The Fast Forward Revue

The Rogers Picnic: Rain, rain… stay here? by kswitz

The Rogers Picnic (July 20, Historic Fort York)

Official Promotional Poster

Official Promotional Poster

So it’s 4:54 am… and I can’t sleep.

But that’s unimportant, since there is blog-fun to be had!

So this isn’t really going to be a concert review, so much as a hodge-podge of random things I noticed about concerts while attending the Rogers Picnic yesterday. And here goes:

a) RAIN AS A BONDING EXPERIENCE: Seriously, once it started pouring, everyone got in closer, got more into dancing, and cheered louder than ever as the bands expressed their sympathies for our soggy bottoms. It even bonded audience members individually, as umbrellas were shared between neighbours, and tarps were put up by those who brought them and stretched to fit as many concert-goers as possible. Rain is the great equalizer.

b) ENERGY IS KEY: I found that the bands onstage who had tonnes of energy (Chromeo and Dizzee Rascal, to name two) ended up being the bands I liked the most out of all the performers. This surprised me ’cause I’m something of a huge Animal Collective fan, but I still liked Chromeo‘s set way, way more, because of their connection with the crowd, and the cool factor of their high energy level. Their late-night DJ set in the back of the Nokia DJ Tent (or whatever it was called) was also a great picker-upper for all those who’d been there all day and noticed their energy flagging. We danced like crazy-people.

c) ENVIRONMENTAL CONSCIOUSNESS: Is the new cool. And rightfully so! I love how it’s gotten to the level where there are “Zero Foot Print” tents at concerts! The concert was also co-ordinated to be as close to a zero-waste event as possible: there were sorting-style recycling bins, separated into Aluminum/Plastic, Paper, and Compost. Serious snaps for that!

d) TEXTING SCREENS: Amusing but annoying, as they are just so damn distracting! Everyone ends up staring at the boards instead of the bands! But they are hilarious, like when people write “I am the hiphoppopotamus, my lyrics are bottomless”, or comment on the large number of Urban Outfitters wearers in the crowd (read: hipster-bashing is the new cool)It’s also a bit sketchy, though… I was trying to get in contact with my brother throughout the show using the service but who knows if our Katie/Graeme texts were actually between me-Katie and him-Graeme? (Skeeettcchhhyyy. I clearly need to just get his number…).

e) FREE REDBULL: Is bomb. Just saying… (PS If anyone from Redbull reads this (not likely), feel free to do it at more concerts! I will love you! So will everyone else!).

f) CITY AND COLOUR: Actually isn’t too bad. They’re a touch emo but they have a good amount of energy, and I like Dallas Green‘s jokes.

Alright, so it’s bedtime.

Hope y’all enjoyed this.


Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson by kswitz
July 19, 2008, 2:26 am
Filed under: Author: kswitz, Cinema, Literature, Politics

Fast Forward Rating: FFFF (4 out of 5)

Gonzo (2008)

Let me just begin by admitting that I have always had a love-fear relationship with Dr Thompson and his writings: on the one hand, I think they’re brilliant, full of life, and hilarious; on the other hand, the conservative in me (I confess: it is there) gets a bit scared at times by all this seemingly senseless talk of guns, motorcycles, and trashed hotel rooms… (The psychedelia and drug-talk, however, I dig).

But anyway, going in to the film with this pre-existing leeriness, I must say that I left the theatre convinced completely and totally that old Dr Gonzo was the best thing to happen to journalism (and probably politics) in the modern era.

And why is this? The guy’s philosophies, on first glance, seem shallow and all about “straight-laced greedy political swine vs. freak power”, and guns, good times, and lots and lots of drugs. But upon closer examination, and placed in context of the world in which they were written, Thompson’s words take on a new, and ultimately nobler meaning: his writing, and in fact many of the actions in his life (he ran for Sheriff of Aspen once) were a well-disguised fight for the truth-speaking underdog, the man who would never be popular with Those In Power, but who, if elected, would shake some Truth and Right into the system of the government, giving the people a People’s kind of fair, as opposed to the law’s kind. It becomes more and more apparent throughout the film just how awesome and well-meaning Hunter’s ambitions were, and by the end you can’t help but love him and wish there were others like him (albeit calmer), everywhere.

