|Squamish Cargospace Living Project|
|Photograph: Cine Text/Allstar|
Christopher Nolan, known for directing the legendary movies Memento, Batman Begins, and The Dark Knight, has done it again with his new movie Inception. The writing, direction, special effects, and ability to create a believable reality within the science fiction genre, make Christopher Nolan a force to be reckoned with, and certainly an Oscar contender.
As a writer, plot is very important to me. One of the most disappointing things about movie-going is to see an action or science fiction movie that lacks a good story. For example, and I know some people will have my head for this, but Avatar, despite it’s amazing special effects and new advancements in CGI technology, lacked an original storyline. I felt like I was watching Fern Gully; it was a recycled plot about the exploitation of natural resources, with a typical “star-crossed lovers” love story.
However, Inception delves into the sci-fi of the dream world in a unique and even realistic way. What the characters deal with psychologically and emotionally is plausible, and the actors do a phenomenal job of unravelling the complexities of coping with the human psyche. There are symbolic elements in the movie to make the story even sharper, such as the “totem” which determines whether you are in a dream or in the real world. The classic representation of the subconscious as the open sea – wild and unpredictable – is also aptly done.
The repetition of phrases and emotion-filled memories replicates what many people experience in the dream state, or when they are dealing with emotional trauma. Further, the use of silence and visual cues, expertly conveyed by the actors, contributes to the overall mysterious atmosphere of the movie, where you are never truly sure what is real and what is imagined.
Although some elements of the plot and action are derivative of The Matrix series, I think of them as more of a commemorative “toast” to the Wachowski brothers, who pioneered so many new ideas and techniques in their movie making. Like The Matrix, Inception explores the choice between living in a world we create through our imagination, or to live in the “real” world, with all of its limitations on both morality and mortality. In addition, Nolan’s film organically creates action scenes; using wires and an infinite number of cameras, characters fight mid-air in a hotel hallway, similar to the subway station scene in The Matrix. This gives the movie a more natural feel than CGI.
The comedic conflict between Arthur and Eames will certainly have audiences laughing out loud, while home-grown Ellen Page delivers a stellar performance as an innocent student whose intelligence and gumption lead her to a better understanding of the human mind than most characters in the movie. To me, Leonardo DiCaprio is a seasoned actor who is as good as it gets, and he lives up to the high standard he set for himself in movies such as The Departed and Shutter Island. Other standout performances by Joseph Gordon-Levitt (from 500 Days of Summer), Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy and Marion Cotillard, are not to be missed.
Well, ladies and gentleman, I have found it. The pizza crust that true pizza lovers dream about can be found at Pizzeria Libretto on Ossington. It’s thin, melts in your mouth, and has that natural taste that only real pizza ovens from Naples, Italy can bring. This pizzeria is the only certified “Vera Pizza Napoletana” in Canada, translated as a “true Neopolitan pizza” experience. When you taste pizza like this, you wonder how places like Pizza Pizza can even claim to be selling the same thing. They should be ashamed of themselves!
Unfortunately, I’m not the only pizza aficionado who feels this way about Pizzeria Libretto. It is a hugely popular spot, so expect to be waiting at least half an hour to be seated. We went on a Monday, thinking we could avoid the line, but we still had to wait 45 minutes before we got a table. The convenient thing is, and it makes you wonder why every restaurant doesn’t do this, they take down your cell phone number to call you when the table becomes available. That way, you can go for a drink elsewhere while you’re waiting.
And it’s worth it. Your taste buds will be satiated while you wait for the pizza, with fresh bread and olive oil with a dash of chilli spice. I sampled two pizzas: the “Hot Peppers” and the “Duck Confit”. The first pizza consisted of house made sausage, fresh basil, tomato, mozzarella in small concentric slices, and of course, hot peppers. Being a fan of spicy food, I will say that I could have taken the hot peppers a little hotter, but otherwise, the pizza was terrific. The sausage was fresh and had some kick to it, and I just couldn’t get enough of that crust. On the other hand, the unique duck confit pizza with pears and a white sauce was a sweet alternative to the more traditional tomato pizza, and the flavours were expertly combined.
We ordered two bottles of red wine between six of us, and each ordered our own pizza. Even with the alcohol, it was a very affordable meal, at approximately $36 including tax and tip. The service is friendly, and they are gracious about taking any leftovers home. You might wonder how I avoided eating the whole pizza right then and there; it was challenging, but my will power paid off for a delicious lunch the next day.
When the pizza crust is right, my favourite thing to do is fold the pizza over itself, for a multi-layered bite; my friend Nicole like to roll hers up like a wrap, and let the olive oil drizzle down. Whichever way you like it, Pizzeria Libretto will live up to your expectations.
