Thursday, April 23, 2015

Got Style? Get Style!

Got Style?  Get Style! *

Finally!  Spring is here and alongside warmer weather and patio season comes a mild panic as you try to navigate through the fashion establishment’s trends for what’s in this season.  It’s okay to admit it fellas - we’re all in the same boat here.  Rifling through fashion magazines often leaves me shaking my head as I try to figure out how to make outfits remotely suitable for Planet Earth, let alone my own closet.  

What’s more important than following the latest trend is feeling comfortable in your own skin and marking your own type of individuality onto the look of the moment.  This credo saves those who are both too lazy or too poor to reinvent their wardrobe every season - and, seriously, who isn’t?  It also helps you steer away from following trends that are just damn silly (recall the shorts suit trend of last year?).  

Aside from massaging the what’s in & what’s out for your own comfort zone, there are a few things you must do every season and all the time to make sure you’re in style and fashionable.  It has nothing to do with what you’re wearing, but everything to do with how you’re wearing it.  To wit:

Tailor Me, Tailor You!

There’s nothing worse in the world of style than sloppiness.  Sure, grunge was a thing, but thankfully it’s not anymore which means you have no excuse for wearing clothes that don’t fit properly.  Pants should be hemmed.  Suit sleeves too.  Please don’t buy your dress shirts too short - your wrists want to wear your shirt too!  Common sense stuff that isn’t too hard to do.  So do it.  

Sock ‘Em!

Pity the working stiff who goes to work in a suit and has only the sock as his outlet of fashion creativity.  I love socks.  Stripes, polka dots, splashes of fun colour - go wild!  Just make sure the socks you’re wearing are appropriate for what you’re wearing.  I’m talking white, short gym socks with your suit.  NO.  Just.  Don’t.

Shoe’s the Thing!

I could write a PhD dissertation on men’s footwear, but for the sake of brevity  and your own boredom I’ll keep it brief.  Fellas, your shoes tell your story.  I do not overstate.  Do you want your story to be ultra-casual-not-a-care-in-the-world-lets-grab-a-bud Teva’s or i’ve-sort-of-got-it-together scuffed Brogues?  Unless you’re auditioning for a part in Jesus Christ Superstar, trust me when I say no one wants to read your Birkenstock story.   Be deliberate.  Choose wisely.  I am available for consultations.

Ultimately, much of what many consider stylish or not does amount to personal preference.  Unless you’re Jake Gyllenhaal (and if you are, Hi!  Huge Fan!  Can’t wait for Southpaw!), I’m not much of a beard person.  I don’t really like guys in shorts.  I prefer solids to patterns.  The list goes on, but it goes without saying that I’ve seen many a fine fella rocking all of these looks and more.  What makes them stand out from the crowd is a touch of swagger and, of course, the essential fashion staple for any season:  a sexy smile.  

*Originally published April 17th, 2015 in Ego Magazine Online.

Be Normal

Be Normal*

Look I get it.  I really, really do.  Dating, for the most part, can be pretty terrible.  It’s hard enough meeting someone in the cold hard city, let alone having that someone be a someone that you want to date. But let's just say you did find this person, and you want to date them and maybe you sort of get the feeling that they kind of like you and want to date you.  So,  what do you do?   How do you not screw it up?   How do you make sure that you don’t assume they’re screwing it up as you both try to figure out what to do when and how to say it?

There is a way, I think, to navigate through these murky waters of dating whether it's online or set ups or a well meaning (yet meddlesome) Aunt:  let’s all just act normal.  And by this I mean real life human being normal, not the kind of normal we think is now normal because we’ve been dating in this cesspool for so long. Real life human being normal where we treat a person who we think we might like and think might like us as a normal human being, and we in turn act like a normal human being.  REVOLUTIONARY!

Is it normal, after meeting someone and having a grand ol’ time, to take their number and never use it?  No, no, it’s not.  Is it normal to never hear from someone again after you've gone on two or three kinda good dates? No, my friends, it isn’t.   What about waiting more than a day to reply to someone's message?  Nope, that’s not normal either.   How about dating someone for a while yet never meeting their friends?  That’s right, not normal!   Of course there may be reasonable explanations to all this behaviour, but death, amnesia or being whisked into a witness protection program, while unfortunate and certainly possible, aren’t really normal occurrences either.  

