For a while, I had been avoiding comedies, seldom watching them, and often opting for hard-hitting dramas. Perusing through Netflix, however, I came across this one film in the foreign language section, Wild Tales, an Argentinian flick from 2015. I decided to give it a shot and was not disappointed; this was indeed what I needed to start enjoying comedies again.
Wild Tales is unlike any other comedy film as of late bridging together slapstick and black comedy along with important social commentary. It is a film that is evidently being told with great cynicism for Argentinian society after decades of corruption and government incompetence, something many Argentinians can relate to.
It is made up of six vignettes, each more ludicrous than the last. Flight passengers learn they have something in common. A waitress serves food to a notorious gangster from her hometown. A road rage incident gone horribly wrong. A man brought to the mental brink after an unwanted parking fee. A criminal cover-up after a hit and run. A bride and groom have a falling out at their wedding. All of these tales have one central theme: revenge. And it gets served up adequately in each respective story.
In director Damian Szifron’s portmanteau of revenge, he finds the surreal in the mundane: in the road rage story a luxury car becomes a deathtrap and in the final wedding story social etiquette is spun on its head. All stories could realistically happen and that’s what makes them all the crazier.
All but one vignette, the cover-up story, stands out as a little more serious than the others but Szifron again does not disappoint and raises the bar to a ridiculous level with the final story about a bourgeois Jewish wedding.
There is a somewhat Quentin Tarantino-esque feel to the film throughout, especially in the third story about road rage, arguably the most violent story but also the most fun and tense one in my opinion.
The film has been called one of the most important films to have come out of Argentina in recent years as well as the most successful Argentinian film to have ever been made. It received a ten-minute standing ovation at the 2014 Cannes film festival and has, since its creation, had rave reviews. Which makes me wonder how I had never heard of it until now.
Do yourself a favour, get on your tv or computer and watch this little hidden Netflix gem, it’ll have you laughing, gasping and horrified all at once. Sounds like quite the Saturday night if I do say so myself.
I am an artist, I have been involved with and gone to a lot of art openings. It takes a lot of tedious work to curate and hang, to prepare, to get everything ready for public consumption.
The artist bares it all, it is terrifying, even if you are confident in your work. It is the culmination of months or years of dedication to your subject matter, it is who you are. One does not make art: you give birth to art.
Art openings are supposed to be a celebration of investigation, of the audience questioning and discerning for themselves. Usually they involve looking at art, some contemplation, maybe a paragraph on the wall to read, and oh yeah, wine, lots of wine and frivolity.
Recently I went to several openings, and noticed that I was being just another shitty hipster. I was drinking and laughing while a powerful black woman was literally hanging by her hair. I was white privilege incarnate, I was wrong.
The realization that I was part of the problem forever changed my attitude towards the current state of the art world, and made me look inside myself. Admitting you are wrong is only a small step.
Art is about expression, it is connection, it is the artist figuring out a way into the viewer’s soul. It is a shared experience, it is the extreme beauty and abject darkness made into “stuff” for us to be affected by. Art is what we feel, it is the heartbeat of the universe.
Art does not lie, it doesn’t know how. Are we just afraid of reality? Have I been so bound in my own small world that I did not know I was being just like every other asshole who didn’t pay attention? Apathy is evil.
My friend bared her soul, she spoke of a black woman’s relationship to her hair, and how a Eurocentric society has pressured her and her family to be forever. They conformed to survive, and were forced to abandon their culture and natural state of being to fit in with those who oppressed them, people who look just like me.
I do not want to be the oppressor, but it was happening. It was not until her boyfriend said “finale” that I finally went into the room, I finally listened. Standing in shame in front of her opus. What kind of woman lets another woman suffer alone?
Art is not just another opportunity to jerk ourselves off or flaunt our coolness. Go to an art opening to be with the art, respect the artist by giving your full attention.
The snacks are there but they are not everything. Yea, vegan cat shaped pizzas are fun, and sometimes art is fun, but other times it is serious.
The complimentary wine doesn’t mean stop looking, it doesn’t mean stop noticing or questioning. Art is not an excuse for social fuckery. Get drunk with ideas.
We are lost, using art for social gain instead of intellectual growth. You must actually show up to make a difference, be present in your community and pay attention to the world at large.
YES, it matters that atrocities are happening all over the world (and right here) while we sit here and complain about nonsense. Art is a record of that suffering, it is a shared feeling, we are transported to a moment or a dream when we view art. Ir is more than just looking, it should be a full all encompassing experience.
A look at my own art made me realize that even though I try to be woke to the evils of the world I still generalize, I still only touch the tip of being political. Art is direct action! Who am I fighting for?
I am not using this opportunity to say something. I need to stop making pretty things and start making change. We are on the verge of an apocalypse and we must actively be there for each other.
Use your power to give voices to the voiceless, a platform to stand on. Never objectify another’s experience by misrepresenting them or speaking for them.
I want this to be a public apology to every artist and subject I have ever disrespected. I promise to pay closer attention and think critically about the art I encounter and make from here on out. I will no longer shuffle off in ignorance, I will be there in silent solidarity. I will give you center stage. I will learn what you are teaching and immerse myself in your ideas.
Art is bigger than us, it is immortal, a record of the current (soon to be past) or already gone. Make art everyday, live it, and become it. Take this time to be present with me and let’s change the world.
Although I like to think of myself as a pretentious film snob who despises the consumerism of Christmas, I do have a soft sport for Christmas movies; they are my guilty pleasure so to speak.
These movies are often put into the broad category of “Christmas movie” while I think that there are a variety of different “Christmas genres” depending on what you’re looking for.
First there are the classics. In this category there are those stories we have all come to know and love from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer to It’s a Wonderful Life. All of these are Christmas staples and some of these stories have been around for over 100 years.
My favourite of this category would have to be Charles Dickens’ classic tale A Christmas Carol where we see the miserly Ebeneezer Scrooge visited by three ghosts to warn him of what is to come if he continues his greedy ways.
There have been several different versions of this story throughout the years from the classic 1938 version to the Flinstones version (which isn’t as bad as you might think). My personal favourite, however, is the 1984 version with George C. Scott as Scrooge (the actor who notably refused an Oscar he won for Best Actor in 1970).
