; Fun! Fun! Vancouver!: October 2013

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Vancouver Asian Film Festival

Are you having Film Fest withdrawals now that VIFF has been over and done for almost a month?

Fear not! Vancouver has enough film fests to sustain you throughout most of the year! From November 7 - 10 will be the 17th Annual Vancouver Asian Film Festival!

Kick things off with this year's Centerpiece film: John Apple Jack

John Apple Jack is a Vancouver-shot and produced romantic comedy tells the story of John, who when he "discovers his sister’s fiancĂ© is Jack, his childhood crush, passions ignite and his life spirals out of control… losing his job, his playboy reputation AND his underwear – all while rushing to the altar to finally confess his love! Promiscuous John was once easy for Jack to ignore. But a newer, penniless, more soulful John may soon prove too hard to kick to the curb. Set in Vancouver’s East-meets-West glamourous restaurant industry… the challenge for both John and Jack is to find a way to blend money, sex, love and family into one sumptuous recipe for life."

Check out the John Apple Jack Facebook page and the official website to see the trailer! 

Another film that will be showing is Linsanity, the rags to riches documentary about NBA superstar Jeremy Lin:

Check out the VAFF website for more movie listings and features, as well as to purchase tickets!

Monday, 28 October 2013

Happy Diwali !

Vancouver will be celebrating Diwali with DiwaliFest from October 29 - November 8.

There will be numerous events taking place all across the Lower Mainland, so be sure to check out the DiwaliFest website for all the details and listings!

Friday, 25 October 2013

Look / See - Barb Snyder

Last night I attended a friend's art opening at the Dundarave Print Workshop and Gallery on Granville Island. If you've got a penchant for creatures, animals, biology, and mash-ups, then check out Barb Snyder's exhibit "look / see" on now until November 17.

"The show consists of polymer plate lithography from drawings based on interviews requesting a description of a creature. Coming into play are considerations of observation & communication, society's separation from nature, and the current planet-wide mass loss of species. The outcome is both playful and painful."

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

"I'm crying at the Cobalt!" my friend turned to me and exclaimed last night during a performance of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, now on at the historical Vancouver establishment.

I first saw Hedwig and the Angry Inch back when it came out as a movie over ten years ago, and fell in love with it immediately. I then had the opportunity to go see it at the old Lotus Hotel and marveled at its live incarnation. With news that Neil Patrick Harris will finally be taking it to Broadway for the first time, I knew that I would give anything to fly to New York to see that! But why bother with all the airfare and accommodations when you can just cross over to other side (East Van) and see the show the way it was meant to be seen - in an intimate dive-bar type setting. (No offense to the Cobalt at all, I love the Cobalt, and it's the perfect venue for this!)

The Kat Gillis Band plays live as the "Angry Inch" band, rocking out and slowing it down perfectly with each number. Lee McKeown as sidekick Yitzhak is an absolute marvel, and then there is the lead, Mr Ryan Alexander McDonald as Hedwig. Whoa. I mean, you have to give the man props for basically carrying the entire show on his shoulders. Singing and acting for the most part all on his own, he puts himself through the gauntlet and comes out shining like the brightest star. The entire cast and crew deserved the standing ovation that the audience bestowed upon them last night.

I have minor criticisms: I wish the screen with the imagery being projected on it was a bit more visible, but that's probably more to do with the location of the Cobalt's projector, so they worked with what they got. At first I found Alexander's Hedwig a little too polished and I wanted someone harder and worn-out, but by the time he collapses on the stairs to sing the first few lines of Wig In a Box, I got my harder/worn-out Hedwig right there! "On nights like this... when the world's a bit amiss... "  TEARS. INSTANT TEARS.

So what are you waiting for already Vancouver? Put your wig in a box, grab a sugar daddy, and go discover the origin of love! Hedwig and The Angry Inch is on NOW at the Cobalt until November 2.  (Half price tickets on the day of are also sometimes available at Tickets Tonight.)

And P.S. - Dear Ghost Light Projects, where have you BEEN all my life? Thanks for bringing this production to town, and I am STOKED for your upcoming season. Check out what they've got lined up! CLUE THE MUSICAL! BOYS IN THE BAND!? I CANNOT WAIT!

