White Privilege

Categories: Society.

Yesterday on Quora, I found perhaps the best short summary of what white privilege is that I, as a white male Canadian, have ever read in my life. I have embedded it here for your perusal because I really do think it captures this concept better than anything else I’ve read on the subject. Also, speaking as a tall person, I can relate in more than one way. Read Omar Ismail‘s answer to I am white. That’s all you know about me. Am I privileged based on that alone and assuming I am, should I feel guilt and what should Read More

Black and White (1999, James Toback)

Categories: 1999 and Movies.

This overly self-serious film combines the sanctimonious air of a Hollywood message movie with the production values of a late ’90s independent film (real locations, often very woody acting) with the ambition of Paul Thomas Anderson. And it’s a mess. An annoying, sometimes embarrassing, sometimes cringe-inducing, hilariously inauthentic film. Read More

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (2015, Stanley Nelson)

Categories: 2015, Movies, and Society.

Age is a funny thing. I watched this movie months ago, perhaps more than that, on Netflix and forgot to review it (I think!), forgot to rate it, both things I do religiously. And then I got it from the library this week. When I started watching it (because Olympic golf is on!) I got the strongest sense of deja vu. I remember it being a pretty thorough examination of an important and complicated part of US history. It’s a standard documentary but it’s educational and it’s a story that needs to be told. I will say that I always Read More

In the Shadow of the Hill (2016, Dan Jackson)

Categories: 2016 and Movies.

This is a thorough, engrossing and, for its subject matter, pretty to look at film about a favela in Rio and the problems that have occurred since the police “pacified” it in the lead up to the 2014 World Cup of Soccer. There is a lot here of interest and the film is quite well shot. There are, however, two major problems for the film that make it a bit of a chore: The most glaring is the pacing. The film feels like it is well over two hours long but it is not even 2 hours; it drags in Read More

TIFF 2015: Ninth Floor (2015, Mina Shum) (9/15)

Categories: 1968, 1969, 2015, and Movies.

This is an important film for Canadians, about a subject that should have been turned into a documentary years ago, no doubt. And it is a necessary part of our history. However, I’m not sure this film is the film the events at Sir George Williams University in 1968 and 1969 deserve. Read More

30 for 30: Marion Jones: Press Pause (2010, John Singleton)

Categories: 2010 and TV.

This is a real missed opportunity. From the opening credits, it’s clear that John Singleton is not the man to make this film. I have never been a fan (though I have never seen his magnum opus) and the opening credits, which feel like they belong to a melodrama, are the first clue that Singleton doesn’t quite now how to handle this great subject. We live in a strange world where cheating in sports is seen as worse than extorting pensioners, or other white collar crime. Marian Jones took performance enhancing drugs. To hear her tell it, she may have Read More

30 for 30: No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson (2010, Steve James)

Categories: 2010 and TV.

Steve James remains one of the few filmmakers I am aware of who can involve themselves to a great extent in a documentary and yet still give that film a feeling of journalistic integrity. Since I was 11 when this happened, I was completely unaware of this. But really hard for an outsider to me to understand how people could think Iverson was absolutely, without doubt, guilty, given the evidence or lack thereof. But the film is much more interesting than just allowing me to learn about an incident in the life of a famous, trouble athlete and its legacy Read More

The Port Chicago Mutiny (1989) by Robert L. Allen

Categories: 1989, Books, and Non-Fiction.

I was actually completely unaware of the occurrence of the Port Chicago explosion or subsequent “mutiny”, so this book was quite eye-opening. I don’t want to open this can of worms, but I think I have too: unfortunately this account is too focused on race and the individual, subjective experiences of the African American seamen who participated in the work stoppage. I say this because Allen has assembled a lot of damning information about Navy policies and actions that caused this explosion – and the successful blaming of the explosion on black sailors – but by focusing so much on Read More

Crazy Italians: On the Cultural Disconnect Between Myself and Italian Cinema

Categories: Movies and Personal.

Nearly a decade ago, when I was living in Australia, I went for a couple of organized tours of parts of the country I had never been too.  One such tour occurred in the southwestern corner of Western Australia, an area that is one of the most beautiful I have ever been to in my limited travels. On this tour were, say, 11-12 people. Four of them were Italian. They were some of the loudest, most obnoxious people I have ever met: they fought with each other, the guide, and us, and alternatively praised each other and us out of Read More

Invisible Man (1952) by Ralph Ellison

Categories: 1952, Books, and Fiction.

As a white Canadian born in the last quarter of the 20th century, I do not know in any way shape or form what it means to be a Black American (or any other oppressed minority in a European-derived country) but I think perhaps this is the closest I will ever get to understanding it. It is a powerful story and, though I want to sometimes challenge its realism, I cannot because I know stuff like this happened even if I want to react to it as contrived. I have a few issues with it: I find he is unnecessarily Read More

Sometimes it’s hard not to be a racist

Categories: 2008, Politics, and Society.

In high school, we had both Serbs and Croats. There was an effort by the administration to make us understand that the civil war then going on was not a one sided affair, Serbia wasn’t the “bad guy.” Some of us understood that there was more than one side to the story, some of us understood that both sides (in any conflict, not just that one) were likely to commit and were committing acts outside the Geneva Conventions. But at the time I couldn’t help thinking it seemed disproportionate. And now they are burning the US embassy because Kosovo wants Read More

A Day Without a Mexican (2004, Sergio Arau)

Categories: 2004 and Movies.

In the CD player: disc 3 of the Velvets boxed set (includes White Light/White Heat album) I love mockumentaries. I think, when they’re done well and on some fairly original topic, they can be absolutely fantastic. Spinal Tap and Series 7 are just two great ones I can think of off the top of my head. Sometimes, though, they are horrible. A Day Without a Mexican is a case in point. This movie starts off with a pretty fantastic premise. All the hispanics (not just the Mexicans) in California disappear. A less fantastic part involves a badly done fog that Read More

I want to burn Rice, but I won’t…hopefully someone else will

Categories: 2005, Politics, and Society.

Rice’s confirmation hearing is today. She mentioned this “Town Square Test” (the name of the academic she name-dropped is not important, though I would like to give credit to him or her) that determines whether a society is a “fear society” or not. Apparently, an individual enters the town square and speaks his or her mind. If the individual cannot do this because of the use of force or general fear of the threat of force (or other fear I suppose) then it is a “fear society.” What I wish I would do, but I won’t (because I lack the Read More

Wok with Yan

Categories: TV.

Wok with Yan is my new favourite cooking show. And it’s Canadian! I can’t believe it. It’s too bad I’m just watching reruns from the 70s (well, it certainly looks like the 70s based on the production values and clothes…especially the clothes!). His puns are terrible but he’s really into it. He’s awesome. He being Stephen Yan, a Chinese expat in Vancouver. He also visits Thailand a lot and films it. Oh it’s such a good show. Then there’s the “wonder powder.” Apparently, this is the stuff that gives that strange shine to much of the Chinese food available in Read More