Some law school purists may have questioned my insistence that films can be an amazing study guide. Well, maybe now film purists can find out the same. Lawyerlike, meet IMDb!
The Hit List links here, but I've also explored this theme before, comparing first year exams to Die Hard, second year exams to the various expressions on Eastwood's face throughout the Man With No Name Trilogy (read: uniformly tough), or generally describing the law school experience as a reflection of the Hogwarts experience.
Of course, I could have compared that time I solved the mystery of the assassinated Supreme Court Judges to The Pelican Brief, but that would have been totally obvious.
Friday, April 27, 2007
Some law school purists may have questioned my insistence that films can be an amazing study guide. Well, maybe now film purists can find out the same. Lawyerlike, meet IMDb!
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
I'm graduating from law school this week, but more importantly, this is the end of 7 straight years of post-secondary school for myself. Unlike many of my friends in law, I went straight through: from high school to undergrad to law. I don't think there's any distinct advantage or disadvantage to doing so, the only practical difference being which generation of Law & Order cast members we identify with.
It's not lost on me that the end of my 7-year journey corresponds nicely with that of another schoolboy. I think you know who I'm talking about: we've both studied in ancient English castles, we both speak dying languages (my French to Harry's Snake-tongue) and we both narrowly survived the fatal curse of an ancient dark lord - oh, have I not mentioned that on this blog before?
Of course, I'm don't share an entirely similar situation with that of an entirely fictitious British adolescent. I have degrees in English, Economics and Law, whereas the extent of Harry Potter's education ends at grade 5, just after long division but far before algebra or basic world history. Harry is British whereas I can only fake my Cockney accent (but fairly well, I might add). And Harry prefers harsh, magical retribution, while I have a tendency to over-prescribe criminal punishments on exam questions. (Maybe that last one isn't really so different.)
Nevertheless, it's the similarities which allow me to speculate on what will happen at the end of Harry's Hogwarts career. Many people think he will die, just as people suppose that law students will kill off any last vestiges of childlike wonderment for a lifetime of hard-nosed (no pun intended, Voldemort) frugality.
No, and - although I won't be vindicated until the July release of the last novel - it's my firm belief that Harry will graduate and come to several key realizations: this magic nonsense does not hold up in court, and a simple charge of attempted murder is far more industrious than brewing any number of fakakta spells to, what, kill an old bald dude? Trust me, there's an easier way to battle guys in robes - it's called the legal system.
Monday, April 23, 2007
I realize some readers of this site may be just entering law, and thinking ahead to the next few years. If the notion of first year isn't daunting enough, there are still two more long years ahead. So, to help make sense of it all, I've compiled this, one of my last pieces of wisdom on law school, in the only form I know how: tenuous, filmic comparisons.
If First Year Law were a movie, it would be:
Apt title aside, the key theme here is, "what the hell is going on?" Whether or not you're honest enough to admit it, no one knew what happened the first time they watched this movie. In fact, you could swap Henry Czerny's first appearance in the restaurant in Prague with a lecture on real property liens and you'd be none the wiser.
Like the movie, there's definitely a sense of progression to be felt, but without a whole lot of context. And the relatively late emergence of Jon Voigt as villain has the same surprise as 100% final exams. True to the movie, by the end of it all, things are moving really fast and you're likely to witness some explosions.
If Second Year Law were a movie, it would be:
Just like Tony Montana, second year is all about rising to the top. You're likely to find yourself propelled by a strong boost in confidence, which is good, because there are serious employment opportunities on the line. But just like Tony's insistence on surveillance, there's also an overwhelming sense of insecurity.
You've made it through so far by relying on your peers - the Manny Riberas of graduate study if you will - but you have to wonder, are they stealing from you? And do not get high on your own supply of CANs. Share them. (I'm not going to attempt a metaphor for the whole Tony/Gina brother/sister love thing, that still weirds me out in the film.)
If Third Year Law were a movie, it would be:
The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Extended Director's Cut)
Just throw the damn ring in the volcano already! Face it, you never read the books, but you still want to see how it all ends. Do you realize that at over 3 hours into the movie, Sam and Frodo are still what looks to be 100 miles away from Mount Doom? That persistent sense of far-offishness is what characterizes this year, a concept underscored by the arguable overuse of slow motion shots during the film's denouement.
And that irrepressible Gollum? Why, he's either that nagging truth that you don't have a law job, or that inescapable worry that you somehow might not get hired back after your articling year.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Three exams done, one to go. I know what you're wondering: if my courses were a movie (specifically, the best lawyer movie of all time) then how would my experiences with each final exam correspond to scenes from said movie? I'll tell you.
This one's tough to gauge. It's a paper course, and I've handed in my essay, which I feel strongly about - but there's no real advance measure of how well I've done. So a scene about driving through Guantanamo Bay as the particular focus of trained enemy snipers seemed appropriately descriptive.
