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Posts Tagged ‘Entertainment’

The Vestal Verdict on Vampires

November 29, 2012 1 comment

(Sigh) – It was just okay. I liked Breaking Dawn Part 2, but I didn’t love it;  much as I wanted to. Yet it’s one of those things where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts – like a Jackson Pollock painting, the splotches of colour don’t mean anything in isolation, but together, the canvas is captivating. You can’t think of this movie as its own entity, but rather as the final farewell to this cast of vampires and werewolves we’ve come to admire, or at least, enjoy looking at.

This last installment of the Twilight series seemed to miss a hint of the magic that laced the others. I missed the love triangle between Jacob, Edward and Bella. The alternate tension invented for tension purposes (between the same three, but because of Renesmee) can’t compete. And as this tension has waned, so has the (almost, at times) witty dialogue. I wanted more of Charlie, and less of the vampires from all corners of the earth. Edward has lost some of his magnetism, but that could be the most recent Kristen Stewart sex scandal’s influence on me, I’m not sure.

But still.

There were many things I did like. Here are a few:

-sitting in a movie theater in a plush seat, with no one pulling on my arm, shoveling popcorn into my mouth

-watching beautiful vampires with perfect skin (shame about the eyes)

-its dramatic cinematography and incredible scenery, filmed in the very same woods and trails where I love to run (albeit not as fast as Bella and Edward, but a girl can dream)

-the concept that the unlikeliest of loves can persevere

So even though this last movie wasn’t all we Twi-hard fans hoped for, it was still great to see them; the Cullens, Bella, Jacob, and Edward, and all of their beauty, with their problems that are not of this world; projected on a gigantic screen for us to admire, forcing us to leave more pressing issues at the ticket booth, at least for two hours.

My daughter and her thirteen year-old friends agreed in unison that most of all, they were sad the saga had come to an end. I would concur, but at the same time, the story had clearly run its course; arguably one movie ago. It was time to say good-bye.

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Oh To Be Young and Vampire

November 28, 2012 3 comments

I have my ticket in my hot little hands and I’m excited.

We’re off to see Breaking Dawn Part 2 tonight – my teenage daughter works well as a prop in this instance – and I can’t wait to see Bella as a vampire. I was born to be a vampire, she says in the trailer, and I was born to fall in love with people (or werewolves, vampires, robots, whatever) falling in love on gigantic screens while eating popcorn. We all have our things.

I realize it’s not cool for a person of my vintage to love the Twilight series, and I have patiently waited for the super-crazy Twilight fans among us to attend their midnight showings and wait in line for hours to see the movie during opening week. I’m a fan but I’m not an idiot. I’m hoping for an empty seat in front of me on which to fold my coat, ensuring a clear view of the shirtless Jacob.

I’m bemused that even after four movies, the series isn’t getting old for me, unlike the Sex and the City movies, which should have died on the table after movie number one. Will tonight be the final straw? Will Edward’s sparkling skin no longer appeal? Will the vampire and werewolf culture fail to interest me? Will I be done with this love triangle, and be happy to say goodbye to rainy Forks? Will I finally have outgrown my addiction?

Stay tuned.

A Little Slice of Heaven Hidden in a Summer Reading List

June 13, 2012 5 comments

A good reading list should be as balanced as our diet: filled with nutritious niblets of several genres, with some servings of pure alcohol, caffeine and chocolate in good measure (or mainlined, whatever.) Biographies, sagas, mysteries, and classics are the food groups of literature, with romance at the top of the pyramid to provide those sugar highs we occasionally crave. A little of everything for any diet is on this list. What these books have in common is they are all beautifully written, with characters so real you expect to look up and find them in your bedroom (or car, or kitchen, wherever you happen to be reading). For the most part, they’re not even new books; but books that I happened to love this year.

What is not on this list is Fifty Shades of Grey (or Fifty Shades of Awful, by my estimation.) Don’t get me started on that trilogy of tragedy.

Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides

This book takes you into the mind and struggles of a hermaphrodite, Callie. When was the last time you were there? Ya huh. It’s a family saga that spans three generations, beginning in Smyma in the early 1900’s, and their harrowing emigration to Detroit. It’s filled with colourful characters and poignant moments, and made me ponder the strong relationship between sexuality and identity. It kept me reading into the wee hours; Eugenides deserves his reputation for being a master storyteller.

When God Was a Rabbit, by Sarah Winman

Life rarely makes sense. And so it goes for Elly, the heroine of this book. A traumatic event shapes her early years, and as the book unfolds its repercussions are felt, again and again. The book is as quirky as Elly herself. It’s beautifully written, charming and funny in spite of itself.

State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett

She’s best known for her award winning Bel Canto, but my personal favorite of Patchett’s is still The Magician’s Assistant, by the by. A hint of mystery kept me turning the pages of her latest novel, set in the jungle of the Amazon, as the protagonist, Marina, discovers the wonders of the Lakashi people deep in the heart of the rain forest.

The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton

A story before its time, Wharton depicts societal norm as the joke that it really is. Ellen, the protagonist, challenges standards by leaving her loveless marriage. When she meets Newland Archer, who is newly engaged, Ellen and Newland begin a lifelong game of cat and mouse, and a love for all time. If you read one classic this summer, or ever, choose this.

Your Voice in My Head, by Emma Forrest

This memoir by Forrest reminds us that life is filled with ups and downs, and that no relationships are easy. As she spirals into sadness, Forrest finds a light in her therapist; when he dies from cancer she is left wandering in the dark once again. Her hostile and lonely world make for beautiful passages, and a wonderful memoir leaking with truth and life.

Here are the books that are burning a hole in my bedside table, and I’m excited to devour them this July, come sun or what may:

The Sisters Brothers, by Patrick deWitt (Back to my tomboy days with some country and western. And the author happens to be too chilled for words, great non-vibe from this guy.)

Half Blood Blues, by Esi Edugyan (Oooh so excited for this one.)

A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway (Why have I not read this book?!)

The Dovekeepers, by Alice Hoffman (When my tenth friend told me to read this, I put my hands up in surrender. I surrender!)

I’m hungry just looking at them. Read ’em and weep. Or read ’em and eat. Whatever you do, fold yourself into the pages of a delicious dessert this summer. Happy summer reading.

A Real Housewife of Vancouver Speaks Up (And Her Eyebrows are MOVING)

April 26, 2012 8 comments

It is beautifully and perfectly ironic that there is nothing real about The Real Housewives of Vancouver. From the prominent tips of their fake breasts down to their carefully shellacked toes, these girls elicit as much reality as a happily married Kim Kardashian.

And all this before they have opened their mouths. As soon as they do, I’m wishing their lip enhancements could inhibit their speech. Every non-thought they utter collectively shrinks progress made by women globally. Just when feminists had propelled us forward, the Real Housewives of Vancouver use their fuzzy Prada slippers and stilettos to step back into a time and place where boyfriends need to be found to provide them with expensive presents, and new horses to ride, so to speak.

Yet, we are watching, but not to be inspired or lifted. Rather we are watching for the same reason we crane our necks to get a glimpse of a car accident on the highway as we pass safely by and privately think, better them than me! We are watching for the same reason we watch any reality television, to see people make fools of themselves. (And possibly to see if any of their faces will move in this episode – so far, they haven’t.)

If nothing else, it is fascinating to watch five women who spend entire days on their appearance. Who knew you could look so terrible after all of that time and expense? So perhaps there is another reason we are watching: to revel in our normality, and decidedly low-maintenance approaches. For me, another housewife of Vancouver, it’s a big day is when I floss my teeth and manage to take my multi-vitamin; two little gestures that are all about me. Facials of whale sperm are far from my reality, which is fine in practice, but clearly not when it comes to entertaining television.

