The young adult fiction novel series After has a fascinating genesis and a built-in audience of superfans. Anna Todd’s decision to write a teen romance and bypass regular publishing houses via the Canadian social media app Wattpad resulted in sweet success. Her reworking of the traditional teen romdram to be more authentic is a major hit, four books, 1.5 billion reads on Wattpad and publication in forty countries. Then there’s the devoted fanbase. Well good news, twenty-somethings, you’re favourite story’s a film by Jenny Gage starring the photogenic Josephine Langford and Hero Fiennes Tiffin. They’re the young lovers in After – she’s conservative and academically ambitious, he’s Byronic and moody and they both love Wuthering Heights. Things start badly, but they have pure romantic (hormonal) chemistry bordering on obsession. College life’s tough PLUS they must adjust to these new strong emotions. Will they, or won’t they? The road to bliss is bumpy – his past, social pressures, a jealous girlfriend, parental concerns and relationship instability; think Romeo and Juliet sans the poor outcome. Here is the full list of books, and ipso facto, future movies – After, After We Collided, After We Fell, After Ever Happy, and Before. The tagline is all of us at 18 “After Your First, Life is Never the Same” – ain’t it the truth?
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In 1973, a cocky, Bob Dylan obsessed American marched into the Kreditbanken in Stockholm, Sweden to make an unauthorised withdrawal, armed with rifles, bombs, bulletproof vests yelling “I am the outlaw!”. He took four staffers hostage and held them in a bank vault for six days, threatening to shoot them if he wasn’t allowed to leave in a blue Mustang “exactly like Steve McQueen’s in Bullit.” Robert Budreau’s film Stockholm revisits the landmark with some changes, starring Ethan Hawke as the incompetent, puffed up robber and Noomi Rapace as a bank worker who develops a bond with him, a “psychological alliance’ that came to be known as the Stockholm Syndrome. It’s recognised as a state in which victims of abuse feel loyalty and sometimes love for their captors. It was a bizarre situation played here for laughs as Hawke stumbles all over himself putting lives at risk while tenderly caring for his captives. This entry in the “truth is stranger than fiction” canon strangely lacks real tension but laugher at the outlaw’s expense is kinda fun.
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Viewed from the Middle Ages as a prostitute, and renamed an Apostle of Apostles in 2016, Mary Magdalene’s identity has changed for the faithful. Originally a midwife and fisher from Magdala on the Sea of Galilee, Mary followed Jesus with the other disciples, spreading his word, healing and offering her personal wealth to the cause. Mary is mentioned frequently in all four canonical gospels and is the only person to have been with Jesus at his crucifixion, burial and resurrection. Garth Davis’ film starring Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix as the Christ reveals the version of her churches now believe to be true, as an apostle. She’s is traumatised during an “exorcism” by her father and seeks a new life. Christ and his followers come through; she immediately recognises her new calling and joins them. Rooney’s performance is quietly graceful hinting at spiritual and compassionate depth, and Phoenix the same, in a simple and moving portrayal. Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Peter who is wary of her. Their journey to Jerusalem is horrific, passing scenes of crucifixions and hordes of dying people, victims of Roman oppression. They reach the Holy City for Passover and Jesus is nearly torn apart. Mary is with him when he is arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. Her message, according to Davis is that prayer is a gift and the kingdom of God is inside, not in politics or society. The film’s not intended to be action packed or provocative; it appears to be an act of faith told simply.
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You may need a shower after watching The Brink, a documentary by Alison Klayman who had to spend a year following Trump’s repugnant former chief strategist Steve Bannon. He is the far-right activist who bangs the drum around the world for global populism; its surprising how many sympathetic international leaders he glad-hands. Klayman followed him through the 2018 mid-term US elections and overseas to stoke right wing fervour during the May 2019 European Parliamentary elections. He has Trump’s smarmy righteousness but more brains, he’s obsequious, highly caffeinated and abusive while proclaiming thinly disguised fascism. Bannon claims he hated every minute in the White House, where he thought he was doing the Lord’s work. He’s afraid of the new axis of power – China, Iran and Turkey and envisions a worldwide Christian Democracy and he still makes alt-right propaganda films. In one scene he asks himself “What would (Hitler’s propaganda filmmaker) Leni Riefenstahl do?”. He’s still doing the far-right rounds with a new organisation that I won’t name on a $100M gift from a Chinese investor, living the high life in five-star hotels and private airlines. Included is footage of his speaking engagement in Toronto and the jeering rallies outside. Fascinating and nauseating.
