There are desserts and then there are DESSERTS; know what I’m talking about?
A friend introduced me to a new not-your-run-of-the-mill bakery. Definitely not! I was really impressed by the quantity and quality of specialty treats found at Forêt Noire – a high end French patisserie located in Vancouver in an offbeat area considering the kind of establishment. You would be more likely to expect running across something like this on South Granville or maybe Yaletown.
They say simplicity is their touch. Maybe so; if fancy upscale works of art in the shape of tasty treats are your thing.
We went in for the best double baked almond croissant in the city, but once there we also tried the cheese (filled with feta + riccotta) which was also excellent. Then we left with 3 pastries (one hazelnut filled, a pistachio cake and a vanilla with fresh mango pudding). All outstanding.
I’ve driven by them countless times yet never took the time until only recently to visit a few of the astonishing Buddhist temples of Vancouver. What a humbling experience, especially after having come from the shopping meccas of the likes of IKEA, COSTCO and Home Depot on a dull and rainy afternoon. I’m not kidding when I say those places gave me a headache, however my mood changed and I immediately felt calmer and more relaxed after stepping inside a much more peaceful environment. Not to mention a whole different world. Here are some photos I took of the impressive Tibetan and Chinese Buddhist temples. I hope you like them.
Thrangu Monastery Canada
Located in Richmond, British Columbia, it is the first traditional Tibetan Monastery in the Pacific Northwest.
The International Buddhist Temple
This truly impressive complex of gardens, ornate buildings, shrines and statues of Buddha is also located in Richmond, B.C. Modeled after Beijing’s Forbidden City in China, the temple showcases elaborate carvings and stonework, beautiful Chinese gardens, and art gallery-quality paintings, works of calligraphy, ceramic murals and sculptures. Totally exquisite! Let’s walk through the garden:
I like this quote: How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours – Wayne Dyer
VIFF may have come to an end, however the last four movies I’ve seen have resonated with me. They’ll be released to theatres Nationwide November/December. Here are the reviews:
La Belle Époque
This French movie (with English subtitles) was chosen for the closing gala. I had no idea what to expect and ended up loving it! I had just come from watching the fast-paced Ford vs Ferrari at the Playouse and was not sure whether I wanted to stay or not as I was leaning towards the later second viewing and the first showing ended late. As patrons made their way out of the theatre (Centre for the Performing Arts) I could not help but notice everyone’s big smiles. I asked the question before entering – “Is the movie worth staying for?” A resounding “Yes you must stay, it’s excellent.” So stay I did.
The movie centers around Victor (a cartoonist played by Daniel Auteuil) and his marriage to vivacious Marianne (Fanny Ardant) which is turning into a disaster. His son has a friend who has embarked on a new venture “Time Travellers” – a troupe offering clients the chance to go back in time to any moment they wish complete with a team of actors and technicians to guarantee a completely realistic version of whatever era is chosen. Victor decides to go back to 1974 – the day he first met Marianne to relive the moment and the woman he first fell in love with. What follows is very entertaining. The film is witty and original. Highly recommended.
Ford vs Ferrari
James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma) directs Matt Damon and Christian Bale in this high-speed biographical drama that pits an underdog team of American automotive engineers against Ferrari in the 1966 “24 Hours of Le Mans” endurance race. He tells the tale of real-life superheroes Carroll Shelby (Damon) who wins France’s prestigious Le Mansrace in 1959, a rare feat for an American, and Ken Miles (Bale), a brilliant driver who runs an auto shop.
This is a gripping true story that will keep you on the edge of your seat even if like me, you’re not really a fan of racing. Excellent. Coming to theatres in December.
Pain and Glory
This film is in Spanish with English subtitles. Pedro Almodóvar is the Director and that alone made my decision. Julieta, Volver, All About my Mother, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown…….no further explanation needed. Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz star in this complicated, bittersweet movie within a movie which is apparently autobiographical.
This film also marks a 35 year reunion between Almodóvar and Banderas who started his career in an Almodóvar film called “Laberinto de pasiones” (1982; Labyrinth of Passion).
I think this paragraph written by Peter Bradshaw (Guardian) sums it up best:
“As ever, Almodóvar has made a film about pleasure, which is itself a pleasure, witty, intelligent and sensous. It is about love, memory, art, mothers, lovers and most of all it is about itself…the film within a film, the story within a story, the dream within a dream.”
The Two Popes
The following review was written by my friend Paul H. LeMay who accompanied me to the screening. I too was pleasantly surprised by this film. His summary may appear in other publications.
Despite such an unassuming title, “The Two Popes” is anything but bland. Rather, it is a penetrating biopic about German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (excellently played by Anthony Hopkins), and Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, (equally well played by Jonathan Pryce), at a momentous turning point in the Catholic church’s history.
The film’s opening is filled with the sumptuous visual grandeur of the Vatican and Sistine Chapel during a conclave of the Cardinals after the death of Pope John-Paul II.
In real life, the event represented a veritable historical showdown between the church’s more conservative traditionalist Catholic viewpoints – as were championed by Pope John Paul II – and more reform-minded liberal ones, as had been previously championed in the early 1960s by Pope John XXIII. In this more contemporary story however, this same struggle is personified in these two aforementioned figures, who were each prominent papal candidates in their own right. Each effectively represents one of the two prominent psychological poles that continue to define our political divides today.
Yet despite the great philosophical gulf that separates their respective views about Christ’s teachings, we get to see how each man was able to bridge that gulf. What works so beautifully is how we penetrate beneath the outer appearances of their respective white and black cassocks to get a rather intimate glimpse of these two mortal men who are both intent on resigning from the burdens of their respective high status clerical roles, for as we discover, neither wants the onerous responsibility or power that comes with their offices. In this desire for self-surrender, we see their humanity shine through. The fact these two men were able to bridge their own huge philosophical orientation gaps and actually become good friends in real life, demonstrates we can attain no less. In effect, each really did come to love his enemy. The enduring feel good message that comes through in the end is that we are here to help one another, not to control or take from one another. On this score, this substantive film scores 10 out of 10 in my books.
AND in between all the above, I managed to see
starring Renee Zellweger who was absolutely superb as Judy Garland and deserves to win the Oscar.
Many people have no idea about the star’s struggles surrounding the last few years of her life. And then again, many younger people today have no idea who she is period. This movie is a must for those who know and especially for those who do not. It’s a close-up look into the life and loves of one of the most talented women in showbiz who was sadly and unfairly taken advantage of.
Meet the Showstoppers: FIVE FABULOUS FEMALES in charge.
This is the first time I’ve attended a creator talk as part of the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF). What was so special about this one is that it was with a panel of five fabulous female powerhouses (names below) responsible for creating and producing some of the current top rated TV shows.
Tim Goodman, chief TV critic from the Hollywood Reporter was asking the questions and it was very inspiring to hear what everyone had to say about the challenges and responsibilities, good and bad, of being a showrunner. From manipulating scripts and mapping out plot lines to what they look for when staffing a writers room, they provided an insider’s peek into the dynamics of working in this competitive industry.
They also talked about what they’re currently watching and what excites them. And they were funny.
Fantasy never goes out of Fashion. Obsession is Optional.
I saw two more films – part of the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF). One movie is a satire which takes place during WWII. The other is present day. They are both completely different however there is a common denominator which turns out to be that both of the main characters in each film have created their own fantasy. Both are psychologically damaged. It’s an interesting character study of obsessed individuals.
Who You Think I Am (CELLE QUE VOUS CROYEZ)
This film is in French with subtitles. It was the Canadian Premiere. I wanted to see it because the theme is very current involving online dating…sort of. But it’s not what you think exactly. It shows the extremes of getting carried away with the romantic fantasy.
Claire Millaud (Binoche) is a 50+ year old woman who creates a fake profile on social media to spy on Ludo, her lover. She becomes Clara, a beautiful woman half her age explaining to her therapist that Clara is really her niece. She is just using photos of her niece.
A friend of Ludo’s named Alex sees her profile and is instantly captivated. Claire as Clara ends up falling for Alex. She gets trapped in the fantasy and takes it way too far. This is a more relatable film only in the sense that you can kind of understand how something like this can happen. Claire is divorced. Her husband has left her for another woman. She is not sure about her current relationship status. Someone new, younger and attractive is paying close attention and the illusory gets intertwined with the reality to the extent that she almost forgets who she really is and cannot stop herself from keeping up the deception. I found it intriguing at how dangerously misleading many dating profiles can be and what can occur as a result of. It’s apparent that people tell white lies however this is far more precarious. Yes…quite the captivating story. Binoche of course is excellent, as usual.
