Thursday, 20 December 2007


(A portion of this entry was written for the upcoming issue of The Coast.)

2007 began and ended with audience disinterest. In April, the anticipated-on-the-Internet Grindhouse opened and quickly reminded everyone that people who spend their days online are not the real world. In November, Beowulf couldn't reach the audience an epic of its size depends on.

The response to both these movies is made worse because, as flawed as they are, they absolutely had to be seen in the theatre. Since Grindhouse's two halves were released as separate movies on DVD, the original continuity of the film is unavailable. Beowulf on IMAX 3-D is a movie-going experience more than it is a great movie. Though not among the year's best films, on the big screen, these were the most indispensible movie outings.

Let’s take this opportunity to look at what 2007 stood for. It’s a fallacy to complain that movies are getting worse. It just seems that way because it’s mostly good movies that are remembered from past years. It's equally deluded, or else just a huge difference in standards, to think '07 delivered a lot to be excited about. That it was a weak movie year is evidenced in its place in the cycle where Hollywood gets deathly scared of taking risks and makes sure most of its tentpole releases are part 3s.


Ocean’s Thirteen was the best of its franchise. So was Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. But neither film was especially good, as they arrived when both of those series were exhausted. Shrek the Third, Rush Hour 3, and Spider-Man 3 were likewise hits that didn’t inspire much enthusiasm. The threequel summer was a drag reflecting a lack of creative inspiration. It was surprising that a filmmaker of Sam Raimi’s esteem didn’t even visually distinguish Spidey 3 from part 2. Soderbergh’s lower estimation Ocean’s Thirteen was the only third chapter to reimagine itself in visual terms. The one threequel that was embraced by critics was The Bourne Ultimatum, a good movie nearly destroyed by its visual style.


The Bourne Ultimatum may be celebrated as an adult thriller, but its attitude is patronizing. It’s part of an increasingly common approach in genre filmmaking where hand-held shakey cam is supposed to constitute realism. This is a problem for a number of reasons. For one, action movies like The Bourne Ultimatum by Paul Greengrass and The Kingdom by Peter Berg (who sells this same barf-cam “realism” on TV’s Friday Night Lights) assume their viewers are too cynical for the manipulation of classical filmmaking. So they make movies where no shot composition has to mean anything. It’s just spastic edits, random close-ups, whip pans, meaningless zoom-ins, and shaking. (The funniest audience comment of the year happened in The Bourne Ultimatum, when someone interjected during a fight scene, “I think that was a fist.”) I’m not sure how people began to equate barf-cam with realism anyway. The world simply isn’t that shaky. If you’re running, your head is moving with your sight line, so you can still tell what’s going on better than in most of Bourne, The Kingdom, A Mighty Heart and 28 Weeks Later. It’s a gimmicky approach to realism of which 2007’s less remarked-upon achievements in realistic drama, like Ken Loach’s The Wind That Shakes the Barley and Preston Whitmore II’s This Christmas, don’t succumb. Finally, it’s just not that hard to hold a camera steady.


Apart from the respectable box office of No Country for Old Men, Ratatouille and Hairspray were the two instances where hugely popular movies ranked amongst the year’s best. As for the event-films, the best in a usually soulless enterprise were Transformers, Michael Bay’s sundrenched Americana about boys and their machines, and Francis Lawrence’s I Am Legend. Lawrence isn’t as distinguished, skilled, or (in some ways) as frustrating an artist as Bay, but his version of the Richard Matheson sci fi yarn makes up for its familiarity with actual emotion and social interest. The whole movie lives on the strength of Will Smith’s underestimated performance as the last man on Earth. As ideal and likable a movie star as he is, for all the bank it makes, the film may prove too slow and downbeat in the public’s estimation. Still, it’s exciting to see a blockbuster that at least has stretches of inspiration.


Warner Bros. efforts to not let anyone see its best release all year, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, involved quickly yanking the movie from theatres after pleading ignorance about how to market a Brad Pitt film.


2007 might be the momentary end to torture-based horror films. Dwindling interest in this year’s titles The Hills Have Eyes 2, Captivity, Hostel Part II and Saw IV (most of which were no worse than years past) indicates that viewers were beginning to question their own taste in porn. Yet there was a weird connection between the horror genre and Oscar prestige. Both the horror movies Hostel Part II and P2 (about a woman terrorized in a parking lot on Christmas Eve) as well as the Ian McEwan adaptation Atonement feature a violent dramatic shift around a female character reacting to a male using the word ****. Lesson learned from watching otherwise unrelated movies: Saying (or spelling) **** results in everything from military exile to castration.