Pizzeria Libretto: 221 Ossington Ave., Toronto, just south of Dundas.
I have a slight addiction to watching television shows on DVD, and my most recent obsession is Mad Men. Although I watched the first season when it first came out in 2007, I was put off by the protagonist, Don Draper. He came across as having little to no redeeming qualities, and I found him hard to identify with. But with all the buzz and awards attributed to the show, I decided to give it a second chance. Now, I can’t get enough of it, and find various excuses to watch it instead of doing work, and to bring it up as a point of conversation. Sadly, many people haven’t seen it! Perhaps I can convince you otherwise.
As a starting point, I think it’s important to note the time period in which the show is set: the 1960s. It was an era jam-packed with historical significance; the unprecedented changes in race relations, politics, fashion, gender roles, science and technology, and social customs make a perfect recipe for any dramatic screenwriter. Yet, it would be very easy to do this all wrong. For example, the movie Down with Love. Despite the fact that I really do love this movie, it satirizes the drama of the 1960s, particularly Betty Frieden’s The Feminine Mystique, with a fairy tale ending in which female empowerment is complete.
However, Mad Men takes a more realistic look at the challenges of womanhood at the time, identifying how difficult it is for many women to take control of their desires (both physically and intellectually), in a society still mostly ruled by men. Perfectly sexy Joan Holloway is the “ideal” secretary: she is discreet, pro-active, and has a rack that makes Pamela Anderson look bad. The ad men therefore love her, and many of them tumble over their words just looking at her. Joan’s character takes control of all situations according to her job description, but when she is asked to help with reading television scripts as a favour, this task is quickly taken away from her when they hire a male associate to do the job. Although we see that both Harry Crane and his clients acknowledge her job well-done, Joan is still put aside and plopped right back into her place as a secretary.
Women also struggle with their sexuality, and the many mixed messages in the media do little to help this. Peggy lacks Joan’s sex appeal, and strives to be more like her. When she asks Joan for advice, she tells her to stop dressing like a twelve-year-old girl, while the one “outed” member of the ad team cuts Peggy’s hair without her permission so that she can look sexier. Meanwhile, Peggy is on the creative team, writing copy for advertisements, yet still feels that she must portray sex appeal in order to be accepted. She even sings “Bye Bye Birdie” in front of the mirror, mimicking Ann-Margret whom all the men at the agency love, in her attempts to change.
These are only a few examples of the many nuances and social commentaries seen in the show, and despite my bias Mad Men certainly appeals equally to both sexes. The men will be drawn to the male camaraderie of the advertising world – a world filled with whiskey and women – while women will be drawn to the variety of female characters who struggle through a stereotypical men’s world, but with the luxury of having fabulous outfits.
(Beware sports fans, read the following article at your own risk!)
Today, at 1:42 p.m. Tiger Woods made his epic return to golf. In a normal year, in a normal Masters tournament, I would have no idea what time golfers tee off, because I usually don’t care. But this year is different. This year a man who cheated on his wife with several women has taken 5 months off the golf scene, and is making his “legendary” return. Is this a joke?
I understand that Tiger Woods is human, and is entitled to make mistakes. He is also entitled to learn from his mistakes, and make a fresh start. And I can see how facing the public after such a huge media debacle could be painstaking, embarrassing, and overall uncomfortable, so my applause goes out to Tiger for that at least. What I don’t understand is why this day has become so important to popular culture, and why people were crying on the golf course when Tiger walked out to tee off.
It is as though Tiger has now gained some sort of infamy for being adulterous. He’s up there with the likes of John Dillinger, Billy the Kid, or Bonnie and Clyde. They gained superstardom for all the wrong reasons: breaking the law, escaping authorities, and generally being a danger to the public. In Tiger’s case, the laws he broke are along moral lines, and he didn’t quite succeed in escaping the media authorities, but his poor example has been set, and there will certainly be those who think its okay to follow. Or maybe the better comparison is Hugh Hefner – at least he waited until he was divorced to move into the Playhouse.
Furthermore, the media are making it seem like Tiger’s been gone from the golf world for years, when it’s only been 5 months. Do people really think that 5 months is enough for someone to recover from events that destroyed Tiger’s family and down-home image? Is 5 months enough time to get over an “addiction” to sex? Shouldn’t there be some mathematical formula based on how many women he slept with? Certainly 5 months isn’t long enough to do penance for your sins, or regain emotional stability. Maybe Tiger Woods is a robot who doesn’t feel anything. That might explain everything.