Category Archives: Review

Reviews of films, stage performances, music, restaurants, and other stuff

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

Study Spotlight: Knox College’s Caven Library

classic photo of Knox College Walkway
A classic photo of the beautiful outdoor walkway at Knox College (59 St. George Street)

Introducing… Study Spotlight! Study Spotlight is a newly established series of blog posts focusing on different places to study. For the first post, I’ll be personally reviewing Knox College’s Caven Library.

What is Knox College?

Knox College runs from King’s College Circle to St. George Street, having entrances/exits to both. In a nut shell, it isn’t like the 7 other colleges offered at U of T. Although there are some graduate students affiliated with Knox, I can say there are no undergraduate students that are tied to it. Big difference already, right? Knox is also much smaller in size and resources: there’s a small kitchen for eating, and located upstairs is a small church and the library. To the left and right of the beautiful walkway photographed above, there are courtyards with benches and flowers. That’s about all I really know.

Quietness: 9.2/10

It’s incredibly quiet. Each time I come back, I feel guilty for pulling the zippers on my backpack, pencil and tablet case. There’s little whispering and the noise from outside doesn’t find its way in. The library itself is pretty small so there aren’t any doors for people to constantly open and close. The entire college is actually pretty quiet thanks to the silence-enforcing admins.

Spot Availability: 8.7/10

The library isn’t very packed. I guess it has a a lot to do with the fact that not a lot of people know about this gem. Out of the many times I’ve visited, I can always find a spot. Seats are organized in trios with a couple of the larger study group tables situated near the front desk.

Resources: ??

Personally, I’ve never used any of the library’s resources except for their WiFi. There seems to be a lot of books, but all probably specific to the graduate programs they offer at Knox. There are also a couple of computers for use; probably about nine.

Aesthetic: 8.5/10

If the above photo wasn’t enough to make you like Knox, maybe this will help:


The Caven Library has most of its furniture made of wood and the floors are carpeted.

Overall: 8.7./10

As a life science student, I find Knox to be a really convenient place for me to hang around. It’s close to where all my classes are: the convocation hall, medical sciences building, sid smith, etc. I can have lunch either in the walkway (if I can find a seat) or in their small kitchen. And of course, I can do my favourite thing there too: study!!!

For more information, visit

Restoration of my faith in shawarma- Habeebee shawarma



For all my arab friends out there, and all my non-arab, but arab-food-loving friends: I have been trying to find a decent shawarma and falafel place since I’ve landed in Canada, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Many a times I’ve ordered a shawarma wrap, hoping to see the meat being shaved off the stack with a large knife or a small circular saw, dropped to a circular tray below, retrieved and placed into the familiar flat, arabic bread and finally decorated with a party of cucumber, onion, tomato, lettuce, eggplant, parsley, pickled turnips, pickled gherkins, pickles, rhubarb and cabbage.
What I do end up with, however, is a grilled chicken/meat sandwich where the chicken/meat is sliced up (decievingly) into shawarma-looking slices. As an arab, personally, I cannot emphasise enough on how much Toronto has ruined shawarma for me.

After months of trying fake shawarmas from random food places, getting disappointed (or worse; getting sick) I found a tiny fast-food restaurant that secretly hides behind the harbourfront theatre at 218 Queens Quay W- ‘Habeebee’s shawarma’, or, more commonly known as ‘Shawarma Guys’ is the ‘quick and good’ type, where the service is quick and the food is delicious. Located in the lower level of a retail space and kept out of sight by Pizza Pizza, Subway and Quiznos, the Shawarma Guys is a great alternative to your typical fast food.

Beef or chicken shawarmas will run you about $5, with falafel under $4. The meat is pretty good, and I would personally recommend avoiding the iceberg lettuce and cheap tomatoes. Instead, load them up with radishes, banana peppers, and Frank’s Red Hot for a tasty time.

There isn’t much room inside, but the food is worth it. I would reccommend getting yourself a shawarma or two, coupled with some of their mouth-watering poutines, and chilling with some friends at the Toronto Lake, playing Taboo or cards, watching people walk along with their dogs, or just enjoying the semi-good weather while it lasts.

