Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Pushing Pause

First of all, thanks to those of you who check in here to see if I've written anything new.

I haven't.

I've overcommitted. I've got lots of projects on the go, and I'm afraid my blog posting has suffered for it. It's possible I will figure out a way to make this a priority again, so I will leave the blog up and add links or posts, as inspired.

In the meantime, my advice is, if you're interested in this topic, you should go read this blog that I've recently discovered:

She covers a lot of the same ground (tho no posts on Canadian film and television I'm afraid!), and actually posts -- several times a week!

For stats, check out

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Away from Her

Canadian actor/director Sarah Polley struck gold last night at the Genies, taking home 7 awards for her directorial debut Away From Her. She won for best picture, best director, and best screenplay, which she adapted from an Alice Munro short story about a couple coping with the wife's Alzheimer's.

Polley, only 29 years old, was Canadianly humble in her acceptance speech for best director: "The ridiculousness of me winning in this category is not lost on me. This is totally absurd."

Her stars, Gordon Pinsett and Julie Christie as the aging couple, took home the top acting awards. The film itself is more the husband's story than the wife's, though in the first half, Fiona is still cognizant enough often enough to understand what's happening to her. The strength of will that it takes her to decide it's time for her to enter a care facility is doubled when she turns down Grant's appeal "Don't go," as they pull up to the building, then writes him a note when he lingers: "Go now. I love you. Go now."

For a first film, there are some brave choices, including a broken timeline for the first half the film, presumably to evoke the jigsaw mind of someone entering the early stages of Alzheimers. There are many beautiful moments in the film, taking advantage of the Canadian landscape, but my favourite moment is indoors: one of the patients, a former play-by-play announcer, walking through the hall, dictates Gordon Pinsett's weeping heartbreak by the elevator.

Polley's been busy with acting roles (including Abigail Adams in USA network's John Adams miniseries airing later this month), but it's reasonable to assume these awards will give her the confidence and clout to move forward with another directing project. She'll have a lot more eyes following her for this one.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Man Who Knew Too Much

Watched this classic Hitchcock film last night and was frustrated by the blatant passive nature of the main female character in the film. The story is of a husband and wife travelling in Morocco with their young son, and through a series of events, the son is kidnapped.

Jimmy Stewart is the husband and Doris Day the wife. He's a doctor, she's a semi-retired singer. At every turn, he gets to make all the decisions and take all the action.

The classic is when Stewart's character, Dr. McKenna, gives his wife Jo a couple of sedatives before telling her their son has been kidnapped. "You know how you get," he says. And sure enough, she goes hysterical in his arms.

Then she's comatose as he does the initial investigation, and he has to drag her out of her stupor to take her from Morocco to London. She gets hysterical again at Scotland Yard.

When Dr. McKenna runs off to look for the boy, Jo is pointed in the right direction by a male guest, but once she arrives at the alternate location, she doesn't actually do anything - she just calls her husband.

Once they're together again, it's the good doctor who again comes up with the plan for her to leave and call the cops. When the cops arrive however, she's locked out of the building, powerless to do anything.

At the turning point of the film, she screams to distract the assassin, but it's Jimmy who gets to fight him. Then, in the final climax where they rescue the boy, it's once again Jimmy with the plan: she gets to sing, while he goes to rescue their son. He knocks down the door, then knocks the bad guy downstairs.

Meanwhile, the female kidnapper is tough for most of the movie, but in the last moments, is given a maternal instinct to protect the boy.

It would be interesting to trace female characters through Hitchcock's work. In To Catch a Thief, for example, the female figures drive the action, and one is the thief in question. I haven't seen Marnie, but it too revolves around a female thief. It's on this week on TCM, so I'll have a chance to check it out and report!