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By Denise Liu

Reid Fleming: World’s Toughest Milkman, vol. 1
David Boswell (w+a). IDW, 2010.

Read if you like: slapstick, Comix, complete obscenity, local authors, anti-heroes

As a retail industry worker, I have, at least once a day, the fanciful wish to act like an utter asshole and get away with it. Disposing of — not dispensing — pleasantries. Saying and doing exactly what’s on your mind, employment be damned. The incredible torment that Reid Fleming doles out makes him my hero. He is a jerk that makes his own trouble and yet always beats the odds. I think that it is precisely the recurring improbabilities of Reid’s world that creates an astonishing and delightfully violent atmosphere, where no one gets (permanently) hurt and we do the same song-and-dance only a little differently each time.

The Jist: A hell-bent, chain-smoking alcoholic milkman with superhuman strength terrorizes everyone on his route. Dumping milk into a customer’s live fish tank, or crashing his truck almost constantly is the least he can do to give his supervisor, Mr. Crabbe, an aneurism. Both bully and hero (depending on the colour of your collar), Reid Fleming is a most peculiar and endearing jack-ass. Volume One is a collection of several individual books and strips originally published since 1978 (Deep Sea Comics, Eclipse, Dark Horse), including full-colour covers from each. Remember when dialogue text was hand-written neatly? Yeah. Read the rest of this entry »

Shane McNeil’s Top 5 Films of 2010

Posted by film On January - 18 - 2011

By Shane McNeil

5. Get Low (dir. Aaron Schneider)
There’s not a lot of love for a film that sat on the shelf for almost a year and then got buried in late summer when everyone was preoccupied with its backwoods cousin Winter’s Bone. However, what resonated more with me on this one – though I did love Winter’s Bone – was not only the optimism that a bad man can earn redemption, but also the absolute stunner of a performance Bobby Duvall turned in. It’s easy to forget a man who’s been relegated to the curmudgeonly supporting ranks since 1997, but he struck back nicely with his turn as Felix Bush. In a just world he’d earn an Oscar nom for it.

4. Inception (dir. Christopher Nolan)
This wins all kind of respect in my book for being both insanely smart and insanely successful. Perhaps Nolan rode a bit of Caped Crusader cred in breaking the bank here, but I won’t hold that against him. What impressed me most was his ability to take the mind-bending, convoluted narrative track he began laying with Memento (or perhaps even Following) and filter it through not only with high production values and action sequences, but with characters and emotions that the audience could actually empathize with. Read the rest of this entry »

TIFF 2010 – The Rest Reviewed

Posted by film On September - 21 - 2010

Director Richard Ayoade's "Submarine."By Sean Kelly

I saw a whopping 14 films during this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, which is actually quite small when you consider the fact that the most hardcore festival-goers tend to see up to 50 films. Still, I saw an average of three films a day, with screening days starting at noon and ending around 11:30. As such, while I would have loved to write full reviews for all the films I’ve seen, it was pretty much impossible. Now with the festival over, I’d like to touch on the remaining films I saw this year.

Submarine
Directed by Richard Ayoade
UK
Part of the Special Presentations Programme.

As the film begins with the main character imagining the increasingly extravagant ways he would like to be remembered if he died, I knew this film was going to be special. This is one smart and funny British comedy about a 15 year old boy, who sees the world in his own ironic way. I definitely consider this to be one of the highlights of this year’s festival and if you love the films of the UK, you are sure to love Submarine. Read the rest of this entry »

Hawksley Workman’s Milk reviewed

Posted by MUSIC_Jake On August - 16 - 2010

Hawksley Workman
Milk
Isadora Records, 2010

By Jake Shenker

Hawksley Workman’s newest album Milk, the euro-pop companion to January’s fiercely gritty Meat, is a polarizing record. While devotees of Workman’s less accessible (albeit genius) early work have dismissed his more recent forays into pop-rock – 2003’s Lover/Fighter and 2008s Los Manlicious, in particular – those who thrive on the songwriter’s mercurial nature have continued to support his flights of fancy, and relish in the surprising direction of each new release. Read the rest of this entry »

Splice Reviewed

Posted by film On June - 10 - 2010

Splice
Directed by Vincenzo Natali
Warner Bros./Dark Castle Entertainment, 2010

By Sean Kelly

You know, this film could have been absolutely terrible and it would have still been a film industry miracle. That this Canadian production was picked up by Warner Bros. for a wide release still amazes me. This fact alone told me that Splice was going to be something special. I was not disappointed.

Most would know director Vincenzo Natali from his 1997 cult sci-fi film Cube. Splice recycles the age-old morality tale about the dangers of playing God. However, in a world where there are news reports about the creation of artificial organisms, this type of story seems to be becoming closer to science fact than science fiction.

