Gush: ‘American Photography and Film 1950s-1980s’ at the AGO

I am over-the-moon excited for this exhibit of prolific photographs and films. The AGO has done right! Here are some featured photographs from the AGO’s website:

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Gush: Short Term 12

Originally presented as a short film at Sundance 2009, Short Term 12 was made into a full-length in 2013. It’s visually stunning film with washed out colours. See the trailer that features Youth Lagoon’s “Montana” perfectly.


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Maybe this post was inspired by this news.

Milestone songs

My parents’ wedding song was the Turtles’ “Happy Together.” The Turtles’ Flo & Eddie are a bit of an odd-ball pick by any standards, but the sentiments are all there. One of my favourite mommy blogs, Cup of Jo, did a feature on First Dances.

I have to admit I have never given this thought. I’ve actually given more thought to my requiem than the song I celebrate a forever relationship to. Inspired by reading this article way back, I thought how fitting it would be to celebrate one’s life with the Zombies’ “This Will Be Our Year” (thanks, Zooey Deschanel!). Funny enough the very same Cup of Jo piece cited two Zombies tunes as wedding songs (including “This Will Be Our Year”). M Ward picked the more traditional, “Amazing Grace,” which if you can recall not-so-long ago Obama also chose to remember a lost life.

And who can forget this gem of a scene from everyone’s favourite film, Love Actually?

Or Six Feet Under‘s epic ending featuring Sia’s “Breathe Me” before she got noticed:

Here are a few more suggestions for funeral tunes compliments of Australian newspaper, the Australian, via Exclaim!

Gush: Hot Docs, a spotlight on music docs

April means Hot Docs, which means challenging my mind. Sadly, in my lines of employment over the last two years, I haven’t been afforded that luxury.

One of my favourite types of documentaries is the music documentary. The Bloor Hot Docs Theatre has brought some amazing nuggets to Toronto over the last two years, including: Good Ol’ FredaThe Wrecking Crew and Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me. Perhaps it’s sixties nostalgia or maybe the large baby-boomer population in close proximity to the theatre, but I dig it and I’ll ride that wave.

Now to take you to the Hot Docs Festival, which started yesterday and runs all the way until Sunday May 3. Here are my picks for music docs of this year’s Festival:

Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck


This doc really requires no explanation. The trailer alone gave me full-body chills.

Stay Awhile

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Toronto filmmaker, Jessica Edwards, created this gem to follow the past of her parents and aunt, who were the three lead singers of seventies Canadian group, The Bells. The blurb promises that you know the band’s one hit, but as a child of the late eighties, the tune “Stay Awhile” never hit my ears.

Music Lessons

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Get local with a short 20-minute feature on the talent and teachers at Sistema Toronto. The one-off screening on Tuesday April 28 at 6:30pm will be followed up by a performance by the Sistema Toronto Yorkwoods Orchestra and an in-conversation with.

Mavis!


I’ve always had a special attraction to Mavis Staples. A few years back I realized that my My Chinese mom actually holds a close likeness in appearance to the veteran Staple Singer. I’m pumped to learn more about the powerhouse woman behind the equally powerful voice.

What Happened, Miss Simone?


Does it cheapen at all when Netflix presents a film? Maybe. But never enough Nina
Simone. She lacked the warmness Mavis has, but I dig her style.

Monty Python: The Meaning of Life


Not your conventional musicians, but they’ve certainly been responsible for a number of tunes that I find myself humming day-to-day (see: “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.”

See also: Pleasure at Her Majesty’s screening as a par of the Redux retrospective Hot Docs programming.

As I Am: The Life and Times of DJ AM

This movie’s so new, there isn’t even a complete trailer out yet. Tomorrow is the international premier of this film.

They Will Have to Kill Us First

 

A beautiful partner piece to Timbuktu, a film the Bell Lightbox recently screened. If you’re unfamiliar, there is a huge struggle to keep culture alive in northern Mali where the Jihadists have imposed the strict Sharia law for the last three years. This film looks like a great account of the day-to-day struggles that I can’t even begin to imagine.

Home Cooked Music

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I just had my core shook at the TIFF Kids screening of The Landfill Harmonic. I’m over-the-moon excited for this less-than-nine-minute Canadian short that focuses on repurposed items to create musical instruments.

Side note: Hot Docs has rejected me two years in a row now for a media pass. I look forward to one day getting accredited, but in the mean time I’ll keep writing my thoughts on what I see and hear at the festival.

Gush: ‘Whiplash’ directed by Damien Chazelle

I left Whiplash tonight feeling like I had just downed ten cups of coffee. I won’t dare spoil the film for you here, but it gets you motivated to do things, much like the character in the film.

Astoundingly, the writer/director of Whiplash is only twenty-nine years old. The film originated as an 18-minute short, however after big praise at the 2013 Sundance, it was made to a full-length.

The Jason Reitman sponsored film featured his favourite go-to actor, J.K. Simmons, who for once showed some amazing talent. I was also surprised to see the aged Mad About You lead Paul Reiser take on a fatherly role.

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Sondre Lerche at the Bowery Ballroom; Tuesday September 23, 2014

I love New York. At any given time or date you can find someone amazing performing… I’m looking at you, Ted Leo at South Street Seaport in 2011 and the National (a few times over). I always peruse the wonderful Oh My Rockness to keep me in the loop for all of my concert needs.

The last time I saw Lerche play the Bowery Ballroom, it was to an empty house. I was surprised to find so many people this particular gig. Lerche’s new album titled Please is filled with everything I was expecting, wonderful hooks, full swells and lots of sing-along opportunities. Many folks in the crowd seemed to be hanging on to the words of many of the new tunes.

Lerche played with a three-piece band, which with Lerche sounds like a band twice its size. He had a three girls from the opening band Teen provide back up vocals and keyboard on three or four songs throughout the set.

The first gig I’ve see him as a single man, Lerche appeared in good spirits despite the happenings. He appeared to be having a great time, which is something very unique to the guy. He’s active and full of energy on stage without coming off as forced or planned. Music comes easy to him and he’s not afraid of showcasing older tunes. He drew from his older catalogue, playing a number of older tunes such as “Two Way Monologues,” “My Hands Are Shaking” and “The Tape,” while playing a number of newer tunes that the crowd loved.

Since the release of Dan in Real Life, Lerche has been playing “Modern Nature” at his gigs. The first time was sweetly with his tour mate Sylvie Lewis, but without a female counterpart he has been drawing from the audience for help. I’ll admit, it’s a sweet song and it’s mighty nice to be involved, but I’m growing tired to hearing knobs yell the lyrics out like maniacs. I sadly was positioned next to the village drunk who was sluggishly, yet confidently yelling out all of the words he could string together.

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Gush: ‘Can’t Hardly Wait’

I am over the moon excited for the TIFF series this fall titled Back to the 90s. A less than amazing decade for most things, it marked the revitalization of the teen film. I find myself most excited to watch the film Can’t Hardly Wait on the big screen. Do have a peek at other programming in the Back to the 90s series, I promise it won’t disappoint! Perhaps it was inspired by the Hot Doc 2014 film Beyond Clueless.


Weirdly, on my break today I heard the Replacements tune by the same name in a department store… A pretty awesome random listen. The film was named after the song and pays tribute to it True Blood style as the credits roll.

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