Sunday, September 30, 2012

Today's My Birthday: Vera Bradley & Nordstrom

I went to see my family on Saturday to celebrate my birthday a day earlier. Although Sept 30th is my birthday, because I'm so bogged down with studies for my classes - I have lots of reading to finish up, and I have a presentation to do in my Communication Activism class on Tuesday - I am using today to hunker down and focus on my studies. So I sacrificed Saturday to hang with my family. After all, it's been a month since I last saw them and my baby nephew. They had some wickedly delicious chocolate cake for me - after they all took a slice, they expected me to take the rest of the cake home with me. Oh no! I kindly took two large slices, but I left that evil thang with them! LOL!

I got $100 in cash and as I left to go home, I made a pit stop at Somerset Collection in Troy to find ways to spend my birthday money. The two places that got my business was Vera Bradley and Nordstrom. I have always known about Vera Bradley, and seen many people with  her lovely purses and handbags and accessories, but I never walked into the store. That changed on Saturday when I pranced in there and looked around. I honed in on their 'Hipster' selection, and not knowing at the time that that style was their #1 best seller, something about it really appealed to me. They had several color styles, but now that it's the Fall season, I wanted something darker, and this is what I picked out:

According to my saleslady, the Hipster style is the #1 seller.

And she said that the design I selected was very popular too!

Isn't it lovely? I go up to the register and I'm helped by a very nice lady. She asked me if I wanted a purse from the back stock and I said yes. However when she came back, she informed me that the one off the shelf was their last one in stock. Bingo! She was explaining to me how the Hipster style was their best seller so I did a smart thing in picking it out for my first VB purchase. She then collected all my demographic information so that I can get on their mailing list and have Birthday coupons mailed to me next year. Tah dah! That's when I told her that Sunday is my birthday! She wished me a HB, and then said she would take off the $20 for my Happy Birthday discount. Fuck yeah! A $60 purse now cost $40. Yeah!!! I love surprise discounts!

Then I walked over to Nordstrom; I needed a new yoga top and some leggings. I got a purple colored sport top from Zella, and I bought some leggings from Hue in heather gray. So I'm all set and done with my usual buying spread throughout September. I splurge in this month, when I can, on a few 'wants' because the other 11 months, I really don't treat myself. So when this day is over, it'll be October, and it'll be back to the regular routine of life. I had great customer service experience at both Vera Bradley and Nordstrom, I can't visit there often, but because of my shopping experiences at both, I'll make sure to visit them again as soon as I can.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

My Bikram Practice and a Trip to Sephora

Simone went to Sephora today!
As a makeupholic, I frequent Sephora at least once a month, if just to browse because I love the layout of the store. While in Toronto for tiff, I was looking a little bland between films and all I had was plain lip balm in my backpack. So I walked into Sephora and looked around for a 'fresh' lipstick sample to sample and wear. I walked around the Benefit section and I saw their lipstick display and I immediately took a fancy to the color 'Wanna'. I smeared a streak on my hand and I liked the medium-light plum color it had. So I grabbed a clean lipstick sample applicator and rubbed it into the side of the 'fresh' tester lipstick. I put it on in the mirror and was hooked! My face was alive again! I wanted to buy it on the spot, but it was $23 Canadian, which meant it was at least $6 more in Toronto than I would pay if I just wanted until I got home, so that's what I decided to do. But I made sure to write down the brand and color to reference at the right time. And that right time was today!
Wanna? is a beautiful mauve-y plum color.

I'm a member of the Sephora 'Beauty Insider' membership club, and I needed some new Clinique foundation in their Even Better formula brand. And since September is my birthday month, I would quality for a birthday freebie. Cha-Ching! So I went to Briarwood Mall here in Ann Arbor and I went to Sephora to pick up the Clinique foundation and I grabbed a tube of the 'Wanna' shade from Benefit, and just like I presumed, it was $18 here. Now let me preface that I usually buy makeup on sale and the cheaper, the better. Makeup under $7 is the norm in my life and budget, but since Clinique never goes on sale, and Benefit doesn't go on sale, and since my birthday is near, hey, why not splurge just a little bit? While at the counter, I presented my membership card and told her it was my birthday month, so I got a little kit of two of Fresh's sugar lip balms, and I redeemed 100 points to get the Philosophy cleanser. All four of those in my Sephora bag. Very happy!

