March Madness & the cinematic soul mate

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Film Festival recap time! No time like the present am I right my friends? Why, yes, thank you for noticing, it is April, and the film festival closed March…11th. Seriously though. What happened to the other half of March? Is this what everyone means by March Madness? Talk about a time warp. It’s like I came home that Saturday night, kicked off my shoes, took a jump to the left, step to the right, and then suddenly it’s April Fools Day. What is this, a joke?

Now that I look back, I really should have taken better notes in order to appropriately capture the immediate responses to the films and events. As per usual it’s a whirlwind of wine, films, cheese and conversation. And so, I present my disjointed, disordered recollection of events.

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Perhaps for you, the thrill of those ten days are long gone. Just dim memories of dark theatres. Or maybe you found a film or two or ten that was like a finding long-time friend or a cinematic soul mate.  Running the gamut of emotion. Feeling all the feels. Welcome to my happy place. Losing yourself in a story and finding your way back by  the film’s end. Witnessing stories unfold, watching characters develop. Love blossoming, bonds breaking. Reunions and departures. Sacrifices and losses. Successes and victories; all the things that lift us up and tear us down. Some films were based on true stories, and while others were works of fiction, the tales still tend to hold a mirror up to our faces. What a privilege to be a part of that shared experience;  to grateful and ashamed for the human condition in it’s entirety. All that empathy, community, catharsis and buttery popcorn…what else in life does anyone need? 

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Over ten days, I caught 15 movies. I ugly cried four times, napped three times, abandoned one movie (ahem, Toni Erdmann) and–more times than I could count–laughed until nearly crying and vice versa. I lost sleep, danced, drank wine. I wore sequins, high heels and red lipstick. Each night I’d nestle in my standard seat with my Frida Kahlo bag filled with blankets, tissues, and other goodies and necessities. Each night I’d feel like all was well with the world.  

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My dear friend and Events co-chair Tanya and I spent a little  quality time at Hotel 540’s Blue. We enjoyed a lot of Privato Pinot Noir, (doing our part for the Flavors & Flicks initiative). We had a glorious brunch and a multitude of mimosas on a snowy Sunday.  Champagne buzzed and hollandaise high, we watched Window Horses, a trippy little cartoon about a young Canadian poet who travels to Iran to perform at a poetry festival.

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That same day, before I, Daniel Blake, we wandered over to PDK café for lattes and donuts with Kirsten Carthew, the filmmaker of The Sun at Midnight. 

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Quick note: congratulations to I, Daniel Blake—for being the first movie of the #KFF2017 lineup to make me ugly cry. It was a real face contorting, heart breaking kind of film.  Following that film, we strolled over to the Noble Pig for ciders and comfort food.

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Though KFF 2017 was drama heavy, there were moments of levity; The Space Between was incredibly heartfelt and good-humored, as was The Grand Unified Theory.

Nothing made me squirm in my seat more than Mean Dreams.  In fact, the Mean Dreams/Land of Mine double feature was a rather intense evening all in all. The Brewing Discussion at Red Collar was cozy, and I was laughing hysterically with my friend Sam on the way back to the Paramount. Suddenly it was young men dismantling landmines in a post-World War II landscape. Within the first few minutes the Commander head-butts someone in the face, which really takes the edge off the hilarity from the walk over.

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After that double feature, the most emotionally impactful evening was Angry Indian Goddesses and Maudie. That was a back-to-back sob-fest. Goddesses‘ preview really leads you to believe that it’s a buddy comedy, and while it is….it really isn’t. Regardless, it was the kind of unexpectedly devastating movies that requires you to just hang out in your seat until the theatre clears up a little. Maudie was equally as dehydrating, a sweet little love story about a most unlikely couple. A despite-the-odds tale about artistic expression. (And the #KFF2017 Audience Favorite!) 

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Weirdos was very nostalgic and sweet. Paterson, while so lovely, it was also like a shot morphine.  Admittedly, I took a little snooze during that one. All those scenes of sleeping and beds only served to augment my exhaustion. I j’adored Ville-Marie. The film within a film was an emotional intersection of humanity at it’s most raw and vulnerable. Monica Belluci’s emotional undoing is a revelation.

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Note, all these years I’ve been said “Monica Bella-lucci” and when filming videos for the festival, Sam, friend and videographer, said “Um no. It’s Bell-uci.” “Oh. Really?” “Yes, really.”  “Well…I prefer Bellalucci.”

After the film ended, I wandered out into the streets, feeling like a chic yet maudlin Montrealer in my green peacoat. Over a solo lunch, sighing deeply while staring out the window of a sushi restaurant watching the snow fall, feeling beautifully blue.

Once the last film credits had rolled, I got a little lump in my throat. It was partly related to 20th Century Women, but as always, it’s that end of an era feeling. The closing of another festival year. There’s so much time spent preparing for it, and suddenly it’s just like popcorn  and discarded ticket stubs on the floor.

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Then, of course, is the party, so you just shirk off your sentimentally for the moment. Chatting all things films, events, and special guests with other partygoers; gin and red carpet photos and shaking it like a polaroid picture on the dance floor. What a way to celebrate another season with all the fabulous film festival folk that helped make such a magical time happen.

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For more information about Kamloops Film Festival refer to the website or follow the link for a detailed account of the #KFF2017 

Photos courtesy of Alicia Ashcroft, Jen Randall Dustin, Robin Phelan & Chris Warner.

