Hot Docs Preview – Cat Ladies [2009, Christie Callan-Jones]

Posted on by Wade in Everything, Hot Docs, Movies | 3 Comments

Cat Ladies. The title says it all. This doc gives us the inside scoop on four crazy cat ladies. Well maybe they aren’t all crazy, but they do all have issues. We all have problems in our lives. Some of us drink, some of us collect cats. What can you do?

The four characters featured in this doc all have varying degrees of cat lady syndrome. The story follows a good arc, keeping you interested until the end and answering the questions in your head as they pop up. It was produced in partnership with TVO, so it did have that made for TV feel, which really didn’t take away from anything.

One of my favourite parts was seeing Tre Smith…again. If you don’t know this guy, he is everywhere when it comes to animal protection issues in Toronto. If there is a raccoon stuck in a fence or dog with only three legs, you can count on Tre coming to the rescue and being the face of the Humane Society. He first got his start on the Toronto based reality show The Lofters (2001), where he lived in a downtown loft with Jennifer Hedger (TSN) and Arisa Cox (E!Online). You may also remember him from an incident last summer when Tre, a Humane Society Inspector, found a dog in the back seat of a car that had its windows cranked shut. After Tre busted out the cars window to rescue the dog, the dogs owner returned. Tre then handcuffed the guy to the car and took the dog to get medical attention. Bystandards then knocked out three of the dudes teeth and pelted him with stones as he stood handcuffed to the car. It was a pretty big deal at the time. Some paint Tre as a villain, I would say he is more of a hero. Anyway, Tre is in this movie, much to the delight of the single female animal loving population of Toronto.

Schedule *Screens with Statistics
6:30 PM, Friday, May 1 – Cumberland 3
9:45 PM, Saturday May 9 – The Royal Cinema
9:00 PM, Sunday May 10 – Cumberland 3

Hot Docs: Soulwax – Part of the Weekend Never Dies [2009, Soam Farahmand]

Posted on by Ricky in Hot Docs, Movies | 2 Comments


Toronto – Given that I have been dabbling on the outer edges of electronic music in recent times, it would only make sense for me to be interested in the Soulwax documentary “Part of the Weekend Never Dies‘, a rock tour documentary about Soulwax’s travels in the summer of 2006. Many of you might know Soulwax by their DJ names – 2ManyDJs. I guess they are somewhat regarded as pioneers in this new electronic age, according to many people interviewed during the documentary (including LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy, Peaches, Justice, Digitalism, Erol Alkans among others). The tour that the film was made for, was one where the people in the band Soulwax also did double duties as 2ManyDJs (Soulwax would open, 2ManyDjs would close). It’s a bit convoluted, but the documentary will explain it better.

The documentary was just filmed with one camera (whereas Beastie Boys documentary was filmed with 50) and features many interviews, concert footage and behind the scene moments that is typical of a rock tour documentary. To me, this documentary seemed like one large commercial for a Soulwax concert, but you can say that about any music documentary where everyone they interview sings praises. The editing was pretty interesting, sometimes sloppy as they splice the many many concert shots with the everyday going ons for David and Stephen Dewaele(Soulwax).

Overall, it is definitely a good look into this new age of electronic music, where DJs get treated like rock gods, tour the world over, play to thousands of people all while standing behind some knobs. I don’t think this documentary really differentiates much from other rock tour documentaries, so I guess if you are a fan of music, or soulwax or electronic music, you will probably enjoy this one.

Screening information:
Midnight, Sunday, May 3 at Bloor Cinema
9:30 Pm, Sunday, May 10 at Royal Cinema

Concert Review – Pains of Being Pure at Heart Concert, Lee’s Palace, April 28

Posted on by Allison in Concerts | 5 Comments

Toronto – Is there something in the water in Brooklyn or something? It seems like every hot new act is being cranked out across the bridge faster than a Chinese Factory can spit out fake Gucci wallets. Soon everyone breezing through Lee’s Palace will hail from Brownstone Town…heck maybe that day is already here if last night is any indication of the future. It was a Brooklyn double-bill with openers Zaza and hyped up cuties the Pains of Being Pure at Heart.

