An Oscar-worthy Menu: 2012


Oscar parties without thematic food are lame. But thinking up a whole menu can be difficult (especially if you haven’t seen the movies), so here are a few suggestions for inspiration. [If you actually make any of these, please send me photos. Thank you.] I also did this last year, for the sake of reference.

Hors d’oeuvres

Spam musubi (it’s really popular in Hawaii, I swear) [The Descendants]
(Mini) hot dogs (sorry for all the animal flesh so far) [Moneyball]
Baguettes and cheese (preferably cut into whimsical shapes) [Hugo]


Mint Juleps (or one of these other drinks popular in the 1920s, just don’t actually make it in a bathtub) [Midnight in Paris]

Main Attractions

Brazilian BBQ (cooked WELL) [Bridesmaids]
HDLT sandwiches (horse, (komodo) dragon, lettuce and tomato… no? okay, yeah, no.) [War Horse, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo]
Broccoli (maybe this recipe, whatever; no one will get it anyway) [The Tree of Life]


Black-and-white cookies (hand them out silently and while tap dancing) [The Artist]
Fortune cookies (make your own, with your own fortunes!) [Kung Fu Panda 2]
Chocolate pie (for the love of god, don’t put shit in it; it’s on the record that I said ‘don’t’) [The Help]
Serve with tea and cigarettes [Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy]

Then say you prepared everything while crying and being melodramatic. [Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close]

The Non-Movie Movie


Some movies don’t have to be movies, in the ole “character development-story arc-solid acting/directing-having any kind of artistic merit” kind of way. And here’s why.

Maybe some movies are like amusement park rides, and that’s okay. After all, would it be so bad to enjoy a multi-million-dollar, hour-and-a-half piece of entertainment without judging it on its storytelling merits? … No! It wouldn’t! Try it, you’ll see!

Normally, we’d classify these kinds of movies as “fluff”, “bubblegum,” or “a popcorn movie”. Or, as I usually say, a “guilty pleasure.” It’s not a new idea, this tolerance of popcorn variety fluff. But what I’m talking about is beyond that. I want to stop thinking of them as movies all together, and instead consider them as rides in movie form.


  • The Paranormal Activity series: Yes, they will be making another one in 2012. Yes, this is okay with me. Yes, I will see it opening weekend. No, I probably won’t care that it lacks story, good acting or that it’s a re-packaging of the same old thrills. That’s exactly what I want.
  • The Fast and the Furious series: If you listen to our podcast–and of course you do–you’ll recall that we discussed guilty pleasure movies once, and I chose this series as the cream of the crop. Except that I don’t really feel guilty, because it’s basically porn, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I have nothing to be ashamed of.
  • Dance movies: You know, like, Save the Last Dance, Step Up and even Bring It On, to a degree. They are a vehicle for delivering awesome-cool dance moves with a loose story to hold it together, and I love them for that. Again, akin to porn.
  • On that note–porn: See, no one expects porn to live up to the standards we hold other movies to. It’s crossed that line. We know what we want to see when we sit down to watch a bit of pornography. No pretence. No delusions. Just a beautiful meeting of expectations and delivery.

A counter argument: Okay, fluff can be really, really bad. And in these cases, you have to wonder what people are thinking when their functioning, human adult brains  seem to find a source of amusement in them. “This is actually an interesting plot!” “Those inane jokes about penises are pretty funny!” “I can’t believe the crazy adventures that hockey-playing monkey gets himself into!” And in these cases, especially when you see them raking in huge box office numbers while The Hurt Locker barely breaks even, yeah, that sucks, and you have to wonder what went wrong down the evolutionary conga line. But, I suppose ideally, fluff could co-exist alongside the good ones, the movies that are actually good movie-movies. And, of course, god bless the ones that seem to please nearly everyone.