The basic credo of treating one another as human beings serves us well in all facets of life, so why can’t we extend this philosophy to the one activity where we should really be putting our best selves forward?  Not the super cool player (not normal) self or the I’m so hot and desirable I don’t need to call anyone back (not normal) self, but the normal human being self that you are on the regular.  Come on.  I know you’re in there.  Be normal.  Can you be normal?

*Originally published March 27, 2015 in Ego Magazine Online.

Saturday, December 6, 2014


Today would have been my Dad's 79th birthday.

While I can't be entirely sure what my Dad would have been like at 79, I'm pretty sure it would have been much like the guy he was a 39, 49, 59 and 69 : a tenacious straight shooter who had the remarkable ability to cut through life's crap, get the job done and give some damn good real talk advice and opinion, even when you sometimes didn't really want to hear it.

It's this real talk that 7 years later I've come to miss the most.  Well, aside from all the other things about him that I miss the most depending on what time of day it is and where the memory of my mind happens to take me.  His skill at talking my Mom off the ledge of worry, or bringing my brother and his big dreams back down to Planet Earth was nothing short of legendary.  A silent pause, hands folded in front of him, concentrated stare and a simple "Cool it, Pat" or "Gus, Slow Down" would snap the both of them back to reality.  Me?  I got "Calm Down" quite a bit.  ;)

I'm sure my Dad would have some (and by some I literally mean 5 or 6 well chosen words) sage advice for my current life situation - Homeless & Jobless 2014, Remember?!   He'd probably have told me to run for Mayor "You know you can do that job, Olga", and he'd have gotten tons of mileage out of his "Suitcase Olga" nickname for me (the best, right?), but I think he'd mostly have said something he told me years and years ago that I'll never, ever forget:  "You, I don't worry about."  When the most hard working, tough as nails dude tells  you something like that, you know you're going to be okay.  I'm going to be okay.

But today is his birthday.  And I miss him.  I miss the FamJam celebrations we used to have on this day as we celebrated his combo birthday and Name Day as a first step to the holidays.  I miss his smile.  His laugh.  And his little brushes of sentimentality which would slay me with their surprise and sweetness.  I'm tortured that my niece & nephews got short changed on having the most doting and fun Papou.  Christmastime now has a slight vibe of melancholy as these thoughts drift in and out of my mind, and I try to forget them but I don't want to because I don't want to forget him.  Tricky.

So I think of things he did that made me laugh and made me happy and after I cry about them, I smile and then cry some more.   He used to put together these ridiculous illustrative notes reminding us to do very simple, responsible stuff like lock the door at night, my favourite one is packed away in the boxes that are my life right now, so of course I'm sad that I can't exactly locate it.   But I did find something that made me happy, because it made him so happy.

When my Dad turned 70 my brother and I put together a little trip for him & my Mom to Halifax, Nova Scotia to see Pier 21 , Canada's Museum of Immigration.  This is where my Dad's ship had docked in 1951 when at the age of 16 he left Greece and embarked on a new life full of hope and tons of hard work.  We had commemorated his passage, as they say, with a brick on the Wall of Honour and we wanted him to see it himself.   The trip was perfect - full of memories, emotions and even a casino!  When they returned, my Dad couldn't stop talking about it - how amazing the museum was, how he found his name on the ship's manifest, his brick,  the videos of other immigrants telling their tales.  He went on and on.  He was so happy.  So appreciative.  So moved.

A few weeks after their return, I found an envelope with my name on it written in his handwriting on the kitchen table.  I remember smiling - I knew what it was, one of his infamous cards.  Painstakingly picked out, writing lined up with a ruler.

The writing's a bit askew on this one - my Mom said he was crying when he wrote it.  So much for the quintessential tough guy.  ;) - and I guess it's really nothing special.  But it is.  Because while we did make the trip possible, he made who we are possible.  Our work ethic, our attitudes, our characters, our everything.

