In case you missed them: the best movies of the 2010s

Ring in the new year with some of the silver screen’s finest

In case you missed them: the best movies of the 2010s

As the 2010’s has come to a close, it has become apparent that watching films at the theatre is far less popular than it was compared to the beginning of the decade. Big-screen viewings have been overtaken by small-screen distribution companies like Netflix and Amazon.

This shift has increased accessibility to movies for the public, who are watching more movies from around the globe, leading to what is now called the New Golden Age of Television. It is against that backdrop that I have compiled my favourite movies from the last ten years. In no particular order, here are the group of must-see films — both foreign and domestic.

Moonlight (2016)

Barry Jenkins’ masterpiece, Moonlight, is arguably the best film to appear during the past decade. For this film buff, it ranks as one of my favourite films of all time. The story grapples with the experiences of a young, Black, and gay character as he struggles to find his identity in a world that refuses to accept him.

To say that Moonlight is visually stunning is an understatement. The cinematography ventures into a previously unseen world of cinema by combining different hues of purple, blue, and yellow — all conveying the film’s raw emotion. The art of the film is undeniable; It is both powerful and genre-defying. Moonlight has set a new standard for storytelling and cinematography.

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

One might bristle at placing a post-apocalyptic franchise film in a discussion surrounding the best films of the decade, but Mad Max: Fury Road is not your basic formulaic piece. This action-heavy visual assault defies all the clichés as it displays groundbreaking cinematography. The film is bathed in a saturated orange hue and makes no apologies for communicating a powerful feminist message. The six Academy Awards it received speak for themselves — Mad Max: Fury Road is a definite must-watch.

Whiplash (2014)

Damien Chazelle’s intense drama is about a young man at an elite music conservatory who will stop at nothing to become the top jazz drummer at the school. His determination means that he’ll have to survive unrelenting abuse from his instructor, who is ruthlessly played by J.K. Simmons, a role that earned him an Academy Award for Best Actor. Whiplash is both electrifying and masterful — it’s in everyone’s tempo.

Son of Saul (2015)

Hungarian director László Nemes took home the Cannes Grand Prix award and won the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film for Son of Saul, a film set during World War II at the Auschwitz concentration camp. The film employs only one continuous shot from a dizzying hand-held camera throughout its entirety — a technique which is distracting at first, but arresting in its final impact. Son of Saul is raw and uncomfortable. But it’s a necessary film, revealing a previously unencountered perspective of the horrors that took place during the Holocaust.

Birdman (2014)

Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s two-hour-long satirical drama, which also features one continuous take, is a cinematic tour de force. Birdman employs intricate camera movements, a lively jazz percussion score, and a devastatingly funny script that is enhanced by the flawless performances of Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, and Emma Stone. Birdman is a daring and unique film that is a multi-layered work of artistic genius.

Cold War (2018)

Paweł Pawlikowski’s post-WWII drama is about a pair of star-crossed lovers, and is set against the rise of communism in Europe. Exquisitely filmed in black and white with a 4:3 aspect ratio, the work leans heavily on its classical jazz score that drives the brilliant script and its wonderful portrayal of a tug-of-war between politics and love. Cold War is not simply a romance film, it’s a work of pure art and cinematic beauty.

Django Unchained (2012) and The Hateful Eight (2015)

To decide between these two Quentin Tarantino films would be nearly impossible. The writing in each of the movies is equal parts witty and thought provoking. The films are distinctly interesting and tell wildly adventurous stories, though both maintain a sense of uniqueness. The wide-angle cinematography used in both is so visually encapsulating that it becomes difficult to draw your eyes away from the screen, save for those of us too squeamish to stare at the gruesome images.

Parasite (2019)

Parasite, Bong Joon-Ho’s latest thriller, exceeds all expectations. Not only is this Cannes Palm d’Or winner wickedly funny, but, more importantly, Parasite explores class resentment in a unique way. The film is brilliant, and it never lacks a moment of suspense or visual intensity. I predict that Parasite will make history as the first foreign-language film to win Best Picture at the Oscars in 2020.

