Sunday, September 30, 2012

Last night I saw this image in an article written about the highly anticipated and highly kept under wraps DC Comics series written by Grant Morrison titled Multiversity. There's not much we know except that it will likely feature Grant's frequent stable of all-star artist collaborator's, and that it's an alternate universe spanning eight issue mini-series.

New work from Grant Morrison always gets me excited, but seeing a page of Frank Quitely art featuring Blue Beetle almost made me cheer. And I'm not exaggerating or being facetious, if my girlfriend hadn't of been sleeping beside me, I would have cheered. For those not in the know, Blue Beetle was one of my favourite characters of all time, and he was unceremoniously killed in a not quite making sense chain-of-events in 2005.

Blue Beetle was a member of the Justice League of my youth, a team with a little more realism, a little more humour, but still filled with super-heroic action and adventure. The book in which he was killed was a lead-in to a big universe spanning cross-over event, the kind of things that DC Comics do once a year or so. The cover of the book showed a bunch of shocked characters in the background, with Batman holding a shadowed corpse in the foreground.

When I picked up my weekly stash of comics from the comic store, my friend / comic store clerk gave me a lil' paper bag, told me to open it after reading, and that everything would be ok. I went home and read the book in question immediately, and was happy to see that Blue Beetle happened to be the central character. I was in complete suspension of probable plot-line happenings. I knew someone was going to die, my favourite character was starring in a book where someone dies, and with every page I turned I got closer to someone dying. I was oblivious! Until Blue Beetle confronted the villain, and I realized that there weren't that many pages left, and then with a page-flip Blue Beetle had his head blown off.

I was actually upset, which is a testament to the power of comics books. A story told with pen and ink and colour and world balloons can actually put a geek into a tiny bit of mourning. Hence, my favourite character being alternate universally reborn as a character in a book written by my favourite writer has left me a bit excited. I would be more excited if it weren't a year away. Until then I will at least have this art to look at and think of better geeky days ahead. Days where my favourite character not only lives again, but is also being written by a writer that I worship.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The annual Ottawa Browncoats tradition of a Joss Whedon themed charity screening hits the Mayfair tomorrow afternoon starting at 12:30pm. Funds will be raised for the organizations iSisters and Equality Now, there will be auction items up for grabs, costumes, short films and all other sorts of fun and excitement for one and all. And of course, the centrepiece of the afternoon, a presentation of Joss Whedon's sci-fi western masterpiece Serenity. I love Joss Whedon, and Serenity, but there are a few moments in the film that make me so sad that I find it difficult to watch. I don't want to play spoiler on the off chance that someone is going to attend the event who hasn't seen it already, but let's just say that Joss is well known for not being afraid to knock off characters. That potential heartbreak aside, do be sure to come out to support some great charities, pick up some cool swag, and see a great movie. A great movie that makes me sad...but still great.

Friday, September 28, 2012

There's a lot I love about being involved with the Mayfair Theatre, but one of the best things is getting to screen indie movies that otherwise might not get onto the big screen and seen by an audience in the city. Via Facebook, I was reading about some film fest success and positive reviews that Tony Asimakopoulos was receiving thanks to his doc Fortunate Son. I know Tony from back in the day at Saw Video and various other film-making circles in Ottawa. I sent him a quick message saying that we should get a screening set up at the Mayfair, time flies by and now that screening is happening this weekend.

Fortunate Son is an unflinching doc about a sons troubled past, feuding parents, and the complicated trek that one takes in trying to get a life back on track. It's at times hilarious and at times heart-breaking, and the kind of immensely brave autobiographical film-making that I'd never have the guts to undertake myself.

Fortunate Son screens at the Mayfair on Saturday September 29th at 4:30pm, with an encore presentation on the 30th at 7:00pm.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

If any documentary could ever fall under the truth is stranger than fiction category it must be Slaughter Nick for President. A down on his luck middle-aged actor discovers that a B-grade action adventure show that he starred on in the 1990's has become a cultural phenomena in Serbia. At home in Canada, he can't get enough work to allow himself to move out of his parents basement. Over there, he is a hero of golden god proportions. He and a small crew set out to meet up with a Serbian band who wrote a popular song about his character, and to investigate if online reports of his super-fame are indeed true.

