Archive | Published RSS feed for this section

Kerry Mitchell

31 Mar

Kerry Mitchell’s impressive career in magazine publishing has often been controversial, especially because of her alleged tendency to dabble in editorial. But the higher she gets at Rogers Publishing, the more questions crop up–about her plans for her publications, and the company’s plans for her. Read more here

Dan in Real Life

29 Nov

“Dan in Real Life” begins in a Full House reminiscent way. The main character Dan, played by Steve Carrell, is a widower of four years, left to raise three girls of various stages of life. However, if you’re expecting the same feel-good simplistic relationships of the late eighties and early nineties’ television show, then you’re in for a surprise. This film has it’s own unique, truer-to-life model of father-daughter relationships.

There’s the all-seeing wise oldest daughter, the melodramatic teenager, and the least critical and mostly delightful nine-year old. Dan clearly loves his daughters and does everything he can to provide for then but is unable to accept their coming of age. As a result, the more he tries to hold on to them, the more they drift out of his grasp.  Despite the topsy-turvy family dynamics, the relationship with his children is not the primary plot of this film.

When Dan takes his daughters up to a cabin for a three-day visit with family, he has just pulled his over-emotional teenaged daughter Clara away from the “love” of her life. He scoffs at her saying she is in love after only three weeks and explains to her she can’t know after such a short period. For girls young and old, the scenes between daughter Clara and father will remain eerily reminiscent of their own fathers.

Girls will be even more pleased to see that Dan discovers the hypocrisy of his tidings to his daughter when he falls deeply for his brother’s girlfriend, Marie, played by Juliette Binoche, within only three days. Although the budding relationship between Dan and Marie is entertaining, it seems almost too simple at times. Dan and Marie clearly belong together, and his brother, significantly less intelligent, is not a good match for Marie. The relationship is significantly less complex and interesting than the one of Dan with his children, or other family members for that matter.

While most characters are deeply dynamic, Dan’s brother, Mitch, played by Dane Cook, is almost too shallow a character to be believable. Although the character has emotional moments, they remain crude and unsophisticated. There are times when scenes between the two brothers could have been much more fleshed out but whether this is due to script failure or Dane Cook’s bad acting, the relationship remained disappointingly superficial.

While Dan is conflicted over his feelings, the humorous sub-plot of his over-emotional middle-child, Cara, keeps the audience entertained and the movie from being too one dimensional. Notable lines include Cara’s passionate declare of her father being a “murderer of love,” and her exclamation that her father didn’t have to worry because when it came to sex, her boyfriend was the one who wanted to wait. Steve Carrell’s hilarious retort was, “what about that sentence is supposed to give me comfort?” The amusingly realistic portrayal of father-daughter relationships gives this film an edge over other too-cheesy romantic comedies and makes it definitely worth watching.

“On the Rocks”

29 Nov

Chris West’s project has been called “his baby,” a, “way to bring everyone together,” and, a “noble cause.” On Saturday March 28th, The Opera House hosted “On the Rocks,” a concert that showcased newer talent. Tickets were 15 dollars apiece and all proceeds were donated to SickKids Foundation. The main instigator of this night was Chris West.

West may be a truck dispatcher by day but his life is about music. “The only reason I am working is to fund my music,” he said. It was as early as age five or six, he couldn’t recall exactly which, that West first took an interest in the guitar. Since then, he played on his school band and his ever-supportive parents bought him his first drum kit. In the evening’s show, he played one song with a couple other friends but he doesn’t have his own band. “I’m jamming with a bunch of bands right now.”

This is the second year in which West has put together this event. Last year West raised $2,010 for the foundation. He first picked SickKids because it was, “the first charity that came to mind.” Although West found himself in the hospital when he was about five years old after having suffered a severe asthma attack, he doesn’t really remember the experience. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t recognize the importance of this hospital. “ A lot of people are doing stuff for breast cancer but I think that SickKids doesn’t get enough support.”

Once he had his charity picked, planning for this event began in October. West said, “I look forward to it every year.” In this roughly five-month period he hustles companies for sponsorship, attempts some modicum of publicity and books the bands for the show.

Helen and Jerry Pszczolkowski are parents to Alicia, one of the girls who play with West during the “On the Rocks” fundraiser. “We came last year. It’s a great event. It just needs more publicity,” said the father. They admit that if their daughter hadn’t been playing with West that they would not have even known about the event.

Athena Towers runs The Opera House and booked it with West both years. When he first told her about his idea, she recalled being, “inspired by his enthusiasm.” “He is extremely dedicated to the cause,” she said.

Even as the event begins, West does not have a chance to relax. He sprints around the venue, avidly checking to make sure all runs smoothly. On his way to attend to some other errand he says to Towers “Athena there are people on the balcony.” She replies, “You just enjoy the show and I’ll take care of it.” Of course Chris cannot ‘just enjoy the show.’

The photographer of the event and close friend of West, Ryan Forde, thinks highly of the event, which he also attended last year. “ It’s for a noble cause for those less abled than us.” He seems to think even more highly of his own friend. “He’s done a lot of work out of his own pocket.”

West admits that, “Yeah, last year the entire thing came out of my pocket.” This year, although he earned $1,250 in sponsorship he still has to pay the remainder. West doesn’t seem to mind for a chance to play and listen to music he loves.

Chris’s father, Dave Senior West couldn’t keep himself from grinning broadly, easily fulfilling the role of the proud father. In their house growing up, “We used to play Pink Floyd and Supertramp.” He believes he and his wife instilled a love of music in their children.

Aside from having one son passionately committed to music, their other son, Dave West, is a member of the band Secret Suburbia and was showcased in the night’s events as the final band. “My brother’s always talking. So, I don’t completely trust him but when he gave us a headlining spot we said ‘yes.’”

As the father of at least two musically talented boys, it is no wonder the proud father can’t stop beaming. He recalls his children having a room for instruments all to themselves. There they taught themselves how to play. “It was just noise at first,” West Senior said. In fact, it began as a “nightmare” for him and his wife and the neighbours. Both boys have learned a lot since those days. With one more child just 13 years of age at home, who knows how that child will be thrust into the world of music.