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

Unlike The Irishman, this three-hour long Martin Scorsese movie demands the viewers’ attention right from the beginning, and never loses it. The Wolf of Wall Street is intense, fast-paced, hysterically funny, and rightfully earns its ‘R’ rating with a consistent stream of sex, drugs, and perfectly timed f-bombs.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

Wes Anderson’s highly stylized and colourful dramatic comedy is just as quirky and brilliant as his previous cinematic works. The film’s eccentricity is complimented by Anderson’s classic use of timely deadpan comedy, whimsical costumes, meticulous set design, and unique camera movement. The Grand Budapest Hotel is a treat for the senses.

The Master (2012)

Paul Thomas Anderson’s epic drama is a  thinly disguised social and religious commentary, centering around the birth of a scientology-style cult during the 1950’s. Not only was the choice of 70-millimetre film an artistic bullseye, but performances done by Joaquin Phoenix, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams are heart-wrenching and praise-worthy. Their performances are haunting and limitless, earning them a trifecta of Academy Award nominations for their efforts.

Theatre Review: Eurydice

A retelling of an ancient Greek myth from a fresh perspective

Theatre Review: <i>Eurydice</i>

The myth of Orpheus and Eurydice is, pardon the pun, frustrating as hell. Orpheus had one seemingly simple task as the pair made their escape from the Greek underworld: don’t look back at Eurydice. He fails. Severing the lovers, Orpheus returns to the realm of the living and Eurydice to the realm of the dead.

However, Eurydice, written by Sarah Ruhl, directed by William Dao, and performed at the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse from December 6–8, extended the narrative beyond this one devastating moment. The true pain in Eurydice lies in watching Orpheus, Eurydice, and Eurydice’s father face the preposterous task of living and dying without their cherished loved ones.

Dao is a friend of mine, and I’ve bore witness to the obsessive care he invests into his plays. As such, I had high expectations for his latest creation.

Walking into the sold-out theatre, I was met with sugary ’50s and ’60s pop songs playing across a bright pink and blue set. The stage was bare, save for a series of whimsical bird houses, lanterns, vases, and figurines shelved neatly on the back wall. While the songs had cheery melodies, they each expressed the aching that accompanies overwhelming love: “I’m all shook up,” sang Elvis Presley.

Then the play began. Eurydice (Margaret Rose) and Orpheus (Stephanie Zeit) lay gushing with mutual affection and agreed to marry against the noise of seagulls and lapping sea. Their marital bliss is cut short, however, when the Nasty Man (Jacob Kay) in a foreboding blood red suit lures Eurydice to his high-rise condo using a letter from her dead father. In her attempt at escape, Eurydice tumbles down the stairs and perishes.

Whereas the original Greek myth follows Orpheus in his epic quest to save his wife from death, this retelling focuses on Eurydice, as she learns to exist in the underworld by recalling the memories and language she lost to the prowess of the river Styx.

Rose executes the title character with a delightful performance worthy of the script’s poetic prose. At one point she captivates the audience with only her hands as she silently mimes puppets while waiting for her father (Sid Srikanth) to build her a room in the underworld.

As Eurydice settles in the land of the dead, without her memories or language, a chorus of three Stones (Eiléanór O’Halloran, Tuhi Sen, Jamie Fiuza) arrive to guide her. The Stones remain on stage for the rest of the show, sporting porcelain doll makeup to mesh with the baubles shelving the back wall. Though the Stones dress and speak like glamorous French women, they twitched like otherworldly creatures and intently followed the action on stage with their eyes, acting as spotlights. This contrast stole scenes and left the audience astonished.

Not to be overlooked are the feats of Zeit and Srikanth, who played Orpheus and Eurydice’s father, respectively. Srikanth gave a patient and tender performance as he taught Eurydice to remember her language and her loved ones. Zeit has a beautiful voice, fitting of a legendary musician such as Orpheus, and is able to express desperate love in his frenzied search for Eurydice, which makes their parting all the more difficult to watch.

And finally, Kay, in both the roles of the Nasty Man and as Lord of the Underworld, is able to hit a fine balance of acting both terrifying and leery toward Eurydice, while not wholly alienating the audience. Upon every exit, Kay produced a maniacal laugh that still haunted me for days after.

The colourful set, costumes, and music were sewn together for a visually stunning show and every actor went above and beyond to bring out the beauty in Ruhl’s imaginative script.

I came away from Eurydice into rainy Toronto reflecting on some of the show’s powerful images, like love letters delivered to the dead via worms, and pondering the idea of trust. Of whether I’d be capable of achieving what Orpheus couldn’t.

Dao’s take on this play was visually and emotionally mesmerizing. I highly recommend catching Dao’s final few on-campus shows as he enters his last semester at U of T. You won’t want to miss them.

In conversation with the cast of Portia’s Julius Caesar

How a Hart House play redefines the role of women in Shakespeare classics

In conversation with the cast of <em>Portia’s Julius Caesar</em>

In the cozy lobby of the Hart House Theatre, The Varsity sat down with two of the cast members from its newest production: Portia’s Julius Caesar. The play is inspired by Shakespere’s Julius Caesar, but takes on an “unapologetically feminist take” on the classic tale. In the conversation were the fantastic Whitney Ampadu — who plays Calpurnia, Caesar’s wife — and Athena Trinh — who plays Portia, Brutus’ wife. Both brilliantly imported their characters to a contemporary audience. Join The Varsity to explore what makes this production unique, its characters fresh, and its excitement palpable.

The Varsity: Hart House has done so many fantastic plays, but [it] often doesn’t have this unique, play-written glean to it. My first question was actually about the way that you as actors are making your characters.

Whitney Ampadu: Well, the writing, it helps a lot because the way [our playwright] Kaitlyn [Riordan] has written Calpurnia. [Calpurnia] is not — and not to diss the older works — but she’s not as passive as before. She is active in her support for Julius, and even after his death we see her take on a role, a persona that we don’t see in the earlier works. And [from] the beginning of the play, it’s like a whole 360 [degrees] for her.

TV: She grows?

WA: She does. She does. And it’s so fun to play it with a kickass monologue. Even as an oppressed woman in ancient Rome, she’s strong and bold and will do all she can for what she thinks is right.

TV: People often put Calpurnia and Portia against each other in characterization. Portia is always considered to be very active. She’s the one who stabbed herself in the leg, she swallows the hot coals. She is so adamant telling Brutus what she thinks and then you have Calpurnia who is like, “I’ll do anything for you.” I think it’s fantastic that there’s this sort of liveliness added to it. Did you find that there is a change in the way that Portia is portrayed, or the way that you would like to portray Portia?

Athena Trinh: I don’t necessarily think there’s a change in the route that Portia was already going on. I think Kaitlyn does a really beautiful job of digging deep for this character because after [the play ends], we don’t really know what happened.

I think Calpurnia and Portia’s relationship is such a beautiful balance of womanhood, of what it means to be a woman. We do have these juxtaposing positions of course, because we are our own people, and Portia and Calpurnia are their own people.

But I think it’s interesting how we can [use] their emotions, [use] their status. It flips our idea of what it means to be the ‘crazed woman.’ Because sometimes that can be seen as a weakness. But in the case of Portia and Calpurnia, especially the way Kaitlyn has written and put together Shakespeare’s work, really shows their growth and their strength, and using these things that we have and using how the world sees us.

WA: And it’s so open and intelligent, and we don’t see a lot of — or I personally haven’t seen a lot of — women in classical plays talk about their situation, the way they do in-depth, and openly.

TV: Do you find that Shakespeare is often contemporized appropriately? Is it enough in this day and age, to just do Julius Caesar? Would it be enough for you guys to just be Calpurnia and Portia on stage without it being reasserted in the way this production does?

WA: You know, I’m tired of seeing the same things when it comes to Shakespeare. Seeing casts that are not diverse, or seeing it not relate to issues we’re dealing with now, because it’s great entertainment, but then, why are we doing this? With theatre, I think the goal should always be to push forward, to bring new ideas and new perspectives — because that’s what we do with art. That’s the beauty of art, that’s the necessity of art. And with this play it’s just amazing to look at our cast and see how diverse it is, and to see things from a different lens. It’s not enough to just do the same thing.

TV: Do you think there’s a place in our day and age for a Portia as she’s been portrayed since the sixteenth century? Or do you think that our Portias have to be like yours?

AT: I think that’s an interesting question because it’s multi-tiered. I think the stories that Shakespeare told, he had the privilege of being a white man, right? He had the privilege to have his voice heard and stories told through his lens.

The reason why they’re transcendent is because they come down to the basic necessities of life, whether it’s love, friendship, what we need from each other. [We] can dive into the human condition; we’re able to transport ourselves to feel the rhythm in those beats — the heartbeat that’s behind the iambic pentameter.

Any show that we do is a statement. But it’s not to say that [we’re] going to switch up the lines; it’s still going to be Shakespeare’s words. Sometimes it’s not going to be how Kaitlyn changes and rearranges things. It’s going to be through the body, voice, and mind experience of [someone] completely different than if it were to come from me, or from a white male perspective.

We perform Shakespeare now, being able to tell these stories through unique voices. So putting a person of colour in Hamlet, or putting Whitney as Calpurnia instead of a white woman, putting me as Portia instead of a white woman — it says something without having to change any words.

This would be a completely different show if it was an all-white cast, but we have Yusuf [Zine] as Julius Caesar ­— that says something. We have Hardi [Zala] as Mark Antony — that says something. Being able to tell these stories and acknowledge the diversity that’s already in our day-to-day lives. It can still be the same words. It can still be Shakespeare, but it’s completely different coming from our mouths and our experiences.

TV: Do you see this production as the ‘words’ of Shakespeare? Is it still Shakespeare, at its core?

WA: There are a lot of texts from Shakespeare’s works, as well as Kaitlyn’s own words that she’s added. And it’s still that heightened text. It still lives in that world of heightened [prose], of poetry, of big feelings, images, and emotions. So I’d say it’s Shakespeare in that sense. And with that idea in mind.

AT: Kaitlyn’s really nailed that thing that Shakespeare had: that gut, that animosity, that juxtaposing gentleness. Without taking the credit away from Kaitlyn, she has embodied, chased fear, and like you said, heightened [Shakespeare] in some ways, and has really made it her own. And in her doing that, it gives us the agency to make it our own.

With Kaitlyn and [our director] Eva spearheading this whole thing, especially with the women in our cast, I feel like owning these words is so important because [these characters] don’t [normally] get the chance to have big monologues aside to the audience: deep pondering questions of twenty minutes asking “To be or not to be.” Because Kaitlyn claims this work, we’re able to — as actors — enter the work so easily, just like if it were Shakespeare.

TV: Do you think that for the viewers of this production, there’s going to be that opportunity to be like, “oh, I get Shakespeare”? Did she [help] you unlock the potential of Shakespeare’s prose?

WA: Absolutely. Working with Eva and Kaitlyn has been a great experience because I went to theatre school and I’ve done Shakespeare, but it’s still difficult. It’s hard to take on the language and the images and the world of it all. I’ve been able to really sit down and dig deep into the language and build the images in a way that others can understand. I really believe that when you bare it all on stage, it’s not hard to understand. We’ve been lucky to have [Eva] and Kaitlyn to guide us.

AT: And I think it ties back to what we were saying before, about the reason why [Shakespeare] transcends things. It’s because his themes come down to those basic things that all humans can understand. When we are on stage, and we get to fully do those intentions and fully feel those things, it’s so exciting to be able to share this with people.

WA: Come and see this play! It’s good. It’s interesting. It’s professional. It’s amazing.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Portia’s Julius Caesar plays at the Hart House Theatre from Wednesday through Saturday, until November 30.

The winter blues call for a drink

Here are 10 tunes to thaw the ever-encroaching ice and snow

The winter blues call for a drink

1. “Let It Play” by lilcobaine

Don’t try to deny it, we have all been drunk and missed that person. It’s just… complicated. This is that emo rap, the Lil Peep-esque track that starts playing and subsequently makes you miss them at 2:17 am. You’re not hungover yet, but if you’re about to text your ex, you probably will be tomorrow. You pull out your phone and open your messages. It’s cuffing season, so it’s up to you to hit send on that “shawty come through” message. Please note the music video is not family-friendly.

2. “Moodna, Once With Grace” by Gus Dapperton

Okay, so maybe things didn’t work out with your crush at the house party last night. You wake up, hungover and lovesick, unable to tell which of the two is the cause of the pit in your stomach. Reaching for your phone on your nightstand, you scroll through last night’s activity. Oh yeah, you Shazam-ed that song. You hit “play” and the vaguely familiar guitar and synth fill your bedroom.

3. “Only Trying 2 Tell U” by Puma Blue

Caressed by a sweet falsetto and a slow melody, this sweet jazz tune may be your remedy for that big headache of yours. This is a slow and steady track that makes you feel like you are caught in a memory. It’s bittersweet, yet ever so repeatable.

4. “Flirting in Space” by Brad Stank

This smooth jam will make you want to sink into your bed as your headache is slowly eased. It’s for those cozy moments where your bed is at its most tempting, enticing you with a fluffy duvet and a warm pillow, and although your head is pounding, your mind is currently being transported into space by way of Brad Stank’s smooth guitar and dreamy synth.

5. “Downers” by Greentea Peng

Sometimes you just need some tough love — or maybe just some chicken soup for your R&B soul. Greentea Peng delivers an omnipresent perspective on taking downers and drowning out the world around us. Heartfelt and powerfully delivered, her live performance in a COLORS show is especially impressive.

6. “Bounce Back” by Big Sean

This one may be an oldie, but it is definitely a goldie. Big Sean’s track is supported with motivating lyrics and a catchy beat to help you bounce back from taking an L last night. This track is for the hungover hustler whose mantra is work hard, play hard. After a night of partying, you best believe they will be grinding it out the next day.

7. “Different State of Mind” by Kid Bloom

This track has a dream-pop sound to autopilot your mind down a stream of consciousness. Where will it take you? Maybe you’ll sink right into your bed? You’ll just have to listen to find out.

8. “Time” by Sebastian Mikael

You wake up hungover in the morning after a wild Saturday night party next to your bae. This song gives you all the imagery of a perfect Sunday. It’s smooth, sensual, and loving. Sunny side up eggs, unmade beds, and nothing but time to spend with that special someone. On a cute note, the artist filmed the music video with his girlfriend.

9. “Claude Debussy’s Clair de Lune (a Modular Reflection)” by Ann Annie

This song is a prime example of déjà-vu. It is obviously something everyone has heard before. This cover of the famous piece has been completely transformed via soft synths and a harp-like melody. Though digital, the familiar notes still exude an overwhelming feeling of tranquility to the listener.

10. “Mint Jams” by Casiopea

This wildcard album is for the person who needs something upbeat, funky, and easy to listen to. Casiopea is a Japanese jazz fusion band,  and this song is from is their 1982, perfectly named, Mint Jams album. The music is like a more chill and complex version of old-school Sonic the Hedgehog music that is being emitted from your Gameboy Advance.

But does it spark joy? Slow fashion in a high-paced world

How you can squeeze yourself and your ethics into a nice pair of jeans

But does it spark joy? Slow fashion in a high-paced world

There are few things that spark more joy in my life than fashion. It’s been my passion, identity, and therapy. I live for the next piece of clothing that I can get my hands on, roam malls until my feet ache, and follow every fashion show with an unrelenting dedication. I saw my future in an episode of Sex and The City when Carrie Bradshaw realized that she had no money because she spent it all on shoes.

However, as fashion month and the Global Climate Strikes intersected in September, it seems necessary to look at the everyday practice of shopping in order to better understand its impact on the environment.

Like many markers of climate destruction, the fashion industry saw a major boom after World War II. Advancements in technology meant that brands could use synthetic fabrics, efficient factory lines, and outsourced labour for mass production.

The expansion of the global middle class, which has only risen since the advent of the twenty-first century, created a captive market to buy these clothes, fuelling both the economic growth and pollutive nature of fashion brands. According to a 2018 article from Nature Climate Change, textile production now emits 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents per year — more than international flights and maritime shipping.

The main culprit of this crisis is fast fashion, which is the equivalent to fast food in the moral hierarchy — meaning it barely scrapes the barrel of decency. Large clothing brands, like H&M and Zara, seek capital above all by ensuring that you buy new pieces every season, and they don’t care about the negative effects of this consumption pattern. Actually, they count on you brushing your hands through racks of clothing while disregarding the negative effects.

Slow fashion is designed to help you consume mindfully in response to fast fashion. It’s epitomized by the ‘capsule wardrobe’ — the idea that closets should contain timeless pieces with a limited amount of seasonal variation. The assumption is that the lack of sustainability comes from overconsumption, and that clothing is overconsumed.

