Stop Press – My picks of cool upcoming “Don’t miss” Experiences” in Toronto

Of course this is not an exhaustive list (you’d need to read “Now” cover to cover for weeks for that sort of detail) and doesn’t include the Stratford,& Shaw Festivals and summer contenders like Caribana, Canadian Stage Shakespeare in High Park etc. The following is stuff that is either upcoming, doesn’t fit a particular genre or which maybe a little out of the ball park.

Going going gone – Until Saturday June 1 at the Yonge centre “Video Cabaret” perform this incredibly original interpretation of the “War of 1812”. One chapter in Michael Hollingsworth’s epic 21-part play-cycle, “The History of the Village of the Small Huts” this has to be seen even if you are not into Canadian History. A cross between Punch and Judy, Spitting Image and a Restoration comedy you will be blown away by this intimate theatrical production

Agatha Christies -“The Mousetrap”
Originally commissioned by the BBC in 1952 to celebrate Queen Mary’s 80th birthday- Agatha Christie’s Mousetrap is the longest running play in the history of live theatre. Celebrating over 60 years of continuous performance it is currently playing at Lower Ossington theatre till June 19
Phone: 416-915-6747

“The Sonnet Show” at Montgomery’s Inn
Montgomery’s Inn is the century old Inn that is home to the Humber River Shakespeare Co.
14 lines – A Shakespeare sonnet serves as an inspiration for a new play
14 days – A writer to write the play
14 minutes – each new play will run 14 minutes
Different eh?
Everything we’ve seen these guys do has been a blast so this should be no exception.
May 24

The Scriptease show is coming to the Tank House theatre in June. Both Naomi Sniekus and Matt Baram (collectively The National Theatre of the World) are seasoned improv artists and Second City alumni.
They do a progressive improv show at the John Candybox Theatre on Peter Street on Friday nights where beside their own brand of brilliant “seat of your pants” comedy they showcase new and promising acts.
The Scriptease show has been running for a few years on and off in some of Toronto’s most interesting theatre spaces such as “Passe Muraille” and the now defunct “Bread & Circus” stage.
Here’s how it works: they ask ten well known playwrights to write the first two pages of a play. They do a cold reading of the two pages and then improvise the rest of the play. They are in costume and there’s a set.

“Book of Mormon”
Currently playing, this irreverently witty, camp and gobsmackingly politically incorrect stage show is a collaboration between South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and Avenue Q co-creator Robert Lopez (so you get the picture right?) playing at the Princess of Wales theatre until June 9.
Look out for the welcoming committee of suited and booted young Mormons recruiting outside the theatre before each show!…/thebookofmormon

The Tall Ships are visiting Toronto Harbour in June
To see our modern skyline vying with the jumble of masts from tall ships berthed on Toronto Harbour is unforgettable!
Don’t miss the official launch of the TALL SHIPS® 1812 Tour. 20-23 June 2013.
Toronto will be the only port to host the full fleet of ships as they travel throughout Ontario during this pan-provincial event to commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812. .
For more info See my blog “The Tall Ships have left Toronto harbour written after their last visit in July 2010.

Free Movies at Yonge/Dundas Square
One of Toronto’s many free outdoor summer movie pop-ups opens at City Yonge Dundas Square end June through August.
Edward Scissorhands/ Napoleon Dynamite, Anchorman and other off the wall movies
Free start at 9pm Tuesdays

Oh and if you’re into ZeppelinTribute band Zeppelinesque play Yonge Dundas square on July 19 as part of Indiefest

Summer Music Series at “Casa Loma”
The wonderful homegrown ballad -maker Jesse Pitcher pitches up on June 25 at Casa Loma as part of their Summer Music series
Oh and for Fathers Day how about becoming a Knight for the day? – also at Casa Loma
Plus you can also learn archery, bee keeping, or track ghosts there this summer
Just sayin…….
See website for details

The Warplane Heritage Museum – Hamilton
It’s “fly in a WW2 plane” experience begins in June. There are around 16 warplanes that you can book a flight on, with the iconic Lancaster bomber being at the top of the tree. For a cool $2800 or so (with tax receipt) you can have an hour’s flight on the only passenger operating Lancaster in the world!!
She and the other aircraft start flying June 1 but a warning: the Lancaster’s flying days are numbered – she is almost at her sell-by date. For more info visit my blog on the museum “Bombs Away” 18 September 2012 or visit

