Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Better than The Killing!

Whoa–ho–ho!!! This Belgian show (2016), starring Joann Blanc, will knock your socks off.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Apparently, it's Make Incorrect Assumptions About Foreign Films Week

I thought this was going to be a colder version of The Impossible (2012) and sadly had procrastinated in watching it, but the avalanche (clearly there is no need to raise a spoiler alert) is merely a prop to the action—or lack thereof. The pace is glacial and the mood is tense, and it's not coz you're waiting for another avalanche. This film is about relationship, and I mean that discretely from relationships, because that would have been to easy. Director Ruben Ostlund (2014) is picking at scabs and discomfiting the viewer, yet we're paralyzed with fascination at our own image. He also does very interesting things with music (not just the Vivaldi), and equally with silence, both aural and visual. The Force Majeure here is definitely not made of snow. 
Shout out to Ingrid Eng for the excellent subtitles.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Icelandic Gems

This looked like some funny-townsfolk comedy and imdb classifies it as a tragicomedy, but there is precious little to laugh about in Rams (2015, directed by Grímur Hákonarson). This movie is tough going but gorgeous both visually and spiritually. Slow pace and understated performances. No spoilers.
The only funny thing is that not only is the dog but the principal sheep are credited by name at the end! Awww.

An excellent TV series is Trapped (2015), a very tight police and family drama, which I won't spoil either. There are twists and turns you won't see coming, but they're all done with that Northern kind of sensibility. Subtle performances that don't need to call attention to themselves to affect. Loved it. 

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

I could have sworn I reviewed this but I can't find it here or on Beautiful Feet 1.0... Stumbled upon it and as soon as I saw and heard the E-S-A-R-I-N-T-U-L..., I remembered this wonderful film and watched it all again. Beautiful on so many levels. I appreciated it more this time, now that I knew more about director (2017) Julian Schnabel's work(s). 
An absolutely heartbreaking and at the same time inspiring movie about the true mid-life trauma suffered by Jean Dominique Bauby, chief editor of Elle magazine in France in the 90s. Excellent performances by all, including Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner, Anne Consigny and (2013) Les Beaux Jours' Patrick Chenais (who I know I reviewed but can't locate that post either. Grr.). 
After the movie, I read some background of the events from his children's points of view, which was interesting but should not be investigated til after viewing. One amateur reviewer described it as "cerebral," which I guess it is. I just like to think of Schnabel's treatment of the content as simultaneously cool and fucked up/occasionally trippy. 
As for the subtitles, you can tell they were done by a professional (probably one of my colleagues in the SUBTLE, the Subtitlers' Association) because they're pretty spot on and not like those by the many non-professional Netflix preferred vendors (usually not SUBTLErs), since it's 10 years old.
It brought to mind Me Before You (2016), Intouchables (2011), The Theory of Everything (2014) and The Sessions (2012). Which brings to mind that all of these but Intouchables represent men with handicaps being supported by strong women. Hmm.
Un bon film! Catch it while it's on Netflix.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Monday, March 6, 2017

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Cirque Éloize at CanStage

Fresh, humorous, creative, artistic and way more engaging than Cirque du Soleil, which seems a little OTT now. Artistry and strength and guts. Really excellent entertainment!

Jeannot Painchaud
Dave St-Pierre
Robert Massicotte
Stéfan Boucher
Krzysztof Soroczynski
Nicolas Descoteaux
Liz Vandal
Alexis Laurence
Patrick Lazic

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Soundstreams' Odditorium

Photo from www.soundstreams.ca

Noisy, silly, irritating. The only thing good about this was Carla Huhtanen (as usual). 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Five Faces for Evelyn Frost

