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Showing posts from September, 2009

On Stage Toronto - an eclectic performing arts digest

An eclectic digest of what's taking the stage this fall in Toronto. Sure, you've got your Jersey Boys , your Virginia Woolf and your Cirque with Ovo still playing in town. I don't pretend to offer an exhaustive listing of what's hitting the boards in Toronto this fall - that would take me all week to compile! - but here's my look at some shows that seem particularly interesting and sometimes off beat. October 14 - Support the arts and charity too at the 8th Annual Spotlight! Cocktail Reception & Silent Auction for Fife House , featuring live performances by some of Canada's bright lights in the worlds of jazz, opera and musical theatre. Theatre: Now on stage to October 10 - Jerry Springer - the Opera returns to Toronto to offend and delight with the gleeful lack of taste of its namesake in a three week run at Hart House Theatre . It was a hit last time around, and looks to repeat its success this fall. October 1 to November 1 - After getting rave

Joaquin Nunez Hidalgo & Friends at the Lula Lounge (Toronto)

Joaquin Nunez Hildalgo Quartet Lula Lounge Friday September 25, 2009 With its pink and red décor, velvet curtains, stripes and brocade, Lula is just the right name for this cool west end lounge with hot Latin music in the unpretentious Little Portugal/Little Brazil neighbourhood. It seemed also just the right setting for the sultry "Latin fusion" of the Joaquin Nunez Hidalgo Quartet. Hidalgo's a master percussionist, and he moved easily from drumset to drumset as the heart of the ensemble, rounded out by Yoser Rodriguez on stand up bass, Jorge Betancourt on keyboards and Gareth Burgess on steel drums. As Hidalgo explained it, a trip to Trinidad turned him on to the sweet chimes of the steel drum, dulcet tones that he puts into a mix of swelling Latin rhythms and Afro-Cubanized jazz standards, along with exotica like a duet between steel drums and calimba, a handheld South African instrument. After the show, Hidalgo explained to admiring fans that the group had been p

Small World Music Festival Toronto

Small World Music Festival various venues - September 24 to October 4, Toronto You can check out what the rest of the world is listening to - some of it - at the Small World Music Festival , offering up 13 shows without missing a date from September 24 to October 4. In addition to bringing in acts that may not hit town on a regular basis, the great thing about Small World is the way it's connected with some of the city's other arts fests' in creative intersections that let you make the most of your culture time. And you can definitely shake off the end-of-summer blues with some hot tunes. Here's the line up in brief - check their website for details on how to get your tickets: September 24 - Indo Jazz Fusion with Tasa and a CD release party at the Lula Lounge September 24 - an evening of Balkan Swing with Electric Gypsyland & Funkabelly at the Gladstone Hotel September 25 - I'll be there to check out Havana Reggae with Cuban vocalist Netto Man and live

Bruriah - Special Screening September 23

Toronto Jewish Film Festival presents the Canadian premiere of Bruriah (ברוריה‎) Directed & Produced by Avraham Kushnir Written by Avraham Kushnir, Yuval Cohen, Hadar Galron & Baruch Brener Starring Hadar Galron, Baruch Brener, Israel Damidov Special screening Wednesday, September 23 (see details below) "It has everything: betrayal, death, God... sex." So says Sasha (Israel Damidov, in seond image below) the young teacher Bruriah meets in looking for a lost book. He's speaking of another Bruriah, a legendary Talmudic figure, and not coincidentally the subject of the very same book it turns out they're both tracking down. That kind of story within a story within a story pretty much illustrates the structure of this very interesting Israeli film that brings to light one of the lesser known figures of Hebrew legend as it gently poses questions of well, betrayal, death, God... and sex. Bruriah in the present day is played by London-born actress/ screen

Dance Mecca NYC

T here's far too much going on in dance in New York City for me to pretend to cover it all here, but here's a smattering of the really cool goings on that you may or may not have heard about - and this covers only the next couple of months! It's just about over, but you might be able to catch the last performances of In-I , a collaboration between Oscar winning actress Juliette Binoche and Akram Khan , a British choreographer at BAM on September 20 & 26 . The piece was directed and performed by the duo, and was called "an embodiment of romantic and physical obsession" by the Guardian during a review of their London run. As an extra treat, BAMcinématek is running a retrospective of Binoche's films throughout September. Also coming right up is Lane & Co. Dance at Le Poisson Rouge on September 21 . Lane & Co. is the brainchild of Artistic Director Lane Gifford, with a mission to explore the relationships between movement, words, art and musi

