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Showing posts from 2014

ON Hiatus...

Hi, Everyone,
The More the Merrier blog is on hiatus, but the radio show is going strong, so please tune in Saturdays from 12noon -  1:00 pm for your film/theatre and arts-at-large fix, and fantastic music (mostly Canadian).

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TIFF14: Running Naked in Out of Nature

You must admit that this poster for Out of Nature is eye-catching, so besides the fact that Nordic films are my priority at TIFF, I was curious to know why this character was running without pants. Well, I now know the secret, but you should go see the film yourself to find out the answer. After speaking to director Ole Giaever, he did admit that while filming the
scene, he did feel a sense of liberation, and apparently the rest of the crew were jealous of his freedom from pants.

What I liked about this film is it's simplicity: a man out in nature questioning his path in life. The character, Martin (played by Ole), is a married man with a son, and on the outside looking in, he appears to have a wonderful life, but Marin is bored with his status quo. He is not an alpha male. He is not the guy who gets chosen to go to lunch with the rest of the office gang, and as the film unfolds, we learn about his upbringing and how he was not the best socialized child.

While hiking through the …

TIFF14: Estonia's Martii Helde's Fresh Vision (In the Crosswind)

Estonian director, Martti Helde shared with me that he felt his grandfather's presence on the set of his first feature film, In the Crosswind. During my conversation with Martii, I learned that the history of the Baltic "deportations" is studied in school, and his grandfather (who lost a leg in WWII) openly spoke about the time period, although never too much about being in the camps; rather, his impact on Martii was about how to be a good person and to live life to the fullest. 
In the Crosswind, in which Martii labels the "deportations" as a "Soviet Holocaust" to symbolize the universality of these horrible and continuing human actions, we follow the forced journey of Erna (Laura Peterson) and her daughter  (and to a lesser extent, her husband Heldur) to Siberia. Martii was given Erna's letters by an archivist while doing research and, spurred by the stories from his grandfather, he decided to make a film about the consequences of June 14, 1941.…

TIFF14: Questions, Questions...

I could spend hours interviewing actors/filmmakers about their work. As an interviewer I rarely feel as if I have asked all the questions I want or need. I always have the basic questions in mind going into to the interview, but as I don't use a script, the conversation can flow in any direction. If my subject becomes passionate about an aspect of their work, I don't cut them short; my next question is not as important as what they are presently sharing; as a result, I sometimes end my 15-20 minute chat with questions unanswered.

Today, for example, after interviewing Jukka-Pekka Valkeapää(They Have Escaped) for example, we began talking about the sound in the picture. It was on my list of questions that I had wanted to ask, but other elements of the filmmaking came up that trumped the question. I didn't turn my recorder back on because we were having a natural conversation and pulling out the recorder would have intruded on our conversation, even though what we were talkin…

TIFF14: How About a Quick Trip to Finland?

For the past several years, I have been focused on Nordic films at TIFF, a passion I developed thanks to Sprockets (now TIFF Kids) founder, and TIFF programmer, Jane Schoettle), and continues with programming by Steve Gravestock. The calibre of films from this region continues to impress me and I am beginning to establish a relationship with a few directors. Here are a couple of Finnish entries that you might want to check out. Complete details at Toronto International Film Festival runs Sept. 4 - 14.

I first interviewed Finnish director, Dome Karukoski, in 2010 with his TIFF entry, the comedic, Lapland Odyssey, and then last year with Heart of a Lion, a drama with unexpected touches of humour about a skinhead who falls in love with a white Finnish women with a bi-racial child. This year I am looking forward to seeing The Grump, and continuing my conversation with Dome about his filmmaking.

When I first interviewed another Finn, Jalmari Hel…

Coming Soon: Fan Expo Canada 2014

Are you ready for Fan Expo Canada? I'm slowly getting there, with the excitement building every day. The first time I attended the "3rd largest pop culutre event in North America" I expected to feel like a fish out of water: I wasn't a gamer or an official nerd, but I did love comics and read them in my childhood and as an adult, I borrowed graphic novels every once in a while from the Toronto Public Library; however, it didn't take long for me to feel right at home with the masses of people in attendance at this Con. It's like being in a town where costumes and regular clothing are the norm and no one looks out of place--no matter how outlandish the garment. In fact, the over the top or character accurate the better if you want people stopping you and posing with you for a quick snap.