Bikram Yoga


Every Friday at 6:30pm, at the end of a very long and busy week, I go to my Bikram Yoga class to detox and unwind at the Bikram Yoga Ann Arbor studio. I've been going there for nearly two years now, but really, in the past 12 months, I have gone weekly. I wish I could afford to go more often, but again due to my busy schedule and tight budget, I consider myself damn lucky to be able to afford going once a week. And it's doing my body and mind very good. So, every Friday, I post at my twitter that I'm either preparing for Yoga later in the day, or I report afterwards about how tough or how good the class was. But I never provide more info than that to help people better understand what Bikram Yoga is all about, and how I am progressing. And how would you know how I'm progressing if you have nothing to compare it with? Well, I'm going to present to you some images that will show you what all the 26 Asanas (poses) are, and highlight my favorites and the ones that I have made the most progress on.

One thing for the layperson to understand is that the poses for Bikram that you will see are the ideal advance stages - and one must take into consideration that it takes a person quite a while to get to that level. Also, keep in mind that each person is different, their bodies are different, and some are just more tighter, or suffered injury, than others and therefore, their bodies may not be able to fully get into that full position, and that's ok, just get to it as close as you are able to. I know my body has come a LONG way since the first class back in the summer of 2010, and I still have a long way to go - but my core is stronger and I'm much more flexible, and my immune system kicks ass. There are some poses I loathe and I may never fully get in that pose, and that's ok, I'm trying.

Introducing, Bikram Yoga!


All 26 Asanas of Bikram Yoga

This is Standing Separate leg stretching pose. It nearly killed me at first, my inner thighs were very tight from Elliptical training and doing lots of walking. Week by week, I loosened up until last week, my head finally touched the ground as demonstrated in this image.
The Eagle pose pretty much scared me at first because my shoulders would ache for days afterwards. In the beginning, I thought I dislocated my shoulder, but I apparently pulled a muscle, that's how bad it hurt. I'm still not 100% in this pose, but this is another one that I have improved on dramatically and therefore, enjoy this pose for the challenge of it.
I have always been able to bend over backwards pretty deeply without falling over. Even though I was never a gymnast I had a very flexible back. I can almost bend as deep as this woman in this photo. I just need to keep my arms tight and close to my ears and breathing is key to being able to focus in this position.
The balancing stick pose is my favorite pose. I hit this on the very first class. However, a lot of concentration goes into this even though this pose is for 10 seconds. You have to have a solid standing leg, and the arms and the other leg have to both be extended evenly for the body to be in balance. This pose is very good for the heart and concentration.
 I finally nailed the locust pose last week. The key for the floor series poses is to not have too much food in your stomach and chill out on the water intake up to this point in the Bikram session. This is pose 18 out of 26, so for most people, they will have died of thirst if they couldn't be drinking by this stage. Laying on your stomach with your arms under your body close together while you lift both legs seems impossible when you first do it. Many people just lay there and play dead, others lift their legs up one inch, and more advanced people lift their legs practically at 90 degrees or more. On Friday's class, I was at about 80% of what this picture depicts, and apparently I did so well, the instructor, Amanda, gave me a shout out in class and said I was doing great! I'm very proud to finally be able to do this locust pose, it was my nemesis - and still is.
Another favorite but very challenging and distracting pose is the balancing standing bow pose. I ain't nowhere near being this flexible - part of it is that I'm scared to let myself 'go' as encouraged, and part of it is because it's hard to concentrate during this one because it's one of the longest poses and with the instructor talking really loud to guide others and other people are falling out of the pose and falling, and tripping, etc., you lose your focus because there's so much 'static' going on. But I often manage to get into a safe bow where I can see my back foot over my head in the mirror, but I just can't seem to yet, bring my leg all the way up. I'm just not flexible enough yet, but I'll get there. This is a very popular yoga pose for people to pose in professional yoga images and I see people using this pose at their favorite vacation spots with a beautiful background. I wanted to do this pose at Torc Waterfall in Killarney Ireland, but I had no one to take my picture. I'll do it next time!

So, now you see why I brag about going to Bikram yoga every Friday night and how I kicked butt in class. After a 90-minute session in 105 degrees, I am a hot sweaty mess. Some people can sweat so much, it's really gross. Last week, this dude in front of me, sweated SO much on his towel, he created puddles of sweat water on his towel, I swear to God and Buddha yes he did! It was disgusting, but you know what, I kinda wish I can sweat like that because he surely detoxed all that crap out of his body. So sweat on brother!

Friday, September 21, 2012

More TIFF pics up at Pinterest!

Wow, it's been nearly a week since my last update and that just demonstrates how busy I have been since I came back from Toronto. While there, I updated daily, informing you of what I was doing while at the film festival, but now that I'm back home, I'm working in a new department at work (it may be temporary, but I'm hoping for the long-term), and I started my fall Grad courses. I spend 11 hours in total on both Saturday and Sunday at the EMU library reading for my courses, and my classes are on Monday and Tuesday nights. On top of the seasonal change in the weather that is giving me sinus migraines, it has been a bizarre and busy week to say the least.

However, as promised, here is the link to other images from TIFF. My friend Glenn will still send me some of his, but for now, go to my Pinterest TIFF 2012 board to see more exclusive images.



Sunday, September 16, 2012

TIFF Film Winners of 2012 - I Didn't see a single one!

Just a few days ago I was in Toronto enjoying the film festival and feeling confident that at least one of the 17 titles I saw would win a festival prize. But that was not to be as shockingly, I saw NONE of the winners this year. It's a shame really because I saw some great films, however, out of the original 58 titles I was interested in, still, only a few of the actual winners was on that list. Oh well, it's all good.

Here are the winners at this year's Toronto International Film Festival:


People's Choice Award:
"Silver Linings Playbook," directed by David O. Russell
Runners-up: "Argo," directed by Ben Affleck and "Zaytoun," directed by Eran Riklis

People's Choice Award For Documentary:
"Artifact," directed by Bartholomew Cubbins
Runners-up: "Storm Surfers 3D," directed by Christopher Nelius and Justin McMillan," and "Revolution," directed by Rob Stewart

People's Choice Award For Midnight Madness:
"Seven Psychopaths," directed by Martin McDonagh
Runners-up: "The Bay," directed by Barry Levinson and "John Dies at the End," directed by Don Coscarelli

Best Canadian Feature Film:
"Laurence Anyways," directed by Xavier Dolan

Best Canadian First Feature Film:
"Antiviral," directed by Brandon Cronenberg and "Blackbird," directed by Jason Buxton (TIE)

Prizes of the International Critics (FIPRESCI Prize) for Special Presentations Section:
"In The House," directed by Francois Ozon

Prizes of the International Critics (FIPRESCI Prize) for Discovery Section:
"Call Girl," directed by Mikael Marcimain

NETPAC Award For Best Asian Film:
"The Land of Hope," directed by Sion Sono

Award For Best Canadian Short Film:
"Keep a Modest Head," directed by Deco Dawson


Source: Indiewire

Billboard Top Ten Chart Flashback 1983

In the Fall TV Double issue of Entertainment Weekly (Sept 14/21), I was skimming through the magazine with great boredom. I don't watch TV, so 95% of the network shows do not impress me at all. There are some cable series that I wish I could watch regularly, like Dexter, The Walking Dead, and Downton Abbey, but other than that, I have no use for TV.

