The GATE http://www.thegate.ca Entertainment Magazine Tue, 30 Sep 2014 14:00:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Hockey is where Canada’s heart beatshttp://www.thegate.ca/spotlight/travel-destinations/022210/hockey-canadas-heart-beats/ http://www.thegate.ca/spotlight/travel-destinations/022210/hockey-canadas-heart-beats/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 14:00:20 +0000 http://www.thegate.ca/?p=22210 The Great One. The Rocket. The Kraut Line. The French Connection. The Forum. The Garden. The Canadian lexicon probably contains more references to hockey than any other cultural institution. Even the former $5 bill displayed a hockey scene--a young boy playing shinny, accompanied by a quote from Roch Carrier’s timeless classic “The Hockey Sweater.”

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Discover our national passion by going to a NHL game and enjoying the pre- and post-game festivities.

By Crai S Bower

The Great One. The Rocket. The Kraut Line. The French Connection. The Forum. The Garden. The Canadian lexicon probably contains more references to hockey than any other cultural institution. Even the former $5 bill displayed a hockey scene–a young boy playing shinny, accompanied by a quote from Roch Carrier’s timeless classic “The Hockey Sweater.”

The best way to experience our passion for hockey is to attend an actual NHL game, including pre-game and post-game festivities. Here’s a primer on how to get your game on from Montréal to Vancouver.

Montréal Canadiens: The world stands still when La Sainte-Flanelle, winner of 24 Stanley Cups, skates onto the Centre Bell ice, where 17 retired sweaters hang from the rafters. Visitors should also make time for a stroll through the statues on Centennial Plaza and a trip inside the Montréal Canadiens Hall of Fame. Rue Sainte-Catherine certainly lights the lamp during games, but you’ll find Le Bleu-Blanc-Rouge supporters wherever you go.

Ottawa Senators: The Sens’ return to Ottawa in 1992 proved that a midsize Canadian city could support a major-league hockey team and meant that Canada’s capital was again home to the highest level of Canada’s game. Former player Chris Phillips’ Big Rig Brewery is the best spot close to the Canadian Tire Centre. Downtown, head to either the Clocktower Brew Pub or Don Cherry’s Sports Grill, just off the popular Byward Market.

Toronto Maple Leafs: The Maple Leafs has always been “Canada’s Team,” partly due to being beamed all over the country for over 60 years as the featured team on “Hockey Night in Canada.” The Leafs last won the Stanley Cup in 1967, but that doesn’t stop rabid fans from filling the Air Canada Centre’s seats and neighbourhood bars, including Wayne Gretzky’s Toronto. Don’t forget to visit the Hockey Hall of Fame, too.

Winnipeg Jets: In 2011, this midsize Canadian city brought their Jets back after a 15-year absence. Season tickets sold out within hours of going on sale and the centrally located MTS Centre has revitalized downtown. Grab a variety of bites and bevvies at The Forks, then grab a cab to the game.

Edmonton Oilers: The Oilers’ peak may have been three decades ago, but that doesn’t stop today’s fans from filling Rexall Place to cheer on some of the game’s top young talent. Post-game, take a selfie beside Wayne Gretzky’s statue then head to Coliseum Pizza & Steak or catch the LRT downtown to The Pint and Red Star pubs.

Calgary Flames: Every time the home team scores, flames shoot out above the scoreboard in The Saddledome. Flames Central, a sports pub on Calgary’s refined Stephen Avenue, is the place to be on game days, while 17th Avenue Southwest’s “Red Mile,” named during the team’s improbable 2004 Stanley Cup run, remains another popular strip.

Vancouver Canucks: The Canucks have played the best hockey of any Canadian team over the past 10 years. Game night captivates the city, as The Shark Club, Kingston Taphouse & Grille and Lamplighter fill with blue-green-and-white clad patrons.

Story courtesy of the Canadian Tourism Commission.
Photo courtesy Edmonton Tourism.

