Friday, September 30, 2011

Shelley: Obsessed With Swedes

Shelley loves wearing Preloved creations (such as this beautiful dress) and she's absolutely "obsessed" with her Swedish Hasbeens.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Stephanie: Evening with Fellini

In addition to the renowned director's classic film work, we admired Stephanie's cool street style at the Fellini exhibition.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Alex in the City

As much as we like Alex's street style, we especially love her hair: "it's always's always full and fyi,  I had my bangs before Lady Gaga."

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

Sarah: Classy Vintage

Sarah blew us away with her timeless look.  She purchased her hat at Cabaret, her vintage coat at a country auction and her polished shoes at Payless ($20).  Absolutely a stunning ensemble.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Jules Under the Lightbox

During the film festival, I've spent a lot of time around the TIFF Bell Lightbox.  That's where I met Jules.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

TIFF 2011: "Dark Girls"' Strong Message Gets Under the Skin

In the documentary Dark Girls, there's a heart-breaking moment when a young dark-skinned girl acknowledges that light-skinned girls are both prettier and smarter.  The child hasn't lived many years, but she shockingly shares her opinion with the utmost certainty.  How does this happen?  Directors Bill Duke and D. Channsin Berry (pictured below) explore this question and more in their new and revealing documentary.

[Co-directors D. Channsin Berry (left) & Bill Duke (right)]

The film captures the emotional testimonies of several black women (both young and old) who have struggled (or are still struggling) with their identity in America.  They each recount stories of discrimination within their own culture -- specifically targeting the darkness of their skin or the thickness of their hair. One mother shares a troubling time when her daughter asked to be bathed in bleach in an attempt to lighten her skin. Indeed, in many communities, perceived beauty is having light coloured eyes, fair skin and flowing hair (frank conversations with young black men corroborate this belief).  Together with educators and child psychologists, Duke and Berry examine this perpetuated prejudice on a historical, media and quantum physics level.  The result is a fascinating and illuminating film that speaks of an epidemic that is not exclusive in Black America.  The widespread use of skin-lightening creams in Asia is a testament that it's a global problem.

At the last TIFF Q&A, the filmmakers added that Dark Girls only scratches the surface of the complexity of race in America and that their next project will focus on black males, but until that feature is made, it's fortunate to have Dark Girls to spark the difficult conversation.

Currently, Dark Girls does not have North American distribution.   

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Lily-Anna: Gypsy Generations

Lily-Anna's street style is very much influenced by her Gypsy heritage:  "It's because I'm a Gypsy that I have this style.  It's also why I do psychic readings -- it's been passed down from generation to generation."

And if you're interested in a reading, Lily-Anna invites you to call her office at 647-678-3980.

TIFF 2011: Celebrated Director Steve McQueen Brings "Shame" to the Festival

After seeing 32 films in 10 days, I can categorically say that only one film stood out for me:  writer/director Steve McQueen's Shame -- an incredibly dark and brutally honest film.

[Pictured: Director Steve McQueen (Hunger)]

Handsome, likeable and successful, Brandon (Michael Fassbender) appears to have his life together, but looks can be deceiving.  In reality, he is a desperate, weak and sad man who suffers from the ills of sex addiction.  Incapable of having a normal relationship with anybody, he hides in his lonely world and takes solace in having indiscriminate sex and watching internet porn.  Despite his infliction, he's able to manage his personal and work life -- that is until an unexpected visit from his estranged sister (Carey Mulligan) throws his world in a tail spin.

There's no doubt that Shame's edgy images will discomfort and embarrass audiences.  Some viewers will likely turn away from the screen and that's to McQueen's credit.  The secret life that he creates for Brandon is ugly and yes, shameful.

Fassbender effortlessly brings a sensibility to his character, who -- in lesser hands -- would be repulsive. Mulligan delivers an impressive dramatic performance and McQueen's direction is simply outstanding.

There are many films that depict the struggles of addiction -- including, Owning Mahoney (gambling), Requiem for a Dream (drugs) and, of course, Leaving Las Vegas (alcohol), but its rare when a film recognizes the pitfalls of sex over-consumption.

