You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘movies’ category.

kate-winsletso i recently dragged t-bone and my lovely friend L. to revolutionary road (*spoiler alert*) which stars my amazing and wonderific girlfriend kate winslet. hubba hubba. my life, it appears, seems to be at the crossroads of some kind of feminist revolution. i know. heavy dude.

it is a little like teaching my students about feminism. it is a pretty eye-opening experience. the stuff about feminism is familiar – it is theory i have been immersed in since i began my post-secondary schooling. rather, the eye-opening bit is about young women’s (and men’s) reactions to feminism. i have been grappling with why feminism is such a difficult topic since i began teaching and feel as though i might have gotten a smidge of insight after watching revolutionary road.

you have to understand that i was completely and utterly vibratingly excited about revolutionary road. after seeing kate winslet win for best actress on the golden globes, i vowed to see it as.soon.as.possible. and i did. but i didn’t have the reaction to it that i expected. it left me a little cold. even though it was a beautifully written and acted film, i was untouched. perhaps because it was  familiar tale. suburban couple. hate lives. disaffected from social roles. gendered complications. the end. i simplify, but this is ultimately the jist. kate was powerful as april. leo was beautifully weak in his role as frank. but their lives and their constraints seemed so far away. another lifetime when divorce was unthinkable and choice had yet to be fully fought for. don’t get me wrong. t-bone and L. thought there were resonances to he present day – questions like: what is truth and what is the truth of your life? are you living your truth? is your (gendered) role your truth? and it fundamentally asks you to question beliefs about the past. who was strong and who was weak. what weakness can turn people into. what the social constraints on lives can lead people to do. to be.

but resonate? not for me. at first i was angry. i really wanted the film to speak to me. to bring a larger truth to bear on the realities of the everyday. and then i wondered, isn’t this the problem that students have with feminism? aren’t they waiting for the punchline, the relate-ability, the way in to what once was? i mean yes, it is hard to understand our lives in terms of the past, but it isn’t impossible. nor should we think it is self-evident. we need to dig into the past to find answers to our present. and if we think those answers – or questions – will be easy to formulate then we’ll be left a little cold. a little distanced. perhaps it is the nature of our society. our individualism. that makes us want without giving. take without asking. and maybe, just maybe, revolutions don’t start with having all the answers. or having readily available all the ways something relates exactly to our individual experiences. sometimes we need to dig a little deeper. and not demand that the surface deliver our truths.

i have just reached a turning point in my life. i have set a personal record. gone to a place of no return. i watched three movies in the theatre in three days. look at me. a personal best. what movies, you ask? well it is a colourful line-up. first there was sex and the city which i didn’t think i was going to see because i didn’t think it would translate to film. it did just fine. second was the strangers which i shouldn’t have seen due to the fact that i like to be scared by supernatural events but not by roving bands of psychopaths with no clear motive. third was indiana jones and something about a crystal skull. all of these movies were entertaining. one made me want to shop. one made me almost pee my pants. and one made me sing “dr. jones” by aqua every time someone called indie dr. jones. all in all – good times.

i struggle with movies at times because it seems like it is hard to turn one’s critical lens off. i like to say that the study of sociology has forever ruined my full enjoyment of film. there are some movies i can’t watch because they actually make me feel stupid. and really, if you think too hard about most films, their strict adherence to formula, their underdeveloped one-dimensional characters, and their incessant “hidden” marketing strategies should make us feel stupid. we morph from citizens to consumers. from collectives to wholes. from humans to currency.

that said, sex and the city infected me with shopping fever. and i don’t think it is going away.

i have always been the feminist in the crowd that is wearing make-up. a dress. polish on my toes. as i get older, and more women define for themselves what being a feminist means, i find more long-haired, paint-faced, skirt wearing feminists. but: the women of sex and the city feminist? this is certainly a puzzle as they have the potential to be but it also makes me want to wear heels. real bad. which is ridiculous. anyhoo. i have decided to use my feminist powers for good and provide you with a brief dissection of the sex and the city women from a quasi-feminist perspective:

carrie: she is successful. cute. funny. smart (we think). fashionable. quirky. kissed a women (alanis no less) for fun once. she has made a name for herself in a tough city. she picks a*sholes to date, but we all make mistakes.

samantha: f*cks everything and encourages others to do the same. the woman should receive a medal, or at the very least, a gilded set of anal beads.

miranda: prolly the one true feminist on the show. highly educated. articulate. balances child and career in a no-nonsense way. consistently reminds women of the battles that have been fought for what they have, and can do, now.

charlotte: um. anyone? bueller? forget it.

so, in sum, despite the fact that the women of sex and the city live in privileged white and largely heterosexual monogamous paradise, there is a silver lining.

and it involves shoes.