As a newbie, there is still lots for me to learn about Cosplay, Steampunk, Horror, the various Sci-Fi and Anime genres etc. No wonder people get a pass! There really is somethi…

Monty Python is Not a Pet Snake

I'm really surprised at how much I enjoyed the international satellite broadcast of Monty Python Live (mostly). Why? Because I was never a fan of the legendary British comedy troupe. As a Jamaican kid clicking the converter, I didn't get the humour in Monty Python's Flying Circus. Next! In high school I didn't get the reference to "is your wife a goer, wink, wink" and as for the Lumberjack Song, I wanted a red plaid lumberjack jacket like the white Canadian kids in my school ("NO!" scoffed my Jamaican mother) but I sure wasn't going to watch "that weird show" to find out more. After seeing the farewell performance of the septuagenarian cult comedy geniuses, I will venture to try one of their films. My Python friends recommend, Life of Brian.
Cineplex is presenting the reunion show again on July 23rd and 31st at theatres across Canada. They are also showing the Meaning of Life (July 24), Monty Python's Life of Brian (July 27) and Mo…

James Quandt on Satyajit Ray and Zabrina Chevannes on A Nurse's Worst Nightmare!

James Quandt, TIFF Cinematheque's Senior Programmer and I chat about the Satyajit Retrospective (on now until August 17) and nurse and standup comedian Zabrina Chevannes and I talk about laughter mental health, and the other talents that are part of her upcoming show, A Nurse's Worst Nightmare. Have a look/listen at the segment below.


9 Fringe Shows Ask for Your Bum in Their Seats

It's baaaack! The More the Merrier's Annual 5 Minute Fringe Showcase returns with 9 productions from the Toronto Fringe Festival telling you why you should spend your $12 to see their shows. Each show is given just 5 minutes to convince you that theirs is the show to see.
Click the video below to listen to the show. Show listing is by alpha order, not as you hear them on the video. Happy Fringing!

DESCRIPTION: Honour the start of the WWI Centennial with this musical inspired by a true story. In 1917, a Jewish American soldier in Germany enters a synagogue seeking solace from the terrors of war.
Kiever Synagogue, 25 Bellevue Ave.

July 02 at 07:00 PM   July 03 at 07:00 PM  July 04 at 01:00 PM
July 06 at 12:00 PM   July 07 at 07:00 PM  July 08 at 07:00 PM
July 09 at 02:00 PM   July 09 at 07:00 PM  July 10 at 01:00 PM
July 10 at 07:00 PM  July 11 at 01:00 PM   July 13 at 12:00 PM

Show length: 75min. Genre(s): Family, Musical 
Warnings:Audience Participat…

TMTM Book Club Selection: "Confessions of a Fairy's Daughter" by Alison Wearing

With Toronto hosting World Pride 2014, I thought it would be fitting to choose an LGBTT book for our next read. The book that immediately came to mind was Confessions of a Fairy's Daughter by Alison Wearing. I had first heard about the book on The Agenda. I managed to catch the last part of Steve Pakin's interview with the author and mentally placed the book on my To Read List.  Unlike other books that I have selected for the TMTM Book Club, I haven't read it in advance, so I will be reading along with you. Please email me should you wish to take part in the on air discussion.
Our on-air discussion of the book will take place in July (date TBC soon). As with other selections, this book is available through the Toronto Public Library (e-book and traditional p-book), but if you can, please support this Canadian author by purchasing the book. Happy Reading! -dg

Inside Out 2014 Reveiw: My Thoughts on "Open Up To Me"

Having last seen Peter Franzen, one of Finland's biggest stars playing a skinhead in Dome Karukoski's Heart of  Lion (TIFF14), it was a happy surprise to see his name attached to Open Up to Me (Kerron sinulle kaiken) in the Inside Out Toronto LFBT Film Festival guide. This actor has an "it" factor that would make millions if it was could be distilled. The man just has a sexuality about him that leaps off the screen! Maybe years ago audiences felt this way when they saw Clark Gable take his shirt off in It Happened One Night and revealed to the world that he wasn't wearing an undershirt, the style staple of era, or when they saw Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire; whatever it is, Franzen is heart-thumpingly captivating. 
Open Up to Me begins with Maarit (Leea Klemola), a cleaning lady, caught in her employer's clothes by Sami (Franzen) who mistakes as a therapist. Not sure how to correct the mistake, Maarit lets Sami pour his heart out to her. It seems that Sa…

Inside Out 2014 Review: My Thoughts on "Someting Must Break"

My first thought upon screening Something Must Break (Nånting måste gå sönder) is "I'm loving this film." My second was, "Please keep on being good."  Happily, I can share with you that I kept on loving the film, so much so that rather than leave the experience to viewing the protected online screener, I went to see it on the big screen during Inside OutTorontoLGBT Film Festival at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. To my added pleasure, actress Saga Becker was in attendance. Yaay!
In my humble opinion, Ester Martin Bergsmark is a director to watch. She has already won awards for her documentaries in her native Sweden, but Something Must Break is her first fiction film, and I can't wait to see what she handles next.
Bergsmark's cast is young, not only in age, but in screen credits. Lead actress, Saga Becker, is making her film debut and does a stunning job as the trans character Sebastian, a young man working at a dead end factory job. Sebastian has such low sel…

Nordic Charmers: May I Recommend Olga and Love & Engineering

You know I love Nordic films, and I'm happy to direct you to Olga--To My Friends, and Love & Engineering screening at Hot Docs 2014.