Coming in October at the Yonge Centre – “The Norman Conquest trilogy”
This Alan Ayckbourne trilogy (written in 1973) has lost none of its freshness and appeal because it’s subject matter – the human condition remains unchanged no matter which century.
6 characters take the stage in three different plays that take place on the same weekend in different parts of the house and garden
Each play “Table Manners”, “Living Together” and “Round and Round the Garden” – is self-contained, and may be watched in any order, some of the scenes overlap, and on occasion a character’s exit from one play corresponds with his/her entrance in another.

Oh and for any “I Love Lucy fans, some of the antics of the feisty red-headed iconic heroine are being showcased in the upcoming “I Love Lucy” stage show in November

Over and Out




Flix in a Tick

Actress Katherine Heigl arrives at the 59th An...

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Life As We Know It

Katherine Heigl  – Holly Berenson, an up-and-coming caterer and Josh Duhamel –  Eric Messer  – a promising sound engineer become caregivers to an orphaned girl when their mutual best friends die in an accident. chick flick; Katherine Heigl doing what she does best/Josh Duhamel yum; put your brain in a box for the duration
Cas-rating – 7/10 for above reasons
Starring Matt Damon and french actress Marie de France (what a great name), the plot is based on the stories of three people, each haunted by their mortality through different experiences. Though geographically remote from one another will , their lives intercept and that is far as I will go with the plot. This is no Bourne Identity and much slower paced than the usual Matt Damon genre. In fact a tadge turgid and predictable. Thought it was going some place more interesting with the plot but no………
Cas-rating  5/10 –     
Red  (Retired and Extremely Dangerous)
Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren.Over hyped and predictable – Jolly food tomp for baby-boomers but didn`t deliver (for me)
Cas-rating 4/10
Fair Game
From the director of The Bourne Identity and starring  Naomi Watts and Sean Penn.
Based on real-life CIA agent  Valerie Plame who was “outed”by White House officials who were allegedly intent on discrediting her husband after he wrote a 2003 New York Times op-ed piece saying that the Bush administration had manipulated intelligence about weapons of mass destruction to justify the invasion of Iraq.
Cas-rating 8/10
The Social Network
You know the story –  2003 Harvard undergrad and computer programming genius Mark Zuckerberg sits down at his computer and in creative frenzy of programming and blogging from his dorm room initiates what will become the global social network phenomenon that is Facebook Just 6 years and 500 million friends later, Mark Zuckerberg is the youngest billionaire in history. Jesse Eisenberg puts on a good show as the socially inept but genius Zuckerberg and his much publicized personal and legal wrangles.\
Cas-rating 7/10
 Due Date
Peter Highman (Robert Downey Jr.) is an expectant first-time father whose wife`s (played by Michelle Monaghan) due date is just five days away. Forced through circumstances to hitch a ride with Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galianakis), an aspiring actor with issues; they embark upon a road-trip in a bid to make it home in time for the birth.
Cas-rating 8/10
Jesus – even the audience were giggling at the incongruity and ridiculousness of the story line – we’re talking “A Star is Born” with suspenders and no commitment to plotline. Make no mistake this is simply a vehicle for the chamelion-like Christina Agulera to make her acting debut. Your husbands/male partners will love it; only one really spectacular scene at the end – all a tadge watered down re the sets concentrating on gyrating lithe (impossible to aspire to female form perfection and agility) bodies in burlesque costumes. Cher played –  of course –  the usual implacable character – or maybe it’s that her face doesn’t move properly anymore – dunno – BUT she looked amazing; of course she was show-cased during a couple of  numbers – Christina – back off, this women is a legend – her coffee -laced smoky vocals  – mesmerizing.
Cas-rating 5/10
Love & Other Drugs
This got slammed by the critic on a purely superficial level I quite enjoyed it . Of course had low expectations and not a HUGE fan of Jake Gyllenhal – I know sacrilege but each to their own/ Anne Hathoway playing the usual intelligent articulate tragic woman – a few “Rachel getting Married” acting moments.
Cas-rating 7/10
 Down Terrace
Dropped off for a moment of two during this and missed a pivotal part of the movie – people kept disappearing. Fortunately an accompanying friend filled me in before I got any more confused. Set in my favourite city in the UK – Brighton – this is NOT the Brighton I know or understand. Especially effective as a production because the people in it (working class small time crooks – are so ordinary and recognisable to the average Brit, and the action so incongruously casually violent!
Cas-rating 6/10 – this will not cheer you up
Nowhere Boy
John Lennon`s childhood profiled. Starring  Aaron Johnson, who certainly had the look of a young John Lennon, who to all intents and purposes (according to this film), was a cocky and arrogant teen brought up by his Aunt – the ever so frosty Kristen Scott-Thomas.
Cas-rating 5/10
Tamara Drew
Bit silly and very old-school British. Beautifully shot in the Dorset countryside, very much along the lines of under-rated British comedy – `Mum`s the word` starring Kriisten Scott Thomas (again) and Rowen Atkinson, but not as amusing.
Cas-rating 5/10
127 Hours
Starring the gorgeous James Franco or James Falco as The Star
reported last Saturday – dear God – who proof reads this stuff. Magnificent acting – this guy is not only lush to look at but knows his craft. Be warned – Gory as in Hannibal Lecter gory -close your eyes and cover up your ears in some scenes. Based on a true story so you already know the ending guys – but still on the edge of seat throughout.
Cas-reading 9/10 
Morning Glory
Really Enjoyed – chick flick. Harrison Ford, grumpy and incoherent (but wearing the same bewildered expression he exhibits in all his films)Cas-rating 8/10
Denzel Washington – playing himself and Chris Pine (StarTrek – CAptain Kirk) yum – who cares if it’s crap!!Again slammed by the critics but I could hardly breathe it was so FASSSSSSSST………
cas-rating 8/10
The Town
Ben Affleck is an unrepentant criminal, the  leader of a group of ruthless bank robbers, who falls for one of his victims
Clever and the best Benn Affleck has been for yonks
Cas-rating 8/10
Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows
What can I say – The latest Harry Potter movie ROCKS – Just terrific and not let down too badly by the ending – to be continued……………
The absolute best so far – No way should tots and kiddies go to this – I honestly JUMPED out of my seat twice. So great to have “grown up” with these movies and weird to have my 19 year old along for the film franchise he spent his formative years watching with his head  covered up during the scary bits.
Cas-rating 20/10



