Monday, 29 December 2008

I've Loved You So Long/ Il y a longtemps que je t`aime: A Must See!


Frequent guest, Kirk Cooper, has been telling me to see this film since seeing it earlier this year. Well, I finally saw it and LOVED it! No bells and whistles, just a story that engages you with its simplicity and complexity. Simple, in the fact that it is the reunion of two sisters: Lea (Elsa Zylberstein) and Juliette (Kristen Scott Thomas). Complex, in the fact that Juliette has been in prison for 15 years. The wonderful script by Philippe Claudel (who also directs) begins with Lea picking up Juliette for an indefinite stay with her and her family (her husband, his father and their two Vietnamese daughters).

The trailer is very dramatic, but the film is not overwrought by emotions, has funny moments throughout, and the script is never cliched in any respect. As the story unfolds, we are allowed to fill in pieces of the puzzle that is the lives of these two separated sisters. Why was Juliette in prison? What has Lea's life been like growing up with a sister in jail? Are they still "sisters"?

Some questions are answered as the film progresses, some we just have to use our imagination and fill in ourselves, which is why you will not be able to forget this film. Philippe Claudel's script and direction are lean, and even at 115 minutes, this film does not seem long. Besides the brilliant performances by the two leads, the film is populated with a fantastic ensemble cast of actors that make their characters very believable. I was all set to roll my eyes at the two daughters in the film thinking that they would be the usual "love me I'm cute" screen children; instead, I received unspoiled, natural acting that is on par with the adult actors-- more from the older daughter (Lise Segur) as the younger is just a toddler.

Please go see this film and leave me a comment about your feelings.

Photo #1 Credit:Left to Right: Elsa Zylberstein as Lea, Kristin Scott Thomas as Juliette Photo taken by Thierry Valletoux, © 2007, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Photo #2 Credit: Left to Right: Lise Segur as P`tit Lys, Kristin Scott Thomas as Juliette, Photo taken by Thierry Valletoux, © 2007, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Mongrel Media is the Canadian Distributor of I've Loved You So Long/ Il y a longtemps que je t`aime

Sunday, 14 December 2008

TMTM Dec. 13th Show: For Your Information

As promised here is the information about upcoming performances by my guests, Sistah Lois and Brainerd Blyden-Taylor:

SISTAH LOIS and Gifts of Life Celebration:
The first "Gifts of Life Celebrations"(GLC) musical and cultural event is Friday, December 19th at the Savannah Room, 294 College Street. This is the first of 5 events by the Kaloko Farmer's Adventures in support of Zambian farm women who are raising their HIV-positive grandchildren. Musical performers include SistahNuVizhan, John Tee Davis, Jack and JoAnn, Empress Lyrics, Zoé and freestyle dj Kalmplex. The event also includes a silent auction. Doors open at 7pm. Cover charge: Pay-What-You-Can with a suggested donation of $5.00.

For more information:
Contact: Mshimpi (mmm-shim-pee)
Phone: 416-588-7315

If you are a senior or know one who is interested in lectures, check out Sistah's Tuesday Lecture series at Learning Unlimited Etobicoke:
Tuesdays, January 6 to March 10, 2009, 10:00 A.M. to 12 noon
Burnhamthorpe Adult Learning Centre - 500 the East Mall, Etobicoke - 416-410-6204
This series will employ oral, musical and written stories, to explore the diversity of cultural experience shared by those of the African diaspora who call Toronto home.

THE NATHANIEL DETT CHORALE: An Indigo Christmas... Raise the Roof with Great Joy!
AN INDIGO CHRISTMAS is an evening of Christmas music, gospel style! Toronto’s renowned NATHANIEL DETT CHORALE, recently returned from a successful US tour, will be joined by acclaimed pianist/composer Joseph Joubert, a live band, and members of the York University Gospel Choir. Included in the program will be Great Joy—a collection of traditional Christmas music co-arranged by Joubert.

Wednesday and Saturday, December 17 & 20, 2008 - 8:00pm
Glenn Gould Studio, 250 Front Street West, Toronto
Subscribe to all 3 NDC concerts for $99
Individual tickets $39.50, students/seniors $35.
Tickets available in person at the Roy Thomson Hall box office, 60 Simcoe St.,
by calling 416.872.4255 or online at

Show Playlist
Bahamian Christmas Compilation (Little Drummer Boy by T'rez Hepburn)
Nathaniel Dett Chorale -An Indigo Christmas (Hombe + The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy)
Rita Di Ghent -The Birth of Sprawl (God Bless the Child)

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Seen Any Good Films Lately? YES!

David Lean's HOBSON'S CHOICE, part of Cinematheque Ontario's Encounter David Lean series that has kept me out late at night.

It seems that since TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) I have been going from one film festival to another or attending Doc Soup screenings. With Toronto being a film city, I'm sure many of you have attended the same screenings. Did you see what I saw?