In today's world of excess, it's about time we have Shame.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

TIFF 2011: Director Geoffrey Fletcher, Alexis Biedel, James Gandolfini & Saoirse Ronan at the "Violet & Daisy" Premiere

Oscar-winning screenplay writer Geoffrey Fletcher (Precious), now turned director, has put a sweet spin on the hitman genre with Violet & Daisy - a story about 2 young assassins who accept what appears to be a regular hit-job, but turns out to be the defining moment of their lives.

The film begins with Violet (Alexis Biedel) and Daisy (Saoirse Ronan) dressed as nuns blasting several thugs away in a New York apartment building.  The bloodbath is similar to kill scenes in a Tarantino or Scorsese crime drama, but the big difference is that these killers have heart.  Before leaving the scene of the crime, Violet adopts the thugs' orphaned puppy.

Later, the women reluctantly accept a suspicious job that promises to be easy.  They break into the target's apartment and await his arrival -- only to fall asleep on his couch with guns in hand.  When they awake, they are surprised to discover that their target (James Gandolfini) has covered them with a blanket and made them fresh oatmeal cookies.  Even more surprising, the man is willing to accept his horrible fate.  Confused by his strange response, the women try to make sense of their situation, but soon become targets themselves when a rival gang arrives with the same deadly agenda.

[Saoirse Ronan is Daisy]

There's a lot to like about Violet & Daisy.  The hitman genre has been done to death, but Fletcher's take is cute and funny: despite being professional killers, the protagonists are still very much young girls (they play paddy cake and hopscotch, and go gaga for couture dresses).  Although this twist may be too saccharine for die-hard gangster film lovers, it effectively adds to the heroines' sociopathic nature.  After butchering several guys, the girls do the "internal blood dance", which has them jump up and down on their victims' stomachs until blood spouts out their mouths like a fountain.   

[Alexis Biedel is Violet]

It's interesting that Fletcher has followed up the success of Precious with this dark comedy, but considering the bleakness of that picture, Violet & Daisy is likely as welcome a departure for him as it is for audiences.

Tessa Texting in the Square

Friday, September 16, 2011

Cecily: Stop in the Name of Street Style!

I was barrelling down Bloor on my bike because I was running incredibly late for a TIFF movie, but my lateness became an after-thought when I saw Cecily gracefully crossing the street.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

TIFF 2011: "Sarah Palin - You Betcha" Doc Gets Our Approval Rating

It's an interesting time for Sarah Palin.

While everyone eagerly awaits her decision to enter the 2012 Republican Presidential race, a revealing tell-all book entitled "The Rogue - Searching for the Real Sarah Palin" by political author Joe Mcginniss will be released next week.  In his book, Mcginniss claims that Palin had an interracial affair with basketball player Glen Rice in 1987, used cocaine with her husband Todd and had an extra-marital affair that lasted 6 months with her husband's business partner.

To add to Palin's political woes, a new documentary called Sarah Palin - You Betcha by filmmakers Nick Broomfield (Biggie & Tupac, Kurt & Courtney) and Joan Churchill (Aileen: The Life and Death of a Serial Killer) will also be released this fall.  And like "The Rogue", the film promises to uncover the real Sarah Palin, whom her neighbours and former aides describe as ruthless and frightening.

[Pictured: Directors: Joan Churchill & Nick Broomfield]

Donning his trademark headphones and carrying his clunky sound gear, Broomfield practically goes door to door in Palin's hometown of Wasilla, Alaska, looking for anyone to share their memories of the political phenom.  First starting with Palin's parents, we learn that she was a gifted and ambitious child who constantly challenged herself in school and her career.  It's not hard to be moved by the incredible pride and joy that they feel for their daughter.  But when Broomfield interviews former Palin friends and colleagues, the Palin camp begin to worry that the film is a "hit piece" in disguise.  Suddenly, the entire town becomes divided about what they can or not say to the documentary crew.  It's as if the Palins are the Corleone family of Wasilla and you don't cross the family if you know what's good for you.