In a word, confidence. If you recall, in this scene, Cruise bluffs his opposing counsel into submission by boasting an extensive knowledge of pre-trial procedures and evidentiary motions that can delay a trial seemingly indefinitely: damn if that isn't exactly what I did on this test.
International Trade Law:
I want the truth, if the truth is an A on an exam I'm pretty sure I killed. Self-assuredness is no guarantee, however. Being wrong for Tom Cruise meant treason and death - for law students, being wrong has no effect on the credits you earn. Literally, you cannot flunk out of law school. Seriously.
Since I haven't written this one yet, and it scares the hell out of me, this is my best guess.
Friday, March 16, 2007
I consider it a funny coincidence that last night I saw 300 and today witnessed the annual law school trike race. I think I might be forgiven for confusing the two.
As history tells it, the Spartans wedged themselves into a tight rocky passage called the "Hot Gates" in order to use their small numbers as an advantage.
We used a 50 metre stretch of the East Mall outside the law building, but the opportunity for slaughter by waterballoon was still there.
Of course, only one of the events had political undertones and male nudity, two things which, absent, make for better law school events all around.
The natural question is, which warrior do you want as your counsel in court? I might have to give the edge to the Spartans here. Objection! Your! Honour!
Saturday, March 03, 2007
The other day I was chatting with a friend about favourite law school courses. I always go back to Evidence, because it represents the things I liked about law school in the first place (the procedure but also the gritty details), and it's also the place where law and order meet - another confluence unofficially explaining why I'm in law.
I think it also explains why I liked this Zodiac movie so much. While watching it last night, I thought it might have just as easily been called, Evidence: The Movie. Full of talk about circumstantial evidence, the inherent problems in photo lineups, the general unreliability of witness statements over time and more of the stuff that made up my 8:30 a.m. on Monday class (a time that almost relegated this course to least favourite).
It's also a pretty amazing-looking film, with some nifty shots of the Bay Area - directorial flourishes guaranteed not to disappoint Fight Club fans. And while I like Evidence a lot, don't get me confused with the guy in this headline:
Jurisprudence fetishist gets off on technicality.
Friday, February 16, 2007
I'm beginning to have a greater understanding of why this film production is taking place at my law school. We often get a lot of people in the building looking for free legal advice, so it's obvious that the characters in this Passengers movie leave the plane crash and think, maybe there's a tort in here somewhere.
I can see how a lawsuit might have come out of this.
Stranger still, all those people standing were in wheelchairs before the crash.
And in case you're wondering: yes, that is the film's star Anne Hathaway holding that 'Hearth Fire' box. Hollywood magic.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Yesterday the law school received an email saying that a new film will be shooting inside the Curtis Building this month. It's an Anne Hathaway movie called Passengers, (not the more promising zombie movie I had hoped for) and apparently it's about the stories that follow a plane crash.
My first guess as to what the building would stand in for proved wrong, as apparently the plane wreckage sets are located down at Jericho Beach. Now, I can only surmise that the building is used for nightmarish dream sequences, to give the audiences a strong sense of claustrophobia.
But given the building's newfound appeal (definitely newfound), may I suggest other productions that could work in the law building?
The third season of Lost: the main complaint (not shared by myself) about this current season is that it's all about the Others and that it's all underground. Jack's already been forced to perform medical procedures, why not have him perform contract negotiations or mediate property disputes on behalf of his captors?
The sequel to The Departed: anyone who's seen this fantastic movie knows how insanely ludicrous the proposition of a follow-up is. So, given that a screenwriter could care less about storytelling, why not allow your production designer to pay as little notice to the sets and decoration.
24: I often feel a driving, subconscious countdown to leave the building, so I imagine this will translate well on film. All of President Palmer's scenes from this sixth season take place in his White House bunker - not a stretch for the ol' Curtis building. But producers need to hurry up, if last night's episode was any indication, we won't be needing this set for long.
Scarlett Johansson's Next Film: I could care less what it's about, so long as she's available to sign autographs after 3:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Sunday, January 14, 2007
One of the great things about living in a city that fancies itself the Los Angeles of Canada is that you get good films sooner than everybody else. Pan's Labyrinth came out this weekend and naturally it got in the way of law school reading. I really, really liked this film - it's Life is Beautiful meets Hellboy... in a very dark alley.
I get an added kick from watching Spanish foreign films. I try every once in a while to ignore the subtitles and see if I can follow along. And if there's one foreign film where you want to to focus as much attention in the centre of the screen as possible, it's one where creatures look as cool as this.
And of course, when I returned to finish up Monday's reading, 24 has to air its season premiere. As far as premieres go in this series, it was decent - no major character deaths, but added points for Jack Bauer's newfound vampirism. I suppose maybe the mitigating factor was the appearance of actor Carlo Rota - not the only television show he's in this week.
