By Max Miller, Grade 12
The Hunger Games isn’t a franchise that needs much of an introduction, especially in a high school newspaper. Chances are you’re already familiar with the story of Katniss’ fight for survival; even if you aren’t, it wouldn’t have been possible to escape the media blitz and mountains of hype surrounding the movie release. It has been described as the biggest pop culture phenomenon since Twilight, though lots of fans think it unfair to compare the two—count me among them.
For the uninitiated, here’s a quick run-down of The Hunger Games. (more…)
By Max Miller & Tammy Lee, Grade 12
Tammy: Om nom nom nom, these chocolates are amazing!
M: What the… Heart-shaped box, huh? Someone must have gotten lucky on Valentine’s Day.
T: Yeah, my best friend bought it for me. Isn’t it huge?! It must have cost a lot of money. I’m so lucky to have a friend who loves me this much.
M: What? … I mean, do you really measure your friendships like that?
T: Of course! Compare this to the paper card you made me! What the heck was that? You just took paper out of your printer. I bet it didn’t even cost you any money.
M: If that’s really how you judge your friendship, what do you think when it comes to all the time and effort I put in to make that card? I bet I took more time to make that card than your friend did to do some quick shopping for those chocolates.
Click on the image for high resolution.
Written by Editors of the Word
The U.S. Congress has done it again! It is not the first time that the Congress has frustrated the American people. But instead of doing so by spending almost $1.3 trillion on wars, the brouhaha they’ve caused this time stems from the passing of a bill that blocks regulations of tomato paste, potato, and salt in school meals. The law now declares the tomato paste used on pizzas as a viable replacement for vegetable as a source of nutrition. So, does that mean that the Congress is affirming that pizza is a vegetable?!
For the sake of argument, Tammy and Max have each taken a side. As for me (Winnie), I am going to sit back, relax, eat some popcorn, and watch them fight for a win.
By Max Miller and Darius Davidson, Grade 12
Hello again, Warriors! Welcome back to StyleWatch, where we interview your favourite teachers and staff members to find out why they dress the way they do! This month, we have an exclusive interview with the latest addition to the school’s English and Drama departments, Ms. Byrne!
By Max Miller, Grade 12
Editor’s Note: This article was written on October 21st and does not account for more recent developments at the Occupy protest; see next month’s article for more up-to-date information.
It’s a rather surreal experience, walking through downtown to come across what looks like a cramped, crowded, haphazard campsite at the doorstep of the Vancouver Art Gallery. Occupy Vancouver assembled on Saturday, October 15th (known as a global “Day of Rage”) in response to the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement, instantly brings to my mind the Tent City protest that took place during the 2010 Olympics. (more…)
What a twist! How will our hero get out of this one? Go to the front page of the Word Website and vote for one of the two options below:
A) BARGAIN FOR HIS FREEDOM
B) FIGHT HIS WAY OUT
On November 19, 2011, Vancouverites will cast their votes in to choose 1 Mayor, 10 Councillors, 7 Park Commissioners, and 9 School Trustees in the municipal election. With the big event just about a month away, the Word’s editors have interviewed two great individuals, both of whom are candidates of this fall’s election. From Vision Vancouver, we have Kerry Jang, a Professor of Psychiatry at UBC and a current City Councillor, as well as a Windermere alumnus from the 1980s! On the other hand, we have Bill Yuen from the Non-Partisan Association (NPA). He is an engineer and a former school trustee whose children both graduated from Windermere. Both Jang and Yuen are residents of our neighbourhood, and it has been a pleasure meeting them. We would like to thank them for making time for us in their busy schedules to create this segment!
So, without further delay, let’s get right into our interviews!
Kerry Jang on September 21, 2011:
A: There are two roles to my position as a City Councillor. First of all, all Councilors are essentially responsible for things like city budget, making sure the roads are clean, and ensuring that police and fire departments have money. But, more specifically, Gregor Robertson asked me to look into the issues of homelessness because that’s what I’ve been trained in. So a lot of my work is to do with homelessness, as well as the sex trade and how to protect women and young girls who might be lured into the trade.
Q: Why did you decide to become a City Councillor?