However, what has piqued my interest is the chart flashback 1983 section on page 141 that brought back fond memories. That year, I was 16 and remember loving the music scene back then like it was my oxygen. Duran Duran was my favorite band and Simon LeBon was going to be my future husband. Every song on the top ten list for during this week, 29 years ago, was my 'favorite' song.

1. Michael Sembello    'Maniac'
2. Eurythmics    'Sweet Dreams'
3. Men Without Hats    'The Safety Dance'
4. Taco    'Puttin' On the Ritz'
5. Billy Joel    'Tell Her About It'
6. The Police    'Every Breath You Take'
7. Donna Summer    'She Works Hard for the Money'
8. Bonnie Tyler    'Total Eclipse of the Heart'
9. Michael Jackson    'Human Nature'
10. Culture Club    'I'll Tumble 4 Ya'

MTV was my crack back then - it drilled a lot of cheesy music into my head like a brainwashing mantra, but it was FUN! But today, the top ten billboard list and MTV is like kryptonite to me because neither appeal to me and are a complete waste of my time.

Those were the good days.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

TIFF Day 7 and The Wrap-up!


I update this blog post from home in Michigan. I left Toronto late in the afternoon on Sept 12th, and overall, it was a fantastic TIFF! But firstly, the final movie that I saw was Mike Newell's Great Expectations at the Elgin at 11am, then I had lunch with my TIFF host BFF Glenn, then I took off. Of the 17 films I saw, I didn't see a bad movie at all, but the top three are: Argo, Cloud Atlas, and The Sessions.

Director Mike Newell Great Expectations Q&A
Great Expectations

I have never seen Charles Dicken's Victorian book classic, even though it's been adapted on film dozens of times. And to be honest, I selected this film because it fit in on my last day schedule. In all, it was an interesting story about the class societies of the Victorian era, and a humble little boy destined to be a blacksmith, who would get the opportunity to move up his station in life and become a Gentleman via the help of a private benefactor. The corrupt human nature of many people who come into his life make him wonder if living the life of a Gentleman is better than living the non-complicated life of a blacksmith. I like period dramas like this and it would be interesting to see other adaptations. The Q&A with director Mike Newell was even more interesting that the actual film - I found him to be very likeable, lively, and funny.

Score: 7/10

Last year was the first time I was able to stay 6 days at TIFF and I noticed that by late Tuesday, some of the excitement and craziness was starting to wane a bit. The same thing occurred this year according to not only what I noticed, but what Glenn noticed, and The Wrap even wrote about it today too. What concerned me about the film schedule is that it was front end loaded to all hell this year. Thursday through Sunday was a hot mess of what to see, who to see, where to go, and how to get there! Too much choice makes people bonkers and forces them to make tough decisions about what to see in the limited time they have at tiff.

Let's face it, many of TIFF's attendees in the first few days are fans from out of town (ie. adults/people who work and have school), celebrities (some are currently filming on new projects), agents, studio people, movers and shakers, even the paparazzi... everyone is VERY busy and can only devote on average, like, 3-4 days at TIFF... IF that long! And because the majority of people travelling to Toronto can only visit for a short spell, most book their visit during Friday to Sunday - the prime time when all fans are there, top celebrities, the hottest parties, and The Powers That Be are at their most attentive. So on Wednesday morning, it was busy, but noticeably less busier than a Friday - Sunday night. And I doubt this will change in the future because it's been going on for quite a while. But TIFF should consider leaving one hot world premiere for a Thursday night, if just to get a repeat of the festival fever that was prevalent just three days earlier. But the reality of the situation would have one ask, which film, which celebrity, and which studio would be willing to sacrifice their film for a late festival screening after approximately 40% of the most vital audience has left town by then?

Maybe one day I'll be able to stay at TIFF the whole entire week because they have notable and grand festival ending celebrations and surprise screenings. And during this tiff trip, when I wasn't watching a film in a dark cold theater, I was out and about town walking around window shopping. September is my birthday month and going to TIFF has always been like an early birthday present to myself. However, I had the rare few bucks to spend, so I treated myself with the following nifty items:

I got this Buddha bag from Andalous Exotic Imports at 425 Yonge Street. I go there every year to get something Zen like. It was 50% off so it was $6 + outrageous Canadian tax. Good deal, especially since it's lavender color.

