What Movies Should You Be Looking Forward To This Spring?

This year’s Oscar season is behind us: you have shed your tears, contemplated the state of race relations in America, and watched a telecast notable for its amount of politically charged speeches and a historical screw-up that will live on in the hearts and minds of viewers as one of the best embarrassing moments the Oscars has ever given us (Warren Beatty’s look of crippling embarrassment thinly hidden behind false good humour is burned in my mind forever). This was an emotional Oscar season for sure, but it is now time to look forward. Spring is the slow kick-off to that time of the year littered with more big-budgeted fare, often depicting superheroes, the destruction of cities, space exploration adventures that are both vibrant and terrifying as well as the odd indie with some intriguing film festival buzz thrown in for good measure. So put away those tissues, get the extra large bag of popcorn, and check out some of these films that are to be released in the coming months.

The Lost City of Z. April 21

It seems as though for the past few years Charlie Hunnam has been making calculated gains towards his slow ascension from “charismatic television star” to “multi-faceted film icon.” Initially making a name for himself through roles in notable dramas such as Queer as Folk, Nicholas Nickleby, and Cold Mountain, he eventually gained a higher level of mainstream success with the FX series, Sons of Anarchy. As such, by the time he appeared in Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim, it was clear that he was likely to be on a career track similar to that of Tom Hardy or Channing Tatum’s, as he is able to take on roles that illustrate an ability for physically demanding work as well as for emotional depth and gravitas behind that tough-guy exterior. In May, Hunnam will be appearing in Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, but, frankly, The Lost City of Z, based on David Grann’s 2009 book, is much more intriguing. The film, set in the 1920’s, will focus on the true story of the British explorer Percy Fawcett who set out to find the remains of an advanced civilization that supposedly once existed in the Amazon. Moments in the trailer that show Percy (Hunnam) travelling by boat with his son (Tom Holland of the new Spider-man) while battling his own unhealthy obsessions, and perhaps growing more mentality unhinged, have a certain Apocalypse Now vibe. On top of that, the director, James Gray, who is more well-known for his smaller budgeted dramas such as We Own the Night and Two lovers, will hopefully add a degree of emotional heft not usually seen in recent adventure films.

Guardians of the Galaxy Volume. May 2

Comic book fans and their classic rock-loving dads can rejoice as the clear front-runner for the biggest movie of the season is set to be released in less than a month. The first Guardians of the Galaxy seemed to be a case of capturing lightning in a bottle; it proved to be the perfect light and breezy counter-programming to the progressively convoluted Marvel’s Cinematic Universe; it introduced the world to Action Star-era Chris Pratt; it was seemingly the perfect big-budget property for director James Gunn, who made a name for himself with smaller genre-bending films like Slither (2006) and Super (2010); and it mined comedy from the idiosyncrasies of lovable characters. Even if the sequel struggles to retain the same amount of freshness, one is still just as likely to sit back and enjoy the comedic chemistry between the cast, while also being reintroduced to songs that were feared to haven been forgotten by all but the listeners of afternoon classic rock radio. And it’s science: Kurt Russell makes any movie more watchable.

Alien: Covenant. May 19

You may have thought you were done with the revival of the Alien franchise following Prometheus in 2012, but with reported plans of the Covenant being the second installment of a planned prequel trilogy, Ridley Scott is not. And be honest with yourself, you’re also cautiously curious to see what exactly he has planned out. Although Prometheus was conceptually ambitious, providing new and interesting corners into this film universe, it was pretty difficult to ignore moments of thinly-written character development and the wide ratio of questions concerning the plot to actual answers, which, combined, ultimately resulted in the film not reaching its full potential. However, there are some reasons to be hopeful this time around. From the footage already released involving facehuggers and Xenomorphs tearing through crew members’ bodies in new and exciting ways, it’s clear that this story, involving a new crew stumbling upon a seemingly ideal planet for colonization, is planted more firmly in the horror roots that made the franchise successful. Hopefully this will result in a more entertaining balance between the beloved claustrophobic, haunted house scares of the original and the philosophical musings on the nature of life and God, which were so prevalent in Prometheus; which, if successful, could make this new trilogy stand separately from the previous installments. There has also been quite the upgrade in the cast department, this time it includes Michael Fassbender (returning as another android, Walter, while also reprising his previous role), Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, James Franco, and Damian Bachir. The writing credits also are nothing to scoff at either, with a story credit to Michael Green (whose most recent credit was for Logan) and a screenplay credit to John Logan (whose other works include Gladiator, The Aviator, as well as the last two James Bond films). The television spots released have also been appropriately eerie and unsettling as well, especially those featuring Walter. Ridley Scott is clearly working towards perfecting his vision for this trilogy. Let’s hope this time around he nails the landing.

