Category: Reviews

Food & Books on Film at the TIFF Bell Lightbox

Food on Film_TIFF

This month, TIFF Bell Lightbox kicks off it’s popular (and oft sold out) Food on Film subscription series. Loose yourself in 6 mouthwatering films and after each film discuss the intersections of cinema, culture and gastronomy with special guests. The event is hosted by Annabelle Waugh, Canadian Living Magazine’s Food Director.

I recommend the film Sideways on Wednesday, April 24 with special speaker Aldo Sohm.

Aldo Sohm, chef sommelier at La Bernardin, takes us into the world of wine appreciation through a discussion of Alexander Payne’s hit comedy-drama about a pair of middle-aged oenophiles who seek solace from romantic distress in the vineyards of California’s Napa Valley.

Not into food? How about brain food? Books on Film also returns this month. A selection of films adapted from books will be screened and discussed afterwards with a selection of film makers, authors and experts. This series is hosted by Eleanor Wachtel from CBC’s Writers and Company.

I recommend Midnight’s Children on Monday, June 24th with the filmmaker himself, Deepa Mehta!

Celebrated Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta describes the process of collaborating with Salman Rushdie on the screen adaptation of his Booker Prize–winning classic Midnight’s Children.

Go and subscribe to the series of your choice! It’s a nice way to get out and experience a night of film once a month!

Born Weird by Andrew Kaufman

I’ve been excitedly awaiting Andrew Kaufman’s next book since forever. Andrew Kaufman is a fabulous writer and he seems to be pretty nice to boot. His most popular book is, All my Friends are Superheroes, and if you haven’t read it you really should. I suppose Andrew’s books could be defined as magical realism. They are always original, unexpected and set in Canada (I love that.)

Annie Weird was born with an unusually large heart. As each of her grandchildren came into the world, she unintentionally gave them each a gift. Richard is always safe, Angie instantly forgives, Abba always has hope, Lucy never gets lost and Kent is always a little bit stronger than his opponents. These gifts turn out to be more curse than blessing. Can you fall in love while keeping safe? How can you find yourself when you always know where you are?

Angie is summoned by her grandmother Annie. Annie informs Angie that she and her siblings have all been “blessed” and that in order to remove the blessings, she needs to gather all of her brothers and sisters so that the curse can be removed at the moment of her death (yeah, she knows that date. Down to the minute.)

Angie is sent scrambling to gather her siblings. Her hunt will take her to Toronto, Vancouver and even to a remote island. Her siblings are busy having sex in forbidden places, trying to figure out marriage and possibly even being Queen. And Kent? Well, everyone is a little scared of Kent. (He actually turned out to be my favourite.) This journey will change them forever, but will it be for better or for worse?

Born Weird is out on December 26th. Pick it up! You won’t regret it.

Amaluna Review

I recently went to see Amaluna, the 32nd Cirque du Soleil production. I had never been to Cirque before, so I wanted to wait until there was a theme that really appealed to me. This was it! The large blue and yellow Cirque tents are at the Portlands. You can pay $20 for parking down the road, or you can park directly in front of the tents for free! (well, we did, and many others, and it seemed okay);

We were seated in the second row from the top, and I was worried that we wouldn’t be able to see. However, once I got to my seat I knew there was nothing to worry about. The layout is perfect and you can get a great view from almost any angle. We were also able to move down a few rows into empty seats!

Before the show started, members of the cast wandered throughout the crowd and teased the front row members by stealing their popcorn and doing other funny stunts. It was fun, because you got to see the costumes up close!

So what’s the show about?

“Amaluna invites the audience to a mysterious island governed by Goddesses and guided by the cycles of the moon.

Their queen, Prospera, directs her daughter’s coming-of-age ceremony in a rite that honours femininity, renewal, rebirth and balance which marks the passing of these insights and values from one generation to the next.

In the wake of a storm caused by Prospera, a group of young men lands on the island, triggering an epic, emotional story of love between Prospera’s daughter and a brave young suitor. But theirs is a love that will be put to the test. The couple must face numerous demanding trials and overcome daunting setbacks before they can achieve mutual trust, faith and harmony.”

I found the show mesmerizing. I had no idea what to expect, and when the show opened with a musical number, I was surprised. I was even more surprised when I realized that there was a full orchestra and that all of the music was being played/sang live. Wow! That cast was talented.  I found the story to be very loose. The show seemed more about the performances than the plot, and that was fine with me. I was fascinated with the water bowl pool. We saw some beautiful acrobats, aerialists and tight rope walkers.

The three performances that held me spellbound were as follows. One character very slowly managed to balance a large number of long bamboo sticks on her hand using her feet while rotating slowly. The only music was the sound of her steady breathing.

Another was the passionately charged trapeze couple in grey. Their dance was amazing and the heavy rock music fit perfectly.

Finally, the juggler captivated me by moving so fluidly. He made the balls he was juggling seem like part of him, and it was so much fun to watch.

