Arts and Style


Oz Bijoux: Cherchez la Femme

By Louise V. Labrecque on May 18, 2012

oz_bijoux.jpgC’est l’histoire d’une petite bijouterie de quartier. Le spectacle quotidien des commerçants, celui des gens de la rue.  J’écris cet article par solidarité à tous les artistes, qui travaillent durement, et souvent sans reconnaissance digne de ce nom.  Le printemps est revenu sur Saint-Denis.  Une rue pas comme les autres. Nous sommes à Montréal.  Le parfum des lilas n’a pas encore envahi la ville. Mais ça s’en vient… 

The Rif Lover/L’Amante Du Rif

By Robert K. Stephen on May 18, 2012

rif.jpgGreat films take a bit of time to digest and I am still digesting“The RIF Lover” (Amante du Rif) a Moroccan/Belgium/French production shot in Morocco in the RIF mountain range. The impression left by director Narjiss Nejjar is a rich portrait ofMorocco desperately trying to escape from an anti-feminist, tribal and patriarchal society with a nasty undercut  of Muslim fundamentalism way far off in the edge of the film. Thedisapproving burka clad women appearing in the early stages of the film like a ghost shaking her head disapprovingly at the behaviour of Aya and her best friend Raida dancing to ”western” music must be a comment by director Nejjar. We also hear riffs of Bizet’s Carmen from a video that Aya watches in a transfixed state. A hint of an impending tragedy?

"The Young Man Was". Killers Talking to Killers

By Robert K. Stephen on May 15, 2012

This Toronto HOT DOCS 2012 Festival documentary is a bit out of the ordinary. The Festival ended on the 6th of May but the impact and memory of some movies will linger. "The Young Man Was" is so out of the ordinary you start wondering if there is something wrong with it as you just see differing colour dialogue text on the screen for what seems a very long time and when you see footage of the actual hijacking it is in a cloudy grey and white.Just take a look at the picture! There are two conclusions to be drawn from the documentary. One is that that killers are talking with killers. The other is that terrorism is rarely successful.

Titanic: The Canadian story - centennial edition

By P.A. Sévigny on April 8, 2012

book_cover_small.jpgMétropolitain senior editor Alan Hustak pens powerful history.
Even if it’s been a 100 years since the boat hit the iceberg, the fate of the Titanic and the hundreds of people who lived and died with her is still one of the great legends of 20th century. While the ship was originally meant to reflect the glory of British industrial initiative and corporate enterprise, the boat’s fate also reflects the hubris of an industrialized civilization which would soon assume its own apotheosis on the killing fields of Western Europe.

“Cruelty Comes in More Forms than Bullets/ De Bon Matin”

By Robert K. Stephen on April 2, 2012

bon_matin.jpgThe brutality of bullets is evident in “De Bon Matin”, a Franco-Belgian production which had its English Canada language premiere on 27March2012 at the Ciné Franco International Film Festival in Toronto. The brutality of bullets jolts the viewer in the opening minutes of the film and then at the film’s conclusion a horrific bullet scene just about rips you off your chair and leaves you wondering….no leaves you thinking not momentarily but for days after what has just unfolded in front of you. Kind of beats “Avatar” or “The Titanic” in that regard. There is no doubt empathy for Paul the banker killer but there should be no sympathy.

Dying is a laughing matter

By Alidor Aucoin on March 25, 2012

vigil_02.jpgIn the first beat of Morris  Panych’s  black comedy, Vigil, at the Segal Centre until April 1, an overly theatrical,  neurotic  character  bursts into his dying  aunt’s  attic  bedroom  and  off the top says  “Let’s not talk about anything depressing. Do you want to be cremated?”

Irving Layton’s big birthday party

By P.A. Sévigny on March 13, 2012

For a man who left specific instructions not to place a marker or a stone over his grave, Montreal’s Irving Layton isn’t the only poet who would be pleased to see his work is still alive and doing so well. 
Leonard Cohen once wrote that, “I always think of something Irving Layton said about the requirements for a young poet, and I think it goes for a young singer, too, or a beginning singer: 'The two qualities most important for a young poet are arrogance and inexperience.' It’s only some very strong self-image that can keep you going in a world that really conspires to silence everyone.