Last week the CBC had a hit with its new show Little Mosque on the Prairie, which I'm surprised to report was actually pretty funny - and not just by Canadian standards. Rota's in that show too, but methinks after watching both shows that only one is likely to be embraced by the Muslim community. Hint: it's not the one where every Muslim character on the show was either bombed or tortured.
That said, I'll still watch 24, because it makes for interesting watercooler talk after Charter Law classes.
And now, your moment of zen.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
The new Die Hard trailer is out. Frankly I was fine with the first three, as the third seemed to buck the trend of the last being worst. Perhaps this movie has only become possible in light of the critical reception of 24, which seems to suggest that audiences aren't bothered by the minute probability that one man can be hounded by terrorists so many damn times.
If the movie seems to do stuff wrong, like casting Mac as John McClane's sidekick, it most certainly does things right. Just as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade gave us a Tank vs. Horse, Live Free or Die Hard gives us Car vs. Helicopter.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Haven't written a post in French in a while, so I thought, why not procrastinate from law reading Parisian-style?
Je viens de voir le film Marie-Antoinette, finalement. Facilement, ça c'est un des meillures films d'annee. C'est un peu approprié que j'ecris cette blog en francais, parce que comme mes lecteurs, je pense que les critiques du film évidemment ne comprennent pas cette film. (Et pour mes lecteurs qui peuvent lire francais, vous pouvez corriger le mien.)
Comme Lost in Translation, c'est un film avec une belle locale, un acteur très drole, et il a une soundtrack merveilleuse. (Aussi, je viens de decouvrir qu'il'y a un Amazon pour la France!) Puis, c'est assez, parce que je n'ai pas pris une classe de francais depuis l'ecole secondaire et j'oublie la langue.
(And for those of you who don't speak French, I've given you the pleasure of knowing what it's like to study law at times.)
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
The Prestige, which I just saw, is a film that will be long talked about within the circles I travel. No, not for it's clever trickery or apt use of British rock legends, but for the fact that it ruined the longest running streak I had going.
17 years without having to use the bathroom in a film - gone. Not since the original Batman in 1989 had I left the theatre mid-movie. Back then, I missed a crucial scene. I was a bit more tactful this time, at least optioning a moment when both Scarlett and Bowie were offscreen.
But why now, after all these years? I'm inclined to blame the dentist. Yes, the dentist I visited months ago who accidentally overcharged my credit card, and then, in trying to correct it, overcharged the card again - the very dentist that in order to atone for any ill-will mailed me the very free movie coupons with free drink that caused this demise. He of all people should have known it was bad for me!
I guess I can't hold a grudge. What really bothers me is that being a superstitious individual, the fate of it wasn't tied up more nicely. No, it couldn't have been Christopher Nolan's superlative resurrection of Batman that burst the dam - which would have brought the streak full circle - but only the film he made after that with many the same actors.
Here's to the end of an era. Yet still, I feel relief. And thirst.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Naturally, Almost Famous is one of my all time favorite movies, and one line from that movie just keeps getting funnier:
Dennis Hope: If you think Mick Jagger will still be doing the rock star thing at age fifty, well, then, you are sorely mistaken.
According to the band, the title of the new album refers to their "fascination with the scientific theory about the origin of the universe." But for anyone who’s actually considered the lyrics to a song like "Stray Cat Blues," it’s a safe guess that, after the rock n’ roll connotations of the title, Mick is going after a third entendre.
Like your British rock stars younger/less salacious? Torr has some great British Sea Power tunes up. Like your bands more salacious...?
A Harry Potter thought for you. (The novel, by the way, is much more satisfying than the last novel, and the death in this one was actually a death, with a body, and I do believe the phrase "like a rag doll" was used.) What I realized as I was reading, however, is despite how magically trained all these students will no doubt be, they are absolutely scholastically retarded in every other area.
Consider everything that you have learned in school from age eleven onwards. All the math, calculus, social studies, science, politics (and if you’re from Calgary, square dancing) – none of these kids have learned that. Sure, Harry could make a car fly, but he wouldn’t be able to calculate the tip at a restaurant. He would be lucky to just read the menu.
Now for my next book. Anyone who read Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence and wanted to visit the picturesque region may want to reconsider after reading Stephen Clarke’s satire A Year in the Merde. Very drôle.
Speaking of France, I guess when Dick Wolf can’t find room on TV schedules for another Law & Order, he just tries another time zone. The mot on the rue is that France is getting its own version of Criminal Intent. I would wager the only Frenchman who could match D’Onofrio for hulking stature is Depardieu. And since Vince bases his character on Sherlock Holmes, does this mean the French detective will be based on Holmes’ Gallic counterpart?