More Movies

Life During wartime
Absolutely dreadful. With the two of the same actors that were in the wonderful Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, I was irritated before the first 5 minutes were up. I normally enjoy Shirley Henderson’s clipped high-pitched inimitable voice (remember her as the neurotic suicidal  friend in Bridget Jones).
The first interminable scene where the camera stays fixed on a couple dining in a restaurant with weird flashbacks and ghostly apparitions goes on way too long. I begin to wonder if it’s me that’s gone barmy, the human emotion is too contrived and out of context and the premise for these emotion ridiculous. Couldn’t waste the precious moments of my life sitting through this
Going the Distance
Drew Barrymore & Justin Long of “Apple” advertising fame, and ex boyfriend of Barrymore. Apparently much of this script was improvised though quite frankly they would have been better of with a script. I thought it was way beneath Barrymore; although I’m wondering if she is trying to widen her appeal to encompass the teen market. Whilst there was nothing sophisticated or smart about this film for my taste,it would definitely have appealed to my teenager. The only funny part was the so frequently “trailed” making-out on the dining room table bit. And Christina Applegate – I can only imagine she must be short of a dime or two ……………
The American
Love George Clooney, but really this was –  to borrow a Shakespeare title –  “Much Ado about Nothing”. The glorious Italian scenery back-dropping the entire movie made it worthwhile. I thought the “twist” was a little too obvious although my other half didn’t get it until the very end; but for the most part you are kept guessing. George Clooney is starting to make a habit of playing these lonely, isolated self-sufficient stark robot-like personalities –  “Up in the Air” being an example. Can George’s character redeem himself?