A: Because of my interest in mental illness. I got involved through working with homeless people. I set up the Saturday Breakfast and Shower Program at the Collingwood Neighborhood House to address homelessness in our area. It was unique for its time because we looked at what the homeless people needed instead of what we thought they needed. We asked, “What do you actually want?” and a guy answered, “I’ve got kind of a place to live but don’t like sleeping here. What I really want is a place to come and shower – because I stink – and a place to wash my clothes and have breakfast.” The whole point of the breakfast program was to create a place where they could be found. We made sure all the healthcare and mental health workers were there on Saturdays to see what they needed. So, that’s how we got them treated. It was great! Sometimes we could see people from the healthcare saying, “I finally found him. I’ve been looking for three months! He can finally take his medication today!” *High five!* Also, we made sure that a homeless count would be done in the city every year. Windermere students have helped with that, I believe. This tells us what kinds of services are needed. Why would I build a big, fancy healthcare centre if they’re not even here? We have now reduced homelessness by 83%. There had once been 1,000 people living on the street, and now there are only 145 left. It’s amazing!
Q: Is there any way students like us can become more involved in our city’s politics?
A: Absolutely! We have the Vancouver Youth and other advisory groups in the city. The Youth Justice Council and Restorative Justice are both very good examples. Also, there are a lot of community consultations where youth can come and leave their comments, which are the most important to me. I’m just a few years away from reaching fifty years old now, so I’ll be seventy when the stuff I’ve been planning comes to fruition! On the other hand, you guys will still be at the prime of your lives, so you will be the ones to take the actions and carry out the initiatives. If any students want to get involved in the city’s politics, they can contact me directly and I’ll hook you up. In January, if I get re-elected, I’ll be happy to take applications from students who want to sit on our advisory boards.
Q: What was Windermere like in 1980?
A: We were just coming out of the Disco era, so lots of guys were walking around with afros. Girls didn’t wear makeup – t-shirt and jeans were all they wore. We had a reputation as a tough school; my teeth actually got punched out one time. We were really mouthy, really street-smart. There was a real spirit in the school, though, and the teachers were fantastic! They really worked to make sure we focused on what was important. They also understood that a lot of us came from a poor background – I did. They tailored programs to help us out because we couldn’t afford tutors. In fact, we all had to work and give money to our families. Right after school – bam – a lot of us would head out to our jobs. It was a very different time economically.
Windermere was our place and we wanted to protect it. It had been a good experience here. I joke about the fights a lot, but they only happened once in a while; it wasn’t a warzone in here. When I went to my 30th high school reunion, I saw that everyone was doing really well. They owned businesses, they were professional, and one was a stand-up comedian! Despite the reputation we had when I was here, everyone turned out really well.
Q: Where did you go after graduating from Windermere?
A: I graduated from Windermere – barely – with a GPA of C-. My teachers told me to go to Langara for a year or two. There, I found something I really wanted to do, which was psychology, and from there I went to SFU, then to the University of Western Ontario, where I did my PhD, and afterwards I went to UBC. Now, I’m a full professor with tenure. It’s really all because people gave me time and understood my background, and that’s what Windermere was about. We were all tough kids. You guys are in a better place, I think, and you’re a lot smarter.
Q: Earlier this year, Vision’s creation of the bike lanes downtown was scrutinized for being rather inefficient, and a waste of space. What are your thoughts on that?
A: The bike lanes have been on the city’s transportation plan for 30 years. We finally decided to implement them because we noticed from data that car trips had decreased about 50% and more people were riding bikes than ever before. Without bike lanes, cyclists slowed down traffic. By creating dedicated bike lanes, we’ve actually increased traffic flow throughout downtown. Businesses thought that they would be impacted, but none of that happened. Instead, their profits went up because people without cars are now willing to go downtown. My favorite argument was that it destroys parking, but we did a study and there are more than ten thousand excess spaces along Hornby Street’s bike lane alone. I drive downtown and I’ve never had a problem finding parking, so I don’t buy any of those arguments. What we’re actually seeing is an increase in the number of bikers – it has skyrocketed. North American culture, though, is that we love our cars. This is why we need youth to change our perspective.
Q: Any advice for the Windermere students?
A: Do what you love! The money will come with it.
Q: Can you introduce yourself to readers of the Word?