So today, on what would have been his 79th birthday, I'll remember what was and try not to bog myself down on what could have been.  I know for sure that's exactly what my Dad would tell me to do.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Now What?

A little over three months ago, the company I toiled for for the past seventeen years kicked me to the curb.  Nothing scandalous, just a regular course of corporate contraction in which companies kick out the higher paid and bring in the lower paid.  It's a numbers game and I was caught on the wrong side of the ledger.  While I didn't see it coming, I wasn't entirely surprised - from a pragmatic point of view, it made no sense to keep me on when they could bring in someone to do fundamentally the same job for 50% less.  So much for loyalty.   While I'm annoyed at being turfed like that, I'm not altogether upset.  Would I have voluntarily left a job that was beginning to grate on my last nerve?  Due to loyalty and complacency and uncertainty, likely not.  I walked out the door with a pretty hefty package and tell people I was "fired" or "canned" because it sounds way more dramatic and fun than "laid off".

Big changes, indeed.  How's this for another:  a mere two days before I was turfed (also fun & dramatic!) I signed closing papers on my gorgeous downtown condo, a condo I put up for sale because I "wanted a change".

Why does the universe only listen to some of the things you say?

So, there I was and here I still am:  Jobless AND Homeless.

I had a ten minute "woe is me" meltdown where I contemplated how I went wrong in my life to find myself in such dire straights and what was I going to do and what a loser I was, wherein my brother (of course) told me to, and I quote "shut the fuck up.  you want me to feel bad for you?!  you have no obligations.  you have more money in the bank than most people.  you're getting paid to do nothing for a fucking long time.  no Olga.  no.  just shut up, shut the fuck up.  go do all those stupid things you do and stop feeling sorry for yourself.  no one's buying it." Because he's totally right, of course - all those things are completely true.  We are not dwellers or "woe is me" types in my family and I certainly subscribe to the family creed, but this was a huge big deal for me.  My everything was gone, I think ten minutes was an adequate time to wallow before having some sense whipped back into me.  

And with that, my summer of freedom started off remarkably well.  I was going to take this time, this "gift" as my previously severed (more dramatic than fun) co-horts referred to it, and just chill.  I was going to enjoy my first summer off since I was fourteen and just hang.  And hang I did.  I puttered.  I worked on a show with Second City.  I packed.  I had many coffees.  I did some pilates.  I ate.  I enjoyed the rascals. I started wearing my hair curly because I'm carefree now.  Summer came to an end, and in September I dove head first into TIFF.  And now it's October and I'm on a dream vacation in Asia where I had initially planned to sort of start thinking about what I'm going to do with my life.  Trouble is, I've spent more time contemplating Khao Soi Curry or Pad Thai for dinner.

It's just.  It's just so VAST.  The slate is clean.  I could move to Mumbai (likely not).  I could buy a little seaside cottage in Nova Scotia and work at a local craft store (this is the first time I thought of that one, and it sounds rather nice aside from the craft store part).  I could go back to school (for what I am completely unsure).  I could write a book (this is a dream of mine, and quite honesty I really really want to).   I could do all those things.  I could.  I could.  I could.  I could also get back on my corporate saddle and begin anew doing the same sort of thing I did before.  And therein lies the rub.  How wasted would this time, this "gift", be if I did that?  I would squander this chance to search inside myself, on someone else's dime, to find out what I truly want to do.  What I can truly be.  Who I truly am.  No freakin' pressure, none at all.   Which is why I feel somewhat paralysed.  I don't know what to do because I don't want to blow this.  Or, worse still, what if I find out that I really DO want to be a corporate in charge type who has all the answers and thanklessly gets the job done.  Quelle let down!  Now here's the best part:  I'm not totally worried about it.  I mean, I am generally concerned about where my life is headed - and we haven't even mentioned where I'm going to live! - just not overly so.  I have a belief that it will all work out, and not in some magical fairy dust kind of way but for real.  It will all work out for real because once committed I work damn hard.  And I'm not dumb (although, seriously, my computer skills are terrible so let's hope my new calling has none of that).  It's the unknown, the possibilities and the countless options I'm having trouble with.  Life's menu has far too many entrees on it right now.  And answering the million dollar question has me stumbling.

