Friday, October 13, 2006

Movie Review - Mount Pleasant

The 25th Vancouver International Film Festival, held in Vancouver this year from September 28th to October 13, had numerous Canadian films (99% of which I could not see because of work commitments). But I did make time to see Mount Pleasant, for three main reasons:

a) The movie stars Kelly Rowan, one of my favourite actresses, who happens to be Canadian too. Kelly likes to support Canadian film, as shown in this interview with The Vancouver Sun. For those of you who don't know who she is, here is her Wikipedia biography.

b) The movie is set in Vancouver in my neighbourhood, Mount Pleasant.

c) It is perhaps the first movie I have seen where I can actually relate entirely to what is being depicted in the film.

d) It is directed by brilliant UBC alumnus Ross Weber, who also happens to live in the neighbourhood.

So, on to the movie review. A few other blogs have also published a review of the film, so I'll make my review more focused on why the film struck home with me. Beyond Robson, a very good local Vancouver blog published a really nice and thoughtful review, although I have to say that I did not hate every character. I felt sorry for Nadia and for Sarah. However, I did hate Megan.

The film is set in the neighbourhood of Mount Pleasant, in Vancouver (present day), and the lives of two families collide with those of a lost soul, leaving a big mess. Nadia, a young under-age prostitute who lives with her pimp Nick, and works the streets of Mount Pleasant, is picked up by Stephen, who is a real estate agent. He is in an unhappy marriage to Anne, and they live in (apparently, I can't recall properly) Kerrisdale (or Shaughnessy), one of the affluent neighbourhoods. Doug and Sarah (whose boss is Anne) have just moved into Mount Pleasant with their six year old daughter, who pricks herself with a used hypodermic needle. This single event triggers an outrage by Doug, who is upset at the poor conditions of the neighbourhood, including drug addiction, prostitution, etc.

The movie does a superb job of depicting the state of the neighbourhood, and the complicated and intricate relationships of these individuals. It is a superb movie, and it struck home with me. As an example, 'Nadia' was "picking up" at the bus stop on the corner of 19th Avenue and Fraser Street, where I often have taken the bus to go either to South Fraser or Downtown. Seeing the neighbourhood where one lives in a cinematic fashion is really eery. I had an opportunity to talk briefly with Camille Sullivan (Sarah) and Ross Weber, the director. The question/answer period after the October 11th showing at Granville Seven was really good.

I hope they release Mount Pleasant on video so that I can show it to my parents and friends. Kudos to Ross Weber and the cast of Mount Pleasant for a job well-done.

On the sociological and urban development side, the movie does depict reality but I am hopeful that the gentrification process will reach this area soon. It is not a bad neighbourhood, it just needs some cleaning up.

Restaurant review: Nirvana

For those of you lovers of Indian food, Nirvana is *the* place. That is, of course, if you live nowhere near 49th Avenue and you do not want to go to the area of Vancouver known as "Little India". Since I love eating near my stomping grounds, I decided to go to Nirvana to meet a colleague and friend for dinner. My friend actually treated me to dinner, and while we were discussing a lot of issues and things that needed to be talked about, I recognise that the service was REALLY SLOW. The food is, however, superb.

Their dishes to share are to die for, particularly their chicken masala. The prices are a bit high for the amount of food that you get, but it's not unaffordable. I would not recommend this restaurant for a quick, cheap eat because it is neither cheap nor the service is quick. But the atmosphere and the food itself make up for a lot.

And you can't beat the location in Mount Pleasant: literally corner of 7th Avenue, Main and Kingsway (where all three streets intersect). Right besides the vegetarian restaurant "The Foundation", Nirvana is worth the trip if you are into good Indian food and are not in a rush to get anywhere. Beware, you might become addicted to Indian food!

Restaurant review: Crave on Main

As a result of the post-birthday season outings, I have been to several restaurants within the past few weeks. That, and the fact that I'm super busy has delayed my reviews. So, I'm slowly trying to catch up. I am sure that as I type more reviews I'll discover that I missed a few of the places I've tried lately.