Want me to watch a film? Show me a picture of reindeer. So, why have I chosen to show you this picture of Olga instead? Because, Olga--To My Friends is an intimate portrait of a fascinating young woman who deserves your attention. Yes, there are reindeer in the film because she works at a station guarding provisions used by the reindeer herdsmen in the summer; but what I found absolutely fascinating about this documentary is Olga and her quiet will to keep surviving whatever life dispenses. Director, Paul Aders-Simma and cinematographer, Elen Lotman have framed and lit Olga in a style that references Old Masters, while at the same time managing to capture the vastness and icy-stillness of the tundra.
At the opening of the film, Olga tells us that she has spent 177 days alone at the outpost with only her cat as her companion. Upon learning this…

Hot Docs Day 3: May I Recommend


ROM Theatre
Sat, Apr 26 3:30 PM

This film gives you a look at poverty, not from the perspective of having nothing, but from the Malagasy people themselves speaking of how their sense of community, culture and fortitude has enabled them to maintain their sense of pride and fortitude.

Scotiabank Theatre 4
Sun, Apr 27 4:00 PM
Scotiabank Theatre 3
Sat, May 3 9:15 PM


Scotiabank Theatre 7
Sat, Apr 26 6:00 PM

This is not an easy film to watch, but it is an interesting look at poverty that is a direct result of historical conditioning. The Pine Ridge reservation is just above Haiti in terms of its lack of economic development. This South Dakota reservation brings to light the generational effects of the Wounded Knee Massacre (1890) and references the impact of the Wounded Knee Incident (1973). Seenthrough theeyes of several youth, the film asks the question: why are such dire conditions allowed to continue in one of the richest countries on ear…

Hot Docs Day 2: May I Recommend


Then I suggest a screening of Que Caramba Es la Vida by renowned German director, Doris Dörrie. Her take on mariachi music is refreshing in that it follows the lives of several female musicians who perform in Mexico's Garibaldi Square. Mariachi can be a macho business, but these women, some of whom are daughters of mariachi fathers, have inherited the love of the music and their passion drives them to perform despite some of the negative side effects of their chosen profession. In the square they perform for families or couples who are out for an evening of social activity, but they also have to put up with the drunks and drug users (as well as some men) who hurl slurs at them. As one woman puts it, she has often had to tell men she is a singer, not a prostitute. Dörrie also delves into a bit of the history of female mariachas through interviews with members of Las Estrellas de Mexico and Las Coronelas, some of the first mariachas in Mexico…

2014 Canadian Screen Awards: Viggo and Cronenberg take a bow!

The highlight of my evening at the 2014 Canadian Screen Awards was the moment actress Gabrielle Marion-Rivard(left) walked onto the press room stage, absolutely glowing, as if lit up from within. I don't think I have ever seen someone beam before last night. As she held her award in her arms, and answered questions in both English and French, Marion-Rivard spoke about how winning her award (Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role) was a dream come true. The coming of age romance Gabrielle  which was nominated for a foreign-language Oscar (2013) was later presented with a Canadian Screen Award for Best Picture. Director, Louise Archambault says that she has heard from audiences that they see the film as being about "pure love" and not just an issues story about Williams syndrome,  a condition that first-time actress, Marion-Rivard shares with her character.

I love David Cronenberg and Viggo Mortensen together. For a director and actor known for such serious work, th…

POSTPONED: Swell Broad & The Homemaker (Jan 31-Feb 9)

If you were planning to see Swell Broad & The Homemaker the production has been POSTPONED!

"Convection Productions and Peanut Butter People are sad to announce that Swell Broad & The Homemaker: A Double Bill has being postponed (one day before opening).

Unfortunately, a pipe burst in our venue, The Downstage, and the theatre is completely flooded. Along with the floors, audio and lighting equipment has been damaged beyond repair. 
We are currently looking to secure a new venue for late March or early April and will keep you updated. Thank you for your continued interest and support!"
Best, Brooke Banning