A whole lot o' nothing. And then some….
Random header image... Refresh for more!

Category — COOL SH*T

MOAM BOOK CLUB

It’s summertime. Break out the books.

Or not.

I’ve actually been compiling this list for ages. But then I received an iPad 2 and haven’t been able to put it down. Now that my MacFamily is complete I shan’t extol the virtues of the ipad – you got it, you get it, right? But I will tell you it’s been one helluva reading experience. And my list keeps on growing. And growing. And growing.

So, without further ado, some great reads – on screen or on paper:

This is Where I Leave You – Jonathan Tropper. Guy’s marriage ends. Then his dad dies. He goes home to be with the family…Rev up the laugh track because this is one seriously funny book. I would read passages out loud – to my man and myself because I couldn’t get over how hilarious it was. Tho’ I did shed a tear or two, too…

A Visit From the Goon Squad – Jennifer Egan. A motley group of characters at the fringes of the music biz. What could be better? While some of the characters may leave you cold, their stories will not. Skipping in and out of lives, back and forth through years, this is a brilliant novel – no wonder it won the Pulitzer prize!

Father of the Rain – Lily King. A daughter’s relationship with her alcoholic father as it unfolds over 40 years. It’s a mesmerizing journey: from a seemingly idyllic coastal childhood in 1970’s New England to the fallout of her parents’ divorce in the 80’s of her adolescence to dealing with her demons as an adult. Perfect pitch, resonant writing, fabulous book.

Your Voice in My Head – Emma Forrest. The memoir of a brilliant, bipolar, transatlantic pop-culture journalist and screenwriter, this was one book I really wanted to love. It took me longer than I expected, but the searingly honest, brutally funny account of the author’s highest highs and lowest lows got me hooked.

The Imperfectionists – Tom Rachman. Set in Rome at an English-language newsroom, this incredible literary debut follows the newspaper from it’s start up to its demise through the eyes of its staff. With interconnecting characters and stories stories set both at their desks and in their lives, you won’t be able to put this one down.

Bloodroot – Amy Greene. Another group of interconnecting stories, this one admittedly gets off to a slow start, but once you’re in, you are in. At the heart of it is an Appalachian family in rural Tennessee. As much about the place as the people, this is a cinematic, beautifully written book.

The Year we Left Home – Jean Thompson. Changing perspectives with each chapter, this is an engaging portrait of an Iowa family over 30 years. Sometimes bleak, sometimes tragic, always engaging. Don’t let the locale fool you – this one goes way beyond the farm.

Cutting for stone – Abraham Varghese. A nun dies in childbirth delivering twin boys. Their father disappears. After literally being separated from birth, the boys grow up in an Ethiopian hospital, raised by the doctors who adore them and the rest of the staff. When war breaks out, they are forced to be separated once again. Their story, peppered with incredible characters will take you around the world, and back again.

Freedom -Jonathan Franzen. Yes it lives up to the hype. ‘Nuff said.

Share/Bookmark

July 11, 2011   No Comments

Advertisement

NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS? SNIP SNIP

New year, new you.

Or not.

As many loyal readers know, I am absolutely, positively, one hundred percent anti-new year’s resolutions. It’s a total set-up, a failure guarantee. Perhaps, those of us who may have, ahem, overindulged during the All Encompassing Holiday Period might benefit from some trips to the gym. And, yeah, keeping your mouth firmly closed may help shed a pound or three. But to start on Jan 1st? Especially when it falls on a Saturday? No chance, Lance.

Stopping the smoking and the spending are achievable goals, to be sure. There’s no smoking indoors and it’s bloody freezing outside. Also, drink drink drink, puff, puff puff – but does anybody really smoke anymore? Aside from those who know who they are? It’s a cold lonely habit to be a Canadian smoker in winter.

Spending? If you celebrated any holidays at all – be it Christmas, Chanukah, or the Getting Away from it All foreign trip, then you’ve probably spent all your cash – and received some good gifts too. So tuck in and hold tight. Besides,it’s “cruise” season. Cruise. Season. I mean, really.

For those who can’t give up their faith in the Jan 1st makeover, I think I can help. As many know, I am in a healthy, loving relationship with my iPhone, glitches and all. Especially Words With Friends. But there’s a new app in town.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girl, gamers of all ages….may I present:

GamesDetailLargeTest

Angry Birds, move over.