The only part of this show that I did not like was the comic relief. These two french clowns would come out while the set was changing and do a little skit/love story thing and I just wasn’t feeling it. I think I found it a bit jarring to be immersed in the mood and set that the show created, and then suddenly pulled out of it.

That being said, you really should buy tickets to this show! Amaluna is in town until November 4th.

Much Ado About Nothing TIFF Review

Okay, so I need to have my fan girl moment here. I’m a huge Buffy, Angel, & Dollhouse nerd. So when I heard that Joss Whedon was coming to Toronto for the premiere of his new movie, Much Ado About Nothing, I was so there. (and so was the rest of Toronto. HUGE line!)

Much Ado About Nothing is a modern take on the play by Shakespeare. I’ve actually never seen the play, and know nothing about it, so I was a bit worried about seeing this. Joss had also said that he was using the original dialogue, but removing some text to make it more modern. He also filmed it in his backyard/estate in 12 days, because he’s just cool like that.

Claudio (Fran Kranz) and Benedick (Alexis Denisof ) have just returned home to Messina after a successful campaign abroad. When earnest Claudio announces his adoration for the lovely Hero (Jillian Morgese), daughter of Messina’s governor Leonato (Clark Gregg), the acid-tongued Benedick teases him mercilessly. Benedick’s scorn for love is matched by that of his long-time nemesis and verbal sparring partner Beatrice (Amy Acker), Leonato’s niece. As the lovestruck Claudio and Hero make plans to marry, Benedick and Beatrice resume the “merry war” of insults they have long waged. Yet there are many who believe that for all their antagonism — or even because of it — this pair of incessantly sniping cynics is surely meant to be a couple. As matchmaking schemes are put into play and disguises are donned, loathing and love soon prove to be close cousins.

This movie was amazing, and really, I shouldn’t have expected anything less of Joss! It was beautiful in black and white, I didn’t miss the colour at all. Beatrice and Benedick’s relationship was fascinating and hilarious. The film was very emotional, often leaping from sadness to hilarity. My favourite character was poor Claudio, and of course Beatrice and Benedick. The dialogue seemed natural after time, and the use of cars, cell phones and a modern lifestyle juxtaposed against the language was interesting. Jed Whedon did the soundtrack, and it was perfect and haunting at some points. The ending is lovely and satisfying. I hope this film gets picked up, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t…it’s Joss!

Picture Day TIFF Review


Tonight I saw one of my first TIFF picks of the festival, Picture Day! I love watching Canadian films, and was delighted to find that it was shot in Toronto!

Picture Day is written by Kate Melville, a scriptwriter for Degrassi and other shows. This is her first film.

Claire is a cheerful high school student doing her “victory lap” and failing miserably. She isn’t really going to classes, and doesn’t particularly seem to care. She also has some issues with her classmates (no one likes her, and there are some pretty nasty rumors) and things aren’t great at home either. Three weeks into school, Claire bumps into her old baby-sitting ward, Henry, is now in grade 9. She befriends him and tries to remake his image. Henry has a bit of a crush on her, but she can’t see it because she’s too busy falling for an older rocker (Jim) in his “Jesus year” and hanging out at his shows.

This film had hilarious moments juxtaposed in familiar Toronto spots. (Active Surplus, anyone?) It really captures what high school is like, and got the characters just right. Tatiana Maslany is a natural and fits right into the role of Claire. Spencer Van Wyck’s wide eyed, innocent portray of Henry was perfect. I’d also like to point out that Susan Coyne is fantastic and funny as Henry’s mom. Fun fact! Jim’s band actually exists! It’s a real Toronto band called the ElastoCitizens!

I really enjoyed the soundtrack of the film. During the Q&A, Kate told us that all of the songs from the movie can be found on the movie website, which is awesome, because I was trying to scribble down the titles of songs.

The thing that tied it all together for me was the end of the movies. As we exited the theater, we were handed a glowing LED light to add to the fence outside (tying into one of the best scenes in the film). It made for a magical ending of a memorable film. Go Canada!

My TIFF Picks 2012

The Toronto International Film Festival is around the corner, (September 8th- September 16) and with a mindblowing selection of films, it’s hard to figure out what to see. I’ve picked my favourites below. Note: I have kind of quirky taste, and I like foreign films. Enjoy!

The Brass Teapot
An impoverished young couple (Juno Temple and Michael Angarano) stumble upon an antique teapot that magically dispenses cash whenever either of them feels pain, inspiring them to ever-greater extremes, as they ascend the ranks of the nouveau riche. Director Ramaa Mosley eschews violence for a more whimsical, Tim Burton–esque treatment in this offbeat, darkly funny satire.

English Vinglish

http://youtu.be/r-7u67VbxEk
Legendary Indian actress Sridevi returns to the screen after a fifteen-year absence in this funny and touching story about an Indian woman who struggles to learn the English language in order to overcome her insecurities.

