TIFF Film “Truman”

Written hours after attending the film it gives me great pleasure to post my blog…better late than never… My TIFF blog review of the “Truman” film is as follows:

On a damp and chilly TIFF afternoon, I passed by a handful of tourists seated by the museum’s iconic lions and made my way across the road to where a long line-up was brewing. The Isabel Bader theatre located just off the ROM grounds and adjacent to U of T is just a short walk from the Museum subway station. Upon arrival I noted that the line of TIFF goers was strung from the entrance doors of the theatre on Charles Street right down to the end and spilled up and around the corner of Queens Park. As I stood in line, I was sandwiched between four jean jacketed women and a man. The man behind me stood upright under his round umbrella wearing a suit with a rain jacket. He wore wood-rimmed glasses and intently read a small paperback book with a French title. Perhaps he was a TIFF spy blogger in the crowd? There were four women in front of me clad in jeans, flip-flops, rubber boots and scarves. They bantered back and forth exchanging short and wispy conversations about the earlier film they had seen. They had traveled from outside of the city for a TIFF weekend to share hotel rooms, painted toenails, shopping, wine and movies. Along the roadside, a long black motorcade passed us by with cardboard “FOX” placards neatly placed on dashboards. Through the tinted windows I could see men in suits but their celebrity status was a mystery and there were no window roll downs to acknowledge the crowd. The heavy one-way traffic on Charles Street was a steady stream of pushing people back up onto grass and past the sidewalks. A large bus swung over the curb and clubbed the street sign in order to round the corner. And so the TIFF adventure had begun…

After an hour of anticipation, we entered the theatre and were greeted by TIFF volunteers who directed us to our seats and provided instructions regarding the voting process. We were seated and received a welcome to TIFF and an introduction to the film by the film’s director Cesc Gay himself. Cesc comes across as a very humble, genuine and passionate film-maker who was elated to present the world premiere of his film “Truman.”Cesc is a tall man yet doesn’t carry any of the trappings of Hollywood about him. It is apparent that he is a true filmmaker and a writer with an authentic soul that is prevalent yet unspoken. His gentle and welcoming presence made one feel as though they had entered into his living room. After Cesc’s introduction of the film, the ads ran their gamut and the early credits rolled and the screen lit up with a film that will forever remain on my top ten list. Even though the film’s dialogue is in Spanish, I found that the subtitles did not detract from the compelling grip of the movie itself. In fact, the performance by the actors reflected quite a natural delivery of gestures, facial expressions, eyes and emotions that even without words spoken evoked a language that all could understand.

The audience was soon swept into the world and story of a terminally ill man, his loyal dog and his best childhood friend – A friend whom continually gave freely of his generosity and love without asking for anything in return. From the very first scene the movie purported a compassionate theme filled with both love and humour that drew one into an intimate sensitivity – so much so, that a lady in the row behind wept openly throughout most of the film. And I will admit that I too dabbed my eyes with the edges of my scarf – I am a widow and these are the things that speak. It was as if a handful of pages from my 101 journals had been ripped outand morphed into portions of these scenes. This film exposed the reality of a goodbye that could not be planned with a wide angled lens. Despite one’s guess of an inevitable ending, the story took us down the cobble-stoned streets of the life of a filmmaker stricken with a terminal illness whom haphazardly works through the planning of his final days of life from adoptive dog scenes to funeral arrangements and flying off to Amsterdam to visit his son for emotional connections and unspoken goodbyes.

The film moved from one scene to the next providing a constant knowing and a gnawing of an inevitable goodbye of a man with a broken heart and a broken spirit. There was an authentic expression of the inability of not being able to do anything about his past nor his impending departure that took the heart to unexpected places filled with the various people of his life and moments that could not be rewound, undone or erased. There were facial expressions, gestures and apologies that kept one waiting for the next scene. The words (as gleaned from the subtitles) were at times poetic, poignant, and nostalgic and crept under my skin and went straight to my heart. Every scene touching and real spread across my mind like the letters of an old typewriter, one soft click at a time, dropping ink onto the stained pages of this thing we call life.

