Hegemony at the Oscars

Here’s a link to a piece I wrote about the Oscars for the Decoding Media blog.  If you’re not following their site, you should!


Moonlight Best Pic

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You Remind Me of the Babe…

I blame Timothy Dalton… and David Bowie. Definitely Harrison Ford and Charles Dance and Richard Chamberlain and Leslie Howard. And quite possibly James Spader, though I keep wavering on that one – I’m just not sure if he’s her father or not, so I need to reserve final judgement. But for the others, they were definitely highly influential.

Here’s why:

It was 1984. I was wee – seriously toddler-sized. Completely incapable of reaching up to turn the dial to change the channel (oh, yes, we’re talking about the early ‘80s Zenith tv model). PBS was supposed to be the “safe” channel. Apart from the death of Mr Hooper, it was child-friendly. It was all King Friday and Queen Sarah Saturday and Prince Tuesday and Mathnet. And yet, this was to underestimate the juggernaut in my house that was Masterpiece Theater.  (Though, to be completely honest, Monsterpiece Theater was more of a favourite at the time.)


The first thing my father ever recorded from tv was The Prisoner of Zenda (BBC, 1984 version) and he either didn’t have the Beta-max on loan from his school that week or he and my mother hadn’t realized how absolutely stupendous the thing we were about to watch would be – for whatever the reason, I only remember flashes of the BBC Timothy Dalton version of Jane Eyre: Timothy Dalton sitting by the fire, Pilot at his feet; Timothy Dalton using the ‘old woman voice’ while telling Jane’s fortune; Timothy Dalton/Mr Rochester telling Jane she was to go to Ireland and how that knotted string under his ribs might snap because of the distance between them; young Jane being reprimanded by Mr Brocklehurst about how bad girls go to hell; Rochester/Dalton howling Jane’s name as she ran up the stairs; Bertha launching herself off the burning roof, with Rochester two seconds to late to stop her; the wedding-ceremonius interruptus…

That pretty much cemented the idea in my young, impressionable brain that a truly shippable romance involved torturous restraint, the overcoming of ridiculously cruel obstacles (perhaps with the use of magic or the supernatural), and a healthy age-gap.

Love wasn’t love without a good decade between the protagonists.

Over the years, the possibilities seemed to increase. Rhett Butler was that much older than Scarlett, while Henry Higgins (at last the 1938 Leslie Howard version) had a certain spark with Eliza Doolittle that made him dancing with her at the Ambassador’s Ball that much more special. Dancing, of course, brings up thoughts of Johnny and Baby, while real historical pairings like Cleopatra and Julius Caesar also tended to work well on screen (again, especially if Timothy Dalton was involved in the final casting choice).

This type of pairing, however, is one of those throw-down deal-breakers of pop culture. You’re either on Team A(ge) or Team B(arf). This can change over time, of course. I recently had a nameless dear friend admit to me that Giles had suddenly become so much more appealing than Angel upon re-watching Buffy so many years later. I fully concede, I did a victory dance around the kitchen when she texted that.


Still, if you find the following match-ups more of a squick than a sigh, that’s entirely your right. And I hope you enjoy your time with Justin Bieber.

As for me, on a Valentine’s Day evening like this when it’s bloody freezing outside and a multiple movie-night is already underway, these are the match-ups that make me think of true romance, or at least true shipperdom…

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Review – Gallipoli Ireland

The link to my latest review — RTÉ’s Gallipoli Ireland website, published by Notre Dame’s Breac: A Digital Journal of Irish Studies:


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Worth the nod?

The Golden Globes will start later this evening, and the balloting phase for the Academy Awards has been over for two days.  That gives me a limited window to speculate on who I think will at least get Oscar nods (if not the little man, himself) later this week.

There are a handful of races I have no idea about (hello, Best Actress!) and others where I feel I’m almost overly-emotionally involved (Best Supporting Actor).  To be honest, I really don’t care if Leonardo DiCaprio wins for The Revenant — I thought the anonymous quote that, if he didn’t win, he’d be likely to attach electrodes to a very vulnerable part of the male anatomy was much more amusing telling.