Photo: canadianstage.com

It's obvious why this generation is experiencing so much anxiety and depression. This is an excellent commentary on identity and social media at Canadian Stage in English or French (see website for details). A CO-PRODUCTION WITH THÉÂTRE FRANÇAIS DE TORONTO. FEB 14 - MAR 5 (ENGLISH) MAR 21-25 (FRENCH).
Laurence Dauphinais
Steffi DiDomenicantonio
Tara Nicodemo
Nico Racicot
Alex Weiner 

Guillaume Corbeil
Steven McCarthy
Claude Poissant
Martin Labrecque
Nicolas Basque
Max-Otto Fauteux
Janicke Morissette
Philippe Massé
Natalie Gisèle
Jocelyn McDowell
Jean–François Brière
Melanie Hall

More Time Warp Than ESP: Déja Vu

With the same director (Tony Scott, 2006) and score composer (Harry Gregson-Williams) as The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009), this is like Inception and other time-space-continuum-manipulation films, but in N'awlins. Interesting backstory re:post-Katrina production on imdb. Some theological points touched on (see Patheos' brief take on it) and of course a Hollywood ending, but def my cup o' tea. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

5 1/2 Hours of Wagner

Götterdämmerung by Wagner


Siegfried Andreas Schager
Brünnhilde Christine Goerke
Hagen Ain Anger
Alberich Robert Pomakov
First Norn Lindsay Ammann
Waltraute/Second Norn  Karen Cargill
Gutrune/Third Norn Ileana Montalbetti
Gunther Martin Gantner
Woglinde Danika Lorèn
WellgundeLauren Eberwein
FlosshildeLindsay Ammann
Conductor:   Johannes Debus
Director: Tim Albery
Production Designer:   Michael Levine
Lighting Designer: David Finn
Choreographer: Patti Powell
Chorus Master: Sandra Horst
With the COC Orchestra and Chorus
A Canadian Opera Company production

Banner image: (l-r) Robert Pomakov and Ain Anger in Götterdämmerung (COC, 2017), photo by Michael Cooper.

We are shameless Robert Pomakov fans, both at the Four Seasons Centre or at his bar, Opera Bob's. Ain Anger was also excellent.
Loved the whole production: no falling asleep in this one! 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Art in the TTC


January 21 – May 21, 2017


This map, created by The Artful City in collaboration with the Martin Prosperity Institute and presented in partnership with the Art Gallery of Ontario, is the first comprehensive visual view of public art in Toronto. It reveals important patterns of production, ownership, and networks linking artists over time.
Over the last 50 years Toronto's public art landscape has grown dramatically, embracing new artists, mediums, policies and funding sources. However, this development has been concentrated in particular neighbourhoods and has prioritized certain forms of practice over others. This map shows who has access to the vast majority of the artwork and who does not. It also illustrates what type of work has received the most support.
We invite you to explore and help complete this evolving map by identifying areas in need of public artworks. What does public art mean to you? What can it look like in the future?

Community Gallery

The Community Gallery in the Weston Family Learning Centre is an exhibition and project space which provides a platform for artistic experimentation and dissemination. Focused specifically on the processes of making art, and those ideas which feed into contemporary artistic practice, the gallery seeks to take risks and push the boundaries of how work is traditionally represented within formal institutions. The space draws also on the voices of those groups, regardless of age, sex, profession, and socio-economic constraints, who are at once represented and marginalized within normal institutional channels. In doing so, the Gallery steps away from conventional definitions of what is meant by the word "Community", seeking new interpretations and evolutionary paths for the possibilities of art-making. Visit https://www.ago.net/community-arts/ for past projects in the Community Gallery.

The Artful City is a project uniting many of Toronto's cultural and educational institutions who share a commitment to supporting healthy and imaginative cities. This cumulative research, as well as the public feedback collected over the course of the AGO installation, will be presented in May 2017 at the Public Art; New Ways of Thinking and Working symposium organized by York University's School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design.

Organized by the The Artful City and the Art Gallery of Ontario
This exhibition is free admission

Above text and image from ago.net.

