Daily Archives: May 14, 2013

Why I love movies…

Okay – so I am a SERIOUS movie addict. In fact there is almost nothing else that I prefer to do with my leisure time – when I’m not writing, reading, or eating.

Okay…so sometimes EVEN when I am eating.

So, what sort of movies do I love to watch?

Well, for starters, old ones. I LOVE the Turner Channel and I’m always happy to tune in an old Bogart or John Wayne movie. Charles Bronson, Lee Marvin, Kirk Douglas, Anthony Quinn – I love those old tough guy movies.

So – it’s no surprise that I have spent a fair bit of my leisure time here in Toronto just kicking up at the movie theatre.

I’ve seen two movies in Toronto so far.

The first was IRON MAN 3 – which was a pretty good superhero movie – but as far as Iron Man movies go it sort of sucked. Which isn’t surprising. IRON MAN 2 basically sucked as well.

For starters – Ben Kingsley made a pretty good Mandarin until they started goofing him up and playing it for laughs. Man – I hate it when they take what should be a straight movie and play it up goofy. Where the heck were his rings? And why wasn’t he using them? That’s how I remember the Mandarin – sort of a Fu Man Chu sort of dude with two handfuls of rings – each with their own unique power. Goofy, corny – but heck, it’s a comic book, right? But instead the main menace was some dude who kept turning into some sort of molten fire. I mean – who was he supposed to be – Fing Fang Foom?

I know, I know – my inner geek is shining through.

So sue me.

Another problem – a BIG problem – that I had with Iron Man 3 was the fact that Tony Stark spent about three quarters of the movie WITHOUT his costume on. I mean – comme on – the movie was called Iron Man 3 – NOT Tony Stark 3. I had the same beef with the Tobey Mcguire – Sam Raimi Spiderman movies that kept taking his mask offover and over and over.

I mean – what is it? Is this an actor issue? An agent issue? A contract issue? Did somebody say – if Robert Downey Jr. doesn’t his face seen a certain number of times he isn’t making this movie?

Finally – I was REALLY cheesed off at the lamebrain anticlimactic goofy added scene at the very end of the movie. I think somebody has been watching too many episodes of The Sopranos.

BUT on the plus side let me say that the theatre I watched Iron Man 3 was first rate. It was a little independent theatre called The Rainbow Market Square. They had a full piano in the lobby with a young man playing classical music which – I believe- was then piped into the theatre. It gave the theatre a really classy restrained atmosphere. Sitting in the darkness, waiting for the movie to begin and listening to the piano music was a little like stepping back into a time machine.

I enjoyed the sensation.

Last nght I watched EVIL DEAD at the Richmond Street Scotiabank Theatre.

The movie itself was pretty good. Keep in mind I love the original version, I really enjoy Ash, and I didn’t particular appreciate the goofiness that Raimi insisted on putting into EVIL DEAD 2 – although I did appreciate the over-the-top gore of it all.

Talking about the EVIL DEAD is a bit of mind game – in the way that Raimi has sort of remade this movie TWICE now. It is like the man has eaten a bad cucumber that continues to repeat on him over and over again. It’s like that friend that you have that constantly talks about his days on the high school team – even when he’s forty or fifty years old.

It’s a little unhealthy.

But – like I’ve said a couple of times, I enjoyed this new version.

I didn’t really empathise with any of the characters because they were all film school puppies with milk cream complexion and a distinct lack of anything even resembling personal character – but the jump scenes got to me and a couple of the creep-out booga-booga moments really had me worried.

Of course, it helped a lot that there were ONLY about three people in the theatre, counting me – and we were ALL there for the sole purpose of watching us a creepshow movie. Nobody was giggling, noboday was whispering and NOBODY was trying to text their mom.

(I’ll get back to that texting business in a minute)

An empty theatre like that is PERFECT for watching this sort of movie because it allows you to lean in and soak up the intent of the movie. You experience better without the distraction of giggles and blue screen afterglow.

So I dug the movie and – like IRON MAN 3 – there was a little tiny insert scene at the very end of credits that was worth sticking around to watch.

Unlike IRON MAN 3’s giggling cheapshot little tiny insert scene that REALLY wasn’t worth hanging in there for a billion years worth of rolling credits.

On top of that the movie preshow was a really tedious carnival barker spiel of teasing hints and tiresome trivia and about eight to ten separate FREAKING COMMERCIALS (rising to a raving rant-like fervor) – and worst of all – they actually encouraged the audience to use their cell phones.

That’s right – Cineplex – this whole interactive pre-movie warm-up that you are pushing us movie-goers towards actually encourages movie watchers to USE THEIR FREAKING CELL PHONE.

