Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
I think that I'm fairly knowledgeable about movies, and I try to keep on top of indie releases for possible Mayfair screening consideration at all times. Yet, great stuff always seems to fall by the wayside. I had never heard of The Sapphires before it was picked up to be screened at the Mayfair. Even with Chris O'Dowd front and centre, whom I am a giant fan of thanks to The IT Crowd and Bridesmaid, it had not crossed my radar. The Sapphires could have easily been sappy and contrived, but thanks to a great script and a talented cast and a lot of amazing Motown era music, it is just lovely. I think it may be the dictionary definition of a crowd pleasing motion picture.
The Sapphires screens at the Mayfair for three nights - this evening and Wednesday July 30th at 9:15pm, and Thursday August 1st at 6:30pm.
Monday, July 29, 2013
It's always hard for me to pick favourites or make best of lists, having said that, I'm pretty sure the movie that I would deem best of 2011 was Take Shelter. Writer and director Jeff Nichols is back with Mud, starring Mathew McConaughey in the title role. The movie is about two adventurous and independent boys in Arkansas who form a friendship with a mysterious fugitive in a Huck Finn reminiscent style. I was just as impressed with this effort as I was with Take Shelter, and most critics seem to agree with me that a truck full of awards will soon be coming the films way. I think that this Jeff Nichols is the real deal and a filmmaker with a ton of talent. And yes, most importantly, as per contractually obliged by his rider, McConauhey does indeed go shirtless for a portion of the film.
Mud screens at the Mayfair twice more, tonight and tomorrow (July 29 and July 30) at 9:15pm.
Sunday, July 28, 2013
Wrapped up our visit to Fantasia in style with a matinee screening of Ultraman Zero: The Revenge of Belail. This Ultraman film marks the 45th anniversary of the franchise, which at this point comprises of 28 seasons of teevee and 22 films. Nothing quite better then the simple enjoyment of a movie filled with giant robot heroes fighting giant monster villains. Plus there was a part where a guy was crying, then a giant robot flew out of his tear, and then they fought bad guys. I didn't have a grasp at exactly was going on at all times, whether that be from a cultural divide or just because of poor film-making I'm not quite sure, but that did not hinder the enjoyment of this rather insane corner of Japanese cinematic history.
Saturday, July 27, 2013
Bushido Man is a no-budget martial arts food themed action comedy. It was extra impressive because it was a genuine no-budget endeavor, in which the director in attendance said that often the crew consisted of just the actors along with the director running a camera. The movie was filled with lots of great action, including quite a few original fight gags and stunts that I've never seen before. It also had one of the best after-the-credits twists that I've ever seen. As an extra bonus, a couple of the actors were on hand for some live martial arts action after the film. Maybe the best part in an over-all greatly memorable screening was that they gave out Japanese candy to the crowd. I'm not quite sure what is in the package titled Corn Potage, but it's mascot and packaging awesomely enough look like something right out of a Simpsons parody of Japanese culture.
Machi Action was another real crowd pleaser, and although heavily intertwined in geek culture, I think would be equally enjoyable to patrons of the cinema who don't normally enjoy giant monsters in their entertainment. Machi Action is a behind the scenes tale of the star of a once greatly popular but now dwindling Saturday morning live-action series the like of Power Rangers. The story of best friends who play a iant space hero and the giant monsters who he battles was funny through-out and had a lot of heart. It was so good that I'm sure that sooner or later Hollywood will remake it instead of just releasing it in its original form.
Friday, July 26, 2013
We're sticking around in Montreal an extra few days to good deed it up and take care of some dog and cat sitting duties. Most importantly, that mans I get to take in a few more Fantasia screenings.
First up was the Japanese horror film The Complex, from the director of The Ring inspiration Ringu. Like many films from this corner of the horror genre, it involved a haunted house story-line and creepy kids. The movie was ok, I've just seen this kind of thing over and over again, so it felt a bit like covered ground and had nothing new or original about it.
Across the River on the other hand was a horror movie at it's best. If you went into the movie blind, you might think it was going to be a simple character piece about an ecologist working in the woods. Then there's some creepy sounds from the surrounding forest...then the leftovers of a dead boar are found...and then things get really scary. There are great shots of wild animals being spooked by the aforementioned creepy sounds, made for great cinema, but I think might qualify as animal cruelty. Once the climax starts rolling, I spent the whole time wide eyed with hands gripping my seat. My girlfriend spent most of the time with her eyes closed. This for a low budget project with little in the way of dialog, no real special effects, and the performance of a single actor carrying most of the connection the audience has to the movie. Some don't enjoy or understand why people like horror movies. It's movies like Across the River that I point to for the legitimacy of horror film-making, and how they can be some of the most impressive examples of a piece of work entertaining and effecting its audience. It will also make you want to avoid camping for a while.
Thursday, July 25, 2013
I didn't get my copy of Deadpool #1 signed by it's co-writer, but it was none-the-less great to see Comedians of Comedy alum Brian Posehn perform tonight at Just for Laughs. I've been a fan of his for a very long time, from News Radio through Mission Hill through the Sarah Silverman Program. He was waring a Warriors shirt and topped off the show with a Star Wars rant. Not hard to guess that his comedy stylings are in my wheel-house of interest and enjoyment.
After that we bolted over to the Fantasia Fest to get in line for the sold out screening of The Machine. Luckily our industry badges afforded us entry anyhow...there's no money in owning an indie rep theatre, but you at least get to see a lot of free movies. I especially love getting to see awesome movies that you can't see anywhere else yet. The Machine was very impressive Blade Runner-esque sci-fi about evil corporations, obsessed scientists and the birth of cyborgs and artificial intelligence. It is another example of a low budget movie getting it right, and expertly so, in a genre that the mainstream so often drops the ball on. The filmmakers are still chasing distribution, but keep the title on your radar. Hopefully it will find a distribution home and we can grab it to screen at the Mayfair sometime soon. It cost about 200 times less then a Transformers movie, and was easily 200 times better then anything Michael Bay has ever been a part of.
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Watched the season finale of Orange is the New Black on the Netflix. We're all on the same page that Netflix is awesome and all of these original programs they're putting out are awesome right? Ok...good. On the off chance that you haven't binge watched through this great new series yet (like everyone else I know has done), go do so right now.
A stand-up comedy filled evening beginning with The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail. The Meltdown is the flagship comedy showcase spun out of Nerdist Enterprises that happens on a weekly basis at Meltdown Comics in LA. Meltdown Comics is high on my list of places on this planet that I want to visit, and I love the Nerdist, so I was glad to partake in this road-show version. One of their special guests was the hilarious Ron Funches, who ended the show with his trademark move of throwing a bunch of Skittles at the audience. I sadly did not catch one to keep as a souvenir forever and ever.
Then we headed to another hidden club to see 30 Rock alum Judah Frielander. All of the 'Off JFL' locations are true and old fashioned tiny comedy clubs, meaning that many are up a long flight of sketchy stairs and that everyone is packed into a make-shift space that I'm relatively sure is a fire hazard to all in attendance. Danger aside, it does make for perfect surroundings for comedy. Judah Frielander was great, easily proving that he is indeed the World Champion of everything.
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Tonight at Fantasia we watched Bounty Killer, a really impressive low budget mash-up genre of an indie movie. Things opens up with an insanely violent guns a blazing action scene, and the pace doesn't let up for the 90 minutes that follow. The world of Bounty Killer is part comic book, part video game, part exploitation, part grindhouse, and all post apocalyptic crowd pleasing action and excitement. It always amazes me how much better low budget genre efforts are than similar big budget movies of a similar style.
Making the evening even more enjoyable, we followed up a very fun movie by attending Just for Laughs for a dose of Maria Bamford stand-up. Maria's mix of dark autobiographical stories, mocking of her family members and wide ranging impersonation talents make her one of the best stand-up's working today. We sat front row and got some interaction into her performance. Which I think means that we are now a part of show business. If you haven't seen the documentary Comdians of Comedy (which is on the Netflix), go watch that as a good jumping on point to her hilarity.
Monday, July 22, 2013
I listen to the Judge John Hodgman podcast on a regular basis, and enjoy it very much. The premise of the show is that people bring a case before the fake Judge, and he uses all of his comedic wisdom to rule as to which side of the debate is correct. One of the mainstays of the court is that you can't force someone to like something that thy do not like. It stuns me how many times couples and friends and family members seem to want to force their taste in movies onto one another (either via podcast debate or in real life examples I've been told of). I never get why when two people are going to watch something, both can't be pleased with how they are spending their time. Especially in this day and age where the world is at your fingertips and it's pretty easy to have a wide selection of entertainment options.
So, when my girlfriend and I are at the Fantasia Film Fest, I give her full warning that sometimes they program some pretty insane stuff. She's not exactly the biggest horror fan in the world. When she saw The Blair Witch Project for the first time, a couple Halloween's ago at the Mayfair, she nearly broke my arm from grabbing it in a state of fright. If she didn't want to join me for a potentially disturbing and terrifying cinematic experience, I would totally understand.