A: I’ve been in Canada for almost forty years and Vancouver is very special for me. I met and married my wife of thirty-five years and raised my family here. I’m also glad that I’ve had the opportunity to help the community for the past twenty years. I had been a school board trustee; on the city of Vancouver’s Planning Commission; on the board of the Vancouver Public Library; and a council member with the Ministry of Children and Family Services. I also headed the PAC of Windermere at one point. I have done volunteer work at community centers and all sorts of fundraising for several public organizations.
Q: Your children went to Windermere, right? What do you think of the school?
A: I think it was one of the smaller schools in Vancouver, but it’s pretty close-knit and a pretty good school Both of my children got into UBC and one of them became a lawyer.
Q: If you were to be elected as a City Councillor, what would your responsibilities be?
A: Well, certainly I would be responsible for providing services to Vancouverites and for dealing with issues that come up within the Greater Vancouver Regional District. Taking care of various orders and supplies and Translink – that is part of the City Council’s responsibilities.
Q: So, you want to direct your main focus to the engineering aspect of the city?
A: Well, no, actually. I would probably have to look into the all the different aspects. I find that Vancouver needs to be more than just a green city; it has to be competitive and affordable in order to survive. What I see with young people nowadays is that it is getting tougher and tougher for them to live in Vancouver, which makes holding down taxes one of my aims. If you look at the last three years, they raised taxes by 8% in the first year with an increase in the price of houses. Just coming into the market has become an issue for them. The second area that I can work on is streamlining cumbersome regulations to improve services. My experience over the last twenty years as an industrial engineer has shown that different processes and programs can be streamlined. This way, I can make it easier for the small businesses in our city.
Q: Gregor Robertson was elected in 2008 on the platform that he would make Vancouver the world’s greenest city by 2020. What is your take on the environmental issue?
A: I support Vancouver in becoming a green city – we all want to live in a green city – but it needs to have a balanced approach. You need to balance the needs of other constituencies. For instance, bike lanes are being built on existing sidewalks and some citizens did complain to me. Once, I saw an 84-year-old with a walker having to walk past the bike lane down a hill before he can get to the car parked beside the street. I see the current government really stuffing this down our throats, saying that “this is [their] way and this is the only way.” As a matter of fact, I talked to some nearby residents and they came up with really good alternative ideas, but there hasn’t been any meaningful consultation with citizens like them.
Q: What about the store owners along the bike lanes? Have they encountered any problems?
A: Like I said, you have to look at the overall impact. Something can’t just be implemented for a special interest group. It has to be inclusive; you need to look at the interests of all Vancouverites. Going green is a good initiative, but it can’t be carried out at the expense of others.
Q: What should be the number one issue for a City Councillor?
A: I would say it’s accountability at this point. It’s important that we are accountable to our citizens and willing to find out what they need. From what I heard from people in Vancouver, affordability is number one and they don’t want to see any tax hikes, as well as money being spent unwisely. Why expand the mayor’s office or create a new lunchroom? Why would they spend millions of dollars on secret bailouts? Why spend money to make shelters for homeless chickens?
Q: Homeless chickens?
A: The government created a shelter for homeless chickens – chickens that, say, people raised but then released. That’s something the current City Council is building. Citizens don’t want us to waste money like that. That’s why I’ll certainly go for more financial transparency if I get elected. Right now, there’s just too much money spent on things that people don’t know about.
Q: Recently, parking has become an issue in Vancouver. There have been areas on Kingsway, for instance, where they have suddenly included parking meters. Is this actually a good thing for the city or just a way for them to exploit the citizens?
A: I will say that it will definitely have some impact on local businesses and I don’t think that’s the way to go. It comes back to the bike lanes downtown. They have taken away the parking there and they have to get parking fees elsewhere, so they pick places that have good businesses and a busy traffic. The bike lanes were put in so fast that there wasn’t time for any good consultation.
Q: Do you have any advice for our readers still in high school?
A: Well, hard work! I think there’s no substitute for hard work. The real world is tougher than school, you have to be educated and be prepared. No matter what your post-secondary plans are, hard work always pays off. You have to work in the community, do volunteer work, and help others. Be a good citizen!
Welcome to the 2011-2012 School Year! We hope everyone had a restful and fun-filled summer break as it is time to get back into the swing of school!