Not that I ever really understood its appeal. Flinging little chicks at nasty piggies, toppling over barns, bricks and barrels. Was it a flick of the wrist? Trajectory trickery? I was probably the only one of the 12 million suckers who downloaded this game but couldn’t get it. My Man got it. And loved it. And beat it. As did my kids. The iPad Dad was IT with his stupid Angry Birds.

And then….ffffft….I discovered Cut the Rope. Me and the other App-ers who downloaded it a million times in 10 days. It’s referred to as a “physics-based” game but as someone who came this close to flunking high school science can attest – it ain’t just physics. It’s FABULOUS!

Want to stop spending? Start playing. No time to step out and smoke – you’ll be too busy slicing ropes and swiping spiders. Feeding little Om Nom his candies will take a backseat to your own sugar-cravings. Who needs to detox when there are locked levels to open?

So forget about those pesky new year vows. Don’t buy the hype….buy the app! It’s the resolution revolution – replacing one addiction with another. So go on…Cut the Rope. We’ll worry about curbing that addiction next season….

January 2, 2011   No Comments

Advertisement

THINK PINK

In case you hadn’t noticed – or had been living under a rock – it’s been a very Pink month. From staplers to mushrooms to cat food – it’s all about raising breast cancer awareness. Hell – even the NFL got in on the pink action. I happened to look up from my Words with Friends the other day and noticed something decidedly un-butch about the players. Every one of ’em sported a little something pink: cleats, helmets, a little stripe here ‘n there…All in honour of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

That’s right kids – October’s not just for Halloween anymore!

So maybe you’ve already run, biked or walked for the cure. Or you’ve spun, spa’d or bought a pink ribbon. Good for you. Every a-thon counts.

Question is: have you voted??

Amid all the October awareness is a film festival getting ready for November.

Breast Fest.

And no, it’s not a porn-a-thon. Now in it’s third year, Breast Fest is brought to you by the geniuses at Rethink Breast Cancer. This weekend-long film festival is dedicated to raising breast cancer awareness using films, workshops and panelists.

For the next few days, you have a chance to be a film critic, a festival programmer and a boobie bigwhig. Click here to watch and vote in the Breast Fest Short Film Competition.

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll cry some more. You’ll find yourself with you hands down your shirts – or down the shirts of those you love – copping a feel, checking things out. Most of all, you’ll stop and think beyond the pink.

And then, hopefully, you’ll vote. You’ve got three votes so use ’em or lose ’em as the whole shebang is over at midnight on the 15th.

TITS. FLICKS. RACKS. MOVIE SNACKS. VOTE VOTE VOTE.

How’s that for awareness??

October 12, 2010   No Comments

Advertisement

TIFF 2010. SPECIAL GUEST STAR BLOGGER

I have seen the future of TIFF and its name is Bruce Springsteen.

Obviously I am not MOAM. I’m no Mother, but make no mistake: I am a Maven. It’s me, the special guest blogger – call me Mensch of all Mavens if you like.

The arrival of Bruuuuuce put the TIFF in a tizzy last night at the RTH. Intrepid photographers banned from the green room! Hallways cleared of fans and hangers-out & on. Michelle, the security guard, muttering expletives under her breath.

My Woman on the Inside, in grand Auntie Mame mode, got me and my sister (life-long Bruce fans, ok, fanatics) behind the velvet ropes and into the bowels of the Roy Thompson Hall. We weren’t expecting much – a glimpse, a handshake, a photo op. Denied. Such lock-down measures seemed fit for the President, but the Boss?

We did get ushered into front row seats, one row ahead of CTV’s Andria Case (Hey, MOAM name-drops. I’m just following the lead), and right next to a franco-reporter with way too much cologne on.

The screen showed us Bruce & Patti arriving on the red carpet. Maybe that’s why there were no photogs allowed in the green room. Patti does not look good in high def. (My sister was especially thrilled that she looks better than Bruce’s wife).

Though I’ve seen The Boss live in concert many times, I’d never been front row close. There he was: the rock star, the icon, the poet, and the SHORTY. Being of diminutive stature myself, I was thrilled. We’re not talking Prince pint-size, but we’re def talking “can’t reach the top shelf without a step ladder”.

