Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Feeling A Little Bit Heisty: American Animals WIFF Movie Review


Check out my review below of; American Animals


American Animals is not your typical heist, it is far more compelling of a story that unfolds to make you question what you are watching is fact or fiction. For keeping those thoughts rolling around in my head throughout the film, I have to applaud director, Bart Layton.

Meet College students Spencer Reinhard (Barry Keoghan), Warren Lipka (Evan Peters), Eric Borsuk (Jared Abrahamson), and Chas Allen (Blake Jenner).  They are alive but barely existing in any sort of meaningful way, hoping to achieve a level above mediocrity. Desperately clinging to have one claim to fame, Warren comes up with the brilliant plan to embark on a group heist to steal rare books worth 12 million dollars from their local library, including Darwin’s; Origins of the Species and a rarity by  Audubon called Birds of America.  The one target they need to surpass is the watchful librarian; Betty Jean Gooch (played by Ann Dowd).

The story is layered, kind of like a lasagna, which is always a plus. Each character fits into a typical mold (the jock, the artist, the outcast, etc) so in many ways, it can feel relatable, since the struggle to find your identity exists within us all, no matter what stereotype you get labelled under. I also enjoyed the brief interviews that were cut into the film that involved the actual real men telling their own recollection of the events that took place with unbridled emotion. One cannot forget the real Betty Jean Gooch either, who was briefly interviewed as a witness to the crimes that were committed.

There are also throwback a-ha moments when you hear the names Mr Pink and Mr. Black which gives a quick homage to Quentin Tarantino’s gritty film, Reservoir Dogs.

With any action follows a consequence. The aftermath can be good or bad, depending on how you perceive it.  Did the punishment of these pseudo-reckless misfits really fit the crime? I think that’s up to the audience to decide. However, in the end, it is true that birds of a feather flock together.

Spilling the Tea: Tea With the Dames – WIFF Movie Review


Check out my review from the WIFF; Tea With The Dames


The documentary Tea With the Dames, directed by Roger Michell  is an intimate look into the lives of Dames; Eileen Atkins, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright and Maggie Smith. Now you may be asking yourself, what shenanigans could possibly take place when you get four legendary British actresses in the same room together?  Well if you think these ladies are just snooty and uptight, you may be in for quite a surprise, as these feisty octogenarians can dish it out and roll with the punches like you wouldn’t believe.

Drinking tea and later on sneaking in some champagne, there are so many memorable moments in the film. I will admit that I was not very familiar with all the work of Eileen Atkins and Joan Plowright, but they now hold quite a special place in my heart, as their individual accomplishments and talents are worthy of acknowledgement and praise.

If I’m going to be totally honest (which you know I am), Judi Dench and Maggie Smith really unintentionally stole the spotlight. Although all four are close friends, Judi and “Mags” have the best chemistry together, and you can really feel it from their banter back and forth. Judi’s occasional but hilarious foul-mouthed outbursts and Maggie’s ridiculously sarcastic charm and wit keep you wanting more.

Even the most melancholy topics (yep, grim reaper I’m talking about you!) don’t really faze these youthful Dames, as they talk openly about their embarrassing moments, frustrations, and insecurities throughout their careers and even today.


When you exit the theatre,  you’ll be left thinking about the words of wisdom from these dignified Dames who encourage and support each other in a way that make the bonds of friendship everlasting. Getting older doesn’t mean you stop having fun. No, never. You can drink champagne without a poignant reason for celebration (just being alive is a gift in itself), but you also know that you may need a nap in the afternoon and that’s okay too.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Our 2019 80's-inspired Wedding Montage Dance!


 Just a little teaser here 💜

Although Friday I'm In Love was not technically released in 1980, it was 1992, The Cure means so much to me and this song had the right emotion!

Our wedding will be "80's inspired" so some other eras are bound to show up. ;)

All the movie clips are from the 80's and Bill put this montage together so perfectly.

Can you name all of them? These are definitely some of our favourites!




