The Silent Partner

Miles (Elliot Gould) works at the Eaton Centre branch of First Bank of Toronto, it’s located immediately beside the Coles bookstore1. He’s a rather boring chap who interested in Julie (Susannah York), one of his coworkers who’s too busy boning their married coworker to give the boring Miles a second glance.

Life changes rather quickly for Miles and he discovers that someone intends to rob the bank. His solution? Find a way to keep most of the money, and let the criminal (Reikle, played by Christopher Plummer) think he got away with it. Until Reikle hears reports of how much money was stolen. Reikle’s not a happy man!

A word of advice, don’t piss off a Klingon, even those who really like to quote Shakespeare.

The screenplay to this Canadian gem is written by a Yankee, Curtis Hanson who some of you might remember as the screenwriter for the classic film Wonder Boys.

I found the film through the wonderful book Weird Sex & Snowshoes, which is the ultimate resource for fans of Canadian cinema. This film is unlike any other Canadian film I had seen. There is very little weird sex in it, and the snow, even in the Christmas scenes is rather underwhelming. Apparently Toronto in December 1978, looked very much like Toronto in December 2009, green. It’s a thriller, in the best tradition of the genre, that would make Hitchcock proud.

Both Gould and Plummer put in a terrific performance, and well, any time Christopher Plummer puts on a good performance, you know it’s worth seeing. Also John Candy has a small role in the film and Oscar Peterson provides the score.

Toronto’s awesome.

  1. You know… downstairs from Mr. Greenjeans! []

Music Monday

This is Valery Gore’s only video. It’s from her first album. The second is even better, but she never made a video, so enjoy this one.

Ruth Minnikin’s going to be in Toronto for Canadian Music Week/Fest, and is promoting her new record Depend On This, which I’ve yet to hear, but I assume it’ll be awesome, her records always are.

With two women, might as well continue the theme… here’s Sleater-Kinney.


It seems that James Brown has risen from the dead. The wandering corpse was last seen in the United States proclaiming “BRAINS!” as he made his way through the streets, arms outstretched. His daughter LaRhonda Pettit is under the mistaken impression that Brown’s corpse was just stolen, and had not in fact risen from the dead to feast on human brain.

Juliet, Naked

Duncan is a fan of Tucker Crowe, a singer-songwriter from the ’80s who’s last record Juliette was critically acclaimed. Out of the blue, Crowe abandoned his career. Duncan, and Annie are touring the United States on a pilgrimage to the homeland of his beloved1. Duncan spends much his time evaluating, critiquing, and discussing Crowe’s brief artistic output along with a small fanbase on the internet.

I am a fan, or at least was, and have spent way too much time on an internet message board dedicated to this band. The fictional message board in Hornby’s novel is filled with middle-aged men who are constantly discussing the work of a long retired musician. The real message board is filled with a vast array of twenty-somethings who rarely discuss the band in question, and more frequently are interested in Picode’s Thursday ritual, Anne’s bathtime, Danada’s over-informative posts, wondering who will bring the pop and chips2, pretending that Ed MacMahon was actually a friend of ours3, discussing Que’s Super-wang, or being told to suck a deaf white woman’s “big black cock.” I can relate to Duncan, I understand that internet community, I have made some of my best friends through this message board4, but I can’t relate to Duncan, because he looks down on his  fellow Crowe-natics5, he’s their intellectual superior and is right about everything6.

Duncan and Annie return home from their American vacation to find an envelope addressed to Duncan. Duncan ignores it and goes to work, Annie opens it and discovers it’s a new Crowe release, Juliet, Naked, a collection of demos compiled together for the first time. Tension ensues, as Annie listens to it before Über-fan has a chance to, and worse yet, Crowe himself likes her negative review of the album, and contacts her.

I think that’s a place to stop in the story, doesn’t give away too much.

It’s a Nick Hornby novel. If you’ve ever read one of his novels, you know what to expect, love, rock and roll, hopeless relationships, the usual. In addition, it might be Hornby’s best novel. I don’t think he’s ever written for female characters before (or at least I don’t remember) and his writing of Annie is damn good. The characters are much more mature than in any of his previous work.