The film, THE PROMISE: THE MAKING OF DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN was an amazing insight into the creative process. Not only singular to Bruce, but to the creative process in general. It’s hard to make art about making art (Sunday in the Park with Bruce?), but the movie succeeds.

Interesting: Bruce rarely looks at the camera in the modern-day interview sections. Maybe he’s camera-shy? Maybe it’s not just in the green room.

Don't look. Don't touch.

September 15, 2010   No Comments

Advertisement

TIFF 2010. LIVE FROM THE GREENROOM: IT’S TUESDAY

A funny thing happened on the way to the Green Room….They stopped everyone from going inside. EVERYONE. No photos. No hangers on. No nothing. Why? Because the star of a documentary, here to do press for the film, about him, vanted to be alone. Not Brangelina. Not a Royal or any other visiting dignitary. Not Bill Gates. No, they closed the Green Room for…. Bruce Springsteen.

Huh? Isn’t he s’posed to be Mr Blue Collar Man o’ the People? Guess not. I don’t get it/him. He’s so not my Boss. To sit through a documentary about the making of Darkness of the Edge of Town? Was never gonna happen.

Let’s head into the Green Room – BEFORE the Springsteen lock down…

THE DEBT.

It’s the 60’s and the Cold War is in full swing. As are the Nazi-hunting operations of the Israeli Mossad. When 3 agents capture and kill the brutal and terrifying “Butcher of Birkenau” they become heroes…. But at what price? Movie is told in flashbacks where all is not as it seems… Lots of BOO! moments where you jump out of your seat. I always crack up with nervous laughter at those times, don’t you? Anyhoo, edge of your seat, espionage thriller. Not the best movie ever, but pretty good…

And in the room….Director John Madden who worked out of my office many many years ago while making Shakespeare in Love. While everyone in the place EXCEPT me worked on the film, he always went out of his way to be lovely. And he still is.

Ready for my close-up, Mr Madden...

Israeli actress Romi Aboulafia is a huge star back home in the Holy Land and was giving my mother pointers on where to go and what to eat when she heads over. Helen Mirren is as awesome as you’d expect. Speaks many languages, does all kinds of accents and is a real lady. Very professional. Looks fabulous and is fabulous. And then there was Sam Worthington. Had we been playing my favourite game of “Actor or Agent” I would’ve lost. Short? Check. Scruffy? Check. Not speaking to others in film? Check. Sounds like an agent, right? Wrong. His Aussie accent gave him away to me – but only because I knew he was in the film. Screen presence through the roof but live? Nothing. Perhaps he didn’t want to be there? Shoulda called Springsteen….

Close your eyes and you'll miss the MOAM photobomber in the middle!

September 15, 2010   No Comments

Advertisement

TIFF 2010. LIVE FROM THE GREEN ROOM: IT’S SUNDAY!

Am finding it hard to remember what day it is. My kids haven’t had school since last Wednesday morning. It’s felt like a weekend ever since (erm…and not necessarily in a good way)….But on to the movies….

BARNEY’S VERSION
The Great White North Hope. Methinks it probably should’ve opened the fest…And would’ve but for Rosh Hashana falling so early. Jew-ish film, high holy day-night does not a good combo make. Well it kinda does, but that’s another blog. Anyhoo…. As you may know the adaptation of Mordecai Richler’s beloved novel won a prize at Venice last week. The Golden Lion. Cub. That’s right. Chosen by kids. Don’t ask. I don’t know the answer. Moving on….
Some great moments in the movie. Paul Giamatti as un-PC Barney is already being touted as an Oscar contender, Rosamund Pike is wonderful as Miriam, his dream woman and Minnie Driver is brilliant as his second wife, nailing the Montreal accent and stealing every scene she’s in. The over 50-crowd LOVED this one. I liked it. In retrospect I like it less, but I’ll live in the moment and just say I enjoyed it, despite being a little too episodic and emotionally fleeting (Barney and Miriam aside).