Cover of "Never Let Me Go"

Cover of Never Let Me Go


Never Let Me Go
Whoa – Keira Knightly watch out; Carey Mulligan steals the movie  – It was only last year that she became a BAFTA Award winning Actress in a Leading Role in“An Education” and her break-out performance was only 5 years ago as Kitty Bennet” in Pride & Prejudice, again with Keira Knightly).
The premise of the film is bleak and unimaginable in this day and age. Based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, it opens the door on a world where children are “bred” purely for the purpose of donating organs.  A world where children simply believe unquestioningly what they are told to believe and who, when they find out the reason for their cloistered upbringing accept utterly –  and even take pride in –  the fact that their sole existence is for the purpose of donating body-parts until the point at which they “teminate”.
You Again
Jamie Lee Curtis – new respect for this woman since she appeared naked in all her middle-aged glory in one of the British tabloids about 6 years ago –  Oh and I LOVED “Freaky Friday” with her and Lindsay Lohan switching bodies.
She stars alongside Sigourney Weaver; Kristen Bell and newcomer Odette Yustman (who has a bright bright future if her performance in this film is anything to go by – she looked like a young Yasmin LeBon.
After all the serious heavy films of the last few weeks, this was immensely enjoyable and light-hearted
Wall StreetMoney Never Sleeps
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

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Michael Douglas in all his hard-edged ruthless self-serving glory.

Shia Laboeuf and Carey Mulligan (again).
If you’d never seen the original Wall Street (1987 – really?), it wouldn’t matter. Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko has just been released from prison, and the new plot revolves around him, his estranged daughter and her fiancé. The plot hinges around Gekko and the premise of whether “the leopard can really change his spots”. As with the 1980’s film “Trading Places”, I got a little lost with all the financial wheeling and dealing (and this from a Corporate Banker!), but that’s not really the point. Taking place as it does amidst the recession and spectacular crashes of the last couple of years, it highlighted the incredible greed, wealth and corruption of the few at the expense of the masses.
Cover of "The Accidental Billionaires: Th...The Social Network
What an excellent movie, which despite all the necessary programming jargon and the Harvard old school tie pomp, was absolutely riveting; especially as it is based on Ben Mezrich’s original non-fiction novel, “The Accidental Billionaires” (2009). It’s amazing how much has been pieced together about the development of “Facebook” without the input of the film’s main protagonist and co-founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg or indeed any of the employees of Facebook; although Eduardo Saverin the co-founder did act as a consultant for the book.
Jesse Eisenberg plays Zuckerberg and with his particular detached monotone brand of performance he appears to well suited to the image of Zukerman (still the world’s youngest ever billionaire) that this film –  and indeed appears to be trying to portray.
You Will Meet A Tall Dark
Gemma Jones (“Bridget Jones’ ” Mother), Pauline Collins, Josh Brolin  (Phwoar); Naomi Watts and Anthony Hopkins amongst others.
As delightful as only a Woody Allen film can be and without the appearance of Woody Allen at all.
Starts as all Allen films with the same style of jazz music and the same stylised credits as all his films – very nostalgic and familiar and part of the Woody Allen offer. All his characters are paralysed with neurosis as you would expect. Set in one of London’s leafy core districts, as usual I am left wondering how these people could possibly afford to live in such areas – but as with “Friends” and “Seinfeld”, this is not the point. Gemma Jones is wonderful as the broken and bitter rejected wife. Of course everyone’s day to day minutia is horribly complex and there is a particular “ah-ha” moment that is an absolute unrealised delight.

A Tale of TIFF – The Toronto International Film Festival Enigma

Street Sign for Bloor Street West, near St Geo...