My Own Private TIFF

Ironically, my own TIFF experience this year was just about over just at the Toronto International Film Festival actually got under way, what with six advance screenings in the week and a half or so prior. I could've seen more, would've loved to of, but I am a one mere mortal with a schedule that already included working on a magazine article , editing a book manuscript under contract and a fairly tight deadline, getting four college level online creative writing courses ready for the fall semester that began September 11, a couple of modeling gigs , oh, and getting my lines ready for a play that began rehearsals on the 13th. And I have to admit I'm totally out of shape for the movie watching gig, my back was in agony by the end of it. I couldn't take much more! Two odd themes that kept coming up in my random selection of films: the general shittiness, and often cruel and brutal nature, of the human race (sigh.. it's why my at home movie collection consists o

TIFF Interview with Athena Karkanis of George Romero's Survival of the Dead

Athena Karkanis may not be a household name just yet, but if you're a horror fan, you'll recognize her as the determined Agent Perez of the Saw film franchise . At the Toronto Film Festival this year, she also starred in George Romero's Survival of the Dead, which got its North American Premiere (just days after getting rave reviews in Venice) in a Moonlight Madness screening September 12. "That film was maybe one of the hardest I've ever done," she says. "It was six weeks, all exterior shoots, all night shoots - one was in a field of mud!" Still, working with a living legend like George Romero had its perks. "In spite of all that, I had a wonderful time," she enthuses. "I was somewhat intimidated by the idea of working with him at first. We met on the first day of shooting - he wasn't at my casting audition - but he was the warmest, friendliest guy. You feel good in his hands. You don't get the sense that he's a living

TIFF Interview: In conversation with Dorothée Van Den Berghe & Matthias Schoenaerts

In conversation with Dorothée Van Den Berghe (writer/director) & Matthias Schoenaerts (actor - Raven) from the enjoyable flick, My Queen Karo , which received its World Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival . Check out my review here for more background on the film and story, and the trailer here . As a writer, Van Den Berghe used her own experiences to flesh out the details of squatter culture in Amsterdam in the mid-seventies. Like Karo, she arrived with her parents from Belgium and grew up in those heady days. ACM: One of the things I thought really succeeded in the film was that it really seemed to capture a 10 year old girl's point of view - without actually being a film for children. How did you approach that aspect of the film? Dorothée: The main reason I wanted to use that point of view is that it's such a complex thing to talk about, the 1970's. I would have had to make an elaborate documentary, social research... This way, I have a ve

Toronto Film News - TIFF & Post-TIFF

TIFF & Beyond.. Every year at the Toronto Film Festival , there seems to be one Canadian film that gets all the buzz. This year, that film seems to be Suck , Rob Stefaniuk's rock 'n roll vampire romp that features a strong cast of real rockers like Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper and Henry Rollins in a script that kinda sorta follows a Faustian theme. Check out my review here for details on the flick. There's been so much buzz, as a matter of fact, that the film, (from Capri Vision , a division of Capri Films ,) was picked up for Canadian distribution by Alliance Atlantis . “SUCK is a fantastic combination of vampire comedy and the best rock and roll ever. We’re pleased to be able to introduce the film to Canadian audiences”, said Noah Segal, EVP of Alliance Films . Hot on the heels of Alliance, Tim Brown of Joker Films (his new company) signed on to handle U.S. and international sales, and immediately after the deal was signed between Brown and the film's producers

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus (a TIFF preview)

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus (2009) Directed by Terry Gilliam Written by Terry Gilliam & Charles McKeown Starring Christopher Plummer, Lily Cole, Andrew Garfield, Verne Troyer, Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Colin Farrell North American Premiere at TIFF I like to go into film screenings cold - unprepared, not having read, seen or discussed anything that I think is likely to prejudice my viewing - and I don't get into celeb gossip, so I had no idea, for example, that this was Heath Ledger's last film before his unfortunate passing earlier this year. The ingenious solution, that of using Johnny Depp , Jude Law and Colin Farrell in succession as various permutations of the oily character Tony was, I felt, one of the film's stronger points. In some odd way that I wouldn't have anticipated, the four of them really did seem like they could have been different faces of the same man. It's a bit vague as a statement, I'll admit, but Gilliam's fantas

