; Fun! Fun! Vancouver!: October 2018

Friday, 26 October 2018

Kill Me Now

You only have one more chance to see Brad Fraser's astonishing and controversial play Kill Me Now, about a father raising his physically disabled son when things take a turn for the worse. This production blew me away, not only with the story, but the acting and the set design.

Touchstone Theatre should be commended on the diversity in the casting of this show. There are scenes that will make you want to look away, but because the writing is so strong and emotional, you won't be able to.

From assisted suicide to a father jerking off his son, there is no stone left unturned here. You don't want to miss the chance to see this play, and you only have one more night to do so!

Kill Me Once ends its run at the Firehall Arts Centre on Saturday Oct 27.

Saturday, 20 October 2018

The Wolves

There's a slight foreshadowing in the music selection that greets you as you take your seat at Pacific Theatre for a performance of the play The Wolves. Among the chosen tunes are songs by the likes of Kesha, Robyn, and other female pop singers whose music many might find to be fluffy and light. But take a closer listen. Kesha's "Woman" is a feminist rally cry with the refrain, "I'm a motherfucking woman!"  Meanwhile, Robyn's "Dancing On My Own" is a national anthem for heartache.

Like Sarah DeLappe's The Wolves, one might be initially led to believe that you're watching a group of teen girls gabbing on the soccer field for two hours rather than seeing an actual play. But as we witness subject matter that ranges from bloody tampons to bulimia, anxiety to politics, masturbation to death, we realize that this show is much more than just seeing a soccer team do their warm up.

The Wolves is about family, community, and teamwork. It highlights bullying and acceptance, weaving in the mundane with the serious, and forces the talented cast to go through a roller coaster of emotions that one would with any chosen family.

The Wolves is on now at Pacific Theatre until November 10.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Sweeney Todd

The Snapshots Collective's production of Sweeney Todd is just pure genius. If you were lucky enough to nap a ticket to this, then consider yourself one of the chosen few who get to witness one of the best live performances in Vancouver right now.

Setting up house in a bare bones space in Gastown, the location is just one of the many things that make this production so special. "Mrs. Lovett's Pie Shop" is the address you're given when you buy a ticket, and fans of this Sondheim classic will know exactly what that means.

Not only that, but ticket purchasers have the option of ordering up a meat pie with their seat. I knew that this was something I NEEDED to do. (There are veggie and vegan options too.)  Anyhow, we are given our pies when we enter and I shamelessly stuffed it into my mouth like a crazed animal. No utensils are given, so everyone just has to eat with their hands, a foreshadowing of things to come as we later see the actors shovelling delicious pies into their mouth not knowing what's really in them...

The acting and singing of this cast was SUPERB. Warren Kimmel as Sweeney Todd is just simply outstanding. Colleen Winton's Mrs. Lovett is played to perfect comedic perfection. The folks sitting in the"splatter zone" were thoroughly entertained with the onslaught of blood.

The tale of the Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a chilling, terrifying story perfect for Halloween. The Snapshots Collective has really tapped into something unique here with its timing, location, and immersive experience. I'm SO glad I had the chance to see this. Sadly, tickets are all sold out, but keep your eyes on this group and you may find yourself at another inspired piece of theatre in the future.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

VIFF: The Man Who Stole Banksy

This fascinating documentary about a man in Bethlehem who cuts down a concrete wall with an original Banksy on it and then sells it is actually about even more than that. It touches upon the living and political conditions of Israel and Jerusalem, discusses what makes art art, the selling of street art and how context is important for street art.

All in all, a very thought provoking documentary full of Banksy porn that will be sure to titillate any Banksy fan!  The film fest ends tomorrow and there is one more showing of this, so don't miss out!

VIFF: Maria By Callas

If you missed this one, it looks like the Vancity Theatre will be showing several more screenings of Maria By Callas in November.

This is a documentary about famed opera singer diva Maria Callas. I didn't know much about her or her work, which is why I wanted to see this. It's all told through her own interviews and letters. And there is amazing footage of her on the stage and off.