The kicker, of course, is that France uses a civil, rather than common law, based on the Napoleonic Code. So I guess this means no more "Battle of the Authorities" sparring matches often glorified by Jack McCoy.
Objection your honour! En francais!
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
First round of law registration is out of the way. I nabbed most of my important classes (International, Charter, Tax, Corporations, my International seminar) with no problem, except Evidence in the spring filled up rather fast. Anyone feel like slogging through the 8:30 a.m. Evidence classes with me all year?
With Harry Potter now "leaked," (thanks to keen Vancouverites) I suppose no plunder is too nerdy for a pirate. I suspect those that Entertainment Weekly describes as “rogue Canadians” more closely resemble soccer moms who, on their way to pick up some Capri Sun and Dunkaroos for the kids (do they still have those?), noticed the book and innocently picked it up. I’ve heard reports that the book is on BitTorrent sites, but how does that even work? Is it an mp3 of a child reading the book?
Chapter 1. Harry awoke to a de... deef... mom how do you say that word? Deh-fun-ing. What does it mean?
(Delete from playlist.)
My copy arrives on Saturday, banking on the notion that since postal workers are angry already, making them deliver heavy bundles on a weekend morning can’t do much more harm. This gives me only a few days to finish The Known World, a novel which deserves a place in the tiny pantheon of Books You Don’t Want to End. Like A Fine Balance or East of Eden, Jones’ book has such a compelling array of storylines that each could go on forever and I doubt I’d mind.
But enough of literature - sort of. Last night, I did miss the yell-fest that is Hell’s Kitchen, (summer guilty pleasure #1) but I was surprised to find that National Geographic aired the first part of Guns, Germs and Steel: the Documentary. I’m now convinced that Jared Diamond is one of the coolest scholars around. Aside from looking like a bald Dustin Hoffman and tanned like a motherfocker, the guy clearly looks like he’s having a ball spending most of his time in the jungle of New Guinea.
That said, if there’s one thing off about the series, it’s that it basically deifies Diamond for “solving” the question of how human societies evolved in the ways that they have. Narrator Peter Coyote lauds Diamond in, come to think of it, almost the exact same way he describes the functions of the Brita water filter, a commercial Coyote previously narrated: “A clear, refreshing take…”
In my opinion, Diamond was nothing but modest in how he used common sense to describe what he did: societies are the result of their environment, plain and simple. The man didn’t discover some ancient Rosetta-stone, he just observed that planting a seed is a tad more effective than getting all sweaty for a less-than-nutritious animal. One method allows you to feed a government and army, the other gives you cries of, “mammoth again?”
I’m not sure when the next episode of GGS is on, but in the meantime I’m going to view my nouvelle DVD, A Very Long Engagement. Any French-loving cinephile (and really, who doesn’t like the French) will appreciate the incredible recreation of WWI-era Paris.
And dude, c'mon, a soldier lobs a grenade into a plane from the ground. That’s so Die Hard.
Friday, June 17, 2005
Loose ends before I relax for the weekend:
Now I’m really sad to miss the Vancouver Beck show. Joining Beck on stage will be guys named D-Fuse, Bunzo and Ryan, the World’s Greatest Dancer (guilty!). To boot, there will be dining tables and full course meals “will be had.”
Still sadder, Rolling Stone dropped the ball with the much-delayed Eels review.
Does Entertainment Weekly read my site? George Michael for Prime Minister! He can’t be any more awkward than Stephen Harper.
Speaking of Arrested Development, I was always curious to see how much money the Bluth family had to waste on segways and the Aztec Tomb. Strangely missing from the list of TV's richest Dads: father/actor Tobias Funke. Although hilariously at the bottom: Tony "eh oh, oh eh!" Danza.
Read Guns, Germs and Steel. If Jared Diamond played Civilization, you’d swear he had the cheats on he’d be so good. Rather, he just offers compelling explanations as to why human societies distributed power the way they have today. A big reason (among others)? Someone, somewhere, romanced a sheep.
From the 24 file: a movie is being planned? I may finally have to break my streak of no movie bathroom breaks (going strong since Batman in 1989!). Also: Hell's Kitchen's Gordon Ramsay, Jack Bauer, same person?
Anyone watching their share of crap reality TV, compare Gordon’s trademark “Button it!” to Jack’s “Dammit!” It's the same!
Back to Batman: simply an incredible movie. Sure I want the new Batmobile, but I really want Scarecrow's glasses. Such chic villainy!
Another hilarious interview where Noel Gallagher discusses his brother Mabel, how Oasis go through drummers like they were Spinal Tap, and reading War & Peace on stage.
Now that Nike lets you customize your own shoe, how long until Adidas follows suit and let’s us recreate the Team Zissou shoe down to the finest detail?
Finally, UBCers: what law classes are you taking this fall? Dish!