The movie is almost like a theatre play with the whole cast giving grandiose and superb performances. Frank Finlay as Jacob Marley’s Ghost and Edward Woodward as the Ghost of Christmas Present are also notable.
Highlights from the film:
Another genre is the Christmas comedy which includes several modern classics. These are stories that have been created with the film. Some of my favourites include Scrooged with Bill Murray (a modern take on AChristmas Carol) and Elf. I think the undisputed Christmas comedy, however, remains the 1989 film National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
First acquainted with the Griswolds in 1983’s National Lampoon’s Vacation, we now get to know the entire extended family. There’s Ccrazy Cousin Eddie, Clark’s dad, Clark Sr. and several other nutty family members.
This is a movie that I can never tire from. All the fantastically exaggerated performances make it too fun to watch. This family is so dysfunctional it can be hard to look away. Here is one very memorable scene, where Clark freaks out after seeing that he will not be getting that Christmas bonus he wanted:
There are other good ones too that I forgot like A Christmas Story! Don’t think I would have forgotten that classic.
Next, there are the animated films. There are the classic claymation ones like Santa Claus is Coming to Town or Frosty the Snowman. I do really enjoy those ones too. One however that truly stands out for its pure creativity is Tim Burton’s 1996 flick The Nightmare Before Christmas.
The story follows Jack Skellington, who is the “master of fright” and plans Halloweentown’s Halloween festivities every year. He is the best at his job but noticeably bored by the repetitiveness of it all and feels empty until he accidentally stumbles into Christmastown and decides to bring Christmas to Halloweentown.
This film just screams of imagination and is truly helped by the likes of Danny Elfman who plays multiple characters. The dark nature of this film will please both children and adults as they sit and enjoy the spooky yet jolly overtones of A Nightmare Before Christmas.
Next there are the action-Christmas movies. To be honest, I am not sure if many Christmas films fit in here. The only one I can really think of is the all-time 1988 classic, Die Hard. You may ask: “Is this really a Christmas movie?” Well it happens during a Christmas party… isn’t that enough?
The story follows John McClane (portrayed by Bruce Willis) as he attends his ex-wife’s Christmas party that eventually gets rudely interrupted by a rag-tag gang of German terrorists led by the evil Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman).
This film is a classic for any holiday occasion and is endlessly entertaining with a barrage of gunfights and explosions, and Alan Rickman’s accent to boot. It is the original action movie. I once got caught watching the first three Die Hards on Christmas Eve with a buddy of mine (best Christmas ever!).
Here is John McClane’s most quoted line from the film:
Lastly, the genre you’ve all been waiting for: those god-awful Christmas specials that should not have ever existed. By this I mean the likes of The Smurfs Christmas Special or He-Man and She-Ra: A Christmas Special . But the crown jewel of terrible Christmas specials is probably the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special. This a film that makes you exclaim: “What the f*** were they thinking.”
There’s everything from long periods of Wookies talking in incomprehensible gibberish to Wookie Porn (yes that’s a short part in the movie…) to Han Solo being a little bit too jolly, hugging everything he sees. And it goes on. This film is just ludicrous, it’s like a train wreck so terrible you just can’t look away and that’s why you should watch it.
Here is one scene to get you started:
Whichever Christmas genre you watch make sure to do it with your loved ones during this holiday season and watch the Star Wars Holiday Special at your own discretion.
Well it looks like we’ll be having our first real series of cold nights this winter which also marks the time of year where many of Montreal’s inhabitants go into hibernation. No I’m not talking about all the squirrels, I’m making reference to those of you who use “it’s too cold out” as an excuse to get out of doing things.
Well don’t! There’s tons to do, so tell your roommate you’ll be wearing the long johns this weekend because you’ve got some shows to go to!
Hommage to Leonard Cohen – God is Alive, Magic is Afoot
The title pretty much sums it up. Everyone has their own way of grieving, remembering and paying tribute to someone and it’s no surprise that Montreal’s music community would do so with a concert.
Pop Montreal has put together a staggering list of artists who will be taking to the stage tonight at the Rialto to do their best to say goodbye not only to a great man and musician but also a member of their community.
All proceeds will be going back to the community in the form of a donation to Le Chainon which seems fitting for the mood of the evening. Now here’s a full concert’s worth of songs because picking just one track isn’t really possible.
Hommage to Leonard Cohen plays Théâtre Rialto, 5723 Avenue du Parc, Thursday, December 15th, 8:00pm (Doors at 6:30), $25, tickets through Pop Montreal.
A Tribe Called Red
Head over to the Théâtre Corona tonight and you can catch a trio of DJs (Bear Witness, DJ NDN and 2oolman) who combined form the group A Tribe Called Red. The best way of describing their style is that it’s a mix of various elements of hip hop, dance music and traditional First Nations music.
If you’re unfamiliar with the group this might be the point where you start scratching your head saying “that seems really interesting but what exactly would that sound like?” Well here’s the both catchy and powerful track Stadium Pow Wow which should help answer that question.
A Tribe Called Red plays Théâtre Corona, 2490 Notre-Dame West, Thursday, December 15th, 8:00pm (Doors at 7:00), $32, tickets through box office.
Basin Fest Montreal
This annual festival is quite unique in that it isn’t centered on a specific style of music but rather the collection of artists who use Basin Street Studios as their home base. Located in Griffintown, this home away from home for many artists is an important part of the Montreal music community and it’s a great idea to get out once a year to celebrate it.
We’re not going to preview every band that’s playing but we can refer you to the Basin Fest 2016 playlist which has some killer tracks by some of our city’s best indie artists. So head down to Pirhana Bar this Saturday and check out an event that has the most randomly awesome list of co-sponsors: two radio stations (CJLO and CKUT), Frite Alors and Jägermeister. Yum!
Basin Fest plays Piranha Bar, 680 Ste-Catherine Ouest, Saturday, December 17th, 7:00pm, $15.
Wander Years + Paper Beat Scissors
Casa Del Popolo will be hosting two wonderfully talented acts this Saturday in the form of Wander Years and Paper Beat Scissors who both have the ability to captivate audiences with beautifully powerful songs that evoke an array of emotions.
As usual, it’s best to let the music do the talking so here’s a track that should stir your emotions. I guess this doesn’t apply to our Vulcan readers but the rest of you should get it.
