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The serenity of the place cannot be overemphasized. Visiting this tiny little hamlet on the northeastern edge of Vancouver Island is like traveling back in time to a much slower, perhaps wiser existence. Clapboard cabins built on stilts line both sides of a boardwalk, with flower boxes and lace curtains on the old fashioned windows. The lace features flower patterns, and sometimes at night, black bears come and dig for something right underneath the cabins. Here, one feels much closer to nature than in the urban setting most of us yearn to escape from.

It takes a certain kind of mind to have Natalie Portman--on the eve of her very possible best actress Oscar-win--being portrayed as Ashton Kucher's f**k buddy in No Strings Attached, a light, quasi-romantic comedy offering  just in time for Valentine's Day. The man behind that cinematic portrayal is, of course, Hollywood's master-creator of popular comedies, Ivan Reitman.

There was no one in Oslo to accept the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the winner, Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. Beijing has not only imprisoned him for 11 years, but recently they have taken his wife, and fellow dissident, Liu Xia into custody as well, along with everyone else in his circle of friends and family. China is desperately trying to save face, even though the Nobel Committee has refused that nation’s demands to award the Prize to anybody else, except Liu Xiaobo. In his absence, the Prize was awarded to a very symbolic empty chair.

Ever since it was first published in the 1960s, George Ivanovitch Gurdijeff's autobiographical Meetings With Remarkable Men has been required reading for spiritual seekers the world over. A decade later, a remarkable film was made based on the book, but with its own slant and storyline. I leave it up to the purists and the scholars to argue whether director Peter Brook's adaptation--who collaborated with Jeanne de Salzmann on the screenplay--does justice to its source. What I can safely say, is that the spirit of Gurdijeff permeates both of the works, and they're thus worthy of our undivided attention.

John Patrick Shanley won an Oscar for writing the screenplay of this exploration of contemporary male/female relationships. One of Norman Jewison's better films, Moonstruck features Cher at her best as a widowed bookkeeper who lives in a crazy, Italian-American household. She is engaged to be married to a kindly, but stodgy man, played by Danny Aiello. The colourful vignettes of New York life as played out in the kitchen of the Brooklyn brownstone are worth half the price of admission. Coupled with the sparks that fly between Cher and Nicolas Cage, who plays her fiancée's brother, it gets you the full enchilada. Or else, as the title song goes, "when the moon hits your eye, like a big pizza pie, that's amore."

Given reality TV shows like Sarah Palin's Alaska, the dumbing down of America is progressing rather nicely. That process is actually the theme of She's Out of My League, a Dreamworks produced 2010 movie, that's already out on DVD and Blu-Ray.

Every once in a while a Hollywood movie manages to shine through the fog of formulas, through the mist of cinematic conventions. Such a film is Beyond Rangoon, a Columbia Pictures release of a Castle Rock production (1995), that crosses the often not so fine line between cinema as art and movies as a commercial commodity.

My wife and I quit in 1986, the year of Expo 86. We stopped smoking filtered ones the year before, switching to Drum roll-your-owns. I was happy just smoking ten of these a day, but Wendy smoked about five on the way to the bus in the morning. I knew that if I didn't stop, she never would. So I went cold turkey, and within two months, she quit also. We never looked back!

I'm not much into violence, so today's action pictures leave me cold. I consider it a lucky day when I go into Blockbuster here in Canada and find a romantic comedy that rises above the ordinary. Such a film is Two Weeks Notice.

When the new millennium dawned, our daughter went straight from Jay-Jay the Jet Plane to all things Pokemon. Ash, Brock, and Misty, but most of all Pikachu, Squirtle, Charmander, and Raichu became her new heroes and she couldn’t get enough of the stories, in those days rented on VHS from the video store.

Rosebud Magazine recently had the opportunity to attend the 11th Annual Burnaby Blues & Roots Festival headlined by Taj Mahal and Kenny Wayne Shepherd.

August 14th, was one of the hottest days of the summer and a perfect day for an outdoor concert. While concert goers tried to find bits of shade and a spot under the misting tent, the sweet sounds of the blues filled the air.

When I went to film school in the mid-sixties, there were three undisputed titans in cinema: Fellini, Bergman, and Antonioni.  Mind you, Lucas, Scorsese, and Coppola were still making their student films.  That's why it was so gratifying for me watching the Academy Awards telecast in 1995, when a lifetime achievement Oscar was presented to Michelangelo Antonioni, filmmaker extraordinaire.

"'Tis a gift to be simple, 'tis a gift to be free;" the refrain to this old Shaker song kept circling in my head as I watched Franco Zeffirelli's masterpiece once again, after all these years. Brother Sun, Sister Moon might be called naive by the cynics, but it has the depth of wisdom and the purity of innocence--key ingredients for any kind of rejuvenation. Indeed, as the Bible says, we must become like little children if we hope to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

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