I often suggest that people watch movies that aren’t aimed at their demographic. The reasoning is that one of the basic values of movies is their ability to show how people are the same—the ways in which people whose lifestyles seem different than your own are in other ways a lot like you. This connection brings insights into humanity, and then to ourselves.

But it’s an ideal that gets buried when studios assume viewers are ignorant and then sell them movies about themselves. The malebashing in Waitress only reaffirms stereotypes of Southern men as abusive and uneducated. It’s an annoying but familiar prejudice that’s somewhat forgiven by the film’s goodwill toward female uplift. The light comedy in Waitress has distinct attitude. As a movie, it’s good TV. That’s far preferable to Shoot ‘Em Up, the most blatantly misogynistic movie this year. The 15-years-out-of-date action spoof has Paul Giamatti fondling a female corpse, not just to establish him as a villain but because somebody on board thought it was cool. You can almost picture a bitter movie exec doing lines of coke while watching it.

Superbad actually got adults to see a movie about teenagers, which is an amazing feat. I say this because teens are the one group that most people think it’s dignified to complain about, as though they themselves were never 17, and as though adolescents don’t have a more powerful foothold in cultural trends than they do. I think about it everytime I hear people in their late 20s bash emo kids. But because Judd Apatow and Seth Rogan want to believe there are no Hispanic or Black people in Southern California, and that the hottest girls in school will inevitably fall for the dorkiest guys simply because the guys want it, Superbad’s achievements aren’t worth too much.

Juno, another comedy about teenagers I'm mostly positive on, is guilty of some of the same casual racism. I don't know how a movie this universally white can justify that its most despised characters are the supporting parts of the East Asian pro-life high school girl, and the nurse who gets told off by Juno's mom. Then again, people are so used to it, I'm sure not many will notice.

If you’re a 40 year-old white male who likes Velvet Revolver, you should go to a crowded Friday night showing of This Christmas. If your whole idea of action-adventure is Heroes and Live Free or Die Hard, rent Werner Herzog’s Rescue Dawn. If you like bashing Tyler Perry or Amanda Bynes, try watching one of their movies first (neither Daddy’s Little Girls or Sydney White is completely without interest.)

28 year-old Sarah Polley directing Away From Her, a movie about senior citizens, means she’s probably rather strange. But she’s reaching beyond herself.


This connective value of movies had been lost in recent bloated movie musicals. The award-winning Chicago celebrated petty narcissism, Rent faked edginess, and Dreamgirls fumbled music history.

In 07, they got their mojo back. Hairspray adapted the stage musical of John Waters’ cult film without many theatrical bearings. Adam Shankman’s version moves like a movie, carrying its tunes through levels of nostalgic comedy, teen empowerment and social drama.

The stripped down DV look of Once complimented its realist folk music love story. If only its director John Carney had studied the cutting rhythms and visual expression of real music videos beforehand (and not just conservative indie rock ones) its quaint approach would have left a deeper impression.

This lack of music video directing experience conversely helps Julie Taymor’s Across the Universe—she’s such a gifted visual filmmaker, she lets the numbers speak their own language. As everyone loves to say, Across the Universe is a mess. But that doesn’t invalidate the rush of its best moments. Even small touches, like the vocal quality of T.V. Carpio’s rendition of“I Want to Hold Your Hand” were movie-year standouts.

Most bigtime filmmakers don’t have a good ear for pop music. That’s why “Kung-Fu Fighting” shows up in so many action sequences. And it’s partially why new movies by Wes Anderson and The Farrelly Brothers are to be valued, even in a year when they only give us The Darjeeling Limited and The Heartbreak Kid.

Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and Anton Corbijn's Control also notably stretched the resurgent musical format.


Not yet. But 2 films came close.