Overall, I likes it! And it gave me an excuse to write about the SMB!78

  1. Tucker, not Annie. []
  2. We all know this will be GG. []
  3. We miss you, ya Mary! []
  4. Real life friends, too! One even lives across the street from me, and is the one who lent me the book. []
  5. That’s Crowe and fanatics. []
  6. I’m definitely right that PT is the worst record ever. []
  7. SMB party time at the Horseshoe during the Thrush Hermit reunion! WOOO! []
  8. I’m drunk. []

I’m not too fond of Bell Canada

Got home yesterday, saw a brick propping open the door to my building. Then walking down the hallway, I saw a panel removed from the wall, and inside were telephone cables. I assumed Bell was there doing some work. I went to my apartment, noticed that I had no internet, not only that, on my modem, the DSL sync light wasn’t even flashing, it was just off. I assumed my dry loop was just inactive, as the Bell guys were doing work. I left my apartment, as I had stuff to do, but the Bell bozos were nowhere to be found.

When I returned half an hour later, the Bell guys were there. I told them I had no internet. They told me that absolutely, unequivocally it was unrelated to them. I looked at them like they were morons, but I still went into my apartment and checked to see if I had DSL. Nope. I called Bell. They told me it went out at a specific time which was 10 minutes before I returned home. Sounds to me like those bozos caused it. I asked them to direct the technicians to fix their mistake. They wouldn’t. The best they could do was schedule a technician when I was at work to come in.

What the fuck is wrong with Bell?

Music Monday

The Oscars just happened, and as usual, the good films lost. Here’s the greatest loser in all of Oscar history. This man, one of the greatest songwriters of the 1990s, lost to Celine Dion. What the fuck?

I never knew until now that there’s a video for this song, which is perhaps my favourite song by Ron Sexsmith. Did you know that the song’s also on my favourite record of Ron Sexsmith’s? Now you do.

I’m not so jazzed about it, I just get razzed about landing on your front door in Toronto.

When I’m King of Canada, I will be a patron of the arts, and Matt Murphy will receive funding for Rock and Roll.

Yay! Travis!

Best Picture Nominees

Avatar (20th Century Fox)
I didn’t end up seeing Avatar, honestly I’m not disappointed by  this fact. It looks kinda shitty and I have better things to spend $20 on. Also, I’m slightly bitter that Celine Dion won the Oscar over Elliott Smith. I blame James Cameron for that.

The Blind Side (Warner Bros.)
The feel-good movie of the year that will make you want to puke. Oh, fucking god! Another sports film. Not even that, the worst sport in the history of man, football. So, some random bloke drops two kids off at a private school, says, “here take them.” They take them, his wife doesn’t want one of the kids (who isn’t their own) and so they turf him. Rich chick finds him, invites him into the family. Make him play football. That’s about the whole story, after the first five seconds we never see the Dad who brought him to the private school, or the OTHER black kid.

There’s supposed to be some tension in the teaser where we see the football-playing-kid being interviewed for something we assume he did wrong, to hook the audience, but theres not enough tension there to be of interest, or of any reason why we’d need to see what happens two years before the majority of the film takes place. Those events then make sense when the film catches up to the teaser, but it’s a minor point that is the catalyst for the major dramatic tension. He runs away, he runs away, but within about five minutes all is resolved and good.

Simply the movie isn’t strong, it’s a boring docudrama about a boring subject. I’m sure this man is a wonderful football player, and a wonderful person, but who cares beyond that?

District 9 (Sony Pictures Releasing)
I saw adverts for this film on bus stops proclaiming “this bus stop for Human’s only.” That pissed me off, we’re Toronto, we accept people of all countries, why should we say no to those from outside of Earth. I assumed it was some lame action/sci-fi film that the genre had degraded into, then I heard that it was about apartheid, I went to see it that day.

It was a fantastic film, it was graphic and told an interesting story in an interesting way. It was what I thought science fiction should be, but rarely ever is any more. I will admit that the film isn’t the slightest bit subtle in how it treats the topic at hand, but it did what it set out to do well.

