February 21, 2009

A Brief Oscar Wrap-up

As predicted, it was Slumdog Millionaire's night. The only big surprise was that Sean Penn beat out Mickey Rourke for his vivid portrayal of Harvey Milk. I love both actors, and even though I was routing for Micky I think Sean Penn deserved the accolade. Sean gave the better performance (even from what little of Milk I've seen - previvews, clips) while Mickey had the best backstory, coming from career self-imolation to a podium-topping awards season, (Golden Globe, Screen Actor's Guild Award, Independent Spirit Award...).

Two other standout moments were when Heath Ledger won posthumously, and when Penelope Cruz won Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Vicky Christina Barcelona, the best Woody Allen movie in recent years.

The best acceptance speech of the night, in my humble opinion, came from writer Dustin Lance Black, who adapted Milk from his own stage play. In my ignorance I always assume that the issue of gay equality is pretty much a battle won. But when you discover that there were pickets protesting Milk outside Kodak Theater last night, you realize that just isn't the case.

And regardless what you think about the Oscars, they are about movies, and movies matter. Not all movies, but some. They matter to guys like thirty-five-year-old Dustin Lance Black. And to the people he wrote Milk for. From his acceptance speech:

"But most of all, if Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he'd want me to say to all the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told that they are less than by their churches, by the government or by their families that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures who have value. And that no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you."

February 20, 2009

Lost in Translation

It's been a while so...

Once card of this permits limitless entries for up to five persons during the auction period. However, the number who can actually participate in bidding is limited to one person regardless that you are private or a team.

Things That Make Me Smile

Saw a kid maybe twelve, thirteen years old, walking to school this morning with a full size Kevin Staab pirate skateboard (circa, I dunno, 1989?!) under his arm. Don't know what kinda wheels it had, but they were big, and neon green.

Seems like only yesterday...

February 17, 2009

My Perspective

Well, my segment aired on Perspectives last night. And I gotta say, I came off pretty well. It didn't look as frenetic as it felt during the taping. I was able to articulate myself even though most of the questions weren't vetted before hand.

I've been told that I talk with my hands a lot, and had to make a conscious effort to keep them still. But it wouldn't have mattered anyway, because compared to the host even my most erratic gestures probably would've gone unnoticed. Peg's a force of nature. He's one of the most passionate people I've ever met, and it was an honour to be asked to appear on his show.

Since it's an Oscar-themed show it will re-air on Friday night (the Oscars are on Sunday). And it will probably show up on YouTube at some point. If and when it does I'll post the link.

February 03, 2009

Stellet Licht

I finally got a chance to see Stellet Licht, which is, to my knowledge, the only motion picture in history to be filmed entirely in Plautdietsch. If I'm wrong about that I'd be more than happy to be corrected.

This film escaped my notice until it won the Jury Prize at Cannes in 2007, after which it was reviewed in the New York Times. I missed it when it screened in Vancouver a few months ago, but now it's out on DVD. I wish I had seen this one in the theatre though, because it is exquisitely rendered. From the languorous opening shot of the sun rising to the closing shot of the last morsel of light disappearing from the screen over the horizon at sunset. It is gorgeous.

Before I worked as a subtitler I always assumed that subtitles were the best available translation. Actually, I never gave subtitles much thought. And while my Plautdietsch tongue is a little rusty to say the least, my ear for it is good. There were times when what I was hearing and what I was reading didn't quite... stemme. (Note: Spelling of 'stemme' from the Pautdietsch Dictionary. I would've probably spelled it schtem.) Having said that, the film takes place on an unspecified Mennonite colony in Chihuahua, Mexico, and the dialect is closer to that spoken by E's family, who came from Paraguay, than my own.

The story itself is pretty straightforward and not all that incendiary, but I'm sure, as was the case with Miriam Toews' A Complicated Kindness, certain people will still find lots to take exception to. Basically a long-married man finds true love in a woman other than his wife (the incomparable Miriam Toews, by the way - who knew she was an actor?). This is not a mid-life crisis story. He's not looking to get laid by a younger more beautiful, funner woman. He's fallen in love with a woman whom he would've chosen over his wife had he met both of them at the same time. The other interesting departure from the usual plot is that he hides nothing from his wife, he's completely transparent about it. They suffer together.

The silence in this film speaks louder than the words, of which there are relatively few. There's no score and no music, other than the unaccompanied three-part harmony of a funereal hymn. Despite my Mennonite heritage, I don't necessarily relate to to the film or the setting, and I'd hesitate to recommend it, having precious few hours to see films these days myself. But I can safely say it's a film unlike any I've ever seen before. And worth two hours of my time. Which is more than I can say for many of the films I've seen in the last year or so.