1) Into the Wild
2) A Mighty Heart
3) Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
4) The Mist
5) Smokin’ Aces


1) Hot Rod
2) Stuck
3) Bug
4) Captivity
5) Freedom Writers


1) Epic Movie
2) Dead Silence
3) Bratz: The Movie
4) License to Wed
5) Balls of Fury


Now here's every 2007 movie I saw in 2007, ranked. The list will be updated until at least January 1. Everything given a B- or higher, I overall liked. Films that are considered 2006 North American releases that were made unavailable in my market until 07 (such as Little Children and The Curse of the Golden Flower) are not ranked. Otherwise, Idiocracy and Perfume: The Story of a Murderer would have made my top 10.


1) The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik)

2) No Country for Old Men (Ethan Coen & Joel Coen)


3) Black Book (Paul Verhoeven)

4) Stuck (Stuart Gordon)

5) Hairspray (Adam Shankman)


6) Rescue Dawn (Werner Herzog)

7) Ratatouille (Brad Bird)

8) Hot Rod (Akiva Schaffer)

9) Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Tim Burton)

10) Control (Anton Corbijn)

11) Paris, I Love You
12) The Lives of Others
13) Redacted
14) Beowulf
15) Grindhouse (Planet Terror C+; Death Proof B-; Full experience B+)


16) The Orphanage
17) Hot Fuzz
18) Transformers
19) Across the Universe
20) Reign Over Me
21) Bridge to Terabithia
22) Bug
23) The Wind That Shakes the Barley
24) Freedom Writers
25) The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters
26) Lucky You
27) I Am Legend
28) TMNT
29) The Tracey Fragments
30) This Christmas
31) 28 Weeks Later
32) The Simpsons Movie
33) The Lookout
34) Dan in Real Life
35) Knocked Up
36) Scott Walker: 30 Century Man


37) The Darjeeling Limited
38) Zodiac
39) Amazing Grace
40) The Bourne Ultimatum
41) Juno
42) Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s Little Girls
43) Alpha Dog
44) Paprika
45) Waitress
46) Halloween
47) Vacancy
48) Awake
49) Atonement
50) Captivity
51) The Nanny Diaries
52) Disturbia
53) Superbad
54) Enchanted
55) Live Free or Die Hard
56) Elizabeth: The Golden Age
57) Norbit
58) Zoo
59) Talk to Me
60) Ocean’s Thirteen
61) Black Snake Moan


62) 1408
63) The Host
64) Michael Clayton
65) You Kill Me
66) Sunshine
67) American Gangster
68) Eastern Promises
69) Fido
70) Bee Movie
71) Once
72) Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
73) Shrek the Third
74) Sydney White
75) The Heartbreak Kid
76) 3:10 to Yuma
77) Murder Party
78) Nightwatching
79) Arthur and the Invisibles
80) Meet the Robinsons
81) I Think I Love My Wife
82) Reno 911!: Miami
83) The Astronaut Farmer
84) The Messengers
85) Ghost Rider
86) Resurrecting the Champ
87) The Invisible
88) Mr. Bean’s Holiday


89) Weirdsville
90) 300
91) In the Land of Women
92) Spider-Man 3
93) Are We Done Yet?
94) Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
95) The Golden Compass
96) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
97) The Reaping
98) Evening
99) Stomp the Yard
100) Shooter
101) Wild Hogs
102) Music & Lyrics
103) Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
104) I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry
105) Fred Claus
106) Year of the Dog
107) Hunting and Gathering
108) The Stone Angel
109) The Hoax
110) Next
111) Gracie
112) The Brave One
113) Alvin and the Chipmunks
114) P2
115) Who Loves the Sun
116) Lions for Lambs
117) Balls of Fury
118) Rise: Blood Hunter


119) Sicko
120) Perfect Stranger
121) War
122) Severance
123) Hostel Part II
124) Blood and Chocolate
125) Catch and Release
126) Primeval
127) Dead Silence
128) A Mighty Heart
129) Fracture
130) 30 Days of Night
131) Lady Chatterley


132) Mr. Brooks
133) Nancy Drew
134) Blades of Glory
135) National Treasure: Book of Secrets
136) The Hitcher
137) The Hills Have Eyes 2
138) The Last Mimzy
139) The Number 23


140) Smokin’ Aces
141) Bratz
142) Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
143) The Mist
144) License to Wed
145) Shoot ‘Em Up
146) The Kingdom
147) Into the Wild


148) Good Luck Chuck
149) Southland Tales


150) Because I Said So
151) Hannibal Rising
152) Happily N’Ever After
153) Saw IV
154) Epic Movie

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Lessons of Stupid

Last week I was in Vegas, because my friends were going and I'm trying to uphold my rep as the Nicest Guy in Hollywood. In my 2 day stay, I discovered that Las Vegas is at once America at its finest (and by finest I mean lowest), and kinda cool provided you can ease yourself into a level of stupidity that lets you get off on its extravagance.

