; Fun! Fun! Vancouver!: April 2016

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Green Room

reviewed by guest blogger Meaghan Smith

Tonight I lucked into a set of passes for the film Green Room which I unfortunately missed at VIFF.I didn't really know what to think going into the movie other than I knew I was excited to see Captain Jean Luc Picard murder some teens! The feel of the theatre afterwards was not that of a super excited crowd like other screenings I've been to, so I warn you this movie is definitely not for everyone. If you like super gore, campy horror, punk rock, sassy haircuts, and knighted actors dropping N-Bombs then read on! If any or all of those things sound absolutely atrocious to you I suggest staying away.
In a lot of ways I felt like this film was made for my teenage self (I confess I put safety pins in all my clothes and had an eyebrow piercing with my jet black hair. So anti-establishment!). The early film is filled with punk rock jokes, such as the amazing Dead Kennedys cover at the beginning of the film "Nazi Punks, Fuck Off" on stage at a skinhead bar which sets the stage for the entire film. The plot of the movie is essentially punks versus Neo-Nazis in an all out battle for their lives.

The horror was shockingly realistic. There is no "demented psycho" like so many movies, but instead the band at the centre of the film is placed in a plausible scenario and expected to escape. The gore level is high but also realistic. No one has guts falling out of them, but instead wounds look realistic to the trauma that characters face.
There are some minor plot flaws such as no one asking the Neo-Nazi girl they're stuck with what the hell is going on, but instead try to piece it all together without her help. The now classic "lack of communication" frustration I find in a lot of films these days (*cough* all of Batman vs. Superman).
The acting is top notch and there are a lot of recognizable faces that are not tied to horror at all which makes it fun to watch how they work in a new setting. I definitely suggest this film for any horror or punk fan, but not really anyone else. It is perfectly suited to the audience it is meant to reach and no one else.
Green Room is playing at Cineplex Scotiabank Burrard starting Thursday April 28, 2016.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Winter 2015: Collected Works at the Rennie Collection

 Extended to May 20th is the current exhibit at the Rennie Collection. Collected Works is the biggest show featuring the most artists ever held at the Rennie. This is largely due to the fact that Bob Rennie himself curated this show, from a multitude of artists and pieces in his own collection. The overarching theme seems to deal with belonging and fitting in, with an emphasis on racial divides. This exhibit is NOT to be missed, so get there soon if you haven't already! Here's a sampling of what's going on at the gallery: 

Ai Wei Wei

Camel contemplates a needle

Men's bathroom door from the First National Bank in Oklahoma City, finally taken down in 1972

Norman Rockwell

Thursday, 7 April 2016


by guest reviewer Meaghan Smith:  

Walking into Onegin (pronounced oh-ney-gin for anyone else fighting over that) I already had high hopes. I have heard nothing but amazing things about the lead Meg Roe and I love musicals, so I figured at the very least I’d have some fun moments. Little did I know I would have the most fun I’ve had at the theatre in awhile. Not only was Meg Roe fantastic as promised, but the rest of the cast also blew me away. For the geeks out there, my roommate and I immediately started hitting each other when we realized the other lead was Lieutenant Gaeta from Battlestar Galactica (or Alessandro Juliani as I’m sure he’d much prefer to be known as). While BSG fans already know that he has an angelic voice, I was impressed with the depth and range that he reached in his musical numbers.

Okay, less fangirling, more reviewing time. The play, which is co-created by the outstanding Veda Hille, who also serves as the pianist of the play, puts most of its emphasis on incredible music, and its casts’ performances. The story is nothing new (although the ending was extremely satisfying!), but because the cast is so amazing and the music so engaging it doesn’t matter that you’re watching a basic love story, this time set in Russia in the 19th century. The play is done in an intimate style with the audience separated into three sections around the massive stage. The play doesn’t take itself seriously and the cast engages with the audience, even drinking with a few lucky members, and breaks the fourth wall quite often in the first act. The musical numbers are varied and abundant. The musical accompaniment was on stage making sure the audience was engaged not only with the amazing singing, but also the incredible musicians in the production. 

Seriously, I was so impressed by every single aspect of this play. The costuming, the stage design, the lighting, and the choreography are all so spectacular that I found myself staring at small elements of the play because they were so perfect and well done. My roommate may not have enjoyed hearing about it all the way home, but I can’t not include it. Tatiana’s final dress and coat was so beautiful I couldn’t stop fawning and definitely had me mesmerized for most of the ending.

The play is only running for four more days at the beautiful new Goldcorp stage, but if you can make it I highly highly suggest it. This is by far the best Arts Club show I have ever seen! 

Onegin has been extended and will close on April 17th at the Arts Club. 

Monday, 4 April 2016

Volunteers needed for Syrian Refugee Welcome Lunches

Come on Vancouver, let's show some of the Syrian refugees a warm welcome by coming out and helping at one of the welcome lunches being presented by the United Way of the Lower Mainland on Saturday, April 16. For more information and to sign up to volunteer, check out the United Way website!

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Gruesome Playground Injuries

Pacific Theatre's Gruesome Playground Injuries (by Rajiv Joseph) is a wonderful piece of theatre, and I'm not just saying that because it holds one of the most romantic vomit scenes I've ever had the pleasure of seeing. Seriously, I think I may have shed a tear for it.

I can understand why Artistic Director Ron Reed fell instantly in love with this show. It revolves around scenes that take place in a school nurse's office and eventually graduate up to a full-blown hospital room. Timelines jump back and forth between childhood and adulthood as we witness a love story between two people who are bound by their injuries and scars, both external and internal.

Photo by Damon Calderwood. Pictured: Pippa Johnstone and Kenton Klassen

If I had to nitpick one thing about the production, it would be that it was hard to see the faces of the actors at times. If you've been to Pacific Theatre, you know that the setup could be slightly to blame. It's just that both actors  Kenton Klassen and Pippa Johnstone act the heck out of this show. Not just in the scenes, but also during the in-between costume changes, which are beautifully choreographed to convey emotions of rage, anger, love.

Photo by Damon Calderwood. Pictured: Pippa Johnstone and Kenton Klassen.

There are humorous "injuries" (i.e. pinkeye, struck by lightning, riding a bike off a roof) and there are more serious issues, such as cutting, rape, and death. We watch these two ships pass back and forth in the night, and wonder if they'll ever be able to meet in the middle and heal each other's wounds.

Gruesome Playground Injuries is on now at Pacific Theatre until April 16.