TIFF 2013 :: Day 3 :: What To See at TIFF Today

by Shannonn Kelly
01:18AM, EST, September 07, 2013

Jason Bateman as a 40 year-old Spelling Bee contestant in his directorial debut "Bad Words"
Jason Bateman as a 40 year-old Spelling Bee contestant in his directorial debut “Bad Words”


Unexpectedly, my final film tonight was “Triptyque” (Triptych), by co-directors Robert LePage and Pedro Pires – Not originally on my Top 100 but I’ve heard so much about the play, that I decided to go see it since it was in close proximity to my previous film. The cinematography by co-director Pedro Pires was gorgeous. The story simple. The cast perfect. The overall feeling was very organic from storytelling to editing. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I have never seen a bad film from Quebec. I could go watch ‘Triptyque’ again right now. It was what I would call “poetically artful”.

I also saw “12 Years a Slave” – – Stunning, beautifully acted narrative of appalling historical fact… Chiwetel Ejiofor is ready for his Oscar! A **Must See**

My Picks for Day 3 at TIFF 2013 are as follows. Happy TIFF-Ing 🙂 Continue reading “TIFF 2013 :: Day 3 :: What To See at TIFF Today”

TIFF 2013 :: Breaking Down The Program – 100 Picks at TIFF

by Shannonn Kelly
05:12AM, EST, Thursday September 05, 2013

Chiwetel Ejiofor, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jason Bateman bring their personal best to TIFF 2013
Chiwetel Ejiofor, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jason Bateman bring their personal best to TIFF 2013

Well film lovers – the behemoth that is known as the 38th Annual Toronto International Film Festival is in full swing starting Today!

As my readers know, I try and give you the best bang for your $23.50 per ticket by breaking down the monster program book into a pop-culture-y take and make it all user friendly.

I always try to find the gems from all over the world and not just Hollywood blockbusters. Especially interesting to filmgoers should be films without distribution. Those are the films people need to see so the filmmaker can build and audience through word-of-mouth, no matter what country they’re from. This year was tough to stay ‘indie‘ with so many good people making good movies and a few GREAT directorial debuts, by the likes of (my crushes) Jason Bateman and Joseph Gordon-Levitt for instance.

I’ve been following Chiwetel Ejiofor since he played ‘Okwe’ in Stephen Frears‘ film Dirty Pretty Things (2002). I saw the premiere of this film when I was still in school but came here for TIFF. I was blown away by his performance and the screenplay in general.the script was originally submitted by writer Steven Knight to the BBC Writersroom. This screenplay went on to become ‘Dirty Pretty Things’. Ejiofor won Best Actor at the British Independent Film Awards, the Evening Standard Film Awards, and the San Diego Film Critics Society Awards. He went on to co-star in  Love Actually (2003), Woody Allen‘s Melinda and Melinda (2004), Kinky Boots (2005), Inside Man (2006), Children of Men (2006), American Gangster (2007) which I really thought he was the star and not Denzel Washington.

This year Ejiofor stars in two heartfelt and dramatic films at TIFF. He plays ‘Odenigbo’ in Half of a Yellow Sun about family and war in Nigeria by director and starring opposite Thandie Newton and Anika Noni Rose.

In “12 Years a Slave“, Ejiofor also stars as ‘Solomon Northup’ in this horrendous based on fact story about a fiddle playing 19th-century free black man abducted and sold into slavery in the pre-Civil War era Deep South. Directed by Steve McQueen “Hunger” (2008) and Shame (2011). Cast your early Oscar vote for for Ejiofor in “12 Years a Slave”. It’s going to be a Winner.

Continue reading “TIFF 2013 :: Breaking Down The Program – 100 Picks at TIFF”

Beloved Stage and TV Actress Bonnie Franklin – Dead at 69…

by Shannonn Kelly
05:03AM, EST, March 02, 2013

Bonnie Franklin with TV Daughters Mackenzie Phillips and Valerie Bertinelli
Bonnie Franklin with TV Daughters Mackenzie Phillips and Valerie Bertinelli

Beloved TV actress Bonnie Franklin who’s been suffering complications from pancreatic cancer is dead. She passed away yesterday at the age of  69.

In junior high, Franklin had two un-credited film roles – The Kettles in the Ozarks (1956) and The Wrong Man (1961) by famed director Alfred Hitchcock. She eventually graduated from Beverly Hills High School that produced other famous movie alumni such as Nicolas Cage, Betty White, Gina Gershon, and Crispin Glover to name a few.

A long standing advocate for Women’s Rights especially in the story lines for her famous sitcom “One Day At A Time” (1975-1984), Franklin also starred in stage productions, most notably in “Applause” oppsite the great Lauren Bacall. Here’s a clip of Franklin’s Tony Award nominated performance.

