Friday, May 06, 2016

Day 8 of 11

I saw one movie yesterday, called Bobby Sands: 66 Days.

People my age all know the basic story, and if it was confusing in our 20s, I'd say it is no less confusing now. So much depends on the words used to describe the two sides. If they were presented, as they often were in the mainstream media, as Catholics fighting Protestants, that's stupid, just stop. If they are called Irish Republicans just wanting to live in their home, against the oppressive, imperialist English who wanted it for themselves, then they get more sympathy. The movie tells us the IRA killed thousands of people over the years, including many civilians, but the men's complete devotion to their cause is admirable. Sands and others were objecting to the fact that the law had changed and they were no longer treated as political prisoners, but as criminals.

At the beginning of the movie, crew are shown building a set, a prison cell. The actors in this cell don't say anything, but provide a visual for some things we just don't have pictures of. There are a lot of interviews with historians, other ex-IRA members, other prisoners, men who played football with Sands in their childhood... Interesting movie about the man and the times.

One wonderful thing about seeing a movie at a festival is usually the Q&A sessions after the films. The director and producer were present last night. The Q&A started out something like this:

"Is your film editor related to So-and-So?"

Then someone noted the absence of women's voices in the movie. The director defended himself well enough (significant women didn't talk to him; there were images in the movie of women's groups marching and participating; he didn't want a token woman) but the questioner wanted to keep on arguing. He shut her down and moved on to another question... which started, "I went to Ireland once..." blah blah blah, no question, just reflections on what he had seen, on and on.

They managed to shut him up, and on to the next question, "What advice do you have for us in Canada with aboriginal children in distress and committing suicide, blah blah on and on." "I have no qualifications to talk about that!"

Next question, "Who were Bobby Sands's influences in this business, could it be Gandhi, Mandela, who did this in prison and that in prison, blah blah on and on?" "I think I covered that in the movie...."

The poor staff member who was meant to be running this was trying to get some on-point conversation going, but the audience was apparently full of people with their own agendas who didn't really want to talk about the movie. I left after the Mandela question, but I don't think they had time for much more.

In other news, Arthur made it home successfully, and is talking about dyeing his hair blue.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

I am the Blues

Today's movie at the Hot Docs film festival was I Am the Blues. After the Holocaust and crazy tickling and flag-waving, I figured this would be a bit more straightforward.

Pre-movie knitting and coffee

And it was: a simple documentation of blues musicians in Mississippi and other places in the American south. Octogenarians playing the blues... doesn't get much better than that.

Of course, their stories are intriguing and the music is great and the community seems supportive and friendly and all-round wonderful, and there were pictures of the Mississippi and surrounding landscape. It was entirely engrossing. People in the movie audience applauded when musicians performed on the screen!

And then... Daniel Cross, the director, and Bobby Rush (82 years old, has made over 200 records, I'd never heard of him) came onstage for a Q&A and a song. Wow.

bad camera-phone picture

Torontonians: it's coming to the Bloor Cinema in June! See it. They also have a website with extra footage and more.

Just because we are finally noticing that spring has sprung, I will show you a magnolia spotted on my dash out to the grocery store -- I had to buy a fatted chicken to feed to my returning son! More on that tomorrow, perhaps!

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Three more movies

Since we last spoke, I have seen three movies. Let's see if I can remember what they were.

Sunday afternoon was The Last Laugh. This might have been the best so far. Mel Brooks, Rob Reiner, Sarah Silverman, Robert Clary (who was in Buchenwald and acted in Hogan's Heroes) and others talk about the difference between a Nazi joke and a Holocaust joke (and then there's plain old Jewish jokes).

Mel Brooks said he could certainly do Nazi jokes (he wrote The Producers) but he wouldn't touch a Holocaust joke... although he laughed at some! Lots of talk with comedians and Holocaust survivors, including Renee Firestone, about what humour can do. Really interesting as well as funny.

That evening I went to see Gary Numan: Android in La La Land. Really, the last time I paid attention to Gary Numan must have been about 1982. We all loved -- and then got sick of -- Cars, and then that was it. But he continued to do things after that: making and losing money, finding the perfect wife, dealing with crippling anxiety, starting to make successful albums again.

