“Blackfish” will break your heart…

Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Producer: Manny Oteyza

There is something heartbreaking about seeing a grown man cry…

I think it validates the despair of a situation more so than if you were to see a teenage girl cry about the same thing. In Blackfish, a documentary by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, you see many grown men cry. The motivating incident that led to the making of this documentary is the death of a Seaworld trainer in Orlando Florida in 2010.  Unsure that this incident was the fault of the trainer, Gabriela sought to see if she could discover the truth. And she did.

It’s funny how magical things can be when you’re a child. And when you grow up, these magical things become real, and sometimes reality isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I remember going to Seaworld as a child and becoming mesmerized by the whale and dolphin shows. I wanted to be the trainers who got to swim with the whales and feed them fish. After the first Seaworld visit with my family, at the age of six, I remember telling my dad that I was going to be a marine biologist. That determination stuck with me all the way through university. But along the way I realized two things. First, you didn’t need a degree to be a whale trainer and second, holding these animals in captivity is the farthest thing from respecting and nurturing nature. And the Seaworld that seemed so magical when I was younger? Is just another big corporation out for profits.

Watching the first part of the documentary, I realized my story was pretty common. The former Seaworld whale trainers all started because they too went to Seaworld and saw the magic in training whales and dolphins. However, not many of them recognized the cruelty in keeping these beloved animals in captivity. They were told that what they were doing was a good for the animals and these whales were better off in captivity than in the wild. The various “facts” they were told were lies to assure their employees did not question otherwise.

This documentary follows the story of Tilikum, the whale who has killed and injured many people. It starts at the beginning, when he was captured and taken away from his pod. One of the fishermen who was involved in this event realized half way through the capture that something was wrong. It wasn’t like any other fishing or hunting trip. When he saw the rest of Tilikum’s pod swimming around the boat, crying out, he realized that he was kidnapping a baby from its’ mother…and in his words, “one of the worst things I ever did.”

From then, Tilikum’s story continues down a tragic path. From abuse of other whales in captivity to being locked in a box day in and day out, this beautiful whale has turned into a monster for many trainers. Unfortunately, Seaworld values the profits Tilikum brings over the lives of their trainers. It’s not the shows that bring in the profits, it’s Tilikum’s baby making abilities. He’s valuable as long as he can procreate.

There is something seriously wrong with the world when we can’t even recognize the damage we are causing in exchange for fun and entertainment.

A petition is going around to save Tilikum. If you have a few minutes, please sign it!

For more information on the film and where you can catch it, please click here.

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Why “Blue Valentine” is so Blue…

Director: Derek Cianfrance
Writers: Derek Cianfrance, Joey Curtis, Cami Delavigne
Stars: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams

I have a love/hate relationship with this movie. It’s been about two months since I watched this and the emotions I felt are still haunting me to this day. I think I went through the typical stages of “grief.” First I was angry, then I was in denial…and maybe now I’m in acceptance.

The trailer does a good job showing you the sweet and carefree relationship of Dean and Cindy (Gosling and Williams). The film does a good job paralleling this sweet relationship with the one they have about five years down the road. Not sweet and not carefree. I wouldn’t even describe their relationship as “routine” or “boring.” More like poison.

As I was watching this film, I couldn’t understand how two people, who were saviours for each other at one point, could end up so harmful to each other. Love was replaced by anger, resentment, and guilt. I’m still not sure who had what between the two. It was a little ambiguous in terms of why Dean and Cindy’s relationship went south. And I think that’s what bothered me the most. I was their cheerleader. And a part of me wanted to figure out the problem and fix it so that they could be happy again. The fact that there was so resolution in this sense bothered me a lot!

I think both Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling did an amazing job as Cindy and Dean. Their performance felt so real and raw. You could debate who was the most hurtful person in the relationship but in the end, both characters had a relatable vulnerability that makes it really hard to pick out the bad guy. I just wanted things to get better and instead it got worse.

When I was ranting to a coworker about this, she asked me if I was upset with this film because I was scared it might happen to me…

Maybe.

I don’t understand how it could ever happen to me but I feel like Dean and Cindy probably never thought it would happen to them. I think it’s the unknown that’s a little scary in relationships. And we could get as much advice from other couples, counsellors, and books but who can ever be sure?

Where to watch: Netflix

 

“Life of Pi”-Ang Lee

I’m definitely way behind on watching all the Oscar films this year..but honestly, when you’re working in the film and TV industry, you really don’t have time to actually watch any films or TV..ironic! Anyway, I had the chance last weekend to watch Life of Pi. I read the book a few years ago and loved it. Well, to be honest, I loved it when I finished the book, I didn’t really love it while reading the book. If it wasn’t for a friend who told me to keep trucking through the book, I might have given up on it in the middle. I have to say that this is one scenario where both book and movie were amazing!

In short, Life of Pi is a adventure story about a young man named Pi Patel, who survives a shipwreck in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. As a cast away, he deals with the elements of the sea and learns how to survive but is thrown one unexpected hurdle, a bengali tiger named Richard Parker. In the end they bond and Pi realizes that trying to keep Richard Parker alive was what made him stay strong and not give up.

The book definitely had more of an ambiguous and interpretative ending. I remember being a little distraught because I wanted to know the real ending and I didn’t want to decide for myself. I mean, how can you really? The version where Pi survived life at sea with a tiger seemed implausible but amazing and touching. The other ending, where all his “animals” were other survivors of the ship, including his mother, was more plausible but…gritty. I definitely noticed a significant change in my emotions when thinking about one scenario versus the other. Because, at one point in the end, you realize that the fantasy adventure story you have been reading has suddenly become a heartbreaking drama.

The movie, implied the ambiguity but also led you to conclude which version of the story was more true. It posed the question, if you were to pick which record of the story you liked the best, which one would it be? The answer? The one with the tiger. I would pick the one with the tiger too! The more plausible option was just a bit too heavy for me.

For me, this is where this movie went from a level 1 single teardrop status to level 4 secret epileptic. Pi recounts the end of his adventure when he finally gets washed up onto a beach and is saved. But as he is lying in the sand, Richard Parker, slowly limps away into the jungle. He never looks back.  The tiger never looked back to signify their journey has ended and commemorate the adventure between Pi and himself. Of course he wouldn’t look back, he’s a tiger! But to Pi, it was more hurtful than being lost out in sea. This was the line that really made me cry:

Pi Patel: I suppose in the end, the whole of life becomes an act of letting go, but what always hurts the most is not taking a moment to say goodbye.

It wasn’t just not being able to say goodbye to Richard Parker, Pi never had a chance to say goodbye to his dad, who died in the shipwreck. This I can totally relate to. Well, my dad didn’t die in the shipwreck but he did pass in a very unexpected and surprising way. And when people pass unexpectedly, how can you plan to say your goodbyes? It would be kind of pessimistic and cynical to go around everyday telling the people you love, goodbye. So, I think in the end, for me, appreciation is key. Compliments are never too numerous and gratitude is never too unfitting. And, even when an argument begins to launch, at any point, you can say it’s not worth it and just say sorry. 

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