Thursday, November 8, 2018

Never Enough: Generation Wealth – WIFF Movie Review


Check out my review from the WIFF; Generation Wealth


While some people may live paycheque to paycheque, there is an entirely different group of people who hold a position of power where money is no object to what one’s heart desires.

Generation Wealth (directed by Lauren Greenfield) delves into society’s obsession with wealth from celebrity culture to social status around the world and its dire emotional implications.  The film bounces around with different interviews with some of the most richest people around the globe. As an artist, Lauren films these segments in a hyper active intensity that feels a bit overwhelming at times. She also documents her own family’s recollections of life and reflects upon her own demons with the material world.

As we see in the film, there is a price to pay for wealth and that is the true absence of self.  Out of all the interviews that Lauren did, the most poignant moments were the raw footage with tycoon investment banker, Florian Homm. His arrogance starts out as eye-roll worthy, but as he continues to tell his story,  you can feel the pain through his uneasy laughter.  His rise and fall tale is not an uncommon one to hear.

Aside from the designer Fenty bags worth more than what most of us would ever be able to afford in our lifetime to the glamorous show biz facade of being “someone” and getting the best table in the most trendy restaurant, what is the real value to life when it all disappears? It cannot be measured in currency.

The takeaway message that I got from the film is that life needs balance.  How we can achieve that is perplexing, as there are so many demands put upon us and life is a juggling game. Often our judgment gets clouded by the innate need to have it all.

A cautionary hope to be careful what you wish for.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Triple Trouble: Three Identical Strangers WIFF Movie Review


Check out my next movie review; Three Identical Strangers
https://yqgrocks.com/triple-trouble-three-identical-strangers-wiff-movie-review/

Entering its 14th year of showcasing cinematic treasures from Canadian and International filmmakers, I had a wonderful opportunity to see several films this year at the 2018 Windsor International Film Festival.

Three Identical Strangers, directed by Tim Wardle, is an incredible eye-opening documentary of three brothers who were separated at birth, only to be reunited with each other in the most unusual circumstances.

The story begins as a light-hearted journey with triplet brothers; Eddy Galland, Robert Shafran and David Kellman.  Seeing them meet for the first time is like looking in a mirror, as it is very hard to tell them apart. However, despite their mirrored-mannerisms, ability to finish each others sentences, all having the same favourite colour and even smoking the same brand of cigarettes, growing up couldn’t have been more different with their adoptive families.

There are moments in the film that make you ache for these brothers and the situations they had to endure. What some may refer to the idea of “extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence” is just a small piece of the puzzle to try and even piece back together.

Behind the dazzling smiles and incredible fame that bestowed the brothers for many years is where the raw emotions start to spill out.

The movie is well paced and edited in a way that (without spoiling too much) as many darker revelations are disclosed, these hidden secrets inevitably shake the brothers to their very core and change the course of each of their lives forever.

With all the probing thoughts that will definitely flood your mind and create a deep level of conversation afterwards, the question still remains; are we really a product of nature or nurture?

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Not Just a Pelvic Thrust: Stratford’s Rocky Horror Picture Show Entertains



Check out my review below of The Rocky Horror Picture Show in Stratford, Ontario!
https://yqgrocks.com/not-just-a-pelvic-thrust-stratfords-rocky-horror-picture-show-entertains

I have been a fan of Richard O’Brien’s 1975 cult-classic “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” for such a long time. I remember setting my sights on Tim Curry (who played Frank N. Furter) in fishnet stockings, smudged lipstick and eyeliner and feeling that twinge of excitement. I had no idea boys (other than my heart throb Robert Smith of The Cure who smudged his makeup proudly) could look so feverishly handsome this way and I had even less knowledge about what a sweet transvestite from Transylvania was all about. One thing that was crystal clear, I knew early in my life that I was not quite like the other girls and that was okay.

