Tuesday, September 22, 2009


For the most part, rules of etiquette are unwritten. As humans, most of us naturally know that there is a time and place for everything.
The problem with etiquette is that the ‘standards’ vary greatly from person to person. What one person deems appalling, another person may deem normal. Etiquette really depends on where you were raised and who did the raising.
Take for instance, proper dinner table etiquette. Here in the West, it’s poor manners and terrible etiquette to place your elbows on the table. My Grandmother, a broken record, always told me to stop slouching and take my elbows off the table while I ate.
However, in France (and most of Europe, especially Greece), ‘elbows on the table’ is perfectly acceptable. In fact, they think it’s poor etiquette if you don’t have your elbows on the table. Something about hiding your hands in your lap is frowned upon. Whatever. My point is etiquette varies from place to place, person to person.

This is a problem. This is why each and every year someone says or does something so totally ridiculous at the film festival. These people are lacking TIFFiquette.

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m just a prude so I’ll list the top 3 appalling events that took place over a 10 day span and you tell me; am I being too hard on people?

1. Up In The Air premiere at the Ryerson theatre, September 12, 2009

Some major Hollywood players came out for this one but that didn’t stop the moron in the front row from asking the dumbest question at the festival this year.
On the stage, conducting the Q & A was Jason Reitman, the Writer/Director. On stage with him: George Clooney (whose hand was bandaged from an accident he had the week before), Jason Bateman, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, Melanie Lynskey & a few others—their names escape me.
In the audience looking and listening on? Just Oprah Winfrey. No big deal.
Here was his question:
“This question is for George Clooney: did you really hurt your hand or did you just bandage it for the festival?’ Or something like that. I don’t remember the exact wording.
Anyway, George Clooney just laughed it off and sarcastically answered, ‘yes, I did this just for the premiere tonight’.
Jason Reitman then said, ‘wow, that was an excellent question!’ which got a lot of laughs from the audience because we all knew better.

Here’s a link to the idiot caught on camera by an expert TIFFer, Larry Richman:


People like this don’t deserve to leave the house let alone attend premieres for must-see Hollywood films.
What a waste of a perfectly good opportunity to ask an intelligent question. How many times in your life do you get to pick the brain of a Hollywood heavyweight?
I hope all the other people who had their hands up but didn’t get called on, ganged up on him when he left the theatre.

2. My Year Without Sex premiere at the AMC on Richmond St. September 13, 2009

What happened this night was probably the worst display of bad manners I’ve ever seen at TIFF. And, of course the culprit was seated right next to me. Go figure.
My Year Without Sex is an Australian gem. The Writer/Director, Sarah Watt spent about four years of her life putting this film together.
When she introduced the film, she thanked Toronto for inviting her back (she was here in 2005 for ‘Look Both Ways’—another little gem of a film) and that she just had one of the best meals of her life.
The alpha male sitting next to me, turns to his friend and loudly asks ‘I wonder where she ate?!’ Then whips out his Blackberry and decides to keep it on throughout the entire film, trying to cover the screen by looking at it awkwardly in his pocket.
So, the film is over and the Q&A begins. Guess what the first question is.
That’s right, you guessed it!
‘Where did you have dinner?’
That was the first fucking question to the woman who just poured out her heart and soul on the big screen for us all to gawk at. She traveled thousands of miles for this shit?
The funny thing was, the alpha male didn’t ask the question, some other novice TIFFer did. I guessed, by her tone, she wanted it to be funny and cute but it made me want to throw something sharp at her. However, the only thing I had was an empty popcorn bag. That wouldn’t draw blood so I just gave her a dirty look on the way out of the theatre.

So, once the alpha male hears the name of the restaurant, he proceeds to yell out the address for us all to hear. ‘It’s on King & Spadina!’ he exclaims.
Because you know, he knows it all. He’s the big man about town. Clearly, he has a small penis. I bet he drives a red sports car.
Anyway, after he screams for attention, he jumps up and tells his wife, sitting in the row in front of us with her friends, ‘it’s time to go’. He does all this very loudly, saying bye to his friends, all the while, the Writer/Director is about to call on the next person for question #2.
I hope he dropped his Crackberry down a subway grate on the way home. Fucker.