She cowboy'd up though, and bravely decided to join me for the Korean anthology that was simply titled Horror Stories. I texted this info to a friend of ours who I attended many a Fantasia screening in the past. He said that it was nice to have known her before her brain was forever damaged by exposure to the genre at hand. Luckily she got off the hook relatively easily. There was the traditional Korean scary ghost ladies, and some zombies and serial killers...but in comparison to other films I've seen from the country, it was rather tame.
Next up genres switched over to a Spanish drama Magic Magic, featuring Juno Temple and Michael Cera. On the surface it begins as a simple story of a young woman travelling from America to visit her cousin in Chile. Things start getting uncomfortable right away thanks to our central character's cousin abandoning her to weird friends as they make their way to a secluded cottage. Things continue to delve into hypnotism and nightmares and confusion and a general descent in madness. Not quite a horror film, but none the less it had lots of scary moments and a well played horrifying climax.
The biggest surprise of the night was the Imperial Theatre. Everyone always teases me that we should open up a Mayfair in Montreal. Evidently there already is one there, it just goes unused most of the time. It holds some 900 seats, has a chandelier and is covered in fancy design never changed from the 1920's. Sad that it sits sadly empty most the time, but nice to see so many movie fans getting to partake in its glory during the festival.
Sunday, July 21, 2013
Excited to be heading to Montreal tomorrow to attend this years installment of the Fantasia International Film Festival. I would love if I could have been able to attend every day of the event that runs from July 18th to August 7th, but taking that much time away is a little difficult. I'm sure that I will see some great genre movies throughout the week though, even with the extra distraction of catching some Just for Laughs stand-up while in the city. If you live in Montreal or are visiting for any amount of time over this period, be sure to check it out.
Saturday, July 20, 2013
Are you ready to be angry at the people that run the world and frustrated at the state that society and the environment is in? Then the new documentary Greedy Lying Bastards is perfect documentary for you. Join us at the Mayfair tonight at 9:00pm, tomorrow at 8:30pm, Wednesday July 24th at 9:00pm and Thursday July 25th at 9:30pm. Unless you work for Fox News, or run an oil company, or are possibly Lex Luthor, get ready to be informed, educated and furious.
Friday, July 19, 2013
Run from the evil scary monkey! Mirror Comics released this here terrifying teaser image from the upcoming comic book one-shot Zomkeys. This horrifying little critter comes from a book written by me, drawn by Barb Felix and coloured by Brianna Parker. It will be out in time for Halloween, and you can be sure that I will be talking about it endlessly in hopes of convincing you to buy a copy or two or fifty for your comic book collection.
Thursday, July 18, 2013
Tomorrow night (Friday July 19th at 7:30pm) the Rideau Valley Roller Girls invade city hall for an inter-league exhibition game happening outside on the front lawn of city hall. This will mark the first ever outdoors roller derby game in the history of our fine city, and best of all is that it's absolutely free. Th mayor himself will even be on hand to start the game and blow the first whistle.
Then if that weren't enough roller derby excitement for your weekend, Saturday July 20th at 5:30pm brings a double header of bouts to the Barbara Ann Scott Arena, located at 2250 Torquay Avenue. Tickets are a mere $15 at the door to see the RVRG Slaughter Daughters take on Toronto's Bay Street Bruisers and the RVRG Riot Squad battle London's Timber Rollers. What other sport is on now? Baseball? Pfft...roller derby could beat up baseball with both arms tied behind its back.
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
This Saturday July 20th there is no better way to spend your afternoon than at the Mayfair for some time travelling adventure with the Back to the Future Trilogy: Back to the Future at 11:30am, Back to the Future II at 1:45pm and Back to the Future III at 4:00pm. We even have a flux capacitor on hand in the lobby just in case we manage to get the theatre up to 88 miles per hour.
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
I've long been in the favour of more stylized or cartoon-y looking comic books vs photo-realism art work. It's not a brand new release, but I just read the Spider-Woman: Agent of SWORD collection, and I was greatly reminded of this. At first glance, Alex Maleev's artwork is very pretty. The more I look at it though, the more I think it looks lifeless, posed and traced. I find that the characters seem like they are cut and paste in front of photographic cityscape backgrounds or plunked into locations like a sticker into a colouring book page location. I find it all very distracting as I read through the story.
Since this Spider-Woman work is accomplished with directing models into poses and many of the backgrounds are digital references, it might have a sense of realism, but it lacks life and soul. I guess I'm a traditionalist. I like a comic book that looks like a comic book and not stills from a live action movie. Also, I kinda just noticed how blatantly offensive the triangles on her costume are.