Slaughter Nick for President is a surprising, funny and endearing Canadian doc that is sure to become a cult classic. Catch the Ottawa premiere tomorrow night at 9:00pm at the Mayfair, with follow-up screenings on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A final delayed post about last week's Ottawa animation festival. On Sunday I attended a behind the scenes panel on the stop-motion animated movie Paranorman, featuring an interview and q&a with the film's writer and co-director Chris Butler.

I really loved the film, and am always interested in sitting in on rare events such as this. After the panel, I noticed that Chris was sitting and chatting with a bunch of animation students, signing autographs and also being kind enough to draw quick Norman sketches for the fans of the film.

This time I was smart enough to bring my sketchbook, and now I'm a proud owner of a Norman sketch as well. During his interview, Chris had discussed how much American films of the 80's like Goonies and E.T. influenced the film. I got to tell him all about the Mayfair, which he was very impressed with and thought sounded awesome. And I got to tell him that by wild coincidence we were showing a trailer for his film in front of Monster Squad that very night. Tat bit of information blew his mind a little bit, and he told me that Monster Squad was a favourite of his and a big Paranorman influence as well. I figured that that would be so, seeing as how Paranorman is about a loser American kid growing up amidst his love of monster stuff who ends up having run-ins with monsters, very similarly themed to Monster Squad.

I invited him to come and check out the film. Alas his travel plans back to the UK got in the way of enjoying some Monster Squad fun. I had been a bit upset about having to at the last minute cancel road-trip roller-derby plans in order to stay home and take care of some Mayfair fundraiser screening obligations. Things turned out well though, and ended up squeezing in lots of animation fest enjoyment around Mayfair screenings and preparations. My derby girls ended up winning their road-game, I got to help out my Mayfair partners, and I got to meet an animation legend in Ralph Bakshi and afilmmaker with a bright future ahead of him in Chris Butler. And I got to watch Monster Squad. A glass half full of a weekend indeed.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A delayed post for my animiation fest weekend. On Saturday continued what ended up being a heavily themed Ralph Bakshi few days by attending an interview / q&a event with the film-maker presented at the NAC theatre.

He makes for an interesting subject, and had many tales of fighting the animation powers-that-be in order to get his work done. He talked about his controversial career, his distinctive style, and managed to even take questions on his Spider-man and Mighty Mouse work.

I was kicking myself for not bringing my sketch-book in an attempt to get an autograph or maybe even a sketch from him. Other animation students, professionals and fans were smart enough to do so and snuck up and met him before and after the panel.

Luckily he had a table set up outside of the theatre where he had original pieces of animation art from his body of work for sale. One booth had books for sale, and I was going to buy a Bakshi coffee-table book to get autographed, but the original art was just too tempting. The colour animation cels were $195 bucks, which is expensive but I think relatively reasonable for a one of a kind piece of animation history. They also had pencil art for a fraction of that price for $95. My brain was quickly and easily convinced that that was a deal I could not pass up.

I knew if I didn't pick up something that a few days would pass and then I'd greatly regret it. I have never had the opportunity to meet Ralph Bakshi before, and very likely might not get the chance again. I got to have a bit of a conversation with Ralph, really nice guy, and he drew a quick little doodle on the page for me. A friend of mine thought that he ruined the picture, but I love it. Makes it even more one of a kind. Glad to get a true piece of cinematic animation history, even better that it's rather controversial in nature, to put up on my geekily decorated walls.

Monday, September 24, 2012

If you know the Mayfair Theatre, then you also know that we love zombie movies. We've screened everything from the grandfather of all modern zombie films with Night of the Living Dead, all the way up to this years indie Canadian offering with A Little Bit Zombie. We've also screened pretty much all undead themed movies in-between ranging from the speedy brains craving zombies of Return of the Living Dead, zombies vs sharks in the simply titled Zombies, and the fan-favourite Brit rom-zom-com Shaun of the Dead.

