At the Coast Coal Harbour Hotel in Vancouver on Wednesday for a trade & media tasting of beautiful Italian wines. Focus was on superior tasting Prosecco, Valpolicella and Amarone. Unfortunately for me I was under the weather. Feeling anything but beautiful myself, I could not properly taste anything, so I brought along another nose who knows...my friend Tamara (now known as Tamarone). And as you can see from the photos we were looking a bit fuzzy. But we met some nice Italian men wines.
I was very fortunate to be able to attend the special fundraising event An Evening with Janelast night at the Centre for Performing Arts. Part of the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF).
Overall yes; she’s an incredible woman, not only for having dedicated her life to studying chimpanzees in the wild.
Everyone has heard of Jane Goodall although some still tend to confuse her with Dian Fossey (as did a flight attendant who recently made a big fuss but when she learns that Fossey died in 1985 will feel pretty foolish). Goodall recounts the story with humor and points out the importance of laughter. You can’t help but like her as she discussed her life’s work which is groundbreaking in scope and has revolutionized our understanding of nature and humanity, as well as her hopes for the future. She’s funny too.
She takes no fees for appearing in person, preferring to raise funds and donate all monies to promote the understanding and protection of chimpanzees and other great apes, along with their habitats. This special charity event helped raise funds for the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada.
Her story is an otherworldly one considering she went to the wilds of Africa as a young woman and with no training whatsoever. She had this dream as a child. She lived her dream.
In the documentary preceding the sit-down discussion we find out more than we ever knew about this incredibly selfless human.
In 1960, at the age of 26 and with little academic training, Jane Goodall set off into the forests of what is now Tanzania to study the relatively unexamined life of the chimpanzee. Her discoveries led to a lifelong fascination with our primate kin, and she went on to transform the world’s view of them.
During the filming of this feature, Oscar-nominated director Brett Morgen unearthed 16mm footage shot by Hugo van Lawick in the 1960s. It is this gorgeous archival material–plus the energetic presence of Goodall herself–which elevates Morgen’s portrait to the highest level of biographical documentary. The film delivers a powerful and uplifting portrayal of Goodall, a supremely intelligent woman who has transformed our relationship to the animals more like humans than any other creature–and is still, as an octogenarian, fighting the good fight on behalf of ecologists everywhere.
She’s a name dropper too… letting us in on a little secret that Leonardo DiCaprio will be making a feature about her life.
You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm
I don’t know what I enjoyed most about this film. The story, the setting or the exquisite costumes.
For those not familiar, Colette was a French novelist nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948. Keira Knightley gives the performance of her professional career as Sidonie-Gabrielle Collette in her earlier years as she turned Paris upside-down with her life and work.
As a writer, performer and a feminist, Colette attracted controversy and lived life to the fullest.
You may think that you know nothing of Colette’s writings but many of her works are well known around the world. The film “Gigi” starring Audrey Hepburn was adapted from Colette’s book of the same name and several of her writings have been adapted for the stage and screen.
She was a fascinating woman, married at the age of 20 to a writer and music critic of whom it was said he was a “literary charlatan and degenerate”. Whilst married to Henry Gauthier-Villars she wrote her first books (Claudine series) using his nom de plume “Willy”. The books scandalized France – and made the pair plenty of money.
She was the first woman to be given a state funeral in France before being laid to rest in 1954 at the Père Lachaise Cemetery (the same cemetery I once visited where Oscar Wilde is also laid to rest).
Co-starring a perfectly cast Dominic West as Colette’s libertine first husband, the charming rogue and writer known only as “Willy” who took credit for Colette’s first four novels while sharing a lover with her, Westmoreland’s biopic traces the writer-actor’s life from her provincial upbringing to her halcyon days causing an uproar in the salons and vaudeville theatres of Paris. The core of the film, however, is her fraught relationship with Willy and how the constraints and slights she faced ended up engendering a writing career that made her one of France’s most beloved artists. This is a heady, champagne cocktail of a film made all the more delightful by Knightley’s bravura turn.
Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet – Colette
Source: VIFF & The Good Life France
Visit Viff.org to see more intriguing films until October 12th
The world is a stage but the play is badly cast – Oscar Wilde
Poet and Playwright Oscar Wilde is famous for many reasons. I’m most familiar with his whimsical satire of Victorian society The Importance of Being Earnest – a classic about love, deception and mistaken identity. A great character study… perfectly cast.
And I saw his lipstick covered tomb at the renowned Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, France.
Other than that, I learned a lot more when viewing the special presentation of THE HAPPY PRINCEat the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) yesterday.
No man is rich enough to buy back his past – Oscar Wilde
Actor Rupert Everett gives a simply remarkable performance as Wilde. He also impressively wrote and directed this powerfully empathetic account of the last years of the legendary Irish writer.
A short synopsis:
After spending two years in prison for his homosexuality—”gross indecency” was the official conviction—Wilde exiled himself to Paris, where he continued his self-destructive lifestyle while living in penury. Buoyed only by occasional contact with old friends Reggie Turner (Colin Firth) and Robbie Ross (Edwin Thomas), and with his wife (Emily Watson) and two sons far away, he’s a desperately lonely man who assuages his pain with alcohol, drugs and a succession of young men. Everett was born to play Wilde, and his open, deeply felt film both honours his idol and conveys the essence of a man who, deprived of the things that make life worth living, maintained his ironic sense of humour until the end.
I can resist everything except temptation – Oscar Wilde
A masterful collaboration by documentarians Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier.
A world class documentary that is equally stunning and disturbing. Surreal and sobering. The mind boggling cinematography by legendary photographer Edward Burtynsky was the stunning part. The disturbing part was everything else. It showcases to great effect our unprecedented impact on planet Earth to date.
And there was a lot to be captured. And there is a lot to be fearful for. And there is a lot to change…if we still can.
A short synopsis: scenes of almost inconceivable scale such as monolithic machines hell-bent on terraforming their surroundings, land-fill sites staffed by thousands, heaps of elephant tusks piled high and set aflame, concrete seawalls lining China’s coastline, on and on. Only some of the things humans are responsible for that endanger and change the structure of the planet.
I knew it wouldn’t be a feel-good film. But it was a necessary one. Which brings me to this famous quote:
It’s that time again…Following TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival). Leafing through the booklet (shown above) there are too many films that I’m anxious to see. A Sampling:
ANTHROPOCENE: The Human Epoch
Okay; not feel-good but necessary knowledge:
The latest masterful collaboration between Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier and Edward Burtynsky isn’t so much eye-opening as mind-blowing as it essays our unprecedented impact on the Earth to stunning effect. The staggering tableaux captured here are at once surreal and sobering, including monolithic machines hell-bent on terraforming their surroundings and potash mines that evoke a bad drug trip. This is filmmaking of the highest order that unfolds on a dizzying, almost inconceivable scale.
Bathtubs Over Broadway
MAD | Music/Art/Design (Because I LOVE Broadway Musicals)
Where did Chita Rivera, Martin Short and the late Florence Henderson (all present here) get their starts? In “industrial” musicals–musicals commissioned by corporate America from the 50s through the 80s to entertain employees and celebrate, say, bathroom fixtures or Fords… Dava Whisenant’s supremely entertaining film follows industrial musical obsessive Steve Young (a writer for David Letterman, who also appears) as he uncovers a hidden world. “Get ready to laugh, sing, cheer, and be dazzled.”—POV
In My Room (Israel)
Impact | VIFF Impact
Deeply intimate, unexpectedly moving and entirely of its moment, Ayelet Albenda’s documentary unfolds through footage culled from six teenagers’ self-produced YouTube videos. Make no mistake: these aren’t social media stars or influencers. They’re just average kids documenting their trials (including pregnancy and eating disorders) and trying to make some sense of them. The remarkably honest moments they share quickly coalesce into an involving study of the myriad iterations of adolescence.
I’ll be focusing on reviewing a bunch of diverse cinema during the festival.
A good friend of mine who lives part-time in Tokyo just texted me a photo where she was eating a goldfish at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.
Okay; it’s not a real goldfish (thank goodness) but a jelly dessert that’s part of a Goldfish Festival on until the end of September. So I had to research the festival because one of the many things I remember about the time I lived in Tokyo was that they have an abundance of not-your-norm festivals.
In Japan’s Edo period (1603-1868), in the days before the blissful arrival of air conditioning and electric fans, the residents of Tokyo had their own tried and tested ways of dealing with the hot summer weather. Traditionally, people would don lightweight yukata cotton robes and found that viewing images of goldfish had the mysterious effect of providing psychological relief from the summer heat.
The Eco Edo Nihonbashi is a festival themed on the cooling image of goldfish, which aims to replicate this marvelous placebo effect as it takes over the streets of downtown Tokyo from early July until late September. Festival-goers are invited to try for themselves some of the tactics used to keep cool by Tokyoites of yore as they scoop goldfish, dance among the fish at a night-time aquarium party, and munch on refreshing goldfish-themed summer treats.
Eco Edo will showcase the curious cooling properties of goldfish to the full, with an array of goldfish-themed attractions. All these forms of Edo-period wisdom can be enjoyed in a traditional Japanese festival atmosphere, with the surrounding streets decked out with the festival’s trademark enormous goldfish lanterns.
Goldfish Sweets & Bar Walk
New to this year’s festival, enjoy traditional Edo hospitality on a gourmet stroll through Nihonbashi and Ningyocho districts, where many bars, cafes and restaurants will be plying guests with goldfish-themed sweet treats and bar menus as well as locally-produced Japanese sake. Dishes on offer include colourful jelly in glass dishes designed to resemble goldfish in a goldfish bowl, and chilled oden (fish and vegetable hotpot) garnished with tiny carrot goldfish. Visitors can also claim special gifts in each area they visit and collect stamps to enter a lottery to win luxury prizes.
As part of the food and hospitality event, the Mandarin Oriental is also tempting festival-goers with several special offers:
Goldfish Bowl Desserts
Slurp on exquisite layered jelly desserts made to resemble goldfish swimming in a goldfish bowl – they’re almost too beautiful to eat! Where? Ground floor, the Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo When? 7:30-20:00 (weekdays), 9:00-19:00 (weekends and public holidays) to 24th September.
Art speaks where words are unable to explain – Unknown
Diary of a Leitmotif
Leitmotifis a term originating from opera, where it referred to a recurring melody or that played along with a character or allusion to a theme (idea or situation) whenever one or the other appeared on stage. It derives from the German words for “leading” (leit) and “motive” (motif). But these are only words.
Last Thursday I attended the opening of Berlin based artist Deborah Wargon’s Diary of a Leitmotifat the Back Gallery Project on Vancouver’s East Side. A most intricate and thought-provoking display of lines, contemplations and vibrations. Made from elaborately cut paper works and presented like archived insects in entomological display drawers from the Natural History Museum, Berlin.
Our fellow friend & filmmaker Ann Marie Fleming curated this intriguing exhibition which runs until October 8th.