I had the pleasure to see a stage play of Rocky Horror before, which was really impressive. I bought my first pair of fishnets for the event, put on gobs of makeup and looked like a walking dominatrix.  I felt really uncomfortable until walking through the theatre doors and saw everyone was dressed in a similar fashion. For one night, no one was judging.  I could swoon over all the boys who looked liked girls, or maybe it was girls who looked like boys. It was hard to tell at times.  I hung up my fishnets that night after coming home with a little jump to the left and then a step to the right.

Fast forward to the present day. When I found out that the Stratford Festival was putting on the broadway musical at the Avon Theatre (produced by David Auster),  I was incredibly excited to see what this version would look, sound and feel like.  Of course after seeing the movie countless times (note the tv special in 2016 was cringe-worthy and I couldn’t even get through it) and getting a taste of a live theatre performance, it wasn’t just about the music, the characters really needed to WOW me.

I have a lot of praise to give, which I will go into more detail later, but unfortunately, it wasn’t a flawless performance in my eyes. Here’s why:

One of my favourite songs “Eddie’s Teddy” was a huge letdown. How can I describe Eddie’s (Trevor Patt) character? It felt like a fake orgasm.  Sorry, I had to be so blunt but where was the hyper-masculine, bad-boy, you’d never bring home to your parents that we all grew to love? He was lost in a sea of air guitars and broad way smiles. Nope, pass.

Then there was Rocky (George Krissa). I’m going to be superficial but it was something that really stood out. Rocky’s hair was poofy and kind of reminded me of Carrot Top. His physique was… perfection and even being higher up in the balcony section, I could count his glistening abs. His hair though was another story. I much rather preferred the slick down hair cut, just like what was in the movie. Character wise, I don’t think he was able to get the right balance of passive creature and aggressive. Plus during Touch-a-Touch-Me, he should have looked at Janet’s ta-ta’s with awe and lust, yet his facial expression told a different story. Instead it felt like “yeah i’ve seen these before, let’s move on.” For a song that is meant to be highly sensual and sexual, my libido fell flat.

Next, oh Janet! (Jennifer Rider-Shaw). Although her voice was angelic and her look was pure as snow, I didn’t really get the demure vibe even at the start of the show that Susan Sarandon (1975 movie) pulled off so wonderfully convincing. Also, where was that repressed sexual tension? It was really missing for me.

Then we have Columbia (Kimberly-Ann Truong). When I think of her, all I can envision is the phallic lollipop sucking. It was really distracting and not in a good way. I felt her role was really over the top, yet in the scenes where she should have been highly dramatic (when Eddie’s death was announced), it felt like she was holding back.  She hit that level of crazy that just didn’t work for me. Her whole character was really quite confusing to be honest, but despite those flaws, she had quite the voice on her!

Magenta (Erica Peck) didn’t really grab me. Magenta was the spitting image of Tim Burton’s ex-wife, Helena Bonham Carter, yet she kind of blended into the background with the phantoms. Plus where was her inappropriate lusty self? Lost in the shadows, I guess.

Dr. Scott…well this was played by the same person as Eddie, so I definitely didn’t enjoy this performance.

Now onto the positives!

Riff Raff (Robert Markus) and Frank N. Furter (Dan Chameroy) were incredible, beyond anything that I really could have dreamed of! You could see the passion and love in both of these characters.  To me, they were the stars of the show.

Brad (Sayer Roberts) also did a great job, exuding in overt geekiness and awkwardness, just like what I remember. Plus, what a voice!

The narrator (Steve Ross) was also enjoyable. His deep voice gave me chills and he never broke out of character once, even when he went down to his skivvies and fishnets!

The choreography (done by Donna Feore) for the dance scenes were wonderful. I loved hearing all my favourite songs with a few surprises along the way. The set, lighting, and costuming (kudos to: Michael Gianfrancesco, Dana Osborne, Michael Walton) were done really well. I have to find out where Frank N Furter gets his lingerie. Ooh la la! Also, despite a lot of the character flaws, the vocals of everyone really blew me away, especially Frank N Furter’s solo part of “I’m Going Home.” I almost shed a tear.