Since I have high empathy levels, and can usually engage in non-condescending discourse with people far dumber than me, this wasn't really a problem.

Joseph and I are in the hotel elevator when a drunk guy strikes a conversation. (Take note: He was holding a glass of whiskey. I wouldn't typically accuse someone of being drunk just for lacking social inhibitions.)

"Software guys, huh?"


"You're software guys, right? I can tell."

"Yeah, Microsoft," Joseph lies.

"See, I knew. You guys dress however the hell you want."

I'm wearing a Disneyland t-shirt and Joseph is wearing a Star Wars tee and shorts. Admittedly, this is not proper fancy hotel attire in a city where everyone is trying to prove they're high stakes players. But it takes a level of stupidity to openly negatively stereotype someone based on their wardrobe.

Today's topic of discussion: The Stupid.

They may be the most unfairly, routinely, and without the aid of rights-activitists, universally bashed legal group in the world that isn't founded on sociopathy. For some reason, it's considered alright to bash midgets in movies too. But midgets have some activists on their side. Nobody likes The Stupid. It's politically correct to hate them. Even stupid people hate other stupid people.

Let's start by distinguishing 3 prominent groups of stupid people. (For the sake of brevity, I'm leaving out purely hateful idiots: Terrorists, racists, etc.)

1) Those who know better but choose to be stupid anyway.

These are the people of whom it's most OK to disapprove. They're the university kids who go out on city streets at night and think they're being clever by yelling "Drugs!" really loudly. They think it's cooler to not care about anything, and write letters to the paper complaining that my reviews aren't dumb enough. They're the people who have been alive for 80 years, and still haven't found the time to learn what side of the street they're allowed to walk on. Fuck these people.

The second group isn't much better.

2) The stupid people who try to sound smart in really insincere ways.

In some ways, this group ranks among the most horrible people on Earth. We call em pseudo-intellectuals ("pseuds" for short.) You can identify one right away if he or she claims to have no regrets. No sane person has "no regrets," and the majority of people who say they don't just talk without thinking. Anybody over the age of 3 who sincerely doesn't regret anything either has no life experience or is a narcissistic asshole. The people in this group also talk about movies like they're quoting things they read out of a magazine. They give their opinions loudly in public places so everyone can think they don't kowtow to the party line if they adore Wes Anderson and hate Spielberg. They love the idea of "indie", but secretly despise truly independent thought. They use backwards sentence endings like, "Explosions and nudity does not a good movie make." And they throw around the always unnecessary pseud-phrase "the fact that" verbally and in writing.

(If you want to work at hiding your pseud-status, I'd also recommended always saying "I feel" in place of "I think." "I think" indicates uncertainty; the way you feel can't be wrong. I'm just helping out my fellow man.)

I remember when I was 19, standing in a short line with 2 friends to take in Bride of Chucky on a weeknight. This line was parallel to a much longer line. In the longer line, a guy was trying to impress his girl by snickering at our line's apparent poor taste in entertainment. What was that other lineup lined up for? Practical Magic! The movie about Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman as sister witches with dating problems. At least going to see Bride of Chucky is an honest stupid way to spend 2 hours.

The third group is the most innocent.

3) People simply of below average intelligence.

They don't want to be stupid any more than the blind want to be blind. But people hate them for it, as though they can magically start being smart. It's like when clinically depressed people are told to just snap out of it. Or like asking a wheelchair-bound person if they've ever tried walking. No. They can't do that. With those groups, we realize such attitudes are wrong. The Stupid, on the other hand, are treated as a blight on our well-being.

Let me add to this that I truly believe that most people are smart in their own way. There are people you think are dumb that are better in some situations than you are. On the other end of things, people who are basically smart are stupid about certain things. For instance, just because you major in biology doesn't mean you know how to get a date. And just because you can crush a beer can on your head doesn't mean you can program a computer.