Un film à l’écart des modes: Monsieur Lazhar

By Louise V. Labrecque on March 12, 2012

monsieur_lazhar.jpgEn littérature, l’œuvre se crée lentement : on bâtit mot à mot. Le lecteur va de même, qui appréhende le monument, dans le détail, à tout moment.  Le cinéma se poursuit dans ce continuum, avec, en prime, un autre niveau de lecture;  l’histoire trouve une autre incarnation, et se fixe visuellement au monde, comme pour ajouter à notre compréhension, et bien sûr à notre plaisir. Ainsi, j’étais joyeusement impatiente d’aller voir ce film : « Monsieur Lazhar », et je me souviens de la toute première fois que je l’ai vu, lui, ce professeur débarqué tout droit d’Algérie; je me suis dit : « quelle belle chose que le talent d’enseigner.»


Irving Layton

By Alan Hustak on March 12, 2012

layton_irving060104.jpgIrving Layton wrote more than 50 books of poetry during his lifetime. When he died seven years ago  Leonard Cohen  eulogised  him as  “our greatest poet and our greatest champion of poetry.”   Had Layton  lived, he would be 100 on March 12.  To mark the centennial of his birth in  Tirgu Neamt, Romania there will be poetry readings from his work in 20 cities across Canada, including Montreal. “This is the first time that Canada will be connected through poetry,” said Elias Letelier, co-founder of the online magazine, Poetry Quebec, which is sponsoring the event. 

Local Wine Prisoners?

By Robert K. Stephen on March 12, 2012

Local wine is the rule in almost all wine producing Euro countries unlike Ontario and Quebec where the LCBO and SAQ favours “international wines” which only hampers the development of a local wine movement in Ontario and Quebec. Seen any  British Columbia wines at an SAQ or more than a sad bottle or two of Ontario wine?  If there are few Canadian wines available in the distribution market it’s logical that there will be little Canadian wines in Canadian restaurants. And of course there are those restaurants who think too much Canadian wine shows a lack of “sophistication”. Let’s take a look at Lake Erie North Shore  which is a small appellation in Ontario just south of Windsor which has just over 13 wineries.

Discovery of father’s World War II poems spark search for lost sisters

By Robert Frank on March 12, 2012

Judie Benjamin hopes that her late father Milton Cohen’s newfound fame as a Canadian war bard will help her to find sisters whom she has never met.

The St. Laurent resident said that she was so unnerved when the Globe and Mailunexpectedly published some of her father’s poems in November, that she “cried off-and-on for days.”


High and lowbrow antics at the Centaur

By Alidor Aucoin on March 12, 2012

love_chance.jpgThe Game of Love and Chance at the Centaur Theatre until April 1st  is a  deliciously theatrical, interpretation of  Pierre Carlet de Chamberlain de Marivaux’s  18th century piece  Le jeu de l’amour et du hasard.
Adapted and translated from the French into English by  Nicolas Billon and directed with overheated   passion  by Matthew Jocelyn, the artistic director of Toronto’s Canadian Stage Theatre, the co-production is a contemporary reworking  of the classic.

Dead men stalking

By Alidor Aucoin on February 8, 2012

absentia.jpgAs befits a  play  called  In Absentia, a dull sadness pervades the piece at the Centaur until March 4. The world premiere of a minor work by major award-winning Canadian playwright Morris Panych -  it is an introspective,  overwrought mediation on love, grief and mortality.

Charles Dickens: The man who gave us Christmas

By Alan Hustak on December 16, 2011

dickens.jpgIn the spring of 1842 Charles Dickens took a steamboat from Kingston, Ont. and sailed down the St. Lawrence intoMontreal with his wife, Catherine, and found the town  “full of life and bustle.”  Dickens was 30 and had already written six books, including Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby. No other novelist has had such a spectacular success. Two hundred years after he was born in 1812, Dickens remains as immortal as Shakespeare.  It  is probably fair to say more people know of Oliver Twist, the artful dodger, Syndey Carton, Miss Havisham, Micawber, Scrooge and Tiny Tim from the endless  television mini-series, movies and Broadway musicals based on his novels than they do from reading his books.