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Belkin WeMo LED Starter Set & WeMo Smart LED Bulbs now available in storeshttp://www.thegate.ca/gaming-gadgets/022207/belkin-wemo-led-starter-set-wemo-smart-led-bulbs-now-available-stores/ http://www.thegate.ca/gaming-gadgets/022207/belkin-wemo-led-starter-set-wemo-smart-led-bulbs-now-available-stores/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 14:27:13 +0000 http://www.thegate.ca/?p=22207 Belkin’s ever-expanding home automation and remote control ecosystem is ever expanding, and last week they announced the availability of their new WeMo LED Starter Set and WeMo Smart LED Bulbs, which give you control over scheduling, customizing, and otherwise controlling your household lights from your smartphone or tablet.

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Belkin’s ever-expanding home automation and remote control ecosystem is ever expanding, and last week they announced the availability of their new WeMo LED Starter Set and WeMo Smart LED Bulbs, which give you control over scheduling, customizing, and otherwise controlling your household lights from your smartphone or tablet.

The WeMo LED Starter Set is available in Canada now, including at Best Buy and Future Shop, for a suggested price of $99, with the individual WeMo Smart LED Bulbs retailing for a suggested $39.99.

The WeMo Smart LED Bulbs look similar to your average light bulb, and they fit into standard sockets, but using a WeMo Link the LED bulbs connect to your home’s Wi-Fi network so you can open up the WeMo app and control them with a few taps.

Belkin suggests that the life span on the LED bulbs is up to 23 years, and they provide the equivalent light of a 60-watt bulb, but they only consume up to 10 watts of power while offering 800 lumens and 3000 kelvins, which is a warm white light that you can dim to suit your mood.

From the WeMo app, users can create rules and schedules for when the LED bulbs will turn on or off, including based on sunrise or sunset, or if you want to set a vacation mode. Additionally, there is a “dim-to-sleep” feature that slowly dims the light over a given time until it turns fully off. The product will also work with other WeMo products like the WeMo Light Switch and the WeMo Insight Switch.

The best feature, however, might be that users can create groups of WeMo Smart LED Bulbs, so you could set a whole area to light up or turn off on a certain schedule, or just when you flick your WeMo Light Switch.

Included in the WeMo LED Starter Set are two WeMo Smart LED Bulbs plus a WeMo Link, which can control a total of 50 individual smart bulbs.

The WeMo app is available for free from the Google Play Store and in the App Store.

Belkin has also confirmed that the WeMo Link will work with the WeMo-enabled ULTRA iQ BR30 LED bulbs, which will be launched later in the fall from Osram Sylvania.

WeMo Smart LED Bulbs (F7C033):

  • Turn lights on/off or schedule from anywhere
  • Fully dimmable
  • Standard, A-19 bulb size
  • 60W equivalent bulbs last up to 23 years
  • Vacation mode automatically turns lights on/off to simulate occupancy
  • Dim to sleep—gradually dim lights to fall asleep more naturally
  • Warm white light similar to incandescent bulbs
  • Works with the WeMo app, available for Android or iOS

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TIFF 2014: Following director Rooth Tang for the premiere of ‘Sway’http://www.thegate.ca/spotlight/tiff/022203/tiff-2014-following-director-rooth-tang-for-the-premiere-of-sway/ http://www.thegate.ca/spotlight/tiff/022203/tiff-2014-following-director-rooth-tang-for-the-premiere-of-sway/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 15:02:05 +0000 http://www.thegate.ca/?p=22203 Rooth Tang was glowing with quiet nerves and calm smiles when I met him at the Japan Film Night Party during the Toronto International Film Festival. At the time, it was just a couple of hours to go before his film would premiere at the festival, and before we left for his big debut, we chatted outside the party about his career, and what it was like coming to TIFF with his first feature-length film, Sway.

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Rooth Tang was glowing with quiet nerves and calm smiles when I met him at the Japan Film Night Party during the Toronto International Film Festival. At the time, it was just a couple of hours to go before his film would premiere at the festival, and before we left for his big debut, we chatted outside the party about his career, and what it was like coming to TIFF with his first feature-length film, Sway.

“It feels a little bit like going from zero to ninety,” Tang said, “just because it is Toronto, and it has a good reputation as one of the biggest festivals in the world.”

“I’ve watched this film probably 500 times or something, and the humorous parts, the moving parts, they all sort of get whittled down where you don’t really see the edges any more,” he said later. “So I’m just kind of curious to see what the public’s reaction in general is to the film.”

Born in Bangkok, Thailand, but raised in the United States, and calling Los Angeles home these days, Tang’s career has evolved since he took part in the Tribeca All Access program in 2007 for a screenplay he wrote called The Vitruvian Man. Later that year, his first short film, Radiance, opened at the Turks and Caicos Film Festival. In 2010, he followed Radiance with his second short film, Nurture, which premiered at the Palm Springs Shortfest Film Festival.

Those films led him to make Sway, which he also wrote, produced, and edited.

“Sway is a collection of love stories–three different love stories–shot across Bangkok, Los Angeles, and Paris,” Tang said. “And it involves these three different relationships that sort of represent the different generations of immigrants and it’s a look into how small our world is becoming as the cultures divide and technology is starting to make everything shrink. But then, at the same time, all the complications that still exist with relationships and communications that still lingers from that.”

Watch the video to see Tang talk about what influenced him to make Sway, the political environment that affected him when he went to Bangkok to start work on the film, and how his parent’s gave him insight into the story.

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Monte Carlo celebrates Canadian Thanksgiving with month-long deal in Octoberhttp://www.thegate.ca/spotlight/travel-destinations/022201/monte-carlo-celebrates-canadian-thanksgiving-with-month-long-deals-in-october/ http://www.thegate.ca/spotlight/travel-destinations/022201/monte-carlo-celebrates-canadian-thanksgiving-with-month-long-deals-in-october/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 22:34:57 +0000 http://www.thegate.ca/?p=22201 Looking to do something a little different this October for Thanksgiving? Canadians can put the turkey behind them this year and take advantage of a deal from the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino, which is showing a little love for Canucks with discounts and special offerings throughout the month, which they're dubbing Canadian Appreciation Month.

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Looking for an adventure this October for Thanksgiving? Canadians can put the turkey behind them this year and take advantage of a deal from the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino, which is showing a little love for Canucks with discounts and special offerings throughout the month, which they’re dubbing Canadian Appreciation Month.

Offering a discount of 20 percent off room rates for the entire month of October, Canadians can also enjoy some unique Canadian-themed dishes at Monte Carlo’s restaurants during their stay.

At The Café at Monte Carlo, the menu includes a Double Cut Maple Grilled Pork Chop served with fingerling potatoes and roasted vegetables. The pork chops are served with Canadian Salad, which is a mix of baby greens, heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, dried cranberries, candied walnuts and goat cheese dressed with maple vinaigrette.

The Pub at Monte Carlo is offering their take on Poutine plus Wood-Fired Maple Glazed Salmon served with buttery mashed potatoes and sautéed green beans.

Finally, for dessert, The Café and The Pub will be offering guests a fresh take on the Chocolate Nanaimo Bar, made with a Graham cracker-coconut crust layered with vanilla custard and dark chocolate ring. BLVD Creamery, which is in the Monte Carlo’s new Plaza, will have Canadian-inspired ice cream featuring maple syrup and bacon flavour.

Room rates in October start at $59 at the Monte Carlo, and to take advantage of the Canadian Appreciation discount, just enter the promotion code CANADA14 at MonteCarlo.com.

See you in Las Vegas!

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TIFF 14: ‘Guidance’, Alanis Obomsawin, ‘Revenge of the Green Dragons’ & Ruba Naddahttp://www.thegate.ca/blog/022187/tiff-14-guidance-alanis-obomsawin-revenge-green-dragons-ruba-nadda/ http://www.thegate.ca/blog/022187/tiff-14-guidance-alanis-obomsawin-revenge-green-dragons-ruba-nadda/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 19:18:51 +0000 http://www.thegate.ca/?p=22187 Tuesday and Wednesday were two of my biggest days at the Toronto International Film Festival, aside from the always epic first Saturday of the festival. Tuesday started out fairly reasonably with writer, director and actor Pat Mills sitting down to discuss his film, Guidance.

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Tuesday and Wednesday were two of my biggest days at the Toronto International Film Festival, aside from the always epic first Saturday of the festival. Tuesday started out fairly reasonably with writer, director and actor Pat Mills sitting down to discuss his film, Guidance.

The film has already been picked up for distribution, which is obviously fantastic, but it’s easy to see why. Mills has crafted a really entertaining dramedy with Guidance, and it’s funny and dark in equal parts, but mostly it’s just really good. Mills plays a satirized version of himself, as he mentioned in the interview to me, as a grown-up child actor who turns away from acting to find another career–which happens to be as a very bad high school guidance counsellor.

Mills also hinted at his next film, which he’s already working on, which will have a bigger budget, and already has a lot going for it, thanks to what he accomplished in Guidance.

From there, I went–with a lot of nerves, actually–to interview TIFF Masters filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin about her latest documentary, Trick or Treaty.

Obomsawin is quite simply a filmmaking legend with a resume filled with honours from organizations across North America (she’s a member of the Order of Canada, as just one example), which reflects not only her films, but her goal of raising awareness of Native rights issues.

Trick or Treaty looks at some of the biggest issues right here in Ontario, and how many of the issues in one area date back to the 1905 Treaty 9 that promised much, but delivered very little. Obomsawin talked with me about her goals in making these stories, and how the film tracks an incredible march that went over 1,600 kilometres from Hudson Bay to Ottawa, to address the issue.

After interviewing Obomsawin, I got a fresh wave of nerves as I headed from the NFB offices to interview Catherine Keener at the InterContinental Hotel for Charles Binamé’s Elephant Song, starring Xavier Dolan and Bruce Greenwood.

Keener was worn out from a long day, but she was absolutely wonderful, and looked beautiful. In the midst of interviewing her though, my camera decided it was the end of the day, so I ended up only getting audio from most of the interview.

Still, it’s hard to complain when Keener was so excited to talk about the film, and working with the two stars, and director Binamé. I would have been happy to chat with her about anything, actually, considering I’m a big fan of her and her work.

Then, there was Wednesday, which started bright and fairly early with a non-TIFF event: X14, Xbox Canada’s big event to talk about new titles coming to Xbox One for the holidays. I’ll save that story for another post, but it was a great event, with a few titles that I’m really excited to see coming down the line.

Pixar's Lava

Pixar’s Lava

Leaving Uniun Nightclub, I went to the Walt Disney Studios Canada office to meet Pixar’s James Murphy, the first-time short director who had his film Lava premiering in TIFF’s, appropriately enough, first-ever Short Cuts International program.

Lava is a charming, whimsical and musical short about a volcano looking, and singing, for love over millions of years, and Murphy not only created the idea, but he also learned to play ukulele for the film, and wrote the song that plays throughout it. Like anyone I would expect to meet from Pixar, Murphy was passionate and thrilled to be talking about his film, which I have to say I really enjoyed.

For those looking forward to the animated short, Lava will run ahead of the film Inside Out in 2015.

Running from Disney’s offices, I headed to the Trump Hotel where I was set to interview Revenge of the Green Dragons directors Andrew Lau, Andrew Loo and lead actor Justin Chon.

Presented by Martin Scorsese, Revenge of the Green Dragons is a classic, brutal crime drama about the real-life Asian street gang of the same name that worked the streets of New York City in the eighties and nineties. Fighting street wars with other Asian gangs, the Green Dragons took advantage of their own people to amass wealth, drugs, and a terrifying army.

The co-directors spoke with me about convincing Scorsese to come on board, which essentially just meant that they sent him their script, and how they intend to work with Scorsese again, if all goes well.

Lau and Loo have crafted a very tense, impressive story with Revenge of the Green Dragons, and while I am sure they have taken a level of creative licence, the film feels real, and the drama is as satisfying as the action sequences and the blood-dripping violence.

From the Trump Hotel, I ran back to Front street and the InterContinental Hotel to interview director Ruba Nadda for her latest film, October Gale.

I’ve known Nadda for as long as I’ve been doing The GATE, so interviewing her at TIFF, since she’s been at the festival numerous times over the years, is kind of a way to catch up.

