Micheal Moore.

I am a documentary person. I can't explain it. I love watching docs and I love being part of them from behind the camera. As Luke has found Editing, I have found documenting. This love I likely owe to my dad and his countless A&E Biographies, his obsession with bio-pics, news and anything to do with real people like Ali or Tretiak. I likely should have went through journalism school. All of this is why I have problems discussing Micheal Moore.

You see, I have very mixed feelings about him, created by his history and what he has done. Let's face it, without Moore documentaries would not be as popular as they are now. Roger and Me changed everything. It was fresh, it was entertaining and it was as Dave says “ordinary”. He created a large appeal to the everyday average person struggling in the world. Then Bowling came out. Even more people paid attention to him. And when he got to Sicko “the man” was afraid of him.

As a documentary guy I can't help but to watch his films. Personally, my favourite being Bowling For Columbine. I remember when I first saw it I thought two things; 1. He makes some good points and 2. why is my bull$h!t detector way off the charts? I never put thought into it until I started hearing things about how he manipulates images and audio. Then things kind of made sense. I watched the movie again and thought that it is pretty obvious what is full of crap and what isn't. Then I got mad, I thought this isn't even a documentary. Then my stance shifted and I though his tactics are actually pretty smart as far as how to compile an entertaining documentary.

Then the pitchfork came, it was called Fahrenheit 911. I had high expectations for this movie and was let down immensely. My radar shut down about three minutes in going “are you kidding me?” Ever since, I lost all respect for the man as a documentarian. I went more grass roots and appreciated the classic “just watch what happens” approach to docs. Unfortunately, that style lost out to Micheal's argumentative style. I started to look at most docs as if there are three sides to every story and this is one. I was very cynical about something I loved and it drove me insane. This was when I started to question film school.

Luckily, this very moment made me realize something that I had never thought profound before. All documentaries have a point. So I had to retool what I thought about docs and I came to the conclusion that the aim of any doc should be for truth within the subject matter. This still left our poor Mikey.

Now I've never taken the time to research what he had done and all of my opinions were based on face value of what I had seen. So on two separate occasions I ran into Documentaries about Mr. Moore on the library shelf. The first one I watched was called Micheal and Me. Which was garbage. It came off as 'Micheal is famous and I strive to be like him so lets see if my career can get a boost directly from him'. I call it doc because the truth was evident that this guy was desperate. Also, along the way you do learn a little about Micheal but it's not worth watching.

Then I found a doc called Manufacturing Dissent. In this one, a Canadian Journalist follows Micheal on his tours and talks to many people from many sides of the Moore debate. It is very news reel in flow and feel but was much better. The thing I like is that they really do strive to create a truth to what he does and why he does it. There are critics, there are fans and yes you still have to take some of it with grain of salt.

The problem I am left with is, I still don't know how to take the whole Micheal Moore issue. On one hand, he plays to much with the reality and context of his subject and material. On the other hand, if by doing so you can create something maybe a little more entertaining or make people spirited for something good, inspiring, and intelligent it may be worth it. In my lifetime, although I don't believe entirely in Micheal Moore and don't respect him, he has done enough to influence my work. The thing I try to keep in mind is trying not to lose the truth within the tactics. I guess the most important thing Micheal did teach me is to think for myself. In everything I watch, I choose to ignore what sets me off and take in what I do appreciate. Even if the aim is not truth it can become truth for me. The facts I can learn later.

So now to answer the question you all are thinking, why do I love Dave Grohl so much? You see, Dave helped change culture with Nirvana and then did his side thing that blew up huge. The impressive part is that he went from drums to guitar and vocals. With that he has also tackled producing, recording and almost anything in the industry you can physically do. This also spans from grunge to pop to punk to metal. Whether he's with the Foo or the Queens or Probot the man has done it all and has done it with success both financially and critically and, maybe more importantly, with fans. I can't help but feel he'll be the last of his kind. Dave you are My Hero. Mike you're a prick, but I can't ignore you. Oh, the conflict.

Jan 18, 2010

Guy With A Library Card: Issue 03

Make It For The Movies
Written by M

I spent a lot of time trying to rack my brain with an idea of a holiday season inspired article for this GWLC. Patience is not my virtue on most days especially when I know something good out there exists, and like a corroded nut I was bound to break the bolt under the force. Then like most moments of greatness and revelation it happened; my daughter asked “When are we gonna go to the library? I want to go before Christmas.” So we made plans to go on the Monday before her holidays from school started. It was a proud moment for me.

Because of her enthusiasm about this, I wanted to do something special for her. In most larger centres there are usually more than one library location. All of which usually have slight differences. At the main branch in downtown Regina, they have what known as the Children's Library. We have talked about the main branch but had never gone there together so I thought this could make the trip a little extra special for her.

We started out going upstairs to the main level to drop off some books. While we were there, the first thing she noticed was the art gallery. At our usual branch, the art gallery is at the entrance and when we see that the exhibit has changed we go in for a look. So when she realized she hadn't seen anything at the main branch before she wanted to explore. As usual, we walked in and browsed the various works in the place. As an additional perk, that I've only ever received at the main branch, a curator came in and started explaining a piece to my daughter. The artist made a small set out of paint. Yes, painting one layer at a time in mold he cast from real materials. She was impressed by the time it would have taken to complete the project. It also was a completely new experience for her to interact with someone in the art gallery. I am pretty sure she didn't expect that it would be the highlight of her trip.

From here, we looked around on the main floor and then headed downstairs to the Children's Library. Oddly, the roles reversed and I was faced with something I did not expect. We went around looking at all the decor of the library from floor mats to fish. As she went looking for books, I went looking for some holiday videos. After a while, I checked in with her to see what she was looking at and to see if I could help her find something a little more specific. Since she was fine on her own, I wandered into the toddler section. I expected the toys and fun decor but while I was looking at a special Crayola computer to help teach kids to type, I noticed a small section for parents.

More specifically, I noticed a book entitled The Parents Guide to the Best Family Videos. I opened the book and inside was a short review of a movie and a rating as to which age group would enjoy the show. The first movie I saw was Ace Ventura. What? I never thought of showing my daughter this film (nor would I, even if a book said it was okay). However, this book raised a very pressing issue I find myself entangled in. I have always struggled with the thought of when my daughter is old enough to see which movie.

This struggle comes mostly from my extensive DVD collection and the fact that she is named after a character from one of these DVD's. She knows where her name comes from and I have shown her the character. My problem is that the movie is very violent so she has only seen a small bit. But it's not just these movies. I want her to enjoy movies that I had seen when I was young. I want her to appreciate them like I did. So most of my battle is trying to remember about each show and whether it is appropriate.

The book helped instantly. I was thinking of getting The Mighty Ducks that was sitting on the shelf so that we could watch it over Christmas. I figured that she seemed more pro-hockey now but I was unsure if it would be too young or too old for her. The book made my mind up fairly easy. Although I forgot about the family issues and love story in the film it all came back to me in a quick read. Not to mention the rating was five star for her age group. I snagged the movie and the book as well as four others that she chose.

Anyway, the book is a little out dated and did not have the movie in which her name comes from, however it still sent some surprises my way and has provided a list of movies that I now want to watch with her. The best part of all is that it eased my mind slightly, knowing that the movies I have been choosing to show her and at what age has be right on according to some one else somewhere. I guess it's just comforting that people are going through the same little struggles and coming to the same conclusion that I am.

So with that, I am going to leave you in the same way the book leaves you, with a few lists.

“Best Movies Ages 7-10;

Ann of Green Gables, The Bad News Bears, The Black Stallion, The Borrowers, ET, The Empire Strikes Back, Mrs. Doubtfire, The Princess Bride, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Toy Story.”

“Movies the Book recommends that I can watch with my daughter right away or in a few years that I am excited about;

The Adventures of Robin Hood, Apollo 13, Back To The Future, Big, The Breakfast Club(I might watch this first again), Charlotte's Web, Clueless, Dumb and Dumber, Star Wars, Karate Kid, Kind Kong, Lassie, A League of their Own, Look Who's Talking, The Mask Of Zorro, The Never Ending Story, Old Yeller, Indiana Jones, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Truman Show.”

I can't wait to watch those and many others. Anyway, I hope everyone had a good holiday and happy movie watching.

Dec 4, 2009

Guy With A Library Card: Issue 02

Kiss the Sky
Written by M

Adventure. Just the mention of the word creates a mountain of possibilities. The mind wanders and you think of all the things that thrill you without any reason for this thrill. For some people it's tales of old with pirates or cowboys, for others, it's the realization that you are about to jump out of a perfectly good plane. As a young boy I was faced with an object that made these thoughts without mentioning a word. To this day when ever I see an image, a movie or am immersed in the wonder of mountains I escape in my own adventure.

A while back I was reminded of this boyish adventure but this time I connected it with the drive to be a filmmaker. I became familiar with a video called 911 by Jules and Gadeon Naudet. Typically I don't go for documentaries that seem like they might be new age propaganda. Yet this one had a specific allure I couldn't pass up and I knew the library would have it. This film was to have the only footage of the first plane hitting the World Trade Centre. The brothers just happened to be doing a documentary on how hard it is to become apart of the NYFD. They just happened to be on the street a few blocks from the World Trade Center and just happened to hear a noise and point the camera to it. The unexpected part was that, rather than taking a propagandist view, the film continues as an experience, as they travel with the NYFD and into the buildings as they fall, literally. It is likely the most intense movie I have ever seen and it seemed to escape most people's radar.

This documentary reminded me why I do what I do. I love the idea that my work in film and video can have such a profound meaning to so many. Most of all I love the idea that anything can happen. It makes the process a bit of an Adventure. After I watched this I couldn't help but think how I would have loved to be one of the Naudet brothers. Coming out of this experience having my life change, knowing how adverse I am, how capable I am and the thought that I could hold my composure through such extreme conditions. This very real possibility is one of my main attractions to documentaries, the “can you imagine?” being there for that moment, being fortunate enough to record it and share it.

On an off chance I saw a couple mountain documentaries sitting on the library shelf. One of them titled Everest Mountain of Dreams Mountain of Doom also reflected this want for adventure. A series of television and an award winning film all about touching the sky. If you look past the cheesy 90's production and outfits it really makes you want to reach the top of Everest. In my mind it seems like a very basic adventure, a “Where is the highest place on earth?” with answer and then response “Let's go there because we can.” The documentary concentrates on the pioneers who have tried conquering the summit, the climbers who got there and the issues they had, including two grisly pictures of two people literally frozen to death, frozen in position and frozen so badly their bone is exposed.

In the race to reach the top of Everest I couldn't help but think how it relates to my time in life right now. Particularity with this article. This is a first for me, writing this article, like climbing Everest, it will have challenges, and like many climbers it will take several attempts, some will make it and some will fail. But this is life. Anything worth doing is worth failing at several times, and for the one time you reach your goals, you do come away with that connection of who you are by learning new capabilities and pushing your limits while trying only to succeed the last effort.

I always like to explain Saskatchewan as a place of utopia. Thinking about the first explorers going through the hell that is the Canadian shield without proper technology and then finally reaching the prairies and thinking “Thank God”! Only to continue on and eventually see the Rockies and think “Crap!” or something much worse. Or maybe they were like me and just dumbfounded in the awe of something so spectacular that your mind wanders in a world of adventure. I guess what I am trying to say is, inspiration is sparked by adventure. Whether it is completely unrelated to what you do all you need is a starting point. When you begin something an adventure awaits, your own creativity boils and you'll soon realize that the two somehow cross a parallel path.

FYI- First Man to summit Everest: Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay
First Woman: Junko Tabei
First Without Oxygen: Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler
The top of the world is located at Latitude 27° 59' N, Longitude 86° 56' E and peaks at 8850m
Other recommended viewing: The Man Who Skied Down Everest
My next viewing: Everest: Beyond the Limit.

Nov 12, 2009

Guy With A Library Card: Issue 01

Written by M

Hello and welcome to the first instalment of Guy With A Library Card. This column is a personal reflection based on two thoughts. The first idea is accessibility of information and the second is the notion that knowledge is power. I don't think I need to answer what these two concepts have to do with the library but I do think I should explain why this is not based on the Internet and its capabilities. I think the best way to do that is by explaining my own connection with this column.

In the beginning when I had no library card, I considered myself a pretty regular guy. I didn't really read books, so I thought I had no real need for the library. Despite this, I did develop a knack to retain useless bits of information to blurt out when ever they did come to mind. With this, came a passionate pursuit to learn everything I can about everything I do. Now I didn't realize this until my teens when all my time and effort went into home theatre equipment. 15 years later and my stereo is worth more than all four cars I have owned combined. I learned about the best and bought the best. This habit has stuck with me and continues to be my process with everything I buy. I research specs and brands to the point that it's pretty disgusting.

As I got older, started university and was out on my own, I continued with the no need for library policy including the university's. Then in my fourth year I noticed a roommate of mine was using the library. He kept taking out all these killer old cd's that are tough to find. Stuff like Dire Straits, Soul Coughing, Primus and old movie soundtracks. I started to play around on the library website and taking things out with his card. It was great because it was free and during university anything free is great. I started getting movies that I had not seen in ages like The Rock or Howard the Duck. I was so ecstatic that I became disappointed in myself that I hadn't discovered this before.

A short while later, school was done for good, I found work out of town and my roommate with the library card sold the house and moved away. With a stroke of luck I returned to my old stomping grounds and managed to pick up a lady friend who loved to read and also had a library card. So naturally I started using her card. A few more classic DVD's later and I was hooked back. This time not because it was free but because the content seemed endless; strange documentaries, pop cd's, block busters, TV shows, books and all on a single subject of choice. It wasn't long until I was taking out more stuff from the library than my girlfriend and she promptly made me get my own card.

Ever since then I’ve been visiting the library website almost daily and take out DVD's, CD's and even books regularly. If I get interested in a certain subject matter I search the library like Google and come up with all sorts of things I never imagined. The most enjoyable aspect of all of this is that it has helped me create a stronger bond with my daughter. We can both go into the library and come up with several things we want to check out even though we went in for no reason.

Looking back, it seems ridiculous that I was so reluctant to use the library. Even more shocking to me now is that it took so long for me to realize how great the library is. The strangest thing I have come to realize is that if I tracked the items that I have taken out that I could get a comprehensive look at my life. This is what this column is all about. The library creates life in a quest for knowledge through various mediums. It provides accurate already researched information. It is accessible and fitting for all ages. Lastly, it provides you physical contact with your material. Although it may be outdated by the Internet's standards I believe it to be a better source for these reasons.

So there you have it, the first rant for GWLC. The column will continue a little differently than this introductory piece but will be filled with my own personal thoughts, movie reviews and inspiration that all stem from a more and more forgotten resource, the library.