And here's a perfect Hedwig song to add to your Halloween playlist:

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Venus In Fur

Toted as a "kinky comedy" is Venus In Fur, presented by the Arts Club Theatre Company. I was thrilled to see it come to Vancouver stages this month, as it is fresh from Broadway as of last season. Usually we have to wait eons for anything from Broadway to get here, but this was less than a year in the making, so great job Arts Club on delivering us this Tony nominated play.

It centers around Thomas, a playwright who is trying to cast the lead role in his show but just can't seem to find the right woman for the job. In from a rainstorm comes Vanda, who at first starts off as the clumsy newbie but ends up with Thomas eating out of the palm of her hand.

Lindsay Angell and Vincent Gale throw out electrifying performances that you will want to catch! Director David Mackay does a great job at moving the two characters around the stage - there was not one seat in the house that could never see anything, because the movement and positioning was so thought out and precise. The play is layered with complexity, touching upon issues of sexism and art but at the same time making the audience laugh. Well done, good job everyone!

Venus In Fur plays at the Granville Island Stage until November 2.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Contemporary Art Gallery

I recently visited the Contemporary Art Gallery, located at 555 Nelson Street. Vancouver deserves to have a cool modern art gallery such as this, and with Free Admission, why aren't more people visiting? Currently, they are exhibiting the work of renowned British artist Mike Nelson, on until November 3.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Finn Slough

This weekend I went to visit the abandoned Finnish fishing village of Finn Slough (pronounced Finn Slew!) at the end of No. 4 Road in Richmond!

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Assassinating Thomson

The Firehall Arts Centre is continuing its run of one-man shows with Bruce Horak's Assassinating Thomson, a show that intertwines legally blind artist Horak's life with the mysterious death of famed Canadian artist Tom Thomson.

Horak is a likeable guide into this foray of Canadian mystery. Neither myself nor my friend who went with me were even aware that Thomson's death was shrouded with questions and suspicions. This is a great show for Halloween, a real life Canadian ghost story!

How did Tom Thomson die? Was it a Romeo and Juliet scenario? A scorned lover? Or an art world conspiracy run by the Group of Seven? Horak delves into each possibility, all the while live-painting his rendering of the audience to showcase what the world looks like to him. (The current exhibit featured in the Firehall's lobby art gallery is Horak's work.)

Here's what the audience looked like to him when I was in attendance:

Assassinating Thomson runs at the Firehall Arts Centre until October 19!

Friday, 11 October 2013

VIFF: Liv & Ingmar

My friend told me to go see this because he left the theatre bawling at this beautiful true life love story. Maybe I'm too bitter, but I just found the entire thing somewhat boring and slow.

Maybe it's because I have no investment in either of the two people involved in this love affair. Liv & Ingmar chronicles the ups and downs of the relationship between director Ingmar Bergman and actor-turned-director Liv Ullmann. I am not familiar with either Liv or Ingmar, so I guess I wasn't sure why I was supposed to care about these two and their lives? I'd never seen their movies, so I had no affinity nor interest in hearing about what went on behind the scenes.

It's true that one doesn't necessarily need to know much about the subject of a documentary in order to enjoy it (see my earlier review of the documentary on Gore Vidal) but I guess I just found nothing to relate to these two people. Plus, as a film itself, Liv & Ingmar was slow paced and featured confusing clips from movies that mirrored their relationship I'm guessing, and was painstakingly narrated by the still-alive Liv.

It must have been a popular film however, as VIFF has added an extra screening for it on Oct 13 at 845pm at the Vancity Theatre.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

VIFF: Added screening for Finding Vivian Maier

If you missed out on this fabulous documentary about photographer Vivian Maier, VIFF has added a screening on October 15th at 8:15pm at the Vancity Theatre! Go check it out, it's a wonderful film and story!

Finding Vivian Maier 

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

VIFF: Gore Vidal - The United States of Amnesia

I don't know much, if anything, about celebrated notorious figure Gore Vidal. I know he passed away recently and that he was a writer. Had I read his work or known anything about his life? No. So I was interested in seeing this documentary, The United States of Amnesia, hoping to learn more about this man.