This was a morning well-spent. Excellent seminar and field trip with diverse in-subway examples and little-known info about the artists and their pieces from the 1970s onwards.

Cheated a bit by leaving the subway to see Michael Awad in Telus House.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Liv Stein at CanStage


Music is the only thing that matters in the life of celebrated concert pianist Liv Stein. When her son Henri dies, she gives it all up - the piano, her career, her marriage, herself. But the unexpected visit of a young promising piano student claiming to have shared Henri's last couple of years forces Liv to face past demons she is trying to forget. A mysterious pact is made that seems to reawaken Liv's will to Liv... Canadian Stage Artistic and General Director Matthew Jocelyn directs this suspenseful and exquisitely crafted drama by one of the most prodigious young voices in new German theatre.

"Liv Stein is a unique and unexpected examination of the relationship between truth and happiness. If something makes us happy, does it have to be true? In a moment when our fundamental relationship to truth is being challenged, this work provokes the audience to consider the shades of grey in what we think of as black and white"


Marc-Andre Blanchard, Nicola Correia-Damude, Caroline Gillis, Leslie Hope, Sheila Ingabire-Isaro, Geraint Wyn Davies

Photo and text from canadianstage.com. Photo credit: Cylla von Tiedemann 

This was a sensual production—not just because of the sexy bits—but because of the use of rich elements such as colour, fabric (especially drape and lack thereof), rose petals, colour and lighting. Grief was a main theme but not in a saccharine way. Good performances, but I felt Sheila Ingabire-Isaro's (as Lore) was too self-conscious, like it was her first role; she distracted from what could have been seamless. 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Calvary ✞

Like all films about the Church, this one is difficult to watch. But these performances are not to be missed.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir at St. Paul's Basilica

Photo credit: Orthodox Arts Journal

PROGRAMSergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943, Russia)The Theotokos, Ever-Vigilant in PrayerExcerpts from Vespers (All-Night Vigil):    My Soul Doth Magnify the Lord    Praise the Name of the Lord    Rejoice O VirginRiho Esko Maimets (b. 1988, Canada) Three Prayers from the Holy Rosary:I. Formula Trinitarium     II. Credo     III. Pater NosterWorld PremiereOmar Daniel (b. 1960, Canada)Sõduri Ema – Part IIIWorld PremiereAlfred Schnittke (1934-1998, Russia)Three Sacred Hymns:     Hail to the Virgin Mary     Lord Jesus, Son of God     Lord’s PrayerArvo Pärt (b. 1935, Estonia)SummaThe Woman with the Alabaster BoxNunc dimittisDopo la vittoriaEncore: Onnis on inimene by Kreek, which I knew from my Talla Vocal Ensemble CD  Riho Esko Maimets’s world premiere supported by Philip & Eli Taylor. (disappointing)Omar Daniel’s world premiere supported by the Canada Council for the Arts. (good but piece at theremin concert was better)

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Hieronymous Bosch "In the Gallery," Cineplex broadcast series

The Garden of Earthly Delights, c. 1495-1505
Fascinating overview of the oft-mistaken character of the artist and his other-worldly works. The comparisons I found between him and William Kurelek were astounding. Both thoughtful but not insane prophets of their times and the messengers of the need for self-reflection and restraint in this life. As John Franklin wrote in the Fall 2016 Imago newsletter, "...artists have the capacity to see what is coming in a culture and their work indicates the mood and values of a society." {Quoted with permission.} The details shown in this broadcast allowed for viewing just not possible in a book, even with a magnifying glass. Weirdnesses like his frequent depictions naked bodies with birds flying out of bottoms (!) and of owls; the interviewed historians noted them as harbingers of something ominous but here is a more nuanced suggestion:
Owl: the owl has a double meaning: 1) the perfidious Jews who, preferring darkness to light, reject Jesus, and 2) (from the Aberdeen Bestiary), "In a mystic sense, the night-owl signifies Christ. Christ loves the darkness of night because he does not want sinners - who are represented by darkness - to die but to be converted and live... The night-owl lives in the cracks in walls, as Christ wished to be born one of the Jewish people, saying: 'I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel'. But Christ is crushed in the cracks of the walls, because he is killed by the Jews. Christ shuns the light in the sense that he detests and hates vainglory... The night-owl flies at night in search of food, as Christ converts sinners into the body of the Church by preaching. In a moral sense, moreover, the night-owl signifies to us not just any righteous man, but rather one who lives among other men yet hides from their view as much as possible. He flees from the light, in the sense that he does not look for the glory of human praise."   (from https://www.fisheaters.com/symbols.html)