After 68 days of relaxation, you might notice that quite a few people are finding school to be anything but smooth. Without a doubt, the start of a new school year is a big transition for most, if not all, of the students. This is especially the case for those who have been oversleeping and feeling lackadaisical almost every day over the last couple of months. However, there is no need to worry at all! Hundreds of students around you feel the same way too. And like any other high school year, you will soon find yourself enjoying the time you get to spend with your friends – both old and new – and looking forward to your favourite classes.
By Max Miller, Grade 12
So much has happened since Gordon Campbell’s government introduced the Harmonized Sales Tax to British Columbian citizens, that it’s hard to believe it’s been scarce more than a year since. The HST raised taxes on everything from groceries to haircuts to 12%. It was introduced shortly after the Liberals, led by Gordon Campbell, were re-elected on the platform that they would not raise taxes this way. Because of this decision, Campbell became one of the least popular politicians in Canada, and he stepped down from office in March 2011.
By Editors of The Windermere Word
On August 6th, a large riot broke out in Tottenham, North London, and the disturbances quickly spread to other areas of England, such as Bristol and the Midlands. The scale of chaos was unlike anything the city had ever seen. The riots lasted for five days, during which five people were killed, another two hundred injured, and more than $300 million worth of property was stolen or destroyed. Nonetheless, tragic as the riots were, they shed light on a number of social justice issues the citizens face daily.
By: Darius Davidson (Gr.11) and Max Miller (Gr.11)
Returning after a short hiatus, this is StyleWatch, in which our brave Word contributors interview teachers at Windermere to learn more about their personal style, as well as the types of clothing they like and dislike. This month’s victim interviewee is Mr. Parker, one of our English teachers!
Q: Can you describe your dress style?
A: I’d say formal/casual in the sense that I wear a dress shirt and tie; even when I’m out I like to dress more formally than most other people. In the classroom, I like to put forth an effort. I think if I present myself professionally in my career, it reflects in the students. That’d be my style, I guess. I don’t know if you can define that.
Q: What do you think of the dress style of the students at Windermere?
A: There’s a uniform in this school: black tearaway pants with the white shoes and the white jacket that’s sort of puffy. And you wear that and that’s the extent of it. Apart from the school uniform, there are a couple people who do it differently, but for the most part it’s conforming to and fitting in with whatever the current trends are: sportswear, jock wear, or white shoes with a white jacket.
Q: Do you have any fashion pet peeves?
A: There are a lot of different things I don’t like – I hate jumpers, and stuff like that. On women, I don’t really like that look at all. And the shorts that go into the one big piece. I am really not fond of that at all. For some reason, I really don’t like the over-makeup, such as lots of red lipstick. Overall, I find it to seem not real. As for guys, I think there are a lot of guys who wear shirts that are two sizes too small and they’ll wear that shirt out all the time. And uniforms again: a group of guys wearing the EXACT same outfit. The uniforms drive me nuts.
Q: If you could return to an era in fashion, which would you return to?
A: Definitely the 20’s. Shirt and tie. I have always dressed like that. Even in high school. I have pictures of me at formal and prom dressed like that when everyone else was in traditional rent-from-Moores tuxedos. Definitely there was more elegance involved. I think everyone dressed really elegantly, and that’s my style.
Q: Is there any character you would like to cosplay as?
A: Oh! I’d dress up as – and I didn’t even really like the movie – the guy from “Tron”. Just because that’s such a different style, all leather and lit up? And you could walk into a place and everybody’d be like “oh look at me I’m a pirate of the carribean” – I’m Tron! I’m lit up! Look at my arms! You can see me from across the room! And I’m not even a big fan of “Tron”. The movie was kind of terrible, but that’s a costume that you’d see and you’d be “wow look at that.” “I’m Tron! ” That’s all you’d have to say, just keep saying that.
Q: What other teacher do you think has a good fashion sense?
A: Wow, I’d better choose carefully. I don’t want to offend anyone… Mr Wiebe. An excellent dresser.
By: Max Miller, Grade 11
During a public meeting in a Tucson, Arizona Safeway on January 8, 2011, US congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head in an apparent assassination attempt. While Giffords is well on her way to a full recovery, twelve other people were shot and six of the victims, including a nine-year-old girl and a federal judge, were killed. Giffords is a ‘rising star’ in the Democratic Party, hoping to eventually be elected as Arizona’s senator. The shooter, 22-year-old Jared Loughner, claims to have planned and executed the attack alone, though police are searching for a possible accomplice.
