Wednesday, October 31, 2012
A recent study by the University of New Westminster in the UK found that watching 90 minutes of a horror movie can burn off up to 113 calories. So what better way to shave off calories caused by candy than watching a scary movie this Halloween night? Here are five modern horror flicks for your viewing pleasure.
The Tall Man (2012)
This recent horror film cost a reported $18 million but was released directly to on-demand (where I caught it over the weekend). It's not as terrible as its lack of box-office returns would suggest. Jessica Biel stars and produces this creepy tale of child abduction that has more twists than a towel in a high-school locker room. Nothing is what it appears to be, including the motivation of the film's characters.
Another entry with an unpredictable resolution, Shuttle is about more than a simple robbery. Two college girls returning from vacay take the wrong bus home from the airport and discover being beautiful can be horrific.
Arguably the smartest and most original zombie film in years, Pontypool takes place entirely within a radio station in small-town Ontario. The virus that turns people into babbling, bloodthirsty fools in this Bruce McDonald film isn't a conventional virus at all but an earworm -- or certain words. "There are three stages to this virus," McDonald explains. "The first stage is you might begin to repeat a word . . . The second stage is your language becomes scrambled . . . The third stage is that you become so distraught at your condition that the only way out of the situation you feel, as an infected person, is to try to chew your way through the mouth of another person." Fans are biting their tongues waiting for the two planned sequels.
This sharp horror indie finds a small group of people trapped in a deserted gas station fending off an alien porcupine. Sound ridic? Yes, it partially is, but I was pleasantly surprised by the originality of Splinter and horrified by the monster who takes over its victims' bodies.
The Descent (2005)
The Descent is the best horror movie of the last decade, period. The film has received loads of praise from critics, so I'm surprised more people haven't seen this gem from Brit director Neil Marshall. Marshall came up with the idea of having an all-female cast after completing his testosterone-soaked 2002 werewolf flick Dog Soldiers. I recall essentially forcing a few of my friends to watch The Descent a few years back. "When are the monsters showing up?" was a frequent remark. The Descent is a monster movie that's not about monsters. It's about friendship and betrayal. Marshall has crafted a horror movie where you actually care about the characters, which is a unique feat in the genre. I know which movie I'll be revisiting tonight to burn off my sugar-induced calories.
Sunday, October 28, 2012
MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry read an open letter to Richard Mourdock Oct 27, criticizing the Republican Indiana senate candidate's comment regarding rape and abortion.
"I believe life begins at conception . . . The only exception I have, to have an abortion, is in that case of the life of the mother," Mourdock said during a debate Oct 23. "I've struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from god. And even when life begins at that horrible situation of rape, that is something god intended to happen."
A survivor of sexual assault herself, Harris-Perry said she is not against a woman choosing to keep her rapist's child. "I do not doubt the compassion or judge the choice of a survivor who carries a rape pregnancy to term."
She continued, "But the whole point is choice, consent. You see, Mr Mourdock, the violation of rape is more than physical. Rapists strip women of our right to choose, of our right to say no, of our right to control what is happening to our bodies. Most assailants tell us it is our fault. Tell us to be silent. Sometimes they even tell us it is god's will. That is the core violation of rape -- it takes away choice."
Mourdock is facing off against Joe Donnelly to replace the incumbent, Senator Richard Lugar, on Nov 6.
Watch Harris-Perry read her letter below.
Friday, October 26, 2012
Cellist Marion Arthur-Kiss and pianist Nicolette Lagace each released several solo albums before joining forces to form Thorn in 2010. Now with their debut album, Electric Motherboard, the duo has enlisted Anti Studios' Stephane Arthur-Kiss (who, yes, is also Marion's husband) to bring a voltaic edge to their gothic-inspired sound.
Electric Motherboard meanders through genres like a snake in search of prey. From nice narratives ("Starlight") to hip-hop infused lyrics ("Summer") to instrumental ("Space.")
"Our sound is now raw, stripped down and emtionally challenging," Marion says. "This is an album for people who like real emotions expressed in an honest way. This album is an antidote to listening to cotton candy wrapped pop."
Both Marion and Lagacé say bringing Stephane on as a producer has deepened Thorn's darkness.
"Stephane has enhanced Thorn's sound with electronic beats and soundscapes," Lagacé says. "We are able to express the wide range of emotions that our music represents."
Listen to Electric Motherboard below and visit Thorn's Facebook page for links, order info and future tour dates.
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
In an honest and heartfelt speech, trans writer and director Lana Wachowski recently spoke of thoughts of suicide and her struggle to transition (a word she dislikes).
Wachowski was accepting the Visibility Award from the Human Rights Campaign Oct 20.
Wachowski and her brother Andy rose to fame for penning and directing The Matrix trilogy. Yet my favourite of theirs remains the lesbian film noir Bound. The siblings have teamed up with Run Lola Run director Tom Tykwer for their next adventure, Cloud Atlas, due in theatres Oct 26.
Watch her speech below and watch Xtra's video of the Cloud Atlas cast and crew at TIFF.
Monday, October 22, 2012
Add a musical mindfuck to your Monday with this new album from laptop DJ Flying Lotus.
Flying Lotus, real name Steven Ellison, started out providing bumper music for Cartoon Network's Adult Swim before releasing his avant-garde 2006 debut 1983.
His latest, Until the Quiet Comes, draws upon psychedelic and African influences and is described as an "electronic jazz album." "I imagined Little Nemo on a flying bed floating over the city," Ellison told Spin. "This is the soundtrack to it."
Thom Yorke and Erykah Badu make guest appearances on the album.
"Putty Boy Strut"
Friday, October 19, 2012
Since Ottawa songtress Ana Miura founded Babes for Breasts (B4B) in 2003, the musical collective has raised more than $50,000 for breast cancer charities.
Miura enlisted fellow Ottawa singer/songwriter Amanda Rheaume to join the ranks of B4B in 2007, and the two musical mavens have since staged concerts all over Canada.
"We all have a responsibility to help others whether that is shovelling an elderly person's driveway or putting on a benefit concert," Miura states on B4B's website. "Babes for Breasts has turned into a community in and of itself filled with incredible people and the love and dedication that is unwavering."
Support B4B Saturday, Oct 20 at their sixth annual benefit concert. Miura and Rheaume will be joined by Suzie Vinnick, Ann Virend and Robyn Dell'Unto.
Visit B4B's official site for advance tickets, to purchase a compilation album or to donate.
Babes for Breasts sixth annual benefit concert
Sat, Oct 20, doors at 7:30pm
Saint Brigid's Centre for the Arts
310 Saint Patrick St
$20 advance, $27 door
Thursday, October 18, 2012
Oscar-nominated actress Rosie Perez has teamed up with actually.org to set Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney straight.
Romney was secretly taped in May at a Florida fundraising dinner joking that if he were Latino, he would have a better shot at winning the election.
Perez sarcastically imagines what advantages Romney would be privileged with if he were Latino, then goes even further. "What if you were just a little bit gay, Mitt? Think of all the advantages that would provide. No, wait for it, what if you had a vagina?"
Perez closes out on a serious tone. Watch the video below.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Teenaged YouTube sensation Megan Landry penned her anti-bullying anthem "Stronger" after suffering at the hands of high school tormentors.
"I was not going to let them break me," Landry, an Ottawa resident, writes in an email. "I hope my song will give other kids the power to look right over their heads. Because in the end bullying is really about power. Why give anyone the satisfaction over you. I didn't and I won't and I hope more and more kids don't either."
Landry's DIY video has garnered more than 77,000 views since being uploaded in January.
For more on the fight against bullying, read Andrea Houston's article on MP Dany Morin's motion to create a national bullying prevention strategy.
Thursday, October 11, 2012
To mark the 24th annual National Coming Out Day, here are five songs that speak directly to coming out, encourage tolerance or could easily be interpreted as pro-gay.
Murs, "Animal Style."
Beastie Boys, "All Lifestyles."
Girl in a Coma, "Smart."
The Replacements, "I Will Dare."
Green Day, "Coming Clean."
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Christmas came early this year for fans of power lesbians when MSNBC host Rachel Maddow stopped by Ellen DeGeneres's talk show.
Maddow dished on everything from politics, to dancing with her dog, to her love/hate relationship with Jersey Shore.
Watch the interview on SheWired.