The Waiting Room

The Waiting Room, directed by Peter Nicks is an interesting documentary that gives insight into what a typical day is like at Highland Hospital in Oakland, California.

The film was the recipient of Best Documentary of 2012 by the San Francisco Film Critics Circle, and was also featured in many other festivals.

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In terms of quality, it has the look of a regular feature film; clear and well shot, with good sound quality and lighting – yet gives the viewer the feeling that they are a fly on the wall in rather intimate scenes.

Nicks made some interesting choices such as having no narration to guide the film or formally show interviews he had with patients. Instead there was only voice over from the characters, who provided further context about their situations.

The documentary showed a variety of different experiences, primarily what went on in the waiting room of the hospital, and focused in on about five main people and their stories.

For a documentary, I was surprised at how natural everyone was in front of the camera, especially for the sensitive and intimate nature of most of the scenes. They all seemed blissfully unaware of its presence which was good, but occasionally made me question how genuine everyone was. (i.e. the doctor on the phone, “I will not let this man slip through the cracks!” Okay there, McDreamy.)

I found every story to be quite different, and I could relate and sympathize with everyone; from the frustrated couple who needed surgery and didn’t have insurance, to the man who had to continue laying carpet to support himself and his daughter even though he had painful bone spurs.

There were a lot of good aspects to the film, overall I’d say it was very well done and despite a few instances of blurred rack focuses and irrelevant clips, it was an enthralling documentary. It also managed to be feel-good and depressing at the same time by capturing unfortunate circumstances, yet showing good attitudes and how people genuinely care about helping one another.

In terms of educating viewers about the American healthcare system, it seemed to display its well-known flaws of: long wait times, pricy bills, and shortage of hospital beds.

The film contained only one horrific instance, where they tried to save a 15-year-old boy but he ended up dying on the table despite doctors best efforts.  Besides this, I think the film provided a good account of what any hospital is like.  I don’t think it was too shocking or contained anything I didn’t already know.  If anything, everyone was seen – the doctors did their best with good intentions, and those waiting were relatively grateful when they did get in. But yes, I understood the point that the hospital has a lot of room for improvement.

The American healthcare system gets a bad rap, deservedly. If you have money, you will get seen. Having to pay for your basic right to healthcare is an absurd concept that I will never understand. As a Canadian, I will admit my ignorance and admit that I don’t know much about the American system. The main thing I know is that  it’s very pricy – and even read that it can cost up to $10 000 to have a baby if someone is uninsured. Wow.

With regard to accessibility, Wikipedia explains:

“In both Canada and the United States, access to health care can be a problem. Studies suggest that 40% of U.S. citizens do not have adequate health insurance, if any at all. In Canada, however, as many as 5% of Canadian citizens have not been able to find a regular doctor, with a further 9% having never looked for one. Yet, even if some cannot find a family doctor, every Canadian citizen is covered by the national health care system. The U.S. data is evidenced in a 2007 Consumer Reports study on the U.S. health care system which showed that the underinsured account for 24% of the U.S. population and live with skeletal health insurance that barely covers their medical needs and leaves them unprepared to pay for major medical expenses.”

Here in Canada we all continually count our blessings that we have a better system than the US, but we do have fewer doctors per capita than they do, along with similar problems with long wait times and bed shortages.

I can’t complain, I’ve never had a bad experience with my medical care-  often walk ins can be a pain and I have been misdiagnosed before, but I do feel confident that I can get adequate help if I ever need it.

I urge everyone to see The Waiting Room as it encourages a dialogue about the current health care state in North America, and reminds us that there is always room for improvement. We could easily be in a waiting room tomorrow, you never know..

Here is the trailer for anyone who is interested:

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Mail Order Bride – Return to Sender!

Oh, family drama.

I realize that most families have their issues and typically keep them private, but mine has a very strange, ridiculous situation that I can’t help but blog about.  Or, this can act as a cautionary tale for anyone who is thinking of entering the mystical…“online dating world.”

So I have this Uncle, Terry let’s call him, who is somewhat of a mystery.  He was a military policeman for over 20 years, had a brief stint as a Casino security manager, and currently works as a Sheriff in Victoria, BC.  He’s a nice enough man, and despite his impressive resume he’s made some poor decisions over the years.

He’s also recently put a lot of energy into his physical appearance; working out, eating well, getting veneers for the hell of it.

