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Showing posts from 2017

On Hiatus

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TIFF17: What I Saw/My Favourite Film

Of the 34 features that I saw at TIFF17, my absolute favourite is The Shape of Water, directed by Guillermo del Toro and written by del Toro and Vanessa Taylor

Ava DisappearanceEuphoriaEuthanizerEx Libris - The New York Public LibraryEye on JulietGrace Jones: Bloodlight and BamiI Love You DaddyIn Conversations with…Gael Garcia BernalIn Conversations with…Javier BardemLadybirdLet the Corpses TanMary Goes RoundMiamiNinaOther Side of HopeOur People Will Be HealedPorcupine LakeRavensRoman J. Israel, EsquireShort Cuts (various Programme selections)The Big Bad Fox & Other TalesThe Current WarThe Gospel According to AndreThe HungryThe Other Side of HopeThe Racer and the JailbirdThe Royal Hibiscus HotelThe Shape of WaterThe SquareThe SwanThe Third MurderValley of ShadowsVampire ClayWhat Will People Say

TIFF17: The First Film

I wanted to ease into TIFF17, so my first screening was the Frederick Wiseman documentary Ex Libris - The New York Public Library. Yep, you got that right. I decided to kick off the festival with a three-hour film. Why? Because I'm a library geek and how could I  go wrong with a master documentarian? Still, I watched the film with the general public in mind. Beyond its appeal to like-minded people, this doc has a lot to say about current social and political conditions in the United States. We don't just see people borrowing books, we get a glimpse into the various boroughs in which these libraries are located. The make-up of each area determines the library's usage: some borrowers don't have access to the Internet, cutting them off from what's happening around them and father afield. With hook-ups and laptops available from the library they now have access. While some areas have a high volume of digital borrows, books flourish in others, and culturally diverse ma…

TIFF17: Chatting Short Cuts Programmes with Jason Anderson

TIFF17 kicks off Sept 7 and I don't want you to forget the Canadian and International short films that will be screening at the festival. The beauty of the Short Cuts programmes is that you get the chance to see little gems communicating ideas that you can ponder or laugh about later. I haven't see all the films, but I did get the opportunity to let TIFF programmer, Jason Anderson share his delight in his team bringing these 8 film programmes to the big screen at TIFF. Have a listen and then visit for detailed information.

SummerWorks 17 Review: Mother Sea/Manman la mer & What Do You See?

DOUBLE BILL: Mother Sea/Manman la mer teamed with What Do You See?Please note that you will be stamped for reentry as there is a changeover break between the two shows.

Mother Sea/Manman la mer
Written by Djennie Laguerre
Directed by Rhoma Spencer
Program Description: In the tradition of Haitian storytelling, Mother Sea / Manman la Mertakes us on a journey that joins magic, love, and redemption. It is the story of a woman who can see the future in her dreams but is cut off from her abilities by her mother’s fear. After healing from a mysterious sickness, her dreams disappear along with her sense of self. 25 years later, only her grandmother can restore her faith and her ancestral lineage.

Seasoned storyteller, Djennie Laguerre, always invites her audience to follow along on her journeys. When she says "krick" she invites you to respond "krack", meaning you hear and acknowledge what she sharing, whether its serious or funny. Djennie starts off well with the tale of a you…

SummerWorks 17 Reviews: DIVINE, SPAWN

Written by Natalie Frijia, 
Directed by Claire Burns
Program DescriptionOntario is out of water and a pair of bandits search for their last hope – a water diviner by the name of Penn. Stories say she can crack the world like a coconut and make water bubble to the surface with nothing but her hands. But the bandits aren’t the only ones hunting her down. nithungAnd what if there’s nothing left for Penn to divine?

My Thoughts: Amanda Cordner (Penn) has a self-assured stage presence that commands attention. That's what makes a great lead, but, even if she was playing a supporting character, your eye would still follow her, she's that captivating. Unfortunately, not even Cordner's talents can save this mess. The convoluted plot is compounded by affected Western accents that are often difficult to understand, resulting in a loss of thematic focus.  The acting ranges from excessively broad to stilted, and some of the  extraneous "bandits" contribute nothing to the …

Citizen Jane: Battle for the City

Its fascinating to watch the historic battle play out between Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses in Matt Tyrnauer's documentary, Citizen Jane: Battle for the City. Voicing Jacobs is Marissa Tomei while Moses is voice by Vincent D'onofrio. Archival documents and communication about city planning as well as footage of cities like New York and Chicago illustrate some of the damage created by architects and top down planners of the past. We are able to see what works and what doesn't, how the same issues are being repeated today (block towers again in China and India) and how citizens must mobilize in order to have a say in how cities are developed. The question of who gets to decide is still one that is being debated all over the world, especially as cites are growing at a never-before seen rate.

Using the term "housewife", a reductive term in the pre-feminist era, the powers that be thought they could reduce the impact that Jane Jacobs and her organized groups of like-m…

"David Lynch: The Art Life", A Painterly Doc

Filmmaker Jon Nguyen and his team adroitly capture a cinematic reflection of subject David Lynch in the aptly titled documentary, "David Lynch: The Art Life". The colours of Lynch's artistry and recollections are painted in tones of smoke, charcoal and dirty silver, the occasional burst of natural yellow (enrobing a solitary Lynch as he works outdoors) and the thick layers of the reds and greens Lynch applies to his canvasses. 

Watching artists at work is a treat for me: seeing what they choose to create, why they choose to bring it into existence and the impact of their mental and physical states on what they produce. With Lynch acting as his own narrator, we get the opportunity to hear personal details of his idyllic childhood in Boise, Idaho, the family's move to Alexandria,Virginia where a teenage Lynch felt as if he was living in perpetual night, his time at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, where the miasma of racism and fear that hung over the city nevert…

Drabinsky's Sousatzka A Waste of Talent

Sitting in the audience of Sousatzka on Opening Night, there were moments when I hung my head at what was allowed to be presented on the stage of the Elgin Theatre. 
Based on the novel Madame Sousatzka by Bernice Rubens, this incarnation is a Garth Drabinsky produced version in which a young piano prodigy (actor Jordan Barrow) is caught between the demands of his mother (Montego Glover) and a very forthright music teacher (Victoria Clark). The show attempts to link the oppression faced by Sousatzka in Nazi occupied Warsaw and the oppression faced by those living under Apartheid in South Africa, in particular, Soweto. This glorious theme of unity is undermined by the production's own ignorance. How could they be so blind to their offensive portrayal of Soweto, and South Africa. When they chose to include projections of the savanna, did no one investigate the fact that Soweto is an urban setting, not grassland? When the script made fun of someone's name did they not realize that …

Director John Shooter on Radiant Vermin

Note: Apologies to all for this late interview post. I was blindsided by a horrible cold that sapped my energy and  concentration.

donna g: Radiant Vermin makes the second time that Precisely Peter Productions is presenting a play by Philip Ridley. Was this always the intent, or were you spurred on by the success of Pitchfork Disney?

John Shooter: Philip Ridley is one of my favourite playwrights. I love his imagery, his sneaky twists and turns and the fact that, even his darkest, most gruesome plays are laced with black humour! I intend to do a trilogy of his plays.

donna g: Plans with your first venue fell through. Once you got past the panic, how did you deal with the resulting challenges?

John Shooter: I intended to stage Radiant Vermin in Double Double Land. However, following the fire (of a DIY creative venue) in LA (which killed 36 people), many such venues around the world have now been under strict inspection and have been forced to close. Even if they do in fact comply with healt…