Add to our similarly themed movie presentation check-list a Cuban produced entry to the zombie cinematic pantheon in Juan of the Dead. If you missed seeing the multiple award winning and Fangoria praised film Friday night, catch it tonight at the Mayfair at 9:20pm.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Tonight at 9:30pm Monster Squad is on at the Mayfair! I am so excited to get to partake in viewing one of my favourite movies of all time on our screen. When this movie was released I was pretty much the exact right age and the perfectly skewed geek target audience to think it was cinematic perfection. We hope others feel similar love for the film, because ticket sales equal more of an opportunity to so other wonderful cult classics. It is truly a geeky Mayfair dream come true to see a movie that I love almost as much as Goonies in my favourite theatre.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Tonight at 7:00pm the Mayfair presents the selection for best of the 1950's, The Bridge On The River Kwai. Not only can you come see one of the most acclaimed films of all time, you can also peruse our silent auction items, buy raffle tix to win a private screening at the theatre, or even buy yourself a Mayfair Theatre left-over seat for a mere $40 bucks. Of course, a big chunk of money that comes in tonight will go directly towards our our ongoing fundraiser to purchase a fancy new DCP digital projector. A classic film, a good fundraising deed, a chance to win stuff, AND Obi Wan Kenobi.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Today at the animation fest saw another Ralph Bakshi classic, Heavy Traffic. Like Coonskin, and most everything else that Bakshi worked on, it's filled with offensive events and unlikeable characters and arguably racist turns. As I said just yesterday, I am none-the-less a bit fascinated with his filmography. Not for everyone, but the same could be said for a lot of stuff in many art galleries and photography filled coffee table books. I\m quite thankful to have events like the animation fest that showcase rarely seen theatrical presentations such as Heavy Traffic. We need Ralph Bakshi's in the animation world, if not we might blink and all of a sudden have nothing but such high concept cinematic work as Care Bear movies.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

One of my favourite traditions in my home-town is the Ottawa International Animation Festival that hits the city around this time every year. I've loved animation in all forms my whole life, and had even hoped to be an animator for a living at one point in time. That path never played out for me, but it hasn't hindered my love of the medium in the least. Managed to catch a pair of very different animated features today, one from the mid-seventies and one that hasn't been given it's wide-release just yet.

First up was a screening at the National Art Gallery, of one of Ralph Bakshi's controversial classics, Coonskin. An unannounced and unexpected bonus was that the director was there himself to introduce his film. Bakshi's work isn't for everyone to say the least, but there's something about his rough and crass cartoon / live-action mash-up's that I've always been very impressed by. I think it's greatly due to the fact that Bakshi managed to produce a body of distinctive and different than the norm. Especially that at the time cartoons involved such horrible offerings the like of Yogi's Space Race and The Great Grape Ape Show, that Bakshi managed to keep busy and produce popular work was quite impressive. Even if his work leaves you offended or isn't quite your thing, his importance in the world of animation can't be argued.

Then we went behind enemy lines to the Bytowne (I kid!) to see a cartoon from the complete opposite end of the spectrum in every way. Hotel Transylvania is a big budget CG animated film in the Addams Family style from a major studio starring Adam Sandler and a bunch of his friends. What made me interested in seeing the film was that it was directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, who's resume includes Dexter's Laboratory, Powerpuff Girls, Grim & Evil, Samurai Jack, and the awesome original batch of Clone Wars cartoons. I pretty much love everything that he's ever worked on. He was also on hand to partake in a q&a after the screening. The most exciting thing he hinted at was that if this film goes well he very likely may get to do the much anticipated Samurai Jack feature film.