This loud brassy vapid-brained spokesperson grins out at us from the movie screen and says – “Hey, why don’t you download this uber-cool sky-net-app that will let you play this trivia game and win some skynet-movie-buck-virtual-money – which is then followed by a half a dozen trivia questions worse than anything you might ever see on The Repo Games – following which the winner’s cyber-name is projected up their along with the runners up.

Near as I could tell there was only one person in the audience who actually played – and then that loud brassy woman on the screen – (I think she was a Terminator or something like that) – cheerfully reminded us that we could download the skynet-movie-game-app and play along the next time.

And then she told us in a small-print-voice – oh yeah, you better turn your cell phone off now.

Now come on, Cineplex. Haven’t you ever given a child a single lick at a candy apple and then said – Now save that candy apple for after supper, would you?

Keep in mind this last bit of rant is coming at you from a fellow who is operating on the keyboard of a REALLY FRUSTRATING little netbook that is barely able to keep up with me – and that this is the SAME fellow who refuses to buy and use a cell phone of his own.

Take that, Skynet.

Lastly, I’ll be meeting with editor Christopher Jones tonight for supper at a place called BARBARIANS. Christopher edited the small press anthology EULOGIES 2 – TALES FROM THE CELLAR. I’d post a photo of the cover – but this rinky-tink netbook is just a little too stubborn to adequately bounce that image onto my blog page.

My golly, I sure miss my own computer.
I should mention that I had brunch at Paddington’s Pump Restaurant – Home of the Big Oink – at the St. Lawrence Market. I had a meal of eggs and really tasty pancakes and sausages and pea bacon fried to a tasty crisp. It was a lot closer to walk to than Rasher’s and had the same sort of bacon sandwich – so I was a happy camper. My feet appreciated it to – although the Dr. Scholl’s insoles that I picked up along with the ZIM’S HEEL CRACK CREME really helped with my comfort level.

By golly, I sure miss my youth. I walked clear across Canada with nothing but my thumb stuck out in the breeze – and now a few Toronto blocks have brought to my knees…

Sounds like there’s a rap tune in there somewhere.

Who says old dudes like me aren’t hip?

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

The Workshop At TYPE Bookshop

On Monday at 1pm I delivered my one hour workshop on storytelling and writing to the kids of St. Mary’s School. The teachers brought two classes – one of grade five and one of grade six – about sixty kids in all. They had me set up in the bookstore basement – a snug little concrete structure that held our heat like a miniature sauna.

It was hot and uncomfortable but I had the kids rivetted. I could have probably kept on talking and telling stories for another hour. The bookstore had picked up ten copies of SINKING DEEPER and sold seven of them. I signed the copies and answered about a hundred separate questions as the kids made way over to ask me questions at the end of the workshop.

I want to send a BIG thank-you to the folks at TYPE Bookstore for giving me the opportunity to talk with the kids. They really were an eager group – (grade 4, 5 and 6 are ALWAYS a treat to talk to).

Afterwards I treated myself to a slice of potato pizza and a cold bottle of Steam Whistle Lager – which REALLY went down smoothly.

2013-05-13 04.49.46

(I know. I know. I forgot to take a picture of the kids – but I did remember to take a picture of the pizza. How male is that???)

Afterwards I made my way to the Scotiabank Theatre where I snarfed down a plate of poutine and a tall glass of Cherry Coke and watched the new EVIL DEAD remake. There was about three people in the theater watching the movie. That’s how I like to attend a movie. Nobody was talking or texting or giggling. Everyone was silent and intent of just watching the flick. Times like that I can allow myself to totally immerse myself in the story. There were a couple of jump scenes that rattled me nicely and more than a few scary scenes that made me catch my breath. Nothing like a good booga-booga scene.

And the last scene at the end of the credits was…well…groovy!

I checked out a half a dozen bookstores along the way – including the WORLD’S LARGEST BOOKSTORE, and BMV Books where I bought a couple of Hellboy mini-books.

Before going to bed I checked out the hotel’s fitness room and put their rowing machine, free weights, elliptical trainer and a press machine to good use before crashing for a VERY sound sleep.

I don’t have ANYTHING professional planned today – although an editor of an upcoming anthology that I have a story in wants to meet me for a steak. I do hope to check out RASHERS today – a restaurant that specializes in bacon – as well as the Leslieville Pumps – both on Queen Street West.

It is supposed to be getting warmer and sunnier over the next couple of days. I am here until Friday – so I might need myself some sunscreen and a good straw hat for the Silver Birch Festival.

Having a blast on this working vacation but BOY do I miss my wife.

And my cat.


yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon