Category Archives: Entertainment

UC Follies’ AGAMEMNON Review

The UC Follies’ adaptation of Agamemnon held onto the core values of the original play. To quote the artistic producer, Agamemnon “explores gender and power”,  and incorporated the devotion to Greek gods and the seduction and destruction of war.

There is a clear disregard of a woman’s value throughout the play, especially between the chorus and the Queen, Clytemenstra. They honour her, but only in the King’s absence (a 10 year absence, and still they resent a woman in power). They say she’s “like wax, too easily softened”. Even the king, upon his return, says “A woman who fears nothing, is she a woman?” Well, to answer your question Agamemnon: hell yes.We think all women can relate to Clytemenstra with her sassy sarcastic adoration of her husband, and powerful defence of herself and her lost daughter (killed by her husband!). Continue reading UC Follies’ AGAMEMNON Review

Yes to Board Games!

Say goodbye to boring Saturday nights or to the typical Starbucks run and say hello to board game cafés. Located on 600 Bloor Street West is North America’s top board game café, Snakes and Lattes. Snakes and Lattes provides an exciting environment that combines food, coffee, and board games to create the ultimate café experience. Visitors can choose and play any games that interest them and can order delicious food and drinks from a full menu handcrafted by experienced baristas and chefs.  The café also offers the magical help of Game Gurus which teach and recommend games to clients. This way visitors can fully enjoy Snakes and Lattes’ wide range of board and card games (i.e. Cards Against Humanity, the Game of Life, Eldritch Horror, etc…) for only $5. This friendly fee allows you to come whenever you have a moment to spare whether it is for one hour (in between classes maybe?) or six hours (Saturday night is always game night). Moreover, Snakes and Lattes allows clients to purchase games (perfect for playing on campus) both online and in-store.

However, Snakes and Lattes isn’t the only board game café around. Situated close to the intersection of College Street and Spadina Avenue at 454 Spadina Avenue is another board game café known as Castle. Once again, visitors can enjoy a variety of amazing food and drinks and can choose from hundreds of board games, however at a cost of $2.50 per hour. Similar to Snakes and Lattes, Castle’s great hours of operation (Sunday to Thursday from 12pm – 12am and Friday to Saturday from 12pm – 2am) makes it very accessible and gives students a well-deserved break. So remember Saturday night is game night.

Editor’s note: some details of this article were corrected on 27 August.

Why I’m Not Excited for Ben Affleck’s Batman

As a comic book fan, all I’ve been dreaming of is seeing my favorite character Batman, team up with his best pal and polar opposite, Superman. I love seeing these two together, they are so different but yet they understand each other. No matter how much they fight during the issue, they are always there for each other during the final conflict and get the job done right.

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice is directed by Zack Snyder and is said to have appearances by Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and Lex Luthor, played accordingly by Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher and Jesse Eisenberg. I’m very excited to see these guys in their respective roles (I’m a little worried about how Eisenberg’s Luthor is going to work out but I have hope), but the only issue I have is with the title character, Ben Affleck.

I totally understand the need to re-cast Batman – Nolan’s version is so dark, gritty and realistic, but having Batman behave like this in a Justice League movie wouldn’t pan out too nicely. Batman is essentially a team player in the Justice League; he loves and cares about his colleagues and is nowhere near the loner we see in the Nolan movies. He’s witty, sharp and sometimes gets in a few good jokes. Justice League Batman is a lighter character; he’s great to watch with the team and can actually be a pretty fun dude.

I see why Snyder may have chosen Affleck – despite being a jokester in real life, he has a wide range, as we’ve seen in Argo, Gone Girl, Good Will Hunting, and even Dazed and Confused. I’ll give it to him, he can act, and I think he can capture Wayne’s constant inner turmoil, and he’s not a bad looking guy either. That said, he’s not at all what Batman would look like. Bruce Wayne is supposed to have jet black hair, intense blue eyes, a square jawline and is built like a quarter back. He’s supposed to be 6’ 2 and 210lbs – that’s Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator. I have so many doubts that Affleck will have the musculature that would make a believable Batman (TMZ posted a photo here and I’m not convinced: Also, Affleck is 41 – it’s a little old to be starting a career as a superhero (RDJ is an exception). I think his age is also a clue into how this version of Batman is going to behave – he may be an older, wiser and calmer Batman which I think is exactly what the Justice League needs.

I think what I’m worried about is that Affleck may be able to pull off being Bruce Wayne, but can he pull off the intensity and athletic ability of Batman? Affleck’s only been in a few action movies and I’m not sure if he’ll be able to bring everything that is required to the table. I would have even more doubts if Snyder wasn’t the director – he is responsible for the masterpiece that is The Watchmen, and casting Henry Cavill play Superman. So maybe Affleck will do a better job than I’m giving him credit for, he was hand selected and the crowd during the Comic-Con screening reacted really well to him, so I’m hoping I won’t be let down again. *cough* *cough* Daredevil.

Archer: Losing Its Spunk?

