By Jessica Allen - Thursday, March 28, 2013 - 0 Comments
Jessica Allen on the (slightly repulsive) allure of Harmony Korine’s new film
In Anthony Lane’s recent New Yorker review of Spring Breakers, a movie about four college girls who rob a Chicken Shack restaurant in order to fund a Florida spring break, the film critic writes that two sorts of people will glorify the film: “Real revellers, randy for sensation, out of their heads; and, a block away, coffee-drinking Ph.D.s, musing on the cinema of alienation, too lost inside their heads to break for spring.”
I have a feeling that Lane may be bang on. Last week a friend saw a special screening of the film (it opens in Canada on March 29.) Afterwards she tweeted that a fight almost broke out during the screening when a man shushed some girls, who then called him a c–t. Afterwards, those girls chugged a two-litre bottle of cream soda and a 40 of vodka in the washroom.
But I also think there might be a grey area, for people–like me–who haven’t quite made up their minds on this Bonnie and Clyde-like beach odyssey set in the bowels of contemporary America, or, for that matter, on the director, Harmony Korine.
By Tamsin McMahon - Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 12:40 PM - 0 Comments
Many happy returns to some familiar faces
J.K. Rowling may be the most commercially successful author in recent memory, but in the lead-up to her first adult novel, The Casual Vacancy, skeptics questioned her writing chops. It’s one thing to earn a billion dollars charming children with teenage wizards. It’s quite another to penetrate the cloistered world of the literary elite. The fuss turned out to be for naught. The Casual Vacancy has been a critical success: the Guardian declared Rowling a storyteller “on a par with R.L. Stevenson, Conan Doyle and P.D. James.” Any 10-year-old could have told you that.
Putting the Sheen on cable TV
Writers for CBS’s Two and A Half Men made sure Charlie Sheen would never return when his character was hit by a train, and his body “exploded like a balloon full of meat.” Leave it to cable TV to see the potential in Sheen’s penchant for drug-fuelled rants and rehab stints. Sheen’s Anger Management debuted on FX in June. Ratings were respectable enough for the network to commit to a further 90 episodes. Let’s hope they left some downtime in Sheen’s schedule for a possible relapse. Maybe Ashton Kutcher will be free.
An inauspicious homecoming
Visit a prison and you’ll find inmates who claim to be wrongly convicted. But few can proclaim their innocence quite like Conrad Black. Since his release from a Florida prison in May he has made the rounds of British and Canadian media to declare himself the victim of the “fascistic conveyor belt of the corrupt prison system.” If there is one decision Black seems to regret, it’s the one to renounce his Canadian citizenship for a British life peerage. Eleven years after he termed his exit from Canada as his “last and most consistent act of dissent,” Black is back home on a one-year visa and fighting to keep his membership in Order of Canada. Missing Tim Hortons coffee, m’lord? Continue…
By Ken MacQueen - Monday, April 23, 2012 at 4:10 AM - 0 Comments
The Sutter boys’ diverging fortunes, the Obamas’ new best friends, and Britney Spears’ $15-million question
Good eye, regular guy!
Somewhere in east Vancouver, the host of a recent garage sale weeps bitter tears. Two paintings he sold for a combined $100 were a tad undervalued. One is a watercolour by Group of Seven member Frederick Varley. The other appears to be an oil-on-plywood landscape by Tom Thomson. Kate Bellringer of Maynard’s Auctions told the Vancouver Sun the paintings were purchased on “impulse” by a “regular guy” who wants anonymity. Perhaps it was the barely discernible Thomson signature that caused him to haul both works to the auction house for appraisal. Smart move: Bellringer said expert consensus is the Thomson is authentic. The Varley has an estimated value of up to $6,000, while the Thomson may fetch as much as $250,000 at a May 16 auction.
The Flames’ blame game
Darryl Sutter has turned around the Los Angeles Kings since taking over coaching duties mid-season. His Kings have the Vancouver Canucks on the ropes in the first round of the NHL playoffs. Puck luck hasn’t been as kind to his brother Brent Sutter. The Calgary Flames announced last week that Brent has left as head coach by “mutual agreement” after the team missed the playoffs yet again. Darryl had kind words for his bro: “I think he’s a top coach in the National Hockey League and it may very well be that he’ll be coaching somewhere else soon, too.” Darryl speaks from experience. He, too, was punted from the flickering Flames in late 2010. He was GM there when Brent was hired in 2009.
By Peter Nowak - Thursday, September 8, 2011 at 2:00 PM - 10 Comments
About a week ago, I was out for a stroll and got to wondering if there was anything technology has not improved over the past century, or even the past few decades. It didn’t take long to think of the obvious answer: music.
Sure, technology has produced better instruments and considerably better production tools. It has probably also eased the act of learning how to make music. But has it had any effect on the one thing that is really needed to produce good music: talent? Of course not. In many ways, those improved production tools have done the opposite – they’ve made it much easier for untalented people to make music.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all, many ordinary people have the desire to express themselves through music, but historically they’ve lacked the natural tools to do so. However, computers, digital instruments and even iPad apps now make it possible for anyone to write and record songs. There are millions of people out there doing just that, then sharing their creations on YouTube and elsewhere. For the most part, it’s horrible stuff but at least people are finding an outlet.
Where it gets a little sad is when untalented people use technology to get rich and famous in the music business, or to stay that way. Continue…
By Elio Iannacci - Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 11:20 AM - 30 Comments
The Fleetwood Mac icon has harsh words for certain younger ‘messy’ and ‘dippy’ singers
If anyone has the right to give advice to the Britney Spearses and Lindsay Lohans of the world, it’s Stevie Nicks. In her more-than-30-year career as a solo singer and as one of the lead vocalists of the rock group Fleetwood Mac, the 61-year-old icon has paved the way for women in the music industry. And she has the war wounds to prove it. From battles with drug addiction to notorious love affairs, her life is tailor-made for a Hollywood film. Which is probably why Lindsay Lohan keeps telling reporters about her burning desire to play Nicks in a yet-to-be-made Fleetwood Mac biopic. This has Nicks a little concerned. Via phone from a presidential suite in New York City, she repeats the words “over my dead body” when the mention of a Lindsay-as-Stevie movie comes up. “That girl is the antithesis of everything that I don’t want for younger girls to be. I don’t want anyone as messy as her messing with my history.”
The legacy Nicks is so protective of is still going strong. This spring she has been busy promoting her latest two projects—a DVD called Live In Chicago and a live CD titled The Soundstage Sessions—as well as reconnecting on stage with Fleetwood Mac on its current greatest-hits North American tour. Packed with five remaining Canadian concert dates, the tour has Nicks performing more than 50 shows, many of which are sold out. Which explains why Hollywood execs have been banging on her door. “Most of them,” she says, “want to focus on when I first joined the band and the three fun, crazy years after that. Quite frankly, I don’t blame them—they were a roller-coaster ride!”
By John Intini - Friday, May 8, 2009 at 10:20 AM - 10 Comments
How an ex-boy band Britney survivor dodged all the punchlines and got the last laugh
Justin Timberlake was a global brand when he showed up on Saturday Night Live in December 2006 with a cheap suit, cheesy beard and a strategically placed cardboard box. But in two minutes and 37 seconds, the pop star reached a whole other level. In addition to an Emmy and more than 35 million downloads, the skit, a holiday music video parody, in which Timberlake advises dudes on the perfect gift to give your lady—a “d–k in a box”—was crude, but earned the former Mouseketeer a lot of cred. He also proved that night to be one of SNL’s best hosts in years by appearing in . . . no, by being the funniest part of nearly every skit. Fast-forward to November 2008: Timberlake shows up on SNL again, this time in heels and a leotard, dancing with Beyoncé to Single Ladies—another instant Web sensation. After that turn, some New York media types pleaded with Lorne Michaels, SNL’s producer, to hire the pop star full-time. Timberlake, who now has a standing invite whenever he’s in NYC, is hosting SNL on May 9. Chances are, by the time you read this, his latest skit has already gone viral.
The fact that anyone is even talking about Timberlake is remarkable. This is, after all, a guy who spent seven years with ’N Sync and dated Britney Spears, the kind of credentials that might guarantee someone a spot on the The Surreal Life. And yet, several years since his band broke up (and 14 since he and Mickey Mouse parted ways), Timberlake has positioned himself atop a respected pop culture empire that spans music, film, TV, even fashion (his latest collection earned industry nods at New York Fashion Week in February). He’s a boyfriend to beautiful women—the latest, Jessica Biel—and in crowning him America’s most stylish man, GQ credited him with single-handedly bringing back fedoras, sweater vests, three-piece suits and beards. He’s the modern-day equivalent of the Rat Pack, all rolled into one skinny-jean-wearing guy from Memphis who used to have frosted tips.
