Monday, 16 March 2009

"Someone is Going to Come" directed by Adam Seelig

Adam Seelig continues his mission of bringing poetic theatre to our attention. In Something is Going to Come, a couple, desperate to be alone, has purchased an isolated house by the sea only to have their privacy invaded by the house seller. The poetic dialogue, the spare set, and the cool-tones lighting the actors all serve to communicate the angst of the May-December couple and the young virile stranger's interest in the woman.

Having seen Seelig's post-911 Antigone Insurgency, and this play, I had to share with Adam that he has a penchant for selecting incredibly talented, charismatic actresses: Cara Ricketts in Antigone and now, Stacie Steadman. Make no mistake,Dwight McFee (He) as the older partner and Michael Blake (The Man) are effective in their roles, but there is no way they can compete with the intangible force that make the audience focus on Steadman (She).

If you haven't already seen Someone is Going to Come, grab a friend and a couple of the resonably priced tickets. I promise that you will have much to discuss when the play has ended. The play runs until March 29th at the Walmer Centre Theatre, 188 Lowther Avenue. 416-915-0201.

Photo Credit: all photos by Yuri Dojc

Monday, 9 March 2009

Richard Crouse's Son of the 100 Best Movies You've Never Seen

Photo Credit: TINARS (from Richard's website)

I think the Fates conspired to bring film critic and author, Richard Crouse to where he is today. His parents moved from the US to his birthplace of Liverpool, Nova Scotia, and Richard grew up in a house that was once a vaudeville theatre. The boom that was supposed to bring big development to Liverpool never happened, but the opera house they built became a movie theatre that exposed Richard to a variety of film genres. He could watch an art house, mainstream and kung fu movie all in one day, and living in a small town, Richard went to the movies a lot. See what I mean about the Fates? His destiny may have been predetermined, but hard work also played a part in Richard's professional achievements: 10 years as the host of Reel to Real, author of 6 pop culture books, film critic on Canada AM, and host of his new show, "Richard Crouse's Movie Show".

I had such a great time talking to Richard about his latest book, Son of the 100 Best Movies You've Never Seen, that I didn't get a chance to talk about all the films that I had intended to discuss. Loving films as much as I do it was great to prep for this interview. Like his first book, The 100 Best Movies You've Never Seen, the sequel is a fantastic resource for anyone. The films range from mainstream films that didn't get the box office attention that they should have to cult films that are just plain weird; you can also find out what people in the film industry think is a forgotten gem (Deepa Mehta's choice is a film called Ajantrik; one of Danny Boyle's three choices is the Russian film Solyaris).

I went to Bay Street Video, rented some films and had a wonderful time watching films like the 70's girl-gang movie, Switchblade Sisters, seeing Barbara McNair singing on the floor in Venus in Furs (this whole film is a trip!), and the women in prison film, Caged. We also discussed the Carole Lombard classic, Twentieth Century, and the life of Latin spitfire, Lupe Valez (The Girl From Mexico)who allegedly planned a photo-op suicide that went very wrong.

Tura Satana, star of the ultimate bad-girl movie, Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill! had to be mentioned during this show which was high-lighting some of the films in the book that featured women. I've been calling Richard "Mr. Tura Satana" since seeing him gush over the legendary cult-movie actress last summer when her film screened at the Festival of Fear. Turns out he fell under her spell over a very candid dinner conversation prior to the screening's Q&A session. He's still captivated by the septuagenarian even though she hurt him while demonstrating a martial arts move in front of the audience.

Richard's list is narrowed down from an original list of 300. 100 hundred made it into his first book, another in this second book, and maybe there will be a third book. All the films are his personal choice, and are not a result of any formulated structure. One of the things that the books made me do, was think about what would be on my list. A few titles I thought of are:

Mr. and Mrs. Smith (the Carole Lombard film directed by Hitchcock, not the Brangelina version)
Bowfinger (I don't usually flock to Steve Martin and Eddy Murphy movies, but this one is hilarious. The scene with the dog in heels gets me every time.)
Saved (a great pre-Juno coming-of-age film)
Born Romantic (a melancholy British comedy about love)
Layercake (Sean Connery is my 007, but this movie convinced me that Daniel Craig would be a top James Bond)

Marlene Shaw, "Street Walkin Woman" from The Best of Marlene Shaw
Bettye LaVette, "Before the Money Came" from The Scene of the Crime

Thanks to Richard Crouse and Simon Ware of ECW Pressfor the book giveaway (Son of the Best 100 Movies You've Never Seen).

Thank you Kelsey of the First Weekend Club for the giveaway to Canada Screens presentation of RiP: A Remix Manifesto"

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

The Personal as History: Sistah Lois aka Afrikan Princess Talks About Life on the Prairies

I wanted to end my Black History Month programming by having someone tell their personal story of growing up in Canada. The oral tradition is a strong cultural device in African culture, and was especially important for those of us whose history in this hemisphere began with slave ships. I wanted to continue this tradition of oral history by having my guest, Sistah Lois Jacob aka Afrikan Princess, speak her life experience. I also wanted to direct our attention away from the east and to the Prairies. How many books have you read about Black life in Winnipeg during the '60s?

Thank you Sistah for sharing your childhood travels from Port of Spain, Trinidad to North Hampton, England and Winnipeg, Canada. You painted a great picture of all of those places, and your reactions to the people you encountered. What an adventure it must have been to travel by commercial boat as a girl, and how shocking a revelation it must have been to see poor white people in Canada, and even poorer first nations people living in conditions that were harsher than those in the Caribbean. You also reminded us of the deep Canadian roots of the Black Loyalist families on the prairies and their continued links with families in the East, and the shameful fact that some white people would objectify you by rubbing your head for good luck on their way to bingo. The personal piece you read was both powerful and evocative. High school is never easy for many people, and I think that is why a few people called in after the show to comment on your prose.

Thank you, Sistah, for filling in a missing piece of Candadian history.

Amani, "I'm a Caribbean Living in Canada" from Amani: the words, the rhythm, the music (Cdn)
Four the Moment, "Africville" from In My Soul (Cdn)
The Nathaniel Dett Chorale, "Hew Round the Tree" from Listen to the Lambs (Cdn)
Daude, "Veu Vava" from self-titled CD, Daude

Thanks to Theatre Francasis De Toronto for the giveway to the English surtitled performance of "A North Facing House/Une maison face au nord".

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