Tag Archives: Canada

Great Canadian Ghost Stories, and Where to Find Them

21 Oct

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Book launch on Oct 23, 7pm at Bolen Books
1644 Hillside Ave #111, Victoria, BC

Fans of supernatural lore can easily find a wide selection of Barbara Smith’s books collecting ghost stories in many a public library. Each of them focuses on a specific region and as she wrote in her latest work, Great Canadian Ghost Stories from Coast to Coast, “Please know that all my books of ghost stories, including this one, have been written to entertain and inform, not to change anyone’s belief systems.”

From Labrador to Vancouver Island, this work does a great job at offering the best-known tales to read before bed. I found The Isle of Demons from way out East particularly sad — a newlywed family was left to fend for themselves there, but its reputation got the better of sailors when they needed help — and for Victoria, British Columbia, my home, to decide on which story is best to spotlight must have been tough. Two are offered: the shade at Beacon Hill Park (too common of an entry in many works for my taste). I had an experience at Hatley Castle, and that’s my number one choice. Understandably, the administration wants to play that down, but the stories and what I heard says it all.

Another I’m trying to encounter is the Time Slip on Shelbourne street. I drove through this path many an October night for the past several years. The thought of this path becoming country is theoretically an illusion because when tired, the autumn foliage can trick the mind. I have a slip of paper in a plastic mylar bag to drop to test the theory of, “If you find this note, please find me in the years of 1978 and onwards.” My interest in the paranormal started in that decade.

This superlative collection covers favourites like The Dungarvon Whooper, The Ghosts of Fort George and The Banff Springs Hotel. I’m still looking for mention of the Sooke Staircase and feel this piece of folklore is overlooked! Another entry to note about my home province is that no, the doll Mandy did not inspire the Nicolas Cage movie of the same name. The movie took place in the Shadow Mountains of California, and it has its own demons for visitors to deal with.

I particularly enjoyed how this work represents the Great White North as a whole. The folklore from Nunavut is most likely still being pieced together. When considering how widespread and isolated citizens are, I firmly believe we have a lot of cabins in the woods scenarios. To find one that’s not akin to Evil Dead will be difficult.

The content offered in this collection is reading time well spent. Smith’s prose is easy to follow. Although I know more than half the stories already, they are worth revisiting when the mood strikes. She’s been writing these books since 1993, and her experience shows. She tells these tales as though she’s passing knowledge from one generation to another so that certain aspects of Canada’s past are not forgotten. The loss of lives at sea will always be hard-hitting. Mariner tales, especially “Mysterious Rescue,” early in this book sets the tone. Sometimes, those “Ghostly Footsteps” are just that; the dead has no interaction with the living, but are fleeting memories so we can at least acknowledge their presence. The entry on “Historical Hamilton House” hits all the right notes not only about the rise of Spiritualism in Canada and why many took to it, but also explains the Ackroyd connection. This family’s interest spanned generations and the comedian took ideas to pen the comedy classic Ghostbusters.

Barbara Smith’s books are often found in bookstores when the Halloween season arises. This latest work updates a few details. There’s no denying we all love a good ghost story by the campfire, but when we want to go find answers, that’s a different kettle of fish. My advice: just do not try (not many books stand out) and simply enjoy discovering Canada’s past from a supernatural angle. I feel that’s this book’s purpose, as I would love to ride those haunted railways once again.

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Trench 11 Goes Canada-Wide August 31st! & A Movie Review

28 Aug

Toronto – Cineplex Yonge & Dundas
Montreal – Cineplex Latin Quarter
Côte Saint-Luc – Cineplex Odeon Cavendish Mall
Vancouver – Cineplex Park Theatre
Winnipeg – Cineplex Odeon McGillivray
Calgary – Cineplex Odeon Eau Claire
Halifax – Cineplex Cinemas Parklane
Ottawa – The Mayfair Cinema

Trench 11 is more than a simple horror film set in the backdrop of World War I. It plays with a common fear many soldiers had in the front lines and sets the tone for what the future may hold, especially when a certain regime is starting to rise into power. On one front, the fear in what chemical weapons can do has many soldiers scared. In another, just what kind of secret experiments were conducted? This film played at film festivals and now it’s getting week-long screenings Canada-wide, beginning August 31st.
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Ryuichi Sakamoto: CODA — Portrait of Both the Artist & the Man. Screenings July 28th!

23 Jul

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Vancouver – Vancity – July 28
Toronto – TIFF Bell LightBox – August 3
Calgary – Globe Cinema – August 10
Montreal – CinemaModerne – August 18

“Please fans with its drifting, lyrical, and
thoughtful tenor, echoing so much of this artist’s music.”
– Dennis Harvey, Variety

“The film serves as a stirringly poetic meditation
on the pursuit of creation in the face of mortality.”
– Michael Rechtshaffen, LA Times

The official selection of La Biennale di Venezia 2017 and Tribeca Film Festival 2018 – Ryuichi Sakamoto: CODA directed by Stephen Nomura Schible, will play its way into theatres across Canada beginning July 27.

One of the most important artists of our era, Ryuichi Sakamoto has had a prolific career spanning over four decades, from techno-pop stardom to Oscar-winning film composer. The evolution of his music has coincided with his life journeys. Following Fukushima, Sakamoto became an iconic figure in Japan’s social movement against nuclear power. As Sakamoto returns to music following cancer, his haunting awareness of life crisis leads to a resounding new masterpiece. Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda is an intimate portrait of both the artist and the man.

Director Schible is an American Japanese film-maker who grew up in a bilingual and international household in Tokyo. Actively involved in Japanese culture and media, he found Sakamoto’s life-long struggle as an anti-nuclear activist to be awe-inspiring. In a country with tight control on political media, mainstream outlets were reluctant to address Sakamoto’s stance on nuclear weapons. Schible knew there was a story to be told. Not a political film but rather one that explores how Sakamoto’s awareness of crises had developed and how it has brought change to his musical expression.

Using sound as a building block, the director hopes audiences can feel the story through their ears as well as their eyes.

This mesmerizing film starts its theatrical run across Canada, beginning July 27.

Will There Be More Sailor Moon Musicals after Le Mouvement Final in North America?

9 Apr

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

North American or Japanese, musicals must be seen live. When it is not possible to attend either due to location or cost, sometimes the next best thing is to see it at the movies. Whether that’s with a remote broadcast or adaptation, these shows rarely disappoint. When paired with a pop culture phenomenon, especially Sailor Moon, visions of New York Radio City’s The Rockettes style performances come to mind. Just do not tell the Sailor Senshi. They may go on a tirade. This particular series is retelling the manga by Naoko Takeuchi and they been playing in Japan for over two decades. The story arcs are expanded upon and even goes into bold new directions. Not every Japanese pop culture enthusiast may know this subgenre. To keep track of everything from Japan means having both ears to the ground. Officially, only the soundtracks exist and bootleg videos are a grey area. The first overseas performance was in 2015 in Shanghai, and the North American premiere of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon: The Musical—Le Mouvement Final, presented as a pre-recorded performance, started late last month. Screening made its way to Cineplex Theatres Canada last week.

I am very thankful CineLife Entertainment for overseeing an international distribution; more screenings are being added, and I suspect this video tour is still rolling out.

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