An Education (Sony Pictures Classics)
“You have no idea how boring everything was before you,” says Jenny to David in this incredibly creepy film, about a child and the man she falls for. While Jenny is truly an exceptional young lady, she’s a child in many ways, only slowly becoming a woman.

Also, that’s what a Jew looks like? That’s like getting an Italian to play a Mohawk.

The relationship between Jenny and David is well acted and, though very creepy, interesting.

Overall, I’d say it’s a rather incredible film, but it does suffer slightly from the 30 seconds of voice over during the end of the film. It is unneeded and deters from the emotion of the film.

The Hurt Locker
(Summit Entertainment)
War films are a very touchy subject, especially when the war in question is still raging. M*A*S*H and Full Metal Jacket do what I believe a war film should do; combine humour and drama in a manner to show the horrors of war, while simultaneously making it easy for the audience to digest. Instead of that, The Hurt Locker is instead more interested in portraying a group of bomb disposal soldiers, who have little conscience, little knowledge of local language or culture, little care for the country they invaded, little care for the lives of others, and little care for their own lives.

This film could have been reduced in time by at least half an hour, forty-five minutes perhaps. The extra running time, and what seems to be an overly ambitious film maker hurt the film, making it suffer from trying to accomplish too much, but accomplishing nothing. It takes the film far too long to get to the meat of the story.

In the end, I don’t know if they’re trying glorify, if so, that’s kinda hideous.

Inglourious Basterds
(The Weinstein Company)
This is the last film of the group I saw. Fortunately the Bloor was showing it the day before the Oscars. I was very reluctant to see it, because I’ve never enjoyed a Quentin Tarantino film. This is the exception, Tarantino’s really grown as a filmmaker since Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. It was definitely a great film, and I think needs a second viewing. The film is often hilarious, often horrid, and often beautiful. The suspense is impressive of a modern film that displays so much gore.

Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire
Some of the best films I have ever seen in my life are extremely difficult to watch. Precious is among those. The story is of Precious, a teenage girl who’s education can best be described as atrocious, her relationship with her home life, a nightmare. Through this story she finds strength, knowledge, guidance and a life, but the past is impossible to comprehend.

I’m completely at a loss for words. I don’t know what to say about this film, but you must see it. It’s difficult to watch, but do it anyway.

A Serious Man (Focus Features)
Now I have to remember which was A Serious Man and which was A Single Man. Oh yeah! Serious was the good one, and Single was the incredible one. Looks like I’m talking about the good one, sigh! So, I understand why this is nominated for an Academy Award, Jews will like this film. I’m a Jew, I like this film, we control Hollywood (shh, don’t tell anyone, it’s a secret). However, are there people who like this film and aren’t Jews? Do any non-Jews understand this film?

I liked this film, the characters were interesting, and in the usual Coen brothers fashion, it was hilarious, but also stark and grimy. However, it definitely was one of their lesser films, it doesn’t compare to the likes of Fargo, or O Brother Where Art Thou? or No Country For Old Men.

Up (Walt Disney)
Now here’s a film that hands-down deserves respect. Pixar was able to make one of the best features of last year with Wall-e, and unfortunately it didn’t even get nominated for best picture, it obviously should have. Up continues with one story concept that Wall-e succeeded so well with, they delivered so much emotional content without dialogue. When Carl’s story is being told, the audience falls in love with this man, they smile at his achievements, they cry at his heartache and they cheer for him… and this is only within the first half hour of the film. The story is fun, and amazing, but the heart behind the story is incredible, and I think Pixar made one of their best films with this one, and that says A LOT.

Up in the Air (Paramount in association with Cold Spring Pictures and DW Studios)
As Abraham Lincoln once said, “I have two words for you ‘BOR-RING!'” Up In The Air is an okay film about characters who have nothing that the audience can find redeeming. There is no emotional connection, the characters are two dimensional, the story is paper thin, and why it was nominated for such a prestigeious category, I have no idea.

