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FilmFest

yowLAB is proud to announce that it has partnered with Ottawa Architecture Week and ByTowne Cinema to launch our fall season with a screening of Last Call at the Gladstone Hotel, followed by a panel discussion.

OAW Film Night Website ImageLast Call at the Gladstone Hotel, directed by Neil Graham and Derreck Roemer, follows the revitalization of Toronto’s century-old Gladstone Hotel from flophouse to arts and music hotspot.

“Shot over five years in a cinema direct style, Last Call at the Gladstone Hotel is an intimate, compelling portrait of the effects of urban renewal upon the poor, exposing a pattern of displacement repeated in urban centers worldwide, and revealing the unintentional roles we often play in the process of gentrification.”

The film screening will be followed by “Inhabiting gentrification” – a panel discussion on urban revitalization, social housing, and the arts scene in Ottawa and their impact on the existing character and characters of neglected heritage neighbourhoods.

Mitchell Kutney Co-founder, JustChange Ottawa / member of Citizens Academy leadership team

Ray Sullivan Executive Director, Centretown Citizen Ottawa Corporation

Rhiannon Vogl Associate Curator of Contemporary Art, National Gallery of Canada

Sarah Gelbard co-director yowLAB / PhD student McGill School of Urban Planning

Laurence Wall (moderator) News Producer, CBC Radio Ottawa


Tuesday, September 30 8:30-10:30pm
$15 Admission
$10 ByTowne members
Advance tickets at ByTowne.ca and Eventbrite

Join the Facebook event page

Welcome to the yowLAB Film Festival discussion for our sixth film, Rear Window by Alfred Hitchcock. Our reviewer this month is yowLAB co-director Sarah Gelbard. Her review/synopsis is included below.

Instructions:

  • If you have not yet watched the film, it is available on iTunes and at OPL.
  • To contribute to the discussion, please feel free to use the comment section following the review.
  • You are also welcome to post links to your own reviews if you prefer to publish on your blog or website. Please make sure to link to this page on your end.
  • We also welcome guest contributions. Please contact us at info.yowlab@gmail.com if you would like to submit a review to be posted to the yowLAB blog.
  • Or tweet your comments @yow_LAB #yowLABFilmFest or on the Facebook event page

We hope you enjoy the film and the discussion. Without further ado. . .

As is to be expected of a Hitchcock classic, the plot of Rear Window has found itself spoofed many times in pop culture. Even if you’ve never seen the film, you’ve probably seen a few dozen tributes without knowing it. The Simpson’s episode “Bart of Darkess” is an especially well recognized one, but I also of course always think of Due South’s Letting Go episode.

Without specifically considering the timing of this month’s selection, I coincidentally found myself caught in my own version of Rear Window – though admitedly far less thrilling. I’ve recently moved from Ottawa to Montreal and was initially quite thrilled that my new apartment looks out on a shared courtyard. With my movers delayed, I’ve found little to do in my empty apartment but look out the window – especially during the couple days without so much as an internet connection for distraction. And to add to the verisimilitude, I pulled a hamstring and while not confined to a wheelchair, I have been limping around the apartment.

IMG_1585BvZuP_HCAAEWErH

With a clear view out onto 35 apartments across the courtyard from where I’m sitting, staring competitions with my cat have been far more entertaining. Nearly all the drapes are drawn with only the occasional blue flickering light of a TV. There hasn’t been any spark with which to let my imagination run wild, to start constructing fantasies about the lives of my neighbours.

The communal courtyard is supposed to be the cure to the inhospitable, dead, urban city block. It should create familiarity and a sense of community with your nearest neighbours. In theory. But there’s a coldness to the unobstructed view across the yard. I also suspect the concept doesn’t scale up well to accomodate the 100s of apartments and 7-12 storey buildings surrounding my particular yard. But at the same time, no one could accuse my new neighbourhood of being dead – a little slummy maybe. So what exactly is the courtyard attempting to “cure”.

I was also disappointed to discover that when the sales rep assured me that I would have access to the courtyard as a tenant, what he meant was there is a self-locking emergency exit into the courtyard but no way back in. Well of course it’s going to be a dead space if tenants can’t truly access it. The development’s desire to be inward looking instead of participating in the street life of the larger neighbourhood is pretty apparent in the fact that all street level access to the courtyard is also gated and locked. I suspect the developers were hoping for a faster turn around on the gentrifying effect.

I keep wondering how I would re-write one line from the film:

We’ve become a race of peeping Toms. What people aught to do is get outside their own house and look in for a change.