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Theremin Concert at the Music Gallery

Saw Carolina Eyck play the theremin at the Music Gallery. Guests Gregory Oh (piano and Hammond organ), James Mason (oboe) and composer D. Andrew Stewart (karlax) with the Penderecki Quartet! New pieces by Stewart and Omar Daniel. All ridiculously cool. No haunted house music here—I was amazed at its versatility.

The karlax is about a hundred years older than the theremin. Da Fact makes the digital instrument that can reproduce recorded speech, sound effects and music that is affected by gesture. Very interesting development of this century's musical landscape.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

La La Loved It

While a musical, it is set for our times, with some nods to Hollywood of the past. There are some loose ends, but there's an interesting use of colour and treatment of light. I hope it will be a catalyst for more musicals. My only complaint is that there weren't more musical numbers in it. Good fun!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

La Grande Bellezza è molto bella!

Far l'amore! Music includes Lang, Pärt, Tavener and Preisner.  *swooning* Finally gave in and got the DVD to go with my CD.

Mind Blown. Again.

Like Arrival, there are so many levels to this film. And Matt Damon.

Hans Zimmer masterpiece

It's not often that I buy soundtracks but this one's use of the pipe organ is incredible. 


"One felt nothing at all from the dead. They died, and then they were gone, and one's heart ached from the sudden absence of feeling more than from any surfeit." (pg. 247)

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Lots to digest from this

photo by Guntar Kravis 
Daniel MacIvor

Daniel Brooks

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Constellations at CanStage

Choice and destiny collide in British theatre luminary Nick Payne's startlingly original play about the infinite possibilities of love (and the quantum multiverse). A man and a woman's chance encounter sets off a singular chain of events where each path they might take shapes an entirely different future. Their sweeping and spellbinding romantic journey will defy the boundaries of the world we think we know. Director Peter Hinton brings his award-winning vision to this five-star West End and Broadway hit. 

Graham Cuthbertson
Cara Ricketts

Courtesy CanStage.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Dollhouse at CanStage

Prolific Canadian dancer/choreographer Bill Coleman (Older & Reckless) confronts a series of almost biblical challenges in this eye-opening spectacle about a man out of sync with his surroundings. Objects fall, shatter and move of their own accord creating a unique soundscape that accompanies one man's descent into chaos. Coleman, a master performer, plays the role of modern fakir as he navigates through situations, at times verging on the comic, culminating in a hypnotic symphony of sight and sound created and performed in collaboration with celebrated composer Gordon Monahan.  Courtesy CanStage.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Realistic Joneses at Tarragon Theatre