If you like James Bond and Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, you’ll adore Archer. This fast paced, ridiculous, smart, vulgar and most importantly hilarious show combines the wit and dark sense of humour of creator Adam Reed with an amazingly talented voice cast, to create one of the highest rated adult animated series on TV right now. In the honour of the latest episode being released tonight, I thought I’d talk a bit about the show’s current direction.

Something that every TV lover painstakingly awaits is a show’s demise. Sometimes it happens slowly, sometimes in a blink, but it usually happens at some point in a show’s airing. I, being an optimist, and seeing the true value of Archer, never thought this day would occur. The show is on its sixth season now, and the past five have been more than phenomenal. The fifth season took on a huge turn when the company we knew and loved, ISIS, was shut down by the CIA, and our lovable secret agents were turned into rogue drug dealers. It was a crazy turn of events, and in the beginning, something that I wasn’t a huge fan of, but as season five progressed, I began to fall in love all over again. The most important aspect of the show didn’t change: the characters. Each character performed in their predictable, crude ways, and it was so exciting seeing them in a variety of new environments and taking on new threats. It was amazing, and I loved it.

Season five ended last April, giving me not a lot to do with my time, seeing that Archer was really the only TV show I watched. I went three weeks with no television. Eventually, it fazed me that I couldn’t get along without my favorite characters, so I started re-watching old episodes. I was astounded; I went back to the first episode of the first season, and the show was flawless. I re-watched the entire five seasons in Archer’s 10-month hiatus, and was so proud to be a fan. I mean, how many shows can you think of that were perfect right from the get-go and stayed that way for the rest of their run? Not many. I mean even my other all time favorite show, Friends, wasn’t that great for the first and last couple seasons. I couldn’t wait until Archer returned to the screen, it had never let me down before, so why would it now?

Season six debuted, and it started out a little slower than I expected. The first episode, “The Holdout”, we see Archer in Thailand, once again running away from his problems, this one being his new child with Lana. Malory gives him a mission to blow up a crashed cargo plane and he then meets a Japanese war veteran who hasn’t realized the war was over, and ends up teaching him about the value of family. Archer returns to America ready to be a father. This episode wasn’t bad…it wasn’t great but I mean I didn’t have any major complaints, and I was excited that Archer was so ready to be a responsible parent. I mean this was the guy who got matching tattoos with Seamus, his other son (but not really – it’s a long story) with prostitute Trinette.

Episode two of the sixth season was where I was really let down. The premise of this episode was supposed to be where Archer and Lana rekindle their hatred of Conway Stern, a double agent who stabbed Archer in the back…literally. I was so excited to see Conway again, he hadn’t been in an episode since the beginning of the first season. Sadly, this episode didn’t quench my thirst. It seemed…fake. I honestly thought that someone else wrote this episode because it seemed like it was an imitation of Adam Reed’s style. The dialogue wasn’t as witty, the plot was stupid and the fact that Lana and Archer walked into Conway’s trap AGAIN was hard to believe. Lana has always been the rock in the show, she always knows what to do and what’s best, and now the fact that she was just following Conway and not thinking for herself was a hard to swallow. What I did like about this episode was again, the fact that Archer was taking responsibility for AJ, their baby, when asking Lana what would happen to AJ if they were both killed in action.

I enjoyed the third episode, “The Archer Sanction”, which was in reference to a really obscure Clint Eastwood movie. This episode reminded me of the good old days – Archer wasn’t prepared for the mission, Ray was being his fabulous, flamboyant self, and Lana and Archer’s witty banter was on point. One thing I didn’t really understand in this episode was when the rest of the gang went to Malory’s apartment to look for AJ (Lana was convinced that Malory absconded with her child while they were on a mission), and Pam went into the kitchen to find food. Later on in the episode, we see everyone in the apartment throwing up, and Krieger discovers the fogging insecticide NOT HIDDEN in the kitchen. How did Pam not notice that when she was in the kitchen before? Whatever, the episode ended off well and I thought things were getting back to the way it was before.

The fourth episode hit me hard. This was another episode that I was insanely excited for because of the introduction of a new character, Edie, Pam’s sister. Edie was getting married and Archer decided to be Pam’s date for the wedding. This also marked the return of Barry, who was last seen being controlled by his cyborg girlfriend, Katya in season four. Again, there was something missing with this episode. It didn’t seem real – for some reason the characters weren’t written in their usual demeanor. Archer was being way too nice to Pam, it was like he really cared for her well-being. Archer’s ‘kindness’ really hasn’t been a reoccurring theme in the show so it was a little offputting. Secondly, Pam’s sister wasn’t written in a way that you could connect with her. I’ve found that every single character in the show was written in a way that even if they were a bad person, you could still connect to them and they were still likeable and funny. Maybe in this episode, they were trying to make the audience hate Edie as much as Pam did, but to be honest, I just saw Edie as a minor annoyance. I mean if she wasn’t even in the episode, I don’t think I would have noticed or cared. The show has always had a moral code, a part of it being that family is family and you love them no matter what. We can see this with Archer and Malory or Ray and his brother Randy, but I really felt nothing between Pam and Edie. No sisterly love, no hidden warmth…nothing. Barry was also written in a different way. He’s usually oddly charming and funny, but in this episode he was just overly angry and trying to hard too seem crazy. This episode just didn’t have any heart to it; it was a major disappointment.