But people who are thought of as stupid are usually stupid frequently and in pronounced ways. And it's not curable by just accumulating more knowledge. They're dopey like some people are clumsy. It's a poor sign of one's character to hate them for it. There are other qualities as valuable as intelligence.

The irony here is that society is designed for The Stupid. You don't have to look around much to see this is true. Just turn on the news and listen to commentators theorize that Barack Obama has no chance of being President because some people consider him too smart. Being too smart is an issue?! If you're smart you get what they're skating around: Obama has no chance because some people consider him too black. The media doesn't need to be truthful, because it has already assumed you're an idiot.

This is an example of why the smart fear the social influence of The Stupid. And as Yoda taught us, fear turns to hate.

But can't we just accept that some stupid people are not malicious and just lack the brain-function of the rest of us? So long as they're not ruling a country, just put up with it. Our basic humanity accepts that the ugly are valuable, so why not The Stupid? My dog isn't evil because he isn't as smart as me.

Perhaps my altruism comes from feeling a kinship with many stupid things. I know some episodes of Beavis and Butt-head line-by-line. I enjoy twisted stoner movies, humour, and cartoons in a sober state. Within limits, I enjoy hanging out with drunk friends. At the same time, I hate elitist elegance, and anything stupid that's trying to appear smart.

I have, however, always had some problem with Jackass that I couldn't pinpoint at first. Now I know. It was a show designed to kill The Stupid.

Copycat Jackass stunts have resulted in death and injury to many stupid people. This is usually defended by people saying it's a way of cleansing the gene pool, or it's evolution in progress. The old to-the-point standby in dismissing an accidental death is, "Well, that person was stupid for doing that anyway." The problem is there is no level of stupid that's too stupid for Jackass. The Stupid is an ideal audience for that show. It preys on them. So of course idiots will watch it and die. Just because you're stupid doesn't mean you don't deserve to live.

The supposedly educated public (ie. the ones whose prefered topics of discussion are the things they read on Perez Hilton that day) secretly enjoys it when unstable celebrities die. They take it as a win for intelligence whenever this happens. This smug elite killed Anna Nicole Smith. They created a demand for a reality show about how stupid she is, which made her lose any shred of her self-esteem, leading to an increased negative media spotlight, and then to her suicide. Score.

But sometimes the world surprises you...


Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Joseph Kahn Hates Sandwiches

Seriously! What kind of shit is that?

A sandwich is a compact, portable food that can encompass all 4 food groups within one convenient food item. It can employ limitless taste combinations and sensations with the fresh ingredients of one's choosing. Plus, sandwiches are historical. Did you know that Leprechaun was the first R-rated film to have tie-ins at a fast food joint? That fast food joint was called Subway. The invention of the Internet directly followed.

I'll tell you what this is really about. Despite everything I just said, Joseph thinks sandwiches lack flavour and are white people food.

To illustrate, here are some pictures of white people eating food.

Now, it's true that Mexican, Thai and various other food types are spicier than the average tuna on rye. And in a weird way, I know and agree with where Joseph is going with this. I just don't entirely believe his sandwich dismissal. My friend Mike Gillis is terrified of pies to the point where he won't be in the same room as one. It's much different than Joseph Kahn's anger at sandwiches.

I suspect I was just challenged by some mixed messages I was struggling to interpret. Joseph once told me that I have more soul than any other white person he knows. Then, when sitting in class last week, he told me that I should embrace my whiteness more through the way I dress and act. I never realized I was denying it.

This isn't to say that certain races are prefered over others, just that it's taken as a sign of confidence when people comport themselves to their own station in life rather than to someone else's. I'm opposed to this thinking for several reasons, principally because I'm not sure how it applies to me. But then, I hope I don't come across like Fergie either.

"Look," Joseph explained, "I'm a Korean American. When I was growing up, I had no idea how to get girls until I reinvented my look as an Asian rock star. But it put me in a position where I noticed what kind of white guys girls go for. I know more about what it takes for white males to score than white males do. Trust me on this. I directed 2 Janet Jackson videos, 2 Britney Spears videos, and 2 Eminem videos."

If you look around in LA, the trendiest white guy hairdo is something we'll call Extreme Bedhead. This goes along with collared t-shirts, and five o'clock shadow. In other words, to be the most desirable white guy one must look like actor Ryan Gosling.