Sarah Palin - You Betcha is a fascinating film, but a lot of that has to do with Palin being a fascinating personality.  Most of what the film highlights are her already-documented quirks and transgressions (including: Palin was prayed upon by a witchdoctor on camera, she left the Wasilla Mayor's office with a record 22 million deficit and her first priority as Governor was firing her ex-brother-in-law from the police force); however, hearing the personal accounts of obsession, lies and deception from her former pastor, ex-brother in-law and mentor are particularly engaging.

If Palin does decide to run for President, it's hard to know how damning the film will be to her political career.  After all, Bush was re-elected after Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11.

Nonetheless, Sarah Palin - You Betcha is a bi-partisan winner.

TIFF 2011: "Girl Model" Doc Uncovers Not-So Model Behaviour

Girl Model opens with a group of bikini-clad Siberian girls herded onto a stage, waiting anxiously to be judged on the merits of their beauty.  Many of the girls are pre-pubescent and barely have a shape to hold up their 2-piece uniform, but to them and their impoverished families, it's an opportunity of a lifetime: to win a lucrative contract to model in Japan.

[Pictured: Left to Right: Co-director David Redmon, Model Rachel Blais & Co-director Ashley Sabin]

One of the judges is former American model Ashley Arbaugh (the first subject of the film).  She travels Eastern Europe scouting for young girls who possess the ideal traits of a successful Japanese model (young, slender with big eyes) and on this cold evening in Siberia, she and her panel have selected Nadya (the second film subject) as the successful candidate.  Nadya, like so many Russian girls, sees modelling as the answer to all her dreams.  But, as Girl Model uncovers, for both Ashley and Nadya, the modelling industry's promise of glamour and wealth is not picture perfect.

To their credit, directors Redmon and Sabin bring no particular agenda to their film other than to put their camera in front of the action and allow us to make our own judgement.  The film includes intimate conversations with models and agents -- each with conflicting viewpoints about the benefits of the industry.  The most intriguing conversation is with Nadya's agent, Tigran, who sees himself as a saviour by offering young girls a life of fame and fortune, but his philanthropic intentions come into question when he inexplicably adds that his 13 year-old models will not prostitute themselves because they're happy with what little money they earn.

Although Ashley never realized her own modelling dreams, it doesn't stop her from selling the dream to hopeful models as a scout.  More tragic is her blind eye to the life of prostitution that some of these girls lead and even worse, her rationalizing it: "prostitution is legal in some places."

Redmon and Sabin have crafted a revealing and engrossing film.  Everyone -- particularly young people (both female and male) who aspire to be a model should see it.

Devine Darlin: Ring the Alarm

Devine Darlin is one of the headlining stage performers at Crews & Tangos, a popular drag and dance bar on Church Street. This amazing outfit (designed by Michelle Ross) was inspired by Beyonce's Ring the Alarm video and garnered Devine worthy attention on the lively strip.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

TIFF 2011: Miss Bullet: Stephanie Sigman

We caught Mexican actress Stephanie Sigman in between promoting her TIFF movie, Miss Bala (which translates to "Miss Bullet") -- the story of a beauty pageant queen turned drug runner.  Not your everyday crime thriller.

Fortunately for us, Miss Bala has North American distribution.  See the trailer here.

Monday, September 12, 2011

TIFF 2011: The Women of "You're Next" Midnight Madness World Premiere

I'll be shunned by my festival friends when I admit this, but the one film that I've been most anticipating at this year's festival was You're Next.  What can I say...I have a soft spot for an axe-wielding killer wearing a sheep mask.

Produced by the guys responsible for last year's TIFF sleeper, A Horrible Way to Die, writer Simon Barrett and director Adam Wingard successfully breathe new life to the slasher genre.

