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Showing posts from September, 2019

The Worlds 50 Most Beautiful Cities© 2019

With material from a media release:

The Worlds 50 Most Beautiful Cities© 2019
Chosen by 1000 of the world’s top travel professionals...including me

Check Out The Whole List
• Search for cheap flights, vacation packages, hotels & more on FlightNetwork

Ask any urbanite in the world, and they will probably tell you their city is the best. So, Flight Network set out to name the World’s Best Cities© by asking the experts — a 1000+ Travel Writers, Travel Bloggers and Travel Agencies from all around the globe, who have seen and experienced the best the planet has to offer. I was one of the travel writer/bloggers on that list.

This extensive collaboration produced the most thoughtful and definitive list of the World’s Best Cities — a guide that will inspire travellers not only in 2019 but for years to come.

So grab your passport, because we’re taking you from fairytale-like pink city of Jaipur to the Game of Thrones backdrop of Dubrovnik and over to the modern metropolis of Dubai. This unp…

Interview: Da'Vine Joy Randolph Dolemite Is My Name

Da'Vine Joy Randolph
Dolemite Is My Name
Catch it in movie cinemas October 4, 2019
Stream it on Netflix October 25, 2019
As we meet Eddie Murphy's take on blaxploitation legend Rudy Ray Moore in Dolemite Is My Name, he's on the downside of his prime. He's middle-aged, selling records instead of making them, and creeping toward the edge of desperation. Still, the laughs and a relentless optimismn about what can still be hold him together. He's the has been who refuses to be a has been.
Murphy's portrayal is spot on, and certainly one of the best performances of his career, if not the best. With its over the top 1970s visual sensibilities - all neon colours, platform heels, sequins and feathers - set against the streets of seedy old Hollywood, it would be easy for this film to slide into period parody. Muphy is the story's solid heart, as the man who can seemingly pull success out of less than ashes.

The movie got its world prmeiere at the Toronto Int…

Americana: The Rightly So - Vandura (Independent / 6 September 2019)

The Rightly So - Vandura
(Independent / 6 September 2019)
Stream It On Spotify
Buy It On Bandcamp

The sound is simple - two voices, two guitars - sometimes with some help on percussion, and the music falls into familiar territory. It's the energy and sublime vocal harmonies that lift The Rightly So and their new release, Vandura, above the crows.

Hailing from Buffalo, New York, The Rightly So are guitarist/singer Gregory Zeis, and singer songwriter Jess Chizuk. Both are gifted singers, Jess a sweet high soprano, and Gregory an expressive tenor. Stylistically, they range from the vintage Americana sound of Black and Blue, and acoustic folk of Honest Kind of Peace, to bouncy guitar-driven contemporary country in You Can Bet on Me, and a bluesy Ball and Chain with its fat organ sound.

Chizak serves as songwriter, with a relatable style that talks about love and life.

If I were truthful I might scare you...

She turns storyteller in Devil's Work, a song about a hard scra…

Hotel News/Travel Spain: H10 Hotels - the H10 Palacio Colomera in Cordoba

With material from a media release:

Hotel News/Travel Spain:
H10 Hotels - the H10 Palacio Colomera
Located in the central Plaza de las Tendillas in Córdoba
Check It Out/Make A Reservation

In the summer of 2019, H10 Hotels opened the H10 Palacio Colomera. The 45-room hotel is located in the famous Plaza de las Tendillas, in the centre of Córdoba, very close to the main tourist attractions of the city.
The hotel is housed in the former Casa Colomera, a majestic palace built in 1928 and which served as the residence of the Counts of Colomera. The hotel restoration plan aimed to recreate the palatial atmosphere of the old building, from which both the façade and the two classical towers have been restored.

The interior design, carried out by Tarruella Trenchs Studio, features contemporary furniture crafted with plush fabrics. The front desk and an elegant cafeteria with large windows overlooking the Plaza de las Tendillas are located on the ground floor. From there, you can access an outdo…

Review: Kristina Stykos - River of Light (Thunder Ridge Records / 19 January 2019)

Kristina Stykos - River of Light
(Thunder Ridge Records / 19 January 2019)
Stream on Spotify
Stream on Bandcamp

"I'm a poet-musician working at the outer boundaries of the music industry, and I believe that we can all take control of our own message."

She's got a gift for creating hook-laden songs in the Americana/country style, with a nice swing underneath the breathy, spoken word style vocals. She sings about roadside diners, with a slant on life that's all her own.

The day that I surrender
And lay my chassis down
And empty my compartments
And crumble to the ground
I'll still be full of living
Cause I ain't done yet

I Like A Hard Hearted Man is vintage acoustic blues, with a slow and relentless groove. She's assembled a solid backing team of musicians for the recording, including Jackson Browne guitarist Val McCallum.

