Archive for November, 2010

Pop Sandbox’s graphic novel KENK named one of Quill & Quire’s books of the year

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010—News

My friend—and longtime source of inspiration—Alex Jansen launched his multimedia production and publishing shingle Pop Sandbox not too long ago, and he’s already got the company on the map with his journalistic comic book, KENK: A Graphic Portrait. The publication was just named one of Quill & Quire’s 2010 non-fiction books of the year. KENK is about Igor Kenk, “the world’s most prolific bicycle thief,” and you can learn more by clicking here.

I had the pleasure up meeting up with Alex again in October when he was in town for the Ottawa International Writing and Animation Festivals. Most of the KENK team came together to talk about the process behind the book and their plans to adapt it into an animated short film. Their work so far has been extremely innovative and creative, and promises to continue in that vein.

Check out Pop Sandbox and keep an eye on Alex. He’s got a lot more projects coming down the pipe, and I’m hoping to team up with him some day soon through one medium or another, be it print, film or something in between. Congratulations, Alex! Very well deserved.

Black Swan and 127 Hours – Teasers

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010—Film

Black Swan (USA 2010, Drama/Thriller), Writers: Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz, John McLaughlin; Director: Darren Aronofsky

127 Hours (USA/UK 2010, Adventure/Biography/Drama), Writers: Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy; Director: Danny Boyle

Two movies are coming down the pipes that I’m VERY excited about… and that make me think I should put more effort into getting to film festivals so that I won’t be forced to wait so long before seeing works like these. The movies are Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan and Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours. You can see the trailer for Black Swan here and for 127 Hours here. Both gave me shivers the first time I watched them.

Aronofsky’s films always intrigue me. After glancing back at what I wrote about his fantastic 2008 film The Wrestler (see The Wrestler review from January 2009), I’m reminded of the director’s penchant for exploring the depths of human misery, and how far obsession and the need for acceptance can drive people to spiral completely out of control. That may not make Black Swan sound like an appealing holiday flick, but if you’re interested in human psychology and pathology—as well as artful filmmaking—I think Black Swan is a very safe bet.

The film is set in the highly competitive, and evidently toxic, world of the New York City Ballet. When sweet Nina (Natalie Portman) is cast as the lead dancer in Swan Lake, her struggle to summon the darker, more sultry side of the role takes her to some very dangerous places. Everything about this movie entices me, from the tone to the subject matter to the cast. Portman is one of the most captivating and impressive people in the film industry. And I look forward to seeing what tricks of the imagination Aronofsky will pull this time around.

My reasons for wanting to see 127 Hours are similar, although the movies appear to be completely different. I hadn’t heard of 127 Hours until I saw its trailer before Howl, both of which star the outstanding James Franco. The energy and excitement of 127 Hours came across immediately. It’s based on the book Between a Rock and a Hard Place, Aron Ralston’s (Franco) real-life account of his experience getting caught between a rock (a boulder) and a hard place (a canyon wall) in Canyonlands, Utah, and having to choose whether to perish alone or amputate himself.

Given the performances Franco has been giving lately, he’s reason enough to get in line for 127 Hours. Milk (see the Milk review from December 2008), Howl, even Pineapple Express—all showcase his talent, range and fearlessness. Then there’s director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire). He has all the creativity and cojones needed to take a book about a guy trapped alone in a canyon and make it an engaging movie. Boyle has proven he takes no prisoners when it comes to filmmaking, which both draws me to his latest effort and guarantees that I’ll be closing my eyes when it’s decision time for Aron. (People have reportedly been vomiting or passing out during the movie’s most intense moments.)

There’s a really interesting article by Peter Debruge in Creative Screenwriting Magazine about the evolution of 127 Hours. I can’t find it online, but it’s worth tracking down if you want to read more about how Boyle adapted the book for the screen, and how the challenges of the medium necessitated climbing even farther into Ralston’s psyche and personal life.

So, I’ll almost certainly be writing about these two films in the coming weeks, and will most definitely be watching them. Even without having seen the films, I can say with complete confidence that you should go; they will be worth the price of admission.

Wonderpress fan and Juno-winner Jen Gould returns with Music Soup the DVD

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010—News

Juno Award-winning children’s musician, and avid Wonderpress fan, Jen Gould recently released the DVD version of her album Music Soup. Visit her website to learn more and order your copy.