last week i saw a new canadian comedy called “young people fucking.” it was low budget and fabulous. as an added bonus, the director, martin gero, was there to introduce the film and then chat with the audience afterward (an unexpected surprise and due to his residency in vancouver). gero was a funny guy. the film was a funny film. largely in an uncomfortable kind of way which happens to be my favourite kind of funny (that and poo humour gets me every time. poo. hehe). and callum blue is in it. need i say more?

i found myself thinking about the film after seeing it more than i expected. i usually think about films if they are particularly dramatic or sad. and then i can’t seem to get them out of my mind even if i desperately. want. to. but the quirky-fantastic-ness of this film made me ponder it over and over. so perhaps this is an attempt to get it out of my mind. and onto yours.

the comedy is essentially set in five bedrooms. with five stories. in six acts that span foreplay to orgasm and beyond. if you haven’t realized from the title already, it’s a good date movie. if, in fact, you want to have sex with said date. it covers threesomes and sex with exs, friends with benefits, and bored marrieds. the only thing it fails to fully probe (hehe, i said probe) is any kind of gay sex, except in a laughable end scene. it was written by gero and his friend (aaron abrams who also appears in the film), apparently largely over msn, and its particular male perspective is obvious. but also funny.

i vacillate between pissing my pants laughing at male-centered comedy – you know what i mean – the superbads, knocked-ups, and every will ferrell movie ever made – and finding myself alienated by the way it attempts to, or fails to, engage women. where women are depicted as the straight-woman. the love interest. the conquest. the unfunny body that propels the story of the man forward. in short, the other. while young people fucking does appear to centre around men, i am going to suggest it could be read differently. but not entirely subversively. it does engage women in ways that we do not often see as it demonstrates how sex is a powerful motivating force for women as well.

there is a successful woman who successfully seduces her ex, a best friend that convinces her long-time pal to f*ck her in amidst the backdrop of some hardcore gangsta rap, and a bored married that suggests a “alternate” route to pleasure (i can’t ruin that one – it is too unexpectedly funny). its quirky and women have a role beyond passivity. saying no. being no. to the man’s constant yes. this is not to suggest that the movie isn’t still male-centric, but rather to say that it has a certain truthful quality to it. in that way that independent small-scale films often do. they surprise you with their true-to-life reflections. and make you laugh your ass of at the sometimes awkward act of sex. this is why its been on my mind. and why you might wanna see it.

here is a review from the pacific cinematheque where i saw it. enjoy.

i should really get paid for this shit.


i am officially ridiculously excited about northern voice 2008! as i presenter, and an attendee, i get to do fabulous things like attend the kick-off dinner and meet super cool bloggers (in case you didn’t know, blogging the coolest thing ever. EVER). i am especially excited about going this year as an actual blogger and not just as a pseudo-techno-genius. we even get to read our favourite blog entry at an open mic held at the dinner. super coolness.

i have a request for my dear blog readers – will you vote for your favourite of my blog posts so i can bring it along to read? much thanks and appreciation (i may, of course, elect to ignore any suggestions that are 1) embarrassing, and 2) embarrassing). your interactive participation is greatly appreciated and it makes me feel loved and the like. so in the spirit of pre-day v-day love, VOTE!

speaking of valentine’s day, i have a few things to say. one is that, on the facebook status recommendation of a friend, i went to see ang lee’s new film lust, caution. i kinda adored it in its heart-wrenching, in-appropriate love kinda way. like brokeback, it was unbelievably beautiful as a visual experience, and as a story of compelling characters (the lead woman, wei tang, actually acts more through facial expression than words – a feat in and of itself) who have achingly uncomfortable interactions, both physically and emotionally, it was breath-taking. unconventional love is lee’s forte and i love it. love. it. can i have a job as a film critic now? please?

speaking of “unconventional” love, i am particularly excited about speaking at NV 2008 about online dating after valentine’s day. my hope is not only to adequately transform my work into something that a non-academic audience cares about and finds relevant, but also try to transfer what i have learned through my research into practical advice. that advice is going to centre around three mains themes methinks: what to expect if you have not online dated before; how to stay motivated to continue the “work” that inevitably comes with pursuing dates online (and how this is differently “gendered,” that is, how it is different kinds of work for men and women seeking heterosexual relationships); and what the “dos” and “don’ts” are for both men and women. sounds fun, no?

finally, i am super excited and intensely privileged to be spending another v-day with my love without whom, i’d not know how much love is akin to true happiness and joy.

and i swear to god, if anyone says anything about v-day being about hallmark cards, i’ll die.

seriously.