Sitting down in a conference room at the hotel, we chatted about how she made October Gale, the way weather seems to cooperate with her when she needs it, and she talked about working with Patricia Clarkson once again, and Scott Speedman, in this dramatic thriller.

The conversation naturally turned to her next project, which I was surprised to learn is actually an hour-long television series for HBO called Elisabeth, which will star Patricia Clarkson. They’re calling the series a romantic drama at this point, and Nadda has been sworn to secrecy on any other details, but with any luck I’ll be catching up to Nadda and Clarkson on-set at some point if the series gets picked up.

And that, my friends, brings us almost to the end of my exploits at TIFF 2014. I’ll have a few more posts in the next day or two, including a piece about chatting with the writer, director and stars of The Guest for Midnight Madness. Stay tuned this week as well for interviews as well.

Photos: WireImage/Getty for TIFF.

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TIFF 14: ‘Rosewater’ with Jon Stewart, ‘Wild’ & Benedict Cumberbatchhttp://www.thegate.ca/blog/022183/tiff-14-rosewater-jon-stewart-wild-benedict-cumberbatch/ http://www.thegate.ca/blog/022183/tiff-14-rosewater-jon-stewart-wild-benedict-cumberbatch/#comments Sun, 14 Sep 2014 03:35:51 +0000 http://www.thegate.ca/?p=22183 The Toronto International Film Festival did not slow down much this year after the first busy weekend, which was kind of a surprise. For as long as I've been going to TIFF, the first four days of the festival have always been blockbuster, while the week after kind of fizzles away. This year though, TIFF has kept the pace going, and it's kept me busy late into the week.

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The Toronto International Film Festival did not slow down much this year after the first busy weekend, which was kind of a surprise. For as long as I’ve been going to TIFF, the first four days of the festival have always been blockbuster, while the week after kind of fizzles away. This year though, TIFF has kept the pace going, and it’s kept me busy late into the week.

Looking back to the TIFF that was, I finally found time to write down some of my highlights from earlier in the week.

First off, let’s start with Sunday, when I had interviews for Jon Stewart’s Rosewater and Jean-Marc Vallée’s Wild, two films I screened before TIFF even started so I could be involved in these interviews.

In the morning, I spoke to Rosewater lead actor Gael García Bernal, who plays journalist Maziar Bahari in the film, plus I interviewed Stewart with Bahari himself. The film is a retelling of what Bahari went through in 2009, when he was taken prisoner by officials in Iran for more than 100 days, where they tried to make him confess that he was an American spy.

Rosewater proved to be a good film that fizzles a little as it goes along, but it’s not a bad film–the story just never feels like it reaches a strong climax before the end.

The interviews were very interesting though, with Bernal chatting thoughtfully about the film, and talking about working with Stewart for his directorial debut. Bernal was also incredibly passionate as he talked about the politics that Rosewater represents, and the plight of journalists around the world, including in his home country of Mexico. He was so passionate, in fact, that he went over our interview time so he could properly answer a question that he felt very strongly about.

As for Jon Stewart and Maziar Bahari, they acted like they obviously know each other quite well now, with Stewart pointing out the fine line that existed in making the film where he needed to get more details from Bahari, without going so far as to make the journalist uncomfortable.

The topic was obviously a bit intense for Bahari, and Stewart was incredibly respectful, but he also took a few opportunities to lighten the mood with jokes, including a jab at Toronto mayor Rob Ford.

Also, to be honest, I’ve met some big stars at TIFF, but meeting Jon Stewart was definitely a huge highlight for me. He’s a fascinating media personality who obviously has a lot of talent.

Jon Stewart, Maziar Bahari and Gael Garcia Bernal

Jon Stewart, Maziar Bahari and Gael Garcia Bernal

Director Jean-Marc Vallée and actress Laura Dern were next up, and they were both incredibly welcoming and pleasant as they talked about Wild. As Vallée sat down for the interview, he even started playing music from the soundtrack to set the mood–something that I’ve never seen before in any interview I’ve had in the last 14 years.