Now what?*

Someone who doesn't have it all figured out and doesn't seem to care, 
off  the coast of Koh Samui, Thailand.

* Any ideas on what I should do?  Where I should live?  TELL ME!  I'm all ears, and who knows ... I may just do it.  

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

TIFF2014 - Living The Dream - Part Two

And now, after some regular sleep & nourishment, Days 5 - 11.

This Is Where I Leave You - Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda

I'm always nervous when a favourite book is adapted to screen.  Will they get it right?  Will they get it at all?  Jonathan Tropper has quickly become one of my favourite authors and it all started with This Is Where I Leave You, a story, at its core, about a large family dealing with death and life and everything in between.  The tone is wry.  Sarcastic.  But underneath is a foundation of love and understanding - the kind you only get with your family.  The film gets it all so right.  "Real life" is the hardest of genres to master, but with a crisp script (penned by Tropper himself) and perfectly cast ensemble this one is pitch perfect.  I laughed just as hard as I cried.  That's life, right?

Cake - Jennifer Aniston

Aniston tried her hand once again (remember The Good Girl) at gritty realism.  She nails it.  While the film itself dragged a bit, there is no question that Jen can act and she's the best thing about this movie.  She's simply amazing sand I hope she keeps it going - regardless of her impeccable comedic timing, I don't want her to star in another dumb dumb romcom with *fill in the hunk of the moment*  ever EVER again.

Foxcatcher - Channing Tatum, Steve Carrell, Mark Ruffalo

This was the film coming into TIFF with the most buzz, and for good reason.  Telling the peculiar real life story of John E DuPont,  his relationship with US Wrestling, the Shultz brothers and, most importantly, his own mother, Foxcatcher is compelling.  Tatum & Ruffalo are excellent as the Olympic medal winning Shultz brothers but the real breakout here is Carrell as DuPont.  Known of course for comedic roles, Carrell shows some serious acting chops in this one and almost disappears in the role.  Overall, the film was good but it needed a few tie in scenes to fill some holes in the narrative.  A note also, after a week away from it, is that the direction itself felt a bit detached - like everyone knew they were making "an important movie" but forgot to put the ingredients in there to make us care.  

Rosewater - Gael Garcia Bernal

Talk about ambitious.  Jon Stewart, arguably America's greatest satirist, decides to direct his first movie and he chooses this?!  Rosewater tells the true story of journalist Maziar Bahari who was detained in Iran for more than 100 days and brutally interrogated while in prison.  Multiple locations, cast of thousands,  complex story - this is no first time out cake walk.  At times, we felt almost as overwhelmed as Stewart.  The film could have used a sharper edit and perhaps some contrasting point of view scenes, but overall a solid first time effort for a guy not willing to rest on his laurels and phone it in.  

License to Drive - Ben Kingsley, Patricia Clarkson

Simple stories are the best stories.  When they come to life by two powerhouse acting talents, they make for the best movies.  This was a charmer from start to finish.  Loved it.

Imitation Game - Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightly

This was the movie I was waiting for.   Story here focuses on English mathematician Alan Turing as he, along with his team, try to crack the Enigma code during World War 2.  The historical significance of this feat is enormous - our lives would not be the same had Turing not succeeded - and while, obviously, the filmmakers know that, they don't beat us down with it.  They outlay the story in a sort of thriller - lite format, simultaneously moving from the end AND beginning until we reach the thrill point together. Turing is widely considered the father of the modern day computer, a ridiculous genius persecuted years after the war because of his homosexuality.  This additional layer adds a sense of timeliness to the already grand magnitude of this story.  

Mommy - Anne Dorval, Suzanne Clement, Antoine Pilon

At the ripe old age of 25 (yes, 25!), Xavier Dolan has written & directed 6 films all of which have been critically acclaimed.  This, his latest, won the Jury Prize at Cannes.  GUYS, HE'S 25.  Regardless of whether or not you like his particular type of movie, you must applaud his confidence.  Every shot of Mommy had a purpose.  Every scene an emotional impact.  I'm not sure where a funny and charming kid (GUYS, HE'S 25!) comes up with these dark & delicious stories (oh, did I mention he writes his own screenplays too??!), but that's no matter.  I just want this boy wonder to keep making them.