Wonder Woman. June 2

I am by no stretch of the imagination an avid watcher of any sports, but I assume being a fan of DC, in the context of an overcrowded superhero-movie landscape, is kind of like being a passionately die-hard fan of a sports team no matter how many times they let you down. But, like the good fan that I am, I will likely end up seeing Wonder Woman opening weekend, while bracing for impact if the film does not meet my already sober expectations. However, despite being burned from previous DC Comic movie outings, there is reason enough to believe that this may be primed for success. Judging from the trailers that have been released thus far, there seems to be a better marriage here between the edgier, brutal action elements that were also seen in Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice — which certainly work towards helping to establish a tone and feel to this universe that is completely separate from that of Marvel — as well as a brighter lets-not-take-ourselves-too-seriously-this-time-around sensibility to the proceedings. Charisma machine Chris Pine has some good underplayed comedic bits in the trailer. Lucy Davis, probably best known for her role in The Office, is charmingly silly. And the writers even let Gal Gadot have moments playing up her own fish-out-of-water position in the plot, as she works alongside the Americans during World War I, presumably to protect not only their world but also that of Themyscira. And thankfully, those moments poking fun at her character do no take away from how ridiculously badass she looks as she nonchalantly bats away a mortar using her shield or slides on the ground towards an adversary with her sword pointed towards his chest. For me, moments like these turn those gritting teeth into an impressed and delighted smile. With beloved Golden Age characters such as these, DC deserves a win. Here’s to hoping the Warner Bros. has gotten their act together.

The Beguiled. June 30

At the moment, this film falls into the category of “I Have No Idea What Is Happening I just Know I Want More of This.” Based on a novel by Thomas Cullinan, this is the latest feature directed by Sofia Coppola, who has not released a film since the tepidly received The Bling Ring in 2013. Also intriguing is Colin Farrell, who seems to be having a nice comeback, as he has been taking on more interesting character roles in recent years in films such as Saving Mr. Banks, The Lobster, and The Killing of a Sacred Deer, also to be released later this year (are we in the midst of a Farrelssance?). The plot revolves around a wounded Confederate soldier taken in by a group of women — among them Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning — who are sheltered from the outside world. Sexual tensions and psychologically unsettling moments quickly develop in the trailer, perhaps made to create a sense of ambiguity as to who “the beguiled” actually are. Check it out, feel uncomfortable, and mark it on your calendar.

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Introducing LUSH Easter/Spring products!

LUSH has launched their exciting Easter-Spring collection of limited edition bath, body, and facial products! The unique invigorating products not only make you feel fresh, ready for Spring, but are also incredibly cute and fun.

LUSH Easter/Spring Collection — photo by Novella Magazine

Though the shapes and wonderful colors of the Easter products are sure to be the initial, if not the main, attraction, there’s more to LUSH to than the festivities. The clean and luxurious products are made according to the company’s ethical practices of never testing on animals. As such, they are vegetarian friendly, approximately 85% vegan, 40% preservative-free, and 35% unpackaged. Made with fresh fruits and vegetables, the finest essential oils, and other ingredients, they will also make you feel relaxed, fresh, and smooth all over your body and face.

LUSH Easter/Spring Collection — photo by Novella Magazine

Enjoy the transition into Spring with the blooming splashes of color and the fragrance to rival the best the season has to offer!

