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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Comedy of Errors' twins for the win

Things that make you go "How now?"

Posted By on Tue, Sep 24, 2013 at 4:41 PM


The Neptune Theatre production of The Comedy of Errors is set on a Greek Island in 1974, and according to Mauralea Austin, the details are just right.

“I travelled in Greece in the ‘70s,” recalls Austin, who is playing the parts of the gruff maid Nell and the upright Abbess Amelia. “I lived in those clothes. I drank in those taverns. The place and time have been captured perfectly.” The actors are decked out in a riot of bell bottoms, pleather jackets, polyester pantsuits and peasant skirts. Both men and women sport long, luxurious locks. The action, which centres on two sets of twins separated at birth and caught up in a web of mistaken identity, takes place in a town square awash in mediterranean blue and antiqued yellows in front of the village church. A fountain bubbles, the church bell rings. The scene opens in early morning as the town is called to life with sound of a bouzouki.

The music is woven throughout the show by Evagelos Lyberopoulos and Ciarán MacGillivray. The pair open the second act with a kind of musical duel between Lyberopoulos’ Greek bouzouki and MacGillivray’s Irish version. “The effect is magical,” says Austin.

George [Pothidas, Neptune’s artistic director and The Comedy of Errors’ director] has created a whole world on the stage,” says MacGillivray, a recent graduate of Neptune’s Pre-Professional Training Program. “And I think the music is a really important part of what brings it to life.”

The Comedy of Errors marks MacGillivray first foray onto Neptune’s mainstage, but not the first time he’s worked with Austin. “Mauralea was my teacher for “voice for acting”. I’m feeling some pressure to be sure I’m putting what she taught me into this production,” he says with a smile. “I’m so proud,” Austin replies. “For me, there’s nothing better than seeing one of my students on the big stage at Neptune.”

When asked what they think audiences will like best about this version of The Comedy of Errors, both Austin and MacGillivray cite its accessibility. “People are going to appreciate how approachable this play is. The actors bring out so many colours and variations in it,” says MacGillivray, “I was amazed how much I got from it on my first read. It’s very accessible.” Austin agrees. “Shakespeare can be enjoyed by everyone. This is essentially a simple story filled with complications. The humour is so accessible in that it’s broad, bawdy and physical. The language is gorgeous. I predict people will be laughing and dancing on their way out of the theatre.”

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AFF review: Tracks

A breathtaking tale of courage

Posted By on Tue, Sep 24, 2013 at 4:13 PM


Closing night at the AFF was filled with some of the best films of the festival including the epic adventure film Tracks. The movie tells the true-life story of Robyn Davidson’s 2700km solo journey in 1977 through the western Australian desert with her four camels and faithful dog Diggity. Her journey is mesmerizing and powerful. Mia Wasikowska, known for her work in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, is outstanding as Davidson.

The audience goes along with Wasikowska as she goes through the struggles, triumphs, sadness and frustration along the way. Davidson had to learn how to train camels and get financing for the journey. Her stubbornness to complete the track on her own is constantly tested with the presence of Rick Smolan (Adam Driver), a photographer from National Geographic, the publication which funded the project. The Aboriginals in the film, particularly the hilarious Mr. Eddie (Roly Mintuma), add a rich dimension and history to the scathing landscape. The gorgeous, breathtaking scenes of the harsh desert underscore the remarkable courage of Davidson to take this trip. Tracks is a rare film that speaks about a woman’s journey completed on her own terms. It is truly amazing.

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Friday, September 20, 2013

Ode to Joy (Awards)

Posted By on Fri, Sep 20, 2013 at 4:00 AM

  • Roger Maunder

The 28th Annual Joy Awards were held Thursday as part of the 33rd Atlantic Film Festival, honouring three Atlantic filmmakers in what was the first round of the 2013 Joy Awards. Three awards were handed out today in the backyard of Jim MacSwain’s beautiful heritage home on Brunswick Street, making it seem more an informal, friendly gathering than a stuffy, puffed up ceremony.

Brittany Amos won the Joy Award for her short drama Gun Shy and, when asked to give a speech, she thanked the jurors for giving her the chance to make her film and encouraging her to be creative and continue making movies.

 Chris Spencer Lowe won the 902 Post Joy Award for his upcoming project Transfer, and he thanked the Canadian Council of the Arts for allowing him the opportunity to make a unique film using various mediums that aren’t too common nowadays.
 Roger Maunder, won the Newfoundland Joy Award for his short film Between Two Walls.