I loved the audience hecklers who blurted out random comments throughout the show. They had the audience in stitches. Be warned that they don’t hold back. You will hear lots of profanity! Nothing is off limits, including a quick shout-out for the legalization of marijuana, which fit in rather perfectly since it was actually legalized on the day we went; Oct. 17, 2018 and some mentions of sexual positions that you may or may not have tried already at home.  There are audience alerts up mentioning mature themes and offensiveness, so if you tend to trail along the overly-sensitive path, this show is NOT for you.

Despite some criticisms, I really loved the show. I understand the blood, sweat, and tears that go into making these productions and I can appreciate that they didn’t want to stick to the film entirely and used their own creative juices to add a bit more flair.

If you are looking for a fun-filled, gender-bending good time, then I would highly suggest you book your tickets to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show. They have added a number of new shows, but they sell out quickly, as does everything in Stratford because this is truly world-class entertainment.

The show runs at the Stratford Festival until Nov. 25, 2018. Tickets start at $25 and are available online.  *update now extended until December 2018!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

We are always Searching: Movie Review


Check out my next movie review; Searching
In the midst of perfection, we tend to lie to ourselves, believing that life will always be a smooth straight road. When heartache shows up, it can be a short-term visitor or a long-term tenant that fills your heart with a daily dose of grief.

The movie “Searching” is an intense thriller that has the starting elements of predictability. John Cho plays the role of a workaholic yet grief-stricken father, David Kim, who is trying to deal with the passing of his wife and feeling overwhelmed with raising a teenage daughter, Margot on his own.  Of course, Margot (played by Michelle La) is lost in her own identity, as most 16-year-olds are, but puts on the facade that everything is just fine. As text messages start getting unanswered and no one knows the whereabouts of Margot, David decides to report his daughter missing, and with the help of detective Rosemary Vick, (played by Debra Messing – note she is unlike the beloved “Grace” from the nostalgic tv show Will & Grace!) that’s where the story really begins.

As a parent, when your teen doesn’t return your text message after the third attempt, there is always a nagging feeling at the back of your mind that something is wrong. Sometimes you can brush it off and be reassured that they are probably out with friends or absently once again forgot to charge their phone. The last thing any parent wants to face is that their child is in danger, especially an abduction.

The layers of the film get deeper as the time goes by. I couldn’t keep my eyes off the screen as the film just grabs you and you feel the emotional wounds that harbour the father. As soon as you piece together the puzzle, you will realize that your assumptions are wrong and you’re back to figuring out the mystery. Very well-paced and just terrific acting.

I will add in that the movie did an impressive job on capturing the social media commentary that often occurs when breaking news stories like topics of kidnapping and abduction come into the public eye. A delicate battle of logic versus emotional appeal that is truly culturally-relevant.

Overall, I would highly recommend checking this movie out. Sometimes when you are searching for answers, you only find half of what lies beneath the actual truth.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Writing for YQG Rocks!


I am really excited to be writing for this awesome local publication!

YQGrocks is a Windsor-Essex music, entertainment, fashion, food and lifestyle website.

Check out my review of Won't You Be My Neighbor below:



Sadly, we live in a world where it feels unsafe to keep our doors open anymore and if someone does knock, we are automatically gearing ourselves up for the fight or flight mode. Half of us probably don’t even know who are neighbours are because we are too busy to look up from playing Candy Crush to say “hi neighbour!”

I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would I just get a lot of footage from the olden days of television, mixed in with some commentary about Fred or would this director (Morgan Neville) create something that we’d all be talking about for decades to come?  I cannot say enough positive things about this documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” on the life of Fred Rogers, and it couldn’t have come at a more needed time in our society.

