I haven’t been reading the latest Hercules stuff, but I applaud this book on getting me up to speed easily enough. I also applaud the early use of a classic Star Wars reference. I don’t applaud having a classic villain, Nightmare, getting graphically killed as a way to help establish the rep of the “Chaos King” who’s the bad guy this time around. I know you can argue he did that to gain some nightmare powers or something… but unless it figures into the story later (and I will think an apology really loud in that case), they didn’t need to do it. Pham’s art was good at times, but for the most part it looks like every character was on the losing end of a fight, their faces were blotchy and crazy. The threat is far better than the more mainstream crossovers Marvel has been putting out lately- “the end-of-existence” versus “arbitrary-war-with-Asgard-that-started-the-exact-same-way-as-Civil War”. Read the rest of this entry »
I have long been a fan of the idea of Howard the Duck, but this is really my first experience with the character. Assuming the story here isn’t lying to me, he got his start as an interdimensional tag along with Man-Thing. That’s pretty weird, right? The inside art as done by Mark Brooks in the first half was very clean but not in an off-putting way (I’m thinking of the back-up Jackpot story in the last few issues of Web of Spider-Man as an example of off putting clean) while Ray Height’s latter half was reminiscent of the late great Mike Wieringo, light and fun. I do wish they’d taken a more cartoony approach to Howard himself; he looks more like a goose than an anthropomorphic duck. But I may have been ruined by Disney’s various Duck drawings. I enjoyed Spider-Man’s dialogue, but the story itself was kind of a lame duck. — Isaac Mills
Isaac’s rating: 3 out of 5
You know, this series just got a whole lot better. With it’s second arc, American Vampire is hitting its stride. Snyder has found an interesting and rarely-talked about time in American history and exploited it marvelously for his plot. Albuquerque’s art is getting looser, but also far more dynamic. It’s an interesting progression and it works more often than it doesn’t. Recommended. — Miles Baker
Miles’s rating: 4 out of 5 Read the rest of this entry »
Continuing in the fine tradition of years past, the MONDOarts department dispatched three writers to cover this year’s Scotiabank Nuit Blanche and their escapades during said event. Enjoy!
By Jen Handley
“Is it just me or has Nuit Blanche gotten to be more work over the years?” asked my friend Sophia as we huddled for warmth in one of the zillions of eagerly-formed lines that sprung up around the city last Saturday night. She was completely right: seeing as how the last five years have seen the festival turn into all but a public holiday, and as we wanted to check out some of the higher-profile events this year, we spent a lot of the evening standing in line. But that part actually wasn’t dreary — standing around, barging into conversations with tipsy strangers end exchanging stories as we waited for exhibits wasn’t too different from the experience of standing outside on New Year’s Eve waiting for midnight. For all the flack art projects get for being elitist, I had the feeling of being part of a mob that night, and that was what made it exhilarating. And coincidence or not, most of the projects we saw required us to engage with strangers. Read the rest of this entry »
By Andy O’Shea
This year’s Nuit Blanche marked the first time that I didn’t start right downtown. Moving from the outside in made all the difference — Parkdale really had interactive and unusual experiences all the way through, and it seemed to be an organized community effort. Our first stop was near Queen and Roncesvalles, The Nightwatch: Shadow Play by Ed Pein, a giant tent with people and objects inside displaying different scenarios. A good start.
At Speed Art Criticism by the Toronto Alliance of Art Critics, local art experts Dan Adler and David Balzer waited inside a guitar store to critique artwork by passersby. We debated whether to go inside; we didn’t have any of our art with us. When we did go inside, Adler and Balzer graciously looked at a work of mine online and we had a nice ten minute discussion about art. They were quite receptive, and it was a very relaxed talk. Balzer was right on the money suggesting I look for Jim Flora’s work. Read the rest of this entry »
By Sean Kelly
To most of the mainstream audience, M Night Shyamalan has become a bit of a joke. When the trailer for this film played in theatres, audiences would usually groan when Shyamalan’s name appeared on screen. However, after seeing it, I have to say that the film itself actually turned out to be quite decent.
Devil is the first chapter of the Shyamalan-produced trilogy called The Night Chronicles. Essentially, this trilogy involves taking some of Shyamalan’s unproduced film ideas and handing them off to up-and-coming directors. For this film, the directing duties were given to John Erick Dowdle, who is probably best known for his 2008 film Quarantine. Read the rest of this entry »
Billy Twinkle: Requiem for a Golden Boy
Created and performed by Ronnie Burkett
Runs until October 24 @ Factory Theatre
By Jeff Maus
There’s no mention of autobiography in Billy Twinkle, but the similarities between its title character and sole performer–they’re both gay puppeteers form small prairie towns in Canada–could be significant.
In the play, Billy Twinkle is a puppeteer on a cruise ship with his production Stars in Miniature. He tells off people in the crowd, gets fired, and gets a visit from his dead mentor. The puppeteering legend takes the form of a hand puppet making him relive all manner of moments from his life in marionette form. He seems to have had a nervous breakdown. Twinkle is “middle-aged and not even at a crossroads” and struggling with being moderately successful and bored, not having even liked puppets for nine years. Burkett carries the production and delivers a realistic, relatable world. Read the rest of this entry »
Continuing in the fine tradition of years past, the MONDOarts department dispatched three writers to cover this year’s Nuit Blanche and their escapades during said event. Enjoy!
By Jessie Davis
Photos by Kevin Lynn
We swore it wouldn’t happen again this year, yet here we were, 11:30 on Saturday night, completely unprepared for the evening. My partner and I also swore we’d go it alone this year so that we wouldn’t be at the mercy of a slow-moving, impatient group, yet somehow found ourselves amidst a gaggle twice the size of the one we traveled with last year. How did this happen? It seems that Nuit Blanche has become more of a chance to socialize and reconnect than a celebration of art – due in no small part, I suspect, to the fact that exhibits are so spaced out that we spend more time wandering around the city chatting than actually seeing art*.
We started at Nathan Phillips Square to see Daniel Lanois’ Later That Night At The Drive-In and arrived just in time to hear three of the new Neil Young tracks he showcased. Standing there surrounded by people in the middle of Toronto’s nucleus, I stood alone, eyes closed, swaying and swooning under Young’s spell. The projections were helpful as we neared the stage and found it nearly impossible to see Lanois but for the mirrored crane-held ceiling showing us a reverse bird’s-eye view of the setup. As Young’s last song finished, Lanois began an ethereal, haunting solo guitar piece before welcoming Trixie Whitley to play and sing some bluesy alt-country tunes with him. A lovely sound, but we were becoming restless. One friend, on his first-ever Nuit Blanche adventure (and having more experience at electronic music festivals) joked, “Where’s the techno tent?” and a few moments later, we began to make out the dull thud of bass from a location just north of us that begged investigation. Read the rest of this entry »
By Sarah Kane
Directed by Brendan Healy
Featuring David Ferry, Michelle Monteith and Dylan Smith
Runs until October 17 @ Buddies in Bad Times
By Jen Handley
Buddies in Bad Times, where Sarah Kane’s Blasted had its English-Canadian premiere this week, has made much of the fact that when the play first opened in London in 1995, it was roundly rejected by critics in general, and by the Daily Mail’s Jack Tinker in particular as “a disgusting feast of filth.” Plenty of playwrights, including Harold Pinter and Edward Bond, whose essay on Kane Buddies has included in the show’s program, have since come to her defense as an extremely courageous and innovative artist. After seeing the production at Buddies in Bad Times, I totally get where Tinker was coming from. Read the rest of this entry »
Featuring Matt Baram, Ron Pederson and Naomi Snieckus
September 26 edition
Runs the last Sunday of every month @ Theatre Passe Muraille
By Jeff Maus
This month’s installment of Impromptu Splendor—”an improvisational long-form in the fashion of a one-act play”—from The National Theatre of the World at Theatre Passe Muraille had a lot to offer the audience, including free smoked meat sandwiches.