Read the rest of this entry »

Taking Woodstock Reviewed

Posted by film On September - 29 - 2009

taking_woodstock_yasgurTaking Woodstock
Directed by Ang Lee
Focus Features, 2009

By Brian Last

While they have made books and films about the Woodstock ‘69 music festival, nothing can come close to actually living it and being there. A sense of being present for the concert’s inception is what director Ang Lee has achieved with his latest film, based on the book Taking Woodstock: A true story of a riot, a concert, and a life. The book was written by Elliot Tiber & Tom Monte, and adapted for the screen by James Schamus.

The story takes place in the summer of ‘69, obviously, in upstate New York. Eliot Tiber puts his life on hold and leaves his Greenwich Village home to help his oddball parents run their humble, rundown motel, in the hopes of saving it from bank foreclosure; his parents, Jake and Sonia, don’t really do much of anything at all at their motel. On his arrival in Bethel, New York, (2 minutes from the now-famous Woodstock), Tiber also finagles the only permit for a musical performance in the small town. After the town of Wallkill puts the kaibosh on hosting a massive concert, Tiber gets in touch with concert organizers and the rest, as they say, is history.

Read the rest of this entry »

TIFF 2009: Suck Reviewed

Posted by film On September - 21 - 2009

suck groupSuck
Directed by Rob Stefaniuk
Canada
Part of the Contemporary World Cinema Programme

By Sean Kelly

I can remember back to the 2004 film festival when I was interested in seeing Rob Stefaniuk’s film Phil the Alien. I was all set to order my ticket, but it ended up going off sale right as I was processing the order. I made it up to myself by ensuring Stefaniuk’s latest comedy Suck was one of my initial ticket purchases for this year’s festival. I am glad that I did, since there is a good chance that this may end up being my favourite film of the festival.

Even though Stefaniuk has been working on Suck ever since Phil the Alien, I do say the film couldn’t have come out at a better time, since we are right in the middle of a big vampire craze, with the popularity of True Blood and Twilight. The added twist here is that this film features rock-and-roll vampires. Read the rest of this entry »

TIFF 2009: From Frightening to Fascinating

Posted by film On September - 18 - 2009

survival-of-the-deadBy Sean Kelly

After a very busy opening weekend as a TIFF volunteer that included being stationed at a George Clooney screening — and being way around the corner when Clooney was on the red carpet — I finally got to see some films. Specifically, I saw one film and a presentation.

Survival of the Dead
Directed by George A. Romero
Canada / USA
Part of the Midnight Madness Programme

So, the very first film I ended up seeing at this year’s Toronto Film Festival was a repeat screening of the latest zombie picture from George A. Romero. I’d never seen any of Romero’s Dead films, so this was going to be an interesting experience. Romero now lives and films in the Toronto area and the film is considered a Canadian production. Read the rest of this entry »

TIFF 2009: Movies, People and Movie-People!

Posted by film On September - 12 - 2009

By Rachel West

TorontoI love TIFF. First and foremost, I love the films. They’re the reason I give up my precious 8 hours of sleep a night and balance a 40-hour work week with 15+ movies on average. Movies are the reason I run solely on trail mix, granola bars, and fast food for ten malnourished days. The tabloid-driven gossip-lover in me adores the red carpet glamour and celebrities at film premieres. I’ll even show up at a premiere with other fans to get a glimpse of my favourite actors, but more than that, I love the people. People who love movies.

Not the media and industry types, but regular Joes who line up, excited to see film premieres and movies that may never get a wide release. Torontonians, whom for the rest of the year I ignore in public and scowl at on the TTC, are suddenly my closest friends, united by TIFF. These people are my fellow movie-goers, waiting in line and sitting next to me in crowded theatres, that I end up striking up a conversation with. And it’s not just the people of Toronto whom I trade stories with, but also those who have travelled from near and far — from the world beyond the GTA, Ontario, and even Canada. These people become my best friends for ten days. We may not exchange names or intimate details of our lives, but we exchange thoughts, opinions, and reviews on TIFF films.

Waiting in line isn’t so bad when you have someone to chat with. Like many others, I usually fly solo during TIFF, not so much by choice as by necessity. Read the rest of this entry »

Artist Profile: Steven Laurie

Posted by art On June - 26 - 2009
Mud Flap Project: Herman Kruis's Truck - Highland Transport

Mud Flap Project: Herman Kruis's Truck - Highland Transport

By Carolyn Tripp

“A friend of mine and I were sitting on the sidewalk one day,” artist Steven Laurie explains, “and wondering out loud what it would take for people who didn’t typically talk about art to be compelled to come into a gallery or be interested in a contemporary art show.”

The possibilities often seem stunted by the fairly insular environments that many art communities tend to foster. This is equally perpetuated by design or lack of funds, and a conundrum that many artists choose, understandably, not to address when creating work, especially when it pertains to those exhibiting in galleries. Typically one would choose to have art appear in spaces that specifically appeal to those of the local “known” and “cultured” audience (who are assumed to want to attend a show), versus those who never typically show interest, but might if they felt compelled (those we assume may never attend). Read the rest of this entry »

The Hip are back! We Are the Same reviewed

Posted by MUSIC_Jake On April - 14 - 2009

wearethesame_largeThe Tragically Hip
We Are the Same
Universal, 2009

By Brian Last

Canadian rock legends The Tragically Hip are back! Their new album, We Are The Same, is the band’s follow-up to their 2006 album, World Container. Now, The Hip could cut a polka album and records would still fly off the shelves, but for their 11th record The Hip stuck with their winning formula: great instrumentals and frontman Gord Downie’s always interesting lyrics. It’s been working for them since ‘83, and it’s one of the many reasons these guys are a Canadian institution.

The album kicks off with the beautiful “Morning Moon,” one of the lead singles and a great way to start off the album. The front half of the album maintains the mellow, softer sound of the opening track — trumpet player Derry Byrne contributes to this vibe on the track “Coffee Girl,” bringing a slight jazzy feel. With the addition of strings, the album moves in a different direction around “Now The Struggle Has a Name,” the record’s epic fifth track. This track feels a bit like “Bobcaygeon,” but taken up several notches. This different direction continues with the lengthy “The Depression Suite,” which is essentially a nine-minute run-on sentence. Despite this mid-album low, The Hip bring it back on track for the back half of the album, which, thankfully, feels like a throwback to classic Tragically Hip with its driving instrumentals and the catchy riffs that we love so much. Two more singles are found in this back half, including “Love is a First,” which features Downie’s signature rambling (if you’ve been to a live show, you know exactly what I’m talking about). The album ends with “Country Day,” a softer song, to close out the record the way it started.

Though overall the record is quite good, it isn’t perfect. While previous Tragically Hip albums have been packed with catchy songs, We Are the Same lacks as many hooks. Downie himself is not at his best — while his lyrics are always excellent, he seems to be holding back on his vocal performance. While in the past Downie has passionately belted out his vocals even on the most mellow of songs, this record feels like he’s walking through it. That said, The Hip’s 11th album is a solid addition to their already classic discography.

White Moon Dance Nights
Presented by AKA Dance
February 25-28 @ Young Centre for the Performing Arts

By Helen Fylactou

Celebrating the 80th anniversary of the inauguration of diplomatic relations between Canada and Japan, AKA Dance’s White Moon Dance Nights features new works from Denise Fujiwara, Matjash Mrozewski, and Keiko Ninomiya, as well as ZUKE’s Dora-nominated You see the tree, you don’t see the forest and AKA’s In a Single Bound, inspired by Japanese and North American comic book superheroes.

Fujiwara’s Lost and Found juxtaposes the Japanese dance style of Butoh with improvisational dance. Her performance began and ended with this spoken line: “They say the body never lies. But I lie all the time. And that’s the truth.” The line recognizes the internal struggle of duality — a theme followed throughout all the night’s performances. Lost and Found was both unsettling and beautiful. Keeping in fashion with Butoh, Fujiwara’s movements were at times rigid and grotesque, evoking desperation. Other movements were fluid and beautiful, transforming despair into hope. The idiosyncratic, raw movements of Fujiwara’s solo coexist with exquisite stillness. In her quiet moments, she expresses everything she needs with facial expression.

Contrasting the powerfully unsettling Fujiwara piece, Amy Hampton and Keiko Ninomiya emulate the female superheroes of Japan and Canada. In a Single Bound is the only performance of the night with live music, courtesy of DJ Gerald Belanger. The audience enjoyed the light-hearted routine of dance-fighting, becoming lively alongside Hampton and Ninomiya’s performance. Choreographed with a campy sense of humour, the piece indulged the audience with sound effects, superhero stances, and dance-and-fight sequences to the effect of cheering and laughing throughout the theatre. The two performers were in perfect unison, and had a connection that most dancers take years to find. In a choreographed knife sequence, the dancers showcased their precision and clean movement. Belanger elaborated on the story by including sound effects. Hampton and Ninomiya’s strengths are best shown in their contemporary style, plus over-the-top kicks, quick foot movements, front flips, and interweaving arm movements.

Ki wo mite Mori wo minai, translated as You see the tree, you don’t see the forest, was the most impressionistic performance. The theatre is pitch black for a few moments, when suddenly a spot light reveals a fully cloaked character. He is completely still. Suddenly his hands begin to move across his chest, and then another set of hands appear. The cloaked stranger pulls a young girl out from behind him. ZUKE (Tokyo’s Kinya Zulu Tsuruymana) and Keiko Ninomiya, both in monochromatic outfits, explore the idea of perception and dependence through seamless synchronicity. The performance, like Fujiwara’s, is in Butoh style. Weaving between slow movements and angst-filled, spastic movement, the dancers expose the complexities of relationships. Taking turns cloaking and then uncloaking each other, the dancer’s perceptions of reality are constantly changing. The beauty in this performance is the trust that you see between Tsuruyama and Ninomiya. The dancers create unusual forms, and hold their form for exaggerated periods. Both Tsuruyama and Ninomiya are fluid in their awkwardness.

As a representation of Canadian-Japanese diplomatic relations, this cross-cultural production missed its mark — but as a fantastic exploration of eclectic performance style, White Moon Dance Nights is more than worth the price of admission.

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