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Once again I have been fortunate enough to have been “given” tickets to a TIFF premiere, “Janie Jones” starring Abigail Breslin and Elizabeth Shui. With priority tickets in hand we avoided all the queues and waltzed straight into The Roy Thomson Hall with time for an vastly inflated chardonnay and a spot of “high heel” coveting – this is always a “dressy event” The Roy Thomson Hall doesn’t have a bad seat in the house, After all the pre movie screened hype, the Director and actors were hauled onto the stage to bow and wave inanely at the audience like prized dogs. The Director gave a short and well rehearsed spiel citing his own experience with meeting his daughter for the first time late in her life, as the inspiration behind the film, and with the “stars” seated in the next “floating” block of seats to ours, the film began.
Having had the privilege 2 years running of attending a TIFF premiere, and with various friends and colleagues claiming sightings of various celebrities on Bloor Street West and at various galas, I started to do some research on the whole TIFF enigma.
Gotta love Toronto  – not (yet) an architecturally glamorous city like Chicago or new York, it has still managed to become home to the leading film festival in the world  – TIFF – hosting over 320 films from 60 countries in 10 fabulous theatres.
This year TIFF headquarters moved into the stunning new Bell Light box on King and John – which by the way is shortly the next stop for a huge Tim Burton exhibition from the MOMA in New York. It will also house archive films, and has 5 state of the art theatres
We had a host of celebs in town including Woody Allen; James Brolin; Diane Lane; Ryan Reynolds; Marianne Cotillard; Carey Mulligan; Emily Mortimer; Eva Mendes; Kevin Spacey; Natalie Portman; Hilary Swank; Rachel McAdams; Robert Redford, Martin Sheen, Clint Eastwood; Matt Damon, Zach Galifianakis, Colin Firth and Bruce Springsteen.
Some of the movies “Tiffed” this year included:
Easy A
Blue Valentine – Ryan Gosling/Michelle Williams
Never Let Me Go –Kiera Knightly/Carey Mulligan
127 Hours – James Franco
Black Swan – Natalie Portman
The King’s Speech – Colin Firth
Valentine –  Jessica Alba, Kathy Bates and Jessica Biel
Barney’s Version – Paul Giamatti
Made in Dagenham – Sally Hawkins
I have to confess to being completely “at sea” when it comes to the booking protocols that surround the festival. So I “interviewed” a colleague at work who takes a week off work every year and sees around 30 films or so.
Firstly you should be doing your homework on the films to be featured at TIFF, long before the event, so that when the schedule is published on-line only a few days before the start of the festival, you have all your ducks in a line as regards films you wish to see.
You need to study the colour-coded e-schedule and consider the following:
  • Where the film is showing
  • Film date and duration
  • And whether you have enough time to travel from one film to another.
Some people use an excel spreadsheet, others do it manually, i.e. writing each film on a separate post-it note and then placing them in date/time clusters first.
If you want to live and breathe Tiff for the entire week, then your best bet is to buy a TIFF package.
The process works like this:
In early July you can buy the package either in person or online/by telephone.
If you buy in person, vouchers will be given to you on the spot.
If you purchase on line/telephone before the deadline date in August, vouchers will be mailed to you.
If you purchase online/telephone after the deadline date, you can pick up your vouchers from either the Festival box office before a given date or after that date from another location
CONFUSED yet – it gets better!
Towards the end of August (another deadline) you can pick up the Advance Order Book at the Festival Box Office.
On this same date you can also either purchase a Programme Book or access this online – in order to establish which films are showing at the Festival.
You make your first and second choice of films in the Advance Order Book
You drop off the completed Advance Order Book (at the Festival Box Office by 1pm on another given date (usually at the end of August).
This is placed in an envelope which in turn is placed in a numbered box.
A random number is drawn and the processing of the packages begins numerically from that box number (so say number 9 is “randomly” drawn; the box office staff start to process all the envelopes in that box first so those with advance order books  in box 9 are likely to get their choice of films.)
You will be emailed a list of your confirmed films usually within a couple of days
You pick up your tickets at the Festival Box office from the beginning of September (again a deadline date will be specified on the website)
If you want to exchange selections, you can do it on that day and up until 7pm before the screening of the film for which you are exchanging.
Just for fun, let’s look at this year’s key dates:
  • July 5: Packages go on sale (Visa cardholders only) 
  • July 12: Packages go on sale (cash & debit cards) 
  • August 2 TIFF Box Office closed
  • August 18: Film list available online
  • August 24: Film schedule available online 
  • August 24: Program Book available for pick up 
  • August 24: Advance Order book available 
  • August 30: before 1pm Drop off advance Order Book (film selection) 
  • August 30: at 1pm Draw day 
  • Ticket Pick Up begins: September 2
  • Ticket Exchange begins: September 2
Still want to be a die-hard “Tiffie”?
There is a less laborious option, and that is to let the TIFF staff choose the films for you. This is called the TIFF Choice package. To give you an idea of how much shorter the process, this year’s key dates were:
  • Packages go on sale (Visa cardholders only) July 5
  • Packages go on sale (cash or debit) July 12 : (purchase in person, by phone or online)
  • Ticket pick up begins September 2 (at Festival Box Office or Venue Box Office the day of the first screening)
Of course you can always buy tickets for individual movies in person, by phone or online from the beginning of September as advertised.
Yep I love movies, but restless leg syndrome would set in after only 2 movies a day, let alone 6 or 7.
So I’ll take just one exceptional gala or premiere performance over a week of yomping around Toronto seeing doing double digit viewings any-day.
Gotta Love Toronto though!!
Over and Out