While the tragedy is too fresh in our minds to think of laying any blame, the events in Arizona are a chilling reminder of the political climate in America at the moment. Extremist groups – groups who follow a rigid set of ideals and who will go to great lengths to enforce them – have always existed on the fringe, but they have been making headlines more and more recently. The group getting the most press is the “Tea Party”, who believes the government has too much power, and that this power should be given to corporations. Giffords got on the Tea Party’s bad side by voting for Obama’s Health Care reform – Sarah Palin, an American politician and political news commentator, went as far as to mark Giffords’ district (as well as those of nineteen others who voted yes) with a crosshair on a map; the picture bore the caption “Take a Stand.”
Extremism is becoming more prominent with the Democrats as well, though their movement doesn’t have a nifty name like the Tea Party yet. President Obama came in at a dark time for the nation, riding in on his promises of “Hope and Change.” Of course, this motto left out a rather important point that ought to have been included: “and also Years of Hard Work before Our Goals Are Realized.” Many people expected Obama to be an instant cure for their country’s problems, and since, of course, he wasn’t, he is being criticized for accomplishing nothing but breaking election promises in his first years of office. These Democratic supporters have become less trusting of their party and their country’s government.
So, which side does Jared Loughner belong to? Well, that’s not an easy answer. If his Youtube page is to be believed, his favourite authors include Ayn Rand, Adolf Hitler and Karl Marx; political philosophers with very different, conflicting views. He has gone on various political tirades, saying he believed the government was responsible for the 9/11 attacks and are trying to brainwash the public by controlling grammar. He has been described as emotionally unstable by those who know him personally. So it’s easy, and perhaps comforting, to write him off as just one more ‘crazy’ who, unfortunately, got his hands on a gun. At the same time, however, people have suspected Loughner to have been influenced by extremist rhetoric such as Palin’s map.
Whatever your opinions on Loughner may be, the fact remains that such a divided public will only create more tension in our neighbours to the south. If the American people don’t find some way of meeting halfway, tragedies like this may very well become more commonplace.
By: Max Miller, Grade 11
Town could be the worst-titled wide-release movie in recent memory, likely to evoke some B-grade horror flick or cornball small-town coming-of-age drama. That’s actually about as far removed from the actual movie as you can get. The town referred to in the title is Charlestown – a Boston, MA, neighbourhood with an unusually high population of bank robbers.
The most successful bank robber is Doug MacCray (Ben Affleck), who has spent most of his adult life planning, orchestrating, and leading some of the biggest heists the city has ever seen. However, after a less-than-perfectly-executed crime, they left behind a possible witness (Rebecca Hall). Doug’s investigation into her leads to a relationship, which understandably doesn’t sit well with the rest of his crew. As their relationship progresses, Doug finds himself questioning his motivations as a robber, realizing that the key to happiness is love and not money. The first part of the film flirts with a couple similar clichés, such as the “one last big job” plotline, which the unnecessary, sickly sweet final fifteen minutes of the movie totally succumbs to.
Putting the ending aside, though, the rest of the film is incredibly tight. Affleck seems to fancy himself the next Clint Eastwood – writing, directing and playing the lead role – and for the most part he does a great job on all the fronts. My favourite scene in the movie takes place in a coffee shop, in which Doug tries to prevent one of his crew-mates (Jeremy Renner) from accidentally betraying their identities to Doug’s lady love. It’s the tensest scene in the entire movie, yet this comes without any big confrontation or threat thereof. Scenes like this, where everything happens through dialogue, rarely work – the direction, the script, and the performances all have to be aligned for them to happen as planned – and here everything happens beautifully.
The whole cast brings their A-game here, with the obvious standout being Jeremy Renner as Doug’s best friend, right-hand man, and a violence-loving psychopath. His character is quite complex. He’s unflinchingly loyal to Doug, despite his funny way of showing it – a way which usually ends up with several people visiting the hospital. Yet, he is convinced that Doug owes him for his service and isn’t going to let Doug walk away from everything they’ve done together. Renner got noticed by the Oscars last year; hopefully, this year he gets to walk home with a statue. On the other hand, Michael Mann’s role as the FBI agent hunting the robbers is a little one-dimensional, but still makes for one of the best love-to-hate villains of the year.