A Second Chance - Nikolaj Coster - Waldeau

A tale of desperate decency which asks how far we will go to maintain the life we think we deserve.  At every point in this exceptional film we are asked to question our prejudices and seek, murkily, our own moral compass.  We appease our sense of 'right',  but is it right?  Are we right?  Can doing the wrong thing for the right reasons be okay?  What if those right reasons aren't what we thought they were?   At the core of this moral conundrum is Nikolaj Coster - Waldeau in a most brilliant performance full of strength, desperation and, yes, decency.

Maps to the Stars - Julianne Moore, John Cusack

I don't know.  I think this one was rather goofy.  I loved Julianne - how can you not always love Julianne - but the intertwined storyline, and main storyline, fell off the rails for me pretty quick in this one.  A supposed commentary on Hollywood, this fell flat & empty all around.

Elephant Song - Xavier Dolan, Bruce Greenwood, Catherine Keener

Oh, yeah, XAVIER CAN ACT TOO.  Quiet film with a simple story that's all about the acting.  Dolan is mesmerizing as a psychiatric patient with a secret, Greenwood solid as the Doc looking for answers.  The game of chess between them is tense and hypnotic.  

Still Alice - Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin

Telling the story of a brilliant woman's descent into early-onset Alzheimer's, this was the movie of the Festival for me.  Julianne Moore's nuanced portrayal is mainly why, but the tone of this film and it's harrowing - yes, harrowing - realism make it at once difficult to watch and completely mesmerizing.  This could happen to anyone.  It's happening right now.  Will it happen to you?  After I somewhat composed myself and made my way to the washroom after the film, I found myself spontaneously bursting into tears again.  I might just now.

50 Year Argument

A brilliant documentary detailing the history of the New York Review of Books.  Admittedly, knowing co-director Martin Scorsese was going to be in town for the screening was the main reason this film was on the docket.  A sweet love letter to discourse and a wonderful story about the sensuousness of ideas, and how they shaped our modern world.  Marty, of course, doesn't like "straight up documentaries", so this one unfolded in a unique way.  Also in town for the screening was founding and current editor Robert Silvers - still going strong at 84, he flew in specifically for the Q&A.

Pawn Sacrifice - Tobey Maguire, Liev Schreiber

American chess maestro Bobby Fischer squares off against his Russian counterpart Boris Spassky in the 1972 "Match of the Century".  Really solid biopic that weaved a very complex political landscape into the life story of one of America's most enigmatic figures.  Tobey's portrayal of Bobby - a complex jerk of a genius dealing with paranoid hallucinations and perhaps an undiagnosed mental illness - was excellent and while I wish Liev had more to do, this wasn't his story.

Before We Go - Chris Evans, Alice Eve

Let it be said here that no one should ever, ever, ever try to make another Before Sunrise.   The film, and its two continuations, were lightening in a bottle and any attempt to recreate that time, story, chemistry, everything, will undoubtedly fail.  Before We Go tries.  Very hard.  We replace Vienna with New York and conjure a stilted premise to get the ball rolling, but in the end we don't care enough about all too perfect Nick, who says and does ONLY the right things and thus is never real, and confused and sometimes bitchy Brooke.  Before We Go is Chris Evans directorial debut and it's a solid effort.  There are redeeming moments and I think Chris can put away his Captain America shield for work a bit more meaty, but maybe not with a magical premise that should never, ever, ever be tampered with.  Ever.

Hill of Freedom - Ryo Kase

Do you ever have a thing, where you watch a movie and you're laughing but you're not sure if you should be?  Like, is this absurd or high level cinematic achievement that I'm just too stupid to understand?  I laughed SO MUCH in Hill of Freedom.  How could you not with dialogue like this:  "I went to your place.  It is close to my place.  I like my place.  I waited for you.  You did not come.  I went back to my place."  I'm not joking.  At 66 minutes long, I'm not sure how this even qualified as a full length feature, but with dialogue like that, I guess I should be thankful it wasn't any longer.