Five Minute Flicks

Eat Pray

Cover of

Cover via Amazon

The opening scene is a load of self-indulgent twaddle, but fortunately the film does pick up to the extent where the 2 hours 13 minutes it takes to follow Elizabeth Gilbert’s year-long journey of self discovery, doesn’t seem to drag.
The cinematography was spectacular and having been to all three of the films locations, (two of them on my own) I just wanted to book myself onto the next flight to Bali – but just for a holiday not a self-discovery journey. (You discover a lot about yourself when you move lock stock and barrel to a strange country far away from your family and friends and the places you love!).
I will be unpopular for this viewpoint (what’s new!), but It’s a shame she took a year to “find” herself, I could tell you exactly what was wrong with her in the first 3 minutes of the film. She was/is self-absorbed, spoilt, entitled and has commitment issues (so you didn’t like her Carol?). The concept of this film will be so alien to many women who don’t have the luxury or the funds to just take-off when life gets a little “challenging”; but I guess that’s the point, and the reason the book  became a best-seller and a film. The view-point, though not unique is aspirational. She makes it look like the easiest thing in the world to bugger off and hook up with all sorts of influential and life changing entities along the way. Of course being pretty and Julia Roberts does help in any language – and Julia Roberts just happens to look a lot like Elizabeth Gilbert
Actually I started to get a feeling of déjà -vu. Remember Shirley Valentine (1989) read this synopsis lifted directly from
“Overcome by the drudgery of everyday domestic life, housewife Shirley

Cover of

Cover of Shirley Valentine

Valentine (Pauline Collins) wishes for a change of pace. When her best friend Jane (Alison Steadman) invites her on a free trip to Greece, she simply cannot refuse. After a few days of lounging on golden Mediterranean beaches, Shirley is back to her sprightly old self, and when she meets Costas Caldes (Tom Conti), the two engage in an unforgettable love affair which will change their lives forever.”

So “Eat Pray Love” is little more than an up to the minute more stylish and middle class version of Shirley Valentine, after all

 The hype was much more incredible than the film…
The Other Guys –
Starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg and neither as the stereotyped characters they normally play. In fact a complete role reversal, with the pair as a mismatched cop team. Mark Wahlberg is the loser and Will Ferrell the guy who woman fall-over for.
Loved it.
Scott Pilgrim versus the
Starring the latest twenty-something luvvie – Michael Cera (Juno; Youth in Revolt; Superbad)
Two reasons I went to see this movie:

Scott Pilgrim vs The World

Image by THX7168 via Flickr

  1. It is set in Toronto
  2. I like to get a look-see into my 18 year old’s world (sad I know)
I needn’t have bothered, apart from incredibly clever graphics and zany effects, I was bored witless and left early, and my son and his mate later informed me that it sucked and that Michael Cera was a douchebag…………
The Switch –
I had really looked forward to this movie which was “touted” by critics in various papers as a Romcom with a twist that made it different.
It was entertaining for sure but I wasn’t blown away and it was predictable in every respect.
Jason Bateman looked good enough to eat, and was described in a hilarious scene  – featuring a homeless character with Tourette’s who standing at a crossing shouts out his vicious but accurate  “takes” on people he spots from his vantage point – as a “beady eyed looking little man boy”.
Jennifer Aniston played Jennifer Aniston again, and has probably put print blouses and V neck cropped pullovers back on the fashion map – she looked so good in everything the stylist threw at her. I’d just look as though I’d dressed out of the thrift shop in these sorts of clothes.
Not as good as a Love Happens with Aaron Eckhart but eons better than the Bounty Hunter with Gerard Butler
“Joan Rivers – A Piece of Work”

Joan Rivers A Piece of Work - SFIFF 53 closing...