Why Jackie Brown is Seriously Underrated

Jackie Brown movie poster (1997)

Most people have heard of Quentin Tarantino – the genius mind behind films like Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained, and Kill Bill I and II. Tarantino’s style of directing is one that many people love – his glorification of violence, satirization of serious topics and non-linear narrative define his new genre of film combining concepts from great historical films to cheesy little known works. He’s often considered one of the greatest directorial minds of our time, as he is not afraid to push boundaries and always crafts something completely original and exciting. He’s a film buff’s dream and never ever falls short of perfection.

Now most of us have seen his amazing and popular films like Resevoir Dogs and Inglorious Basterds, but my all time favourite Tarantino film is one that came out in 1997 called, Jackie Brown. I seriously love this movie. I watch it at least once a week and every time I reel in it’s perfection.

Like all of Tarantino flicks, there are tons of amazing movie stars depicted in relatable and real world ways, but the main difference in this movie is that the main characters were actually washed up actors that nobody had taken notice to in in years. The title character, Jackie Brown, was played by the amazing Pam Grier. In the 70’s Grier, starred in many Blaxploitation movies, which were overtly sexual and would now be considered a Black stereotype. During that time, she was widely renowned as a sex symbol, but after the fall of the popularity of Blaxploitation movies and the end of disco, her career soon fell flat. Her male counterpart, was played by Robert Forester. He was in two acclaimed supporting roles that got him quite noticed in the late sixties, in Reflections in a Golden Eye and The Stalking Moon. After he took a few TV roles in the seventies, his career had dried up as well.

The premise of the film is essentially how Jackie Brown, a middle aged flight attendant, is caught for smuggling money and drugs into US for her arms dealing boss, Ordell Robbie (Jackson). In order to avoid jail time, she begins working with the police in order to bring in the rest of the money Robbie has stashed in Mexico. She brilliantly plays the police and Robbie against each other in order for her to get out, and get out fast – but not without the help of her trusty compadre Max Cherry (Forester), a bail bondsman. I know that may not sound too exciting but the film is such an amazing throwback. It is in the style of a Blaxploitation film but is so unique because it has elements of modern society in it as well. The music is amazing and each scene is brilliantly crafted, it is such a joy to watch. I find it captures reaching middle age in a way we usually don’t see in Hollywood cinema.

Tarantino prodded the two out of their early retirement and set them among an amazing cast of Samuel L Jackson, Robert de Niro, Michael Keaton and a young Chris Tucker. The movie didn’t set the box offices on fire, but it did alright, even with it’s star studded cast. This is also seriously one of my favorite de Niro performances, right up there with Cape Fear, Awakening and Goodfellas. He plays a bumbling, middle-aged, ex-con who is just getting back into the game. It’s an unusual role for de Niro, who is usually given roles of power, but in this film he’s just Robbie’s (Jackson) friend and hired help.

I’m not sure what gives this movie it’s magic and lasting ability to make you think – the lead actors are fantastic, Jackie Brown is able to convey her feelings with just one expression – it’s all in her eyes and her subtle expressions. Forester is a great counterpart whose depiction of an aging, humble man allows for a lot of connection. The film also has a lot of appropriate twists and was just so real and honest. I don’t want to give away too many spoilers, but usually in a heist movie there is one big main conflict during the heist – the characters get over it and blah blah blah the movie ends. But in Jackie Brown, there are so many little things that go wrong (some of them you may miss when you first watch) and Jackie handles them with such authenticity, it is a joy to see her tackle a load of obstacles. The theme of girl power is common with this film as well as many others.

This film revitalized Grier’s and Forester’s careers, as well as made Bridget Fonda a household name after her success in The Godfather Part III. Even Samuel L Jackson stated this movie as his favourite Tarantino movie. So far, it’s up there on my list too. I think the real reason it’s not as well known as his other films is because of the lack of star power in the lead roles – but their performances are anything but lacking. It’s subtle, creative and exciting – just an amazing honest depiction of a woman’s struggle to make it in this world. So go home, get on Netflix, and watch Jackie Brown – sucka.

Hannah Drew as Gwendolen and Michael Adam Hogan as Jack. Photo credit to Scott Gorman.

Reviewing The Importance of Being Earnest at Hart House Theatre

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing The Importance of Being Earnest twice in the past six weeks: once on the West End, in an “historical” production uniting a famous cast, and again last night at Hart House Theatre. I am pleased to say that, as much to the credit of Mr. Wilde as to the director, actors, costume designer, and set designer of Hart House Theatre, our local production was just as delightful as the Brits’.

Continue reading Reviewing The Importance of Being Earnest at Hart House Theatre

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.