Adult Beginners - Nick Kroll, Rose Byrne, Bobby Cannavale

Super sweet, yet not too twee, story which asks the age old question of whether we can "go home again".  Great ensemble, sharp writing, and just as many laughs as tears.

Meet Me In Montenegro - Alex Holdridge, Linnea Saasen

First time director Holdridge films the story of how he and Linnea met.  It's so sweet.  And they are delightful and charming and oh so cute.  I loved the unique cutaways to Holdridge's doodle work and voiceovers, both which helped move along the story.  Ultimately, this is a really simple tale of a guy dealing with the reality of his life and principles when that fucker called love tries to get in the way.

A Little Chaos - Kate Winslet, Matthias Schoenarts, Alan Rickman

I love me a period piece and A Little Chaos hits all the necessary high notes - sumptuous scenery, luscious costumes, solid acting and an interesting story.  Kate's back to almost drowning in a corset, Alan's up to his misunderstood villainous self and Matthias smoulders.  Not perfect by any stretch but highly enjoyable.  Quite.

New Girlfriend - Romain Duris, Anais Demoustier

Remember the time when your bestie died and her husband started cross dressing to feel closer to her, and then you become attached to his cross dressing self because it reminded you of your bestie?  SO preposterous.  But often times preposterous premises make the most delightful movies, unfortunately, this isn't one of those times.  Frustrating in its failed potential, for some reason New Girlfriend felt sort of stale.  Maybe because they kept using the word 'tranny'?!

X + Y - Sally Hawkins, Asa Butterfield

I really wanted to love this, but it just fell flat.  And not because it's about math, or because it was number 30 of 31.  It was just hard to connect to young Nathan, diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum early in his life.  He has a hard time relating to people and finds his way in the world amidst numbers & formulas and maths (for the Brits, it's mathS).  All's well and good, and I get it but Nathan was written, and ultimately portrayed, with little redemption, care or feeling - he was just as detached to us as he was with the rest of the world.  I wanted to care about him, but that's not enough.  As they say in some think tanks - it just didn't add up.  ;)

1001 Grams - Ane Dahl Torp, Laurent Stocker

A recently divorced work obsessed lab technician goes off to Paris.  Hilarity ensues.  Well, not quite.  But, she has some fun and is shaken out of her routine obsessed life and finds she's not so bad at rolling with the punches.  I liked this one - it was slowly paced but visually beautiful.

And that's what they call .... A WRAP.

Monday, September 8, 2014

TIFF2014 - Living The Dream

Indeed, Indeed.

It's the most wonderful time of the year and this year of years is THE year.  

Without the daily grind to hold me back I'm diving head first into the deep end, saying yes to everything but sleep on my way to becoming a certified film & life lunatic by next Sunday.  But we'll deal with that me then.  For now, it's TIFF immersion as I volunteer (clap extra hard for me, please!)  for the first time AND see 31 movies over the course of ten days.  

Why not?  What the hell else do I have to do?!

Blogging will be fast & furious, as without the daily grind I eluded to earlier, the sense of "having to do" anything at all has eluded me for a couple months now.  It's glorious.  And freeing. And so anti-me it's rather scary.  Scarier still that I really, really like it.  I recommend  it to everyone - good for the heart, soul & mind.  So if you're looking for something a bit more consistent, why not follow me on Twitter, where I will be espousing extremely mini reviews on the regular.

For the more verbose, I give you Days 1 through 4: 

The Humbling - Al Pacino, Greta Gerwig

I didn't want to see this movie.  I'm done with the old guy / young girl love story.  Done with it in the real life and in the movie life.  DONE.  But.  I'm not all that stubborn when it comes to joining a party and I wanted to be with my girls.  I didn't hate this movie because hate is a word we must save for special occasions, but I sure didn't really like it very much.  It was so confused - pick a genre, any genre!   I love Greta Gerwig so much and now I love her just a tad less and I'm blaming this movie for that.  I'm blaming this movie for making me focus on Al Pacino's oddball hairdo for two hours (like I already haven't done that enough in the Phil Spector story?!).  This isn't the way I wanted to start off TIFF2014, but you can't win them all I guess ...