I caught the last half of Zaza’s opening set having liked what I heard off their MySpace page. Everything off their Cameo EP is sexy, mysterious, and as one reviewer described,  like “opium smoke” with the standout track being Arms Length both live and recorded. They may resent this tag (and who can blame them–feel free to blame Canada I guess) but I am tagging them as breathy “gothgaze”. If you need a point of reference think Bark Psychosis-like vocals and layered, lusher-sounding Tones on Tail-like instrumentals.

Listening to their recorded material I wasn’t struck by how strong the drums are in their music—live it seemed to be the only thing I could focus on. Firstly because their drummer (Kurt, who doubles as the Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s drummer) prefers to stand while performing with Zaza, and secondly because he is awesome. In a world where band hierarchy dictates the drummer is almost always the last one to be noticed and first to revolve through the door it was nice to hear a band that let their percussionist do a lot of the driving.  I chatted up bassist and all around babe Jennifer Fraser after their set and she confirmed he is a hot commodity. I can certainly see why. I hope these guys come back to something other than polite, tepid clapping next time.

As for main attraction Pains of Being Pure at Heart, I can confirm that they are adorable. So adorable that I would love to put them in my pocket and take them home, lining them up on my display shelves next to my miniatures collection. How you felt about their set will depend on how you feel about their honey-drenched self-titled debut that some have dismissed as being so derivative it’s boring. This reviewer says, not so. I would also disagree with their being lumped in with the “shoegaze” tag–this is simply infectiously happy power pop. How infectious you might ask? Swine flu in hyperglobalmegadrive. So infectious I was willing to overlook the unquestionably wavering vocals that were off-key at times. Like a diligent teacher I have faith that by the end of this exhaustive tour they will have shaped up in this department and I give them an A in terms of everything else.

It certainly helps that they have a tremendous amount of affable college charm to begin with. Vocalist Kip Berman (who now pronounces Toronto “Toronno” courtesy of the Panic Manual) revealed keyboardist Peggy’s affection for Degrassi Jr. High. In short, Peggy is my new BFF for the excitement she showed at being able to pass by the House of Lancaster at Lansdowne / Bloor where Joey, Wheels, and Snake were kicked out for running out of cash for soft drinks AND for willingly reciting the lyrics to “Everybody Wants Something” to the audience.

Setlist (I’m sure this is inaccurate): Contender, Come Saturday, Young Adult Friction, This Love is Fucking Right!, Everything With You…???

I don’t think they did Teenager in Love which is my favourite track off the album because it is what David Bowie’s “Modern Love” would be if it took a truckload of Zoloft in 2009. But no matter, they’re cute enough to get away with murder.

I told ya they were cuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuute.

Here is a video of their show in Williamsburg

Watch the full concert at

Hot Docs Preview – Carmen Meets Borat [2008, Mercedes Stalenhoef]

Posted on by Wade in Everything, Hot Docs, Movies | Leave a comment

Wow, a documentary about Borat! Who said documentaries were boring? As the story goes it is common knowledge that Sacha Baron Cohen took advantage of poor villagers in Romania when he filmed his movie. I thought that this doc was going to be about how the villagers rose up and stuck it back to Sacha through a lawsuite. Well, that isn’t exactly how this one panned out.

The movie mostly focuses on 17-year-old Carmen who works in her father’s bar, waiting on layabouts, watching Spanish soap operas, and planning a life far, far away. As Carmen searches for a husband in her small village of Glod, big city lawyers come to town and convince her father to file the lawsuit against Borat for the way the villagres were portrayed in his movie. As the whole lawsuit thing happens, we keep watching as Carmen deals with her life as a 17 year old girl in her village.

I have been trying to connect the two distict story lines in some type of metaphorical way, but I can’t. The whole lawsuit story line is kind of a let down and the Carmen story line is what it is. The only common thread that I could find was:

(1) Borat goes to Glod and takes advantage of poor villagers so that he can profit.
(2) American lawyers go to Glod and try to take advantage of poor villagers with the promise of a big settlement so that they themselves can profit
(3) Documentary makers go to Glod, and make a movie about it all. Documetary makers are poor, but they likely will profit from this movie too, or at least they got paid to make it.
(4) Glod continues to get screwed.

6:30 PM Saturday, May 2 – Bloor Cinema
4:30 PM Sunday, May 3 – The ROM Theatre
9:30 PM Sunday, May 10 – Cumberland 2