Since You Asked is a stand out track, with a catchy harmonic pattern as a backdrop to her visceral poetry. It highlights the stren…

#TIFF19 Diary ...and that's a wrap

#TIFF19 Diary
...and that's a wrap
If you even browse through my blog a little, you'll see that I write about a wide variety of arts and culture - not just film. And, to be honest, I don't quite understand how other people do it, i.e., specialize in film. After just one festival within commuting distance and a handful of freelance assignments, I'm pretty exhausted. But, some of those hardy film journos were off to another festival in yet another city.

I'd rather end my relatively brief, yet intense affair with movies on a lovely and positive note, full of great memories, and not the hotel and coffee shop food that gets old really, really fast, or those lousy pillows even the best of hotels insist on using.
Here's some of my impressions, and good-bye TIFF...till next year or so.

Day 1 (September 5)

This is the most fun day. First, brunch with other media types, including an appearance by co-heads and artistic directors Cameron Bailey and Joana Vicente for a few w…

Brazilian Indie Folk-Rock: Luiz e os Louises - Life´s a Cigarette (Independent / Sep 20, 2019)

Brazilian Indie Folk-Rock:
Luiz e os Louises - Life´s a Cigarette
(Independent / Sep 20, 2019)
Listen Online

Indie folk meets pop rock with ripples of Brazilian rhythms and sounds along the way - Life's a Cigarette by Luiz e os Louises offers an idiosyncratic take on the singer songwriter genre.

From his childhood in a small town in Brazil, Luiz Henrique Niehues has been writing music. It led him to pursue his dream of recording to New York City. That's where he connected with producer Ben Rice, and Dan Iead, Pete Remm and Greg Wieczorek, three musicians from Norah Jones' band who play on the recording.

Please Everyone is a catchy soft rocker. As a songwriter, Luiz has a nice sense of how to create hooks that stick in your ear. His wavering tenor suits the material, using his flexibility for effect on tracks like Don't Make Me Cry and After School.

He's influenced by classic old pop from mid-century America, and it shows on tracks like Mary Lou. To May is a highlig…

Ready For War: Showtime Documentary Highlights Plight of Deported US Army Vets #TIFF19

Ready For War
Directed by Andrew Renzi
Look for it on Showtime October 26, 2019
& On Demand November 22
The person who left never came home.
I struggle every day just to feel human.

Ever wonder what happens to those US veterans who are deported to Mexico? Every now and then, there is a story in the news as a veteran, a legal US resident, is deported, but if that's all you know about the subject, it's hard to truly grasp its dimensions.
As the documentary Ready For War notes, I.C.E. (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) doesn't keep any data on just how many veterans end up on the deportation list. But, as the film also illustrates, there are communities in Mexico that number hundreds, if not thousands, of people who put their lives on the line for a country that literally tossed them out.

In truth, immigrants have been fighting for America as long as there has been an America. Ready For War fleshes out the headlines by following the stories of three vets who were sent back…

Shortcuts at #TIFF19: It's Nothing - Screening September 14 2019

It's Nothing
A short film by Anna Maguire
Playing at the Toronto International Film Festival
September 15, 2019
How do you portray an eating disorder on film in a way that truly depicts its devastating effects? Canadian-British writer, director and actor Anna Maguire does it with a clever visual ruse in her latest short, It's Nothing.
Our heroine digs a hole in the park, one that is secret, but more of an open secret. It symbolizes the disease - all encompassing, leaving her covered in dirt, dishevelled, all while acting like everything's just fine. Others in her life go along with the act - except when they don't. Her mother wonders when she'll see her eat a whole meal, and a friend tells her she 'gets it', but instead of comforting her, it only ramps up her paranoia.

Canadian actor Cara Gee (The Expanse) is solid in the central role, embodying the combination of a perky, nondescript exterior and the often frantic, always conflicted interior. A film with a st…

#CelebritySighting #TIFF19 -AT&T ON LOCATION Takes Over Le Germain Hotel Toronto Merce Sept. 6-9, 2019

From a media release:

#CelebritySighting #TIFF19
AT&T ON LOCATION Takes Over Le Germain Hotel Toronto Merce
Sept. 6-9, 2019
AT&T Returns to Toronto International Film Festival with Variety Studio for 3rd Year in a Row and an All-New Activation, Location and Programming

AT&T is returning to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) Sept. 6-9, 2019 to premiere AT&T ON LOCATION, an all-new activation, talent destination and location at Le Germain Hotel Toronto Mercer.

AT&T ON LOCATION will once again host the Variety Studio presented by AT&T, a long-standing portrait and video studio for A-list actors. Guests to include Meryl Streep, Jessica Biel, Dakota Johnson, Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Tom Hanks, Robert Pattinson, Jennifer Lopez, Renée Zellweger, Shia LaBeouf, Antonio Banderas and more. Interviews will appear on and its social channels throughout the festival.…