On to the topic of this review: Crave on Main, whose website looks as sophisticated as the place itself. For anyone who lives near the Main St. area (what many people call SoMa or South Main) - still part of Mount Pleasant, the choice of restaurants is overwhelming. But in the stretch from 20th Avenue to King Edward, Crave does stand out. It has a cute patio and another patio inside the actual restaurant.

Mom and I walked by Crave just about every day while she visited Vancouver this summer, and we never got around to eating there. However, one of my best friends and I went for brunch there a few weeks ago. I had a smoothie and she had scrambled eggs with bacon and toast. Arguably, the smoothie was one of the best I've had, while my friend said these were top-notch scrambled eggs. The service was a bit slow, as the place is quite popular. We haven't been there for dinner, but the brunch menu rocks, and the prices are quite reasonable, particularly for student budgets!

I will definitely come back to Crave on Main repeatedly, not only because it is near where I live but also because it is a fun and tasty place.

ADDENDUM - October 14th, 2006.

I went to Crave on Main again this weekend, this time with another good friend of mine. I was (quite obviously) a bit worried about whether we would be taken care of quickly. Well, I can't say anything but pure praise to the staff of Crave. The service was TOP NOTCH. As in, unbelievable. There were times when three waitresses would be coming by to make sure that we were doing ok with water, coffee, etc. Our dishes took (I'm not kidding) seven minutes to make, and the food was superb. Recommended brunch item: Eggs your way with mediterranean turkey sausage with white toast. The server who was in charge of our table even came to the door to say goodbye with a smile :) -- ok, now THAT is what I call impressive!

UPDATE - September 30, 2007. I decided to try to link to UrbanSpoon and thus here is their code. Here's hoping they'll link to my other restaurant reviews!

Crave in Vancouver

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Kindness in Vancouver - not so much of a lost art

Today I had to go Downtown to run a couple of errands (despite not feeling terribly well) and I ended up stopping at a Burger King (Granville and Robson) for a bite to eat. This area (Granville Street at night) can be very depressing with all the homelessness, the peddlers, etc. (Sorry, it's the truth!)... Anyway, as I was eating my burger (which, might I add, was really tasty), I noticed a young girl eating all by herself in the neighbouring table. She had, quite obviously, finished eating quite a long time ago, and was there just gathering her thoughts (or at least so I thought).

She might have been my niece's age (16) or perhaps a bit older. But she was definitely distraught. So the young woman who sweeps the floors approached her and asked her if she was alright. The young lady in purple (I think she was wearing purple) said she had missed her bus connection and that she needed to make a phone call. As she was speaking, tears started to well her eyes and she lost her composure for a couple minutes. The young lady sweeper kindly offered to find some way to give her a ride, although the girl said that she could call her Mom or Dad to pick her up. She was definitely not feeling well, and I felt really guilty for not helping more (although I did approach her and talked to her to ask whether she was ok and needed help).

At any rate, what really struck me was the compassion and sincerity of the young lady sweeper. She said "whatever you need, let me know and we'll help you". And she meant it. In a city that has been criticized for its lack of spirit and for being cold and closed, I was simply awestruck. This young lady who sweeps floors at BK was offering as much help as she could and being sweet and sensitive to the needs of the distraught young girl. Things like this warm my heart and remind me that, in spite of Vancouver's "cold" society, there are still many people out there who are willing to give a helping hand. Annonymous heroes who live their lives unsung. Here is to praise a quiet hero. I hope the young distressed lady got home safe. I'll have to check this week with the young lady sweeper. And perhaps bring her a token of appreciation. She really did brighten my day.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Charlie's Angels Reunited - Emmys 2006

Kate Jackson, Farrah Fawcett and Jaclyn Smith... the three women we all know to be Charlie's Angels ... 30 years later, they still look stunning...