Matt Baram and Naomi Snieckus, from the National Theatre of the World, acted out a “Suburban Show,” full of gentle jabs at the suburbs west of Toronto. Picked from a dozen suggestions from the audience, it wasn’t the most original topic, but the suburbs provided good fodder. The set consisted of the black stage with the QEW drawn on it with chalk, including Hamilton, Burlington, with the biggest cheer from the crowd for Paris, Ontario. All over this landscape, these talented actors wandered through Southern Ontario and looked at who we are. Read the rest of this entry »
A little more life is injected to the Lex Luthor story from guest penciller Sean Chen, but unfortunately a lot of that good will gets sucked away with his gorilla drawings. They all look like they’ve been shaved. It looks really weird to me. There’s an inordinate number of attempted robot-head eating, which I am, of course, all for. Also, not enough wink to the camera when Grodd brandishes his “combat spoon”. That’s a tough sell right there. The Spencer/Silva Jimmy Olsen back up is AMAZING. The art looks to me like a mix of Adam Hughes and Amanda Connor, while the story is about Jimmy taking some action without Superman… yes basically the only story I’ve seen Jimmy have lately, but this promises a lot of fun as well. Special note to Smallville fans, this story is the DC universe debut of Chloe Sullivan. There’s a lot to enjoy here. — Isaac Mills
Isaac’s rating: 4 out of 5
Amazing Spider-Man #644
Mark Waid (w), Paul Azaceta (a), Javier Rodriguez (c), Marvel Comics.
There’s a nice sense of closure going on with this storyline. Closure to the “Brand New Day” era of Spider-Man, I mean. As a reader who only got into Spider-Man through “Brand New Day” there’s something appealing about that. Elements of this era are sprinkled throughout: the new Doctor Octopus, Menace, even Freak shows up. But at the heart of it you’ve got Peter on the run with a baby. And that’s terrifying. It’s an intense story, with a powerful scene near the end. I dug it. – Owen Craig.
Owen’s rating: 3.5 out of 5 Read the rest of this entry »
Towards the Carbon Neutral City
September 22 @ the Direct Energy Centre, Exhibition Place
By Tina Chu
After mounting a successful exhibition at the MaRS Centre this summer with Behnisch Architekten, Thomas Auer of Transsolar ClimateEngineering returned to Toronto for a presentation entitled Towards a Carbon Neutral City.
A continuation of Ecology.Design.Synergy (see a previous related post here) and a part of Toronto’s Green Building Festival, Auer’s presentation showcased how Transsolar’s engineering innovations and architectural collaborations translate to the streets.
Building sustainably for Transsolar, involves more than being carbon neutral. While achieving a low footprint is a priority, equally important goals for Transsolar are whether or not the space it constructs is comfortable, vibrant and a place people desire to inhabit year-round. Read the rest of this entry »
By Stephen Massicotte
Directed by Bob White
Featuring Christian Goutsis, Damien Atkins, Claire Calnan and Kevin Bundy
Runs until October 24 @ Tarragon Theatre
By Daina Valiulis
If you’re a Jehovah’s Witness coming to knock on playwright Stephen Massicotte’s door, be prepared for a debate. In this remount of The Clockmaker, which debuted in Calgary in 2009, winning the Outstanding New Play award at the Betty Mitchell Awards for Calgary Theatre, the atheistic Massicotte presents gentle questions regarding the afterlife and the First Clockmaker in the sky.
Set in an indistinct time, in the first scene we meet our Everyman, a nervous clockmaker named Heinrich Mann (Christian Goutsis, who comes to Toronto from Calgary in a reprisal of the role) being interrogated by the mysterious Monsieur Pierre (Damian Atkins) under an archway reminiscent of an old clock tower for a crime he is about to commit, or may have already committed. Time jumps around. Read the rest of this entry »