Monday, December 31, 2018

Top 10 Movies of 2018!

Happy holidays to everyone!  I’d like to present you with my Top 10 Films of 2018! There were so many incredible movies to watch and so these were the ones that made me laugh the hardest, shed the most tears, brought some nostalgia to my life, and provoked a lot of great conversation afterwards. Of course, some of my choices may not mesh with yours, but that’s the beauty of having a personal opinion. :)

Whether you are keen on celebrating or actively choose to forgo the holiday festivities all together, know that the pure joy of movie-watching never goes out of style.

You can also check out my Top 10 list below that has the trailers of each film: 


Searching

An incredibly riveting thriller that leaves no stone unturned to discover the truth behind the disappearance of a 16-year old missing girl and her father’s emotional quest to find her.





Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

A touching documentary about the life and legacy of children’s TV show host, Fred Rogers. A man who always challenged the status quo in hopes of showing how kindness can truly make the world go round.



Paddington 2

A “pawfect” sequel that the whole family will love! Heart-warming, funny, witty and oh so British. Hugh Grant’s dance scene was the cherry on top.


Game Night

A hilarious and wild ride filled with thrills and chills that will leave you rolling the dice at who makes it out alive. Great ensemble cast.


BlacKkKlansman

Based on the heroic true story of Ron Stallworth, the first ever African-American detective to serve in the Colorado Springs Police Department, who exposes the wicked ways of the Ku Klux Klan. Eye-opening, clever and passionate. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.



Mamma Mia 2

A musical celebration of life, love and friendship that warrants a box of tissue to be near by! Great performances and a bonus to hear so many other Abba songs that weren’t played in the first one.  Andante, Andante is a personal favourite.


Bohemian Rhapsody

Long live Queen! Freddie Mercury’s spirit comes alive on-screen, portrayed by the multi-talented Remi Malic.  A captivating story of life in the fast lane that sometimes makes us all want to Break Free.

Instant Family

A film that shines a light on the complexities of adoption and the fostering system in a way that tugs at your heart strings yet still manages to have plenty of quirky humour. Mark Wahlberg continues to impress in whatever role he takes on.



Green Book

An unlikely friendship blooms in the midst of racial tension during the 1960’s. The chemistry between Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali is one you don’t want to miss.



Bumblebee

The Transformers movie that we’ve all been waiting for! Filled with action, comedy, and “Don’t You Forget About Me” moments that pack an emotional punch. Hailee Steinfeld was casted perfectly for this role. All the 80’s references, including a fantastic soundtrack (from A-Ha to The Smiths) make this a total favourite.



Honourable mention to: Mary Poppins Returns

The visual style of the movie  was so beautifully done. Emily Blunt made me proud, she WAS Mary Poppins. Julie Walters was hilarious and Lin-Manuel Miranda, as Jack…what a spectacular performance! All the singing, dancing and those adorable Banks children truly melted my heart! Go see it!


Friday, December 28, 2018

Bright Lights Windsor 2018

Another holiday highlight was going down to Bright Lights Windsor! It was fun seeing all the beautiful displays and checking out the vendors! It was twice as big as last year so there was a lot of walking to do around Jackson Park.

A great tourist attraction and definitely a wonderful event for our community, especially with our growing need to support local talent here in Windsor, Ontario. Very happy that they Bill had a few performance dates booked there. He loved seeing all the smiling faces and received a lot of compliments.

Here are some photos taken below, so enjoy!

Me and the Nutcracker
A new Snow friend!



Gorgeous display

Bill and I

X-Mas Tree all lit up - so pretty!

Me in the sparkly tunnel!

Bill Nuvo doing some awesome LED juggling for the crowds.
Thanks Sergio for the photos!






Sunday, December 23, 2018

Happy Holidays 2018!

Honouring the memory of Bill's grandma, our holiday tree is up!

We always add our little touches too that you can see in the photo that makes this tree uniquely ours!


Wishing all my readers a happy holiday!

Stay tuned for my "Top 10 Movies of 2018!" blog soon. :)

Monday, December 17, 2018

Getting Into The Spirit, Eh? 12 Days of Canadian Christmas – Toldo Holiday Pops


Check out my review below of Toldo Holiday Pops - 12 Days of Canadian Christmas:

This time of year carries a mix of emotions for people, myself included.  It is meant to be a time of love but it also filled with a season of loss. However, there is something magically soothing just hearing violins playing in unison and the harmony of a choir that can really lift your spirits. Going to The Capitol Theatre here in Windsor, Ontario to see Toldo Holiday Pops – 12 Days of Canadian Christmas, presented by the Windsor Symphony Orchestra (WSO), feels like that hot cup of cocoa in your belly on a cold winter’s day – especially with tiny marshmallows on top!