there is something beautiful about an articulate, self-confident, pregnant 16-year-old alterna-chick. in the movie Juno anyway. i saw this movie friday with my dear friend L. who is herself an amazingly articulate, intelligent feminist scholar and highly edumacated film critic. L. felt that there is something better than a highly articulate preggers 16-year-old. that is, a more accurate characterization of the life of your average, knocked-up teen. this is where we begged to differ.

several members of my family still hark back to a time (that mind you, never existed) when i was goth. apparently any 16-year-old with a shaved head, long skirt, and combat boots is some kind of goth. this points, i believe, to the overcharacterization of what it means to be a “goth” in popular media. i was not goth. no matter how many times relatives try to wrangle me into a black lipstick wearing, personal scarification performing, trenchcoat-wearing deviant, i maintain my alterna-chickness. cause that is what i was. and that’s that. the reason i mention my previous incarnation as the baddest bad-ass (who never did anything wrong in her life, mind you) is because i think this provides the basis of my reading the character of Juno as deeply real, whereas my lovely friend L. read her as overdone. surreal. and ultimately ineffective as a character.

i believe that not only did i know young women like Juno, but that i was one. i was the girl inside my head. and, of course, i thought i was highly articulate. i was exceedingly self-confident. and let’s face it – i was 16 years old – therefore i knew EVERYTHING. you couldn’t stop me from giving my opinion. telling it like it was. simply being a know-it-all with all of my vast life experience and gritty youth on the streets of middle-class small-town ontario. yup. i was the baddest badass. for reals.

the main difference between me and Juno was that she got preggers and i didn’t. and again, if we are facing facts, girls like me didn’t get pregnant. even if we did. i remember the girl in my highschool who did get pregnant. at 15. she was the first girl in our catholic highschool that was openly pregnant. and gonna have it. be in for the long haul. she scared the shit out of me. we shared side-by-side lockers and one day i told her how brave i thought she was. she just shrugged it off and was like, “whatever, i’m pregnant, i can handle it.” at the time i thought that was the most profound f*cking thing i had ever heard. handle it. dude. that’s deep for a friggin’ 15-year-old.

so that is that. the difference between L. and i. i lockered beside Juno. i watched her get bigger. i met her baby when her mother brought it to school to visit. i saw it handled. surreally. the point of this post – if i in fact have one – is that young women are profound. they are articulate. they are self-confident. and hopefully brazenly knowledgeable. it is perhaps only after we feel the stings of inequality. at work. at home. know the patronizing intonation in voices when everything we do seems to deserve a “good for you!,” and experience the responsibility of expectation. compulsory femininity. enforced propriety. it is then we feel not to stable in our identities as the baddest badasses. and try to live in the judgment our bodies, ourselves, seem to attract. the gaze we can’t shake. the overwhelming responsibilities of our “proper” selves. and perhaps we crack a little. we doubt. we don’t know everything. and everyone seems to attempt to remind us.

i miss my 16-year-old shaved-headed (not goth) badass self. she was bitchin’. maybe she wasn’t the worldliest. and she certainly didn’t know everything she thought she did. but she was unendingly brave. infallibly so. she rubbed up against expectation and consistently pissed on it. she was cool.

and i think (hope, perhaps) that i’d make her proud.


at this time of swirly-headed busy-ness, i thought i might take time out to berate myself after realizing the key ingredient that i am missing on this blog which made me realize again that i am a bad blogger. unlike every good movie, i have failed to sufficiently get you invested in the character of me and those in my life. failed to introduce you to my quirks, the lovely people i spend time with, and the rhythm of my everyday life. yes, my dear blog readers, this is an opportunity to talk more about me. and like smiling, me is my favourite. (extra bonus points for anyone who can name where that bastardized movie quote comes from).

my loved one and i usually agree on movies – mainly because he loves movies and is one of those strange people who must, against all odds, watch the crappy films to the end, just in case they miraculously get better. i, one the other hand, pretend to be discerning. but really am a sucker for good characters. characters i can relate to, become one with, and ultimately be invested in. i think that is why i love love stories so much – and i don’t mean hokey comedy/romance debacles starring the likes of matthew mcconaughey and j-lo. i mean the beautiful, epic love stories like bridges of madison county and brokeback mountain. gut-wrenching, make-you-cry-like-a-baby love stories with characters you adore, pity, and love yourself by the end. ANYHOO. my point is, characterization is important. and key to the success of well, everything. (oh my goodness, isn’t that just a key nugget from the world according to jacks).

another reason i am a bad blogger is because i have no idea how to effectively and efficiently carry out this characterization. i know what you are thinking: it comes with time, the evolution of who you are through an unsaid number of posts. but for those who know me, and know me well, know that i don’t like to leave anything up to chance. plus, that takes patience and time. a whole lotta patience and time. (even more super extra bonus points for anyone who can name the song those lyrics come from) and waiting is boring, no? so here is the deal. i will admit to three quirky bits of erratic jacks behaviour and hope that i get some doosies (from all ya’ll) in return. here’s to hoping!