We certainly still are a race of peeping Toms. Though we now achieve it through our tv’s, computers, and smartphones. Perhaps what we aught to do is get outside our digital homes and connect with the people and spaces on our block.

Care to share stories and observations about what you see out your rear window?

#yowLABFilmFest goes fiction for the summer.* The third of our three selections for the season is:

Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window
Online review: to be posted Aug 21

A wheelchair bound photographer spies on his neighbours from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder.

*as a distributed film festival, the idea is to watch the film on your own (or with friends) before the posted date. Details for shared online reviews and dialogue will be posted here soon. The posted date also coincides with the next yowLAB PubNight for those who want to discuss in person.

DVD are available from:

Ottawa Public Library 
London Public Library

Online rentals available from:

iTunes
YouTube
Google Play

Special announcement about our Fall lineup coming soon!

Welcome to the yowLAB Film Festival discussion for our fifth film, Synecdoche, NY, written and directed by Charlie Kaufman. Our reviewer this month is yowLAB co-director Sarah Gelbard. Her review/synopsis is included below.

Instructions:

  • If you have not yet watched the film, it is available on iTunes and at OPL.
  • To contribute to the discussion, please feel free to use the comment section following the review.
  • You are also welcome to post links to your own reviews if you prefer to publish on your blog or website. Please make sure to link to this page on your end.
  • We also welcome guest contributions. Please contact us at info.yowlab@gmail.com if you would like to submit a review to be posted to the yowLAB blog.
  • Or tweet your comments @yow_LAB #yowLABFilmFest

We hope you enjoy the film and the discussion. Without further ado. . .

Synecdoche, NY not to be confused with Schenectady, NY – or perhaps it is meant to be.

A synecdoche (/sɪˈnɛkdək/, si-NEK-də-kee; from Greek synekdoche (συνεκδοχή), meaning “simultaneous understanding”) is a figure of speech[1][2] in which a term for a part of something refers to the whole of something, or vice versa.

Wikipedia

I briefly discussed this film with a few different people this past week. Everyone had roughly the same first comment: “It’s a really great movie but it does drag on a bit.” I hadn’t gotten around to rewatching it yet to write the review but I remembered that was my feeling when I first watched it shortly after it came out in 2008. I was completely blown away and enthralled and confused and distracted, and like being on a road trip, the thought “are we there yet” kept popping up in my head. Finally, I broke. I paused the movie, thinking it must be almost over, only to find out there was still another 20-30 minutes left.

And even with everyone’s warnings and my own memories of the experience, last night as I watched the movie, I hit my breaking point and had to check to see how much longer was left. Once again it was at about 20-30 minutes from the end. I don’t know if it was a self-conscious cue or not but it came just after the line:

I’m aching for it to be over.
The end is built into the beginning.

It’s just one of many examples where it feels like the movie is interrupted to talk to you, the viewer. You’re sucked in to the crazy and disoriented layers of the play within the play. As annoying as it is to feel the movie drag on, it somehow feels like that is what brings you into it the more it makes you want to get away. You empathize with the actor who asks:

When are we going to get an audience in here? It’s been 17 years.

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#yowLABFilmFest goes fiction for the summer.* The second of our three selections for the season is:

Synecdoche, New York
Online review: to be posted July 17



“A theatre director struggles with his work, and the women in his life, as he creates a life-size replica of New York City inside a warehouse as part of his new play.”

*as a distributed film festival, the idea is to watch the film on your own (or with friends) before the posted date. Details for shared online reviews and dialogue will be posted here soon. The posted date also coincides with the next yowLAB PubNight for those who want to discuss in person.

Copies of the DVD are available at

the Ottawa Public Library
http://ottawa.bibliocommons.com/item/show/445490026_synecdoche,_new_york

the London Public Library
http://encore.londonpubliclibrary.ca/iii/encore/record/C__Rb1648994__Ssynecdoche__Orightresult__X6;jsessionid=F4A59AF478D1C8D97DE2139A4B83DF37?lang=eng&suite=beta

iTunes rental
https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/synecdoche-new-york/id489052696?at=10l9IP&ct=RT&uo=5

Welcome to the yowLAB Film Festival discussion for our fourth film, Before Sunrise, directed by Richard Linklater. Our reviewer this month is Siu Hong Yu. His review/synopsis is included below.