“Addio Pizzo" wine

By Robert K. Stephen on December 16, 2011

You may have had organic wine. You may have had biodynamic wine. You may have had wine produced by sustainable agricultural methods. But have you had "pizzo" free wine? “Pizzo” in Italian means protection money paid to you know who. Fed up after assassinations and murders of  members of the judiciary leading investigations into organized crime, a spontaneous movement erupted in 2004 in Palermo bearing the slogan “Addio Pizzo” meaning good-bye to protection money and let’s support those in the economy that are Pizzo free. Their slogan reads, “Un Intero Popolo Che Paga Il Pizzo É Un Popolo Senza Dignità” translated as such, “A Whole People Who Pays the Pizzo is a People Without Dignity”. 

God of Carnage

By Alidor Aucoin on December 16, 2011

carnage.jpgGod of Carnage, at the Centaur until December 4th, (and probably longer)  is a clever and brutally funny farce  that’s the hottest ticket in town.  A perfect ensemble cast  under Roy Surette’s disciplined and brilliant direction  unleashes 90 minutes of domestic mayhem on an unsuspecting audience. The play explores that  razor thin line between civility and savagery, love and hate.  What we have here is reminiscent of Who is Afraid of Virgina Woolf  without  Albee’s bite.


By Alidor Aucoin on November 8, 2011

the_castle.jpgThe Play’s the Thing  at the Segal Centre until  Nov. 20  is a delightful  revival of  Ferenc  Molnar’s  1920’s period piece,  Play at The Castle,  (Jatek a Kastelyban),   a silly  farce adapted by P.G. Wodehouse  in which sexual hi-jinks  inspire a word play-within- a-play.   Set in a Mediterranean villa, the parlour comedy is based on a real life incident in which the Hungarian playwright arrived in his hotel suite with one of his friends  and overheard his wife in the next room, apparently in the throes of passion,  exclaiming, “I love you, I love you, I shall die of love for you!” 

Of prizefighting and playwrighting

By Byron Toben on October 26, 2011

prizefighter_playwright.jpgOn September 22, 1927, the most famous battle in boxing history took place in Chicago. Gene Tunney, the quiet, literary heavyweight, defended the world championship he had won one year before from Jack Dempsey, the “Manassa Mauler,” who had held it for 10 years. This was the fight with the famous “long count” controversy played over many times today on YouTube. It was the first over $2 million dollar gate in entertainment history ($22 million in today’s money), seen live by 125,000 people (no TV in those days).

Angst and Anning: an awry comedy.

By Alidor Aucoin on October 26, 2011

true_nature_02.jpgColleen  Curran’s  True Nature, which opened the Centaur ‘s Theatre season, is really an academic lecture about Mary Anning, the obscure 19th century fossil  hunter,  disguised as a play.  
It is also a sophomoric variation on an increasingly familiar theme involving neurotic baby-boomers torn between romantic commitment and a career. True Nature appears  to have grown out of a series of focus groups  that came up with a cross-section of characters  designed to  appeal to as broad an audience as possible.


Une pensée en équilibre

By Louise V. Labrecque on August 26, 2011

pensees.jpgJustement,  je souhaite, par la rédaction de cet article, vous entretenir d’un livre intimement et entièrement associé à cette attitude philosophique : « PENSÉES pour vivre au quotidien», deuxième recueil de la très éclairée auteure et philosophe: Danièle Geoffrion, publié aux Éditions du CRAM.  De toute évidence, ce livre s’inscrit dans le continuum de la publication du premier recueil « Philosopher pour vivre au quotidien  - du sens et des mots -, tout en suggérant une ouverture pour aller plus loin en soi, plus profondément, afin de susciter l’envol  de tout ce que l’on porte enfouis, et qui ne demande, souvent, qu’à se laisser happer par la lumière de la réalité.