Perhaps the key difference between a movie that’s just a fun ride and a plain old bad movie is how hard they try and fail to be a good movie. Example: Cowboys & Aliens was a bad movie because it was  trying to be a good movie. It thought it was interesting, when it wasn’t. It thought the characters were worth rooting for, when they weren’t. As for The Fast and the Furious? It knows it’s a fluffy action movie with hot people and fast cars. We’re all on the same page, which is essential.

I think, at times like this, of my mother, who has  very little interest in seeing anything that isn’t fluff. (She recently told me about this HILARIOUS movie called Tower Heist. She also really enjoys Two and a Half Men, as so many mothers, for some reason, do.) And I just can’t  fault her for that. After a hard day’s work and a lifetime of raising children who didn’t grow up to be doctors like she asked, I think it makes sense that she’d want to escape to a land of easy jokes and slapstick humour when she buys a movie ticket. Why not? If she can enjoy them, she should. [<– I would make this a pull quote, if I used pull quotes.]

So, let’s not just tolerate them with a shrug, and a flippant, “oh, it’s just fluff.” Let’s celebrate these movies for what they are! Joy rides! Vehicles of amusement! Various forms of porn, depending on what you’re into! And then we can go see a Fellini retrospective and feel good again. Because good movies are still good movies, even if we allow ourselves to make room for the pornography/amusement park variety. Just find a little room in your heart, and you will be justly rewarded.

There is no spoon, but there is a podcast!


This month, Colleen and I have decided to discuss trilogies, but despite last month’s promise, it’s not what you may be expecting… kind of like if you were suddenly pulled out of some pink goo and told that reality is an illusion. Kind of exactly like that. Also, the podcast is a little longer than usual, but we’re still charging you the unbelievably low price of free! And we may have neglected to explicitly reference the names of the second and third sequels (The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, respectively), but we trust you already knew that anyway. Enjoy!

Love this movie, hate this film #3 (45 MB) Topic: The Matrix trilogy

Spider-Man… with… dark skin? Get outta’ here!


Imagine you’re sitting in a movie theatre waiting to see the latest Spider-Man reboot. It goes: popcorn, previews, teenagers throwing gummi bears at your head, more previews, opening credits… wait, what’s this? Who’s that black guy? Is that… could that be Peter Parker? What the hell? That doesn’t make any sense! Peter Parker is WHITE, godammit.

Okay, I know your mind has just been blown to bits by this radical interpretation of a fictional character, but please consider this: what does Peter Parker’s ethnicity or skin colour change? When you think about his backstory, his family life, his love for the redheaded girl-next-door, or the story of his transformation from geeky high school kid to badass superhero, does his skin colour actually matter in any of that? Would he not have taken up photography? Would he not have blamed himself for the death of his uncle? Would he not have recognized that with great power comes great responsibility? No. The answer is no. If we changed his hair colour to blonde, would that be blasphemous? What about his eye colour? Again, the answer is no. None of that matters to who the character actually is or the story, so why can’t we change it?

Donald Glover

It seems pretty clear cut to me, but there are plenty of people getting all in a huff about the Twitter campaign (and Facebook group) to cast African-American actor Donald Glover as the next Spider-Man. While it seems like most people have hopped onto the bandwagon, some have insisted that it would be untrue to a classic and beloved character. In fact, in a recent interview Stan Lee (the comic god behind Spider-Man) said that it would be “confusing” to have a black actor play Spider-Man. And a few other comments I read about the idea also used that word: confusing.

If you think it’s important to stay true to the original incarnation of an iconic character, remember a couple of things. In the recent rebooted Battlestar Galactica series, two characters were changed from man > woman and from black > Asian without disrupting the precious sanctity of the original show. And in the Iron Man movies, as well as the upcoming The Avengers movie, Nick Fury is a white character played by Samuel L. Jackson. [Edited later: Take a look at the comments section below, where it’s pointed out that there actually is a black Nick Fury in the comics.] So, really, does the change hurt the movie? Frankly, if we have to put up with the unending barrage of remakes being spit out en masse by Hollywood, we should at least let directors and producers mix things up a little. If you don’t have any changes to make, or anything new to add to something, then don’t bother. And changing the ethnicity of Peter Parker? That’s something new, at least.