The second round of the awards (the New Brunswick Joy Awards and the Helen Hill Animated Joy Awards) are going to be held in November at the Silver Wave Film Festival in New Brunswick.

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The history of Freedom

Gloria Ann Wesley's new novel carries the narrative of Chasing Freedom

Posted By on Wed, Sep 18, 2013 at 11:54 AM

Gloria Ann Wesley
  • Gloria Ann Wesley

“I taught junior and senior high for 32 years and I realized there were no really good materials about Black history, most people skipped over it. No one took out *Beneath the Clouds of the Promised Land* from the book room,” says Nova Scotian author and poet Gloria Ann Wesley. “I thought, ‘what will they do with it?’ It’s factual, but it’s not that exciting. I wanted my students to read something exciting, when I retired I thought this is the perfect opportunity to write something.

Wesley has the distinction of being the first African Nova Scotian woman to be published with her book of poetry, To My Someday Child in 1975. After her retirement, she began work on historical fiction novel Chasing Freedom. This Thursday, September 19 at the Halifax North Memorial Library (2285 Gottingen, 6:30pm), Wesley will launch the companion to that novel, If This Is Freedom. At this year’s Word On The Street Festival, Wesley will also read from the novel (Sunday, September 22, 12-1pm. Halifax Waterfront).

Telling the overlooked story of freed Black slaves who settled in Nova Scotia after the American Revolutionary War, If This Is Freedom follows main character Sarah Redmond living in Birchtown, NS in 1783 after her marriage, working under an indenture agreement and trying to gain control over her life. “When you’re writing historical fiction the events are there for you, it’s just a matter of which event you want to use,” says Wesley. “Our history is just so full of events, I think it’s a shame more people don’t write about them. There’s been more documentation of Black history in the last years, but before that it had been neglected.”

Wesley refers to Ruth Holmes Whitehead’s new book Black Loyalists (Holmes Whitehead is also reading at the Word On The Street Black history panel with Wesley) when discussing an increase in documentation of the African Nova Scotian experience. “Now our history is being written about because it’s an empty market,” Wesley says. “It’s good to go back and fill in that void and have it be part of the school curriculum.” After its 2011 release, Chasing Freedom was been adopted into the Nova Scotian junior high English curriculum.

Wesley believes we still have a ways to go. “We’re very deliberate about whose stories we tell and when you know our history you begin to understand why it’s been left untold” she says. “You just need to look at the cases like the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children or even the incident at Leon’s—you don’t have to go very far back to understand there is a lot of racism.”

A book like If This Is Freedom goes a long way to drawing in a new generation of readers, educating them and opening up a larger conversation. “It’s presented in a way that’s non-threatening. You can have all the guest speakers you want and celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day but when people feel accused or belittled the first thing they say is, “well, I’m not like that.’ Instead of doing it that way let’s open things up and talk about it together.”

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A pick up artist bought some of Nova Scotia

Help us.

Posted By on Tue, Sep 17, 2013 at 5:18 PM

Welcome to NS, I guess.
  • Welcome to NS, I guess.

Imagine my surprise as I'm browsing Gawker at work (um that's allowed because I need to know about pop culture for my job and I've filed everything for this week and you're not my mom OK?) and I see that a former (?) pick up artist named Tynan bought an island off the coast of Nova Scotia for under 100k. Apparently Tynan has abandoned the picking up lifestyle and is now interested in minimalist living. That still doesn't change the fact that he once wrote a book called Make Her Chase You.

Quite a few of the cheapest islands on the very intriguing site are from Nova Scotia or New Brunswick so let's all please hope and pray that other PUAs don't get the same idea and we're all inundated with them suddenly. Because if that happens I am totally buying one of these Brazilian islands and GingTFO of here.

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AFF review: Michael Kohlhaas

Mad about Mads

Posted By on Tue, Sep 17, 2013 at 11:05 AM


The faithful AFF audience was in for a treat on Monday night with Michael Kohlhaas, an intensely moving film that shows the value of justice in society. Based on the novella by 16th century author Heinrich von Kleist, the film follows the improbable quest of horse breeder Michael Kohlhaas as he tries to get remuneration for his badly injured servant and two stolen horses. Set in the Middle Ages, the scenery and costumes are well done. Danish heartthrob Mads Mikkelsen as Michael Kohlhass is magnificent. Best known for his work in Casino Royale and as Hannibal Lecter in the American TV show Hannibal, Mikkelson is a classic character actor. His emotional range and commanding force on the screen is spot-on. Mikkelson’s on-screen daughter, Mélusine Mayance is equally strong.