I’m not in a position to prescribe the capsule wardrobe. I currently have 222 pieces of clothing in my closet — without counting dirty items, undergarments, socks, winter apparel, shoes, bags, jewelry, and the pieces at my childhood home. It’s foreign to me how a person could own less and still get dressed in the morning.

That being said, our world is on fire. And this scientific reality forces us to consider how to tackle the climate crisis within the parameters of our social reality — what we can give up, for the ability to change our lifestyle intersects with a host of other social justice issues, making it so that certain populations actually can’t give up everything.

Since it would be absurd to ask low-income families to invest in more expensive, higher quality clothing without trade-offs, and we remain far away from eco-conscious brands becoming accessible options, it is the responsibility of wealthy consumers and nations to make sacrifices for change.

I can’t incentivize slow fashion because I’m not a policy expert. What I can do is appeal to shopaholics, like myself, who have the means to alter their consumption patterns.

We must build a relationship with clothing that emphasizes how fashion expresses personal identity and cultural values, not material wealth relative to others. This can enable a balance between sustainable behaviour and human culture. So before you buy that next item, consider whether it’s absolutely necessary, where the clothes originate, and whether there are better alternatives.

I don’t want to throw your favourite French army jacket into a dump with half-eaten McDonald’s burgers. Slow fashion doesn’t have to mean purge and abstain. I only ask to break the awing hypnosis induced every time you enter a store. Stop dragging your hands through that endless array of clothing and take the initiative to resolve your dangerous shopping habits.

This can include prioritizing brands with an ethical, eco-conscious mandate; Marie-Kondo-ing your closet in minimalist terms. Shopping vintage, upcycling, or looking for clothing with non-synthetic, organic ingredients are also admirable efforts.

However you approach slow fashion, just try to crack the surface, because once you have your footing, everyone can move forward.

WTF is weather amnesia and how can art explain it?

On your way back from office hours, pop into an interdisciplinary and intergenerational art exhibit at the Jackman Humanities Building

WTF is weather amnesia and how can art explain it?

Weather Amnesia is an art exhibit on the top floor of the Jackman Humanities Building currently showcasing work by modern and classical artists at the intersection of science and artistic expression. The pieces are arranged on walls and bookshelves of the 10th-floor lounge and seminar room, more decor than formal gallery.

“We are very easy to forget — to deny the abundant evidence of changing environment,” said Yuluo Wei in an interview with The Varsity. She is the curator of Weather Amnesia and a Master of Visual Studies in Curatorial Studies student at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design. Wei is critical of our modern indoor lives, especially in the urban environment, and she hopes this exhibit creates dialogue toward an awareness of our surroundings, toward noticing the weather.

In a 1922 oil painting by Graham Noble Norwell, sketches of a classical snowy Canadian landscape, ice over a lake, and a silver birch are grouped together. Around a corner hangs Lisa Hirmer’s photo series tracking the melting of snow in a test tube. Though both artists incorporate snow into their pieces, their artworks provide a stark example of the evolution of art from classical to modern times.

Another work includes a hygrothermograph, an analog measurement tool that reports temperature and humidity. A tablet with a live bird migration map is in another. A watercolour collage of a bird from a museum collection, by Florence Vale. Blocks of timber cut into a model of the Jackman Humanities Building. Abstract shapes in a big square inked in 1979, inspired by a Canadian winter.

There are two contemporary Canadian artists featured in the gallery. Lisa Hirmer has two pieces, the second being “Watching, White Ibis,” a letter to the migratory white ibis. Tania Kitchell has two pieces, one named “Weather Observations,” a diary of comments and measurements of weather by a lake. The other is Occupy, composed of 3D-printed plants that are invasive or alien to the arctic. The printed plants are not a perfect ratio to the living counterpart — for any visiting arctic plant experts.

To me, the title Weather Amnesia is a reminder; I personally don’t remember my elementary-school snow days, but my parents sometimes remark that there’s less snow falling nowadays. Kids in the 1990s must have had more snow than me, and I had more snow than the kids now. The oil painting is a quintessential Canadian snowy landscape, and older generations may relate to this more. Newcomers and youth may relate more to the six frames of melting snow. The printed plants are another guilty reminder; I barely recognize three out of the many species, save the dandelions and clovers.

But can you spot the Canadian Thistle, the Blue Eyed Grass? I think we all need this reminder lest we forget that the urban lifestyle we live is, for most of history, abnormal.

The artwork can leave viewers with important questions, but a block of wood labelled as laminated timber may not have as much face-value significance to the theme of the exhibit. The Quayside project, run by Sidewalk Labs, alongside University of Toronto’s own Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport, will both have wooden skyscrapers made of the same laminated timber, a simple but high-tech building material.

Construction of these structures is fast, less noisy, and has no harmful chemical by-products. The sculpture of the Jackman Building was first modelled on a computer, and buildings have the same process but at a bigger scale.

Weather Amnesia will run Monday–Friday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm until June 26, 2020. It’s free and open to the public, but the seminar room space, a third of the exhibition, is sometimes booked for events.

Overlooked: Anne with an E

From a children’s classic to a Netflix original, literature’s favourite Canadian redhead finally reaches our favourite procrastination tools

Overlooked: <em>Anne with an E</em>

Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, set in Prince Edward Island, is about a unique orphan who wins the hearts of siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert.

The book is treasured not only by Canadians, but by people all around the world. I remember growing up and falling in love with Anne’s flamboyant personality.

I laughed when she got into trouble for dyeing her hair green and adored the love-hate relationship between Anne and Gilbert Blythe. Over the years, there have been many television adaptations of this series, however, Netflix and CBC’s diamond-in-the-rough Anne with an E offers a fresh new perspective on Montgomery’s beloved novels.

Despite being renewed for a third season, the show is still vastly underappreciated. The first season offers us a look into Anne’s life before she arrives at Green Gables and sets a grim mood to the show.

Anne copes with post-traumatic stress disorder flashbacks, which reveal the trauma she has endured at the hands of her previous foster parents. Although this adaption is different from the previous light-hearted depictions of Anne, it sheds light on the challenges that children in the foster care system face.

The second season delves into other important topics, such as racism, homophobia, and misogyny. We are introduced to the show’s first Black character Sebastian ‘Bash’ (Dalmar Abuzeid), who Gilbert befriends while working on a ship together. We get to see Gilbert develop into a fully fleshed-out character who has a life beyond being Anne’s love interest.

At the same time, we see Gilbert learn what it means to be an ally to Bash against the racism he faces. Queerness is examined through the role of Diana Barry’s aunt Josephine who had a partner called ‘Aunt Gertrude.’ Aunt Josephine holds a queer-friendly party which sets the scene for Diana Barry, Anne’s closest friend, to grapple with her feelings about her aunt’s sexuality. The show also flirts with feminism by introducing the new teacher, Miss Stacy, who breaks gender norms by being single and wearing pants.

Anne with an E dives into our cherished novel and updates the classic tale with vibrant new characters and themes. The show does not shy away from exploring painful topics which is what sets it apart from previous adaptations.

Theatre review: Hart House’s The Rocky Horror Show

A timeless classic hits one of Toronto's favourite stages

Theatre review: Hart House’s <em>The Rocky Horror Show</em>

She brushed past me, wearing half a black sparkly bra and half a gold glitter dress. She was clearly wearing a wig — impossibly thick, black, and curly — and when I looked at her heels, my feet ached for her. She would be going on stage any minute, but right now, she was walking down the aisles, laughing with the crowd before the sold-out performance.

Welcome to The Rocky Horror Show.

Nowadays, in a world of RuPauls, the idea of men in drag seems like just another Friday night binge. But when The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a cult-classic musical by Richard O’Brien, was released in 1973, the sight of Dr. Frank-N-Furter declaring himself to be a “sweet transvestite from Transexual, Transylvania” would have been enough to make more than a few jaws drop in theatres.

The story follows the chaste and clean-cut couple of Brad and Janet as they get engaged, then stranded when their car breaks down in a storm. They go to Frank-N-Furter’s castle, where they’re greeted by other Transylvanians who pull the couple into their web of sexuality and debauchery.