So: about the film itself: biographically its focus is on Thompson’s years as a journalist (it mentions little of his family history, etc), chronicling his author’s debut as biographer of the Hell’s Angels biker gang in the California area in the 1960’s, to his celebrity-making success with counter-culture portrait Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, all the way through to his political years, first in a bid for the position of Sheriff in Pitkin County, Colorado, and finally his years as political journalist and commentator covering many of the primary and presidential elections of the 1960’s and 70’s. It goes into his personal life in some detail, though it is more about his political and personal beliefs, and it chronicles the start, pinnacle, and slow decline of Thompson’s skills and determination as a both a writer and an activist, ending with his suicide in 2005, which the film attributes to his loss of belief in his power to change the world, as well as his “all or nothing” nature in competition.

The only things I have to say against this film, which is absolutely brilliant, is that it runs a biiit too long (118 minutes, but remember it’s a biography), and that towards the end it gets a bit depressing… which makes sense, as they’re dealing with suicide, but I don’t like it… Y’know?

I would highly recommend that everyone who reads this review goes out and sees the film as soon as possible, and tried to learn a lesson or two from good old Hunter S.

God knows this world will need it.

Quickie Film Review: Mongol by gaohippy
July 15, 2008, 6:41 pm
Filed under: Author: gaoalexander, Cinema | Tags: , ,
Genghis Khan's troubling childhood.

Genghis Khan's troubling childhood.



Fast Forward Rating: FF (2 out of 5)



Mongol. Everything about this film cries, “Oscar, here I come!”. This is a film that was nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar, directed by an Oscar-nominated director. The script is more epic than that of Saving Private Ryan or 300, telling the story of Temüjin, known to the world as Genghis Khan, the man responsible for uniting all Mongols under a silly, albeit unified legal code. Critics laud the film, the photography is nothing short of spectacular, and yet… it doesn’t sit with me. The film’s structure is composed of dozens of plot points that lack a strong sense of causality, and as writer/director Sergei Bodrov concedes, the lack of recorded Mongol culture that would have served as the main intrigue of the story meant plugging gaping holes in history with corks of his imagination.

Characters lack development and while their generally stoic expressions provide some insight into Mongol culture in general, it is hard to mine much more information from the performances. Genghis Khan was not necessarily someone to be loved, or even liked for that matter, but it is especially difficult to get into this film considering none of the characters are particularly likable. Bodrov seems to struggle with temporal aspects of storytelling, leading to abrupt transitions, unexplained character transformations, and a deflation of overall suspense. I commend him for his efforts and for his ability to stretch $20 million so far, but overall, I can only consider Mongol to be a flop, much like the late PICTUREHOUSE, the company that picked it up.



Brideshead Revisited (in its various forms) by kswitz
July 15, 2008, 2:47 pm
Filed under: Author: kswitz, Cinema, Literature

So I’m sure many of you have seen the trailers for the modern re-make of Evelyn Waugh’s 1945 classic Brideshead Revisited. But what you may not have known is that this is not the first remake of the book, and that an acclaimed television series was made in Britain in the 1980’s, and that this series, from the look of things, will actually remain the more true-to-text adaptation, and likely the favorite of fan of the book.

(But first, a personal anecdote:

I’m currently reading the book, with about 50 pages to go…. But last night I lost it on the Bathurst streetcar, after spending the day filling it with various bookmarks out of papers I’d found… Seriously hoping to get it back later today…)

Cover of Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh

Cover of Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh

Well anyway, the book itself is set up as “the Sacred & Profane Memoirs of Captain Charles Ryder”, and is the lavish and indulgent depiction of the youth and adulthood of Oxford-educated Charles Ryder. The main plot of the book is centered around Charles’s relationship with an Oxford friend named Sebastian Flyte, and then with the rest of the long-established and extremely wealthy Flyte family, proprietors of Brideshead Castle. This connection with the family leads Charles into the high-society circles of England’s oldest and most powerful families, as well as drawing him into the dark conflicts within and surrounding the Flyte family itself, and years later leads to an adulterous romance between Charles and Julia. (And this is where I got to, 250 pages in, before I lost my book).