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The family film Mia and the White Lion seems at first to be a sweet story about an English family running a lion farm in South African and their cute white lion cub who lives in the house. Young Mia has a special bond with Charlie and life is good, but as he gets older and bigger and more powerful, Mia must let him live outside. Her father is furious that she endangers herself and her brother by roughhousing with Charlie, and threatens to sell him. Years later its clear Charlie is going to be sold or sent to a sanctuary. When Mia gets wind of the reality of the place Charlie’s sent to, she walks for days to rescue him and together they make an escape. Sadly, her father sold Charlie to a hunting farm where tourists shoot penned wild animals for trophies. Together they search for a sanctuary where he can live in peace. Her relationship with the family takes years to mend. Its powerful stuff watching star Daniah De Villiers interact with the lion actors so easily over the two-year shoot. Gilles de Maistre’ film also sends a powerful message about African hunting farms posing as sanctuaries.
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Hulu’s horror anthology series Into the Dark returns for a second season of “celebrations” of holidays that turn out badly. There’s the one about the man dragging a plastic wrapped freshly dead body around, while people are impressed by his authentic looking “costume”. He takes the body to a party and meets a girl whom he entertains with a diatribe on murder. He asks her if anyone is expecting her at home tonight, and she gives the wrong answer. Uh oh. Plus – There’s some Italian cheese infested with live maggots – Casu Marzu – and to me that’s horror enough for one night. Low brow chills for the morbid.
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That Moment When every Tuesday on Facebook Watch offers eight minute bursts of fun and learning featuring celebrities, authors, leaders and thinkers. Steve Goldbloom asks guests to relate critical moments that altered the course of their careers and lives. This should appeal to the nosey parker in all of us. Headliners include Steve Martin & Martin Short – April 16th, Gloria Steinem- April 23rd, Kelly Korrigan – April 30th, Patton Oswalt – May 7th and Margaret Atwood on “Why The Handmaid’s Tale has political appeal right now”.
Bryan Stevenson (Founder, Equal Justice Initiative) “We’re all more than the worst thing we’ve ever done”
Sarah Lewis (Author, The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery) “Shifting our narrative of what’s possible”
David Heinemeier Hansson (Programmer, Author) “We should be able to get work done at work”
Robin Arzon (Ultramarathon runner) “Reinvention through Running”
Roy Choi (Chef, Kogi) “The moment when cooking ‘became my addiction’”
Esther Perel (Psychotherapist) “How her parents’ survival shaped her understanding of life and relationships”
Justine Bateman (Actress) “How fame can hijack reality”
Max Boot (Author, Council on Foreign Relations Fellow) “Why Max Boot left the political right”
And another streaming service! hayu is the first all-reality subscription video-on-demand service curated and fully integrated with social media now available in Canada. Two hundred shows and 6000 episodes are available on the usual devices at www.hayu.ca
Not sure about its exclusive offering Love Island: Australia. According to the news release it’s “an emotional feast of lust and passion in the sun, filled with romance and rejection as gorgeous, young Aussie’s compete for both love and money.” “Beautiful, young singles living the celebrity lifestyle in a stunning villa, having never met before, immediately ‘couple up’ and share a bed with each other. Islanders will put their perfect bodies to the test when they go head-to-head in a series of sexy, intimate and exposing challenges that will take them anywhere from naughty arts and crafts, to messy obstacle courses, to sexy relationships.” You decide.
Reel Canada’s sixth annual National Canadian Film Day on April 17, coincides with the centennial of Canada’s first genuine blockbuster and oldest surviving feature film, Nell Shipman’s Back to God’s Country, a “sassy, snowy” adventure story that remains Canada’s most successful silent film.
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NCFD celebrates 100 years of Canadian cinema with 1000 screenings across the country in every kind of joint – theatres, schools, libraries, community centres, and retirement residences, film festivals, cinemas, art galleries, and military bases and embassies. NCFD is in collaboration with the Government of Canada, Global Affairs Canada, Telefilm Canada, Cineplex, TD, Netflix, encore+, Landmark Cinemas, Google, returning broadcast and streaming partners include Hollywood Suite, CBC, Bell Media, APTN, OutTV, and more.
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