If Gone Baby Gone didn’t convince you that Affleck is a director to be reckoned with, The Town will set you straight. It’s tighter and grittier than the majority of Hollywood heist movies, desensitizing theft rather than romanticizing it. Although it’s far from perfection, and its ending holds it back from greatness, fans of the genre will not find a better movie this season.
By: Max Miller, Grade 11
Meet 23-year-old Scott Pilgrim. He is unemployed, lives in a squalid, one-bed apartment with his “cool gay roommate” Wallace, plays bass in a band with a whopping two fans, and is dating a 17-year-old Catholic school girl whom he hasn’t held hands with yet. In short, Scott’s precious little life seems to be going nowhere, and he’s more than happy with that.
This all changes when Scott meets the literal girl of his dreams – a fashionable hipster named Ramona Flowers. Inexplicably, the attraction is mutual, but Happily Ever After doesn’t come quite so easily. Ramona has seven evil, bitter exes who are bent on ruining her love life forever. Scott must defeat the exes in Mortal Kombat or risk losing Ramona forever.
If this all sounds a little zany, that’s because it is, but writer/director Edgar Wright (other notable work includes Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead) has already proved he has a deft hand for this sort of thing. The script is, for the most part, taken directly out of the comic. That’s a very good thing. Brian O’Malley’s source material is as hilarious, irreverent and poignant as it was in 2004, and hearing the books brought to life should be incentive enough for fans to buy a ticket. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World also looks about as close to the comic as one could hope. There’s always something happening on-screen; self-aware boxes of text, comic book sound effects, video game statuses and health bars. The fantastic choreography in the fights works brilliantly with the visuals and soundtrack, composed by Beck and Radiohead’s Nigel Godrich. This is filmmaking at its most ADD – as likely to exhaust you as it is to delight you.
Interestingly enough, the actors take the opposite route, beautifully deadpanning their way throughout the entire thing. Kieran Culkin, as Wallace, is the highlight that steals the show at absolutely every possible opportunity. The seven exes, ranging from a popular action-movie star to a vegan whose diet gives him superpowers, give seven great performances, almost making their outlandish characters believable. The only real disappointment is Michael Cera himself, who plays, well, Michael Cera – it’s the same awkwardly charming performance he’s been doing since Arrested Development. Because the script is so close to the comic, though, Scott is written with a very self-assured attitude and Cera just can’t keep up with it.
Nevertheless, on the whole, the film is one big FTW. Whereas most summer movies recycle, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World creates. It’s a world of pixels and bass strings and superheroes that may not make sense to everyone who sees it, but for those of us who are “in on it”, it will satisfy like no other movie this season.
CONGRATS TIF, DARIUS AND MAX! HOW DO YOU GUYS FEEL?
M: Surprised. I didn’t even know I was nominated – does that make me a bad person? Anyways, my ego is inflated enough as it is. This isn’t helping.
D: Surprised, like a little boy walking upon his parents putting presents in the tree
and eating the milk & cookies specially prepared for Santa. I’d like to give a special shout out to all the kitties in the world! Especially one kitty~ : )
T: Um kind of surprised?
LOL@ THE COOKIES THING! MY DAD EATS THE COOKIES I LEAVE OUT FOR SANTA!
NEXT QUESTION: WHY DO YOU GUYS THINK YOU WERE NOMINATED?
M: I don’t know but let me tell you, it’s long overdue - hey, see?! It’s the ego!
D: I think we we’re nominated because of Max. He’s got like secret connections in the underworld and he’s always making these shady deals with men in big, scruffy, black suits. Yoh, wait a minute! Why are you asking this question? You already told all of us why we were nominated! We were nominated because us three devoted students (With the exception of Tiffany because I like to exclude her for fun) had organized the canned food drive that was on Halloween.
T: no idea?
HOW MANY LICKS DOES IT TAKE TO GET TO THE MIDDLE OF A TOOTSIE POP?
By: Max Miller, Grade 9
It’s safe to say that J.J. Abrams has succeeded. Star Trek has been reborn.