Monday, July 15, 2013
Tonight I got to point a follow-spotlight towards living legend BB King on the final night of Blues Fest. Such an amazing gig gets me a bit emotional and choked up because Mr King was my dad's favourite musician of all time.
I went to see Mr King perform once with my dad, well over twenty years ago, and my dad got to see him again in Ottawa one time while I was out at school in Vancouver. He phoned me after the concert as excited as a kid on Christmas morn. He had overheard someone with a backstage pass saying that they were leaving, struck up a conversation, was kindly given the pass, and got to go met BB King. He got to have an actual conversation with his hero, and was given a bunch of personalized autographed pictures (the one written to me I of course still have framed).
My dad isn't with us anymore, but I smile at the thought that if he were I would have got him into the show tonight and h would have been ecstatic. And that while I was working, he probably would have wandered off, gotten himself back stage, and met up with his hero BB King again.
Sunday, July 14, 2013
The last couple of night, the Mayfair has screened the Ottawa premiere A Band Called Death, the new documentary from Drafthouse Films. We've had a fine run of quality music themed doc's, they seem to be a real fan favourite with our patrons. Over the past few years we've had great numbers come out for such titles as It Might Get Loud, The White Strips Under Great White Northern Lights, Shut Up and Play the Hits, and Searching for Sugar Man. A Band Called Death is a worthy addition to that impressive collection of rock n roll doc's.
The movie tells the tale of three teenage brothers in the early 1970's who formed a spare bedroom garage-band. They annoyed the neighbours, played a few small-time local gigs, and even pressed a single in hopes of getting their music heard and signed to a record label. Their hopes of professional musicianship, fame and fortune hit a wall when the leader of the band refused to change their band's name from Death.
What follows is a decades long truth-stranger-than-fiction epic about the punk band legends that never were that is all at once heart-breaking, hilarious, inspirational, and filled with great real-life characters. Even if you aren't a fan of punk music, I cannot recommend this movie enough.
If you are in Ottawa, please join us at the Mayfair on Wednesday July 17th or Thursday July 18th at 9:15pm for A Band Called Death. If not, search out the film which will be making it's rounds and if you are lucky be playing soon at a theatre near you. Be ready to become a fan of a band called Death.
Saturday, July 13, 2013
Friday, July 12, 2013
Thursday, July 11, 2013
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
I love Weezer. I think that it's pretty safe to say that they are my favourite band. Tonight I got to wear my Sheezer shirt while pointing a follow-spotlight at guitarist Brian Bell as Weezer performed at Blues Fest. I got to have a nice conversation with their lighting director who had never heard of Sheezer before, and was now excited to look them up. As he assigned which crew member was to be on which band member, I got to smirk and assure him that I already knew their names. Even though I had to concentrate on the task at hand, I enjoyed the night greatly. Weezer knows how to put on a show. Afterward I was thanked for doing a good job, and he handed me the set list. A very nice souvenir that I will frame and add to the wall next to the last set list from the last show they did in Ottawa. I didn't get to help hold up an outhouse as lead singer Rivers climbed it and sung from its roof like I did a couple years ago...it was none the less still a greatly memorable night of rock n roll.
Tuesday, July 09, 2013
I'm always behind on my reading, so a few weeks late I will recommend All Star Western featuring Jonah Hex #21. Time travelling super-hero Booster Gold (another of my pre-New 52 favourite characters) was an unexpected guest star in the western comic in the past couple issues. Fantastical tales are nothing new to the character or world of Jonah Hex. Sometimes his stories are straight guns a blazing westerns, but he has bumped into vampires and ghosts and masked men along his travels. He has even traveled to a post-apocalyptic future in the 1980's series Hex.
This issue brings this incarnation of Jonah into present day for the first time. He lands in Gotham City and has a run in with one of the Batman Incorporated soldiers, Bat Wing. I admit that I loved the simplicity of the previous run of Jonah Hex tales a bit more then these ones. They had this great run of one issue stories featuring a rotating talent base of artists. The same writers are on board for this New 52 version of the character, which takes a more of an ongoing issue to issue continuity story-line to use. Some might not appreciate their favourite bounty hunter being removed from the past and being placed him into the centre of the DC Universe present day prime. I look at it the same way as I do with all the things that make comic geeks angry when there's a major change. These characters are really old, these characters have appeared in hundreds of comics, to keep things interesting you have to toss curveballs at these characters. It doesn't always work, but it often makes for interesting and fun new stories. Especially in mainstream comics, fun seems to be the one thing that is often missing. And just like Superman's death, Batman's broken back and Wolverine's lack of adamantium...I'm sure everything will be back to normal and Jonah will be back in the wild west before you know it. Don't fear change. Read comics.