By Scott Feschuk - Monday, November 24, 2008 at 9:00 AM - 9 Comments
In the sequel, Sex and a Very Small Town in Arkansas, they’re all pregnant, all the time
It’s time for a new instalment of this column’s most popular (i.e. only) recurring feature. That’s right—it’s time for What the Hell is Wrong with You Stupid Idiots, and Other Reasoned Observations.
So now they’re making a Sex and the City sequel, are they? Idiots.
Don’t get me wrong: I understand that the Sex and the City movie—which followed the thong-based exploits of, uhh, Veronica, Betty, the Professor and Mary Ann (I’m paraphrasing)—was a big success this summer. But (spoiler alert) Carrie got married in the film. And (nobody cares alert) various things happened to the other various characters. Bottom line: the show’s big question has been answered, its fans’ curiosity has been sated, which means that a sequel is going to stink . . . unless they somehow completely rejuvenate the plot lines.
To do that, they need to take the girls out of their natural habitat of New York City and make it a fish-out-of-water story. Ladies and gentlemen (okay, just ladies), I ask you to consider the creative possibilities inherent in Sex and a Very Small Town in Arkansas: Continue…
By Lianne George - Wednesday, August 27, 2008 at 12:49 PM - 0 Comments
Remember when Avril Lavigne wore men’s ties and baggy sk8ter pants and skull-and-crossbones hoodies…
Remember when Avril Lavigne wore men’s ties and baggy sk8ter pants and skull-and-crossbones hoodies and a permanent scowl? She really was a breath of fresh air.
Nothing complicated about that.
But now, all that’s left of her former image is the scowl. That’s because a 17-year-old “punk princess” sells records, but a 23-year-old one is just sort of unpleasant.
And so: booty-popping lessons. Continue…
By Ken MacQueen - Monday, August 11, 2008 at 1:00 AM - 0 Comments
I feel compelled to report on a shocking breach of journalistic standards. On the…
I feel compelled to report on a shocking breach of journalistic standards. On the bus heading to the Olympic media centre today an esteemed member of the pencil press, a reporter from England’s Daily Telegraph, was commenting on the latest edict from head office. Short sentences are the order of the day, and stories should be salted with words that will score high on the Google search engine. “So,” said the scribe, “we are all trying to jam Britney Spears into our stories since she’s the most searched name on Google.”
Really, has it come to this, padding stories with Britney Spears in a tawdry attempt to get more hits on the corporate website? Isn’t journalism the search for truth, without fear or favour? What does Britney Spears have to do with that? This is a new low for the supposed “quality” press of Great Britney. Beside, Britney Spears isn’t even at the Olympics. And even if Britney Spears were here, I, personally, would feel no obligation to write about Britney Spears just because the name Britney Spears might draw traffic to my blog and curry favour with my corporate bosses. Not that I have anything against Britney Spears, it’s just that Britney Spears has very little to do with Beijing, or sports.
Mind you, if flakiness was an Olympic event, Britney Spears would win gold. But it isn’t, and Britney Spears hasn’t scored, medal-wise at least. So, nope, no Britney Spears in this blog.
For instance, here is an item that has nothing to do with Britney Spears. It concerns the inspiring story of how a nun helped win a gold medal in weight lifting Sunday for a Thai woman formerly known as Chanpim Kautatian. Continue…
By Paul Wells - Wednesday, July 30, 2008 at 6:51 PM - 0 Comments
John McCain continues his why-is-my-opponent-so-popular theme:
UPDATE: This return fire from Obama may yet turn out to be more significant, because I think the week has seen two competing memes, either of which could do serious damage if it takes hold: Presumptuous Obama vs., um, Really Bad Liar McCain. This ad feeds both (Who thinks it’s a good idea to tag the ads “Barack Obama. President.”?), but obviously it’s designed to push the second closer to a tipping point.
Incidentally it’s pretty clear the Obama camp turned their ad around in a lot less than a day. Who’s going to be agile enough to move that quickly in the next Canadian election cycle?
By Scott Feschuk - Wednesday, May 14, 2008 at 12:01 PM - 0 Comments
Commenting in some magazine or other, Denise Richards summed up the current state of her romantic life: “I’m 37 years old, divorced with two kids, and my ex-husband is Charlie Sheen. I obviously have a lot of crap to get through right now, and I want a partner who understands all of this and still wants to be with me through the journey.”
Wow, when you put it that way Denise… [sound of all single men in America fleeing into distance, doors opening and closing, cars starting, tires squealing].