This re-imagining boldly goes where no Trek has gone before – to the origins of the Enterprise and its crew. The first things fans notice is the casting. It’s perfect. The new crew is made up of semi-no-names including Chris Pine (Kirk), Zachary Quinto (Spock) and Karl Urban (Bones). Each of the actors has an uncanny resemblance to their 60’s counterparts; something Trekkies would definitely appreciate. Pine’s (Kirk) is a bit cockier and smart-mouthed than the Shat’s, but otherwise, the actors do a great job capturing the feel of the original characters and not just the look.
By Max Miller, Grade 9
You’ve probably seen The Wrestler before. Maybe it wasn’t called The Wrestler; maybe it was Rocky or Million Dollar Baby or The Rookie. We’ve all watched the underdog sports hero fight against insurmountable odds to reach the top. It’s been done to death. So, it’s pretty amazing that The Wrestler – a film that follows many of these conventions – always manages to feel fresh and poignant. It’s an honest contender for my favourite film of 2008.
Randy “The Ram” Robinson (Mickey Rourke) has seen better days. His huge career in the 80s finished, The Ram now fights in small-time wrestling match-ups and works at his local Acme supermarket. Eventually, Randy is offered a chance to relive his
By: Max Miller, Grade 9
By the time a dismembered, spider-like hand tried to force its way through a tiny crack in Coraline, I realized I hadn’t really walked into a kids’ movie after all. It may not be something you’ll want to bring your little brother to, but Coraline is still one of the most entertaining animated movies I’ve seen in years.
You’ve probably daydreamed at one point or another about a ‘perfect’ family, where the parents are never on your case, the food is always good, and the days are all about having fun. For Coraline Jones (Dakota Fanning), this becomes a reality when she enters a parallel world through a door in her drawing room. Coraline is greeted by her ‘other’ Mother (Teri Hatcher), but it’s soon clear she has more sinister intentions.
By: Max Miller, Grade 9
It seems as if Clint Eastwood, one of America’s most respected filmmakers, can pretty much do as he darn well pleases. No matter what he does, his movies will still win over audiences and have critics crying ‘Oscar!’ Case in point: his latest project, Gran Torino. It’s not a good film by any stretch; it’s a very poor one that just so happens to have the big man’s name all over it. Heavy on clichés and cheese, Gran Torino is proof a great actor/director can only go so far when working with a D-list script and a mediocre cast.
Things aren’t going so well for Walt Kowaski (Eastwood). His wife is dead and his children want nothing to do with him, so he spends the most of his time sitting on his porch with a cooler of beer, sneering and swearing at the general populace. Why the contempt? The neighbourhood is overrun by Hmong immigrants, and Walt is one of the dirtiest racists ever to make his way onto the silver screen. If you had the poor judgment not to be born white, there’s no saving you from Walt and his impressive vocabulary of racial slurs. The only non-white thing he’s able to love is his gorgeous ’72 Gran Torino. So when a Hmong teenager named Thao (Bee Vang) tries to steal it as a gang initiation, it should be game over, right?
Wrong. Walt abruptly abandons his bigot ways for the kid, and proceeds to become a mentor of sorts while vowing to protect Thao’s family from the threatening gangs. It’s a complete 180, and it happens all in the space of ten minutes or so – far too quick to be believable. Gran Torino does this repeatedly. Just as you’re getting to know a character, the writers decide he or she needs to be turned right around. Despite this though, they can all be neatly classified like black and white. The good guys are always clearly the good guys, and the same can be said for the bad guys; they’re all completely two-dimensional, with no unique or interesting traits. Coming from the man responsible for Unforgiven, this is definitely surprising.
But the film’s problems don’t end there. Gran Torino’s script contains some of the most cringe-worthy dialogue of any film this entire year. The gangster characters drop more f-bombs in one line than in a whole episode of Beavis and Butt-head. It doesn’t help that the entire cast is made up of novices with no acting experience. Lines are delivered so poorly, it sometimes seems like it’s the actors first time performing them.
I really tried hard to like Gran Torino. If you dig deep enough, it does carry some very poignant themes but the awful execution makes them hard to swallow. Even the most die-hard Eastwood fans pass this one up without a second thought. 4/10.