The film did indeed feature a lot of footage and interviews with Mr Vidal. It talked about his life, his loves, his work, but mainly it focused upon his thoughts and views on America and its politics. I quickly learned that to learn about Gore Vidal is to learn about his views and ideas, because that is what ultimately made him. It's a fascinating film and I love his views and what he has to say. I especially enjoyed the snippets of stories he had of famous contemporaries like JFK, Truman Capote, and Paul Newman, who stuck up for Gore after being called a queer on live television by an adversary.

Fortunately, it has two more showings coming up if you want to catch it! Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia plays Oct 11 at 445pm at Pacific Cinematheque and on Oct 13 at 645pm at Vancity Theatre. 

Monday, 7 October 2013

VIFF: Hotell

I am currently going through depression, so it was an eye opening experience to see this film about a woman dealing with trauma alongside a motley crew of other depressed folks by going from hotel to hotel and escaping their real lives in order to cope. Hotell is an offering from Sweden, and features powerful performances from all of the actors.

It's an interesting concept that this group has adopted, with one member even commenting on the obvious : Isn't this just repressing things? Things come culminate for our main character as she finally faces her fears, but not before she helps everyone else face their demons. 

HOTELL is playing TODAY at 1:30pm at the Vancouver Playhouse! 

Sunday, 6 October 2013

VIFF: Finding Vivian Maier

Last night I attended the sold out screening of Finding Vivian Maier. I was very excited to see this documentary as I had been a fan of her photographs and wanted to know more about this amazing story with how her negatives were found at an auction and now she's become a reknowned photographer.
The film is as delightful and intriguing as her photographs, delving into who she was as a person, her family history, where she came from, and surprisingly, a darker side. If you get a chance to go see this, then do it!

Finding Vivian Maier is playing again on Oct 9 at 11am at the SFU Woodwards theatre. To view more of her photographs, visit the VivianMaier.com website.

Friday, 4 October 2013

VIFF: Once Upon a Forest

I was excited to see this documentary about the top of the Amazon rain forest with a famed French botanist. However, the title of the film Once Upon a Forest should have been the first giveaway.

Within the first 20 minutes, we are treated to a fantasy-like viewing of the luscious Amazon, but complete with animated plants growing from the ground. What was with the superimposed cartoons? I found it took away from the natural beauty of the Amazon, which is why I wanted to see the film in the first place. I ended up leaving early as I didn't want to waste my time watching an artist's rendering of what the Amazon could/should be, rather than seeing the real thing.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013


"A hard, often unflinching look at ’the art of dying,’ Chi fully earns the tears you’ll likely be shedding."—Globe & Mail


"Anne Wheeler, returns to her roots in documentary with a touching and inspiring film that follows Vancouver actress Babz Chula through the last months of her life. Chula, a fixture on the Vancouver film and theatre scene, is here a lively spitfire, an adventurer, a woman whose life-force—or chi—vibrates with vitality. At 62, she is in the advanced stages of an eight-year battle with breast cancer that has metastasized to her liver and is further complicated by a rare blood cancer. Desperate, she seeks ayurvedic treatment at a small, remote clinic in India.

Wheeler documents the excruciating treatments that Babz undergoes, hoping to put her cancers in remission. After six weeks, Babz looks 20 years younger than when she arrived. She declares with renewed energy, “I feel like I’m healing, I don’t feel sick anymore.” But it is not to last. The prognosis demands that she move towards palliative care, which she chooses to spend at home."

CHI plays on October 3 at 645pm at SFU Woodwards and again on Oct 6 at 120pm at International Village. 

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

VIFF: Performance/Anxiety

If you're in the mood for a good short film collection, why not check out the National Film Board of Canada's program, Performance/Anxiety?

Some highlights of this collection include:

Gloria Victoria

"Set to bombastic symphonics, and incorporating elements of surrealism and cubism, this bold piece explores the ties between art and war."

Big Trees

Ann Marie Fleming's short described as "anxiety over Vancouver real estate reaches operatic heights in this mischievous musical riff on an infamous local news story."

Subconscious Password

"A man’s desperate attempt to remember someone’s name sparks a frantic, fantastical game show in the recesses of his brain."

Performance / Anxiety shows on Oct 2 at 9pm at SFU Woodwards and on Oct 9 at 12:15pm at Vancity Theatre.