Even the most gullible among us realize the Real Housewives of Vancouver are as far from a real housewife of Vancouver as you can get. We should launch a counterattack, a backlash series, entitled creatively The REAL Real Housewives of Vancouver. The first episode could be called “Multi-tasking,” and the opening scene would feature a rather harried woman slapping peanut butter on a slice of bread with one hand, while arranging a playdate on her Blackberry with her other hand, and helping her daughter with her homework with her – shoot, I’m out of hands – spare toe. An amalgamation of Edward Scissorhands and motherhood. Truer to life than The Real Housewives of Vancouver.

Boring, say the executives in Hollywood, who really are masterminds, to be fair. Much better to throw five strangers housewives together on a deserted island in Vancouver and watch them try to survive. Reality television is nothing if not original.

To find out the antithesis of what a real housewife of Vancouver thinks about, looks like and acts like, be sure to tune in to The Real Housewives of Vancouver, tonight, on Slice. Did someone say pizza party?

(Still, it is shocking they have no shortage of incendiary characters to choose from in our fair city, women who must have willingly walked around with ‘kick me’ on their backs as kids, or yesterday. I know, I get it, my life is boring, who would want to watch a real housewife of Vancouver floss her teeth whilst shuttling her kids to soccer? But seriously, what price for fame, girlfriend, what price for fame?)

Renting A Video Is So Last Week

April 5, 2012 2 comments

Friday nights mean a lot of things to different people – clubbing, high calibre reality television, Quidditch, poker – pick your poison. At one time in my life, Friday’s meant parties, dates, and the heady possibility of sleeping in on Saturday. But introducing children to my life has effectively squashed those options, making room for new traditions and more family-friendly rituals. Friday nights have evolved into family movie night, alive with the possibility of escaping to the wintry depths of Narnia, the vestiges of piracy in the Caribbean, or perhaps days gone by in Hollywood or Hogwarts.

I like doing errands almost as much as I like scrubbing toilets, but going to fetch our Friday night movie is one errand I enjoy: my store of choice is located next to the liquor store, a marriage of convenience if there ever was one. One competent double play – wine, video – guaranteed a night of fun. But recently, as I pirouetted towards the video store entrance, singing that annoying song “It’s Friday, Friday, Gotta get down on Friday,” I came face to face with an Out of Business sign.

I was stunned. To ensure this wasn’t some sort of hoax I pressed my face to the glass, and sure enough the shelves were empty, workers already in the process of dismembering the counter where I used to stand and make small talk with the red-shirted employees.

This, on the heels of my other neighbourhood video store going bust a couple of months ago. I’m officially in no man’s videoland. It is the end of an era, before I was ready to be done with the era. As I did when the bootcut leg gave way to the skinny jean, I am recoiling and resisting, lingering in my outdated video sense.

I know there are alternatives. I simply don’t like them as much as my weekly jaunt to the video store. My cable company provides a video on demand service, but the selection is paltry and depressing. People are buzzing about Netflix, but gathering the family around our Mac isn’t enticing, and our Wii is hooked up to an old t.v. in the basement; switching it seems like too much work (and likely impossible). I bought my husband Apple TV for Christmas, but it’s not up and running – something to do with the seventeen remotes we have for our main television. (Whoever set up our system never heard of KISS – keep it simple, stupid.)

It’s not like I’m resistant to change. When winemakers ushered in perfectly acceptable vintages with twist-off caps, I barely batted an eye. I gladly sign up for a web-chats with my bank rather than wait on hold for a live person. Volleyball did away with side-outs, and I sucked it up. I roll with the punches pretty good, for the most part.

But the death of the video store has caught me with my boot-cut pants down. I’m aghast and dismayed, not to mention video-less. If video killed the radio star, then who, in turn, killed the video? Netflix, I’m looking at you.