In Another Country
South Korean master Hong Sang-soo teams with French superstar Isabelle Huppert for this formally inventive and wonderfully witty three-part film, in which three different but strikingly similar women — all named Anne, and all played by Huppert — meet and interact with the same group of people in a seaside Korean town, with each encounter producing a set of intriguing new outcomes and new possibilities.

Life Doesn’t Frighten Me

Are we tired of super cutesty awkward indie films yet? Of course not. We hardly need dialog to sell the film!
In this coming of age comedy life for Esther Weary includes her well-intentioned grandpa, friends that suck, and a deeply depressing birthday. Gordon Pinsent and Jade Aspros star in this modern story of teenage angst.

Like Someone In Love
An elderly man becomes infatuated with a young Tokyo call girl in this entrancingly elliptical anti-love story from Iranian master Abbas Kiarostami.

My Awkward Sexual Adventure
A hyper-repressed and schlubby accountant (Jonas Chernick) strikes a deal with a worldly but disorganized stripper (Emily Hampshire): he’ll help her with her crushing debt if she helps him become a better lover. Sharp direction by the versatile Sean Garrity and a very funny script by Chernick ensure for an uproarious — and surprisingly educational — sex comedy.


Much Ado about nothing

Shakespeare’s classic comedy gets contemporary spin in Joss Whedon’s stylized adaptation. Shot in just twelve days using the original text, the story of sparring lovers Beatrice (Amy Acker) and Benedick (Alexis Denisof) offers a dark, sexy and occasionally absurd view of the intricate game that is love.

Midnight’s Children
Spanning decades and generations, celebrated Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta’s highly anticipated adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s Booker Prize®–winning novel is an engrossing allegorical fantasy in which children born on the cusp of India’s independence from Britain are endowed with strange, magical abilities.

A Royal Affair


(By the screenwriter of the original dragon tattoo!! Which was amazing. Way better than the american version!
) This sumptuous historical drama from writer-director Nikolaj Arcel (screenwriter of the original version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) chronicles the scandalous love triangle between a queen (Alicia Vikander), her German doctor (Mads Mikkelsen), and the mad King of Denmark (Mikkel Følsgaard).

Shit Girls Say
Everyone’s favourite viral Toronto video comes to the big screen. Yeah it’s a little weird. And a little awesome. A new episode will premiere during the festival.

Rust and Bone
http://youtu.be/QRQyuzcg_Pk

Marion Cotillard (La Vie en rose) and Matthias Schoenaerts (Bullhead) star in this gritty, moving and emotionally raw love story from Cannes Grand Prix winner Jacques Audiard (Un prophète).

Tai Chi 0

Whats this? not much. Just STEAM PUNK Kung Fu.
Martial arts meets steampunk in Hong Kong actor-director Stephen Fung’s (Gen-X Cops) slick, stylish pop-art take on the life of Yang-lu Chan (played by new martial-arts sensation Yuan Xiaochao), founder of the Yang school of tai chi.


Nostradamos

Blurring the line between documentary and fiction, Nostradamos takes place on the eve of the end of the world. As hordes of people flock to the city of Amos, Quebec after it is identified as the safest bet for survival in the face of the coming apocalypse, a number of local residents conspire to profit from the sudden influx of tourists.


Thermae Romae


An architect from ancient Rome is propelled into a modern-day Tokyo bath house in this kooky time-travelling comedy based on Mari Yamazaki’s award-winning manga series.


Picture Day

One of the most charming and vibrant debut features by a Canadian filmmaker in recent memory, Kate Melville’s Picture Day features rising star Tatiana Maslany as Claire Paxton, a teenage girl who has all the freedoms of adulthood but none of the responsibilities. Forced to repeat her last year of high school due to bad grades and absenteeism, Claire still prefers to cut class whenever feasible and spends her nights clubbing, living on the fringes of the adult world she’s almost part of.

Dangerous Liaisons

Zhang Ziyi (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) stars in director Hur Jin-ho’s lushly sensual adaptation of the classic French novel, which updates Choderlos de Laclos’ devilish tale of sex, seduction and scheming to 1930s Shanghai.

Essie Review & Giveaway!

The other day I received a lovely little package from Essie, chock full with new shades for the summer. True to this seasons palette, these new shades are bright! With fun names like “Oh So Teeny Bikini” and “All Tied Up” these colours will get you in the mood for summer!

I tried out a couple of the polishes, and I liked them! I’m not used to wearing such bright colours on my nails…but that being said I’m pretty excited to try the orange. Essie polishes go on smooth and are pretty opaque. All of the shades are a flat, glossy finish except for “All Tied Up,” which has a bit of a shimmer.

(yes, I’m a messy nail manicure. I do my nails like I live my life. FAST.)
Essie has given me one set to share with one lucky lady! To enter, fill out the form below and tell me your fav shade!
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