Surreal and Serene New York

By Robert K. Stephen on August 26, 2011

serene_new_york.jpgReturning to New York from the peaceful environs of slow paced Greenport, North Fork of Long Island, which is some 80 miles from New York City, leads one to think of contrasts as New York City’s massive silhouette assaults the senses on approach. New York City is New York City but as all cities do has its own distinct neighbourhoods and character. It is not just a big city but a collection of neighbourhoods and experiences both surreal and serene in the midst of its bustling exterior.

Caravaggio the outcast and artist

By Alan Hustak on August 26, 2011


01_caravaggio_musicians.jpgThe National Gallery in Ottawa has scored a coup with its blockbuster Caraviggo exhibition that runs until  Sept. 11.

Caravaggio and His Followers in Rome  features  ten  paintings  never  before seen  in North America, two that have, and another  50 paintings by artists who were influenced by  his work.   In view of the fact that only 70  of the artists works  known to exist, and many of them are altar pieces that cannot be moved,  it’s an extraordinary collection. 


Claude Léveillée 1932-2011

By Alan Hustak on June 16, 2011

Claude Léveillée, who died June 9th at the age of 78, was one of Quebec`s most alluring singers and a poet in the tradition of Felix Leclerc and Gilles Vigneault.   Léveillée worked with and wrote 25 songs for the legendary French singer Edith Piaf and another 30 with Gilles Vigneault. Among his best known melodies are Fréderic, Elle Tournera la Terre, Quelques arpents de neiges, Piano Méchanique. His best known hit, perhaps, was Roger Williams recording of  Leveillee’s Pour les Amants as Only for Lovers.  Léveillée  was also an actor seen in Denys Arcand`s Jésus de Montréal and played the character of Émile Rosseau in the 1990 French-language television series Scoop.

A temple of art and music

By Alan Hustak on June 10, 2011

IMG_0418a.jpgFrom the natural light that floods the fourth floor   Inuit sculpture gallery to the  luminous  glow of the Tiffany stained glass windows in its  concert hall, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts newest pavilion is as calm and as uplifting as ….. well, a church.  Which it once was.  The  old  Erskine American Church,  a brownstone Sherbrooke St.  landmark  since 1894, has been converted into a  $40-million temple of art and music  known as the Claire and Marc Bourgie Pavillion.

When the medium is part of the message

By P.A. Sévigny on June 10, 2011

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Montreal artist Keira Parnell. As the curator of the new Mail-Art exhibition hanging in NDG’s popular Connexions Language School, Parnell said she had a great time putting together the eclectic mix of original postcards that makes up the show. “Once you get involved in the mail-art community, using the mail to send your work is just as important as getting one back.”

“Via Rail/A More Human Way to Travel?”

By Robert K. Stephen on June 10, 2011

VIA’s slogan currently reads, “A More Human Way to Travel”. Is this true? I decided to test this a bit further on a recent Toronto to Montreal VIA 1 round trip.  A human way to travel means to be treated like a human as opposed to, well let’s say to be innovative, cattle… know serve those human needs with comfort, a smile, amenities, food and drink which by the way is the glue that keeps humans talking and interacting with each other wherever they may be!

Brassy Brisket and Ham: Schwartz’s The Musical

By Alidor Aucoin on April 21, 2011

swartz_001.jpgNo matter how thin you slice it, Schwartz’s the Musical at  the  Centaur  Theatre  until April 24  is as appetizing  and as satisfying  as a smoked meat sandwich.  It is as effervescent as a   Cott’s black cherry coke chaser.  (Burp).   It’s a ludicrous treat, even though bits of it might be hard to digest.  The daffy burlesque of a show  was  inspired by Bill Brownstein’s  history of the landmark Montreal deli on The Main published five years ago by Véhicule Press, but the script which went through dozens of rewrites,  alters some of the detail in the book,  and takes on a life of Its own.

An Irish Tale

By Father John Walsh on April 21, 2011

polly_bridgewater.jpgIn Polly Of Bridgewater Farm  -- An Unknown Irish Story (Cabbagetown Press Limited. Toronto. Ontario. 2009) Catherine Fleming McKenty offers a refreshing look at her own family’s life in Ireland and their eventual coming to Montreal and settling in Toronto.

