Alfresco film viewing: who needs movie theatres anyway?

Alfresco film viewing: who needs movie theatres anyway?

Drake Conrad adjusts the focus of the film being projected onto a giant silver screen as the popcorn munching audience looks on. The film, Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, flickers away. This could be taking place in any Toronto cinema, but the scene is Conrad’s rooftop, near Liberty Village. Before the feature, cartoons and classic film trailers are shown, featuring advertisements with the ubiquitous “let’s all go to the lobby” jingle. The relaxing vibe is mixed…

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Toronto Jewish Film Festival puts horror movies in the spotlight

Toronto Jewish Film Festival puts horror movies in the spotlight

This article originally appeared in the Toronto Star on May 1, 2014. In Roman Polanski’s The Fearless Vampire Killers, a 1967 parody of the popular Hammer horror genre, a young woman attempts to fend off a Jewish vampire by brandishing a cross — a bloodsucker’s kryptonite. It doesn’t go so well. “Oy vey, have you got the wrong vampire,” responds the unafflicted creature of the night. In its 22nd year, the Toronto Jewish Film Festival…

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When Charlie Chaplin comes to town

When Charlie Chaplin comes to town

The silent Keystone comedy, Kid Auto Races at Venice, should have been exactly that — a newsreel documenting a soapbox derby race. But as children race along an audience-lined pathway, a curious fellow wearing a bowler hat and baggy pants emerges into the frame, constantly interrupting the shot. The man is Charlie Chaplin. In cinematic terms, he was the original photobomber. Released in February, 1914, the film marks Chaplin’s first publicly screened appearance as the…

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Frankenstein Created Woman and the modern horror film

Frankenstein Created Woman and the modern horror film

This article originally appeared in the Toronto Star on January 23, 2014. ‘Subversive’ film from 1960s originally snipped to pieces by Ontario censors. Eat your heart out, Aaron Eckhart. I, Frankenstein, a film inspired by Mary Shelley’s oft-adapted novel, isn’t the only Frankenstein tale opening in Toronto this week. On Thursday, Frankenstein Created Woman screens at TIFF Bell Lightbox as part of Rue Morgue Magazine’s monthly Cinemacabre series. But when the film — in which…

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Tintin’s sins: Belgium reckons with its comic hero’s racist past

Tintin’s sins: Belgium reckons with its comic hero’s racist past

On May 31, a Belgian court will decide whether to ban or at least enforce a disclaimer on the sale of children’s book Tintin in the Congo. Call it Tintin in the Land of the Censors. On May 31, a Belgian court will decide whether to ban or at least enforce a disclaimer on the sale of children’s book Tintin in the Congo, due to its racially insensitive depictions of the Congolese. Published since 1931,…

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Daniel Lanois: The duality of culture

Daniel Lanois: The duality of culture

“It’s an old friend, given to me by an old friend,” says Daniel Lanois, referring to a vintage Gibson acoustic guitar resting neck-down on a mid-century sofa in the billiards room of his Lynd Ave. recording studio. The guitar was a gift from Emmylou Harris, and as we talk, he picks it up and strums random chords, occasionally breaking out into songs from his first album, Acadie . We’re drinking an Old Pal cocktail, a…

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Karen Black: Still sexy after all these years

Karen Black: Still sexy after all these years

This article originally appeared in the Toronto Star on July 26, 2009. ’70s movie icon brings new cabaret show to the Gladstone Karen Black’s voice still sounds as vibrant as it did when she sang to Jack Nicholson in 1970’s Five Easy Pieces; her soft tremolo as fresh as when she hosted Saturday Night Live in 1976. Reclining on a leather sofa in the art gallery at the Gladstone Hotel, she sings a few breathy…

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YTV celebrates 25 years

YTV celebrates 25 years

John Candy introduced Canada’s first station devoted to children’s programming. — When John Candy hosted YTV’s inaugural broadcast on Sept. 1, 1988, he started off with bad news. “There are gonna be certain shows you’ll never see on YTV. For example, Financial Week in Review. They won’t be showing it,” said the late actor. That certainly wasn’t kids’ stuff. In the early days of specialty programming, YTV, celebrating 25 years on the air this weekend,…

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You Can’t Do That on Television helped launch Nickelodeon

You Can’t Do That on Television helped launch Nickelodeon

Slimed! An Oral History of Nickelodeon’s Golden Age looks at the cutting edge CJOH show and its effect on the U.S. network. — Imagine a TV show where kids are executed by South American firing squads, held captive in Nazi dungeons, fed rat burgers and forced to endure a drunken father’s not-so-sober wisdom. Top that off with buckets of green slime dumped on their heads whenever they said, “I don’t know.” You could never do…

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Craft bitters spice up Toronto’s cocktail scene

Craft bitters spice up Toronto’s cocktail scene

Bitters, those spiced and flavoured digestifs, have regained their place as an essential bar ingredient, with unique craft versions adding a twist to the cocktail scene. Once limited to a bottle of Angostura’s, set aside like neglected Tabasco sauce, cocktail bitters have regained their place as an essential bar ingredient. The renaissance can be tasted locally in an explosion of craft bitters and homemade concoctions offered in Toronto’s cocktail scene. “Bitters are the salt and…

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