There’s a lot of lingerie. And fishnets. And platform heels. And in Jennifer Walls’ Hart House production — just in case the original costumes weren’t camp enough for you — the lingerie glows in the dark too.

Minutes before the show began, I became acutely aware of how out-of-place I was and how much I wished I had a feather boa. Though most of the audience dressed normally, I paid most attention to those who followed the show’s website’s suggestion to “dress to impress” and partake in the spectacle.

The woman to my left wore black Mary Jane high heels with rainbow-striped knee-high socks. The girl two seats to the right of me had on fingerless leather gloves. I was wearing a black cardigan and jeans.

I felt like such a Janet.

From the first number “Science Fiction/Double Feature” alone, it was clear that Walls didn’t limit her actors’ space. Rather, she told them to use the whole auditorium as their stage. She made clever use of the background actors called the “phantoms,” who filled the aisles and cheered to the song, riling up the crowd. They were one of my favourite parts of the show. I could call them transformative, but that would be an understatement.

As the subtly manic Brad, played by Will Mackenzie, proposed to a frustratingly clueless Janet, played by Katie Miller, the phantoms hovered behind the cutout church prop, jumping out with jazz hands.

In a sense, they were the set itself. Arms became windshield wipers. Bodies became doors. Thighs became the holster for a particularly bold penis-shaped water gun — don’t ask, you have to see it for yourself.

The Rocky Horror Show is acclaimed for its blatant disregard for anything within the sphere of ‘normal.’ Normal is drab. Normal is a word that deserves a sparkly silver stiletto to the head. But Walls didn’t just lean into the insanity of the storyline; she threw herself in, full-force.

Strobe lights showed off the glow-in-the-dark lingerie. When Frank-N-Furter, played by Chris Tsujiuchi, spoke, phantoms collapsed to the ground and shook in ecstasy. We found out that Brad wore strawberry boxers.

However, my biggest dissatisfaction is that, greedily, I wanted more.

Tsujiuchi embodied the nonchalant confidence of Frank-N-Furter exceptionally well, but there were moments where I wish he drew out the audacious snap of his character more. He tended to stay in the realm of dry humour, but that left an unsatisfied craving for the uninhibited sexuality and boldness of Frank-N-Furter. I wanted more self-indulgent vivacity, more of a saunter in his performance.

The show was strongest when it did what it does best: shatter the fourth wall in a self-aware fashion. And it did so glamorously.

As Columbia, played brilliantly by Becka Jay, went manic in a tap-dance frenzy during “Time Warp,” she screamed, “Look at me! Are you not entertained?”

Some questions you don’t need answered.

In true Rocky fashion, audience members were also encouraged to yell at the stage. I had never seen anything like it. During the storm, Janet yelled to Brad, “I’m coming with you!”

Somebody from the audience yelled back, “For the first time in your life!”

Sure, I could also dive into some of the deeper themes of the show here. The oppression and reclamation of sexuality, like when Brad and Janet took off more clothing as the show went on, until Janet ended in a bra and underwear and Brad stunned us in a sheer pink robe.

Or maybe I could talk about the celebration of being the other, of being unique, irreverent, and from Transylvania. But out of all the running gags, the one that’s the hardest to forget, the one that had the most spunk, was all the penises.

Props, of course. But nonetheless, it was like The Stag Shop was a silent partner. Dildos encircled the top of the control panel that built Rocky. Laser guns had mushroom tips. Because at the end of the day, yes, this was a ‘very professional production.’ The actors were all exceptionally trained, nobody missed a beat in comedic timing, and the dances were all snappily choreographed. But behind all of that, this was sheer, unadulterated entertainment at its core. And everybody on stage made sure you knew it.

Out of everything though, my favourite memory remains when the show ended and the cast all took their bows to a standing ovation. But as if our absurd campy experience wasn’t enough, the next thing we knew Tsujiuchi was asking us if we wanted to do the Time Warp again, and who were we to say no?

So the music queued up and we danced, albeit awkwardly with a limited range of movement, but together. I laughed with every pelvic thrust, every jump to the left, every step to the right. And even when we stepped out of the theatre into the cool, quiet night, I was still grinning like an idiot.

Because at the end of the day, you can say whatever you want about The Rocky Horror Show. But you can’t say that it wasn’t pure fucking fun.