So I did it up.

The next step in my white identity project was to buy some indie rock. Joseph was in Seattle for his cousin’s wedding, but left me to look over his Hollywood home for the weekend and gave me permission to his car. If Joseph saw the Dana Carvey epic Opportunity Knocks he would know this was a terrible idea. But anyway, I drove down to Sunset, parked and began walking to Amoeba Music. The plan was to get the trendiest indie rock possible.

It seemed like a stupid idea at first. But then, walking out of the store, I noticed Mary Elizabeth Winstead, star of Death Proof, Live Free Or Die Hard, Sky High and Final Destination 3. It’s hard to recognize celebrities immediately because when you see them in person their facial characteristics are in check, but they’re slightly differently proportioned than how they look on screen. Actors have giant heads because they’re easier to light that way.

This was definitely her, though. She’s cute as hell. And my mission was validated when I noticed her hand-in-hand with a white boyfriend who is clearly uglier than me. (This isn’t just the ego of the world’s best-looking film critic talking. It’s observed fact.)

Winstead looked at me, in my new sell-out get-up and hair-dew, and smiled. It didn’t matter that my soul crushing make-over made me feel like an absolute dork. In that brief moment she totally eye-fucked me.

There were a lot of people in Amoeba Music that day. I decided to just stand in line at the register to ask for assistance.

“Can I help you?, a white woman with dreadlocks asked.

“Yes. I’m wondering what the hippest indie rock CD is right now?”

“Hmm. Have you heard the latest TV on the Radio?”

“No. I need something more white?”

“Excuse me??”

“I’m trying to impress this girl who thinks I’m racist against white music, which is a thoroughly untrue and inappropriate supposition for her to make, but still I’d like some help.”

“There’s The Arcade Fire. They’re a collective without a real group leader. Like the white Wu-Tang.”

“That’s not white enough.”

At this point, the true silliness of this race based presentation exercise was starting to hit me again. Taking interest only in the small piece of the world one's born into has always seemed ignorant to me. Yet this is how so many people choose to live. I rail against xenophobia a lot in my writing because life is about the experience of branching out—understanding yourself, your situation, and others’ by taking interest in the world around you. Almost as annoying to me as outward racists are people who think they’re combating racism simply by ignoring it altogether—denying its presence in everything.

More specifically, where are the people complaining about Superbad? Sure, it’s just one in a long line of teen movies to relegate adolescence to an all-white experience. But in 2007, this view is reflective of nothing. The only black character in Superbad is the liquor store cashier. The only Asian is Evan’s male cooking class bitch. There’s a substantial number of white kids for whom this media fabricated view is their embraced reality. Check out the movies and music on many 20
-something caucasians' MySpace pages for proof. It’s a sickness of hegemony—a subliminal racism wherein the non-white world just doesn’t exist. And I’m not trying to come off as righteous. It seriously bothers me. Who casts a movie with only white people, and then sees nothing wrong?

Let me make this much clear: Joseph Kahn has nothing against white people (he likes some of them more than I do), though his sandwich-hate is perhaps unconsidered. He simply has an outsider-understanding of how white America works and wants to let me know that game can be played to my advantage if I want.

Which brings me to the next topic. The most cruelly discriminated against group (by the educated elite, no less!), with the least support from anyone, isn’t a race at all. It’s The Stupid. Next blog.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Planet Canada

The Burj Dubai is about to surpass the CN Tower as the world's tallest freestanding structure. Although Toronto's CN Tower has, until now, been taller than all buildings, it could never take the tallest building claim. It is not inhabitable from the bottom to the top--lacking attractions and amusements like floors and office space. Henceforth, it doesn't qualify as a building. That's your architectural lesson of the day.

I’m told the CN Tower has some communications purposes. But let’s be honest. It was built just to be taller than everything else. Thanks to the Burj Dubai, it is now completely useless.

Though Canadians will never let it on, this comes as a devastating blow to our morale. Canadians are like United Statesmen in some ways. We generally participate in the same culture. But where those neighbours to the south get to choose between football and baseball, Canadians who dislike hockey are unpatriotic. They get to pick between My Chemical Romance and Velvet Revolver, but if you’re Canadian, fuck you if you don’t support The Tragically Hip.