This film will make your heart smile in the midst of making your eyes water. It will provoke you to take the journey to places in your own personal life for a few snapshot comparisons and revisit those places that one so often emotionally avoids. It will take you through the monumental moments of the true love of a friend that gives without expectation and loves in deed rather than word. The film is emotionally packed from beginning to end and pulls on the threads of the blanket of family, neighbors, old friends, acquaintances, ex-wives, lovers, children, cousins, forgiving-enemies and park-benched-companions leaving you with the emotional reality of a quilt unraveled. In closing, one of the things I loved best about this film is the director’s use of a very candid and fluid lens to reveal the emotional connectivity and complexity of impending loss. The impact of Julian’s imminent departure due to his terminal illness and its impact on those left behind, was presented without the graphic and sometimes over-wrought and drawn out hospital scenes that are rote in so many formulaic Hollywood films. This makes the film unique, raw and real. It leads you by the hand down a road of goodbyes andparades through the ghosts of a man’s past through to his present everyday life. It is these scenic moments that remain palpable and always at the surface of the human heart.

Thank you for reading, now gooooo see this film! ❤

City Life

drunk jewelry lay on the sidewalk

among the plastered blotches of gum stains

as pigeons fenced on the side

just west of city graffiti that read

‘stop deporting people’

 

the square filled up

with tai chi chasers

and the park billowed humid air

among trees offering no relief

in the city park of sunrise

 

construction clung and hung high above

craning in all directions

while below

perpetual streetlights controlled

a never ending whir of city mustangs

 

the clamor of a thousand sirens,

streetcars and traffic transport

was cut by a jet overhead

while I waited at a red light in the sun

under the city sky

 

a man held out a cup for loose change

his teeth were missing, his hands shook

he looked down and away

as my coins landed in an empty cup

there in the carnival of city life

2012-07-18 Janice McIntyre ©

If I Could Have One More Tomorrow

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If I could have one more day with my father

I’d spend it selflessly

I’d listen to his stories

And his songs of harmony

I’d hold his hand a little longer

I’d give him a proper goodbye

I’d hug him a little tighter

And make sure he knew I tried

If I could have one more day with my husband

I’d tell him faith’s not dead

I’d tell him that there is freedom

And remember the things he said

I’d get back all his vinyl records

And together we would sing

Of the days we used to laugh and dance

Oh the joy that it would bring

If I could have one more day with my brother

I’d listen to his pain

I’d laugh at all his silliness

And tell him he’s the same

I’d forgive him for his ways

I’d wipe away his tears

I’d tell him there’s second chances

No matter what the year

If I could have one more day with my nephew

I’d hold him in my arms

I’d brush his hair so gently

I’d keep him safe from harm

I’d give him the ocean and mountains

I’d give him all of my dreams

I’d tell him that there is no love larger

Than saying what you mean

If I could walk beside them

Even just for one more day

I’d walk a little lighter

I’d tell them that I prayed

I’d dance with them in sunshine

I’d cover them from the rain

I’d laugh a little louder

I’d take away their pain

If I could do one last thing

I’d love like no tomorrow

I’d give away all my possessions

And there’d be nothing left to borrow

If I could tell you something

I’d make sure that you would hear

That life is now in the living

And to hold your loved ones dear

If I could have yesterday’s tomorrow

And it never went away

I’d open up my heart

Just for one more day

But as I turn towards the places

Where we used to laugh and play

I’m reminded that tomorrow

Are the memories made today

2012-07-11 Janice McIntyre ©

Spirit of the West

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The spirit of the west

Breathes me

Under my skin

Between my ribs

Below my neck and back again

Sometimes it laughs

Sometimes it beckons

Sometimes it says goodbye

Sometimes it questions

Sometimes it makes me cry

Rugged roads

Majestic mountains

Where tall tress all look the same

I heard the echo in the distance

As a siren called my name

The spirit of the west

Beholds me

Entangled in its twine

But the east of my life

Returned me

To a place that I call mine

The spirit of the west

Does not own me

Yet its incense runs thick in my veins

Sometimes it loves me like it knows me

Sometimes it buries the pain

The spirit of the west

It moves me

Like an eagle in the sky

I dance in the open lowlands

And never turn to ask it why

The spirit of the west

it chides me

though I am not detained

in roots and branches

that once caged me

all in too much vain

The spirit of the west

It loves me

Even though I said goodbye

For a crooked path

And empty walls

Under my familiar sky

2012-07-09 Janice McIntyre (C)

Creative Ledges

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It’s Tuesday, I slept in and missed the sunrise.  Per the light that blinds me apparently it showed up on time and the fireball in the sky is heating up this apartment like a cast iron frying pan.  I check FB updates and note that two of my FB friends unknown to one another have each commented on the soul – one makes a nest in someone’s soul for shelter and the other sells hers on eBay.  And from there I am stirred like the spoon in my coffee cup and today’s blog begins.  Although tea is my usual vice, my head is in a fog and I’m hopeful for some fog release.  However, there are no guarantees when this state of soulful creativity hits.  The fact is I stayed up late last night, musing in and out of creative tangents.  The truth is it’s one of my favorite places to be ‘on that creative ledge.’