Deep in cottage country, when a family and their partners sit down for dinner, a series of deadly arrows come crashing through the windows, killing one of the guests.  After panic ensues and the family scrambles to take cover, the family daughter gets her head nearly severed and the mother (played wonderfully by Re-Animator's Barbara Crampton) gets sliced and diced in bed.  More family members get offed viciously and it becomes very apparent that there are killers both in and out of the house.  But there's one saviour: Erin (Sharni Vinson) -- the middle son's new girlfriend, who just happens to be the daughter of a survivalist dad.  She's not going down without a fight.

You wouldn't think from the description that You're Next is a hilarious film that pokes fun at the horror genre, but that's precisely what it does.  Director Adam Wingard shared with the Midnight Madness crowd that his inspiration for the film was the opening death scene of Scream, and like that film, You're Next is laced with physical comedy (one of the killers has a Wile E. Coyote moment when he thinks he's going to avoid a nail to the foot) and funny dialogue (Dad yells: "who's the fastest runner?" Competitive oldest son: "I am, but I got an arrow in my back!"). 

There's a lot of buzz about You're Next at the festival so it's very likely to find a buyer, and that's good news for horror fans because it's a must-see.

Sekou: Looking Sharp on Bloor

Sunday, September 11, 2011

TIFF 2011: Alexander Skarsgård, Kirsten Dunst, Kiefer Sutherland & Udo Kier at the "Melancholia" Premiere

Celebrated director Lars von Trier (Dancer in the Dark, Dogville, Anti-Christ) never fails at delivering trippy films that over-stimulate our eyes and brain.  And his recent opus, Melancholia is no exception.

In recent memory, I can't remember another film that was so awe-inspiring within the first 6 minutes.  von Trier blows us away with his collage of slo-mo visuals that are both beautiful and disturbing (I won't ruin the experience by attempting to describe it to you).

The film is told in two chapters -- the first focussing on the spoiled Justine (Dunst) and the second centering on her sensible sister Claire (hauntingly played by Charlotte Gainsbourg).  In both chapters, the characters notice that a blue planet (named Melancholia) appears to be getting closer and closer to Earth. While everyone appears to be embarrassed by Justine's strange and ungrateful attitude, they are oblivious to the fact that humanity is at stake with the collision of both planets.  Makes it seem that our self-important lives are meaningless in the long run.

Like von Trier's other films, Melancholia's storyline runs at a snail's pace.  While there's nothing wrong with a filmmaker taking the time to tell their story, the pacing of von Triers' Melancholia is excruciatingly languid (compelling me to check my watch on numerous occasions).

Dunst and Sutherland give superb performances, but it's the incomparable Udo Kier who steals the show. von Trier's direction is impeccable and he will likely get the best director nom at the Academy Awards.

Melancholia is not a perfect film, but it's definitely one to behold on the big screen.

TIFF 2011: Freida Pinto at the "Trishna" 2nd Screening

Trishna tells the story of a young Indian girl (Pinto) from the village of Rajasthan, who captures the eye of Jay (Riz Ahmed), a hotel magnate's son, at a nearby resort.  After a car accident injures her father, Trishna becomes the primary bread winner for her family and is offered a full time job at a hotel, courtesy of Jay.   There, he attempts to woe Trishna with his charms, and his persistence eventually pays off - whisking her away to Mumbai to discover a more liberal lifestyle. But when his family obligations get the better of him, it threatens Trishna's new found freedom - not to mention - her life.

There isn't any doubt that Trishna will capture a lot of attention at the next Academy Awards.  It has all the makings of an Oscar contender: an outstanding leading lady, great direction, an impressive adapted screenplay, excellent cinematography and colourful costume design.

Trishna is one of those cinematic gems that will move you until the very end.

Silvia Illuminates Queen and Spadina

Saturday, September 10, 2011

TIFF 2011: Director/Actress Jennifer Westfeldt, Megan Fox, Jon Hamm & Adam Scott at the "Friends with Kids" Premiere

Can having a child actually improve your chances of finding a hotter sexual partner?  Writer-director Jennifer Westfeldt answers that burning question with the heart-felt comedy Friends with Kids.