So, as a brief break from grant writing, here are some of my picks for what might happen later this week.  The ones I really care about will be the ones with commentary.

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Why do bridges in Star Wars never have railings?



If you are an architect on Bespin or the Starkiller Base or the original Death Star or, really, anywhere in the galactic leftovers of George Lucas’ imagination, I have a small request: install some frickin’ railings already! Those cavernous abysses you seem so fond of really are not safe for rebel or imperial alike. Someone could get hurt out there! In fact, someone did. Someone plunged to his demise… although, I suppose the lightsaber had already done its dastardly work.

But still, Chewie at least would have had a body to take home to Leia if you draftsmen had just done your health and safety check properly and made Supreme Lord Snoke or Sheev Palpatine or the Grand Moff or whothehellcares pay just a little bit more for a bit of bannister.  There was no funeral at the end of The Force Awakens: no burning pyre or vanishing corpse.  Just a body falling, falling, falling, with no handy garbage slide for someone to fall into, even if he had just lost his hand.

They killed my childhood boyfriend: Han Solo is dead.  Merry Christmas.

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I ♥ Paris

Horrible things have happened tonight in one of my favourite cities.  I was there this past July, having one of the most relaxing and romantic of times — as hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people do in Paris every year.

Over the next few hours and days, the exact picture of what happened tonight at the Bataclan and throughout the city will become more clear, but – for myself – I just need a few images of Paris as I know it and love it.

For me, Paris is Audrey Hepburn.  It’s s’wonderful.  It’s timeless.

Sex and the City Finale

For me, Paris is the target of a thousand annoying Hollywood clichés, but I also kind of love them all, too.

Credit: Travelpod’s Travellingross

For me, Paris is history.  It’s medieval and Napoleonic and Art Deco and classical and has the best gargoyles.  It just does.  Don’t even try to argue.  Best.  Gargoyles.

Café de Flore

For me, Paris is sitting at the Café de Flore in Saint-Germain, having a coffee and a croissant and participating in the city’s favourite sport: people-watching.

And, as I wait for the 9pm headlines, which I’m sure will be very dire and depressing, this is all I want to hear, because it’s just the opposite:

Best scene of the film.  If the news from France is making you low, don’t give in.  You can’t if you’re listening to La Marseillaise.


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If I Picked The Winners… The New Cabinet

Election night two weeks ago was like the Oscars for poli-sci junkies in Canada.  Millions of us stayed up far into the night to see who would win, even though fairly early on in the night, it was kind of obvious which way all of it was going.

Now it’s a reverse situation: we get to guess at who the nominees will be, now that we know who won.  Justin Trudeau will announce his cabinet team on Wednesday, November 4th and, judging from some Tweets coming through my feed and a website or two, there is at least a small crew of us who have been playing the Canadian nerd version of fantasy football with the potential names to fill the jobs.  There’s also a bit of a guessing game in terms of which cabinet positions will still exist on Wednesday, as Justin famously promised to cut down the number of ministers and to have gender parity within his choices.  The ballpark figure now seems to be in the high 20s, perhaps even as many as 30 cabinet members… time will tell.

And so, in the grand tradition of Siskel and Ebert’s “If We Picked the Winners” and office pool fantasy football teams everywhere, I’m going to have a crack at it.  I have no idea how right I may be on some of these.  I want Scotty Brison to be in the cabinet simply because I think he (and his accent) are so wonderfully Canadian.  I can see him hanging out with Sir John A. and D’Arcy McGee and George-Etienne Cartier back at the Charlottetown Conference in 1864 and fitting in just as well then as he does as a notable Liberal face now.

The Charlottetown Conference – 1864 Everyone in this photograph is drunk. We have a country because a Scot and an Irishman crashed the party and got everyone intoxicated… except for George Brown, because he was a killjoy. My vote for best hangover photo ever (PEI’s Andrew Macdonald gives the game away with his jauntily-raised top hat).

So, here we go:

Prime Minister – Justin Trudeau

I am confident that this one will happen.

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