Franklin’s TV daughter from “One Day At A Time”, Valerie Bertinelli wrote on her website yesterday:

My heart is breaking.  Bonnie has always been one of the most important women in my life and was a second mother to me.  The years on “One Day At A Time” were some of the happiest of my life, and along with Pat and Mackenzie  we were a family in every way.  She taught me how to navigate this business and life itself with grace and humor, and to always be true to yourself.  I will miss her terribly. Continue reading “Beloved Stage and TV Actress Bonnie Franklin – Dead at 69…”

FaceBook Friend of the Week – The Swingin’ Miss Drea Burke

by Shannonn Kelly
06:23AM, EST, February 19, 2012

I’m so happy to blog about this week’s ‘FaceBook Friend of the Week’ – Miss Drea Burke

Drea Burck, Attorney, Actress, Dancer and Cat Lover
FaceBook Friend of The Week – Drea Burck, Attorney, Actress, Dancer and Cat Lover…

I’ve already got a smile on my face because I absolutely love this gal.

In 2007, ReelHeART International Film Festival introduced a Feature Screenplay Competition and in 2008 I met Drea, a stage actress who wowed me with her audition.

She was cast in the German situated, political screenplay “The Other Side Of The Wall”, by Mary Townsend as well as the sci-fi contagion screenplay “Scavengers” by Diana Kemp Jones.

Drea is a multi-faceted person having studied at the Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3 in Lyon, France and then Law and French and English Literature at the University of Toronto. Continue reading “FaceBook Friend of the Week – The Swingin’ Miss Drea Burke”

Golden Globe® Winning – Multitalented Actor – Charles Durning – Dead at 89…

by Shannonn Kelly
10:20AM, EST December 26, 2012

Actor Charles Durning – Dead at 89…

Christmas eve angels were on double duty as another terrific character actor, Charles Durning died. He was 89 years-old.

In 2003, I worked on the set of a fairly forgettable MOW called “A Very Married Christmas” that starred Joe Mantegna, Jean Smart and Charles Durning who played a “a volunteer Santa”that helped the two lead characters get together.

I remember at one of the first evening meals, I kept watching Mr. Durning hoping he would be the wonderful person I thought he was. He did not disappoint. Warm. Genuine. Accessible. Continue reading “Golden Globe® Winning – Multitalented Actor – Charles Durning – Dead at 89…”

Versatile Character Actor – Jack Klugman – Dead at 90…

by Shannonn Kelly
5:02PM, EST, December 24, 2012

With so many unexpected celebrity deaths this year we sadly report versatile character actor Jack Klugman (best known as Oscar Madison on TV’s The Odd Couple) passed away earlier today in his home in Woodland Hills, a district of Los Angeles, California.

Recently, I just started watching the “Odd Couple” (1970-1975) in syndication and really enjoyed the chemistry Klugman had with his co-star Tony Randall. Off screen, they were the best of friends, who Klugman gleefully indulged improvising with for the TV series.

Often leading TV actors have to wait a bit before moving onto another series, but a year after The Odd Couple wrapped, Klugman successfully starred in another series Quincy Jones M.E. which ran from 1976 to 1983.

Continue reading “Versatile Character Actor – Jack Klugman – Dead at 90…”

Review :: Indie Stage :: A Clockwork Orange :: Takes a Licking and Keeps On Ticking

by Shannonn Kelly
11:54AM EST, December 07, 2012

It’s been a strong year for independent stage productions with Fringe faves “Tinfoil Dinosaur” by Sam S. Mullins and “Gay Nerds” by JP Larocque placed firmly at the top of my list. Last night I went to the opening night performance of “A Clockwork Orange” from director Victoria Fuller, a Newfoundland lass and recent graduate of The Royal Conservatoire Of Scotland at Glasgow with MA in musical theater.

My understanding is this play was set in motion to honor the 50th Anniversary of the book, “A Clockwork Orange” by Anthony Burgess novel and not the Stanley Kubrick film.

Adrian Yearwood as “Alex” screams for the “bliss and heaven” of Beethoven…

On many levels this mount of “A Clockwork Orange” worked and I would place in my Top 6 of all the plays I’ve seen this year. Staying true to the storyline, compressing it but going through all 21 chapters the way Burgess had intended.

The play opens at the Korova Milkbar, an establishment that serves milk laced with drugs in which fifteen-year-old Alex (played with physical litheness and postmodern angst by Adrian Yearwood) who talks in a teenage slang called Nadsat (part Russian, part Cockney English) and revs up his trio of teenage criminals: Pete, Georgie and Dim to roam the streets of London, robbing and beating men and raping women. The last of these crimes is particularly brutal.