Move Over Bieber, YouTube Sensation Maria Aragon Is Here

March 1, 2011 4 comments

The internet is humming, and it is playing the same tune as people around the world click on a YouTube video posted recently by a 10-year-old in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Maria Aragon has become a sensation since putting a cover of Lady Gaga’s song “Born This Way” on the popular internet site on February 16. As of today her video, which shows her playing the piano in a simple white t-shirt and singing, has had over sixteen million hits.

It’s been a busy week and a half for the young Canadian. When Lady Gaga watched Maria’s video, she tweeted about her amazing talents, and since that moment Maria’s life has been turned upside down.

Less than a week after posting the video, Maria was on the radio interview circuit and appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Lady Gaga surprised Maria during one of her radio interviews by coming on the phone line, offering to sing a duet with her at her upcoming concert in Toronto.

Before performing on Ellen, Maria told the comedian that she chose this particular song because of its message. “Just be yourself, because God made you the way you are, and you are no different than anybody else,” she said. Maria performed her slower, acoustic version of the hit song in front of the studio audience and received a standing ovation.

Maria’s entourage has quickly been assembling social media protocol: a website has been created with the URL www.mariaaragonyoutubestar.com, and a Facebook fan page has been launched.

This is what going viral looks like.

According to her website, she will soon be appearing on Good Morning America, which means a plethora of daytime media appearances will follow, as The View, Regis and Kelly and other morning shows clamber for an interview.

Hopefully like any good Canadian, Maria’s support group can stick handle through the barrage of attention and keep her feet solidly on the ground even though her voice is heading for the stars.

My mama told me when I was young
We’re all born superstars
She rolled my hair, put my lipstick on
In the glass of her boudoir

There’s nothin’ wrong with lovin’ who you are”
She said, “‘Cause He made you perfect, babe”
“So hold your head up, girl and you you’ll go far,
Listen to me when I say”

Lady Gaga, Born This Way

The Oscar Goes to… Any Movie Viewed On An Airplane

February 3, 2011 4 comments

Whether it’s the high altitude messing with my oxygen flow, or the need to engage my mind to stop it from dwelling on being hurled through the air in a tub of steel, my entertainment receptors switch to their simplest form of engagement on airplanes. I suspect All About Steve could have passed as acceptably funny if I’d seen it on a plane. In a movie theater, it just fell into the “creepy’ category.

Am I alone, or are funny movies hilarious when viewed from great heights? And do you weep with anguish and sympathy more than usual during sad movies on airplanes? Could flying actually force your body into a temporary menopausal state? Why is the entertainment bar so freakishly low when suspended mid-air?

Last weekend I was on a three hour United flight which didn’t offer a movie. I wanted to disembark after take-off, but then an episode of 30 Rock came on, which is funny at the best of times, but at 30,000 feet its hilarity could barely be borne. It was an episode from season five called “The Fabian Strategy”, in which Matt Damon guest stars as Liz’s boyfriend. Every line delivered was yet another knee slapping situation, with no commercials to let you breathe. My seatmate, trying to sleep, was not impressed, prompting me to think they should divide passengers into laughers and sleepers for higher levels of customer satisfaction.

On the return flight, Air Canada actually put me on a decent plane, so I had a wide array of movies to choose from on my personal screen. (Traveling days when you hoped for a good movie seat are so yesterday!) I watched The Social Network, and was captivated by both the storyline and the concept of having Facebook during my university years, and the unimaginable dramas that it would have caused.

I now realize my movie reviewing abilities are askew at high altitudes, since ranting and raving about Twilight to anyone who would listen after watching it on an overnight flight (along with Revolutionary Road and Australia, LOVED all three – coincidence?). Sharing elbow space with teenagers in all Twilight sequels since, I’ve noticed these movies don’t hold the same appeal with the voting-age crowd. (Incidentally, only ten months to go until the Breaking Dawn Part 1 release.)

Was it just another high-on-altitude situation, or was The Social Network an incredibly great ride? I’m not sure I trust my own judgment.