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Recap: S/S ’17 Men’s Accessories Trend Report

Well, it’s official: spring is here. For those who don’t live in the “Great White North” you may wonder what this strange season entails. For those who live in Toronto, we often find ourselves buried under snow with unforgivable temperatures, straight to scorching summers that will wrap you in humidity. We’ve pretty much seen it all.

At Novella, we’ve compiled a list of noteworthy spring/summer accessories for men that range from the early transition days of spring, to days under the relentless summer sun. So take out a pen and jot down your favourites in order to reach your full potential and make waves this coming season.

BACKPACKS

Photo: L to R Prada by Marcus Tondo, Lanvin by Luca Tombolini

We are often on-the-go and in order to get from point A to B, we require some assistance carrying around that extra baggage. Whether its school books, files from work, or your ex, we all have something we’re holding onto. For this spring/summer, we look to Prada who has inspired the traveler in all of us with their featured backpacks.

OVERSIZE SCARVES

Photo Credit: Lto R Assembly New York, Stella McCartney

With spring, we are transitioning from our colder days and sometimes need a little help to stay warm on a particularly windy day. Toronto, we love you, but sometimes we need the extra protection from your cold touch. Designers like Stella McCartney and Assembly New York show us that we can be fashionable, while keeping warm.

BELTS

Photo Credit: Lanvin by Luca Tombolini

We often find comfort in belts as a fashion staple because of its practicality and easy adaptation. The belt is a hallmark of anyone’s closet and the ways to style it are endless. Lanvin demonstrated this promptly — with shoelace belts, statement belts, and belts with beautiful details. We couldn’t help take note and hope to see more of this in our spring/summer fashion choices.

BUCKET HATS

PhotoCredit: L to R Prada by Marcus Tondo Givenchy by Luca Tombolini

Reminiscent of our favorite 90’s era hip-hop artists, the bucket hat has resurfaced in all its glory. We can’t help but support Riccardo Tisci with his play on the bucket hat for this year’s spring/summer looks. Givenchy was not the only line to take note, as Prada, Gucci, and others adapted their own take on this trend.

STATEMENT NECKLACES

Photo Credit: L to R Balmain by Monica Feudi, Palm Angels

Most of our favourite designers detail their models with dexterity and a delicate touch. On the runway for spring/summer, we took note of many designers including longer necklaces on their models. Most menswear shows produced their own adaptation of the necklace trend, and some were more pronounced than others. Balmain offered a stand-out array of necklaces to accompany their models for their spring/summer show, while other designers such as Palm Angels offer a much simpler design. However you decide to dress it up, this accessory adds a great touch to any look.

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20 Songs to Help You Get Over Winter

Winter is a fact of life for us in Canada. It’s long, harsh and hangs by its fingernails on the coattails of March, only to be finally dragged away by the wind and rain of April.

We’re finally in spring territory now. This first day of spring occurred earlier this week, the days are getting longer and the sun seems just a little higher in the sky.

Don’t get me wrong, I like living in a place that has four seasons – it makes you more appreciative of agreeable weather when we have it. It’s just that there are days when spring and summer are merely distant memories and not the very near future.

If you, like us, need a little post-winter, pre-summer music pick-me-up, we’ve got recommendations for you of sun-soaked tracks to take you into the lighter time of year.

Kings of Leon – “Back Down South”

Come Around Sundown is one of my all-time favourite summer albums, and “Back Down South” is one of my favourite tracks off of it. Due in part to their deep southern roots, Kings Of Leon always bring a summery, sweaty sound to the table, and this track is all of that, but tapped with a bit of nostalgia, for those warm nights when you’re thinking about home.

Frank Ocean – “Sweet Life”

I inherently associate Frank Ocean’s first album Channel Orange with warm weather because that’s when I first heard it. “Sweet Life” in particular is a slow, sultry jam begging to be played while lounging poolside or kicking back on a street curb with soft sunlight kissing your cheeks.

Geowulf – “Saltwater”

“Saltwater” is a track that absolutely needs to be played on a sunny day (despite the music video taking place at night.) From the dreamy guitar riffs to the melancholic lyrics, it brings you right back to days at the beach, where it’s nothing but you, the sun and the waves.

