As is often the case, it’s not whatcha know as much as it’s whoya know… and, in this case, it means I was invited, again, to participate in The Toronto Star‘s Peter Howell‘s annual pre-TIFF feature called Chasing The Buzz, wherein li’l film-loving bloggers like me get to throw our 2¢ into the pot along with the pocket change from professional film columnists and reviewers, critics and professors, festival programmers and assorted muckety-mucks (Hello, Piers). What’s in the pot, you ask? Well, Pete wants us to explain–in a single sentence (although a garrulous few get away with more)–which three films we are most excited about seeing at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Take Shelter, dir. Jeff Nichols

Jeff Nichols wrote and directed one of my happiest discoveries of the past year, Shotgun Stories (2007), which also features the star of Take Shelter, the estimable Michael Shannon. (Okay, full disclosure: I have an extreme case of the h-h-hots for Mr. Shannon. Fair ’nuff?  In fact, Shotgun Stories may have been the Shannon performance that hooked me. You might know him best as Agent Van Alden Awesome in HBO‘s “Boardwalk Empire”.)  It is a quiet but devastating little film about a feuding family that I highly recommend–the writing and performances are beautiful.

It is on the basis of Shotgun Stories that I am keen to see Take Shelter.  Again written by Nichols, it is the story of Curtis–a young husband and father and a crew chief for a mining company in the American Midwest–who may or may not be taking a frightening trip around the proverbial bend.  I expect it will be up to the viewer to decide which is the case… as Curtis struggles to understand the same thing onscreen.   Continue reading


7 Dumpsters, A Corpse, 4 Protagonists, and a Typeface


My interest in semiotics–or the study of signs and their meanings–is what drew me to Helvetica.

It is interesting to me to learn just what I am conveying (consciously or not) when I choose to use the typeface Helvetica. Which I’m doing right now, in case you didn’t realize (your fugbox may not be set up to display it that way but, hey, I’ve done my part)…

But there seems to be some disagreement about just what meaning is couched in Helvetica’s firm verticals, smooth curves, and the white spaces between them.

Many of the world’s top graphic designers are interviewed by American director Gary Hustwit on the subject and opinions about this particular sans serif typeface run the gamut from giddy love to sneering hate. Some suggest that its simplicity and clean lines suggest universality, unity, openness, and humanity while others turn up their noses and declare it utterly bereft of meaning because of that same simplicity and clean lines. Lots of opinions are expressed–some with considerable emotion–but none takes precedence. What is notable about this film to me is how fascinating, articulate, and witty these designers are. Their enthusiasm is palpable and I have to marvel at how entertaining this little film about a font is.

And I’ll bet that if you look up from your computer screen right now and gaze around you, you’ll find Helvetica all over the place.   Continue reading