Alex and his band of misguided brothers happen upon an author also named “Alex” as in F. Alexander, played with natural warmth by Jake Fisher, who is out for a stroll with his lovely supportive wife. The bad Alex takes an immediate dislike to the good Alex. The fact that the author’s name matches the team leader and that he’s written a manuscript with the metafictional title “A Clockwork Orange” somehow enrages teen-thug Alex beyond comprehension so they beat up the author and gang-rape his wife while making him watch.
Continue reading “Review :: Indie Stage :: A Clockwork Orange :: Takes a Licking and Keeps On Ticking”

TIFF 2012 : : Day 9 – Films You Should See

by Shannonn Kelly
03:10AM, EST, September 14, 2012

What a DAY! 14 hours of film viewing and Q&As. I’m exhausted beyond exhausted but here are some of my highlights:

Alice Lowe and Steve Oram play murderous “Sightseers” in Ben Wheatley’s version of a Bonnie and Clyde tale.
  • Sightseers
    By director Ben Wheatley was the unexpected highpoint of my day, filled with murderous mayhem through the English countryside when two sad sack lovers on their first ‘dirty weekend’ together exact their own brand of civil justice. It’s “The Trip” meets “No Country for Old Men”
  • Sons of the Clouds: The Last Colony
    I learned about a part of the world I hear nothing about in the media and the terrible injustice done to the native Sahwari people of northern Africa: the Western Sahara, which has the distinction of being the last “colony” on the African continent.
  • Smashed
    Very small almost Made-for-TV feel independent film about a couple that drinks to celebrate everything, everyday. Unusual casting, but it all works.
  • Peaches Does Herself
    What do you say about a girl who wants it all. Peaches showed up with 18 people from the “Live Show” documentary for the premiere. An added highlight for me was the on-screen appearance of one of the most gorgeous he/she creatures I’ve ever seen. Dannii Daniels absolutely took my breath away. Her presence was totally magnificent.
  • Come Out and Play
    By Russian director now living in Mexico who goes by the moniker “Makinov”. No last name and the film was no good. But, beautifully shot… Midnight Madness crowd left in droves grumbling feedback such as: “That’s the worst movie I’ve ever seen.”, “What the hell what Makinov thinking?”, “What a waste of my time.”…

Some blog reviews will follow post TIFF. Continue reading “TIFF 2012 : : Day 9 – Films You Should See”

R.I.P. Versatile Character Actor William Windom. Dead at 88…

By Shannonn Kelly
6:39AM, EST, August 19, 2012

R.I.P. great character actor William Windom. Dead at 88 from congestive heart failure.

Windom’s first movie role was as Mr. Gilmer, the prosecuting attorney in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” starring Gregory Peck.

Versatile Character Actor William Windom

His biggest critical success was the US half-hour sitcom “My World and Welcome to It“, broadcast for only one season from 969-70.

Windom won an Emmy for playing John Munroe, a character based on the humor and The New Yorker cartoons of James Thurber.

Today Windom may probably better known his role in “Murder She Wrote” and to Trekkies everywhere for a “Star Trek” episode called  the “Doomsday Machine”. Windom played Commodore Matt Decker, the sole survivor of a spacecraft who, along with the crew of the Enterprise, tries to neutralize a planet-destroying robot.

William Windom Quote:

“A lot of people today think the first thing they saw is the first thing that ever happened, and that means ‘Star Trek’ or ‘Murder, She Wrote,’ ” he once told The New York Times. “But the thing I’m most proud of is playing ‘Richard III’ in Biarritz…”

Review : : HELLO! – A Playful Alien Existentialist Musical

by Shannonn Kelly
6:54PM EST, August 03, 2012

Sometimes in this city you get a little something unexpected when you go out for an evening –

“Up With Aliens” – Cast Dance in “HELLO – The Musical”

Last night I went to a performance of “HELLO! – The Musical” by 1st time director Mandy Leon and I felt I was abducted and taken back in time to when I lived in New York City pre 9/11.

Given the fact that “HELLO” was staged at the “Electric Theatre” with big blue eyes of an extra terrestrial staring down at you as you enter; your hopes rise that the show will follow suit and offer you a little something ‘not of this world’ in terms of entertainment.

HELLO” has only 2 reviews and not a lot of advertising. Last night the venue was less than ½ full. That’s a bit of a shame.

It deserves with an appreciative audience who knows what they’re in for when they step past those big blue Alien eyes.

So why is “HELLO! – The Musical” not packed every night?

I’m going to say it right now – The ticket price is too high – The theme too vague Continue reading “Review : : HELLO! – A Playful Alien Existentialist Musical”