Oooooh the room. Again, lots of tall beautiful actresses. And Scott Speedman. Funny how the actors are always punes and the leading ladies practically giants. And not just from the heels. Anyhoo….Minnie Driver is posing constantly, whether she realizes it or not (and she’s an actor, so she must). Hand on the hip at all times, aware that eyes are upon her, she’s ready for her close-up anytime, anyplace thank you. And yet….she’s funny. She laughs (big and loud). We like her. Rosamund Pike is breathtaking. Much more so in person than on-screen. Porcelain skin. Can’t imagine she spends much time in the sun…

THE HOUSEMAID
This erotic thriller is a Korean remake of another Korean film from the 60’s. The Green Room had a handful of folks in there – mostly because the principals are superstars back home in Korea but here not so much. Jeon Do Youn was the lead actress and was very nervous that she was overdressed. Aside from that, it felt like there were a bunch of teens in the room, aping and mugging for the cameras – their own. I kinda loved them.

And so we stayed for the movie – despite alternative plans. And I’m glad we did. Rich husband cheats on his pregnant-with-twins wife with the housemaid. And then all hell breaks loose. Very dark. And by the end very twisted. This flick was good but mostly was so stylish it killed me. The fireplace! The tea cups! The light fixtures! I’ve never seen such a house. And the clothes!! From the maternity dresses to the footwear to the fur-accented coats, every piece was more magnificent than the next. And don’t even get me started on the meticulously prepared trays of breakfasts, wine and cheese platters and dinner plates. There were some pretty steamy sex scenes in there too, some verging on pornographic – WITH sound effects!!! I’m sure many folks left the theatre turned on and horny as hell…I just wanted to re-decorate my house….

September 13, 2010   1 Comment

Advertisement

TIFF 2010. LIVE FROM THE GREEN ROOM: IT’S SATURDAY!

Two actors-turned-directors. One, a legend. The other? Not sure yet. It was a night of a thousand movie stars – and something for everyone! From old school classics to tween starlets, the joint was jumping.

THE CONSPIRATOR
First up was this Historical Courtroom Drama by Robert Redford. Set at the end of the Civil War it tells the story of the only woman accused of conspiring with John Wilkes Booth to assassinate Abe Lincoln. If you know your history, there’s no spoiler issue for you. But I was quite shocked by the outcome (US history wasn’t my specialty). Liked, didn’t love. Felt like an episode of The Practice or Boston Legal. Without quirks.

The room was filled with a lot of youngish, actorly types. Think they all may have been in the movie but you can never really tell who’s the actor, who’s the agent and who’s the wanna be. I look for dishevelled hair/hats, scruff or casual footwear on the boys, and abnormally large heads and OTT outfits on the girls. But the ladies in question, Alexis Bledel and Robin Wright, were nothing short of gorgeous. Especially Ms Wright. Still looks exactly the same as her Princess Buttercup days, and happy to boot. As for the gents…all were somewhat underwhelming, and even a bit girlie! Bob Redford (what? Everyone called him Bob) looked a bit womanly. From the feathered hair to the mom-jeans. But I don’t think he really cared. And wee James MacAvoy was sweet and petit. On-screen he smolders, but off? Just a nice young kid. Kevin Kline was very tall and borderline dashing, and – surprise of the night? Justin Long. Normally I find him annoying. But he took it in stride when I told my mother (a great Apple fan) that he was the Mac guy. And then leaned in for a photoshoot. So now he’s my best friend.

Mac Guy 'n Me

MAC Avoy 'n Me

And speaking of Best Friends….
Y’know how I think Matty Damon and I would be tight, given the chance? Guess who showed up to cheer on his real-life BFF??

NBF's

That’s right!!! And although we aren’t super-tight yet, it’s a start.

THE TOWN
All the stars seem to know each other. Rachele Lefevre who ditched Twilight for Barney’s Version was there, as were dimpled actor Greg Kinnear and Precious director Lee Daniels. Jennifer Garner came to support her hubby – magnificent. The whole cast showed up too. Ladies Rebecca Hall and Blake Lively, both of whom towered over almost everyone. I couldn’t get that song from Vicki Christina Barceloooona outta my head. Chris Cooper, Jeremy Renner, star and director Ben Afflek (very nervous, poor guy) and John Hamm. Sit DOWN Ladies. Mind you, he may have the edge on Clive Owen for most Handsome. Very very butch. When he stepped out? Yikes!! One woman actually rushed the stage with some sort of sign, ready to rumble with anyone who stood between her and her man. Kinda weird.