i) when i was very young, i used to use the clothing racks at sears for unspeakable acts. unspeakable. (and my mother still brings this fact up to anyone who enters the doors of her home. yup. i’m a very lucky person).

ii) i love baby animals. i know this doesn’t sound unusual, but the fact that i want to take EVERY baby animal home is somewhat problematic. pigs, goats, caimans, rats, fish: EVERYTHING. is was virtually impossible to travel around south america without filling my backpack with baby things. (and no matter what my loved one says/thinks, i never did. at least that is the story i am sticking to).

iii) every time i get a smidge-y tipsy, i think i can speak spanish. si. jacks + borracho = hablo. mucho hablo.

i don’t think this makes me any more endearing but it was a sufficient waste of time that allowed me to talk about my favourite subject. 😉

in other sad (for me, happy for them) news, my lovely friends M. and C. are off to galavant for 6 months and sit on beaches, get tans, and generally have a wonderful freakin’ time. while i am happy for their adventure, i am desperately jealous and sad for me. here is to much skiing in their absence to make up for my losses.

alrighty folks, now i want to hear about the quirky characters that read this blog. whether you like it or not, we are in this together.

and p.s. – matthew macconaughey is a douche.


i was going to title this post as the next in my sequential ordering of “bad blogger” posts but i’m too full. i think i am on a tryptophantastic high. anyhoo – i’m a bad blogger because i was under the impression that bloggers take christmas holidays. but i was wrong. all the blogs on my blogroll have faithfully and miraculously replenished themselves with the same insightful, witty, and creative stuff of always. so you heard it here first folks: bloggers don’t get a holiday. armed with this knowledge, i too will try, high on turkey and massive quantities of carbohydrates (including my grandmother’s kick ass stuffing which i am proud to say i can adequately approximate), attempt to write something. insightful. creative. witty. jeesh.

holidays make me think of food. which is obvious if you take into account that i stuffed myself like a christmas turkey moments before realizing my requisite duty to my dear, dear blog. also, this past christmas eve, i watched the new version of hairspray (and btw, wasn’t there an old version with ricky lake? did i dream this? is this the turkey talking? help me out here folks). the film is about difference and accepting difference (exemplified in the themes of life-as-a-fat-girl who wants to be famous and a racially segregated baltimore seeking integration through the vehicle of a local television show aptly named the corny colin show or something equally retro-tastic). this intersection of holiday feasting and fat phobia apparent in the film resonated compellingly as i think about what is ahead for many this new year. that’s right folks. exercise. dieting. the quest, as one gym i saw today advertised, for the “new you” this new year.

i, of course, pig out on holidays. take a break from everything. including worrying about how big my thighs are or how flappy the skin under my arms is when i wave (chicken wings i believe they are called). and i guess we all do. it is why we have holidays – to take a break from the always and everything of worry. plowing ahead. getting through the day. and perhaps this is why we panic when the new year hits. not only were we dissatisfied with our bodies in the everyday but then we went ahead and ate. and ate. and ate. (now i am making myself slightly hungry thinking about all the chocolate under the tree. i know. i’m full and still frothing at the mouth for dark chocolate. i never said i was strong. or not disgusting. or well-disciplined). getting back to the everyday means allowing those voices to once again control us. mentally measure our thighs. watch the flaps of skin flail.

what i was most astonished by watching hairspray was not how distracting john travolta was as a woman or the fact that christopher walken can still move like he did in his deer hunter days. nope. it was the fact that a young woman was portrayed who was strong. uninhibited. proud. talented. and fat. this is an image we never see. isn’t available. does not exist in hollywood. but there she was. beautiful and bold. never once wincing at the slights, the insults, the discrimination against her fat that the movie depicted with hilariously horrifying (a expert john waters technique) clarity.

i don’t want to get into a conversation about how the media does this to us. to women. and increasingly to men. because it is not enough. to think we are put upon. agency-less. void. but i do want to encourage thinking about difference as a way of experiencing the world. we can worry about our “new selves” – which are just copies of what is ultimately similar (that is, youthful, thin, fit, active, well-adjusted, happy – the list goes on. and on. and on) – as something beyond the confines of our embodiment and the narrow ways we have to inhabit those bodies. rather our “new selves” can be defined by different categories. and we can perhaps realize, much to our surprise and decreasing worry, that our “old selves” are increasingly habitable. because difference exists. no matter how hard we try to stamp it out with resolutions. to encourage our bodies to be something other. ultimately, and unlikely, similar.

and perhaps a smidge less fabulous.

now where did i put that chocolate…