Movies for When You’re Hungry

In Netflix’s Chef’s Table, each episode takes the viewer closer to the chef and his/her food, more often than not, at a high-end restaurant and the craftsmanship, the energy, the creativity, and the minutiae of high-end dining. Though I love the show and truly appreciate the borderline fanaticism of a chef shown in beautifully rendered sequences, there’s a gaping distance between the food — and the world around it and all its social and cultural implications — shown and the food prepared, shared, and eaten in my day to day life.

There is, in our current zeitgeist’s love of food, between the many screens and real life (an apparent redundancy that increasingly seem to be a necessary modifier in day to day conversations), a reductive tendency to exclude how the majority of society experiences food. Were it not for its sheer immensity in number, the ‘good life’ on view would be, to the viewer, a harmless exercise in suspension of disbelief. But as it were, it is a constancy. A state of life somewhere else lived by someone else; we can look on it but only with some ingenuity can we reach them as stuff of life continually intervene.

I can’t help but feeling that our relationship with food is becoming less of a communal language and more of an individualized consumer one — one that portrays and claims social and cultural status, rather than a form of communication.

Of course, good food is, after all, just good food. But when we pay too much attention to the five-dollar signed kitchens with whatever stars, the hermetic chef essentially removed from society, and the lighting on the next food photo, we forget the kitchens in which and the cooks for whom food is seamlessly integral to living. And it’s too beautiful a thing to forget. After all, the food you grow up on, the kitchens you come to love and understand do not require feats of ingenuity — they require time and patience of preparation, courtesy, and appreciation and gratitude for the miracle of a dish, of eating.

These movies tell us things about food and hunger that we often forget. No star chefs, no paintings on a plate; just living and eating.

Big Night

The Italian dish, timballo, is called timpano in Stanley Tucci and Campbell Scott’s 1996 classic Big NightIt’s a regional term for the dish, prepared, in the movie, by Primo (Tony Shalhoub), the older of two brother restauranteurs behind the new Italian place, ‘Paradise,’ on New Jersey Shore. Primo cooks classic Italian food and scoffs at what we now call American-Italian (spaghetti smothered in Jersey Italian gravy with meatballs), while Secondo (Stanley Tucci), the more practical of the two, tries to convince the other, in a thick Italian accent, to make whatever the customer wants: “make it, make the pasta, make it, make it, make the pasta.” Business, of course, is not a-booming. Then comes the big night — they have a chance to cook for Louis Prima, the Italian-American singer. And for that night, timpano is on the menu. Initially, it is not the Mona Lisa of Italian dishes. But what constitutes a timpano is so visibly hearty that it is instantly understood to be celebratory. And there’re a lot of carbs and beauty in that.

Adrift in Tokyo

What is the last thing you’d eat on your way to turn yourself in at a police station for a crime you’ve come to regret? In Satoshi Miki’s Adrift in Tokyo (Tenten,2007), Aiichiro Fukuhara (Tomokazu Miura), a recently retired loan collector, makes a proposition to Fumiya Takemura (Joe Odagiri), a debilitated student in debt: take a walk with him through Tokyo for a cancelation of debt. So begins their walk through Tokyo. Aside from walking, they talk about their lives, spot lucky actors, fight an old watchmaker, and, most importantly for this article, eat. Not every food takes on meanings but the food choices Fukuhara and Fumiya make become increasingly fraught with meaning as they near the police station.

My Dinner with Andre

Louis Malle’s My Dinner with Andre has been loved, parodied, bashed, and talked about over and over again that it’s difficult to talk about it without feeling a bit self-conscious. But I truly enjoyed this movie for its abundance of ideas and generosity in anecdotes and conflicts, not to mention the two great actors, Andre Gregory and Wallace Shawn, who also wrote the wonderful script. Though the dinner is a fancy restaurant that serves the likes of cailles aux raisin, galuska, terrine de poisson, and bramborova polevka, the dinner consists less of the food than it does of the two men’s conversation: the conversation is so good, so enthralling, the ideas, the conflicts so of importance that the food becomes secondary.

The Lunchbox

The lives of a lonely widower, Saajan (Irrfan Khan), with a taste for good food and a young wife, Ila (Nimrat Kaur) looking to jazz up her marriage through her husband’s stomach meet through a mix up in dabbawala delivery system in Ritesh Batra‘s 2013 movie The LunchboxThe movie is concerned largely with ways in which serendipitous meetings reaffirm our strange and unknowable connections to others. But it is also about a cook and a diligent and grateful eater, each sending out signals to the other, one with dishes packed in tiffin lunch boxes, and the other by sharing the food and licking the boxes clean. The notes Saajan and Ila write each other speak plainly while the food and the empty tiffin box returned to Ila at the end of the day speak with certain emotional poignancy of a secret language.

Chungking Express

People are hungry in Wong Kar-wai’s Hong Kong. But they are not just hungry for food but also for human connections in a mega city. A character tries out a number of canned pineapples, another a daily dose of chef’s salad in the famed director’s 1994 classic Chungking Expressstarring Tony Leung, Brigitte Lin, Faye Wong, and Takeshi Kaneshiro. We sometimes wish that a simple meaningful act or a sequence of events surreptitiously happened on us will help us understand our lives better. Chungking Express is is the locus of such hopes and dreams in WKW’s metropolis.

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Toronto Gets New Dance Studio

From left to right: Aaron Aquino, Aaron Libfeld and Roy Urbanozo. Photo by Sveta Soloveva

Voted the best in Toronto, The Underground’s dance classes are getting a new three-storey studio with a rooftop skylight this summer.

In just about two months, the new Underground Dance Centre will take the space above Yuk Yuk’s comedy club at 224 Richmond St. West, which is only two doors down from the original. Compared to the 3,700 square feet old studio with two rooms, the new space will be around 8,500 square feet with four rooms, including a rooftop with glass windows, which all the teachers are excited about.

“This is the floor I’m going to fight for,” said hip hop teacher Aaron Aquino. “I just want a sunny roof and fresh air coming through.”

Right now, the demolitions are complete and the team is collecting quotes from different contractors and deciding on who will build the new studio, said studio manager Roy Urbanozo.

The Underground Dance Centre gets a rooftop skylight studio this summer. Photo by Sveta Soloveva

The price for a single class increases from $15 to $17 starting May 1st, according to twenty-eight-year owner Aaron Libfeld. He added that still “a competitive price” around the city comes with new values. They are doubling the number of classes from 120 to 240, adding more hours for the teachers, and hiring more dancers to teach new styles. The old studio will continue to operate and customers will be able to use their passes at both locations. 

“Everyone is excited to see the new schedule,” said Libfeld. “There’s going to be a lot more of the popular styles, such as hip hop, dancehall, heels, Beyonce… We gonna have more k-pop and disco theme.”

Libfeld grew up as a competitive dancer, who took ballet, jazz, hip hop, contemporary, and acro at Vlad’s Dance Centre in Richmond Hill. The first thing he is looking for when hiring teachers is their personality. Even though someone is the best dancer in the world and they come with a bad attitude, they are automatically disqualified,” he said.

Excellent dance experience, understanding of the style, and ability to teach are the other requirements.

Photo by Roy Urbanozo

Teachers are not the only ones who create the mood in the studio. There are 20 young volunteers, who help at the front desk and receive free classes in return. Urbanozo will hire about 20 more volunteers to create positive vibes and a loving atmosphere in the new studio. 

Another innovation, prerecorded classes by choreographers from New York and L.A. is coming to the old Underground in just about a week. It’s going to be a unique experience, different from a simple online class, said Libfeld. “Even though they are [following] prerecorded videos, they are in a dance studio, in a dance environment, with other people,” he said. “Online classes are kind of the Netflix, but we wanna be like the Cineplex.”

Technology and social media have been a huge part of The Underground since it opened in 2014. Libfeld, who holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Finance and used to run a technology company at Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone (DMZ), said he applied all those skills to run his dance studio.

It’s very focused on working on the idea, getting feedback on that and continually innovating it,” he said.

Photo by Roy Urbanozo

Videos of every class on its Instagram, which now has almost 80,000 followers, helped the studio attract most of the clients and won the title of the best dance classes in Toronto by blogTO and Yelp within the first six months of opening. The Underground hosted the space for celebrities like Nelly Furtado, who rehearsed at the studio twice during her visit to Toronto.

“It’s exciting to know that we are providing the great content and sharing our love of dance in the world,” said Libfeld.

Both, Libfeld and Urbanozo said they are happy to expand their business, but the new studio is not the end of their vision. They will keep working on the main concept: providing their customers with the best experience. “We do our best because we want them [the customers] to come back. We want them to feel exclusive,” said Urbanozo. “There’s still a lot to learn about the industry and how to treat our customers.”

“We’ll only stop when we have to stop,” said Libfeld. “We are obsessed with the customer experience. For us it’s the worst thing if anyone walks out unhappy. So we make sure that we only hire the best teachers, keep the beautiful facility with professional cleaners every single night. That creates the whole experience which I think is different than anyone else does.”

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Your 420 Playlist

Happy 420 Novella readers! We wanted to provide you with a chill play mix for the day that went beyond the reggae and pot cliche (not that reggae isn’t fantastic). The tracklist consists of everything from pop, indie and electronic. We hope you have a lovely time listening to these tunes and lighting one –or a few– up.

Rihanna -James Joint

People Under the Stairs – Acid Raindrops

Sharon Forrester – Love Don’t Live Here Anymore

Erykah Badu – On & On

Wilson Tanner – Sun Room

De Facto – Cordova

OutKast – Crumblin’ Erb

Sean Nicholas Savage – Propaganda

Aquarian Foundation – Mind Miniatures

Rhoda Scott – Molybdenum

Devendra Banhart – Seahorse

Space Dimension Controller – The Love Quadrant

Devin The Dude – Doobie Ashtray

Spring style Revamp: Three Runway Looks For Less!

TEXT: Chris Zaghi and Claire Ball

Gone are the days when the standard polyester pantsuit or pencil skirt were the go-to for every woman at the office. The new 9-5 wardrobe should tastefully represent your personal style, as well as the atmosphere of your workplace. The same goes for your beauty routine. You want to look professional and put together without foregoing some extra oomph to your everyday makeup look.

When looking toward the weekend, most of the times all you want to do is throw on a t-shirt and sweats, but hear us out. Loungewear is great for picking up groceries, walking the dog, and laying about and watching Netflix. But sometimes the weekend calls for a little pizazz! An easy weekend solution is to keep your makeup minimal instead of your clothes. Why not amp up your weekend style with some comfy show stoppers that’ll have all your friends begging you for fashion advice and opt for a minimal makeup look?

Now evening wear and formalwear can be a bit tough. There are tons of rules and guidelines on what’s right and what’s wrong. No white at weddings, no stretch fabrics, avoid things that are too casual. All of these rules can make it almost impossible to find something that won’t be gasped at by the rest of night’s guests. Luckily, over the last few years, how we look at formal attire has changed drastically. Outfits that would have never gone over well at formal events are now slowly being accepted. And more outlandish and gaudy designs are being celebrated at events instead of being shunned. This opens up a lot of doors to what you can wear to a formal event this year. So keep your makeup relatively classic with a bit of a twist and let your outfit do the talking!

Office Ready: Chanel vs. Zara

Photos: Vogue Runway – Zara

Zara Textured Weave Cardigan &  Zara Structured Mini Skirt With Ruffle:

$135.80 online or in store

Zara has a long-standing tradition of providing the fashion-forward masses with reasonably priced and well-made clothing inspired by the world’s most exclusive luxury labels. The clothing you find in most Zara boutiques tends to lean toward a very elegant and trend-positive style. And when looking for the perfect 9-5 outfit, elegance, assertiveness, and freshness are key. For example, Zara has recently added this beautiful tweed set to their lookbook. Elegantly trimmed with a fire engine red hem and buttoned with faux pearl accents. This classic style mirrors the suits Mademoiselle Coco made famous decades ago, but with an added flirty twist. This especially helps with keeping your 9-5 wardrobe fresh and exciting (and you can mix and match the set too!)

Office Makeup look: Blush(ing)

Photos: Vouge – MAC Cosmetics

MAC Casual Colour in Hi Jinks: $31.00 in store or online

In case you were absent during the ’80s, now is the time to embrace a retro throwback in your beauty routine. The spring/summer runway was both subtly and extravagantly reminiscent of the decade and one of the most popular makeup tributes to it was bright blush and lips. Designers like Kenzo, Reem Acra, and Adam Selman all participated in various versions of the retro blush. This look from the Chanel spring/summer 2017 runway features a strong, bright coral cheek contour with a hint of coral on the lips to evenly brighten up the face. MAC has a line of creamy multipurpose lip and cheek stains that are perfect for recreating this look for the office on your own! Just trace the cream colour up the cheekbones, and around the eyes. If you’re really feeling the 80s vibes, finish it off by dabbing a little bit on the lips for an added pop of colour. This beauty look screams springtime while also keeping it professional and pretty for work.

Weekend Chic: A.P.C vs. ASOS

Photos: Vogue Runway – ASOS

ASOS Denim Crop Jacket with Ruffle HemASOS Ridley Skinny Jeans

$138.62 + Shipping

Weekend outfits often tend to lean towards whatever is the most casual (and clean) that’s laying around your room. This can lead to some serious drab moments when going out and hitting up the town. Luckily, ASOS has a slew of different dressy yet uber-casual options for you to beef up your weekend wardrobe. Now, most people don’t want to wear a blouse on the weekend. No problem. Denim is your best friend in this case. The denim jacket and jeans give you the same refined, high fashion silhouette that the A.P.C ensemble gives you, just without the high fashion price tag. The pulled in waist and ruffles paired with matching skinny jeans give this look a fresh and expressive take on your traditional Canadian tuxedo.

Weekend Makeup look: No-Makeup Makeup

Photos: Vouge – Sephora

Laura Mercier Illuminating Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20: $55.00 in store or online

The bare skin “no-makeup” look has been seen before, but this season it seems that it was more popular than ever. With designers like Isabel Marant, Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger, and Christian Dior all displaying a minimalist approach to makeup on the runway, there is no denying the obvious appeal of the “no-makeup” look. Radiant, clear skin like this look from the Stella McCartney spring 2017 show, is the perfect way to keep it casual, fresh, and chic on the weekend. Just apply a good tinted moisturizer, like Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer with SPF 20, to even out your skin and bring out your natural radiance with a dewy glow. If you need to cover some blemishes, just touch them up with a little bit of concealer and blend it out. To complete the ultimate natural look, brush up your eyebrows and you’re good to go!

A Beautiful Evening Out: Gucci vs. Free People

Photos: Vogue Runway – Free People

Garden Life Maxi Dress$327.50 online or in store

Evening wear can be a tricky thing to get right. With all the guidelines surrounding what to wear, most people opt for something black and that’s that. However, modern evening wear doesn’t have to end up being so uptight. One big trend we’ve been seeing are florals — explosions of colourful blooms completing outfits in exotic prints and embroidery. And that’s just the right amount of punch your closet needs to fulfill all your formalwear desires. Free People does a wonderful job of merging elegance and hippie-chic in a neat little package, and the Garden Life maxi dress does just that. Mirror the beautiful blooms seen at Gucci this season. The dress is perfect for this year’s upcoming wedding season and any other spring/summer event that requires a little evening magic. Who knows, maybe you can even turn a dull winter party into a tropical paradise if you have the guts to do it.

Evening Makeup look: The Smudgy Eye

Photos: Vogue – Sephora

Marc Jacobs Gel Eye Crayon Eyeliner: $31.00 in store or online

This “still wearing last night’s makeup” look is the new smokey eye. The spring/summer runway was all about the smudgy eye. Runway looks from Rag & Bone, Christopher Kane, and Balmain featured similar versions of the black, ashy, smudged out liner look. Pairing this makeup with the floral Garden Life Maxi Dress adds an edgier vibe for a perfect night out look. The best part about this beauty trend is that you no longer have to stress about drawing a straight line! Use Marc Jacobs Gel Eye Crayon Eyeliner to rim your eyes, and using a smudging brush, Q-tip, or your fingertip, smudge out the liner to create an “already worn out” smudged and smokey look.

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5 Must-see Movies from This Year’s Hot Docs Festival

There’s a reason we love documentaries: their beauty, power, influence and impact cannot be argued. They can cover any subject and be made by anyone, anywhere. There are no rules not really, except your movie needs to be true. Mostly true, anyway.

Documentaries can be transportive and awe-inducing, like the Planet Earth series or The Eagle Huntress. They can be unexpected and emotional like The Wolfpack. They can be terrifying, mystifying and ridiculous. They can also keep you up into the early hours of the morning, clicking next video after next video, winding up on conspiracy theory films about lizard people and the Illuminati.

I’m speaking from personal experience here.

It’s no wonder why we love watching documentaries and why events that honour them garner a fair bit of attention and excitement. I’m talking, of course, about the Canadian International Documentary Festival, which will take place at the Hot Docs theatre in Toronto from April 27th-May 7th.

This year’s festival packs a stellar line-up into its 11-day run. The documentaries being shown cover continents and topics. I can guarantee you’ll find at least one that interests you, but if you’re stuck, here’s our shortlist of some of the must-see documentaries playing during this year’s festival.

Becoming Who I Was

Via Hot Docs Box Office

Directed by Jin Jeong, Becoming Who I Was tells the story of Padma Angdu, an impoverished boy who discovers he is the reincarnation of a prominent Tibetan monk. The movie covers eight years of Padma’s life, from when he is banished from the local monastery, to his powerful bond with his godfather and journey to return to his rightful place.

Find showtimes and tickets here.

Rat Film

So, there’s a documentary about rats. Specifically, there’s a documentary about how the infestation of rats in Baltimore is a problem born from the segregation of ethnic minorities into impoverished neighbourhoods. Directed by Theo Anthony, this film uses a city’s rodent problem to demonstrate the ways a society has failed its people in the most basic ways. Rat Film is not one to be missed.

Find showtimes and tickets here.

Tiger Spirit

North Korea has become a modern boogeyman to the world, but Min Sook Lee’s 2007 documentary goes beyond the usual narrative of fear and dystopia to look at two nations struggling with closed-off borders and the after-effects of war. Lee also incorporates her own experience shooting the documentary while six months pregnant into the subject matter, asking the question of who is and isn’t allowed to report from unstable countries. In our current political climate, this documentary needs to be seen again.

Find showtimes and tickets here.

Tokyo Idols

In a society where youth and celebrity are vital, Tokyo Idols is a highly relevant look at a culture that makes an industry out of these phenomena. In Tokyo, teenage idols perform lip-synch dance shows for an audience filled with middle-aged men who drop vast amounts of cash to be able just to meet and see them. Competition between the idols is fierce and the criticism from their dedicated fan base is relentless. Kyoko Miyake’s documentary dives into this world of fantasy fulfillment through following a 19-year-old performer and her 43-year-old fan.

Find showtimes and tickets here.

Quest

Via Facebook.

In a basement in Northern Philadelphia, Christopher “Quest” Rainey and his wife Christine’a “Ma’ Quest” create an artistic getaway for their community, allowing young people to express their feelings and frustrations through song on “Freestyle Fridays” and serving as role models to their own children and those that visit them. Director Jonathan Olshefski shot Quest over a 10-year period, following the family in their day-to-day lives. It is an honest, hope-filled look at good people living in a country that is more uneasy than ever.

Find showtimes and tickets here.