Who Adam wants to win: Precious
Who Adam thinks will win: Avatar

Fear of Fighting

I used to work at a computer store. It wasn’t a great job. I worked in corporate sales. My then-coworker Vince1 used to befriend his clients, he really liked them. I didn’t get it. Customers were the bane of my existence, they came in, asked stupid questions, wanted better pricing, took up time that could be better used drinking, or reading, or what-have-you.

Maybe this is why I wasn’t a very good salesman, I never understood the joy of sales, to me, the job was a means to an end, not a career, but a stop-gap until I figured out what the hell I wanted to do with my life. Surprisingly it worked, that job led to my career. I’m a twenty-something with a CAREER. Back then, I was a character from Clerks, two-dimensional characters making Star Wars jokes. Sure there were a handful of stories I could tell from my time there, which did give me joy. There was the time I fixed Geordi LaForge’s iPod.2 I also created a flag in the company POS, for what we called lame-ass celebrities,3 then we’d type in “LAC” under keywords.

“My lord, what the hell does this have to do with that book cover pictured above?”

I was getting there. I had this one4 client, Stacey Fowles, a really incredible woman. She was working for a non-profit, who went through a lot of ink. I tried to convince them to switch to colour lasers, they nixed that, oh well, it meant I got to see Stacey more often. I looked forward to her visits, and when she’d pop by we’d spend an hour or two on the sales floor chatting, rarely about anything work related, with lots of “I should get back to my desk” or “I should get back to my office.” It’s through her that I learned the term “gaybourhood” which I much prefer to “the village” and use in everyday conversation.5 I assume she doesn’t remember me, but I enjoyed that intermittent friendship we had.

So Stacey was writing her first novel, somehow I believed that she was actually writing a novel, and not one of the million people who are “writing a novel.”6 She wrote that novel, it’s called Be Good, and it’s really good. The day I found out it was published, being the poor stalker I am, it was considerably after it was published, I immediately hopped in my car and drove to da Yorkdale.7 I read the book cover-to-cover… over the span of a week, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Now, sick in bed, a couple years later I had the opportunity to read her second novel, Fear of Fighting, over the past two days.

Bored as you are with my personal attachment to Ms. Fowel’s writing, I’ll now tell you about the novel.

Fear of Fighting is told in the first-person by Marni, a twenty-something woman who guides the audience through her relationship with Ben. From first “date” when Marni stands by his side as he wretches, through sex, through love, through aggression, through breakup, through hatred, through acceptance and standing by Ben’s new girlfriend’s side as she wretches.

Fowles’8 describes a breakup that is perhaps the most accurate and bare of any I’ve previously read.

In our final days Ben got drunk more often and I got high more often, and it got to the point where all the time we spent together was simply time spent watching Battlestar Galactica and tolerating each other via intoxicants. Ben would fall asleep on the couch to avoid sharing a bed with me, and while he slept and snored I would stare at him with utter disgust.

Her prose are compelling, straight to the point, and beautiful in their nude honesty. She will occasionally include a chapter, which is four pages at the most, told from the voice of Neil, her older neighbour who’s in love with her, but she assumes is gay, based on the fact that they live in the gaybourhood. It’s a narrative choice she made in Be Good, to tell the story using different voices, and I think in Fowles’ first novel causes a clutter that is often hard to navigate between. With Fear of Fighting, Fowles clears up the clutter, and the narrative jumps are much clearer and better aid the narrative of the story.9

Fowles doesn’t pull punches, and chapter 24, which is transcribed below in its entirety really sums up Marni’s paranoia, and depression.

I think at some point the fear of dying alone outweighs the fear of fucking the same person for the rest of your life.

Because I knew Stacey in the limited nature of a flirty, but professional relationship, reading this book I’m seeing many aspects of the woman I once knew in Marni, but it’s hard to resolve my mind’s connections between Stacey and Marni. The Stacey I knew was never insecure or unsure of the woman she was, and that is the central makeup of who Marni is and yet there are so many pieces here and there which I relate to the author and so while reading it I was imagining Stacey, an altered Stacey, but a Stacey none the less. Those who have never met her, fortunately will never make that connection, and so they can see Marni as I’m sure she’s intended.

I’ll leave you with one of my favourite excerpts from the novel.