No matter what type of cartoon you may prefer, there's always something worthwhile to see at the fest. It's one of the many great things about Ottawa that I point to when jerks complain that there's nothing to do in this town. One of the biggest animation and most respected animation festivals in the world people! Go watch cartoons!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

One Team. One Season. One Goal. Frisbee fanatics will invade the Mayfair tonight for the Ottawa premiere of Chasing Sarasota, a new doc about the quest for Ultimate sports success of the Portland Rhino. What's extra great and endeering about this indie doc is that director Matt Mastrantuono is road-tripping with the film from theatre to theatre across North America just like the film distribution of old. My favourite thing about a good sports film (like this one is) is that even if you have no connection or knowledge of the sport or team it is still enthralling. I have no idea about the world of Ultimate Frisbee, and yet by the films climax I was holding my breath, on the edge of my seat, and other good movie watching cliches.

Join what will likely be a full house of loyal athletic enthusiasts tonight at the Mayfair for a look inside the world of the sport and skill of Frisbee with Chasing Sarasota at 7:00pm.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Finished reading Writing Movies For Fun And Profit, written by Robert Ben Garant and Tom Lennon. This comedic screen-writing text book has Fun and And crossed out, and is subtitled: How we made a billion dollars at the box office and you can too.

I was a big fan of Garant and Lennon's work on Reno 911, and am familiar with Lennon thanks to frequent appearances on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. I'm also familiar with their filmography, that they've written some very mainstream flops like Taxi and Herbie Fully Loaded, and some hits like the Night at the Museum films.

Their book is interesting because it works on various levels depending on what you are reading it for. If you have no interest in writing, it is a very funny look behind the scenes at the inanity that is Hollywood. If you are a movie buff, the book serves as a very interesting and honest look behind the scenes of film production. And finally, if you are an aspiring or employed writer, the book is actually a very valuable educational text book resource despite it's goofy comical appearance.

Writing Movies For Fun And Profit is a successful book on many levels. It's a very a humorous read, great if you are a the kind of geek who likes listening to audio commentaries, or a great tool if you are legitimately curious to learn some very valuable writing and business tips. Plus you get a lot of unbelievable stories which prove that exec's in Hollywood are all idiots and or a horrible peeople...and they make fun of Lindsay Lohan a lot.

Monday, September 17, 2012

As I said in my previous Superman movie themed post, the whole series is a tricky one for me to praise or antagonize. Superman III lacks Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor, instead stars Richard Pryor as a computer hacker being pressured to assist a wannabe Lex Lutor in his aim for world domination. There's a distinct and noticeable lack of Lois Lane in the movie as well. Not sure what the exact story is, but supposedly either she didn't want to be around to the production didn't want her around. The result is she shows up for a couple minutes in the beginning, announces she's going on a trip, and shows up at the end. The movie also showcases a bizarre metaphysical junk-yard battle between evil Superman and Clark Kent. Upon seeing the scene again for the first time in a couple decades, I still can't quite figure out what it going on in that scene.

Superman IV means well in it's anti-nuclear weapon theme, but thanks to immense budget cuts and rushed production, is the biggest train-wreck of the series. It is also filled with the best and most enjoyable series of continuity errors and scenes that don't make any sense at all.

What both films do showcase successfully of course is the performance of Christopher Reeve. No matter how bad the franchise got, each film remains genuinely worthwhile to see if only for his Clark Kent / Superman portrayal.

Starting tonight at 7:00pm at the Mayfair we wrap up our tribute to Christopher Reeve's incarnation of the Man of Steel with the encore double-bill screening of Superman III and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. These are not great films over-all, but without them there is no doubt that we would not be in the golden age of comic book cinema the we are in the midst of currently.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Montreal Comiccon Day 3: At a good comic con, every time you're doing something interesting you are missing out on something else interesting. I was torn today 'cause I was really interested in sitting in on an Archie Comics panel. I don't read Archie Comics religiously, but am fascinated at their continual pop-culture importance and their fearlessness at pushing comic book boundaries in what are essentially kids soap-opera books. Look at what they've managed with their recent addition to the Riverdale universe of Kevin. Right wing and censorship hopeful groups went after the company for introducing the character, they didn't back down but essentially told the cowardly closed minded associations that they didn't care what they thought and to go to hell (I'm paraphrasing). Their reward was overwhelming media and fan support, goodwill, and most importantly for the bottom line of a publishing company - high sales.

My Buffy worshipfulness won out though, and ended up going to check out James Marsters panel (aka - Spike). Followed that up with a Patrick Stewart panel. Both were well worth checking out. My biggest disappointment of the day was almost finally getting a hold of Riddler style Converse. Evidently geek feet commonly come in size 10, because they had every size but the one I needed. The best purchase I managed was a very fairly priced vintage Gonk droid toy, to match my tattoo.

Had some nice comic geek conversations throughout the day. We stashed our backpacks and stuff underneath Tom's artist alley table so we didn't have to carry it all around (Tom had fled for the day). Darwyn Cooke was away from his neighbouring table, but ended up in a lovely Alan Moore bashing conversation with his wife regarding the whole Before Watchmen stuff. She and I were on the same page that Alan Moore is a big cry-baby and should grow up.

Chatted with Adrian Alphona, who I had met in Toronto and was nice enough to draw me a Molly sketch then. I'm very glad to see him making a comic book artist comeback after having been away for a bit. Not only because he happened to draw Runaways, one of my favourite comics ever, but he's also a really nice guy. Got more artwork from friend Kelly Tindall, putting our apartment one step closer to being completely covered with his art and a full scale stalker shrine.

Made up for missing the Archie panel earlier in the day by getting to chat with Archie Comics writer/artist Dan Parent. All conversation points I would have had at the panel, I managed to discuss with a person on the actual Archie trenches. Picked up a really nice page of art from Dan, and he was kind enough to draw me a quick sketch of Jughead. So maybe I don't get to read Archie Comics as much as I would like, but now I have a nice drawing of the Riverdale gang to frame and put up on the wall. The comic book splash-page even has Kevin on it. Take that right wing militants!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Began a hectic day first full day at the Montreal Comiccon by hosting a selection of short films from Quebec City's Vitesse Lumiere Film Fest, followed by a batch of shorts from the Mayfair. The attendance was a lil' low when the screening started up, but the room filled up much more by the time all was said and done. We started at 11am, and I think that line-ups were much longer than many expected. When we walked in, I again commented that I am spoiled now thanks to friends and professional association the last few years, and I will never ever go to a con again that I have to stand in line for. I take great joy with what little power I have I am able to skip ahead of my brother and sister geeks and walk right into a con.

Attended a William Shatner panel, this is the third time I've been in his presence in three different cities, and each time he excelled in his own certain style of a skilled improved one man storytelling show. There are some overlapping tales thanks to unoriginal q&a questions, like those regarding Twilight Zone or Star Trek. Not that those familiar tales are uninteresting to hear when being told live by Shatner. He really shines and proves his skills at working a room when telling stories about growing up in the streets of Montreal or his passion for horses. Was hoping to also catch the Shatner / Patrick Stewart team-up panel, couldn't sneak our way into that one though.

The highlight of the day was getting to meet legendary comic book artist and writer Jim Starling. Amongst other creative accomplishments (Cosmic Odyssey, Dreadstar, Batman, Silver Surfer...), Jim created Thanos at Marvel Comics. Besides for being a great character, Thanos also happens to be the all time favourite character of a friend of mine. A friend who shamefully backed out of attending the con due to responsible and boring grown-up obligations. I informed Mr. Starlin that my friend would be very jealous that I got to meet him. He asked if I wanted to make my friend really jealous? I of course did. He took my sketchbook and proceeded to draw a nice lil' head-shot sketch of Thanos. Standing near-by at his own artist-alley table was Tom Fowler, who I've known since high school. He yelled over "Get him to put To John, then scratch it our and put To Josh". Jim Starlin did so, and it was awesome. John will indeed be upset by this chain of events, and it will bring me great joy. Because I am evil like Thanos.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Made the trek to Montreal via bus to partake in what I'm sure will be an action packed Montreal Comic Con whirlwind of a weekend. While on the way there we watched the latest Doctor Who piece episodic offering, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship. As I have just mentioned, it was (1) a Doctor Who episode, and (B) called Dinosaurs on a Spaceship. So, it was indeed awesome.

As happens 93% of the time when one is making their way into Montreal via ground transportation, we got stuck in a def-con 4 level traffic jam. Everything bottle-necked on the highway into the city, from what I believe was a Fast & Furious calibre cop car surrounded expensive car smash up. It caused such a delay that alas we missed out on getting to the con in time for the Adam Baldwin panel (saw him in Ottawa though, so not the complete end of the world).

While walking towards the convention centre, I commented that I wasn't sure if the Friday night would have the costumed craziness yet. Moments after saying that I saw Rogue...followed by Deadpool, Wolverine, some Ghostbusters, and various Steampunk, anime and video game characters who I was not familiar with. After grabbing our badges (pro badges no less!) we had just enough time to get in some geek visiting before security kicked us all out. Got to swing by artist alley and check in with friends (geek name-dropping!) Kelly Tindall, Marco Rudy (he's draws Swamp Thing!), Tom Fowler (he has a new Hulk book!) and Kris Waddell and the gang at Mirror Comics.

I think this will be an excellent comic con of a weekend indeed. Updates to follow...after sleep.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Tomorrow night Moonrise Kingdom starts it's run with us at the Mayfair! If you do not like Wes Anderson, and aren't interested in Moonrise Kingdom, I'm pretty sure that contractually it means that you must have your Mayfair membership revoked.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

An example of the kinds of fine programming that we'll be showcasing during the Mayfair presentation at Montreal Comic Con on Saturday the 15th at noon. Victor Perpetual, a fine Twilight Zone of a short, stars and is directed by Ottawa talent Ray Besharah.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Found out yesterday that my short film presentation on Saturday at noon at Montreal Comic Con of stuff that has played at the Mayfair will be up against a Power Ranger and Will Wheaton. Not only that, I'm also up against a comic book panel hosted by my talented friend Kelly Tindall (he drew that picture up there). How will geeks possibly pick between those four options!? Hopefully, the Power Ranger and Will Wheaton will cancel each other out in a mighty battle and I won't have to worry about them. Kelly and I are now rivals, I will destroy him.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Tomorrow night at 7:00pm is our final night of screening Coast Modern. The film has been hugely successful at drawing in patrons over it's run with us. If only there were more architecture themed Canadian produced documentaries out there for us to screen, we'd be packed every night with rabid architecture groupies and have none of these pesky digital projector fundraiser needs.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

This-afternoon at the Mayfair we present the first two chapters in our Superman film fest. The 1970's/80's Superman series are a strange batch of movies for me to review and discuss. More than any other series, these films have moments that I think are brilliant smashed up against moments that I think are horrible in the same movie.

For example, that part in Superman II where he takes off his chest logo and throws it at the bad-guy. There was no mention of this super-ability before, none of it after, and even as a little kid that moment left me with a what-the-hell feeling of confusion. Then there's the part in the original where Lois recites a love-poem to Superman in her mind for what seems like about 15 minutes. Or lest we forget what I'm pretty sure is the worst ending in the history of motion pictures. That's right, I'm pretty sure that Superman has the worst ending to a good movie in the history of motion pictures. All of them! Ever!

Conversely, the combination of the brilliant performance of Christopher Reeve and the still not dated even a little bit flying special effects, the movie is filled with an overwhelming sense of comic book magic that makes you believe a man can fly. Superman has taken flack since the late 1930's for the suspension of disbelief needed to accept that no-one in Smallville or Metropolis might be fooled by the Clark Kent / Superman secret identity. There seemed to be a universal critique that a fedora and a pair of glasses wouldn't fool anybody that Clark spent his spare time in a red and blue caped costume repeatedly saving the world. Contrary to popular belief, after decades of the character being in existence in various mediums, Christopher Reeve stepped in and pulled off the impossible. He made the Christopher Reeve / Superman back-n-fourth completely and shockingly believable.

Catch Superman & Superman II at the Mayfair this-afternoon starting at 12:30pm. Failing that, you have a follow-up chance to see the Man of Steel Monday the 10th at 6pm. Despite their flaws they are a hugely important and enjoyable part of geek cinema history, and will leave you humming the John Williams score for days.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

The Reverb Syndicate will be playing a show tonight at The Rainbow in the market in Ottawa. If you are in town and you don't go see the show you are a fool who clearly must not enjoy great music and awesome times.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Re-watched JJ Abrams sci-fi adventure Spielbergian kid tribute movie Super 8 for the first time since seeing it big screen style. Not only does the film hold up, I think that I even enjoyed it better upon repeat viewing. If JJ Abrams could somehow squeeze in working on every movie that is currently in production into his hectic schedule, Hollywood would definitely be putting out a much better and more consistant high quality level of product. The movies would just have a lot more lens flares.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Often prints for genre fan-favourites are simply and sadly too expensive to bring in to screen at the Mayfair due to small movie-watcher turn outs for cult classics. Solution? Advance tickets!

At the Mayfair we currently have tickets available for John Carpenter's alien invasion 80's masterpiece, They Live. The 1988 Roddy Piper starring cult classic is not only awesome, it is one of the most highly requested movies that we get asked to screen. For a mere $10 bucks you can place your approving vote that this is the kind of programming you want to see at the Mayfair more often.

All we need to do is sell 75 tickets by September 15th to make this happen. The early nature of ticket cut-off date is due to information needed to puzzle-piece together the monthly schedules in an advanced nature of course. We have a 325 seat capacity, so selling 75 tickets seems like an easy goal for our lovely geeky patrons to help attain.

I was inspired to give this system of ticket sales an attempt upon listening to a Nerdist podcast wherein ticket sales was a topic of conversation. The stand-up comedian guest had had quite a bit of success selling tickets in smaller venues and markets in this manner. If this works, I hope (as do many others I'm sure) that this can be a monthly and regular tradition.

75 tickets by September 15th = 35mm print of They Live at the Mayfair.
Countdown has begun...Go buy tickets!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

In my younger years, I loved the films of Adam Sandler. I was (and am) a big fan of his cinematic work the likes of Billy Madison, Happy Gilmour and Wedding Singer. I did not like or particularly care about the work of Woody Allen.

Then, perhaps a sign of reaching maturity or growing up a lil' (both of which seem unlikely), my tastes completely flip flopped. I watched a whole bunch of Woody's films thanks to a Bravo film fest...and I think around the same time Adam Sandler stopped caring about even trying a lil' bit at working on good product (with a few dramatic exceptions). Now every time I see a new Adam Sandler trailer I just shake my head at how horrible the thing looks. Every time I see a new Woody Allen trailer I get excited about the new release.

As you may guess from the title, this is another Woody film not set in his beloved New York City. It is a good old fashioned Woody Allen universe of a tale in every other way though, it features a great cast and is the first film he's acted in in quite a while. A Roman traffic guard introduces us into the cinematic world of the film, which involves an anthology of four tales of characters in the city of Rome. Three of the tales are fantastical in nature: an architect visits the apartment he lived in years ago and then strangely becomes an imaginary friend to the current resident, a normal man magically wakes up a celebrity, and an opera director discovers an incredible talent who can only perform in the shower. The fourth story has some comical twists and turns but doesn't quite hit fantastical levels, it features a young couple on their honeymoon who fall into a bizarre misadventure.

Some seemed to not like the weird levels that the film reached throughout, but if you're familiar with Woody's filmography, weird is nothing that out of place in one of his scripts. It also has the blessing and the curse of being the follow-up effort to come out after the Oscar winning and hugely acclaimed Midnight in Paris. It also mayhaps took some deserved criticism that it seemed like at least two of the stories just seemed like unfinished feature length scripts that were given up on and shoved into an anthology.

I'm late in the game at mentioning that we're playing To Rome With Love at the Mayfair, but especially if you are a Woody Allen fan, I highly recommend you catch our final night of screening the film tonight at 9:15pm.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Watched the fifth season finale of Breaking Bad. Actually, TV is weird now-a-days, the next block of eight shows will come out in 2013, but they might be counted as season five as well. Whether the episode is a mid-season break or a season finale, that doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of TV-ness. What is important is that Breaking Bad may end up being the greatest TV series ever produced. Even shows that I worship have off-episodes, or at least a scene or two that don't pan out...not Breaking Bad. Every moment and character and plot-point so far has been completely enthralling, and it may be the all time king of cliffhangers.

There are eight episodes left (I think?), and I am fairly confident that I will watch each one with bated breath on the edge of my couch, cursing the end credit title-card as it hits the screen after some incredibly written and performed chain-of-events. People wasting their time with dance competitions and exploitative reality shows should be ashamed of themselves.

Monday, September 03, 2012

I had a free pass to go see a preview screening of ParaNorman a couple weeks ago, but when we tried to go see it there was come kinda' technical difficulty and the screening was cancelled. It was a sad afternoon indeed, but we did get run-of-engagement free passes and as an added bonus some of those wrist-bands that transform into different shapes (in this case, ParaNorman characters).

While in Toronto last night, and too worn out to do anything too productive, we braved downtown fake Times Square to go to the former AMC Cinema to make use of said free passes. It was a really weird theatre. The box office was on the main floor, then you had to go up roughly 85 different escalators, through a food court, then some more escalators, then past some Raiders of the Lost Ark calibre obstacles, before finally reaching a place that plays movies. Then we got into the theatre...and went up more escalators! We must have been about 300 stories above ground level at least.

I go to multiplexes on the free every so often, and I know hate is a strong word, but I kinda' hate watching movies in them. In the theatre where we viewed our movie, you could hear music and the sounds of various action movie explosions leaking in through the walls. I would have been more upset if I had actually paid I guess.

Luckily the movie was excellent, which helped distract from the sub-par theatrical exhibition surroundings. I love classical animation, and there have been a number of cg masterpieces the past few years (from Pixar), but there is something magical when it comes to stop-motion animation. It's an animated special effect, but there's a fantastical realism that the other cartoon art-forms don't quite reach.

ParaNorman's world is reminiscent of the 1980's geek cult classics the likes of Goonies and Monster Squad, with a bit more of a Tim Burton / Vincent Price of a twist. It's a horror movie that's safe for kids, with really great characters and proof that an original script can get through every once and a while in this age that gets constant criticism for it's lack of motion picture originality.

I liked the movie after having seen it, and the more I think about it the more I realize that I actually really loved it. I think it's going to become a Halloween viewing tradition for me right up there with Nightmare Before Christmas and Charlie Brown.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

On the short list of things to do on this visit to Toronto, besides for attending weddings and meeting new niece type babies, I really really wanted to catch the X-Men exhibit that TIFF is in the midst of hosting. The event is a tribute to Canadian make-up fx master Gordon Smith. Smith's resume includes Platoon, Dead Ringers, Near Dark, and of course the focus of this exhibit: X-Men and X2.

If in Toronto or visiting the city, you have until the end of March to check it out. If you are anything like me, you will spend most of your time while at the exhibit trying to figure out if you can smash the display case and make it past security with Wolverine's claws. If you need help doing so, let me know, I will gladly help out on that heist.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Last night saw a guy in a very professional looking Cyclops costume walking the streets of Toronto. It's not Halloween and there was no evidence for any reason to be dressed as an X-Man. I can only assume that it was a real Cyclops from an alternate universe stuck here thanks to some form of super villain caused time-space anomaly...or a crazy person. Either way, it was weird. Memorable...but weird.