Wander Years and Paper Beat Scissors play Casa Del Popolo, 4873 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Saturday, December 17th, 9:00pm (Doors at 8:00), $8.00 ($10.00 at the door) available through blueskiesturnblack.
* Featured image: ATribeCalledRed.com
* Know a band or an artist that should be featured in Shows This Week? Maybe a show FTB should cover, too? Let us know at email@example.com. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!
I thought today would be quite fitting to review this classic film seeing as its main star, Kirk Douglas turns 100. Douglas had many great films but it is inarguable that his most memorable is in fact Spartacus, released in 1960 by Universal and directed by the legendary and controversial Stanley Kubrick.
The film is not solely notable for its quality but also for the political circumstances surrounding it. The film’s screenplay was written by Dalton Trumbo, a brilliant writer but also a noted communist and labour activist (the screenplay was also based off the novel that was based off the real Third Servile Revolt led by Spartacus written by Howard Fast, also a member of the American Communist Party).
Before 1947, Trumbo was one of the most sought-after writers in Hollywood but once he was put on trial by HUAC (the House Un-American Activities Committee) he became a pariah in Hollywood and started writing under various pseudonyms. Using a writer like him during McCarthy era America could pose several risks for Douglas, but he used him anyways.
Writing under the pseudonym Sam Jackson, Trumbo completed the film and delivered to Douglas a terrific screenplay. Back on the set, Douglas had fired the original director, Anthony Mann, replacing him with Stanley Kubrick, a notably adversarial and cold director.
Infuriated by Kubrick’s constant rewrites of the script, Trumbo promptly quit. In a courageous gesture, Douglas knew the only way to get him to return was to give Trumbo on-screen credit. Trumbo accepted and returned, knowing this would end the Hollywood blacklist that forced him and many other Hollywood writers into the shadows.
The movie did just that when it was released and attended by President Kennedy himself, who crossed the picket line of right-wing groups protesting the movie to go see it, effectively ending the blacklist. This story is immortalized by the 2015 film Trumbo, with Bryan Cranston playing Trumbo, I highly reccomend it; future movie review perhaps?
The film follows our title character, Spartacus (Douglas) and his slave revolt against the Roman empire in the first century BC. After having biting a guard, Spartacus is tied to a rock at the mine he works at and is sentenced to lay there until his death. Spotted by slimy Roman businessman Lanista Lentulus Batiatus (portrayed by Peter Ustinov), he is purchased and taken to Capua be trained in the art of killing to become a gladiator.
The story truly takes a turn when while fighting in the arena in front of Crassus (portrayed by Laurence Olivier), a sociopath Roman senator who is aiming to rise the ranks in Rome and become its dictator, Draba, a fellow gladiator and slave, decides to spare Spartacus upon having the opportunity to kill him and attacks Crassus instead. Draba is then killed by a guard and Crassus.
This brutal killing and disregard of human life prompts Spartacus to start his slave revolt against the massive Roman empire and the corrupt senators that are behind it.
For a 1960s film, the ending is very unconventional (Spolier!). Spartacus is left to be crucified after having been identified, denied victory with only the hope from Varinia (a slave and Spartacus’ love interest in the story) that his ideas will survive in the lives of his newborn son and fellow soldiers.
Throughout the picture, we can see glimpses of Trumbo and Fast’s ideologies. For one, there is the idea of Spartacus as the “people’s hero” and more notably, the famed “I am Spartacus” scene. During the McCarthy communist witch hunts both Fast and Trumbo refused to out their fellow communist comrades and this scene comes as an ode to that and a jab to those who so dogmatically ran the HUAC.
The film itself is relatively political as I have outlined and the first time I watched Spartacus it went way over my head. It was made in a tumultuous time of still rampant anti-communist rhetoric and a budding civil rights movement. In that context, the film’s social commentary is strong, latching onto concepts of slavery as a criticism of the treatment of African Americans.
Other than the politics surrounding the film, which I have abundantly touched upon, this film also mixes style with its substance with superb acting, set design and some meticulously choreographed fight scenes (all culminating with the climactic defeat of the slave army).
Despite some small flaws (like the length, which makes for poor pacing at times) and some undeveloped subplots, Spartacus is a film worth watching not only because of its aesthetic but also because of its themes and the history that surrounds it. That is the stuff of Hollywood legends. So to commemorate Mr. Douglas’ 100th birthday, I recommend you sit back and slap on this epic classic.
So you may have seen that Time Magazine named Donald Trump its 2016 Person of the Year. This announcement was greeted with vocal condemnation and almost equally as vocal reminders that this isn’t an endorsement but rather an acknowledgement of the cultural and political impact Trump had in the US and around the world.
Given the fact that Time was going primarily on mainstream media narrative, Trump winning makes perfect sense. He did dominate the news coverage in 2016. If you have a problem with the result, then you should have a problem with the way the corporate media filter operates.
Instead of complaining, though, let’s simply take away that filter and see what we get. Forget the Box is going to name its own Person of the Year for 2016!
Like Time, we’re looking for the individual or group of connected individuals that had the biggest impact on our culture in the past year. Unlike Time, we’re not limiting our view of cultural impact to what is represented in the mainstream press. Social and indie media play just as big a role in our decision.
We’re giving everyone a chance to vote and are starting with some likely choices. As we’re based in Montreal, some are local and Canadian. We’ve also included Trump as a choice to be fair. If your choice is not on the list, simply state it in the comments below and we’ll add it to the options.
We do reserve the right to reject suggestions. We also reserve the right to make an editorial decision and give Person of the Year to someone other than the top vote getter, while still acknowledging who got the most votes. We probably won’t do that, but we will if the winner is Harambe (I mean, seriously, internet).
Anyways, here’s the poll, you have a week to vote. Then we’ll proudly announce FTB’s 2016 Person of the Year:
Welcome back to Friday Film Review. Alright so it isn’t Friday but from here on out I will aim to have these film reviews on a weekly basis every Friday for your weekend viewing pleasure.
For my first review, I’ve chosen the film Network from 1976 directed by Sidney Lumet and brilliantly penned by Paddy Chayefsky. I have chosen the film mostly because of it’s extreme relevance to today and this past American election. It is about a madman who, perpetuated by the media to boost ratings, rants about the current troubles of the times without filter on live television. Sound familiar?