Monday, July 08, 2013
Sunday, July 07, 2013
I may not seem the mold of their target audience at first glance, but I love the Wu-Tang Clan. If you are familiar with their library though, you know that there are a ton of references to all manner of geeky things ranging from Transformers to super-hero's to kung-fu movie sampling. So maybe it really isn't all that shocking that I am a fan. They were at Blues Fest this-afternoon, glad to be able to cross them off my concert bucket list. And yes, they even performed my favourite Wu-Tang song, "Shame on a N..."(I exchange the last word of the song title with Ninja if I'm singing along...as not to offend).
Saturday, July 06, 2013
The best part about having a day job which involves stuff like being on the lighting crew for events like Blues Fest is getting paid to be introduced to a bunch of new music. This event in particular is one of the largest concert series in North America, located here in Ottawa, running from July 4th to 14th and hosting hundreds of musicians (I don't think that that is an exaggeration). Especially in the past few years, I listen to very little in the way of music. I spend all my auditory intake of arts and culture listening to podcasts and audiobooks.
Last night I got to point lights at the Irish American band Flogging Molly. Like many band of this sub-genre, they seemed to have two offerings, somber slow paced bar music and foot stomping fast paced bar music. They were a great amount of fun, there was a lot of green attire and many Irish flags flying. If you ever have the opportunity, I recommend seeing them in a live setting very much. Look out for mosh pits.
Friday, July 05, 2013
Hmm...maybe today's big hockey news shouldn't have been that much of a surprise considering the above photographic evidence of Alfie's connection to the Detroit organization.
I haven't rally been a true hockey fan for what seems like quite sometime now. It's not due to bandwagon jumping because the team for my home city hasn't won a championship, or because in recent years they've gone from contenders to an organization the misses the playoffs or fights to get in to post season contention each year. I was loyal enough that stats didn't really matter to me. I remained a Gretzky fan right through St Louis and to the farewell tour in New York that didn't go quite as well as everyone thought they might.
No...I guess I just found myself too busy for hockey. I would still go to games if free tickets fell in my lap (which happens every so often), and I have a birthday tradition with my uncle that continues, but otherwise I am very much out of the loop as to the ins and outs of the game. Whether that was that I became intertwined in the much more awesome sport of roller derby, or just because my nights became much more packed with going to movies at the Mayfair all the time. The more I hear non-sports fan comedians who I listen to (the like of John Hodgman or Chris Hardwick) poke fun at sports, the more I realized that I just couldn't raise up the spirits to care about them all that much anymore.
I was on my way to the vet for a quick check-up for the puppy thismorning when my friend told me the news. I was shockingly saddened and in a short state of disbelief considering that I haven't really followed hockey in four seasons or so. Alfie jumping ship to Detroit still kind of took me aback and made me loose my faith in the universe a lil bit. To be fair, Alfie really did nothing wrong. His contract was up, he's not breaking any rules or throwing fits or acting in any kind of underhanded manner (which athletes often partake in). I would have bet it all that he would have spent his whole career in Ottawa though. Now, instead of a noble and unprecedented run with a single team, he's off to try and get his name on a Stanley Cup in Detroit. Cheering for millionaires playing a children's game just doesn't seem all that appealing to me anymore. With the abandonment of my one time beloved captain, I do think this means that I officially don't care about hockey at all anymore.
Thursday, July 04, 2013
Happy fireworks day to our American friends South of the Canadian border. Sure much of your country might be in shambles and a Mad Max-ian post apocalyptic wasteland is surely imminent...but at least we can all be distracted slightly from life's troubles by expensive things blowing up.
Wednesday, July 03, 2013
Another indie horror spotlight upcoming at the Mayfair, prepare yourselves for the terror of The Frankenstein Theory, as presented by our friends at ZombieInfo.com. Find out if Mary Shelley's classic and frequently reimagined novel was indeed based in fact, Saturday July 6 at 10:45pm, Wednesday the 10th and Thursday the 11th at 9:00pm
Tuesday, July 02, 2013
OttawaHorror.com presents the Rue Morgue Cinema film The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh at the Mayfair on July 3rd and 4th at 9:15pm. Clive Barker praised the film as "Magnificent." and also said that "This film has no precedent."...and he knows a lil' something about horror stories.