Brideshead Revisited (1981 Mini-Series)

Brideshead Revisited (1981 Mini-Series)

In 1981, the book was adapted into an 11-part British television serial, starring Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews as Charles and Sebastian, and Diana Quick as Julia Flyte, Sebastian’s sister. The adaptation, which won two Golden Globes and an Emmy award in 1982 and 1983, goes on for over 13 hours, and includes many scenes with dialogue taken exactly as it is written in the book.

Brideshead Revisited (2008)

Brideshead Revisited (2008)

The puzzling thing is that there’s a remake coming out July 25th, shot in the exact same location (Castle Howard in England), but this time the movie is set up as a love-story between Charles and Julia, not the story of the adventures of Charles and Sebastian, the major theme of both the book and the previous screen adaptation. Seems rather more like Cruel Intentions or Titanic (minus the shipwreck) than like Brideshead Revisited…. But we’ll see….

(I’ll review it when it comes out).

Vive la France! by Sempé

Le 14 juillet: Fête Nationale de la France.

In honour of France’s national holiday, here are seven minutes and twenty-two seconds of men in uniforms shifting around the place de la Concorde in inhumanly geometric formations. Quite spectacular to watch, really. 

Fun Fact: France’s Fête Nationale is celebrated on the 14th of July to commemorate the storming of the Bastille on the same day in 1789 – often seen as the symbolic beginning of the French Revolution. Nowadays, Bastille Day falls during the Tour de France and is traditionally a day on which French riders try to take a stage victory for France, working harder than they might otherwise.

David Lynch mini-retrospective, this Monday and Tuesday at Bloor Cinema by kswitz
July 13, 2008, 11:21 pm
Filed under: Author: kswitz, Cinema, toronto | Tags: , , ,

Saturday morning, right before heading out the door to that photo shoot I mentioned in my last posting (pictures to be posted soon), I did my habitual CinemaClock movie schedule check, and quite literally teared up a bit as I realized that this week’s listing at Bloor Cinema (506 Bloor St West, right next to Bathurst subway) includes FOUR out of David Lynch‘s ten feature-length films. 

Eraserhead (1977)

Eraserhead (1977)

The Schedule:

Eraserhead, Monday 7 pm

Blue Velvet, Monday 9 pm

Lost Highway, Tuesday 7 pm

Mulholland Drive, Tuesday 9:35 pm

So okay, they’re a bit squished in there, but hey, so completely and totally worth seeing, and especially since movie tickets cost $5 for members at Bloor Cinema… which is pretty much the cost of renting a movie, anyways.

For those of you who don’t recognize the name, David Lynch is one of THE masters of the modern horror/mystery film genre, having created such cult masterpieces as Eraserhead, Mulholland Drive, and Twin Peaks, as well as my (perhaps) most favorite film ever, Inland Empire. This man is a master of suspense, weirdness, and all-out creepiness. Expect mystery, suspense, uncomfortably creepy imagery, sex, drugs, darkness, and a complete loss of connection with reality, which typically occurs at least once per film. His work is also art-directed to the nines, as he actually went to art school (The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts) intending to become a painter, before deciding to become a film-maker instead.

And this guy is legit: his work been honored in such ways as France’s César Award for Best Foreign Film, the Palme d’Or from the Cannes Film Festival, and the Gold Lion lifetime achievement award at the Venice Film Festival, as well as receiving four Academy Award nominations for the Best Director category.

So go do it!!

Ps if anyone wants to join me, I’ll most likely be at all of these screenings…

Toronto Polaroid Tour: AH..AH… AAACHOO!! by jaxba

Taken in the basement of St. Lawrence Market – the perfect area to walk back in time to the mid 1900s (much like The Distillery) or also described as ‘The Montreal’ in Toronto. You’d expect to find an old train station there or a newspaper boy yelling “Extra, Extra!” with a Jack Russell Terrier yelping close behind.

In slightly related news, I just learned there is such thing as ACHOO syndrome, also known as “Achooism” and “Photic sneeze reflex”, where people start sneezing perpetually in sudden exposure to bright light. It’s backronym (an acronym where they start with the abbreviation and make what it stands for) is Autosomal dominant Compelling Helio-Ophthalmic Outburst syndrome. By golly, I wonder how long it took them to come up with that!