Suck picked up by Alliance

Alliance Films Sinks Its Teeth Into SUCK And Kick Starts Sales At TIFF 09 From a press release - my review in an earlier post here (September 8, 2009 – Toronto) Alliance Films and Rob Stefaniuk’s rock ‘n’ roll vampire movie SUCK are set to take a bite out of the Canadian market after Alliance snapped up distribution rights in advance of the film’s TIFF world premiere. The Vampire Rock ‘ n Roll Adventure from Capri Vision (a division of Capri Films) follows a group of rock ‘n’ roll wannabes in search of immortality and a record deal. Written and directed by actor/musician Stefaniuk (Phil The Alien) - who also co-wrote seven of SUCK’s 11 soundtrack songs - this rockin’ romp stars Stefaniuk, Jessica Paré, Dave Foley and Malcolm McDowell and features acting turns from Alice Cooper and his daughter Calico, Iggy Pop, Henry Rollins, Moby, Alex Lifeson, Carole Pope and Dimitri Coats. The film’s score includes, Iggy Pop’s, TVeye and Success; Alice Cooper’s, I am a Spider;

Harry Brown Review (a TIFF Preview)

Harry Brown (2009) Directed by Daniel Barber Screenplay by Gary Young Starring Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Iain Glen, Liam Cunningham, David Bradley World Premiere at TIFF in a Special Presentation About 15 minutes into Harry Brown, you'll think you know pretty much exactly what's going to go down. Caine, inhabiting the role as only he can, stars as Brown, a weary pensioner living in a dreary "estate" apartment somewhere in a grimy corner of urban U.K., whose days consist of hopeless visits with his failing wife at her hospital bedside and afternoons at the pub playing chess over a pint with his friend, Leonard ( David Bradley ). He goes the long way around when the thugs who have more or less taken over the estate threaten from an underpass, and shuts the curtains when they mob and assault a man while stealing his car underneath his window. He listens in horror as his buddy talks about living in fear of their harassment and threatens revenge. It's been men

Agora Review (a TIFF Preview)

Agora (2009) Directed by Alejandro Amenábar Written by Alejandro Amenábar & Mateo Gil Starring Rachel Weisz, Max Minghella, Oscar Isaac, Ashraf Barhom, Michael Lonsdale, Rupert Evans, Sami Samir North American Premiere at TIFF in a Gala Presentation It's 4th Century A.D. in Alexandria, Egypt , one of the last bastions of a Roman Empire that's crumbling from within due to a number of elements, and the film makes clear that one of those elements is the growing early Christian movement. In the city's legendary library, Hypatia , played by Rachel Weisz , a Platonic philosopher, mathematician and astronomer of the old Roman order teaches her pupils and acts as guardian of the city's store of knowledge until the Christian hordes - who, like any revolutionary movement of the disenfranchised throughout history, have more or less degenerated into a mob thirsting for revenge - come to destroy it. Don't let the film's two hour runtime, or the weighty subject matter t

Triage Update - video clip

Hot off the presses and just released to us media types, here's a clip of a pivotal scene from the movie Triage, starring Colin Farrell, seen here with Jamie Sives as David. I've also added a couple of pics to my review of the flick, below.

Triage (a TIFF preview)

Triage (2009) Written & Directed by Danis Tanovic Starring Colin Farrell, Christopher Lee, Branko Djuric, Jamie Sives, Paz Vega, Kelly Reilly A World Premiere & Special Presentation Damn you Colin Farrell for making me cry! If you're going to the Toronto International Film Festival at all this year, Triage is a must see, a truly engrossing film that features masterful storytelling and nuanced, completely convincing performances; one that tackles some of the darker realities of human existence with a view that seems entirely authentic, and truthful in a way that mainstream films so very seldom are. Farrell plays Mark Walsh, a cocky freelance combat photographer as the story (but not actually the film itself) begins. Along with close friend and partner David (Jamie Sives), he's in Kurdistan in 1988, just as Saddam Hussein's campaign against the Kurds is heating up. They find themselves in a kind of military hospital being run out of caves, with no running water o

My Queen Karo (a TIFF preview)

My Queen Karo (2009) Written & directed by Dorothée Van Den Berghe Starring Déborah François, Anna Franziska Jaeger, Matthias Schoenaerts, Maria Kraakman One of the joys of the Toronto International Film Festival is that it brings the opportunity to see cool films you'd never otherwise see in your local Cineplex, and My Queen Karo - a Dutch/Belgian offering that will have its World Premiere at TIFF - is just such a gem. A thoughtful, character based film, the story follows the (mis)adventures of a motley crew of hippie-squatters in 1974 Amsterdam through the eyes of Karo, a ten year old girl who arrives from Belgium with her father Raven and mother Dalia. It's Déborah François who headlines the credits as Dalia, (a gorgeous rising Euro star who had a breakout film in 2005 with Jean-Pierre Dardenne 's l'enfant,) but this is entirely Anna Franziska Jaeger's film in the role of wide eyed Karo as she quietly observes the world of adults around her. Van Den Be