It’s been awhile since I padded across the creative ledge and looked up to the sky and down below at the city of my life.  Because that’s the place from where a good portion of creativity comes from.  I admit that of late it seemed as though my creative soul was blocked, bitten, gun-shy, discouraged and buried like a pile of crumpled up paper packed in a box thrown in the corner.  A cross Canada move, career change and huge life changes all at the same time will do that to you.  Yet all the excuses in the world can’t contain what’s always been there, the creative sword that was waiting to be drawn and alas it has thankfully returned its edge outward instead of inward.  In saying this, I do believe that personal discipline in a writing vent such as a blog is key; yet that is only a portion of it.  What’s key is surrounding oneself with like minded creative souls as often as possible.  Truly the place I long to be most.  I often ask myself is it possible to live in that state of creative thought day in and day out?  I believe it is.  It shows up everywhere if you let it in.  Until now – for the most part of my life I primarily made myself busy with the struggle of a lifetime to be the loving daughter, the better mother, the perfect wife, the best friend sister and assumed the false stance everyone else wanted for me. I was often discouraged, told to take my head out of the clouds and repeatedly advised that the arts were not a life pursuit – instead the arts should be left for the likes of the famed poets, writers, painters, singers and songwriters.

The idea that money is where it’s at was shoved down my throat as early as I could hold my own fork.  For the largest part of my life artistic pursuits were halted, denied, thwarted and discouraged.  Even though I have written for my entire life, I convinced myself of the same falsehoods and took a huge part in that role by choosing partners that would make sure I’d stay off course.  And from time to time when my closet writing retreats and hidden shoeboxes of paper would spill out onto the floor I’d find that it was easy to have someone rain on the parade, pull the chair out from under me and strip away the source from where my creativity would fountain up.  And for years I would choose to allow them to continually rip and strip the safe covers from my soul.  I would continue to write in private, away from the prying eyes, doubtful deniers and empty souls that surrounded me.

But life had other plans.  The strong roots of determination, courage and soulful wisdom pushed me to the edge of challenge and change.  Those changes were no easy feat, leaving the unhappy places of life would become the largest obstacle I’d ever pursue.  The life choices I once believed to be the answers turned out to be the antagonist of my very own soul weighing me down like a ship aground.  The only way out was to spar with it, take it down and cuff it to the mountain I knew I eventually had to leave.  The price would be high and there would be no turning back.  I would lose everything that was once my identity and watch it float out into the sea hanging onto the soul of my life raft on a course set for the unknown.

In all of our lives we have ‘stop life in it’s tracks’ moments and mine came from climbing out of the sunroof that smashed on my head after a treacherous mountain rollover.  On that tragic day, flying down the back of a mountain upside down on a stretcher in an ambulance the answer came to me.  Staring up at a tiny white ceiling tile in the ER made me realize the ledge I needed to be on wasn’t the other side of the mountain or the life I found myself in.  Even in all that, the soul trade off took months to get through – office politics in a job that was contained by dragons in a den, divorce from the pilot dictatorship, two adult children finding their way in the world and a younger one torn between the love of a mother and the conviction of a father.  Changes that became forever changes for the greater good of all regardless of what the rest of the world thought.

And so, as I blog today from a tiny kitchen table in this shoebox 5,000+ miles away from the mountain – I don’t miss the soul sucking things of the past that once decorated the large oak dining table often set for fourteen, the 3,000 square foot house, the big ticket life or the siren chaos.  Much to my chagrin, I have chosen the downsize option long before my retirement is due.  I have downsized in things and upsized in what matters most.  And it is here barefoot from a small table beside an old typewriter that my creative reality resides and springs up catapulting forward.  Home in the city of my childhood under familiar skies and trees among the skyscrapers where lake breezes flow in one window and out the other.  Here where I belong.  And it is here that I choose what’s right for me from the creative soul up.  No more trade offs.  Here where the creativity burns on the edges of a whole new life, a good life, my life.

On a final blog note, that may seem out of context from the above lines strewn upon these pages, Loose Leaf Poets & Writers had a venue last night, which turned out well.  There were some new faces; regular attendees and a few that traveled long distances to attend.  Today I find myself filled with gratitude for the efforts, the interest and the creative passion that is thriving among us.  Each week we cat walk the creative edge and leave with arrows of inspiration in our packs.  In our writing loop we walk the ledges of our week with new ideas and inspiration while continuing with the pursuits of a written vibe that keeps us all breathing.  We will shine for each other and humbly shine for ourselves on something worth pursuing without the trade offs.