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Like Nobody is Watching

After two days of a cold—after two days of blogging about William Holden cracking his head and bleeding to death and Martin Luther King’s untimely demise, I fear I’ve taken my readers to a dark place.  But sometimes, that’s just how it is.  I’m finding that I don’t always know where each blog is going to go.  The other day I wrote about zombies, and the piece wound being a metaphor about a failed relationship.  I recently wrote a blog about an altercation at a drug store, and then I got an e-mail from a friend saying that the woman I wrote about might have been her mother.  Of course that bothers me, but at the time of writing, that was not my concern.  It wasn’t about what it said about her, it was what it said about me.  I can’t let myself be consumed with that kind of self-consciousness.  I can’t fear that no one will read and then dread the consequences when people do read.   I can’t fear that my readers will be bored, offended or disappointed.  I have to write about what I find fascinating and hopefully that translates well. There is nothing I love more than researching and writing, and there’s nothing that means more than being read, and that my words could be a small part of your day.

That being said, I think its high-time that I switch gears and tackle male strippers.  Last night, two co-workers and I went to a bar to see “Canadian Playboyz”. (I think the ‘z’ makes it sexier, don’t you?)

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Kathleen had often reminisced about going out in the 1980’s, and what a hoot such events were.  Of course, I hadn’t gone out in a few years (see Foot-lose) and when the event was mentioned, Jessica quickly helped make the idea a reality.  Tickets are bought, and the plans are made…and of course, I get a cold.  But I work diligently to  achieve better health in anticipation of the night.  (Come hell or high water bitches, I’m going OUT!)  The girls come round to mine and jello-shots and rose wine is imbibed, and my husband drives us to the bar.  The, ahem, ‘performers’ have not started yet, and we giddily anticipate what is to come.  Jessica boozily confesses a fear of seeing these naked strangers…like, the whole thing.  Kathleen has told us stories—one of which when a stripper took her glasses and put them on his ‘member’.  I love this story because I always imagine her squinting blindly as he backs away ever so sexily with her eye sight on his cock. (You’re going to bring those back right?)

article-2346071-00057EBE00000C1D-960_634x536The MC comes out, and riles up the crowd.  The three of us are hanging back, but there is a decent crowd of hyenas, er I mean women, panting in the wake of this beefcake, who keeps alluding to the fact that soon these guys are going to get “naked and sexy” (as opposed to what? “Naked and flatulent?” “Naked and Crying?”)

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And lord knows what these beefcakes are up to, because the clock strikes ten on a show that was meant to start at nine, but it doesn’t really matter because we are drunk and dancing.  The MC returns, once again throwing around the “naked and sexy” guarantee.  He starts selling 50/50 tickets to the audience—the prizes included being dry-humped by a naked stranger—which seems like a good deal to at least 50% of the audience.  He goes on with a general: “here’s what you get for ten dollars, here’s what you get for twenty”, and we’re not really listening because we want to save our money for more drinks.  But the mention of the grand prize did capture my attention, ‘for the most horny and nasty woman in the room’.  Ugh, who wants to win that prize?  (And further more—is there a worst word in the erotic lexicon than ‘horny’?)

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The strippers go out into the crowd, selling tickets and grinding up on these women, who are squealing like nubile teenaged girls. Oh my god, this is like my worst nightmare, these strange men are licking and kissing, and pushing up against you in their tight jeans…in front of everybody…for money, no less.  When they passed us, we all just dropped our eyes, as if the floor was the most interesting thing we had ever seen.  The MC begins a new game: he chooses a couple of women from the front, asks them what their favourite sexual position is, and another stripper comes out, and performs it on her as she…fakes an orgasm.  The woman who faked the best orgasm won a lap dance.  And these gals did not hold back, screaming like they were on as sexy roller coaster.  This whole scene is really testing my feminist values.

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I came as a lark with some friends, but I really was expecting some cheesy, hard bodied dancing to Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like a Wolf”…not denim clad doggie style with some shrieking participant.  And really, in the end, their whole shtick was 15% actual dancing.  But let me tell you, they did do some choreographed Backstreet Boys type moves, but I couldn’t stop imagining them rehearsing it in their mother’s basement.  I looked at their website in preparation to write about this, and as it turns out, the bar couldn’t swing the extra $50 for “Full Monty”, so we were stuck with the “G-string Show”, which mostly involved a lot of ab rubbing and butt clenching.  This all suited me fine; I couldn’t handle seeing those things swung around like helicopter propellers anyway.

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The show ends and we hit the dance floor, which is my favourite part of the night.

5566361209_8d6fb92b75_zI am now certifiably in a new chapter in my life: married, in my thirties and unconcerned with being cool, which is good because I’m not cool, so I don’t have to worry about it anymore.  As I’m dancing, my eyes fall on various figures in the room, and there’s so much evident self-consciousness in the room.  Everyone is aware that there is the possibility of judgement (this is a bar packed with women after all), that there is an edge to everyone’s actions.  Some girls are dancing like there is a camera on them; others dance like they shouldn’t have had that last drink, and others are dancing, eyes darting all around, looking to see what else is happening, who else is here, cell phone in hand, rouged faces illuminated by the screen’s light.  As for me, I’m dancing as if I won’t go out again for another three years. I danced as if nobody was watching; drunkenly deciding that this is how I should write: fearlessly, recklessly, and with little regard of what others think about the way I move.

17h4rImages Courtesy of Google