I didn’t cover this festival, but a friend had a couple of tickets so I managed to see the hilarious office vampire tale, Netherbeast Incorporated (Darrel Hammond and Judd Nelson) and the visually stunning, but poorly written, Mutant Chronicles (Thomas Jane, Ron Perlman). The highlight of attending that night was seeing Steven Kostanski's short film, Laser Ghosts 2: Return to Laser Cove, which effectively parodies common sci-fi horror plots. I can do horror comedies, and action horrors, but I can't go gory. I loved the trailer for Tokyo Gore Police, but had to pass on the ticket because I just can't see these types of films. My friend, who is a hardcore horror fan and enjoyed the film, told me that the cinematography was wonderful, but agreed that I would not have been able to last.

Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival
I had a wonderful discussion with Academy Award Nominee, director, Christine Choy about Asian representation in North American cinema. Her documentary Long Story Short chronicles the experiences of Tony and Trudie Long as recounted by them and their daughter, Jodi Long. In the documentary, Tony Long is fired from his role in Flower Drum Song because of a fight with one of the producers. The movie and the play are integral to the documentary, and Christine and I spoke about the Asian representation from the first incarnations of this work to the play's revival on Broadway with an updated script. Besides the lack of non-stereotypical work for Asian actors and the persistence of Chinese actors playing Japanese roles etc, we also touched on the topic of film schools (Christine is in the film department of NYU), and how Asian students are not being encouraged to write stories that reflect their own experiences.

Congratulations to Aram Collier on his award for "THE OTHERS" featuring Lou Diamond Philips (the Every Asian/Latino/Inuit/Indian) and Randall Lloyd Okita for the incredibly inventive, MACHINE WITH A WISHBONE. I wish I could say the same for THE DRUMMER, but unlike most of the audience I did not like this mix of Zen meets gangster movie. For other award winners, visit

Doc Soup
Both October and November screenings at Doc Soup took me to the American South with very personal films. Trouble the Water, which has won a Sundance Film Festival award, took me to New Orleans and the personal videos of a young couple as they deal with the encrouching waters of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. One of the things that resonate with me is the couple's reaction to seeing Black people outside of New Orleans who lived suburban lifestyles that they had never seen before. As bad as the situation that they lived through, they probably never would have had the opportunity to move beyond their own impoverished neighbourhood. The Order of Myths took me to Alabama and the racially segregated celebration of Mardis Gras. The filmmaking is rudimentary, but the film is worth watching because of the class differential that I don't usually see when filmmakers tackle the issue of racism. Class structures are usually seen in films about England, but in The Order of Myths, to be part of the White Mardis Gras world, you have to belong to certain White families. Getting a glimpse into this closed world where Blacks are still the ones serving food in the background is like watching a video of modern Alabama superimposed on a slide show of American slavery. As for the Black Mardis Gras, it was interesting to see how they out-formalized the White Mardis Gras functions in terms of pomp and glitter. This film was a very interesting social commentary.

Canadian Films:
32 Short Films About Glenn Gould

I love talking film with Steve Gravestock, Associate Director of Canadian Programming and Special Projects for the Toronto International Film Festival Group. He loves Canadian and Nordic film and so do I, but I enjoy talking film with him because he always keeps it conversational. (If you've ever been stuck discussing aspect ratio and film run times with die hard film afficionados you'll know what I mean.) If you tuned in to our chat on Saturday, November 15th, I hope you got a sense of what this film meant to Canadian cinema of the early 1990s and why its still relevant today. If you missed the recent screenings at the Royale Cinema, rent it. The DVD won't be the fresh new print that was screened and it has been formatted for television, but until a newer version is released, it will be as good as it gets. The colour palette and depth of the photograpy, Colm Feore performance and Glenn Gould's music is well worth it.

In their continued support of Canadian film, The First Weekend Club has launched Canada Screens, a monthly screening of Canadian films. Jean-Marc Vallée's C.R.A.Z.Y was shown in the very intimate underground of the Drake Hotel on Sunday, Nov. 30th, and even though I had seen this film before I still teared up at the end (as did many others in the audience). During the Q & A following the film Jean-Marc talked about how important the soundtrack (Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, David Bowie,Patsy Cline...)was to the making of the film ($650, 000 for music out of a total film budget of 7 million) was to the story and how he fought to get certain songs to reflect the rebellion of his main character as well as mark the passing time from the early 60's to 80's. He also expressed his immense surprise at how well the film connected with everyone who saw it (the film swept the Genies and the Jutras and has won many International awards).

I also had a chance to speak to Jean-Marc about the difficulty of distribution and about the heartbreaking process of making a film and not having final say (his last project, not C.R.A.Z.Y). The reality is film is a business and studios will do everything to get bums in seats; they won't risk their money on anything that appears too "art house". As an audience we lose when what we see at the theatres is limited. Thanks goodness for festivals and special screenings! Next up for me is David Lean's The Bridge on the River Kwai, just one of the many Lean films I've seen over the past few months (Oliver Twist, Brief Encounter, The Passionate Friends, Summertime). To be cont'd...

I was reviewing past coverage of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and realized that as good as it is to use social media, I m...