Mary Kom - Priyanka Chopra

I love sports movies.  Underdogs, cliches, last plays of the game - all of it, I'm all in.   It pains me to say that this was one of the worst sports movies I've ever seen.  It was overwrought, amateur,  terribly scored, long and repetitive.  Aside from the fact that the smoking hot (hey, even Cameron Bailey said so!) Priyanka Chopra played her, this film really let Mary Kom down.  

Clouds Of Sils Maria - Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart

Finally!  A good movie!  No.  A GREAT ONE.  I loved this movie so much.  Juliette Binoche was absolutely perfect portraying an actress coming to terms with ageing in this very meta piece co-starring Kristen Stewart.   Stewart finally moves beyond her one note scowl face and really delivers here.  The acting was so natural that at times I felt like I was watching a documentary.  Incredible scenery and perfectly paced.  I loved it.  Did I mention that I loved it?

Welcome to Me - Kristen Wiig

Wiig portrays a woman with borderline personality disorder who wins 80 million bucks and buys an Oprah-esque TV show for herself.  Cute premise, sure, but after awhile I felt like I was watching yet another way too long SNL sketch.  The film tried to tackle the severity of mental illness (as per the Q&A) but without a proper foundation backstory for Wiig's character, the film felt like it was playing for cheap laughs.  I was entertained, but I wasn't entirely connected.

The Drop - Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini

It's the script, stupid.  Thank you Dennis Lehane (Shutter Island, Mystic River and so many more) for adapting your book to screen.  This was a sly, clever crime drama that surprises you with its calm.  Stellar performances,  including of course the last one by the great James Gandolfini.  A really terrific film and I'm not even going to get into the marvel that is Tom Hardy.  Like, holy shit Tom Hardy.

Preggoland - Sonja Bennett, James Caan

Oh, what silly fun!  A late 30s loser is ostracized by her married with kids high school buds, so she pretends she's pregnant to fit in.  Really silly.  Really fun.  Really possible.  But maybe not the jello.  

St Vincent - Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy

I've always disliked movies that try too hard to get you to like them.  They're over emotional and a bit cloying and just push your buttons in such a way that you have no choice but to feel the way the director wants you to feel.  That's what I thought I was walking into with St Vincent.  And truthfully, I DID end up feeling exactly how I was 'supposed' to, but by some sheer point of magic I am totally okay with it.  This film was so touching and poignant and funny and dare I say charming that it rose well above the schmaltz factor.  Bill Murray returns to fine perfection and everyone else is pretty great too.  Did I cry?  Of course I cried.  You think I'm made of stone or something?

Guidance - Pat Mills

This is my second mini - budget Canadian Comedy at TIFF (Preggoland being the first) and can I say, YEAY Canada!  Guidance was ridiculous.  And silly.  And absurd.  And very, very good.   Pat Mills wrote, directed & starred in what was basically a one man show.  A host of Second City vets round out the cast.

Riot Club - Max Irons, Sam Clafin

Boys Behaving Badly?  ok!  Posh British Boys Behaving Badly?  hell, yes!  Brilliantly disturbing inside view of the world of secret university clubs, this one at Oxford and full of all the pomp and privilege you'd expect.  Great cast of British semi-knowns who soon will be very well knowns.

Miss Julie - Jessica Chastain, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton

Damn I wanted to love this.  I liked it, I guess.  Adapted from the August Strindberg play, the film remained very true to the text.  The action is slight and the premise tight but overall somewhat long and slow.  Maybe it should have stayed a play?  That said, Jessica, Colin & Samantha were all incredible - remarkable, really.

10 down, 21 to go .... Onwards!  

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Z is for ..

... Zip.

Let's properly conclude my stream of consciousness alphabet word blog post idea generator game, okay?

Z is for zip and I want y'all to ZIP through this little post so you can get to the next post which is really the one you've been waiting for.  I know, I know.  I know you know.  I know you know I know.

Let's get on with it!

Z is for Zip.