With his sixth season as WSO’s Musical Director, Robert Franz is truly a sight to see! His contagious spirit radiates when he is conducting. His discipline and poise really bring something very special to this show that is definitely a crowd-pleaser for all ages. With a flounce in his step, Robert’s passion is undeniable. He is a musical marvel with a cheeky humour, complete with colourful and deliberate mismatched socks.

On vocals, Sara Fontaine steps onto the stage. With an extensive background in music, teaching and owning her own studio here in Windsor-Essex County, Sara’s voice can stop you in your tracks.  Singing “Joy To The World” in a jazzy/gospel style and hitting the high note in “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” will melt your heart. She is a powerhouse of sound and those were my two favourite sung by her.

The evening started out with a beautiful Overture on French Carols, and you could hear many favourites throughout the 2-hour show, such as: Little Drummer Boy, Feliz Navidad, Waltz of the Flowers, and a medley from the Polar Express film. The WSO orchestra chorus raised the bar with a chilling rendition of O’Holy Night that deserved a standing ovation.

The highlight of the evening was bringing best-selling book, A Porcupine in a Pine Tree, written by Helaine Becker and illustrated by Werner Zimmermann, to life with music.  A hilarious tribute to all things Canadian, including beaver tails, caribous, and of course, The Stanley Cup.

Not forgetting our Jewish friends, several Hanukkah songs were played, with the adorable Music Moves Kids choir from Director, Erin Armstrong and Windsor Essex Youth Choir from Danielle Sirek.

Of course, you cannot forget the big jolly guy who made a special appearance and made all the kids eyes light up. Some children wanted slime, others asked for an Elf on the Shelf. However, the best reply to “What would you like for Christmas?” had to be a little girl name Grace, who responded with, “I want a horse!” Clearly some planning went into that gift request!

Not surprising, it was announced that the Toldo Holiday Pops had a sold-out performance. If you’ve never been to the symphony before, I would recommend dipping your toes into this holiday show in the future and experiencing Maestro Franz and his exceptional team.  After all,  “without music, life would be a mistake” ― Friedrich Nietzsche.

The WSO returns on January 26 with French Connections, a journey of musical colours and textures by French composers. The program features a traditional French song, and Claude Debussy’s impressionistic suite Printemps. Members of the Windsor Symphony Youth Orchestra will join the WSO on stage and perform Faure’s Masques et Bergamasques.

The performance also showcases the World Premiere of Toronto-based composer Jordan Pal’s Trombone Concerto and Saint SaĆ«ns innovative Symphony No. 2 in A minor.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Are We Dead Yet?: Dead in a Week (Or Your Money Back) Movie Review




Check out my review below of Dead in a Week:

Meet William (Aneurin Barnard) a forlorn writer who is convinced that his life has no purpose and dying is the only way out. After yet another failed attempt at suicide, he crosses paths with an “Angel of Death” assassin,  Leslie (Tom Wilkinson), who promises to fulfill his wish once and for all.

There are odd moments in Dead in a Week, directed by Tom Edmunds, where Leslie and William are sitting down to discuss the details of the contract, complete with a brochure titled “Your Death, Your Way.” The pamphlet has various options of death that you can choose from, including pictures.  If you haven’t guessed by now, dark humour is rampant in this British film and there is no shortage of mockery on such a grim topic.

With some pretty off-the-wall humour and morbid scenes, I was reminded a bit of filmmakers; the Cohen Brothers, who seem to delight or disturb their audiences.  At times, it’s hard not to laugh because although William continues to muster up the courage to die, it doesn’t seem like he can even do that properly. There is a short little montage of all his suicide attempts, including the most ridiculous one, where he sticks his head in the oven, but the gas suddenly turns off. In the background, “I Think We’re Alone Now” by Tiffany is playing.

William has lovable qualities and who can resist those puppy-dog eyes, but his preoccupation with dying seems unconvincing. After making all necessary arrangements, out of the blue, William gets a call from Ellie (Freya Mavor), who is a publisher’s assistant and seems very keen on his book.  A romantic love connection forms between them, making William realize that he may just want to live.  Unfortunately, a signed contract is taken very seriously for Leslie, who is teetering on forced retirement if he doesn’t fulfill his quota for “kills” during the week. He is less than impressed with William’s sudden revelation.

Things that could go wrong, go wrong, oh so very wrong. People are accidentally killed and William is once again escaping death, this time hand-in-hand with Ellie. The dark humour really comes into play during one scene between Leslie and his boss, Harvey, (played by the eccentric Christopher Eccleston). The interaction has funny elements, but seems to trail off into a zone where the initial joke gets lost in the banter.