The best supporting character of the film by far is the cinematography. The stillness in the fields, the snorting of the beautiful horses and the clanking of the metal swords gives the film richness and texture similar to the look and feel of Winter’s Bone. The slow, deliberate pace of the film allows the audience to fully appreciate the danger of Kohlhaas’ journey. Many of the violent scenes are done in almost absolute silence with blood and gore rarely seen. This makes the violence even more chilling and powerful. Michael Kohlhaas is not a typical big budget historical drama and it’s not meant to be. It is a quiet, powerful story about how much a person is willing to pay to find justice.

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Your morning in arts: Videos, videos, poetry, videos and mystery.

And videos.

Posted By on Tue, Sep 17, 2013 at 10:46 AM

The many faces of AA Wallace
  • The many faces of AA Wallace

The Atlantic Film Festival Music & Image 10x10 Music Video Mentorship Program videos are all online, ready for your perusal. 10x10 matched 10 directors with 10 musicians to make 10 music videos over five days. The winning video will win $10,000, presented at the Closing Gala Awards Ceremony on September 19.

Although I'd love to embed them all here, I urge you to go to the AFF YouTube page instead. Here's your cheat sheet of musicians and directors, respectively. AA Wallace and Adam Penney; Andrew Hunter & The Gatherers and Brock Gallant; Dennis Elsworth and David J. Fulde; Breagh Mackinnon and Gesar Mukpo; Shaun Leblanc and Matthew Ingraham; Irish Mythen and Millefiore Clarkes; Kyle Mischiek and Kelsey Thompson; Rain Over St. Ambrose and Stephanie Young; Steven MacDougall and Jason Levangie; Gabrielle Papillon and Evan S. Elliot.

In other video news, check out this brand new, real cool and trippy one by Cheryl Hann for Broken Deer's "Saddest Song in Outer Space" off of Unseen World.

And someone better make a video for one of Alison Smith's poems quick, so I can stick with this theme. New Germany's Smith was selected as one of five English-language finalists for the CBC Poetry Prize. Smith's "Bluegrass Meteorology" was selected from over 2,000 works of poetry from across the country. The competition was juried by Sue Goyette, David McGimpsey and Anne Michaels.

Smith joins co-finalists Cassidy McFadzean of Regina, SK, Pamela Porter of North Saanich, BC, Robin Richardson of Toronto, ON and James Scoles of Winnipeg, MB in the knock-down, drag out fight to the finish for the prize of $6,000 and a two-week writing residency at The Banff Centre's Leighton Artists' Colony.

Read them all here!

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Monday, September 16, 2013

AFF review: La Passé (The Past)

Satisfyingly uncomfortable

Posted By on Mon, Sep 16, 2013 at 5:06 PM


There are several scenes in Asghar Farhadi’s spectacular La Passé (The Past) framed with characters talking behind glass. Though their body language is visible, the words can’t be heard. It’s a delicate symbol for how we view past events. We can see the details, the lips moving, but what’s actually said is left impenetrable. Farhadi follows up his phenomenal A Separation with this vexing look at relationships. The story follows Ahmad, who returns to France from Iran to finalize his divorce from Marie. While staying in his old house, with his kids and her new fiancé Samir, Ahmad’s presence begins to unclog the debilitating truths everyone’s unwilling to face. After an uncomfortable first hour of feigned politeness, the film spins around a series of harrowing arguments born out of an enigmatic trauma. A final, purposefully vague shot underscores the ambiguity lingering on everyone's mind while giving audiences something to argue about. Everyone always says they want to move on, but what came before will just sort of sit there, comatose—unresolvable and refusing to die.

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Another TIFF wrap

Posted By on Mon, Sep 16, 2013 at 2:06 PM

Greetings from the Upright Citizens Brigade rush lineup in NY (lines lines everywhere lines), where I've been ruminating on TIFF and crafting this final update. Since we last spoke I've not seen anymore celebrities in places they shouldn't or shouldn't be, but despite all odds—a bad schedule, pissy audience demeanour, construction/traffic delays galore—I managed to see 17 movies in total, which is probably a personal low but not unacceptable as far as these things go.