It made me realize that I can't appreciate opera. I did however, get to meet the famous bun lady, who goes to VIFF every year and I have seen her many times. She sat next to me and I said, "I recognize you from other years!" and she said yes, she stood out. She then offered me peppermints as she saw me nodding off during the opera parts, and she said peppermints will help to keep me awake when I'm tired. This was a fun and memorable interaction, which was probably the best part of going to this film for me.

VIFF: Sorry Angel

I should've known better. I picked this film to go see because it features a gay storyline, but I didn't really think about the fact that it's French. And you know the stereotypical French film trope? This one fit it to a tee. I found it quite tedious and slow moving, and must have fallen asleep several times.

Overall it was just mediocre.

The Vancouver International Film Festival ends tomorrow!

Sunday, 7 October 2018

VIFF: United Skates


United Skates is more than just a documentary about the roller skating culture amongst African Americans. It's the story of racism in America, the tale of globalization and economics and greed, and the impact of roller rink closures across the country. It's a film about community - how it's built and how it's destroyed.

We were lucky enough to have one of the directors, Dyana Winkler, in the audience, along with one of the people featured in the film, Phelicia, both of whom stayed afterwards for a Q&A session.

This film was full of heartbreak and joy and has got to be hands down, one of the best films of the festival! Although there are no further screenings scheduled for this, the film has been bought by HBO and is gearing up for an Academy Award campaign, so hopefully you'll get a chance to see it.

VIFF: Ben Is Back

This is one of the blockbuster mainstream films that I went to see at the Film Festival, only because a friend of mine LOVES Julia Roberts. She stars as the mother of a drug addict, and the events that unfold over Christmas Eve show us how much of an enabler one can be with an addict.

I'm sure they'll be trying to push this for an Academy Award of some sort, but personally, I found Roberts' work to be better in last year's film Wonder. This story of an addict just didn't quite hit the mark for me, though Lucas Hedges gives an outstanding performance. Meanwhile, Courtney B. Vance is completely under utilized.

Ben Is Back shows again this Thursday.

Saturday, 6 October 2018

VIFF: Studio 54

I have always been fascinated with the world of Studio 54. In this new documentary, we get a close up behind the scenes look at the making of the infamous club, its heyday, and the aftermath. With interviews with regulars, co-owner Ian Schraeger, and authorities, this film is a well-rounded depiction of a time that can never be recaptured.

With rare footage of the club, this was probably one of the most thorough documentaries I have ever seen on it. There are limited seats left for the next showing of Studio 54, next Friday Oct 12. 

VIFF: The Happy Prince

This is Rupert Everett's masterpiece. He not only stars in it, but he wrote and directed this stunning film. It is beautifully shot, and smoothly crafted. The Happy Prince is the story of Oscar Wilde during his exile years after being charged with acts of indecency for being gay.

It's a well done and informative biopic of the final years of Oscar Wilde. I can't think of another film that has tackled this subject, so it's about time! Everett's performance is a revelation, especially if like me, you only know his work as the singing gay friend in My Best Friend's Wedding or the gay friend in The Next Best Thing or as the evil villain from Inspector Gadget.

He may have been busy with other projects, but he definitely hasn't been on my radar for the past decade or so. It's nice to see him back in such a empowering role (actor, director, writer) and being wonderful at all three of his pursuits.

There are no more showings of The Happy Prince, but no doubt this will get a wider release just in time for awards season!

Friday, 5 October 2018

We Are The Robots exhibit at Vancouver Art Gallery

I renewed my membership at the Vancouver Art Gallery just so I could go over and over again to Kevin Schmidt's We Are The Robots exhibit, which features an audiophile's dream listening room. In this sound-proofed space, visitors are invited to bring in their vinyl records to take a spin on the turntable and be listened to in this custom-made space that includes giant speakers designed for maximum sound detailing, and panelled walls made from reclaimed kitchen countertops to help with the acoustics.

Today I went in and put on some Kylie Minogue and Madonna. I thought I was early enough so that I could avoid having to explain my music taste to strangers, but no such luck. One woman came in with her family and heard the Madonna blasting and said to her husband, "This is my idea of Hell." We ended up chatting and I told her about the exhibit and then asked what vinyl record she would bring in if she could, and she said she would probably bring in The Cure.

This exhibit ends on October 28, so get to the art gallery to see it while you can! And bring your records!!