3. Bad Lieutenant Port of Call: New Orleans premiere at the Ryerson theatre, September 15, 2009

Let’s face it; Nicholas Cage has not made any good films lately. He’s no National Treasure.
Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
So, I wasn’t feeling it for this film. I saw the first Bad Lieutenant with Harvey Keitel and didn’t like it. I’m not a Werner Herzog fanatic either so there’s three strikes right there. However, I’m a film lover and will try anything once so I tagged along with my friend that night to the premiere. She happened to know a lot about Herzog so I let her educate me.
The film was FANTASTIC. I loved it. Most of us in that theatre that night did. We laughed through the entire film—it was hilarious and so bloody uncomfortable! I love it when a film does that to me. You know, those films that make you cringe and move around in your chair. Movie Magic.
I tweeted just after I got out of the theatre that I thought Nicholas Cage was back and that I smelled Oscar. I still do. I hope he, at the very least, get’s a nomination because his portrayal of Lieutenant Terrence McDonagh was funny, scary and mesmerizing. Seriously, one of the best films (and best performances) I’ve seen this year.

So, why was it that people decided to get up and leave during the Q&A if they liked the film so much? Were they just fake clapping? Was it because Herzog’s accent was so thick, they were too lazy to listen? Or, sadly, were they still angry at Nicholas Cage for Ghost Rider? I know I am.
Unfortunately, they’re making Ghost Rider 2 so we’ll have to get over the anger. Oy vey.
When you are a true movie-lover, you ignore past mistakes when a performance like Cage’s in Bad Lieutenant graces the screen. A true movie-lover is always willing to forgive and forget.
In the theatre that night, the seats were not filled with true movie-lovers. They were filled with novice TIFFers with no idea that leaving during a Q&A is rude and just plain wrong.
If you’re one of these rude bastards, be careful the next time you do this because I usually sit in aisle seats. I have no problem with tripping you.
These rude bastards are also the same people who sat in their seats and watched ALL credits roll. So, what’s the big deal with sitting another few minutes for a Q&A? They only last a few minutes.
Have another movie to get to? Well, leave DURING the credits! It’s very simple.

I hope all these ignorant people I just mentioned were not from Toronto.

I think most movie goers are strictly in it for entertainment purposes only. Meaning, they don’t really care about the process of making movies and I totally understand that.
However, a lot goes into making a film and these people that are bringing their art to our city deserve respect.

It’s not impossible and it’s never too late to acquire good TIFFiquette. Remember, we’re going to be doing this all over again next year.
Here are a few simple rules for being a good TIFFer:

Ask intelligent questions: think long and hard before you ask a question. You have the duration of the film to think. Please. I beg of you.

Don’t leave during a Q&A: Just don’t do it. These people are artists. They’ve worked very hard to bring their idea to life. Don’t shit on their work by getting up and leaving as an actor or director is trying to explain their work.

Don’t be a celebrity stalker: It’s easy to get carried away when you see a celebrity that you admire. Trust me, I know what that feels like. However, it’s poor etiquette to ask for an autograph when someone just finished going pee. Don’t accost celebrities in the bathroom!!!

Final note:
This is to the irritating guy who sat behind me during the premiere of Passenger Side @ AMC (YDS), September 11, 2009:
Thanks for kicking my chair throughout the entire film, asshole. Even when I gave you the abrasive ‘turn-around-and-stare’ and asked you to stop, you thought it would be funny to keep doing it. Either that or you have a neurological disorder.
I just hope that I (or someone else) can return the favour next year.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Fear

I can feel it coming again, sneaking up from behind as it normally does. Just waiting for the right time to ravish me--invade all my thoughts.

I feel it tugging at me, begging me to be fed just before I drift off to sleep. I close my eyes knowing that in a few hours, I'll feel it again. It's relentless and works slowly because it doesn't want you to notice it until it's too late.

Morning comes and I am faced with yet another day of torment. I can still fight the good fight but I often lose. I often let the fear win--it's just easier this way.
As a child, I thought it would be left behind, it wouldn't make it into adulthood. I was wrong. Not only did it follow me, I invited it in for dinner. It has sat at my table for 25 years now.