directed by Richard Rose
Nov 9 – Dec 18, 2016 in the Mainspace
Opened Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Meet the Joneses – Bob and Jennifer, and their neighbours, John and Pony – two couples who have even more in common than their identical homes and shared last names. With compassion, great humour, and a fine eye for the quirks of contemporary life, The Realistic Joneses dives deep below the surface to expose the extraordinary heroism of the everyday.
★★★1/2 (out of 4)  “Eno’s is an original theatrical voice; a poignant and pitch-perfect production; superb cast” – The Globe & Mail 
“That [Broadway] production, with a starry cast, was good, but the Tarragon one, directed by Richard Rose, is better. It’s certainly much funnier, the four actors feast on the wrong-footing and second-guessing with which these Joneses strive to keep up with one another.” – National Post
★★★ (out of 4) “[Eno] is a master of dialogue; this isn’t a disease play, or an infidelity play, or a language play – its beauty is how it shimmers between all of these.” – The Toronto Star 
NNNN “Weird, funny and unexpectedly poignant” – NOW Magazine
“Plays as funny and moving, as wonderful and weird as The Realistic Joneses, do not appear often on Broadway; a pleasurable rush virtually unmatched by anything I’ve seen this season.” – Charles Isherwood, New York Times (Broadway production)
The running time of The Realistic Joneses is approx. 1h 40minutes with no intermission.


Saturday, November 5, 2016

Private Viewing with Imago at the AGO: Mystical Landscapes

One of the best exhibits I've seen at AGO in recent years. Closes January 29, 2017.
How do you find a spark of light in the midst of darkness? CBC’s Tapestry radio show takes an intimate look at the mystical impulse in great art created during turbulent times much like our own and reveals the spiritual side of great painters such as Monet, van Gogh, and Gauguin.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Men and Their Work

I never read reviews before I go to see or hear something. I want to form my own opinions, uninfluenced. So I'm surprised to see all the hoopla about a documentary and the less enthusiastic reviews about a story (that might as well be a documentary) which I saw this week.
La loi du marché or The Measure of a Man (Brizé, 2015) is a current tale of a middle-aged man sent for retraining as part of his employment search plan after being laid off. Vincent Lindon is again wonderful (as he was in Toutes Nos Envies or All Our Desires, Lioret 2011), playing the frustrated and humiliated Thierry Taugourdeau with incredible yet affective restraint. This poignant character study and damning social commentary is top-notch film: nothing's Hollywoody-obvious and the viewer is left to decide the ending's result based on what they have judged Taugourdeau to be, when he is faced with a moral dilemma. The supporting cast is excellent, as are the untrained actors used to fill out the story. But if you're underemployed at the moment, you might want to skip it.

Fuocoammare or Fire at Sea (Rosi, 2016) seemed like it would be an interesting review of the current migrant crisis: it focuses on Lampedusa, a small island which receives waves of "boat people" from countries in crisis. The stark realities of the refugees' plights are gripping (e.g. hearing their mayday calls via ship radios), the immigration-industry's employees are shown treating them with respect (don't know if that was for the camera's sake), and the rescued masses are whittled down to a few portraits which put the viewer uncomfortably close to their private griefs and stresses: an interesting premise. But this is not just about the immigrants, it's also about the Italian inhabitants of this quaint community and their everyday lives. Which is fascinating: the near-PTSD doctor, the radio station host/producer, the fishing widows and the ridiculously charming yet ordinary 12-year-old, Samuele Caruana. However, ne'er do the twain meet. This struck me as two documentaries stuck together with hope and perhaps good intentions, but the two worlds just don't intersect on the screen. There's no comment made about the two disparate groups; there's no interaction between them. The best that can be said is that the discrete film lines are intriguing sociological studies. I don't get why it has earned awards and nominations, and it was the first time I'd ever felt somewhat ripped off by a documentary. Okay to catch on Netflix, but I wouldn't recommend hauling yourself to a theatre to pay for entry and popcorn.

If you're in the mood for a good disaster movie, I highly recommend the Norwegian box-office hit Bølgen or The Wave (Uthaug, 2015) which is currently on Netflix and has excellent performances by Kristoffer Joner, Ane Dahl Torp and Jonas Hoff Oftebro, who plays their son. The suspense is killer! 
Off to a private viewing for Imago members only of the Mystical Landscapes exhibition at the AGO tomorrow eve, then Tarragon Theatre next weekend to see The Realistic Joneses, which my friend is assitant director of. Ciao-ciao.