Unfortunately I was not crazy about this film. Apparently it did well recently at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). It certainly has its moments but overall it was not for me.
*Taika Waititi (the New Zealand director who also stars at Jojo’s imaginary friend, the one and only Hitler) described Jojo Rabbit as an “anti-fuckface satire.” Based on the novel Caging Skies by Christine Leunens, it’s about a young member of the Hitler Youth named Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) who learns that his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl named Elsa (poignantly played by New Zealand actress Thomasin McKenzie) in their home. Last summer Waititi tweeted “What better way to insult Hitler than having him portrayed by a Polynesian Jew?” Surely!
My favourite moments were the interactions between Jojo and Elsa where Jojo has a change of heart and realizes with astonished surprise that jews have feelings just like regular people. Of course the message comes through about revelation and redemption, however in most parts it was just too silly for me and I personally think it missed the mark. On the humour that is! Other people seemed to love it though.
The movie also stars Rebel Wilson as a proud Nazi child instructor and Sam Rockwell as a gun shooting Nazi.
“A big part of the humour is in identifying with the tragic elements of the film. The New Zealand sense of humour is very dark. Our films are usually very dark and it’s always someone being killed. Usually a child.” – Taika Waititi
*Hunt for the Wilderpeople was one of his previous films
The film fest is on until October 11th. For information on more films and/or to buy tickets please visit:
is high on my list of feel-good things to do in the Fall. There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be diminished by a nice cup of Tea.
High Tea is what happens between breakfast and lunch where you catch up with a good friend over a piping hot pot of earl grey and fancy little finger sandwiches, petite scones and petit fours. I love the variety. Yesterday I caught up with my friend Marion at Secret Garden Tea Company in Kerrisdale. It was lovely and delicious.
october & november high tea menu
Your table awaits
From the gleaming china and linen napkins, to the charming tea cozy that nestles your selection of specially blended Secret Garden Tea, our High Tea experience is designed to delight. So settle in. Select your tea and savour your three tier tray of beautifully hand-crafted Signature Miniatures, including sweets, sandwiches, scones, jam and, of course, Devonshire Cream.
High Tea Menu is regularly updated with seasonal delicacies.
I also left with a bag of chocolate cranberry shortbread cookies – the best!
The Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF ) is in full swing until October 11th. I just saw two amazing Special Presentations.
starring Jamie Foxx, Michael B. Jordan & Brie Larsen
This is a true and thought provoking story about young Harvard graduate lawyer Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) and his history making battle for justice in Alabama working with death row inmates at a time where the legal system was hell bent on not following the truth. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillan (Jamie Foxx) with a disturbing no mercy glance at how corrupt and unfair the people in power were at keeping an innocent man behind bars for a murder he did not commit. Powerful performances in this discriminating story of people and prejudice. Intense.
starring Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Alec Baldwin, Willem Dafoe
This is an Incredible film set in the 1950’s written, produced and directed by Edward Norton who is also the main star. With outstanding performances from the whole cast and twists and turns at every corner, it is surely a worthy Oscar contender.
Lionel Essrog (Norton) is a private detective with an annoying infliction to his character. Although his mind is quick and his memory impeccable, he suffers from tourette syndrome which makes him twitch and say inappropriate things and act obsessively so he’s always apologizing for his behavior. At times it is quite funny and Norton carries this off in a superbly endearing manner. Lionel sets out to solve the crime of who murdered his boss and best friend P.I. Frank Minna (played by Bruce Willis) who pulled him out of an orphanage at six years of age. While trying hard to solve the mystery he deals with thugs and corruption at almost every turn.
The trail leads to Moses Randolph (Alec Baldwin), a ruthless construction magnate with deep ties to the mayor’s office and a suspicious prowler (Willem Dafoe) who seems to know everything about him. He follows a beautiful girl from Harlem (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) whose fight against Randolph’s “slum-clearing” operations have targeted her and he must find out the reason why.