Of course, there is a dark side to casting an actor who doesn’t match the ethnicity of a character. Jake Gyllenhaal recently played the titular role in Prince of Persia without being Persian. And there has been a bit of backlash against M. Night Shyamalan for casting mainly white actors in Asian roles in the upcoming The Last Airbender. [Edited later: I’m having a hard time figuring out the ethnicity of the actors from this movie, aside from that guy from Twilight and Dev Patel. I assume that information must be out there, though, if people are upset that they’re “white”. If you can throw me an informative bone here, that would be great. Also, if you’ve watched the original Avatar: The Last Airbender, can you pinpoint for me exactly what the ethnicities of the characters are supposed to be? They don’t explicitly say, do they? They’re just “fire nation” etc. Based on what I know so far, it sounds like when M. Night says he saw the characters as ambiguously mixed, I gotta’ believe him. And that Noah Ringer’s gotta’ have some Asian in him.]

Personally, I have to admit it’s sad to see a white A-list actor play a character that could have been played by a minority; frankly, it seems like a missed opportunity to be more inclusive. But, at the same time, is that a double-standard? If Peter Parker can be played by a black actor, why can’t Prince Dastan be played by a part-Swedish, part-Ashkenazi Jewish actor? (Yeah, I IMDB’ed that.) Are we more comfortable with non-white actors playing traditionally white roles than the other way around? Is this a “give the minority” a chance issue? Are we just tired of seeing white actors getting all the roles? (And, let’s be honest, 99% of all the characters based on old movies, T.V. shows and comic books are white, so where does that leave everyone else when all Hollywood wants to make are reboots?)

Prince of Persia

So, on the one hand, we want to be able to open up roles to people of various ethnicities without insisting that traditionally white characters be played by white actors, and on the other hand, when we do come across a non-white character, the audience seems to want to stay true to the ethnic makeup of that character and movie execs just want to cast a tan Jake Gyllenhaal.

And, of course, there’s some grey area. In 1982, Ben Kingsley, who is half-Indian and half-English, played Mahatma Gandhi. Was that okay? Is he supposed to be 100% Indian? What about people who are 1/6 this, and 1/6 that? Who are they “allowed” to play? What about comedians who portray Barack Obama? Should they technically be half-black and half-white? When you start nitpicking about the ethnicity or skin colour of actors matching the genetic makeup of the characters, or people, they’re playing, you may end up playing a game of “trace the DNA” as more and more people have mixed backgrounds anyway.

I guess in a perfect world, there would be a diverse array of characters to play, accompanied by an equally diverse array of good actors to play them and no one would have to consciously try to a) mix it up a bit so it’s not all white out there and b) ensure that characters of a particular ethnicity get portrayed by actors of that particular ethnicity. But since it’s not a perfect world, what ethics dictate who should be cast in which roles? And who’s deciding?

Love this movie, hate this film #2


This time around, we’ve chosen to dissect two iconic coming-of-age movies of the “one crazy day” genre: Empire Records and Dazed and Confused. We don’t argue as much this time, but we do talk about drugs and rock-and-roll. Enjoy!

Love this movie, hate this film #2 (34 MB)

Everyone’s doing it


Hey, want to listen to two friends debate (read: argue) the merits of two movies? Yes? Then I have good news! My friend Colleen and I have started a podcast. You can download our first episode here, or check out the “Podcast: Love this movie, hate this film” page where I’ll post them as they’re completed.

Love this movie, hate this film #1 (30 MB) Topic: Thelma and Louise vs. Mona Lisa Smile

Thanks for listening!

P.S. Constructive feedback only, please. It’s our first time!