You see, I've been through this before. My relationship with the fear is a volatile one and I know exactly who wears the pants and it's not me. Like a yo-yo, it keeps filling me up and then abruptly emptying me too quickly and I snap back, wanting for more. It always leaves me wanting for more.

Today, my clothes digging into me, I walk the aisles in search of something that won't hurt me. I search for something that won't induce a feeling of guilt.
I've yet to find it.

The Fear is back.

One of my new favourite songs is by an artist named Lily Allen titled 'The Fear'. When I first heard the title, I laughed to myself as I have had The Fear myself for quite some time. Although, my fear is a lot different than the kind of fear Lily sings about.

The Fear
I want to be rich and I want lots of money
I don`t care about clever I don`t care about funny
I want loads of clothes and fuckloads of diamonds
I heard people die while they are trying to find them

I`ll take my clothes off and it will be shameless
`Cuz everyone knows that`s how you get famous
I`ll look at the sun and I`ll look in the mirror
I`m on the right track yeah I`m on to a winner

I don`t know what`s right and what`s real anymore
I don`t know how I`m meant to feel anymore
When we think it will all become clear
`Cuz I`m being taken over by The Fear

Life`s about film stars and less about mothers
It`s all about fast cars and passing each other
But it doesn`t matter cause I`m packing plastic
and that`s what makes my life so fucking fantastic

And I am a weapon of massive consumption
and its not my fault it`s how I`m program to function
I`ll look at the sun and I`ll look in the mirror
I`m on the right track yeah I`m on to a winner

I don`t know what`s right and what`s real anymore
I don`t know how I`m meant to feel anymore
When we think it will all become clear
`Cuz I`m being taken over by The Fear

Forget about guns and forget ammunition
Cause I`m killing them all on my own little mission
Now I`m not a saint but I`m not a sinner
Now everything is cool as long as I`m getting thinner

I don`t know what`s right and what`s real anymore
I don`t know how I`m meant to feel anymore
When we think it will all become clear
`Cause I`m being taken over by fear

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Aging & Shoe Laces

Aging can be a wonderful thing.
As an adult, you get to stay up as late as you want. You get to eat popcorn and chocolate chip cookies for dinner. You get to keep your bedroom as messy as possible without lectures or guilt trips from your Mother. Best of all, you get to pick and choose who you want in your life.
And if you’re really lucky, age allows you to slowly (I stress slowly here) figure out who you are, who you were and who you don’t want to be.

Every other weekend, I spend a day with my 90 year old Grandmother, affectionately known as ‘Nanny’.
Nanny now lives with my parents because she can no longer take care of herself, well. Physically, she’s fine—strong as an ox. Mentally, well, that’s another story.
I’ve written about her many, many times but have not shared much on this blog as my feelings about her current situation are convoluted. I sometimes feel like I’m in denial while other times I seem to come to terms with the fact that the woman I knew, the woman who helped raise me is not the same person.

When I was a child, she doted on me endlessly and I loved it because doting was something my Mother knew nothing about.
One of my fondest memories of her was all the time she took to show me how to tie my shoe laces. She was always so patient and would allow me to try and try again until I got it right, even when she was in a hurry. I can still picture her standing in the doorway, looking at her watch as I struggled with my Everest.
I hadn’t thought about that in ages. My recent memories of her are starting to overshadow the old, more joyful ones.
Time can be cruel.
However, the other day, as I helped her with her socks and shoes, I was transported back to that doorway in my childhood.
There she was, sitting in her favourite chair, sticking out her foot the same way I used to do it by holding on to the back of my knee. It was a bizarre moment. And to be honest, I cried on my way home that day because of it.
Having to see my Grandmother this way is not all bad, though. For good can come out of bad, time and time again.

My original Grandmother allowed me to see that with a little patience and perseverance, anything is possible.

My current Grandmother is forcing me to see that I don’t ever want to lose my memories. I don’t ever want to lose my essence and I certainly don’t ever want to lose the ability to put my shoes on—by myself.