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Saturday, February 23, 2002

One of life's great blessings is finding joy in unexpected places. That describes not only the pleasure of seeing a charming film like Amélie, but also the quality that makes that movie so special. It's an imaginative movie, and it celebrates the human imagination, and our capacity come up with new ways to look at the way we fit into the world.

It's a movie about life's little miracles. Some of them happen to us, but we have to be ready for them and willing to follow where they take us. We ourselves make some of these miracles happen, but we need the vision to see possibilities and the courage to carry them out. In the Paris of this film, we see the thread of human lives, and the connections that bring people together. The smallest tweaking of the flow of events can have unexpected and surprising consequences.

It's also the story of a girl. She's lonely and shy, and she has to work at overcoming her own isolation even while she's dedicated to changing the lives of the people she knows. She shows that a person can be timid and irrepressible at the same time, that she can help others become happier without knowing how to help herself.

This is a fantasy that you want so much to believe in that you lose yourself in Amélie's world, where creatively nudging someone to be better or happier is all you need to do to make it so. She sees her friends' lives the way they should be, and invents the means to make it happen. She finds ways to make people want to improve their own situations, without their even knowing that she's messing with them. She penetrates the walls people put up around themselves, even though she can't quite break through her own wall.

Most of all this is a very funny movie, with some transcendent moments that make your heart soar with what they reveal about the untapped promise of humanity. Hours later, I'm still smiling.

I was surprised when Mom said she wouldn't mind going to the Rialto with me today to see Amélie. Usually, because of her eyesight problems, she won't even bother trying to watch a movie that's subtitled. It's been hard for her to focus quickly enough to keep up, and you never know what quality the subtitles will be. Some are a lot easier to read than others, even for those of us with the eyes of an eagle. (Okay, that's a sick joke, because my vision has deteriorated so much that I have an appointment for an eye exam next month.)

Watching a subtitled comedy in a crowded theater out here in the provinces is a different experience. For one thing, you can tell who the fast readers are. More importantly, the dialog isn't drowned by audience chatter. All you have to worry about is someone walking in front of you.

I've seen a few French movies, and I know just enough of the language to know when liberties are being taken in the subtitles. But I can also appreciate when literal translation gives way to keeping the spirit and flow of the dialog. The audience at the showing today got into the rhythm of laughter early, and it added to the enjoyment of everyone in a way you don't get when you see a movie at home on video.

pink clouds

Pink clouds.

Everything I know about curling (last time, I almost promise) I learned from Don and Don. With all the decisions NBC had to make about their coverage of the Olympics, they struck gold when they picked Don Chevrier and Don Duguid as their curling announcers. Not only did they teach me the basics of the game, but they also gave me a sense of how to enjoy it.

It's a friendly game played with intensity but without animosity. It ends with a handshake (and usually a drink). And it's incredibly well-suited to television, so its popularity in Canada as both spectator and participant sport is no surprise.

I just wish I had some hope of seeing more curling before the next Olympics. You'd think with 50 satellite sports channels, one of them would be the Curling Network. I checked out the upcoming schedule on Fox Sports World, but apparently "world" in this case means European soccer and Australian football, with an occasional rugby match and, once or twice a year, cricket highlights. It's almost enough to make me want to move to Canada.

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Latest recommendation:

Michael, Baker Street, February 23, Sex

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Keeping Up Appearances
"They tell us a lot of things, and they're often wrong."

Two years ago: Here's to the Winners
"They didn't all win, but they're all winners."

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Over bridge of sighs
To rest my eyes in shades of green