Jason (Adam Scott) and Julie (Westfeldt) have been lifelong pals who have dreamed of finding their significant other and having kids, but their relentless search has always ended in failure.  In fact, their idyllic views of marriage with kids eventually fade after observing their friends' deteriorating family and sex life.  Desperate to have a baby without all the emotional hang ups and convinced that having a child would improve their prospects for sexual partners, the two BFFs have a drunken hook up, resulting in the birth of their son.

All goes well with their platonic parental arrangement -- that is until Megan Fox and Ed Burns enter the picture.  Suddenly, the two friends must come to terms with their true feelings for each other or risk losing whatever chance they have together.

Friends with Kids is at its funniest when the couples (Jon Hamm and Kristen Wiig & Chris O'Dowd and Maya Rudolph) share their peeves and sometimes contempt for each other.  Indeed, Westfeldt's frankness in her script will hit close to home for many married audience members.  However, the film goes off track when Westfeldt focuses on Jason and Julie's separate relationships.  When Adam Scott and Megan Fox's characters first meet in the park, it's awkward and unconvincing.  Moreover, Westfeldt and Burns have very little chemistry together.

But Westfeldt's biggest faux-pas is under-utilizing Kristen Wiig, who truly shines in the movie. Audiences fell in love with Wiig in her summer hit Bridesmaids and considering most of that cast is in Friends with Kids, they'll definitely come with high expectations.  Unfortunately, for them, they'll be disappointed.

Friends with Kids is a good film, but not worth hiring a babysitter for.  Keep it on your DVD wish list.

Fiona & Audie: Table for Two

This stylish couple, Fiona & Audie, were waiting in a very busy Terroni's line when we saw them.  We love Fiona's bag designed by Romius Khan.

Friday, September 9, 2011

TIFF 2011: Director Angelina Nikonova at the "Twilight Portrait" Premiere

Writer-director Angelina Nikonova's feature debut, Twilight Portrait, is a difficult film to stomach.  The film centres on Marina, an upper-class Russian woman (played expertly by Olga Dihovichnaya who also co-wrote the script), whose world begins to unravel after she is sexually assaulted by unscrupulous cops. Soon after, she breeds contempt for her life, friends and marriage and becomes a shell of the woman that she was -- until an ill-fated night brings her to a greasy diner and face to face with one of her attackers.  She inevitably follows him home, intent on cutting his throat with a broken bottle, but things take a shocking turn after she finally confronts him and discovers that he doesn't know her.

The film is a bold and harsh examination of a broken woman.  To their credit, Nikonova and Dihovichnaya have written an original script that will undoubtedly penetrate viewers.  Nikonova's direction  skillfully pulls us into Marina's hell, but she thoughtfully spares us from her atrocity.

Twilight Portrait is a masterful achievement.

TIFF 2011: Martial Arts Sensation Iko Uwais at "The Raid" Midnight Madness Premiere

TIFF is back! This year, I'm excited to see 32 movies in 10 days.

In addition to street style, I'll be treating you to film reviews and celebrity photos. So be sure to follow me on Twitter and Facebook to get the inside scoop.

Don't be fooled by Iko Uwais' sweet demeanour.  This gentleman's mortal combat skills are to be reckoned with.  In the Indonesian action film The Raid, he delivers brutal blows to his opponents with the velocity of a fully-automatic weapon.

Uwais plays Rama, a dedicated cop who leads a task force in bringing down a drug cartel protected in a fortress-like apartment building.  After their stealth operation is compromised, the swat team quickly find themselves in a war zone -- not only against the cartel but also the local residents.

The Raid is short on story but big on action, which wasn't disappointing to the screaming midnight madness crowd.  Writer/Editor/Director Gareth Huw Evans gives us wall to wall gun and machete play, but it's the film's bone-crunching and bloody martial arts (brilliantly choreographed by Uwais and fellow actor Yayan Ruhian) that take centre stage.

If you're a fan of the genre then do yourself a favour and see The Raid when it comes to your local theatre.