Red Dawn

200px-Red_dawnIt’s time to pick up the Formative 10 Films series, after abandoning it after the fourth entry…

Red Dawn. 1984. A bunch of misfit high school kids work together to defend their town from an invading Russian military force. Patrick Swayze as the cool older brother. Charlie Sheen. Lea Thompson (I had such an ’80s crush on Lea…). Jennifer Grey. What’s not to love? WOLVERINES!

I was in grade 10, a misfit outcast just starting high school, and watched this movie maybe a dozen times. It was set in small town redneck Colorado. Which felt not too different from Calgary…

There was something about the threat and horror of nuclear war, “the enemy” on North American soil, and an underground guerilla resistance movement that stopped and repelled the invaders that captured my imagination. It’s something that would be simply taught in history class for anyone growing up in Europe – but here, safe in Canada, we’ve never had to put much serious thought into aggressive invading armies (well, not for a few years, anyway, but we showed them! *shakesfist*)

I guess what caught me was the forced self reliance, the adaptability, the absolution of caste, and the need to work together to survive. Sure, the movie was violent, but it was a guerilla war movie. It needed to be violent. The fact that it wasn’t a shiny, happy, “good guys always win” story was important, too. The Wolverines didn’t magically kick Soviet ass, as they would have in a Jerry Bruckheimer or Michael Bay film. They struggled. They died. They sacrificed. And in the end the remaining survivors withdraw in the hopes of finding others.

Growing up in Canada, I wasn’t living in daily fear of Soviet invasion, or nuclear warheads raining out of the skies. We figured if anything went down, we’d likely be catching the debris as Reagan’s Star Wars™ shield zapped Soviet missiles over Canadian airspace. Boom and sizzle, sure, but not invading occupation forces. During the olympics in ’88, the Soviet team pins and jackets were the hottest items for trade. Everyone wanted to get Soviet stuff, and meet the athletes. Certainly no fear, at least.

And now I see they’re doing a remake of the movie, due out in 2010. Not sure how I feel about that. The TV series Jericho, which was a thinly veiled revamping of Red Dawn, didn’t do so well.


corral-driveinJim’s recent post including the drive-in intermission clip made me think about the last time I watched a movie in a drive-in. It was 1980, and my family packed into the Olds Custom Cruiser station wagon to head out to the Corral Drive-In. My sister and I got to stretch out in the back of the car to watch the movie in comfort. We’d do that pretty regularly. I remember back when the sound came from a box that fit onto the window of the car – before they got all fancy with their own mini radio stations for the audio.

alligator-posterThe movie was Alligator. Not great cinema, but it was memorable. It scared the crap out of me. I remember being scared to sit on the toilet for a long time after watching this – and having to flush a few times beforehand just in case an alligator was stuck in the pipe. I still think about this movie. Giant man-eating alligator, terrorizing a city. Because some schlub kid flushed his pet down the toilet.

B Movie Monster Sci Fi at its best, and worst. I remember the acting being terrible, but somehow compelling. I remember not seeing the alligator for much of the movie – being more afraid of not seeing it than when it was attacking. Not as powerful as Jaws, but more terrifying because it was lurking beneath the city. It could be lurking beneath my city (if I forget for a moment that my city is well below freezing for much of the year, and there’s little hope that an alligator would survive there, never mind thriving to 2000 pounds of man-eating terror).

Yet another of the films that affected me while growing up, with a strong zoological (or at least cryptozoological) angle. This does explain the whole BSc Zoology thing (although – was the fascination with these movies correlative or causative?)

RiP: A remix manifesto

Wow. While surfing the NFB archives, I found the trailer to an upcoming film called RiP: A remix manifesto. An open source film about copyright.

From the NFB page for the movie:

Web activist and filmmaker Brett Gaylor explores copyright in the information age, mashing up the media landscape of the 21st century and shattering the wall between users and producers.
The film’s central protagonist is Girl Talk, a mash-up musician topping the charts with his sample-based songs. But is Girl Talk a paragon of people power or the Pied Piper of piracy? Creative Commons founder Lawrence Lessig, Brazil’s Minister of Culture Gilberto Gil and pop culture critic Cory Doctorow are also along for the ride.

A participatory media experiment, from day one, Brett shares his raw footage at, for anyone to remix. This movie-as-mash-up method allows these remixes to become an integral part of the film. With RiP: A remix manifesto, Gaylor and Girl Talk sound an urgent alarm and draw the lines of battle.

Which side of the ideas war are you on?

Oh, man. I need to see this film. I need to screen it on campus. I wonder if it’s too late to contribute to it somehow… Have I mentioned how much I love the NFB?

on opening the NFB archives

So the National Film Board of Canada has flung open the vault to make many national treasures freely available online. Wow. This is such an amazing set of resources, covering the entire range of Canadian culture. Films that helped define who we are.

Documentaries like Being Caribou. Churchill’s Island. Short films like 23 Skidoo. Art films like 21-87. Animated films like Afterlife.

I will now do my best attempt at channeling The Reverend

One of the crown jewels. Log Driver’s Waltz.

Or, perhaps, Balablok, which still represents tolerance and diversity (and what happens without them) in my mind.


Cat Came Back!

and, of course, The Sweater

The other crown jewel would be *cough* Bambi Meets Godzilla, but that doesn’t appear to be online yet… (but thankfully, there is at least a temporarily available illicit copy on the Tube).

I grew up with the NFB. I love the NFB. And now it’s (at least partially) available online. Gods bless teh intartubes. I could spend days mining this archive, and I probably will…