Yesterday's movie was one I'd been really looking forward to, Contemporary Color. David Byrne was involved and, I mean, if David Byrne likes it, it must be good, right? I'm not sure what I was expecting, but what we got was a concert film, more or less. High school colour guard teams evolved from baton twirlers and military parades and half-time shows and probably other things! They toss (fake) rifles in the air, they toss flags in the air, they do sort of gymnastics and sort of ballet and sort of synchronized swimming on land. David Byrne decided this was a great thing and arranged a show with live music and ten teams performing. We get a bit of backstage chatter, a few interviews with excited kids... all a bit weird.

Today, no movies! Back into action tomorrow -- and Arthur should be coming home tomorrow as well! Much excitement.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Slippers and Ticklers

Another day of movie-watching under my belt. Yesterday afternoon I saw The Slippers and the short Bootwmn.

Bootwmn deals with "cowboy" boots made by a lesbian bootmaker. I think the best thing I can do is show you the trailer.

It was very good. It's hard for shorts to get seen by big audiences, and they are often wonderful.

The main feature was about the most famous slippers around, Judy Garland's ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz. Wow, what a crazy story...

The first auction of the shoes sort of started the business of Hollywood memorabilia collecting, and of course we speak to some of the main players in that community. The man who rescued/stole costumes when the studios were wanting to get rid of things is the "hero," although he died many years ago. There's a bit of a villain, too. And humour, betrayal, great riches, Debbie Reynolds, the Smithsonian, theme parks, mysterious theft, mining pits... (Fun collecting fact: The dress Marilyn Monroe is wearing when she stands over the subway vent once sold for $5-million.) Highly recommended.

I had a few hours to kill before the evening movie, so I met Stephen for dinner and a beer, and then we were off to line up for Tickled. All the buzz has been like this: "See it; we can't say anything more; it's wild." So we knew very little about what we would see in the movie, and I suppose I'd best continue the say-nothing reportage. It really was astounding. There is tickling involved, to be sure. A reporter wants to write something about competitive endurance ticking, and gets sucked into a 2-year project... and we see it all in this movie. Super-highly recommended.

Today, the Holocaust and Gary Numan.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

One down, nine to go

The Hot Docs festival has started again. I have been working in the office, wondering if I should get some theatre shifts to enjoy the hustle and bustle. Naah, at my first movie, I was sure glad I wasn't ushering.

Yesterday, Stephen and I went to see Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World, by Werner Herzog.  It talked about the history of the internet, the people who first connected computers and networks, a hacker or two, people who avoid the internet, people recovering from addiction to the internet....

I gave it 4/5 on the audience choice ballot, but to the short we saw before it, I gave 5/5.

It is called The Dog, and it shows people with robot pets. What happens when the manufacturer stops making parts for your little robot dog?

Today, two more! Will report in when next I come up for air.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Just about the craziest hat

I knit a hat. I wonder if anyone will ever wear it out in public.

Grey plain ol' wool for some ribbing, then we alternate that and some golden/green/yellow/black eyelash fuzz.

Perfectly reasonable.

Not everybody thinks so.

A thing you should know before attempting this yourself: the eyelash yarn works better from one direction than it does from the other. I discovered this by working it from the wrong end. The threads bunched up weirdly around the needles instead of flowing smoothly along. Of course, once I figured this out I was well into it, and the thought of ripping this stuff out was too horrible to contemplate. 

Another thing that would be useful in planning your eyelash fuzz hat: the fuzz mainly goes to the purl side of the fabric. The ball band says to knit this on something like 7mm needles, and since I was also using DK wool, I was using 4mms. That might have had something to do with it; it might be more flowy on bigger needles. I just turned the hat inside-out when I was done. 

The "right" side
The "wrong" side

We seem to be past wool-hat weather here for this year. I think I'll try to photograph as many people as possible wearing this, and we'll see what happens come November.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

I sewed something

I made these fingerless mitts from a pattern in an Alabama Chanin book. First I had to go to the copy shop and get the pattern enlarged (something like 317%, if I recall correctly), so that took me months. I was finally spurred to action when I found a pile of X-Small volunteer shirts left over from the 2014 Hot Docs festival. Perfect.

I made the first mitt, applying beads and doing a bit of stitching here and there, but found that my hands are a teeny bit bigger than "average."

So the single mitt sat around for another few months while I gathered my strength to make something that would really be useless to me! However, I did it, finished the second one, and will wave them around the volunteer office next week and see if I can find someone with average hands.

I have enough shirts to attempt a hat. Unfortunately we have red shirts this year, so it won't match or look official, but I would like to see if I can get a hat to fit.