Howard Beale (portrayed by Peter Finch) is an aging newsman from the fictional television network UBS, who is going through a mental breakdown. Recently widowed and about to lose his job due to sagging ratings, Beale goes on television still drunk from the night before and announces that he will blow his brains out on live television in a week’s time.
During Beale’s final days on air, he delivers a series of on-air monologues mostly about the “BS” nature of existence and hypocrisies of American society all culminating in his messianic exclamation; “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”
Upon seeing this, Diana (portrayed by Faye Dunaway), the heartless, cold and calculated executive from UBS’ programming department decides that they should keep Howard on air and exploit his prophetic visions, dubbing him a “mad prophet denouncing the hypocrisies of our time” at the behest of his friend Max (portrayed by William Holden), the head of the news department. Hesitant at first, the devious and equally cold corporate hatchet man Frank (portrayed by Robert Duvall) agrees to Diane’s proposal, seeing that it will boost ratings.
This all comes to a standstill, when Beale catches the eye of CCA president (the board that governs UBS) Arthur Jensen (portrayed by Ned Beatty), when he reveals and ultimately ruins a deal between the CCA and a Saudi Arabian conglomerate. Upon discovering this, Jensen invites Beale to his ominous boardroom and gives to Beale one of the best and most thunderous monologues of film history and all in his second and final appearance in the film.
At the end of the monologue Beale asks why he is the one to deliver this message. Jensen’s reply? “Because you’re on television dummy.”
Beale leaves with Jensen’s bleak message that essentially nothing matters but the almighty dollar and to accept the current state of corporatocracy. Preaching, Jensen’s depressing message puts Beale into a ratings slump once again, not liking the “new” madman, the network decides to dispose of him in a way that is truly appropriate for outrageous television.
If we look more closely into this film, we can posit that a lot of what Chayefsky wrote has come true. Corporate structures own more media outlets than they ever have before and the mad prophet archetype built up by the media speaking of corporate good existing with Trump didn’t start with him. It also exists with people like Glenn Beck and is even further perpeutated on social media by people like the rabid and overly-emotional Alex Jones of Infowars. In this, Chayefsky’s writing was way beyond its time.
The film is a swath of thoughtful and powerful monologues given by equally powerful actors with interesting stories and themes, to boot. I didn’t touch on a lot them here but there is also powerful commentary on the convergence of politics and the media with communist leader Laureen Hobbs meeting with Diana to create a series to exploit the ultra-leftist Ecumenical Liberation Front, led by the Great Ahmed Khan, to boost ratings. Their relationship begins with this memorable introduction:
There is also the relationship between Max and Diana, revealing Diana as the result of a generation that has grown up on television. In their final scene Max describes her as “television incarnate.”
In short, Network is a clever (at times too clever) and excellently written film and it’s not hard to see why it won four Oscars with performances as amazing as Peter Finch’s and Faye Dunnaway’s. The sharp, satirical wit of Chayefsky really comes out with this flick. If you want to stay in and treat yourself to a dark satire on the hypocrisies of our time look no further than this well-aged cinematic magnum opus.
Featured image courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer and United Artists
Well December is upon us and you know what that means… you guessed it, metal bands raising money for Christmas charities! We’ve also got some great local and Canadian artists coming to town and for those who are into creating music, there’s a really awesome workshop taking place on Friday you should know about.
Let’s get started shall we…
MTLHC Christmas Benefit Party
Friday night, bands from Montreal’s punk and metal communities will be coming together with Northern Sound Records to put on a show where the “profits will go into buying toys for the kids.” Bands on the bill include Harriers, Nuke, Gazm, Boundaries, Kennedy and Front Commun.
They’re also accepting canned goods at the event, if you bring a can then the cover charge is ten instead of fifteen bucks. Either way your contributions to this event will be going to a good cause. Also let’s not forget there’s six bands starting early and ending late who will be ready to give you a kick ass show!
MTLHC Christmas Benefit Party plays La Vitrola 4602 Boulevard St-Laurent, Friday, December 2nd, 7:30pm (Doors at 7:00), $15, (or $10 with a canned good).
Abigail Lapell + Dana Sipos
There’s no excuse if you miss Toronto based singer/songwriter Abigail Lapell who is in town this week for back to back shows, Thursday at Bad Lunch and Friday at Le Cagibi (where she will be joined by another great Canadian folk artist Dana Sipos). So take your pick for which night works best and come on down!
Rooted in traditional folk music, Abigail’s sound still speaks to the modern world with a new an unique spin on the genre while still respecting the music’s roots. Early in 2017, Abigail will be coming out with a new ten song album entitled Hide Nor Hare so these shows will feature some fresh tracks that should get you excited for this upcoming release.
Everyone’s favourite dive Barfly will putting on an evening of metal music promoted by Grimey MTL this Saturday featuring Chronolith, Wolk and Ricardo the Fabulous. With the cover charge for this show being only five bucks and with Barfly’s well known “lowest prices on the Main” drink menu, this is certainly the most student friendly event of the weekend.
(I’d just like to put a disclaimer, Barfly doesn’t actually go around saying they have the lowest prices. Like don’t go in asking for a price match policy with some special you found at Bifteck just because someone on the internet said they had the lowest prices).
Chronolith, Wolk and Ricardo the Fabulous play Barfly 4062a Boulevard St-Laurent, Saturday, December 3rd, 9:00pm (Doors at 8:30), $5, at the door only.
RAC Workshop with Steve Baughman + Mauricio Iragorri
The last “show” this week isn’t for music fans but instead a great opportunity for people creating music to meet and learn from two of the best mixing and mastering experts in the field today. Recording Arts Canada will be hosting an event here in Montreal on Friday where you can meet Steve Baughman and Mauricio Iragorri and learn their tricks of the trade.
In order to attend you need to sign up and we’ve been warned that space is very limited so you might want to get on it right away! There’s also a session on Saturday in Toronto for those living in or travelling to that area.
* Featured image of Chronolith via Facebook
* Know a band or an artist that should be featured in Shows This Week? Maybe a show FTB should cover, too? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!
November’s Candyass Cabaret was special one, for sure. Glad I made it. If you missed it, you missed a great show, but you can still catch the next one (more on that later).
