Archive for October, 2008|Monthly archive page

Perfect Day

This was it. It was now or never (well, probably not, but he always had a flair for the dramatic).

She was sitting at her desk, her eyes glued to the computer, her hand moving the mouse left and right, up and down.
She paid no attention to him.
Her hair was dark and long and curly, strands of it falling and covering her left eye.
She twisted her lip and puffed some air up and the renegade curl flew away.
His heart skipped a bit.
He said:
“Hey”.
She tilted her head and saw him. Her eyes were brown and large. How he loved those eyes of hers.
“Hey!” She replied, leaning back and stretching her fingers. “God, this report is a pain in the ass”.
“So take a break”.
“Yeah, I guess I should. What’re you up to? Still with the fall paperwork?”
“Yeah”. He said.
“Poor guy”.
“Oh, that’s alright”.
Ok, enough with the damn small talk.
“Listen, there’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you”.
“Hmm..?
“Would you like to… you know… go out and do something togeter? Maybe this Saturday?”
She looked at him with her big eyes. His heart sank for a minute.
This can’t be a surprise to her, he thought. The way he’s been talking to her, the way he’s been trying to be close to her, she must know that he likes her more than just a friend. She must.
“Sure” she said.
He felt a smile appear on his face, widening and widening. He felt himself turn into the Cheshire Cat.
“Great!” He said.
“What did you have in mind?” She asked.
“Mini Golf? At The Grover Grounds? On Saturday”
“Yeah, sure”.
“Then we can go to Kiki’s”.
She smiled again.
“Listen” she said, “Lets talk later. I have to get back to this damn report”.
“Yes” he said, “Yes. Okay, so… thanks. I mean, good.”
She laughed.
“You’re funny”.
He went back to his cubicle, but there was no chance he could focus on his work today.
No chance in hell.

Saturday morning was beautiful and sunny. They met at the entrance to the Grounds and played till 11:30. He won, but it wasn’t really important. He helped her choose her clubs and aim. She let him hold her arms and guide her. It was wonderful to touch her, to smell her. His whole body and mind were on a natural high.
Then they went into town and he bought her ice cream. She laughed at his jokes. At some point she held his hand.
They talked about all kinds of stuff, sitting in the park eating their ice cream. They talked about what movies they last saw, about the wonderful weather in this April day – as if god arranged it just for them after a week of rains. They talked about his family and her family, about life in a small town and their dreams of getting out. They talked about books and music and cats. They both loved cats.

They didn’t talk about work at all. Not even one bit.

After the ice cream they didn’t feel like lunch so they went to the Gladstone Theater instead to catch the 4:30 show.
He couldn’t beleive his luck. They showed Casablanca.
When they went back out into the street (part of them still in the black and white wonder), they needed a few seconds to adjust. He felt like he’s hovering a few feet above the ground.
But it was getting dark.
And they were tired.

Her place was just a few blocks away and he walked her there.
When they got to the walkway in front of her house, she turned to him and kissed him lightly on the cheek.
“Thank you” she said. “I had  a wonderful, wonderful time”.
“It’s me who should thank you” he said. “thank you for a perfect day”.
“It was great, wasn’t it?” She said.
The sun was setting, making their shadows growing longer and thinner on the pavement.
Then he leaned and kissed her. She let him.
He held her tight.
“Yes, it was wonderful” he said. “Let’s do it again soon”.
“No” she said.
He let her go and looked at her, befuddled.

“I’d have to say no” she said from behind her desk. She wasn’t really smiling anymore. And she did act surprised, for some reason.
“Ah, okay”. He blurted.
She went back to her computer.
“I just thought I’d try, you know. You only live once”.
“Yeah, I know” she said. This time she smiled, but it wasn’t the smile he was looking for. “But it’s still no, okay?”
“Okay” he said. He kept standing there for a few seconds as if someone poured concrete on his shoes, but she didn’t look at him.

It was as if he wasn’t there.

He turned and slowly went back to his cubicle.
It was longest walk of his life.
He felt eyes looking at him. But they couldn’t have heard the conversation, could they? Could they?
He sat back on his chair ans stared at his computer.
He would keep staring at it until it was time to go home.

Home.

The weatherman on TV said that the rains will be over by the weekend.

He said Saturday will be sunny and warm.

He said it’s going to be a perfect day.

Make ’em laugh

Getting ready for my screening at WILDsound Film Festival in Toronto, I started to think how nerve-wrecking it is to do a comedy compared to all other film genres.
With comedy, the rules are simple. If the audience don’t laugh, you’re screwed.
If you do a drama, a horror film, an action-adventure, you usually never know if your film worked until the credits start to roll. Then, either people clap, or boo, or couldn’t care less. You may know if it worked by talking to the audience, by looking at their faces or listening to their conversations when they’re leaving the theater, but comedy is the only genre where you absolutely know if your film worked WHILE it is shown.

But does a comedy HAVE to make you laugh to be considered successful?

Well… Yes.

I’m the first one to admit that my film, Hype, is not a laugh-a-minute-riot, nor is it a slapstick comedy or a comedy of errors. Instead, it relies on a certain punchline to deliver the laugh.
Whenever I watch it with a group of people I always get very anxious at the end, because i know that if people don’t laugh now, the film didn’t work for them.
So tonight, watching Hype with the (hopefully) largest audience I ever had for it, I feel excited but mostly anxious. You sit there and you know that if people won’t laugh, your film is a misfire, a dud, a waste of space. A comedy is meant to make people laugh through satire, irony, black humor, slapstick. Like every good film, it needs to say something about life and the world we live in, about the characters, and it needs to do so in a way that makes you laugh. Maybe not all the way, but I believe a good comedy has to have at least one big laugh proportional to its length.

Woody Allen made some great comedies. Some of them were funnier than others. Bananas and Love and Death were ribald and crazy. Radio Days and Mighty Aphrodite were much more subtle. All of those films made you laugh at one point or another. But while Allen’s first films are considered his funniest, his later comedies are considered to be more deep, more rounded and profound. They are more about something, while his early spoofs are more like 90 minute sketches.

But they are all comedies, and they all work in their own way. I love comedies such as Take The Money And Run and Airplane because I love nonsense humor, but I also admire comedies that are more mature. There’s a lot of leeway inside the genre confines, but the rule always stays the same:

Your audience needs to laugh. And laugh for the right reasons, too.

A comedy can sometime tickle your funny bone without causing you to burst uproariously with laughter. There are countless examples of that. But as I’ve said, it’s not enough. If you strive for a comedy, you need those laugh-out-loud moments. Because what comedy filmmaker would want to sit at a screening of his film and have everyone chuckle inside for 90 minutes, or 20 minutes, or 5 minutes?

No, when we do a comedy, we want to make ’em laugh.

And we will sit in the dark and hold our breath until then…

Winter is Coming

Ha. There we go again. How’s that Weather Girls song goes? “Humidity is rising, barometer’s getting low”. Only in Toronto it doesn’t rain in the winter, is snows and freezes.

We had a fairly wet, cool summer. Now it’s fall, and it starts getting colder and colder. Last winter was very hard for me. Up to that point, the coldest temperatures I’ve ever experienced were -5c, so it’s understandable that finding myself in -15, -20 territory was a… revelation.

As a general rule, I dislike coats and sweaters and layers of clothing. I feel most natural in a t-shirt. The immense cold of the Toronto winter, including the lack of sun, has had a real effect on my mood last year, and when spring finally came, I felt as if I’ve awakened from a deep slumber.

The winter actually scares me. I remember quite well how I roamed (stupidly) around the streets last November without any head cover and lost sensation in my ears. I remember walking up Bathurst street, arriving to the streetcar stop, and trying to ask someone something, only to realize my jaw is numb and no words, only gurgles, are issuing forth from it. I remember going out on Christmas Eve and taking off my gloves and taking out my camera to snap some photos at the ice rink next city hall – and it was so cold that I couldn’t hold the camera for more than a few seconds.

It might well be I’m overly sensitive because I hail from a warm country, but it doesn’t change the fact that I suddenly feel this sudden urge to book a ticket to California and come back in March. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love the snow and all – it was the best part of the winter, although it too overstayed its welcome – but this is really going too far.

One of my great pleasures is too just walk. To walk around town and see places. And no, I haven’t yet seen everything Toronto has to offer. In the winter you just can’t do that. You hurry from one warm place to another, trying to minimize your outdoor time as much as possible. So that sucks, because you get four months where you’re an indoor prisoner. I don’t even remember where I walked or what I did last winter. It’s all a blur. To me, it was if I experienced one long snowy, frozen month. Come on, No human is meant to experience this shit. Why can’t we do like bears and hibernate?

The funny thing is Toronto got it the easiest compared to the rest of Canada. To other Canadians, we’re like a friggin’ resort town in February. It’s true what they say, that everything is relative.

There’s only one thing i can’t understand: Where do all the squirrels dissappear to for four months?

But that is for another post.