Many Canadians grow up with feelings of marginalization, so they band together and pretend to like all the same stuff. You can see this in comedy that comes out of Canada. Canadians are funny people, and their humour is based largely in outsider characters. In the States, they don’t shed a tear when they see the NBC logo, but the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is like our Statue of Liberty.

I never wanted to be a part of that. My perspective is based in being completely addicted to US pop culture, while also feeling outside of it because of where I live. Things that are uniquely Canadian tend to make me uncomfortable. I like sketch comedy fine, but you will never see me reenacting Kids in the Hall at a party. I haven't eaten maple syrup in over a month. I have never ordered poutine (the national food of Canada, made of fries, cheese curds and gravy) at a restaurant, despite having eaten it several times through means that I guess didn’t require me ordering it. To my knowledge, I have also never been fishing. And I have certainly never caught a fish. On the rare occasion that I drink, I prefer hard liquor to beer. It feels more hardcore, and I like that brief moment after you take a swig where you can gaze through space and time. Beer is for fat guys who don't wear shirts at barbecues.

In my first year of elementary school, the guys in my class were always talking about the NHL. I didn’t know who the fuck Gordie Howe was, and couldn’t understand why other 5 year-olds weren’t more into Indiana Jones and Star Wars.

This is a way of saying that I’m a fraudulent Canadian. But I will patriotically defend that title till my death!

I live in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the most violent city in Canada. I know it here. I like it here. Nobody has tried to kill me. The only times I've come close to getting in a fight in my life was due to the aggression of other Canadians who drank too much beer. This feels like a peaceful city. There's no huge difference between Canadians and Americans as far as I can tell. The difference is more evident in what the two countries produce. Minor variants in our pop culture taste are also apparent. For instance, pop-punk (even US-made) was popular for longer over here. For some reason, the US seems more accepting of Nickelback than my fellow countrymen are.

But since I frequently do work out of the US, I'm never sure how the other country perceives me. Joseph Kahn insists my accent is Canadian, though I believe he is mistaken. I have more of a Brooklyn accent. It's a result of French immersion schooling, which had some effect on how I talk, and watching a lot of gangster movies while realizing my Italian heritage. The common thing that happens when an American finds out you're from Canada is they'll try to be funny by saying something to you and ending it with an "eh." Yes, that's fucking hilarious! I can't tell you how many Canadians I heard say "eh" this afternoon.

And we say a-boat, not a-boot, motherfucker. Even the South Park movie got that wrong.

A primary speech difference is in localized "urban" speech. Canadians are more likely to end a sentence with "cuz," while Americans will end it with "dogg." There has recently been some international crossover with these terms. A Nova Scotia variant to the hip-hop greeting "What's happening?" is "What are you saying?" I hate "What are you saying?" because it's confusing no matter how often it's asked. There's no possible way to answer it except with a "Not much."

Rappers in the States are more frightening than rappers in Canada. Canada's biggest current rap star is K-Os. He's one of those socially conscious rappers who is often photograped showing that he's smart by tapping his index finger on the side of his head. 50 Cent could kick his ass in a fight.

When you tell an American that you're a Canadian, their internal response is "OK, this person's almost like me, but there will be something weird about him." That's a valid reaction, because it's absolutely correct. Canadians are Americans who are weirder. They develop extra quirks from the displacement of knowing their country isn't a superpower. It's an ego thing when you're aware that you resemble the top of the food chain, but aren't really there. It's like why vegetarians have slightly lower self-esteem than people who eat meat.

This displacement perspective is an advantage I have. For whatever I'm doing right (if I'm doing something right), I think my interest in pop, combined with my displaced Canadian perspective, is a piece of why it's interesting (if it's interesting). I like Canada AND the USA. It's the ways the two countries mythologize each other that never helps.

I'm sure Michael Moore thinks he's complimenting Canada whenever he portrays this country as the land of liberty, free sex and unicorns. His most recent film Sicko pined for our socialized health care system. Don't get me wrong, I would not trade in this system. It's just that this fake divide between the countries gets stronger when people speak in extremes and can't weigh things intelligently. The negative reality of socialized health care in Canada is that there's a long wait for almost any hospital procedure. To make up for this, doctors like to tell people they're suffering from anxiety. Granted, most of the time the doctors use the anxiety excuse it's because they don't want to send you home by saying, "I'm sorry, I really have no idea what's causing this." But it's also an easy way out. The few patients who have legitimized this system by really seeing their doctors for anxiety reasons will burn in hell.

It hurts to think in extremes.

Most Canadian who were kids in the 80s have specific prejudices against this country's film and TV. Canadian TV back then didn't look right. It wasn't as slick as Dallas and The A-Team. The film grain was more pronounced. The acting was different. But as much as the States also looks down on our entertainment, we made them richer. It was Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High that was the blueprint for the prime time teen soap opera. Canadians who are my age learned half their values from Degrassi. It directly led to Fox's interest in starting Beverly Hills 90210. Which of course led to Dawson's Creek and The OC and all the rest.

A lot of our film genres are owed to the recently deceased Bob Clark. Canada is the creator of the teen sex comedy. It doesn't matter that Porky's sucks; Superbad owes us. We invented the slasher film--the first was Black Christmas, not Halloween.

Because of Porky's, Americans always think they will have an easy time getting laid in Canada. Remember in Planes, Trains and Automobiles when John Hughes shows John Candy in the airport reading a book called The Canadian Mounted? Our movies have created a mystique around the sexual power of Canadian women.

The grunge movement owes Neil Young. Alanis is owed for other white girls getting angry. I don't even listen to that much Canadian music, but I have some inkling of patriotism about this stuff. I may not be a huge Rush fan, but when I read about Primus or Fishbone giving them props, or hearing "Tom Sawyer" in Rob Zombie's Halloween, that means a lot to me. Canadians pop contributions are too often overlooked and downgraded.

In terms of movies, this happens because the Canadian film industry is presently a joke. The funding goes to the most boring ideas and the filmmakers who have been in the game longest. The current importance placed on Atom Egoyan (last really great movie: 1994) and David Cronenberg (1986, and yes, I've seen Eastern Promises) is overstated because no one's looking for alternatives. As long as stars stay within their expected sphere of Canadiana, they never go away. It's why all Canadian movies star the same three actors.

This is where it gets weird. If you're a Canadian who is talented, and is ambitious with that talent, it's easier to get recognized by the States. Despite how people talk about it, the Canadian film industry is more conservative than Hollywood. Your talent can easily fall out of the range of how Canada wants to portray itself. Tom Green gets to be a big star in Canada for about 6 months, until the USA takes to his talent. He becomes huge on MTV, and then Canadians start hating him. This overseas-concentrated interest has happened to some friends of mine too, and it's happened to me.

The biggest recent breakthrough star in Halifax is Ellen Page. She became big in Canada first, and then got recognized in the USA where she made Hard Candy and X-Men: The Last Stand. Page was smart by jumping on board when the US became interested in her work. By still alternating with Canadian productions, Canada doesn't feel she's outside of the scope of what this industry is about.

The Canadian film industry has a very narrow view of what kinds of movies should be made. An easy rule to live by is never to expect great things from any movie that begins with a shot of a body of water unless it's AI: Artificial Intelligence. Some OK movies have begun on water, such as the generic helicopter shot from water to land that opens The Lost Boys and Snakes on a Plane. Usually, though, it's a sign of desperation in movies that don't really have anything much to do with water in the longrun. This rule especially holds for movies made in Nova Scotia. When one of those starts with water, it's a deathtrap. It will likely end with the characters ODing or committing suicide.

Did you know that The Rock is from Amherst, Nova Scotia? Me neither, until a week ago. That makes it somewhat more ingenious that I compared my likeness to his in a past blog entry. I don't remember Halifax throwing a party for The Scorpion King's opening. What kind of movies would The Rock even be making if Canada wanted him?

Canada needs a unique movie, made by its traitors who went Hollywood. We'll keep it mainly based on Nova Scotia exports. I'll write and direct. The main stars are The Rock and Ellen Page. Tom Green can also star. That's an amazing cast! If you saw The Rock playing frisbee in a park with Ellen Page and Tom Green you would think it was the coolest thing ever and would draw a picture of it on the bus ride home. I don't even have to know what it's about. This is already one of the greatest films of the sound era.

That's because it defies expectations on what's Canadian. It's bad enough when countries define each other, they don't need to define themselves. Don't let your weirdness be figured out.