“Take a Back Seat Schwartz’s, Toronto Has You Beat! And the Perfect Wine with Smoked Meat”

By Robert K. Stephen on April 21, 2011

As a Montrealer transplanted to Toronto since 1984 I had long given up the illusory search for a decent bagel or a smoked meat sandwich in Hogtown. Strangely enough and in somewhat of an unpatriotic fashion (from a Montreal perspective) I have developed a fondness for peameal bacon sandwiches on a bun.Fairmont and St. Viateur have the Montreal-Toronto bagel contest locked up. Try as I may there are no comparable bagels in Toronto with that wonderful, smokiness and dense sweetness Fairmont and St. Viateur can deliver. But hold on Montrealers...

Death and Decadance: Otto Dix

By Alan Hustak on November 4, 2010

dix_IMG_0251.JPG“I never give any information about me in writing because you can tell at a glance my paintings contain the most accurate information about me. I have no intention of revealing to the astonished bourgeois and contemporaries the depths and abyss within my soul,” the German artist Otto Dix once wrote to a friend.  That may explain why the engrossing exhibition running until January at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Rouge Cabaret, A terrifying and Beautiful World, is both an immersive experience and a revelation. Not only do the 220  works on display examine the career of Otto Dix  but follow a chronology that emphasizes the peculiar mix of  decadence and despair which not only represents “the abyss within” his soul, but the dehumanizing times through which he lived.

October 1970: An ‘on-the-set’ education

By Fanny La Croix on November 4, 2010

As we pass the 40th anniversary of the October Crisis, my thoughts turn not to the lessons learned, if any, from this not-so-quiet revolution, or to questions surrounding the state of Quebec’s ongoing war between the two solitudes. 
No, my thoughts turn to that spring day when I, a young, eager Canadian actress was cast as FLQ terrorist Louise Lanctôt in a big-budget (by Canadian standards) CBC series recounting the events. A particularly vivid memory of the panic-attack that ensued comes to mind: How would I be credible in a role that would have me violently fight for the break-up of this beautiful country?

Otto Joachim: A majestic legacy

By Alan Hustak on September 9, 2010

Otto_Joachim.JPGDuring the First World War Otto Joachim was still a boy taking music lessons at the Buths-Neitzel conservatory. In Dusseldorf each day he passed a house that once belonged to Johannes Brahms. That, he said, gave him an inspiration, if he needed any, to think, “Hey, are you going to be a composer some day?”

New York extremes in a glass of wine

By Robert K. Stephen on September 9, 2010

hotel600.jpgDo not assume New York City is “a city”. It is a collection of villages within a city. In fact why bother calling it New York City. It’s really Manhattan divided by 22 or so. As geographical and ethnic boundaries go so do a couple of wine bars. Drop in for a glass of wine at two distinct villages in Manhattan and see two different worlds of wine.


By Louise V. Labrecque on September 9, 2010

Enfin!  Éva Circé-Côté est sortie des oubliettes pour entrer de plein fouet dans nos esprits, en même temps que sur les tablettes de nos librairies ! Il était temps, en effet, de dépoussiérer l’œuvre extraordinaire de cette grande dame, libre-penseuse, poète, dramaturge, journaliste, musicienne, et j’en passe !  Dans cent ans, ceux qui voudront comprendre le prix des combats contre l’ignorance et l’intolérance dans le Québec  des années 1900, s’épargneront de longues et austères recherches, s’ils consentent à passer au peigne fin le livre d’Andrée Lévesque “Éva Circé-Côté libre-penseuse 1871-1949. »

Surviving Broadway

By Sharman Yarnell on July 22, 2010

NEW YORK, NY - Although the past few months have seen some closures of those “sure-fire hits,” Broadway is alive, well and high-kicking through the summer and into the fall. However, the Bard’s claim, "the play’s the thing,” should probably read “the revival’s the thing.”

Most of the draws at the box office, except for a couple, are all tried and true productions from the past. Where are the writers, the lyricists, the great librettists of yore? 


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