Film was awesome. Edge of the seat. Violent. Tense tense tense. Comes out this weekend so no need for me to rehash the plot. You’ll see it, you’ll love it……

Tall Townies Slouching

2 Boys and a Man

September 12, 2010   No Comments

Advertisement

TIFF 2010. LIVE FROM THE GREEN ROOM: IT’S FRIDAY!

For me, Friday night was ladies night. Sisters, WAGS, and miscellaneous chicitas ruled the room. Lots of industry-looking men around, gloomy and snooty, while their female counterparts enjoyed every minute of it. They smiled, they were friendly, and they seemed to be genuinely having a good time… whoever they were.

THE KING’S SPEECH
Brilliant, Brilliant and Brilliant.
You’ll read the reviews and see the nominations/awards pile up. Spontaneous standing ovation. Feeling ferklempt on behalf of the writer, in tears at the reaction to his film. Fabulous storytelling, spectacular dialogue and incredible performances will speak for themselves when you see this. Which you will.

As for The Room….Assorted nervous producers and behind-the-scenes folks milled about. British and nervous and polite. Colin Firth was there with his wife, Livia, and I have to say, she was breathtaking. In and out. Didn’t hurt that she’s a friend-of-a-friend, but she was so smiley and lovely and friendly. Lots of the ladies wanted to hate her bc she was married to Col. Impossible. He’s the one who scored there. That said, he’s far more attractive in real life, and reeeeeeally knows how to wear a suit. Call it the Tom Ford affect or whatever… it’s working…. And then there was the seemingly shell-shocked Geoffrey Rush. He may have hung on to his character in Shine. Just a bit.

Geoffrey Rush

Mr & Mrs Col Firth

TRUST
Let’s start with the room. The director is David Schwimmer. It was all I could do to not call out “Ross!”… He was there with his magnificent girlfriend and lovely sister. Who doesn’t love that? It was a real family affair as the producers, their kids and their families all piled into the room. Again, lots of cranky Hollywood types. Not sure what they have to be so moody about….Star of the movie was Clive Owen. Swoon… Clive Owen!? Not. Normal. The man is ridiculously handsome. No one could look at him. His publicist wouldn’t let him be photographed, but then, on his own, he obliged. And then there was Catherine Keener… You know when you think you could be friends with a movie star? I’ve always thought Matt Damon and I would be pals if we met under the right circumstances. For real. Anyhoo, I love Catherine Keener. Feel like she could be my sister from another mister. And I told her. I couldn’t help it!! And she couldn’t have been nicer. And now I kind of feel like we’re friends. Or were. For about 6 minutes.

The flick. TRUST. This had made-for-tv written all over it. Except for the cast: Clive Owen, Catherine Keener, and most of all the young and supremely talented Liana Liberato. A family is shattered after the 14-year old daughter has a sexual encounter with a man at least 20 years her senior, who’s been posing as a teen in an internet chat room. Given the subject matter, it’s pretty devastating whether you’re a parent or not. Intense, emotional, raw. With a side of creepy. Hope it finds a distributor as subject matter is challenging.

Handsome Clive Owen


Catherine Keener with her fake sister, yours truly

Catherine Keener and Fake Sister MOAM

September 12, 2010   No Comments

Advertisement

TIFF 2010. LIVE FROM THE GREEN ROOM: IT’S THURSDAY!

Oh September….A time of beginnings and a time of endings. Of duking it out (over back-to-school and Jewish holidays), and making up (over back to school and Jewish holidays). Of new wardrobe changes and old wardrobe staples.

And movies. Lots and lots of movies. From the “serious” films that start coming back to festival after festival after festival.

But for audiences living in Toronto, only one thing matters: TIFF. And for me, it’s all about who’s in the Green Room.

Essentially a glorified waiting room, the Green Room is where the celebs and their peeps stop in to shmooze and grab a glass of liquid courage en route from red carpet to Gala stage. This year finds stale popcorn, ferrero roche truffles… and me!! That’s right, I’m flying high on famed photographer Rosemary Goldhar’s coattails. She’s the only photographer allowed into the hallowed space and I’m helping her out placing names and faces, pointing out who’s who and who is sooooo not.

And I’m staying for the movies.