For starters, it’s worth mentioning that the film is very good, and I would be surprised if Wild was not nominated for at least a couple of things at the Academy Awards. Reese Witherspoon, in particular, is wonderful in the role of Cheryl Strayed, and the story weaves perfectly between the character’s past and present in a way that makes the story stand out.

Vallée talked about what it took to make the film, and working with Witherspoon, who had a lot of challenges with this tough, sometimes physically-demanding, role. Often Witherspoon had to carry a huge backpack that was weighed down appropriately so it looked right on film, and they filmed a number of scenes in cool weather, even though the shot called for it too look like it was warm out.

Dern was wonderful and really down-to-earth, and she was very kind as well. In the interview she seemed very relaxed and she was happy to talk about how the story impacted her, and what it was like working with Vallée. I’ve admired Dern’s work for years, so it was really special getting to chat with her, and I appreciated how she reinforced something Vallée spoke about as well; Wild is a strong film that rests on Witherspoon’s shoulders, right up until the credits, with and ending that is happy, despite the fact that it’s not your standard glamourized “happy ending”.

Where most films struggle to offer strong roles for women, Wild is just a great film that is about this intriguing woman. It’s a drama–not a date film, or a “chick flick”. Any guy who can’t sit through Wild is just not emotionally equipped to deal with real life, or he’s too obsessed with stereotypes to enjoy a great film.

After that, I went to the Midnight Madness cocktail event, just to stretch my legs and do something a little different, but I didn’t stay long so I could work on some of my interviews, which I’m still transcribing and preparing for sharing.

That brings me to the day that was Monday — a strange day to say the least.

Monday didn’t really start for me at TIFF until the late afternoon when I was set to interview for Imitation Game with director Morten Tyldum and star Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Alan Turing in this powerful World War II drama.

Due to some confusion, I was also supposed to chat with two of the cast who were at the hotel, but it didn’t work out. Tyldum was very interesting, and he revealed a number of details about capturing Turing’s story, and the incredible reality about what Turing accomplished, and how he helped end the war.

Now, here’s the odd part. I ended up waiting over 2 hours to interview Cumberbatch. He was delayed coming to the hotel for the interviews on Monday, and when he did arrive, he was exhausted and there were a number of press ahead of me doing interviews with him first. I was lucky that I didn’t have any other conflicts that day for interviews, so I was able to stay and drink Nespresso while the other press and I joked around about how our waiting room was clearly the set for a new reality show and there was actually no interview.

Of course, Cumberbatch was there, and he spoke at length about Turing and playing the great thinker in this drama. It was an intense interview, since Cumberbatch really answers questions with a lot of detail, and it was interesting to hear the actor talk about all of the things that were on his mind about Turing as well. He clearly has a lot of passion for the project, and learned an immense amount of detail about Turing and his life, which ends tragically, and all too young.

Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon

Last of all that day, I left to go meet director Rooth Tang, to follow him as he attended the TIFF premiere for his feature-length debut, Sway.

Tang was at a party on Bloor street when I met him, and so I interviewed him there, and we then cabbed it down to the Scotiabank theatre for his premiere. He was nervous, but obviously quite happy and excited, and he was joined by family, and two of his crew members.

That video will be online Monday, so stay tuned, in addition to clips from most of my interviews.

Have your say in the comments about what you enjoyed most at TIFF, or any films or stars you were following.

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Photo: The stars of The Guest after our interview: Dan Stevens & Maika Monroehttp://www.thegate.ca/blog/snaps/022191/photo-the-stars-of-the-guest-after-our-interview-dan-stevens-maika-monroe/ http://www.thegate.ca/blog/snaps/022191/photo-the-stars-of-the-guest-after-our-interview-dan-stevens-maika-monroe/#comments Sat, 13 Sep 2014 20:52:37 +0000 http://www.thegate.ca/?p=22191 Post-interview at the Thompson Toronto ahead of their red carpet premiere at Midnight Madness on September 13, 2014.

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Post-interview at the Thompson Toronto ahead of their red carpet premiere at Midnight Madness on September 13, 2014.

