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The Engineer

The Life and Times of Donald F. Simmons

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Off to London!

I'm flying out to London tomorrow evening, hurrah! But first, a wrap-up of the film festival and last few days.

It was a good year for Canadian films. Fido, about a young boy and his zombie friend, was freaking hilarious, in a lets-eat-people kind of way. It should be getting a wide release early next year, and everyone must to go and see it. Citizen Duane was about another kid (not quite as smart as he thinks he is) who decides to fight the system by running for mayor. The movie works because it recognizes (as does its characters) that Duane is his own worst enemy, but never treats him meanly. Sur la Trace d'Igor Rizzi about a once-great sports star, now a petty criminal considering moving up to major criminal, was merely good, not great (moved too slowly). Won the CityTV First Feature Award.

Exiled was by my favourite Hong Kong director, Johnnie To, and he was on the top of his game. Starring Anthony Wong, he and a group of other "brothers" under crimeload Boss Fey (Simon Yam) have to somehow save an old friend Fey wants dead. Rock-solid plot with great performances all around and amazing set-pieces, it's everything that To's The Mission should have been. To was there this year, but no Q&A unfortunately.

The Half Life of Timofey Berezin was another outstanding film, about a Russian nuclear technician who receives a fatal does of radiation while saving his plant. Unjustly blamed for the whole thing, he steals 100g of plutonium to sell (to support his wife and son), and in Moscow crosses paths with Stig, a small time hustler who is desperate for a big score to save his own neck with his boss, and save his girlfriend and son from a wealthy businessman. Not the year's feel good movie. Completely unrelenting, and multiple dogs and cats get run-over (as part of a scam to blackmail their owners).

And the Festival ended not with a bang but with a complete whimper with Invisible Waves, the slowest and most plot-free film I've ever sat thru. A man kills a married woman he's having an affair with on the orders of her husband, goes to Thailand to lie low, realizes husband will have him killed there, goes back home to confront husband, gives up and lets himself be killed. That's it. Two hours of my life I'll never get back. My brother actually saw it a day before I did. He told me it was "slow" (he claims he said "very slow") but he should have warned me off it completely so i could have tried to sell the ticket in the rush line. I'll never trust him again.

Still, out of 10 movies there were eight great ones, 1 OK one, and 1 bad one. Not bad overall.

Friday evening I went on a night bike-ride with a local cycling group. The event was a fundraiser for the Friends of Fort York, where the ride began, to raise money for a bike pad there. But you got your money's worth for the evening. Stuff given away to the participants (provided by sponsers) included a bike bell (which I needed), water bottle (which I needed), LED light for your bike, reflective stripes, chocolate and cereal bars, good stuff!

I've never ridden at night in the city, so figured this was a good way to get some practice in, safety in numbers and all that. We started at 7:27 PM (sunset) from Fort York (and got a cannon to send us off) went East on Queen's Quay to the Parklands, circled around and headed back cutting thru the Distillary District, 24 km in under two hours, not a bad pace.

Between the Festival and preparing for my trip, I've been trying to clean out and clean up my place, getting rid of an astonishing amount of stuff in my closets (like old university papers I haven't looked at since I wrote the exam), re-shelving my books, bagging old clothes to give away, and planning to get rid of some of my old furniture for new stuff. I figure I'm about half-way there to getting the place completely in shape for the next couple of years. This is going to make a real difference.

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Oh, I wish I could go with you! Have a great time!

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