Despite some flaws, I found this film oddly sentimental in very unexpected ways. The obscurity of how suicide is portrayed might not sit well with everyone, but sometimes it reminds us not to take life too seriously after all.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Goodness Gracious: Almost Almost Famous Movie Review



Check out my review below of Almost, Almost Famous: 

Everyone has a dream. A vision to live a life of abundance and doing what they were “meant” to do. However, what happens when reality slaps you in the face and says you’re not quite good enough and you just don’t have what it takes? It’s a hard pill to swallow and some see this as a challenge to prove others wrong, and others give up before they even had a chance to make their mark.

Almost, Almost Famous takes a snapshot look into the public and private lives of Texan rockabilly musician Lance Lipinsky as Jerry Lee Lewis, Las Vegas-based R & B singer Bobby Brooks as Jackie Wilson and the “Elvis from Orlando” Ted Torres on their “Class of ’59” cross country road tour.  There are small mentions of Bill Culp, as Big Bopper and Jeff Giles, as Buddy Holly, but they were not the main focus of the documentary. Along for the wildest ride, you also get to meet their tour manager Marty Kramer, who may look like just another roadie, but he has helped launched the artists’ careers and rubbed elbows with some of the biggest and brightest stars from Burton Cummings to Lynyrd Skynyrd.

The entertainment business may seem filled with glitz and glamour, but it’s also filled with disappointment and often destruction of close family and romantic relationships. It’s hard for many artists to know where their character ends and their own identity begins. They lose themselves in the roles they are showing to the world.  This often leads to a distorted sense of self and burn-out.

Sadly, tribute artists are now really a dime a dozen and it is estimated by Marty that with over 85,000 Elvis impersonators, only 500 get employed. This is shocking because of the amount of unexplored talent that are cast aside simply because they may not be the preferred image of what others expect or don’t market themselves as well as someone else in the industry.   All that make-up to turn back the hands of time and countless hours of perfecting the Elvis-do or the cans of hairspray to get the perfect Bill Haley kiss curl get washed out, just like many of their careers.

On a brighter side, there are moments that show the incredible appreciation and devotion that fans bring to their lives, which make the struggles worth while. Those simple times when you see the joy in someone’s eyes as they are reliving their precious youth through such a poignant era like the 1950’s. There is also an incredible story shared about Bobby Brooks that you actually need to watch to believe.

No matter what people say, it is always hard to walk in someone else’s shoes. For many of these talented tribute artists that are showcased, fame and fortune is limited. There is always someone younger, smarter, and with the right connections that will take the #1 spot. The desire to develop their own careers outside of their idols in the long-term is a true balancing act.  In reality, all the passion in the world doesn’t mean a lot, if you cannot pay your rent.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Hoping for a Miracle: Mail Order Monster – Movie Review



Check out my review below of Mail Order Monster:

What is it like to lose a parent? There is a sense of devastation, sadness, and even anger that can really shake a young child to the core. Over time, emotions can wax and wane but there comes a point of acceptance that needs to be reached. The most troubling part is when the other parent begins to not only start dating again, but actually finds love.

Mail Order Monster, directed by Paulina Lagudi, tells the story of Sam (played by Madison Horcher) who is trying to come to terms with her mother’s passing. It doesn’t help being relentlessly bullied at school and realizing that her father, Roy, has slowly slipped away into a new romance. Sam’s future “step-mother” Sydney, is trying desperately to fit into the family and Sam wants absolutely no part of it.  Sydney decides to surprise Sam with a rare comic book, in hopes to win her over, but the slight affection that Sam begins to show her, ends up backfiring after Roy decides he is ready to be re-married.  The thought of replacing Sam’s mother is too hard for Sam to imagine and so she sends away for a mail order monster (an ad found on the back of the comic that Sydney got her) for comfort.

The box arrives at Sam’s doorstep in a huge wooden crate with the words MOM printed on the outside (an anagram of Mail Order Monster). Sam goes into the shed and builds the robot monster, keeping it a secret from everyone. The monster comes to life and begins to take on the mannerisms of Sam’s mother, which becomes an endearing part of the movie. There is a heart-warming scene too when MOM (the name of the monster) brushes away a single strand of Sam’s hair and they make a pact to always be there for each other.

The monster is definitely quirky, just like Sam. It looks fragile yet has intuitive thinking capabilities. It reminded me a bit of Johnny 5 (Short Circuit), Chappie and The Iron Giant all rolled up into one. The pace of the movie had some lagging parts, especially the drawn-out scenes when the monster was walking, which I think could have been executed better.

The film was done in a live-action style, which was pretty interesting and even though there were some funny scenes throughout, it gets dark…and for a family drama, take note parents to sit down and discuss with your kid(s) how they felt. I could appreciate the more violent moments done in a comic strip sequence. It was a creative approach to take instead of totally censoring the violence and disturbing scenes (similar to the opening with Sam’s mother’s death).

Although some of the plot left gaps and aside from Sam’s performance, the rest of the cast fell a bit flat, the guiding message that really holds strong in this movie is that whether in life on Earth or with the angels above, a mother’s love for her daughter is never forgotten.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Kevin Smith – Silent But Deadly (Stand-Up Comedy) – Movie Review




Check out my review below of Kevin Smith - Silent But Deadly:


Kevin Smith wears many hats. As a producer, director, comic book writer and actor, he’s been working hard, or hardly-working (he admits to his laziness at times) to create a successful career. Most know him for the sleeper hit 90’s movie; Clerks, and of course being the silent half of the stoner duo; Jay and Silent Bob.

In this stand-up comedy show, Kevin Smith is quite a story-teller and you do get a glimpse into his life in a very open and honest way. He wears his snapback ball cap and signature jersey with pride. Although the topics may seem mundane, like his copious amount of hilarious weed tales or detailing his random 20 minute phone call with Bruce Willis, Kevin has a way of hooking you into his world with a genuine sense of curiosity. There is a lot of vulgarity, which is kind of his shtick, and clearly TMI (too much information) into his sexcapades with his wife that will have you laughing.

I am not sure if it was the lighting during his performance, but Kevin looked like he was developing jaundice as the show went on. He did reveal though at the start of the show candidly about his near-death experience. He had a massive heart attack and claimed that smoking weed saved his life because he remained so calm through the whole situation. Obviously, take it with the grain of salt, he’s a comedian, not a doctor. Fortunately, Kevin survived the ordeal with a very loud wake-up call. He vowed to put his obesity to rest by following a totally vegan diet, which he now sings the praises of.

When Silent Bob speaks, people listen and I’m glad that he is still alive and kicking ready to share more of his adventures with us and to keep his best friend Jason Mewes from ever crying again.

Feels Like Home: Instant Family Movie Review


Check out my review below of Instant Family:

What if your doctor told you that you would never be able to conceive a child? For many couples, this devastating news is like a knife through the heart. The countless other methods to figure out what to do next and the thousands of dollars spent for a possible miracle is exhausting, physically, emotionally and financially. Other times, careers take precedent and baby-making is an after-thought. It then simply becomes a matter of wanting a child before all those grey hairs start to sprout. The idea of “adoption” can be a scary word because it hits a cord of “but it’s not mine, it’s someone else’s kid!”

Instant Family was based off of director and co-writer Sean Anders real story of adopting three siblings out of foster care. The movie has tons of humour (thank goodness!) because some scenes will literally bring you to tears. It does balance well with a serious tone too. It sheds some light on the complications of adoption, such as when the birth mother comes back into the picture and wants custody, as well as the behavioural struggles that foster children go through. It also shows how many teenagers are left behind and “age-out” (which is a key part of the film – adopting a teenager and also her younger brother and sister) and put back into the foster care system. A majority of couples want to adopt a baby or at the most, a very young child.

The whole cast fit really nicely together. The case workers; Octavia Spencer and Tig Notaro, as well as some of the other couples (and a single mom) who had their own stories to share were definitely comic relief. Plus, you have the multi-talented Mark Wahlberg, who is just a joy to watch on-screen and the surprise appearance of Joan Cusack. The ending with everyone was really touching too, with the perfect send-off of 80’s Starship’s epic song, Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now. Yes it’s cheesy, yes it’s predictable and probably not the way most court cases would go, but who cares! The whole audience in the theatre was overtaken by emotion and for me, that makes this one wonderful movie.

There are plenty of reasons why adoption is not the right choice for everyone, but after seeing this film, perhaps you may find that one reason to know why it truly is.

Trigger Warning: President Evil Movie Review



Check out my review below of President Evil:


Get out of your safe spaces and enter a satirical mindfu*k that feels like the love child of 4Chan and Buzzfeed.

President Evil, directed by Richard Lowry, doesn’t hold back parodying all the social commentaries on the political spectrum. If you can think of any stereotype, chances are it’s in this movie.

The movie follows the rhythm of Michael Myers Halloween horror flick, where someone dressed as President Donald Trump is on the war path against anyone who is not a conservative idealogue. It has all the horror tropes, such as the walking slasher vs the running victim, jump scares and second-take disappearances.

While the film did have some humourous moments, mostly from the utterly ridiculous exaggerations, it also had some that were cringe-worthy, such as the Sheriff who was completely incompetent. I particularly laughed hardest at the Trump character when he was looking directly at the solar eclipse, the awkward bromance with Dr. Lutin (aka Putin) as well as the appearance of his baby hands.

If you are someone who is not very politically-savvy, you may miss the over-abundance of references. I don’t think this movie was intended for the average viewer. I can forgive the low budget and bad acting, but with such a limited demographic appeal is where the movie fails.

President Evil is available on Demand (Amazon and other platforms).