Reviews of faces and flicks will follow over the next week….Enjoy!

SCORE: A HOCKEY MUSICAL
The Opening Night Movie. And as Canadian as it gets: Hockey. Toronto. Terrible reviews.

I read one review claiming it was too gay to be for hockey fans, and not gay enough for musical lovers! Another called it one of the worst movies to open the festival in history.

I kinda liked it. What? I like hockey. I like musicals. It had “Glee Bandwagon” written all over it. And intentional, or not, I thought it was funny.

As for The Room….Had no clue. Luckily my old day-school friend (and now famous TV politico/author/whatever) Evan Solomon was there. Hadn’t seen him since university, but he’s the same: only much much taller and more connected. We did carpool reminiscing and some where-are they-nows, and he hooked me up by pointing out the people I should (and didn’t) know from newscasters – Ron McLean! George Stroumboulopoulos! Erm…Evan Solomon! – to government ministers – must I name them? – to actors. New faces, sort-of-familiar faces and… Olivia Newton-John. Oh, Sandy. Why-ai-ai-ai…Oh Sandy…

September 12, 2010   1 Comment

Advertisement

MOAM Book Club

Tick tock. Can you hear it? The sounds of panic – and relief – as the kiddies get ready to go back to school and the summer draws to a close. Some are no doubt looking forward to the return of boots, sleeves and structure. While others will continue to milk the September sunshine for all it’s worth. Many of you will stop reading books.

Huh? Why?!?!

For some reason, summer is the season of the book. Lots of folks only read in the summer. Or on holiday. So before the summer unofficially ends on Labour Day, might I present some more MOAM Book Club faves.

Warning: these are not what some would consider “beach reads”. They’re utterly depressing and devastating. In the best possible way.

SARAH’S KEY – Tatiana De Rosnay
I started reading this book one night….and went to sleep after I’d finished it a few hours later. In a nutshell? Paris, WWII. A young Jewish girl locks her 4-year-old brother under the stairs to keep him safe as the Nazis begin their round-up. She promises she’ll be back but… When I talk about the very premise of this book, I cry. Kristen-Scott Thomas movie version coming soon…..

STILL ALICE – Lisa Genova
A 50-year-old Harvard professor is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Written in her voice, this one is gut-wrenching. And while you’ll start terrified – and convinced you too have Alzheimer’s – you’ll finish heartbroken and amazed at the powerful voice of this first-time writer. And no, it’s not remotely Movie of the Week-ish.

BEFORE I DIE – Jenny Downham
A 16-year old girl with terminal Cancer makes a list of things she’d like to do before she dies. Like, erm, get laid. No treatment for this chick, it’s all sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. Depressing AND uplifting. Kind of. Ultimately it avoids the cheese by erring on the bleak side. You’d never guess this is a Young Adult title…

LITTLE BEE – Chris Cleave
A Nigerian refugee and a British magazine editor find themselves irretrievably bound together after a horrific and shocking event. Any further plot description would just be full of major spoilers. Seriously – even the dust jacket says “we don’t want to tell you what happens in the book”. But a lot does. A LOT.

THE WINTER VAULT – Anne Michaels
This is no Fugitive Pieces (the author’s first BRILLIANT book) but her writing is so magnificent that it makes me cry. And I want to make all of you read ’em and weep so I’m including it. Two lovers, torn apart. Set in Egypt, Canada, Warsaw. Poetic and intense.

LET THE GREAT WORLD SPIN – Collum McCann
Interconnecting stories set in NYC in the 70’s… Some ordinary, some extraordinary, each is linked in the most surprising and compelling ways. This book was a slow-burn… And haunted me for days.

BENNY AND SHRIMP – KATARINA MAZETTI
Two eccentrics meet in a cemetery and fall in love. A simple story, right? Wrong! Making it work, is a lot more complicated. Set in Sweden (is Sweden the new Britain??), this one is actually quirky and funny (with, yes, a hint of sadness). I had to lighten things up a little or you’d drown in the bleakness of the other books.

So forget the sunscreen. Grab some tissues and hang out in the shadows with these fabulously heartbreaking summer reads. And that little Amazon box you’re looking at? Yes. You. Can. Buy your books right here, right now!

Happy Reading!

September 1, 2010   3 Comments

Advertisement