I will admit that when I was younger, I was quite terrified of Mr. Roger’s owl puppet and confused by some of his fashion choices, especially having a pink sweater in his closet. Before I’m thrown under the bus for my genuine confusion, remember I was just a little girl in the 80’s, trying to navigate the world while growing up in a rather traditional household (my room was decorated in various shades of pink, with flowery wallpaper, top to bottom) while my brother had a room filled with “manly” race cars decor. So yeah,  what made sense to me then is clearly different than the present time. 🙂

Back to the review. Fred was such an incredible man on so many levels. Yes, he was a man of strong faith, which doesn’t always sit well with me because from my own personal experiences, some “believers” and ministers tend to “preach” but don’t take responsibility for their actions or have a lot of moral fiber to begin in. HOWEVER, with saying that, Fred was definitely an exception. I’m sure he would have hugged an Atheist the same way he would have embraced a Christian.

It’s hard to put into words the depth of Fred’s character and his genuine empathy for others who were so different from him. It’s really a film that you just need to fully take in and appreciate.

If for some reason, it’s difficult for you to express your emotions to someone in your life, just tell them 143. Once you watch this film, you’ll understand how powerful those numbers can be.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Celebrating our 10 Year Anniversary!


Dear William,

I had been waiting so long to find Somebody and when we met, you made me believe that anything was possible. I opened up my heart and you found a comfy place to nuzzle inside.  To this day, never has a false promise come across your lips. You are more magical to me every day.

Happy 10 year Anniversary, I love you so much!


Music credit: Somebody (Dominatrix Long Kernfusion Remix) - Depeche Mode


Monday, July 16, 2018

How To Keep A Magician Fed For Days

Although magicians don’t always share secrets with their audience, I’m going to let you in on a recipe for Shepherd’s Pie that you’ll want to tell everyone about!

We lead busy lives and if you’re a professional magician, the last thing you want is to fumble while dazzling your audience with a card trick or feeling fuzzy-minded performing a spectacular illusion. It takes passion for the craft, skill and countless hours of practice to perfect the art of magic.  Trust me, I know, as I have been with my magical man for almost a decade now.

Creating balanced meals that will fuel your body is important and so this is the version I do. It’s healthy, fairly simple to make and lasts for several days in the fridge. Of course,  you can tweak it to meet your culinary tastes and dietary requirements.

INGREDIENTS:
  • 4-5 medium potatoes, peeled or unpeeled (whatever you like) and then quartered with a knife. 
  • 2 cups (or more!) of assorted vegetables—I use a standard frozen vegetable mix often, as it’s more cost effective. You can use fresh veggies, but you will need to saute those separately in another pan.
  • 1 1/2 lbs of ground beef, pork, turkey, veal, or chicken. Whatever is on sale, that’s the meat of choice for this dish. *Vegetarians/Vegans – you can of course use veggie/vegan meat replacement and just follow the instructions as you normally would to cook it.
  • Seasonings of choice. Ex. oregano, basil, garlic, curry, turmeric, chives, parsley, sage, etc...

WHAT TO DO:

1 Boil the potatoes: Place washed, peeled (or unpeeled, if you like the skin on) and quartered potatoes in a large pot and cover with enough water.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until tender (about 20 minutes). Use a timer.

2.  In a frying pan, add your meat of choice and cook it up (you don’t want to see ANY pink my non-veggie friends!) Make sure to add whatever sauce and seasonings you want.

3. Revisit your mash potatoes. Use a fork to pierce for tenderness. You want them nice and soft so they will be easy to mash. When the potatoes are done cooking, remove them from the pot, drain the water, and place them into a bowl. Add butter or margarine, any seasonings of choice, and then mash away with a fork or potato masher until they are the consistency you want.  Set aside.

4. Preheat your oven to 400°F.  Wait for that oven beeeeeeeeep!

5.  Get out a large baking casserole dish (approx 8 x13), and pour the meat mixture on the bottom. Add a heaping amount of frozen veggies or your mixture of sauteed vegetables. Then spread the mashed potatoes evenly on top.  *Feel free to grate your favourite cheese or cheese alternative, if you’re looking for a richer cheesy potato flavour once it finishes cooking.

6. Bake in the oven and cook for approximately 30 minutes. I like to set my oven to broil for the last few minutes to get the potatoes a little extra brown.

7. Take out the dish WITH oven mitts and let cool down for a couple minutes. Cut into pieces and serve!


Straight out of the oven!