Instructions:

  • If you have not yet watched the film, it is available for online rental on YouTube.
  • To contribute to the discussion, please feel free to use the comment section following the review.
  • You are also welcome to post links to your own reviews if you prefer to publish on your blog or website. Please make sure to link to this page on your end.
  • We also welcome guest contributions. Please contact us at info.yowlab@gmail.com if you would like to submit a review to be posted to the yowLAB blog.
  • Or tweet your comments @yow_LAB #yowLABFilmFest

We hope you enjoy the film and the discussion. Without further ado. . .

I fully enjoyed the last two documentaries featured at the yowLAB FilmFest but was wondering, hey, what about exploring what makes cities click through works of fiction? Maybe it would bring in a different audience. As it turned out, Sarah Gelbard, one of the co-directors of yowLAB, got that all figured out and was just looking for movie recommendations. So here it is, the first one that popped in my head. From condo shopping to city planning, walkability seems to be all the rage these days so why not spice it up with the possibility of finding your soulmate in the process. Bon spectacle!

A chance encounter between two strangers in a foreign city. They walk around, talk, fall in love, kiss and talk some more. Tonight is the only night and when the morning comes, the two go their separate ways, changed.

No, you won’t get any tree-hopping vampires nor old houses to restore here but what “drama” Before Sunrise may lack, it more than recoups with its heartfelt, timeless dialogues and genuine chemistry between our chatty young lovers Celine and Jesse, played by Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke.

Through their conversations on life, death, religion, feminism and of course, relationship and love, Jesse and Celine journey through their first date while taking us on a walking tour of Vienna. From the almost-kissing scene (above) inside a record store listening booth to the confessional faux-telephone calls (below) in Café Sperl, you know in your heart of hearts, this can’t just be a one night stand. They belong to each other!

By mapping out the location sequence, one may be disappointed that it is highly unlikely for the couple to hit all the spots in real life given the time frame. The Cemetery of the Nameless, for one, is practically in a suburb. Deep down, I think part of the allure of this impromptu romantic side trip is the carefree nature of a stroll where parks, bars, café‎s and grand museums are all within walking distance.

And then, on a makeshift bench out of a pile of pallets down a hidden alleyway, Celine ponders about what brings out the magic between two people. The answer lies not in the certainty but the attempt of understanding someone, of sharing something. Is it too much of a stretch to suggest the same goes with the messy business of urban planning?

Walkable cities are sexy.

 

Sources:

http://cursedpoet.net/travelogue/before-sunrise-movie-tour/

http://surprisetours.at/1477/before-sunrise-film-tour-vienna/

http://www.movie-locations.com/movies/b/BeforeSunrise.html#club

Welcome to the yowLAB Film Festival discussion for our third film, Urbanized., directed by Gary Hustwit. Our reviewer this month is yowLAB co-director Sarah Gelbard. Her review/synopsis is included below.

Instructions: 

  • If you have not yet watched the film, the Ottawa Public Library has several copies, it is also available for online rental on cinemanow and distrify.
  • To contribute to the discussion, please feel free to use the comment section following the review.
  • You are also welcome to post links to your own reviews if you prefer to publish on your blog or website. Please make sure to link to this page on your end.
  • We also welcome guest contributions. Please contact us at info.yowlab@gmail.com if you would like to submit a review to be posted to the yowLAB blog.
  • Or tweet your comments @yow_LAB #yowLABFilmFest

We hope you enjoy the film and the discussion. Without further ado. . .

Urbanized.

I often recommend this documentary to people as a great intro to contemporary urban issues. It is accessible and interesting to a broad audience with or without expertise in urbanism, planning, architecture, or design. As can be expected of any survey, Urbanized does not delve deeply into any of the issues it raises but still manages to not be overly superficial. Though critical at times, the overall tone is about being inspirational and hopeful.

I’m not normally one to yell at my tv, but the first time I saw Urbanized I found myself cheering for the mayor of Bogotá, Enrique Peñalosa. Of course a citizen on a $30 bike is as important to a city as someone in a $30k car. Of course a bus with 100 passengers should be entitled to 100 times more space and resources as a single-passenger car. Or applauding when Jan Gehl who tells us “A good city is like a good party.” Or laughing when Ellen Dunham-Jones compares sprawl to pornography.

The closing speech of the film wraps up the very human message about cities:

We’re on the cusp of dramatic set of forces coming together. Fundamentally as a species, we need things that can power our imaginations, that can get our passions going, and give us a sense of meaning. And that is not a brick. It is not a pipe. It is an idea. That’s what drives cities forward.

– Edgar Pieterse, director African Centre for Cities

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