So far, the sixth season has had it’s ups and downs, but I’m hoping as the season goes on the show regains it’s footing. I had high hopes because FX did pick up the show for another two seasons last year, so I thought that they would have had more time to craft something excellent for the sixth and seventh season. Tonight’s episode is called Vision Quest, and the promo trailer debuted the plot ass the gang getting stuck in an elevator. I’m really excited for this episode, the idea is great, I love seeing all the characters interacting with each other, and I’m hoping that the writing is as sleek and smart as ever. As you can see, I’m still hopeful.

Reviewing Crazy for You and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival

I had the pleasure of seeing two wonderful shows at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival yesterday: the musical Crazy for You and the comedy classic A Midsummer Night’s Dream. They were equally extraordinary, but in totally different ways.

Continue reading Reviewing Crazy for You and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival

Reviewing Patrick at the Lost Episode Festival Toronto

LEFT is a festival for nerds, die-hards, fanatics, and obsessives – all in the best possible way – so screening Patrick, a recent remake of the 1970s movie of the same name, was the perfect choice.

Although a horror movie, Patricks’s attention to continuity is uncharacteristic of the genre, often giving it the feeling of something sci-fi. Every detail of the supernatural plot is meticulously explained, often quite subtly, as if to mirror the rigour and precision of the setting, a hospital for vegetative patients. It is at this secluded hospital that Kathy, a bright young nurse, takes a job to get as far away from her ex-boyfriend as possible. She’s frightened by the oddities at first – the eccentric doctor, the emotionless head nurse, the mindless patients, whose bodies occasionally writhe and jump and spit, almost as if on purpose – but she works hard, out of a morbid sense of duty, curiosity and empathy. Kathy’s reactions are actually one of the greatest successes of the movie, in that she responds to her surroundings with a natural combination of skepticism and fear, a balance that horror movies rarely get right. We stay with her until the end, never doubting her decisions (though occasionally questioning her taste in men).

The generic haunted-house vibe of the hospital eventually gives way to a crystal clear plot, a story of abuse and insanity, and the results of an experiment gone awry. Unexplained occurrences in the first act are suddenly and subtly given light by developments in the second and third. (In fact, events in the first act that seemed to need no explanation are questioned by later developments). When it becomes clear that Patrick, patient 15, has psychic powers, we understand how strange things are happening; when we learn his history, we understand why. The precise limitations of his powers and intentions are so well-defined that it is hard to question the quasi-scientific explanations behind them. By the end of the film, there are no unanswered questions; there is no lingering sense of mystery.

But is this a problem? For a horror movie, the answer should be yes. When I leave the theatre, I want to be a little spooked and disturbed. I want to jump when I hear footsteps behind me. I want to hesitate before turning off the light, even if just for a second. But I know that Patrick cannot hurt me because I know everything about him. In that sense, he is much more Darth Vader than Freddy Krueger. The film-makers were aware of this issue as well, which is why they tried a last-ditch effort to add some mystery in the final seconds of the film. It didn’t work.

But everything else did. Patrick has a taught, compelling screenplay with no holes or sags. The cast is convincing and the special effects are seamless. The art team wisely chose to play with light colours contrasting dark, rather than the dark-on-dark that has been so popular these past few years. Patrick may not scratch your horror itch deep enough, but it will compel and excite you in a way that only and excellent genre movie can.

Craft Beer Passport: Handlebar (“Here Are Your Crackers!”)

Craft Beer Passports in hand, I’m visiting Toronto bars and writing about the experience. Today: a review of Kensington Market’s Handlebar.

Surrounded by the dives, terrible live music bars, and over-priced specialty food stores of Kensington Market is Handlebar, the happy medium. Although its name – and clientele – scream “hipster hangout”, the comfortable seating and accessible music offer a calm place to sit and drink and talk.

The beer selection is standard, with the more conventional options in cans and bottles and a few locals on tap. I enjoyed an Amsterdam Big Wheel, which was balanced and pleasant with only a mild bitter aftertaste. Drinks are ordered at the bar, which sucks, but the bartender’s friendly banter adds to the comfort of the experience. Low lights, nice people, and booth seating remove the pretense that is almost a prerequisite for a Kensington bar.

There is a menu, but it’s small, but it’s cheap. The walnut pâté, thick and creamy, spreads nicely on crackers and offers a slightly spicy zing, somehow forgotten between each bite and always a pleasant surprise (if you have too much pâté for your crackers, which you may, your server will happily provide you with more). For $2 you can also snack on spicy curry nuts, served in a small jar with tonnes of flavour, or sweet glazed nuts – a bit more boring, but still an excellent value.

If you’re at Handlebar on Thursday, games night, you’ll get the chance to participate in a contest led by a surprisingly enthusiastic staff member, which we did not. Finding a bar where you can sit and chat, and enjoy reasonably priced food and decent beer, is a rewarding challenge by itself.

Will I return to Handlebar?

Probably. It was nice and affordable.