I always hoped he’d get into a normal relationship since many years had passed since his last divorce.  Not his first divorce, where his first ex-wife had taken most of his military pension and life savings, but his last divorce to a 21-year-old Syrian girl he met while working in Damascus.  (I think it’s fairly easy to guess what happened with that.)

Anyway, my Uncle, who must have been in the midst of a mid-life crisis, met his current wife “Satu” online. She is a rather mysterious Swedish woman that had a steady job at a Volvo branch in Ghent, Belgium and two teenage children when they began their relationship.

I’m not sure how long they chatted over the Internet for, but once they decided to meet face-to- face in Las Vegas (yeah, of all places), they also decided to get married… after only 3 days.

Continue reading…

Is Social Media Turning Us Into a Generation of Narcissists?

I was recently browsing in McNally Robinson, and was struck by the beauty of all the books. As odd as that sounds, I had forgotten how special it is to own a shiny, tangible paperback. But how much longer will we have these? Have newspapers and magazines? CDs? DVDs?

I don’t want my precious collections to end up in a drawer with my useless cassette tapes from the ’90s.

Although, the sad reality is, it’s only a matter of time.

Unfortunately, I find myself very “connected.” I have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, this blog, 8tracks, Couchsurfing, Vimeo, YouTube; the list goes on.

All of this takes heavy upkeep – but the weird thing is, it doesn’t feel that way.

I willingly spend all day every day, reading, commenting, participating.

From the second I wake up – I feel that 90% of my day is spent constantly looking at my phone. I manically click back and forth from app to app, hoping for a notification, or something to make it all worth it.

But is it?

It’s not that I’m overly interested in what other people wear or eat for breakfast, I don’t enjoy knowing every detail of my acquaintances lives and “creeping” their pictures. Or am I unconsciously lying to myself? Do I thrive on the intake of all this, stuff?

The truth is, social media feels inescapable and the thought of disconnecting makes me feel like I will get left behind.

If you don’t share something, it’s like it never happened.

Continue reading…

Django Unchained

I’m a huge huge HUGE Quentin Tarantino fan. Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, and Inglourious Basterds are some of my favourite movies. I think he is a brilliant director, but I’m having a hard time deciding how I feel about his latest film, Django Unchained. It’s definitely in tune with his style of excessive violence and latest aim to “rewrite history”.  Despite a few criticisms, I think the film does a good job of illustrating how horrible and inhumane slavery was. (Although, that’s not too hard.)

I’ve also been following the gun debate in America and am curious if the tragedy in Newtown will prompt any change.  I can’t decide if this movie came out at a perfect time, or at a horrible time.  I think a lot of people are very sensitive right now and certain scenes can be difficult to watch. Although, at the same time people are hyper aware of the issue and will have a visual that further proves how terrifying guns are.  The movie got to the point where it was painful to watch, the violence was too much and I kept imagining the kids of Connecticut.. a lot of people even left the theatre. In response to criticism about the level of violence in the film, Tarantino had this to say:

“What happened during slavery times is a thousand times worse than [what] I show,” he says. “So if I were to show it a thousand times worse, to me, that wouldn’t be exploitative, that would just be how it is. If you can’t take it, you can’t take it.” (http://www.npr.org/2013/01/02/168200139/quentin-tarantino-unchained-and-unruly)

If you see the movie, there is a point where it could of and should have ended in my opinion; yet it doesn’t. Especially with Quintin writing himself a small part, where he attempts an Australian accent? It just goes downhill from that point, you’ll see.

Don’t get me wrong, the movie itself was quite good. Potentially Oscar worthy I’d say. Christoph Waltz, Tarantino’s German muse made the movie for me, with his wit and unique way of speaking.  He plays a bounty hunter who kills ‘bandits’, wanted people in exchange for a reward. In fulfilling this type of work he seeks the help of Django, (Jamie Foxx) a slave who knows what his latest targets look like.  The plot then carefully unfolds mixing their new found partnership with a German fairy tale/search for Django’s estranged wife/Mandingo fighting/exploring Candy Land- Leonardo DiCaprio’s million dollar ranch.  Overall, Django Unchained is entertaining but a bit dragging at times. The actors all give great performances, and there are even funny parts which bring a sense of humanity to the characters.

If you saw it, let me know what you think.

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