Goddamn do I love looking at Jessica Chastain, who stars with James McAvoy in this interesting/unnecessary experiment of telling a story from two sides. They play a married couple splintered apart by the death of their infant son/her suicide attempt. She moves in with her parents and leaves him behind while she tries to find herself again. She cuts off her hair, goes back to grad school, tries random hookups and generally zombies her way through the rest of it. Chastain is such a compelling, watchable performer that when Her ends at the 1:40 mark, you almost feel bad for the very likable McAvoy to have to follow that. Because nobody cares about his failing bar. The only real point of interest provided by the dual POVs is that we see some scenes repeated, with varying dialogue and actions, demonstrating how we all remember things the way we want to, not necessarily how they were. At three hours, Disappearance is a hard sell (I was front row and in for it all) and if it came out less a Him I would not be surprised. But Chastain has another chance at the Oscar jacked by Jennifer Lawrence last year.

Mia Wasikowska walks four camels across Australia, obviously. Based on a true story, this delight also stars Adam Driver as a field photographer for National Geographic. Remember how Into the Wild wanted to be so deep and thoughtful about choosing to forgo modern comforts in order to get right with nature, but was actually about a guy who didn't prepare and died of his own stupidity? Tracks is the right movie. There's an amazing dog AND a baby camel, you have been warned. PS Big ups as usual to the Aussies, who also made the amazing Canopy.

This guy is no fan of Canadian stereotype machine Michael Dowse (FUBAR, Goon) but he has a winner in The F Word, starring Daniel Radcliffe in love with Zoe Kazan, who has a boyfriend. A small story, well told. Some FX moments play chintzy and some comedic setpieces play broad, but the little love story at the middle is just a joy to watch. A very Toronto-y movie also.

The hippie farmer at the heart of the billon-dollar Burt's Bees empire was hosed out of kajillions by an ex-girlfriend and chooses to live with dogs and no electricity in Maine. He obviously has more money than he lets on—a throughline is his reluctant trips to promote the brand—but that he didn't fight for what's his is pretty notable.

My four favourites of this year's TIFF—ENOUGH SAID, GRAVITY, AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY and THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ELEANOR RIGBY—all star mature women, many at the peaks of the careers. It's a rare festival—or day on earth, really—that I come away stoked for the year's awards races, but this is gonna be a dope one, y'all (and makes up for the anticipated Prisoners giving its tremendous actresses very little to do). So keep watching the skies.
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Your morning in arts: Zines, tacos, awards, Chicago

But seriously, "25 or 6 to 4"? COME ON

Posted By on Mon, Sep 16, 2013 at 12:04 PM

Hi, Chicago!
  • Hi, Chicago!

Thursday's dinner and entertainment is set with Auckland, New Zealand resident Erin Fae's zine launch for Imaginary Windows #6 at the Roberts Street Social Centre (2084 Creighton Street, Thursday, September 19, 7pm, free). Imaginary Windows #6 looks at community, vulnerability and longing. There will be kimchi, tacos. Do not spill taco juice on your new zine.

Both theNova Scotia Talent Trust (NSTT) and the Atlantic Film Festival doled out some awards for jobs well done this weekend. If you got one, congrats, you.

The Nova Scotia Talent Trust 's $75,000 worth in scholarships was divided among emerging artists in the fields of dance, theatre, media (film) studies, music, visual and literary arts. Forty-five recipients were chosen from 101 applicants. See all the winners here. Nerd alert, I am a Big Brother fan, and I am pretty sure that Emmett Blois' brother Willem Blois won an NSTT Scholarship and Nova Scotia Arts Endowment Fund Scholarship for piano. Hear me mention this briefly in passing 2:30pm (today, Monday, September 16) on CKDU during my Big Brother themed radio show, Previously On Big Brother. You may think I am joking, but I am not.

Sorry for that interlude. Back to the arts. Next year it could be you, the NSTT has two deadline dates coming up in 2014: 1 March for Spring/Summer study and 1 May for Fall/Winter study. For more information, see

Atlantic Film Festival gave out their industry awards last night (more awards will be given out on Thursday, September 19 between 6:30-7pm at the Closing Gala Awards Ceremony at the Closing Night Gala Film, The Invisible Woman at Park Lane Cinemas. Here are the lucky industry winners, hitch your wagon to their stars, stat.

Best Original Score/Song: David Chisholm for Bunker 6
Presented by Hideout Studios

Best Atlantic Screenwriter: Jasmine Oore for There's Been a Terrible Mistake
Presented by the Michael Weir Foundation for the Arts

Best Atlantic Cinematographer: Kyle Cameron for There Are Monsters and Ken LeBlanc for Hive (a tie!)
Presented by SIM Digital

Best Atlantic Director: Jay Dahl for There Are Monsters
Presented by Panavision

Film Crew Excellence Award: Gary Swim
Presented by Film & Creative Industries NS

The First Feature Project: Chris Turner for Lure
Presented by Telefilm and Film & Creative Industries NS

AND ALSO CHICAGO IS COMING TO TOWN! I am excited because it was the only band that everyone in my family could agree on growing up and therefore has a special place in my heart. "25 or 6 to 4" is still my brother's go-to karaoke jam. In addition to playing Summerside and Moncton, Chicago play the Halifax Metro Centre on February 23. Tickets go on sale Saturday, September 21. Halifax tickets are $99/$75/$60 available as of 10am at the Ticket Atlantic box office, at all participating Atlantic Superstores, by phone at 451-1221 and online at

Also announced today was The Mavericks (November 16 at the Casino Nova Scotia Schooner Room) and blues-rock Tedeschi Trucks Band, the 11-piece collective fronted by husband and wife team Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi (November 21, Cunard Centre). Tickets on sale Friday, September 20 at 10am, $55 available at the Ticket Atlantic box office in the Halifax Metro Centre, at all participating Atlantic Superstores, by phone at 451-1221 or 1-877-451-1221 and online at

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

TIFF views, reviews, overviews


Posted By on Tue, Sep 10, 2013 at 1:11 AM


There's no sound in space and I have no words to justify this beautiful epic thriller starring Sandra Bullock in one of the key roles of her lifetime. Read more when it opens in October.

Enough Said
Nicole Holofcener is my second-favourite director (the first is Richard Linklater) and why we celebrate the indulgent and largely unrewarding Scorsese-DiCaprio collaboration when this is Holofcener's fifth film with Catherine Keener is one of this dumb business' many mysteries. Keener supports a radiant, typically razor-sharp Julia Louis-Dreyfus as she fumbles into a relationship with James Gandolfini (in his second to last role). "What's different? A plot, in that I have one," said Holofcener at the presser. At the premiere Keener wore leather pants, did not speak, was the fucking coolest.

You Are Here
I don't watch Mad Men and I will never start if the elements of earnest mawkish preachiness that sabotage this tone-deaf dramedy —starring Owen Wilson as a playboy weatherman (huge stretch) helping the mentally ill Zach Galifiankis grieve his father—exist in that property too. Matthew Weiner, this is someone admired, correct? Way to give Amy Poehler the buzzkill Leslie Mann role, dick. The whole employing January Jones thing makes a lot more sense.

August: Osage County
I have mommy issues and two sisters so this adaptation of the Pulitzer-winning play starring Meryl Streep as the batshit matriarch to Julia Roberts, Julianne Nicholson and Juliette Lewis really hit me where I live. I didn't start to appreciate Roberts until about five years ago, and this is a career high for her. Streep is a bit too hysterical in the beginning but settles into something that works, Lewis is batty comic relief and Nicholson (whatup Det. Megan Wheeler!) is the quiet, unshowy centre. We'll talk more at Christmas when it opens. 

An Australian-made stunner of a WWII movie so wordless it makes Gerry look like it was written by Aaron Sorkin. It's essentially a two-hander about a downed American fighter pilot trying to get off an island in Singapore. Beautifully shot, wonderfully acted, incredibly affecting. It will never be released but keep an eye on Netflix.


Marc Almon, Andrew Murphy, Laura Dawe, Jacob Zimmer, Daniel Grant
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Monday, September 9, 2013

TIFF List, Days 1-3

Posted By on Mon, Sep 9, 2013 at 12:29 AM

Get live updates on Twitter and Instagram @thorneyhfx

CELEBRITIES SEEN IN PERSON (favourites in bold):
Maria Bello, Jake Gyllenhaal, Hugh Jackman, Paul Dano, Terrence Howard, Dakota Fanning, Josh Brolin, Olivia Wilde, Sandra Bullock, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Catherine Keener, Toni Collette, Cmdr Chris Hadfield, Dane Cook, Jason Sudeikis

Six (a personal low) plus a reading of Boogie Nights 

You Are Here


1 (stair slip/finger gash)


3 (iPod, iPhone for texting that can't get Internet, Internet iPhone)

1 (Shovels and Rope)

1 (Marc Almon)

2 (Julia Louis-Dreyfus at Enough Said premiere, me at Gravity)
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