I can remember a time before, when I was not this alone. A time before, when I was part of a “we.” I got invited to dinner parties and was treated as if I was worth something more simply because I had someone to share my bed with. That’s the way the world works; people in partnerships are somehow worth more simply because they have someone to consistently fuck.

ETA: Allegra says this post makes it sound like the book is a “chick book” and I thought I’d mention that it totally is.

All my best,

  1. Vince later became my coworker once again, when my current employer took my suggestion that hiring him would be brilliant. []
  2. I fail at geek, I had to check to see how to spell Geordi’s name. []
  3. Mike Bullard. []
  4. I should amend this and say there was one other client, Richard Bell, he played keyboards for Janis Joplin, The Band, Burrito Deluxe and numerous other bands. He died a few years back. One of the most genuinely sincere men I’ve had the pleasure to meet, and it took about a year before I knew who he was beyond that really nice customer. []
  5. Such as, “going to the gaybourhood is a great ego boost.” []
  6. If you’re wondering, I’m not. []
  7. If you too had a Yiddish Bubie, you’d also call it “da Yorkdale.” []
  8. If I write “Stacey’s” it seems like I’m saying the voice is her own and not that of Marni’s. If I say “Fowles'” it sounds too distant from the woman I knew. []
  9. As I’m sure my second post using footnotes will better aid the narrative of the post. []


Overqualified tells the story of a troubled soul. The protagonist loses his brother in an accident with a drunk driver. Then the remaining parts of his life seem to crumble around him. The narrative is told through over-informative and awkward cover letters.

The author, Joey Comeau, might be known to you as the man behind the words of A Softer World, an online comic known for its strangely depressing sense of humour.

Though the novel is short and only took me a couple hours to read, it’s wonderful. The dark humour is a great way to spend a sick day in bed.

I’ll leave you with another strip from A Softer World… you should be a fan.

Performance by an actress in a leading role

Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side (Warner Bros.)
Really? Her performance is boring? There’s nothing interesting in this performance, or the character. She’s a spoiled rich white chick, who feels bad for a boy, and lets him live with her. Good for her. Quinton Aaron, however stole the film. His performance as Michael Oher was wonderful. Thumbs up to Mr. Aaron, meh to Ms. Bullock.

Helen Mirren in The Last Station (Sony Pictures Classics)
I didn’t want to post any of these without having seen all of the films, the torrent I found for The Last Station wasn’t a real copy of the film, and I’ve been home sick the past two days, so I haven’t had a chance to visit the Cumberland to see this film.
I really want to see this film, because Helen Mirren’s awesome, and so is Christopher Plummer. So take my opinion with a grain of salt, because I’m completely omitting Ms. Mirren’s performance.

Carey Mulligan in An Education (Sony Pictures Classics)
I really liked Mulligan’s performance. At times she reminded me of a song by the Magnetic Fields (ADAM, SHUT UP ABOUT THE MAGNETIC FIELDS!), and overall, she reminded me of a 16 year old girl, extremely intelligent, and extremely stupid. She did a fabulous job. Also, CREEPY! Adults, please stay away from sixteen year olds. Adults, please stay away from those under 20… maybe 25. Eww!

I could dress in black and read Camus, smoke clove cigarettes and drink vermouth, like I was seventeen.

Gabourey Sidibe in Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire (Lionsgate)
Holy crap! That was a performance to remember, a performance to haunt you. Sidibe’s performance as Precious was everything you could want in a film. I can’t say anything more other than watch this. Now.

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Meryl Streep in Julie & Julia (Sony Pictures Releasing)
This was a fun film, and Streep played a great Julia Child. The film overall wasn’t too great, and I found the character of Julie to be more than slightly annoying. I think this colours how I view Streep’s performance, which is definitely over-the-top, but also a lot of fun, and a great way to spend a couple hours.

Who Adam wants to win: Gabourey Sidibe in Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire
Who Adam wishes he could say he wants to win, because her performance was so good, but then he saw Precious and was blown away: Carey Mulligan in An Education
Who Adam thinks will win: Gabourey Sidibe in Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire