Orphan Black – Wow!

Orphan Black

Above: Cosima, played by Tatiana Maslany, ponders on who to trust in BBC’s Orphan Black. I’m a Johnny-come-lately to this sensational TV thriller by BBC America on the Space channel. Created by screenwriter Graeme Mansion and director John Fawcett, Orphan Black stars the crazy-talented young woman from Saskatchewan – Tatiana Maslany. Orphan Black is stunning,…

Dennis Lee’s “Deeper” and National Poetry Month

InRetro Magazine/Radio Archives

Is poetry in your life? Should it be? What are you missing if it isn’t? Sometimes people get their poetry from Björk or Radiohead or Arcade Fire. Sometimes they don’t get any at all. I’m not sure I’d go as far as William Carlos Williams: …   It is difficult to get the news from poems…

12 Years a Slave – The Academy Got It Right

Scene from 12 Years a Slave

12 Years a Slave really was the best picture—the richest storyline, the most courageous reach,  the best ensemble acting, including stellar performances from Lupita Nyong’o (Patsey), best-supporting actress, and the lead Chiwetel Ejiofor (Northup). Nyong’o was born in Mexico of Kenyan descent and the British-born Ejiofor has the same name as a Nigerian footballer. It…

Mavis Gallant (1922-2014)

Canadian Writer, Mavis Gallant. Photograph: Eamonn McCabe

Writer down. Maybe we readers need to scream that phrase the way officers scream it for fellow officers struck down by gunfire.  A great Canadian writer – Mavis Gallant – is down. I once had the privilege of hearing her read at the Different Drummer in Burlington during her promotional tour for her Selected Stories…

Philip Seymour Hoffman – One of the Great Ones

Philip Seymour Hoffman opposite Catherine Keener in A Late Quartet. 

Philip Seymour Hoffman (July 23, 1967 – February 2, 2014) was an American actor, on stage and screen. Not a celebrity. Not a movie star. An actor. One of the great actors of our time. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor for Capote (2005), a subtle and shaded performance of a complex gay…

CBC’s Canada Reads – What’s Missing?

Canada Reads 2014 panellists with host Jian Ghomeshi

In France, books are everywhere—in stalls along the Seine, in markets, at bus depots, at train stations. In Canada, they’re becoming less conspicuous.  Toronto is losing bookshops quicker than I’m losing hair and small towns like Huntsville have, if they’re lucky, a single shop to service the community. And yet, every year CBC Radio One,…

A Review of Lynn Coady’s Hellgoing — Scotiabank Giller Prize Winner for 2013

Lynn Coady

Canada makes really good ice wine and produces topflight short stories from the fictional tours of European capitals conducted by Mavis Gallant to microscopic investigations into the tics and eccentricities of small-town life by Alice Munro. Lynn Coady, usually a novelist (her novel The Antagonist was shortlisted for the Giller last year), lives in Edmonton,…

The Counselor: 1 + 1 + 1 = Zero

InRetro Magazine/Radio Archives

The Counselor has a lot of things going for it. A-list actors. Some of the biggest names in Hollywood: Michael Fassbender the Counselor (did you see him in Cronenberg’s Dangerous Method playing Carl Jung? He’s terrific.); Javier Bardem (see him in Cormac McCarthy’s No Country For Old Men or the new Bond Skyfall, if you…