Academy Awards

Amanda’s Got Lots To Say About Vancouver!

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I had the pleasure of teaching Amanda for 2 months at the end of 2015, and I loved getting to spend time with this passionate 18 year-old from Belgium! Amanda actively sought out all of the fun places to go and great places to eat in Vancouver. If she ever wants to have a job as a tour guide in Vancouver, I think there’s one waiting for her!

While Amanda is travelling back to Belgium this Saturday, she is still making sure each of her days are jam-packed with activities in Vancouver. Poutine is the last meal in Vancouver she’ll be having before heading to the airport Saturday. If you want to get some info about Amanda’s favourite places in Vancouver, then please watch her interview.

 

FOXCATCHER: Heavy Yet Hopeful Film Deserves Oscar Noms

Tonight I went on a solo-trip to the movies and I was not disappointed. I watched director BENNETT MILLER‘s film (Miller also directed MONEYBALL and CAPOTE) FOXCATCHER. The film was painful, and it was a lot to take in, but it reminds me of how important (and healthy) it is for vulnerable emotions to be expressed (at the appropriate time and place) instead of held in. Nobody can be tough and all-powerful, and when we try to be the consequences are horrible.

If you do yourself a favour and go view this film, I think you will have the privilege of seeing a TRUE STORY represented on the big screen that proves masculine standards in our society, and the idea that being vulnerable is always a weakness, can destroy lives.

Steve Carell as John du Pont

STEVE CARELL perfectly captures the pain of a person who cannot be open and vulnerable with other people: source.

CHANNING TATUM is touching, real, and outstanding playing real-life GOLD MEDAL WINNER for wrestling at the 1984 Olympics MARK SCHULTZ. MARK RUFFALO plays SCHULTZ‘s older brother DAVE (also a gold medal winner at the Olympics for wrestling in real-life). JOHN DU PONT is a power-hungry, jealous, bitter, and deeply sad individual who is played by STEVE CARELL. The end of this story in real-life is depressing beyond belief, and I don’t want to give away too much about the film. Nevertheless, I was totally sucked-in to seeing how the events unfold (I already knew what happened in real-life before seeing it) because the performances are done with such a sense of humanity and sense of respect for the individuals TATUM, RUFFALO, and CARELL are playing.

As much as Carell plays an unattractive individual who is mentally unstable and abusive, I could still see where the character was coming from and that is not an easy feat consider how much of a “villain” Du Pont could be considered to be.

I already know that Steve Carell can convey the underlying lack of confidence that drives people to be unlikable characters, but here he takes this to another level. The ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATIONS are being announced on January 15th, and I hope Carell is given a Best Actor nomination. The way he plays the character showed me, yet again, that confidence and loving oneself is the first step necessary before you can create healthy and positive relationships with other people.

What a team! MARK RUFFALO (hugging Tatum) plays Schultz’s older brother DAVE: source.

I am a female and therefore I often focus on the oppression of women (and having studied Women’s Studies for my B.A. might also have something to do with my female-centred focus). Watching FOXCATCHER made me thankful to be a female, because as an Olympian-wrestler Mark Schultz does not have much room to express his feelings. He needs to work on improving his fitness and what is going on in the inside is mostly irrelevant.

Ruffalo’s portrayal of Mark’s brother Dave is inspiring. Ruffalo as Dave Schultz shows that men can be strong, masculine, and athletic while still caring about other people and how they feel. Dave Schultz focuses on trying to help his brother express himself. He tries to provide Mark with positive love and affection, but this is hard for Mark to receive as he doesn’t seem to have much love for himself. The relationship between the two brothers is beautiful. The relationship between John du Pont and Mark Schultz is horrific and reminds me of how horrible it is to be under another’s power and to feel helpless to resist against abuse because you think you need their support.

 Exclusive 'Foxcatcher' Trailer: Bennett Miller and Channing Tatum Talk Playing Through the Pain

(STEVE CARELL as JOHN DU PONT and (right) real-life (now deceased) DU PONT: source.

Mark Schultz has already won a gold medal at the Olympics when he is contacted out-of-the-blue by rich benefactor John du Pont. John du Pont is one of those people I would totally be creeped-out by and would try to avoid. Mark needs funding to train to his best abilities and he does not have his parents in his life, so he is flattered by du Pont’s attention and du Pont’s belief in his potential.

Mark Schultz leaves where he trains with his brother Dave as his couch, and moves onto the isolated compound that du Pont resides on with his aging mother, JEAN DU PONT (played by VANESSA REDGRAVE). Mark thinks he has hit the jackpot when he is given his own large home to live in on the property, and the wrestling training facility also at the Foxcatcher compound is state-of-the-art.

Mark thinks he’s got it made, but as these stories go on the big screen and in real-life, there are always strings attached. Some people are genuinely giving and do not expect anything in return, but when things seem too good to be true they probably are.

Unhealthy relationships are cleverly explored in FOXCATCHER: source.

Gradually Mark begins to experience the negative downsides of being completely reliant on du Pont and under his tutelage, but he feels he is already in too deep to get out. The real-life Mark Schultz is currently claiming the film defames him because of one scene in particular that insinuates that there was a component of sexual abuse between du Pont and Schultz. I think that this seems entirely plausible given the real-life details of the story, but maybe the filmmaker is unfair to extend the facts to include this representation of the degree to which du Pont abused Mark Schultz.

It is interesting that the real-life Mark Schultz is so offended by this, because it might be a reflection of how hard it is for him to come to terms with the abuse that took place and he might feel shame that this man did take advantage of him sexually because there is still so much stigma surrounding men and sexual abuse. It is also possible that there was no sexual abuse and that is the reason he is bothered by this part of the movie, but either way, it draws attention to the stigmatization surrounding men, and in particular men in sports, who experience sexual abuse at the hands of their mentors and coaches. So many people still possess the idea deep-down that any man who gets sexually abused was “asking for it”. I think this mentality is disturbing, but I also believe it is still prevalent in our culture.

WHY IS THIS FILM HOPEFUL? I have mostly written about the darkness in FOXCATCHER. But, I left the film feeling hopeful. That is because it re-confirmed to me why I feel it is so important for me (and others) to work towards being honest and sharing with others what is going on in our inner-worlds. I think when you try to repress the hurt you have, and the rejection you have experienced at the hands of your parents or others in your childhood, it remains inside of you and influences what you do and how you treat others. I am proud to say that I go to a counsellor to help deal with the pain I still have inside of me, and to work on improving my own self-confidence and as a bi-product of that, my relationship with others.

Bottling up your emotions never works: eventually those emotions are going to burst, it is just a matter of WHEN and more importantly HOW.

Foxcatcher shows that if you do not attend to your own needs and deal with your painful past, then you might end up destroying yourself or the people closest to you. FOXCATCHER is tough to watch, but so very worth it!

WHISTLER FILM FEST DOCS: SNOWMAN and POINT AND SHOOT

Last weekend I went to Whistler for the WHISTLER FILM FESTIVAL. I only managed to see 2 films, but they were very thought-provoking and well-worth the trip to Whistler!

The 2 documentaries I viewed were SNOWMAN and POINT AND SHOOT.

First, I have included the SNOWMAN trailer:

Here is the trailer for POINT AND SHOOT:

SNOWMAN is directed by Whistler ski legend MIKE DOUGLAS. It chronicles the life story of his best friend KEVIN FOGOLIN (the men grew-up together in Campbell River, BC). Kevin and Mike share an obsession with the snow and skiing. Once high school is finished, Kevin moves to Whistler. Whistler is not what Kevin expects it to be. After his short-stint living in Whistler, he abandons his dreams and settles-down in Campbell River. Eventually, Kevin gets married and has 3 sons.

Snowman

(Kevin Fogolin-l and Mike Douglas-r: source)

Mike moves to Whistler after Kevin has already left. In Whistler, Douglas ends up creating a highly successful and distinguished career as a groundbreaking free-skier.

Kevin eventually finds a job that suits his passion for snow. He drops bombs from a helicopter in remote BC locations to create avalanches to prevent more extreme avalanche damage from happening. One day Kevin is involved in a helicopter crash. This traumatizing event changes how he sees his own life and the crash greatly impacts how he lives his life to this day.

The documentary raises a lot of relatable, and challenging-to-answer, questions such as “What degree of risk-taking is healthy and at what point does risk-taking become careless?”, “Is it ever possible to forget about one’s dreams?”, and “Should you sacrifice your own dreams to ensure financial security and stability for your family?”.

WhistlerFilmFest-SNOWMAN

(SNOWMAN poster: source)

The film is shot beautifully. The mountain landscapes are breathtaking, and, of course, there is lots of DRAMA. The film won THE BEST MOUNTAIN CULTURE AWARD at the 2014 WHISTLER FILM FESTIVAL. There is no official release date yet for SNOWMAN, but the film is being shown at additional film festivals and will hopefully be available on iTunes in 2015. When it is released, please take the time to watch it!

Matthew VanDyke on the cover of Baltimore City Paper(POINT AND SHOOT’S central figure MATT VANDYKE: source)

POINT AND SHOOT was a documentary that my boyfriend, IAN SOMERS (who is the composer for SNOWMAN and like Kevin and Mike, he also originates from Campbell River, BC), suggested we go see.

Therefore, I did not personally watch the trailer prior to going to the film. Ian told me that it was about a spoiled, young American male who naively sets out to learn more about countries in the Middle East. On his journey, he inadvertently gets more involved with a war than he expects to be. This was all that I knew prior to watching the movie.

I ended up absolutely loving the film. I thought the story sounded interesting, but predictable. I found it to be totally the OPPOSITE: I have never seen a documentary like POINT AND SHOOT.

2-time ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATED director MARSHALL CURRY presents us with MATT VANDYKE, who is a 26 year-old caucasian, American male. VanDyke grows up as an only child and is financially supported by his family. He is admittedly disconnected from the life-challenges that people with less privilege regularly face. I liked him right away, even though his naivety might make him seem easy to hate. Matt’s vulnerability and honesty make him a complex character. He is open about his struggles with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder while filming himself on his journey through North Africa and the Middle East on a motorcycle.

The film won the BEST DOCUMENTARY AWARD at the TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL. I think it will continue to gain popularity once more people get to see it. The documentary is being released on iTunes on February 17th, 2015.

Point And Shoot Tribeca

(MATT VAN DYKE in POINT AND SHOOT: source)

Matt starts to gain confidence while on his multi-year motorcycle journey. He eventually befriends a small group of men in Libya who he feels huge sense of camaraderie with. Once Matt returns home, he sees on the news that the people of Libya are revolting against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. In a surprising move, Matt decides to return to Libya and to help his friends fight. Once there, he ends up being put in solitary confinement for 6 months, but that is only a small part of the real-life drama that unfolds.

I was amazed by the footage that VanDyke was able to capture. I watched the film with zero knowledge about Libya and how Muammar Gaddafi was brought down. Now, I feel like I have learned a little bit about a historical event as a result of viewing this film. When it is available, please take the time to watch this movie to learn about the incredible spirits of the Libyan people and Matt!