Image by Steve Rhodes via Flickr

“She’s kinda vulgar” said the Korean woman squeezing past me as I stood – bag over my shoulder, rubbish in one hand (like the good citizen I am) – in the cinema aisle watching the closing credit action.
And indeed she is. At 75 years old, Joan Rivers is not going to suddenly switch to doing age-appropriate comedy (whatever that might be) and even if you don’t like her potty-mouth brand of humour –  interesting that many in the audience were probably above the age of 65 and laughed raucously all the way through – you have to love her. As a side note, has anybody noticed how insidiously the generations above us have changed as the years have gone by. Case in point, watching the play “Hair” in Toronto a couple of years ago from a first row seat, I was unprepared for the facefuls of full frontal male nudity; yet all around me were packs of white and silver haired women, dressed to the nines, totally unfazed and loving every minute, because of course these were the flower-power generation!
This documentary which follows her around her life (literally) over the last year didn’t show a single peep of diva behavior. Even if it had been heavily edited, something of her “bitch” reputation would have shown through.
She is shown her plying her trade in all sorts of venues, and agonizing with writers and producers over whether she should include certain non-pc jokes (her politically correct filtering system is a little corroded), but she does strive  for shock value and to include as much controversial stuff as possible. Her view is that, if we couldn’t move on and use situations like 9/11 and the Aids (for instance)  era for humour – where the hell would we be? In one scene where she’s joking about a deaf person, she has to take on a member of the audience who yells out that she’s not funny cos he has a deaf son. Joan the performer’s counter argument to this heckler makes some kind of twisted sense; but the real Joan coming off stage is mortified to have caused the man pain.
The really telling part of the film is the insight into Joan’s neurosis about having a packed diary. She will take any job. The full diary is the evidence that she actually still exists, it has become the standard by which she measures her past, present and future worth.
So the documentary depicts what seems to be a naturally funny, warm and delightful woman with a self deprecating sense of personal awareness and an old-school work ethic that defies belief.
Yes she has had a mind-blowing number of plastic surgeries, but she does look amazing, and I guess that it is these interventions that keep her looking as fresh as 3am as she does at midday!
What a trooper
Check out the sumptuous penthouse – she describes the décor as what Marie Antoinette would have had if she’d had money!!
Over & Out

Love Loss and What I Wore
Five go to Penetang

12 Movies in a Minute

One of the joys of living in a city like Toronto is the number of cinemas withing striking distance of my office/home. I probably go to the movies twice a week, either planned or on a whim. I still get a little frisson of excitement when I sit down in front of the big screen. So just for fun  here is my take on the current crop in Toronto. As I mentioned in a previous blog I am no film critic, I just know what I like.  Brits – some of these may or may not be released in the UK yet.
Karate Kid  
Knight & Day  
Sex & The City  
Ummmm……………….okay yes
Toy Story 3
Yes with bells on
Solitary Man 
The A Team  
A romp
Get him to the Greek
Yes with bells on 
The Sorcerers Apprentice
Please give generously
Despicable Me 
Robin Hood
Hell no
In more detail:
Karate Kid – After his last appalling film  (so bad can`t be bothered to look up the name) who`d have thought that Jackie Chan would choose such a great vehicle to profile his technical abilities, and all without too much danger of getting hurt. Jaden Smith terrific. The fundamental flaw –  as with the original –  is that the film is NOT about  karate.
Knight & Day – Tom Cruise at his most enigmatic and funniest so who cares about the plot.
Sex & The City – I did this before in a previous post
Toy Story 3 – I won`t spoil the plot, but the plot made the movie. Assuming franchise is put to bed now as this storyline didn`t leave any loose ends up.
Solitary Man – Michael Douglas playing the usual self centre egocentric character. Nicely done but a little intense and intelligent for someone as superficial as I. Danny Devito and Susan Sarandon nice side characters, with some new Scarlett Johanssen lookalike bird in the other  supporting role.
The A Team – Who can resist Liam Neeson in the role of Didn’t actually like the series of the 70’s although did love George Peppard.  
Get him to the Greek – Russel Brandt might have disgraced himself on BBC radio 1 with Jonathan Ross last year but it doesn`t seem to have done his movie career any harm. I`m starting to wonder if he`s looking to get cast as `Jesus in an Easter special anytime soon.
Please Give – It helps to be in a good place mentally when viewing as although quirky and intelligent, a tadge depressing. Starring – the as fresh and gorgeous as ever –  Amanda Peet and Kate Keener (not as fresh or gorgeous)
Cyrus –  Brilliant and original. John C Reilly, Jonah Hill, Catherine Keener and Marisa Tomei; excellent and under publicised. Superb character acting although a little overdone in places. Filned like a fly-on-the-wall documentary with loaded pauses and spot-on timing that enhanced the palpable tension dynamics of the plot.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice – This is a Disney film so don’t expect too much however nice  scene referencing the original Disney “Fantasia” Sorcerer’s Apprentice; the one where Micky Mouse gets the mops and brooms to do his cleaning up. For the Disney cartoon version:
Despicable Me – Had high hopes  for this with voices provided by Steve Carroll and  Jason Segal   (“Sarah Marshall`  and “I Love you Man).  Also starring the voices of Kristin Wigg, Russell Brand and Julie Andrews. Started well, but of course it is aimed at kids and the ending was incredibly silly, smaltzy and childish!! If you’re a bloke or under 18.
Robin Hood – Just awful – shame on you Russell Crowe. If you must…………………..
Over and Out

  • Society Cut-ups (AGO exhibit)
  • The Tall Ships have left Toronto Harbour
  • The Summer Cottage – A great Canadian Tradition
  • Rock & Blues Cruising Lake Ontario
  • An afternoon in Yorkville
  • A trip to Caledon
  • Baysfield – who knew?
  • Wine pairing in Niagara

More Movies

Actress Katherine Heigl arrives at the 59th An...

Image via Wikipedia

Unfettered with a weekend without the old ball and chain (sorry sweetie), so free to watch as much gratuitous crap as I want when I want – I at least have to show some modicum of discernment when the hubby around. I decided at the last moment to go and see two movies back to back, which is a luxury as I am usually too time-starved.
So lets review one for now:
I started at the AMC in the Toronto Life building off Dundas Square, well actually I started upstairs with a salad and drink on the patio of “Jack Astors “because I like being several floors up looking over the square, the Eaton centre and all the neon lights and video displays. It reminds me of Piccadilly Circus in London.
Katherine Heigl playing um Katherine Heigl 
Ashton – no man has the right to such cheek bones –  Kutcher.
Tom Sellick – yep he’s still alive and kicking
Here’s the plot in 2 minutes so if you haven’t seen it and intend to, sign off this blog now:
Boy doing his Roger Moore thing against the backdrop of Nice
Boy meets girl
Girl – recently dumped and daughter of over-protective Father
Father – a much older Tom Sellick who rocked as Magnum – where has he been all these years?
Mother attractive in a quirky way, vague and verging on alcoholism (cos that’s really funny!!!)
Girl only ever wears white (in all her movies) as it sets off her dazzling teeth.
Boy tries to leave secret services as no longer believes he is killing just the baddies – you don’t say!!
Boy warned he can never leave
Girl says something cute and funny
Cut to scenes of married bliss in deepest suburbia – yawn
Girl successful sales-person  – more yawning
Boy works as an architect/consultant – the career of choice for every ex spy
Lots of scenes involving ditsy cutsey neighbours and colleagues – sigh
Boy gets reactivated by old boss – ouch
Smashing up of home, crashing through windows and shooting former best friends
Girl discovers boy’s “secret”
Boy discovers there is a contract out on him
Girl says something cute and funny
Lots of car crashes
More shooting
Girl says something cute and funny – again
Smashing up office and fights involving former work colleague
Girl says something cute and funny
More car chases
Street fair – oh God
More shooting
Father joins in – what?
Neighbours join in – really?
More fighting
More shooting – just shoot me now
Father put the contract out on son-in-law and activated all the sleeping cells (neighbours and work colleagues)
What the hell………
Well if you get that far with the movie then you’ll find out
point made, I think
Over and out


Get him to the Greek
From William Morris to Cabbage Town
Society Cut-ups
Mama Mia
Coffee in the Sky