It was the Montreal burlesque show’s 50th edition. With a new show, a new lineup and rotating hosts the third Friday of every month, the Candyass crew has been quite busy.
Their anniversary show at Cafe Cleopatre (where else) featured performers who have been part of it since the beginning such as show founder Velma Candyass, Roxy Hardon, Diane Labelle and Nat King Pole. They were joined by performers who became part of the Candyass Club along the way like Jacy Lafontaine, Damiana Dolce, Lili Lolipop and Pyrometheus. There were also visiting guests from Buffalo, New York’s Stripteasers Burlesque: Cat Sinclair (aka FTB columnist Cat McCarthy), Juicy Lucy and Fifi Laflea.
The Buffalo trio, wearing Pussy Riot masks and carrying protest signs, reminded everyone that burlesque performance and the very act of removing (most of) your clothing on stage for the sake of art is much more than sexy. Don’t get me wrong, it’s quite hot, especially when done by these performers, but it’s also a political act.
This, of course, was the first Candyass Cabaret since the Trump victory south of the border. Emcee Ryan G. Hinds also briefly mentioned the political climate the show was being performed in, but kept the evening squarely focused on the theme of the night, which was musical theatre.
He even sang a few tunes himself: Coming Up Roses from Gypsy and You’ll Be Back from Hamilton. All part of his main job, keeping the audience entertained and happy during acts like a good emcee should.
On a personal note, Hinds was quite generous with the questions when he called audience members up to the stage to answer musical theatre trivia. I placed third (having placed first in the audience dance contest at the previous Candyass Cabaret). Full disclosure: The Music Man is NOT my favourite musical, I was in it in high school and it’s the first one that popped into my head when asked. I’m actually partial to Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita and Wicked.
Speaking of singing (as we were before that little diversion), the vocal highlight of the evening has got to be Roxy Hardon’s rendition of Nowadays from Chicago. Deceptively soft at first, then revealing the true power of the tune.
Of course, this led to her being joined on stage by Velma Candyass, who had already performed earlier, for a raucous final…wait, Roxy and Velma? Chicago? Oh now I get it, only took me 50 shows.
It only took Pyrometheus a few moments to get down and dirty with his chimney sweeping brush to the tune of Chim Chim Cheree. Yes, the song from Mary Poppins. Instead of the film version, though, he opted for a lesser known but quite interesting Duke Ellington rendition. Bonus points for not using the Dick Van Dyke version and setting up so many obvious puns.
Then there was Jacy Lafontaine dancing to a song from Sweeny Todd. Making a musical about a murderous barber sexy is not an easy feat, but she pulled it off flawlessly.
Lili Lolipop had everyone Singing in the Rain. No need to bring your umbrella, she brought her own! And Sondheim wasn’t left out as Diane Labelle danced to Tintinnabula from A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum.
You Don’t Bring Me Flowers isn’t from a musical per se, but, as Hinds pointed out in his introduction, the moment Barbara Streisand is involved, it counts. Nat King Pole in the role of Neil Diamond and Damiana Dolce as Streisand offered a very funny and even sweet modern take this classic love duet.
There was also cake!
Sounds like a great show, right? Sad you missed it? You should be…but fret not, dear reader. FTB is giving you a chance to win a pair of tickets to the next one!
To participate, just sign up for the FTB E-mail Newsletter list right here. We’ll send you a digest of some of our best content each week and also, on Monday, December 12th, we’ll send our subscribers info on how to enter for the draw (so you should sign up by then).
The show is on Friday, December 16th at Cafe Cleopatre, 1230 boul St-Laurent, 2nd floor, Doors 9pm, Show 10pm. This one has a holiday theme and features Diane Labelle, Nat King Pole, Damiana Dolce, Roxie Hardon, Mary Sisuei & Golem de Lave, Lili Lolipop & more! Plus Classy Claire is back with a tasty selection of rumballs.
Even if you don’t win the tickets, trust me, it’s worth your while to check it out. Only $10 at the door!
* All photos by Denis-André Desjardins except where otherwise noted
Forget The Box’s weekly Arts Calendar is back for its last November edition. Take a look at these excellent events if you’re looking for fun and inexpensive things to check out!
As always; if you’re interested in going to one of these events and want to cover it for us, send a message or leave a comment below.
Beaux Dégâts #45 – Tap Water Jam MTL + Ella Grave showcase
Beaux Dégâts is a time-honoured Montreal tradition that combines improvisation in musical and fine arts to create a unique organic event space. From their Facebook page:
“Beaux Dégâts tries to make a parallel between the reality of street artists and the Fine Arts. It is here to bring back what has been ignored for too long by art institutions and return to the street artist’s reality: the importance of community, sharing, accessibility and uniqueness.
For two hours, six teams of artists will improvise 8ft X 8ft murals on different themes given on the night. Each team will have to research and find visual references to create a production in front of public. All mediums except spray cans are allowed. During the evening, the public will vote for it’s favorite mural using their empty Pabst beer cans. The team that will collect the most cans will win the right to paint over the other artists work if they wish.”
Beaux Dégâts #45: Live Improvised Painting and Music – Wednesday, Nov 30, Foufounes Electriques, 8pm-1am. Entrance: 5$
The Crossing presented by Cinema Politica Concordia
Cinema Politica is a media arts, non-profit network of community and campus locals that screen independent political film and video by Canadian and international artists throughout Canada and abroad. It is volunteer-run and all screenings are by donation.
The film that Cinema Politica is screening this Monday, The Crossing, “takes us along on one of the most dangerous journeys of our time with a group of Syrians fleeing war and persecution, crossing a sea, two continents and five countries, searching for a home to rekindle the greatest thing they have lost – Hope.”
The Crossing screening @ Cinema Politica Concordia, 1455 de Maisonneuve Boulevard W, Room H-110, Monday, 7pm. Entrance by Donation
50/50 presented at Mainline Theatre
50/50 is a novel concept; a half-scripted, half-improvised live comedy show! This show was a major hit at Just For Laughs 2016 and will not be back for four months – definitely catch this if you can at the Mainline Theatre.
Coming off a sellout show at OFF-JFL/Zoofest this past July, 50/50 returns with a new cast blending talented actors and hilarious comedians. In each of the show’s nine scenes, a prepared actor who has learned lines off a real script is paired with an improviser who has no prior knowledge of what the actor has rehearsed.
50/50 @ Mainline Theatre, 3997 boul St-Laurent. Wednesday, November 30th, 8pm. $15 (students/seniors/QDF Members $12)
Is there an event that should be featured in Shows This Week? Maybe something FTB should cover, too? Let us know at email@example.com. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!
I know that (US) Thanksgiving is based on the colonization and degradation of indigenous people and the murder of innocent turkeys. Nothing has changed, in fact it has only gotten more blatant.
Currently Native American protesters are being drenched with water cannons in sub zero temperatures, detained in dog cages, and other inhumane atrocities in North Dakota defending their water, defending their people from the tyrannical American government. I see Barack Obama putting a medal of freedom over Ellen Degeneras’ neck and cry at the nice words he says about diversity and being free and LGBT in our country but still in the back of my mind wonder why he hasn’t tried harder to end the disaster in Standing Rock?
In Buffalo NY there are proposals involving a ban on conversion therapy.
I love the movie But, I’m a Cheerleader because it was a satire, it showed the absurdity of changing a person back to a “normal” sexuality. People are born gay, straight, transgender, and so many in betweens and there is nothing you can do to change their beautiful diversity. It is disgusting torture.
Mike Pence is pure evil, as are all of the white supremacist butt nuggets that Trump is putting into power. I heard today that he appointed several women, these chicks must really be groovy to align with the pussy grabbing cheeto hate monger.
What is happening in this world? The rise in rape and hate crimes will be monumental.
It is hard to give thanks when it seems the apocalypse is now. It is hard to just suck it up and celebrate, like nothing is wrong.
I have family members that proudly voted for Trump and I have to invite them into my home and share a meal with them. By voting for him you made life more dangerous, you voted for racism, sexism, and bigotry. You are taking away civil liberties and building a wall of ignorance and greed around yourselves. I am embarrassed to sit here and watch you choke on your white privilege.
Regardless, my dinner table is still going to remain all inclusive. Everyone is invited. It is a safe place for all people. Only love reigns in my home. I will fight your ignorance by educating and loving you.
I am thankful that (for the time being, who knows what dark fate is in store for us) I have freedom of speech, my art remains bold and uncensored.
I am thankful for my blood and extended family of activists and fellow free spirits.
I am thankful for my health, for my ability to change the world with my words, art, and voice.
I am thankful for my cats, their cuddles cure anything.
I am thankful for music, for riot grrl rants, for poetry, for the expulsion of rage into art and positivity.
I am thankful for other people’s thoughts, for the ability to learn from my mistakes, to live with kindness and resolution.
I am thankful for our right to protest. No matter how bad it gets we need to stand tall and take back our world, letting them know that evil will not win.
I am thankful for this blog, Forgetthebox has allowed me to express myself freely for the world to read, I have gotten other opportunities and have made so many smart friends 🙂
Montreal- city of strange adventures. Random stories of our adventures included but are not limited to: A man wearing a full vinyl gimp suit with addidas sneakers. Then there was the masseuse wearing a leather jock strap and the best part is that he only spoke in puns, a dom who speaks in puns, he is now dubbed The Punisher.
My favorite moment was fat fuck poutine squirrel. I looked over to see just the ass and tail of a giant chubby squirrel sticking out of a garbage bag, he then pulled out a styrofoam container, hulked it open, and demolished the rest of a poutine, I could hear him eating, it was the cutest thing I had ever seen! The Leonard Cohen Memorial, all of the incredible street art, and a two story vintage shop with a vegetarian cafe were the other cherries on this cupcake of a vacation.
The Montreal Infringement Festival was incredible as always. I had a show everyday I was there. The Rusty Shuttle was an amazing new venue, I love the underground loft DIY artspaces of the world. Barfly was punk rock brilliance, I thoroughly enjoyed being sandwiched between two Folk Punk bands. Everyone in this city is so sexy! I couldn’t even handle it.
I was honored to be part of the World Infringement Conference, my presentation was spur of the moment. We had planned on showing our art work, but unfortunately hanging did not happen, so I decided to turn my presentation time into a guerrilla art gallery. We donned our Pussy Riot masks and I talked about the beauty and necessity of free and accessible art.
The Buffalo Infringement Festival is an artistic Utiopia, a perfect climate for social change and exploration. We have no idea what Fringe is here.
I recalled a performance during last year’s fest where a fire dancer named Clinton said to the crowd, “How many of you had your first show ever during infringement?” So many people raised their hands and clapped. I cried.
There are a zillion moments that justify why I volunteer my time with this festival, that was the one that will make me only work harder. To know that I am helping people express themselves for the first time, creating life long artists, adding to the collective culture of humanity.
Find things to be thankful for in spite of adversity! Be inspired by the wrong, make it right with your art and actions, protect the person next to you, make change in your community and globally, connect with others and join the revolution. This is how great punk music is born. Be the change and hold your head up high. Happy Thanksgiving!
Back in the 60s, North America was beginning to experience new and revolutionary kinds of music. From the Beatles to the Animals, to the Who, the British music scene made its way to the continent with fervor and vigor. This mass musical migration was dubbed the British Invasion. There now seems to be a new country slowly invading the indie music scene in our continent, the small 320 000 person nation of Iceland.
Though this country might have about 63 and a half million fewer people than the UK, do not let its small stature deceive you, for what it lacks in population it makes up in musical talent!
For a while, the only artist that most people knew coming out of Iceland was probably Bjork (and maybe Sigur Ross). Her unique and celestial voice earned her a lot of fame in North America and she was named one of the 100 greatest songwriters of all time by the Rolling Stone.
In 2011, with the release of their first album My Head is an Animal however, Of Monsters and Men began to change the singular image of the Icelandic music scene into one that was based around indie folk rock with hits like Mountain Sound and Little Talks.
Now, following Of Monsters and Men, new artists have hit the indie scene with unique and passionate tracks that have begun to make headway into North America.
One such artist worth noting is Junius Meyvant. His soothing sounds and soulful voice is reminiscent of some sort of modern Motown. It’s a funky brand of indie folk with mellow head-bopping melodies.
The sounds of his newest album Floating Harmonies are both simple and complex and are full of rich instrumentals and tight rhythms in each track. Below are two of the songs I’ve selected from the album.
Hailslide from Meyvant’s new album
Another artist from Iceland who has gained more acclaim than most these days is Ásgeir, based in Reykjavik. Only 24, Ásgeir has already gained global acclaim, having had hits on worldwide charts. His melodic folk pop, is similar to Meyvant’s but is more sombre.
Instead of choosing one of Ásgeir’s originial songs, I have selected a cover of a Nirvana song to showcase his versatility. This version is chilling and powerful and might even shake Cobain himself.
Cover of Heart-Shaped Box originally by Nirvana
A few months ago, a friend of mine went to Iceland and picked up a record on vinyl for me, Lay Low‘s Talking About the Weather. Lovísa Elísabet Sigrúnardóttir, known by her stage name Lay Low has actually been around since 2006.
Although I have been trying to avoid the comparison, her voice is reminiscent of Bjork, the pitch and tone specifically. The music from this album is calming, something you’d listen to while it’s raining outside but it can also be sombre and serious and exudes several complex emotions.
One of Those Nights from Talking About the Weather
The beauty of these Icelandic artists and their music scene is that it’s mostly experimental and they aren’t afraid to do things their own way. This has been true since Bjork and this is what makes it so interesting and exciting. Reykjavik is a hotbed of great indie music and will be for years to come.
The Candyass Cabaret: Shimmies and Showtunes is at the Cafe Cleopatre (1230 boul St-Laurent, 2nd floor) this Friday November 18th, doors at 9pm show at 10pm. It features burlesque, drag and other theatrical entertainment. $10 at the door. I will be there with my fellow performers naked for the world to see.
I have been active with the Buffalo Infringement Festival and was very inspired to go to the Infringe Mecca of Montreal to see where it all began. Two years ago, Fifi Laflea and I made the trip for the Montreal Infringement Festival and we had no idea the honor it would be to perform with the Candyass Caberet at the historic Cafe Cleopatre.
Being in the dressing room even felt special. I wondered what incredible creatures from times past got ready in front of these very mirrors? I truly cannot believe that special place was almost a thing of the past.
In a world over saturated with sex it is a challenge to truly titilate someone with art. Burlesque is my life. It is an old tradition of theatrical bawdiness with blatant political intentions.
A major highlight of my career was a the 2014 Montreal Infringement Festival where (dressed in horrible white trash drag) I pulled several American flags out of a very large glittery plushy penis to the song “America, F*ck Yeah!” during that Candyass show, with Fifi Laflea as my beautiful assistant. It was definitely a statement about how the rest of the world views Americans and our culture of waste and over privilege.
It is even more important now to be a sort of cultural ambassador with my art due to the election of that pompous Cheeto nightmare. I have a responsibility to show the world that not all Americans are like him, not all of us support hate, most of us are scared, we are angry. We are going to speak out and stand up. Art is the first line.
I asked Velma Candyass, world renowned burlesque performer, a few questions. She is also one of the ringleaders that helped to save the Cafe Cleopatre from demolition. She also does incredible tours of the Montreal Red Light District with Donovan King, and runs her own burlesque troupe The Dead Doll Dancers. She is an absolutely incredible performer, a super babe, my burlesque crush, and a total sweetheart.
Wow, I am very impressed that this is the 50th show! How do you feel about 50 Candyass Caberet shows?
Im shocked at having produced this much under the Candyass concept. It’s a lot of work but I genuinely enjoy the challenges involved in managing a show and herding the artists
What was the theme of the first show?
If my foggy brain recalls, it was not too long after the victory saving the Cleopatra venue. So it was a ‘welcome to the cabaret” theme with lots of variety arts, drag queens and burlesque with a european cabaret flavour.
Why did you choose a Showtunes theme for this one?
Why showtunes? Why not? It was a theme that several of my regular artists really wanted to have and since I hadn’t featured musical theatre type acts in awhile, I felt was a great idea. No matter what, everyone has at least one musical they like, so therefore the artist should be able to develop an act based on an old favourite .
What are your favorite musicals?
I personally like Chicago, Cabaret, Avenue Q, Contact, Wicked, West Side Story and The Producers .
I know a lady never tells her age, but how long have you been doing burlesque?
Oh gawd a long time. Long enough to see the transitions in the styles of burlesque going on. And some of the Legends passing on.
What is your biggest inspiration?
Oh gosh, I would say The Velvet Hammer Burlesque was a definite aha moment along with Le Scandal Cabaret. It was all bubbling underground and dynamic.
Who is your burlesque crush/icon?
Tiffany Carter and April March are my burlesque crush/icons. Completely different styles and eras yet wonderful legends to learn from.
What are your thoughts on the political importance and impact of burlesque?
It’s 2016 and a woman/person stripping naked and in control of their bodies is still a big deal as evidenced by some of the crazy things going on in the world. Political burlesque acts are an important expression and, just like the court jester, tell the stories that wouldn’t get told otherwise .
What are your thoughts on the Infringement Festival?
Infringement festivals provide a place for artists to create and have their say. Its getting more and more difficult to be able to afford to participate in many of the large(r) mainstreamed festival and this provides a DIY experience to develop one’s skills.
* Photos (except for backstage shot) by Argaive
* Candyass Cabaret: Shimmies and Showtunes – Saturday, November 18th, Cafe Cleopatre, 1230 Boul St-Laurent, 10pm (Doors 9pm). $10
This week we’ve got an assortment of great local shows with very affordable ticket prices covering a wide variety of music genres, so whoever you are we’ve got a little something for you. Let’s not waste any time, here are some show ideas for your to think about when planning your weekend.
Static Gold + Kayko
On Thursday night Quai des Brumes will be fired up as two great electro funk bands, Montreal’s own Static Gold and Toronto’s Kayko will be hitting the stage ready to blow the roof off. Seriously kids, this is the show where you need to make sure to bring your dancing shoes because there will be no wallflowers and no exceptions made for those who want to sit down.
Both these acts have recently released singles that drip with 70’s nostalgia while still feeling fresh and making you want to hear more tracks, something they’ll most certainly give you on Thursday. We couldn’t decide which one you should listen to, so here’s both!
Static Gold and Kayko play Quai des Brumes, 4481 rue St-Denis, Thursday, November 17th, 8:00pm.
Lakes of Canada + Motel Raphaël + Krief
On Saturday night, Indie Montreal will be hosting an evening featuring three great local acts headlined by Lakes of Canada, a band that seems to grow their sound with every successive step they take. Recently they released a live acoustic album (always a gutsy move) Transgressions Acoustic which has given their sound a whole new texture and feel.
Joining them will be indie folk pop trio (and unofficial winners of the award for best local band name ever) Motel Raphaël as well as singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Patrick Krief. I know it’s hard for some of you plat-rats to be on time but do try for this one, the lineup is not to be missed from top to bottom.
Lakes of Canada, Motel Raphaël and Krief play La Sala Rossa 4848 Boulevard St-Laurent, Saturday, November 19th, 8:30pm (Doors at 8), $10 in advance through indiemontreal, $12 at the door.
Sunrise & Good People + Paint + Arms of the Girl + Citylake
Another great show taking place on Saturday night is at Piranha Bar where an evening of indie music, headlined by local act Sunrise & Good People, is taking place. Known for creating fun catchy songs that also speak to the bigger picture issues around the world these guys capture the deeper and more spiritual meaning behind their art.
Joining them is an all Canadian lineup of equally as accomplished performers including Paint, Arms of the Girl and Citylake. This show is probably the most diverse concert of the week, perfect for groups where not everyone has the same tastes. There’s even a discount if you buy two tickets at the same time!
Sunrise & Good People, Paint, Arms of the Girl and Citylake play Piranha Bar 680 Ste-Catherine Ouest, Saturday, November 19th, 8:30pm, $7 (or 2 for $10).
Riot Porn + Full MT + The Shakewell Brothers + Blame Mary
This show is a combination of some of the best things in the world: punk rock, Barfly and free concerts. It’s amazing how well those words just go together. This event, featuring the local punk bands Riot Porn, Full MT, The Shakewell Brothers and Blame Mary is being labelled as Radical Live and is a great way to blow off steam for those who are feeling a little disenchanted by recent events.
Considering the non-existent cover charge and Barfly’s better-than-anywhere-else-on-the-Main’s drink prices this has to be the hands down best show of the week for those who are brok… urrrrr financially savvy.
Riot Porn, Full MT, The Shakewell Brothers and Blame Mary play Barfly, 4062A Boulevard St. Laurent, Friday, November 18th, 9:00pm, free.
* Know a band or an artist that should be featured in Shows This Week? Maybe a show FTB should cover, too? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!
* Featured image of Lakes of Canada via Indie Montreal
A few years ago, it was late and the party was winding down. In the background, whatever playlist we were using changed the tune and the first bars of Famous Blue Raincoat started playing. The volume was low and most people were focused on where they had to get to, then someone asked the room “What time is it?” And Leonard Cohen answered through our makeshift sound system:
After we all laughed, someone actually checked the time and, turns out Leonard Cohen was right. It was just after 4am. On the Plateau, a few blocks from where Cohen had written some of his most famous songs. Where he lived for many years with Marianne Ihlen. Yes, So Long, Marianne is named after her, not Marie-Anne street that borders Parc du Portugal.
The couple first lived on St-Laurent then moved to the other side of the park on Vallières Street. where Cohen still owned a home right up until his passing. No matter where his primary residence may have been, he always came back to Montreal for a visit. He also kept in touch with Ihlen for decades after the couple split, even writing a letter before she passed away herself last July which included the now prophetic line “I will follow you very soon.”
His doorway is now a makeshift memorial with Cohen music playing out of an old boombox as people continue to leave candles, pictures and other messages as a tribute to the man’s life and the poetry and music he left us. There was a large gathering of Cohen fans, friends and neighbours and a group singing of some of his biggest hits Saturday and another memorial gathering by the Portuguese community today.
While New York mourns him, a city where he lived and wrote for quite a while, and the rest of the world will surely miss him, too. Montreal was always a part of Cohen and he has been a part of our culture for decades and will be for decades more.
People have been floating ideas for a permanent memorial, like renaming a street, a part of a street or building some sort of monument. Some have even suggested renaming Parc du Portugal in his honour, which would take the approval of the Plateau Borough and the Portuguese Community, but seems the most likely to me along with possibly re-naming Vallières to honour him. Renaming Marie-Anne as some have suggested just wouldn’t make sense.
It was even suggested, by the new PQ leader of all people, to give Cohen a state funeral a la Rene Angelil, but then we found out that he had already been buried. Turns out Cohen passed away on Monday in Los Angeles and his body was flown to Montreal for a small family funeral on Thursday afternoon, after which he was interred in his family’s plot on the foot of Mount Royal.
Then, Thursday evening, Cohen’s official Facebook page notified the world that the man who was a legend had left us. No chance of a large, expensive and ostentatious affair paid for with public funds. Leonard Cohen saw to it that his funeral would be a low key affair, in perfect keeping with his style.
Over the past few days, quite a few of my fellow Montrealers have been posting about encounters they had with Cohen on social media and telling their anecdotes to reporters. While I never had the opportunity to run into him myself, I vicariously feel like I have.
All the stories paint a similar picture. That of a total gentleman who would hold the door for a stranger carrying too much stuff, would leave the house impeccably dressed no matter what time it was or what he was doing, would hang around as a member of the community without any pretension, respectful of his neighbours and pleasant to any random fan who happened to catch his eye.
Through his music and lyrics, we all got the chance to know him. He was a down-to-earth guy who had an uncanny ability to observe and understand human nature and the gift to be able to translate that understanding into brilliantly crafted lyrics. He also had the forethought to realize that if he set those lyrics to music and delivered them more like a poet with a backup band than a traditional singer it would work.
When it came to politics, he was a cynic, sure. But even at his most cynical, he was also optimistic:
but he always kept it real:
and was fierce fighter:
The impact this man had on the culture at large, the culture here in Montreal and millions of people, most who never met him, is immeasurable. I tried to include as many tunes as possible in this post, but it barely scratches the surface of even just my favourite Leonard Cohen songs, let alone what this legend had to offer over the decades.
Leonard Cohen, so long, sir, you will always be with us.