David's Tea is a new tea store concept that I just had to check out. I got Peppermint, an Oolong (which I'm drinking as I type this), and a delightful white tea called Buddha's Blend. Do you see a pattern here?
Back
And last but not least, I briefly walked around Chinatown between my movie screenings and I went into one store and saw this beautiful robe. What stands out about it is it's Geisha quality. It's ivory in color, and I just love the colors of the peacock and the flowers. They only had one size, XXL, and since Asian women tend to be small, I wondered why they had such large sizes. The store owner told me that it was only one size so that it could flow and fall upon the body softly and in layers. Okey-dokey lady. Sold! Only 20 bucks + outrageous Canadian tax.
Peacock detail
front
flower detail
When I came back to work today, people asked me how my trip was and how many movies I saw. When I told them, they just couldn't believe that I would spend so much time and money 'just watching' movies. I told them that I can understand why they feel that way, but they must understand that film festivals are for cinephiles, people who LOVE films and documentaries, and that's just how we roll.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my updates about TIFF 12! My tiff partner will email me some extra tiff images and I will post more pictures up probably this weekend or next week!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tiff Day 6: Iceman, The Time Being, and Passion

Ryerson red carpet
Yes, by now, I'm tired of running to different theaters and fighting and strategizing over where to sit to see a film. But I also still love it very much. Alas, thy time has come to nearly conclude this year's tiff adventure, and my last full day was very good indeed. The highlight was the Q&A with Rachel McAdams and director Brian DePalma for Passion, which was the final movie of the evening.


'Iceman' Director Ariel Vromen

Iceman

As I mentioned before, I was very excited to see this film, and I'm glad I did because it was very entertaining, disturbing, and intriguing. Michael Shannon was brilliant in playing the mob hitman Kuchinski who is reported to have murdered over 100 people for mob related deeds. Shannon's slow burn violent anger was revealed by his glassy stare and abated breath as he marked his targets. As cold as a killer he was, he showed a different side of the hitman who was a devoted family man who loved his family very much. Winona Ryder did a fine job as his wife, and the film also featured David Schwimmer, James Franco, and Stephen Dorf in small, but vital roles. Ray Liotta was his usual self as a  nasty mob guy (he's being type casted). Very good film, I highly recommend it if you have a strong stomach.

Score: 8.5/10


TIFF CEO, Piers Handling introduces 'The Time Being'

Writer Richard Gladstein (b) and Director Nenad Cicin-Sain (f)

The Time Being

I did not know much about this film going into it, other than the synopsis. This film is about a recluse artist who commissions an up and coming struggling artist to film some public scenes for him at specific places, at a specific time. You wonder why it has to be this way until the artist does it again for the second filming. The old recluse, wonderfully played by Frank Langella, does not have long to live and wants to see places and people he won't be able to see. However, the struggling artist, played by Wes Bentley, sacrifices his family priorities and jobs to take on this job, in which he desperately needs the money from. In the end, this film is about family, and what an artist does to fulfill his/her legacy, by any means necessary. And sometimes, when money and fame is valued more than family, you wind up all alone from that decision. Amazing art is on view throughout this film.

Score: 7.5/10


Passion Director, Brian DePalma

Rachel McAdams

Rachel and DePalma

Rachel was sweet and looked gorgeous!

Passion

In typical Brian DePalma mode, this film is wonderfully skanky and trashy. Starring Rachel McAdams as Christine, and Noomi Rapace as Isabella, these two women define insane, bitchy, and backstabbing to new heights. If you thought office politics at your job sucks, thank the Gods you don't work with either of these women. Passion has a soap opera feel to it with all the women walking around like they are in a two-hour L'Oreal commercial. Someone dies and it's a mind-boggling twist in figuring out who killed who, and the twists will either make you gasp, scratch your head, or laugh. I enjoyed Passion for what it was, sexy and fun. Don't go into this film wanting something cerebral, you ain't gonna get it.

Score: 7.5/10

After the end of Passion, Rachel and Brian came out, and we sang happy birthday to DePalma. Rachel McAdams is one of my girl crushes, I love her, I think she's a great actress, and beautiful. So it was brilliant seeing her on stage of the Winter Garden theatre, answering questions for about 20 minutes with Brian. She even recognized and called out the name of one of the people who asked her a question, this guy went to high school with her. Very cool! As I type this, I'm drinking a 'happy birthday martini', a very strong one, and I feel very light head (Thanks Brian!) and delightfully woozy. What a perfect way to end my 9th tiff!

I have just one film on Day 7. It will be Great Expectations, an 11am showing at the Elgin. Afterwards, I take the 4:30 train back to reality. Damn, I always hate the end of my tiff trip. TIFF will continue through this Sunday, and there are still so many films I just could not see. But what I missed, I will see later on in either theatre, or on DVD.

In the coming days upon my return home, I would like to make a feature post highlighting many more images that I took, and that will be shared with me from my friend and host, Glenn, who went to different screenings, and has a super telephoto lens to get even more up close than my camera was able to. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading my reports from the 39th Toronto International Film Festival!


Monday, September 10, 2012

Day 5 - At Any Price, The Impossible, and London - Modern Babylon

Today was a much more calmer day at TIFF and that's because it's a Monday! Unlike the Fri-Sun tiff schedule, which is heavy loaded with the hottest of the hot screenings, Mondays and the rest of the week, while busy, are a lot less hectic. The three films I saw today were all good; one was fiction, one was based on a true story, and the other was a documentary. I didn't have the opportunity to take intro or Q&A pics because, as it's Monday, directors and celebrities are starting to leave who had premieres over the past 4 days.

Director Ramin Bahrani and co-star Clancy Brown

At Any Price

This film stars Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron as a father and son whose family owns a large farm. The son played by Zac harbours resentment towards his father because he doesn't want to become a farmer for the rest of his life, but instead, a race car driver. The standard family turmoil simmers while the father, Dennis Quaid, becomes part of an investigation by a large corporation that bio-engineers seeds. A terrible accident happens that forces the family to make a moral decision that would eat at the soul of most normal people. Because of this plot twist, it made this 'all-american' film take an unexpected dark twist.

Score: 7/10

The Impossible

When a family is ripped apart by a tsunami, the human spirit is amazing how it can preserver. Unlike training for a fire drill, there is no life training for a tsunami. This true story is based on one family's experience during the Christmas day tsunami of 2004. The special effects are breathtaking, you really feel as if you are a part of the struggle to survive the tsunami. Naomi Watts is the mother, and Ewan McGregor is the father. Without giving away spoilers as to who survives, you have to watch it yourself to have an appreciation of enjoying vacation in paradise one minute, and in the next, being in hell on Earth and having the wits and the luck to survive.

Score: 8.5/10

London - Modern Babylon

Julien Temple directed this documentary about London, England over the span of 100 years. From the late 19th century Anglo-Saxon dominant city, to the now 40% ethnically diverse global city that it is today. All the good and the bad that has happened to the city has made London what it is today. To the person who loves London, visits it often, or live there, this is a great documentary to view to have a better understanding about the resiliency of London, and to learn  about how and why it is the city it is that no other city in the world can compare to. Infused with commentary by people who are British by lineage, and by people who are established or new immigrants, they all give a different perspective of life in London. The gap between the haves and the have nots are tremendous, and London, is faced with how to balance this because the city needs both to survive. This is a very good documentary with fantastic brit pop/classic rock as its soundtrack.

Score: 8/10

On Tuesday I have three more films including The Iceman and Passion. More reviews and more pics tomorrow! Meanwhile, here is a really good article in TheStar.com 'Autographs tougher to score at tiff'. This sums up my comments about the way the red carpet has been set up in the past two years through the current festival.

Chicken Teriyaki - Yum!

The police outside of the Princess of Wales

Another view of fans, paparazzi, and cops


Day 4 Tiff: Pusher, The Sessions, and Byzantium

Oh man how time flies when you're having fun. It's the end of Day 4 at Tiff already, not fair! But it was another good day as I saw some entertaining films.

Pusher

Typical drug dealer film from London about a typical deal gone wrong with typical backstabbing crackheads and competitive drug dealers, oh, and a typical really bad guy main supplier with a nasty foreign accent. Not as much blood as I anticipated, thankfully, but there were tense moments and some decent acting for a low budget UK drug dealer film.

Score: 7/10


Director Ben Lewin, Helen Hunt, John Hawkes, and William H. Macy



The Sessions

This movie was much better than I anticipated. It was a comedy, but it also had a social dilemma about the disable and their ignored needs for human interaction of a sexual kind. John Hawkes, in yet another Oscar worthy performance, plays a man who was afflicted by polio as a young child and left totally immobile and dependent on an iron lung (a breathing machine he needs to be inside of during the night). Because of his condition, he is on a gurney for his entire life, but his mind is fully functional and he's a very intelligent man with a fantastic sense of humor.  He finally seeks out help in losing his virginity and Helen Hunt, who is in her late 40s, is the sex surrogate and she is fully nude on many occasions in this film. She is a gorgeous woman with an incredible body that women half her age would kill for. So kudos to her for taking it all off to become believable in this role as a sex surrogate. As you can imagine, having intercourse with a disabled person can pose some physical challenges for both parties, and both Helen and John did an incredible job in bringing these characters to life, and helping us understand and remember that people with disabilities yearn for the same type of human interaction most of us take for granted, and that sex surrogates are legitimate therapists who do an amazing job to help bond with a fellow human being. The audience at tiff gave a teary standing ovation  at the end and there was a very nice Q&A with the director and the cast. Do not be surprised when you see The Sessions nab a few Oscar nominations.

Score: 9/10

Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan

with Director Neil Jordan and Caleb Jones

Byzantium

A new twist in the vampire genre that has a woman and her 'sister' running from place to place to escape some mysterious men following them and wanting to do them harm.  Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan are 200+ years old vampires and they broke a cardinal rule of their kind, which is why they are on the run. Saoirse's character is growing very wary of their gypsy lifestyle and wants to share her story with someone to save her sanity. She meets a boy who connects with her in a way that no one else has ever done so and she reaches out to him, and by doing so, puts his life in jeopardy. There's a lot of blood which is necessary for any vampire film worth it's salt. Very entertaining, but a bit slow at some parts, but that's ok as again, this story is tapping into a new vein, pun intended, in the vampire genre and it needs to explain itself. Recommended for any respectable vampire fan.

Score: 8/10

Tiffing at TIFF

I had a few hours to spare between films so I did a little walking around, and I found myself really startled by the pronounced visibility of police officers - with GUNS, here in Canadia land! And then I realize that due to the Aurora, CO 'Dark Knight Rises' shootings, the reps for TIFF, Toronto, and Hollywood ain't taking any chances and security presence is everywhere, and they are letting you know they are here, and they are going to kick ass if anything skanky goes down. There are even bigger body guards around, inside the theatre. These are the times we live in and I believe it's better safe than sorry. The gawker crowds have become larger and crazier, and again, comprising mostly of people who do not have tickets to see the films - they just want to see as many celebrities as possible, and get autographs and pictures with them. The TIFF of today is very different than my first tiff back in 2004. But I still love and can't imagine having as much fun at any other film festival.

Here are a few more photos of my day:

Butter Chicken and garlic Naan at 'Aroma' Indian restaurant

Painter being filmed creating a tiff mural

Film Fuel: The rare espresso



Sunday, September 9, 2012

Tiff Day 3: Argo, Cloud Atlas, and End of Watch

The first Saturday at Tiff is always a madhouse and yesterday was no exception! With construction, road blockages, and hysterical movie fans, it's a crazy and fun time to be in Toronto for the 39th TIFF. On this day, I saw three great films - the weather started off cold and rainy, but then cleared up to be a lovely day. I have learned that The Master won the big prize in Venice. Well, good for them. Although my review was less than enthused I don't want anyone to think that it was a bad movie. I do want to see it again because it does have elements that make a film brilliant, but perhaps I was too exhausted to fully enjoy it. But with that said, my reaction to Argo and Cloud Atlas after the film ended, represents to me how one reacts overwhelmingly positive to a film. The applause was loud, long, and celebratory after both of those films. Unlike the tepid 'polite' applause after The Master on Friday night.

So, what was so great about those two films... well, let me tell you:

Ben Affleck introducing 'Argo' at tiff
Argo

Ben Affleck introduced the film to the audience's surprise and for his third directorial feature, he knocked the ball out of the park. Argo is a wonderful recreation of the facts surrounding the six Americans who escaped the American Embassy in Iran and hid in the home of the Canadian Ambassador for over a year. As it would be any moment that they are found and eventually murdered, Tony Mendez (Ben) creates a fake Hollywood script scheme to make a movie in Iran, and then leave the country with the six Americans. The execution of this plan had to be perfect or all of them would die. This was a very tense drama. Although we know what happens, it is a credit to Affleck for being able to recapture the essence of dire straits they all were in. The great assistance of the Canadian Ambassador, Ken Taylor, playing by Victor Garbor really riled up the Canadian audience. It brought back memories to many people in the audience of the history of this most unique relationship between the US and Canada, that neither country has with any other country. Argo is just a fantastic and well made, entertaining film that forces you to applause at key moments, laugh at others, and cringe in a few. It's a great film and I highly recommend you see Argo. I reckon Ben will get a Best Director nod for this.

Score: 9.5/10

The Wachowski Siblings

Tom Hanks

Susan Sarandon and David Keith

Hugo Weaving

Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Jim Broadbent

Cutey-pie Joseph Gordon-Levitt in audience for Cloud Atlas

He sat just a mere 5 rows in front of me

Cloud Atlas

I don't even know where to start for this film. It was bloody confusing, and bloody brilliant at the same time. I now want to read the book. In a nutshell, Cloud Atlas is a spiritual film about the nature of humanity and how we do continue to live lives again and again, oftentimes to finish a mission that we were destined to establish. This large cast of Oscar winners, character actors, and new faces all worked beautifully together to tell stories that blended together and represented humanity on Earth and elsewhere in a span of 1,000 years (I presume). The Wachowski siblings kick ass and it was wonderful to see them and ALL the principle actors at the screening last night. It was a special evening and I have some pictures, but am having technical difficulties at the present which is preventing me from sharing them with you right now. But I will later on today. I highly anticipate Cloud Atlas to receive numerous Oscar nominations for screenplay, cinematography, art design/direction, and maybe a few surprise supporting role nominations. Cloud Atlas was just an excellent film and I cannot wait to own this on Blu-ray to watch it over and over and over again.

Score: 9.5+/10

America Ferrera, Michael Pena, Anna Kendrick, and Jake Gyllenhaal

End of Watch

This Jake Gyllenhaal buddy LA cop film, co-starring Michael Pena shows a really gritty side, a unique angle of being a cop in LA. The twist is that for a "study" Jake's character is video recording all his unit calls and it shows the raw emotional impact that being a cop does to a person. End of Watch is half documentary and half-narrative film. Very intriguing and interesting way to take a common plot and make something new out of it. There are a lot of funny parts to it, like it can be a black comedy, but I wouldn't go that far and call it that. It's a buddy cop film that really shows the intricacies of a friendship that develops through two police officers relying on each other to stay sane, and stay alive... to the bitter end. Very good film.

Score: 8/10

I will post pictures up as soon as I can. I got Ben Affleck, the entire cast of Cloud Atlas, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (so damn adorable), and End of Watch. Updates later on if not sooner.

Thanks!