Tinashe – “Flame”

Let me be clear: any Tinashe song is a good bet to play any day in the year. But I’ve got a feeling that “Flame” is going to be a real banger this spring, and what better way to welcome in the warmer weather than a hot track by the hottest of the hot herself.

Hinds – “San Diego”

Girl-band Hinds brings the perfect blend of youth-powered garage rock and beach boardwalk tunes to the scene. Their song “San Diego” has an unstoppable energy and all the attitude when you need to start wearing shorts again after going six months without.

Janet Jackson – “Escapade”

I mean. I MEAN. Do I even need to say anything else about the ultimate vacation jam from the ultimate dance-pop diva?

Lower Dens – “To Die in L.A.”

This is actually a sad song. It’s not about happy, spring-y feels. But sometimes the warmer seasons aren’t about running in a field or cuddling on a ferris wheel. Sometimes they’re about riding around downtown L.A. in your convertible moaning about the one that broke your heart. The lyrics are heart-wrenching, the vibe is ridiculously cool.

Alabama Shakes – “Hang Loose”

Alabama Shakes is a fantastic group. Brittany Howard’s voice alone could wake me from my wintery grave and have me born anew. “Hang Loose” is a loud, boisterous call to life, to hang on and hope. As Howard belts out in the chorus, “We’re gonna be alright.”

Khalid – “American Teen”

This entire album is AMAZING. And the entire album is summer vibes for sure. Khalid’s jams are  simultaneously smooth and cocky, fresh and shy, much like the actual experience of being a teenager. The title track off of American Teen to me, gives the ultimate throwback to teenage summers, when there was nothing to do but cause trouble.

Empire of the Sun – “Half Mast”

This song is a ridiculous, ridiculously catchy pop ride through space. That is exactly how I would describe it. Empire of the Sun take you through the trials and tribulations of love with an electro beat and punchy vocals. (This is another track that I absolutely need to listen to on sunny days.)

On June x KEVI – “Sunrise”

“Sunrise” is one of those essential tropical house tracks for parties on the beach and long, warm nights in good company. The whole song is just screaming “summer.”

Girlhood – “Say It”

The fact this video has so few views on YouTube is insane. This track is so good! It gives a sick throwback to the 90s while touching on the current mood and vibe of young women. It’s a slow and easy track, easy to get lost in when you close your eyes and just listen.

Sublime – “Doin’ Time”

Sublime is a bit of a strange group, but they make some awesome music. This offbeat track is a great companion to help get you into the mood for the carefree mood of the summertime.

Vampire Weekend – “Walcott”

There’s something about this song, maybe it’s the piano riff, maybe it’s Ezra Koenig’s voice, or maybe it’s the fact the song mentions Cape Cod; either way, there’s something about this song that makes it sound just like summer.

Swim Deep – “Honey”

“Honey” sounds like a trip to the beach. Do you know what I mean? And if the line “Don’t just dream in your sleep/it’s just lazy” doesn’t inspire you to daydream the day away, then I don’t know what will.

Real Estate – “Easy”

Every Real Estate song ever is about summer. Trust me. Any song from the album Days could’ve worked for this list. “Easy” was chosen because 1) it’s one of the beach-iest and 2) I just really like it.

RAC – “Hollywood” feat. Penguin Prison

I don’t consider this a warm-weather song per say, but it does make me think of L.A. an awful lot, which in turn makes me think of warm weather. And honestly, this tune is just so catchy and pop-y. It’s easy to listen to, easy to get stuck in your head, easy to bop around to.

Only Real – “Get It On”

This definitely isn’t a song for everyone. It’s a British, white boy rapping with 90s-sounding instrumentals. I love it, and for me, it’s brazen and weird enough to make it into my essential summer tracks playlist. I’ll warn you though: it may make you want to steal a shopping cart and ride it down a hill. For no reason at all.

The Marvelettes – “Playboy”

If you like girl groups, or specifically, if you like girl groups from the 60s, then The Marvelettes are your gals for chirpy songs about beautiful-yet-terrible boys. This is a good one to play whilst sitting outside in the sun with your friends, complaining about every person you know.

Yolanda B Cool & DCUP – “From Me to You”

Okay, so the music video for this song features palm trees and girls in bikinis. Even aside from that, this is another song that is the embodiment of summer parties, either on a beach, on a rooftop or in someone’s basement. You don’t need to actually be in paradise. Let the music take you there.

 

 

 

 

 

What You Should Be Up to This March

It doesn’t look like it, but it is getting warmer and Spring is on its way. While we’re on this weather-transition that ultimately means mood-transition, it’s good to try to maintain a positive vibe — don’t stay cooped up inside just because there’s still bit of snow outside. And as you slowly fold away winter sweaters and take your coats to the dry cleaners, fold away moldy moods and thoughts that have grown over the winter. Here are a few things you should be up to in Toronto for a minor renaissance within and to herald in the Spring.

Cirque Éloize’s Cirkopolis

Dubbed the ‘sexier, hipper cousin’ of Cirque du Soleil, the Montreal-based contemporary circus troupe, Cirque Éloize, landed in Toronto earlier this month with its latest, CirkopolisThe set and the mood of the production are reminiscent of the early classic Metropolis by Fritz Lang, and the 80’s cult classic, Terry Gilliam’s BrazilIn it, eleven acrobats and multidisciplinary artists perform with extraordinary finesse and beauty under the continually revolving factory-cityscape. With bursts of humor, Cirkopolis expands circus’s possibilities as a medium for anyone — like myself — whose definition of it is riddled with lion tamers and unicycles.

Literary Events

Spring is publishing season — new days, new books. But before you are swamped by a rush of reading options, take a minute to immerse yourself in the literary outside the pages. Pivot Reading Series is a monthly series featuring both emerging and established poets and prose writers. Join Gwen Benaway (poet, Ceremonies for the Dead), Ashley-Elizabeth Best (poet, Slow States of Collapse), Robert Chafe (playwright, The Colony of Unrequited Dreams), and Shari Kasman (writer, Everything Life Has to Offer) this March 22nd at the Steady Cafe on Bloor West. Can’t save that date? Then consider the Poetry NOW: 9th Annual Battle of the Bards at Harbourfront Centre’s Brigantine Room on the 29th where twenty poets battle for the 1st place. But fine, if you don’t feel like enjoying poetry in a crowd, consider shopping at the Toronto Reference Library’s giant, cheap, and good-for-the-community book sale: with prices that low, you can cozy up inside with print material for days.

Hirokazu Kore-eda’s After the Storm

Hirokazu Kore-eda’s After the Storm premiered at 2016 Canne Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard to critical acclaim. In After the Storm, Ryota (Hiroshi Abe), a divorced and less than self-actualized writer/detective attempts to close the distance with his estranged wife and son. A typhoon strikes and the family, including Ryota’s mother, are forced to spend a night together. With his meditative style, Kore-eda’s film dives deep into the ordinary to uncover undertows of familial relationships. Like the best of them, this family’s drama lies deep in their interactions. After the Storm opens at the TIFF Bell Lightbox this Friday and runs through March 23rd.

Stay in Touch

I know it’s hard enough to stay up to date with the daily goings on on the news. Every minute, it seems like, there’s some form of minor or major disaster looming. One way to keep yourself informed and in perspective is read long-form articles that offer in-depth analysis of whatever is going on in culture and politics. The New Yorker’s Andre Marantz’s ‘Is Trump Trolling the White House Press Corps?’ offers a good glimpse into the details of Trump’s war on the media and the intricacies of how we make, spread, and receive information in the age of social media, fake and “fake” news, and Seany Spciey. Kwame Anthony Appiah discusses what we talk about when we talk about ‘western civilization’ in the Guardian. In ‘Under the Skin of James Baldwin,’ Darryl Pinckney discusses Baldwin with the new documentary, I am Not Your Negro in mind. And lastly, in ‘The New Party of No,’ Charles Homans writes about the changing Democratic Party. Read a little bit at a time on your commute, or during lunch.

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