October 22, 2007

I'm pretty excited about this...

...not least of all because E and I spent three months in India in 2004, and about three weeks of that time in Darjeeling.

In addition to the eclectic soundtrack on offer, the Darjeeling Limited website has some neat little on-location making-of clips. We saw many of those same places firsthand on our Indian sojourn, including the Osian Dunes. Although the trains we rode bear little resemblance to the film's namesake.

Wes Anderson has also done something interesting in making Hotel Chevalier, a short-film precursor to The Darjeeling Limited, available for free on iTunes. And I read somewhere this morning (can't remember where at the moment) that it may play ahead of The Darjeeling Limited in select theatres. Which would be kinda cool.

Now all I've gotta do is find time to go and see it.

October 18, 2007

I'm a Lebowski, You're a Lebowski

This made my day.

Something I was reading recently referred to The Big Lebowski as a 'cult film', which made me do a mental double-take. I've loved The Big Lebowski since I saw it in the theatre on opening weekend (1998) while ducking out of a wedding shower my wife was holding in our apartment for one of her friends. I think it was the first time I ever went to the theatre by myself. And laughing, out loud, during the film in the theatre by myself, felt strangely wonderful.

I've seen it probably a dozen times since. Maybe more. A good friend and fellow traveler bought it for me when it came out on VHS. And I still watch it whenever I stumble across it playing on television, and although the General audience edit isn't nearly as funny, I know what the lines are anyway. And still laugh.

But cult film? Why did it surprise me to read that? Not sure. Maybe I think of cult films as hallowed vestiges of some bygone era that have been somehow rediscovered by a younger generation desperate to bring some semblance of coolness to their existence. Not something I discover for myself, by myself, in a shopping-mall movie theatre in Abbotsford. And I guess it makes sense that if I've loved this movie enough to watch it over and over again, subconsciously imprinting lines of dialogue in my grey matter that come out of my mouth unbidden in everyday conversation, others would, too.

All of this because I stumbled upon the Lebowski Fest website again this morning. I found it a few years ago... or maybe a friend sent me the link. I don't know. Can't remember. But it warmed my heart. And made me want to take the morning off - it's raining, and dark and gloomy in Vancouver - and pop in that creaky VHS tape.

October 06, 2007

Top Ten?

I just got a note from Bevan informing me that Retired is in consideration for Canada's Top Ten Shorts of 2007.

From the Toronto International Film Festival Group website:

Canada’s Top Ten was created in 2001 to recognize and honour excellence in Canadian cinema. Each year, an independent 10-member national panel of filmmakers, programmers, journalists and industry professionals vote on the best Canadian films of the year, which can include features, shorts, documentaries, animation, and experimental films. Each film selected as part of Canada’s Top Ten must have either premiered at a Canadian film festival or had a commercial theatrical release in Canada during the year.

Well, that all sounds rather lovely. And it behooves me to say that even being considered is an honour. But to be quite honest, I find it a bit perplexing because Retired wasn't accepted to screen at TIFF.

So what are our chances? It's hard to say. Who knows what moves the hearts and minds of independent panels of independent filmmakers, programmers, journalists and industry professionals these days. At the best of times this stuff feels like a bit of a crapshoot. Sometimes you get accepted, sometimes you don't. Most often you don't. At least that's been the case with Retired. When I saw the first cut of the film I thought it had all the makings of a festival darling... it was dark, quirky and quite beautiful, with a disturbing climax followed by a hanging bittersweet ending. It's all there. And yet... and yet. Almost resoundingly rejected by festival panels across the country. Well, okay, not rejected. Just not accepted.

So, having said all of that, this "consideration" is a welcome thing. Although I'm still unsure whether it restores my faith in the jury process or dashes it completely to bits.

October 02, 2007

From Sunny Goose Bay, Labrador

Well, my writing career has taken me to some interesting places, but none as far-flung and fascinating as the one I find myself in this morning, the barracks at 5 Wing Goose Bay, Labrador. Now, my character doesn't align itself easily with the military mindset, so I was a little uncomfortable when I showed up at 443 Squadron Hanger at the Victoria airport after dark for my 11:40 pm Canadian Forces Airbus flight - a milk run that took us to Edmonton, Winnipeg and Trenton before arriving in Goose Bay at five o'clock the following afternoon. Luckily there were two other civilians on the flight to deflect some of the attention - an adolescent girl and her younger brother who were accompanying their father as far as Trenton. I did get a chance to sit up in the cockpit with the pilots for take-off and landing, an experience that, in this day and age of airline paranoia felt akin to stepping into the Holy of Holies to have a look at the Ten Commandments.

5 Wing Goose Bay is a Canadian Forces Base that was built in the lead-up to WWII to protect North America's northeastern flank. It made headlines around the world on 9/11 when seven trans-Atlantic commercial airliners were diverted here following the closure of North American Airspace.

I'm here with Lank/Beach Productions covering SAREX 2007, a training exercise and competition for Search and Rescue Technicians from squadrons across the country. These are the guys in the blaze-orange flight suits you see on the evening news, pulling unfortunate weekend sailors from their overturned skiffs.

Not sure exactly what I'm in for, yet - the "Exercise Activities" start tomorrow morning. I passed on the opening night reception at The Canuck Club last night. I was a little burned out from the flight and decided I wasn't up for drinking beer with about a hundred guys who jump out of airplanes for a living.