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Photo: Sunset Overdrive at #X14. Great preview of the games coming this holidays.http://www.thegate.ca/blog/snaps/022184/photo-sunset-overdrive-at-x14-great-preview-of-the-games-coming-this-holidays/ http://www.thegate.ca/blog/snaps/022184/photo-sunset-overdrive-at-x14-great-preview-of-the-games-coming-this-holidays/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 16:49:05 +0000 http://www.thegate.ca/?p=22184 Posted automatically from Instagram via Instagrate.

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Posted automatically from Instagram via Instagrate.

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TIFF14: Tastemakers Lounge celebrates 10 years in stylehttp://www.thegate.ca/spotlight/tiff/022145/tiff14-tastemakers-lounge-celebrates-10-years-style/ http://www.thegate.ca/spotlight/tiff/022145/tiff14-tastemakers-lounge-celebrates-10-years-style/#comments Mon, 08 Sep 2014 20:23:36 +0000 http://www.thegate.ca/?p=22145 Tastemakers Lounge knows how to celebrate the Toronto International Film Festival in style, and that's hardly surprising since they've been doing it right for 10 years now.

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Tastemakers Lounge knows how to celebrate the Toronto International Film Festival in style, and that’s hardly surprising since they’ve been doing it right for 10 years now.

Debra Goldblatt-Sadowski and Leesa Butler debuted Tastemakers Lounge at TIFF in 2005, and I vividly remember going, especially since it was the first gift lounge that I ever attended.

Since then, I’ve been going back to Tastemakers almost every year to see what they had in store for celebrities, and I’ve been lucky enough to walk away with some of the gifts as well, which is always filled with some of the treats.

Hosted once again at the InterContinental Toronto Centre, the lounge runs from September 4 to September 8 this year and it includes three rooms for the stars to browse through, with the products on display for everyone coming through. Part of Tastemakers’ focus, which is one of the reasons I love their lounge, is to highlight great Canadian brands, and also to bring attention to great charities.

This year, the lineup of featured companies includes Brita, acting as the title sponsor; Danier Leather, with jackets, hats, and tablet cases; Piloti leather shoes and bags; Lush’s Charity Pot; and Tonia DeBellis with her unique high-end hoodies.

Here are a few of my favorite things at this year’s Tastemakers Lounge:

Danier Leather
Danier Leather is fall. I love the everything about the season, and Danier’s leather jackets fit perfectly for what I like to wear once the leaves are changing and the wind has turned cool. I also love that Danier uses a lot of Canadian leather, and they manufacture many of their products in Canada with a solid, premium style.

It is also refreshing to see men’s clothing in a gift lounge, which is not always the case, and I love their biker-themed jacket with the black buttons on black leather.

Danier’s other items on display included a women’s shoulder bag, infinity scarves, tablet cases, and a men’s leather baseball hat.

Danier Leather - Men's Jacket Danier Leather - Women's Jacket Danier Leather - Women's Jacket detail Danier Leather - Tablet Case

Piloti
The first thing I saw as I walked into the lounge was Piloti’s racing-inspired Italian leather shoes, which were designed for race car drivers, but are true luxury footwear for any guy. Their Campione dress shoes, in particular, which retail for $450, are distinctly impressive, with a design that is modern and classy.

The shoes sport a tire tread sole, which Piloti patented under the name Roll Control, and they look very comfortable, especially the Primo loafer. Piloti also have three leather bags which are simply stunning, and make me want to go traveling: Monza Weekender, Medio Messenger, and Piccolo Travel Bag.

Piloti Campione Piloti bags

Lush
The Lush Charity Pot is a tremendous thing, and 100% of the money raised from the product goes back to the charities, including any pots that are donated at gift lounges since Lush pays for any that they give away.

The pot itself, which retails in the large size for $22.95, is actually a body lotion made from Fair Trade organic cocoa butter, almond oil, and ylang ylang.

As for the charities, Lush partners with select grassroots organizations to make a difference in communities, specifically with goals relevant to the environment, animal welfare, and humanitarian goals. One example is Girls Rock Camp Toronto, which is one of the local organizations that benefits from Lush’s sales of the Charity Pot, in addition to Children’s Peace Theatre.

You have to appreciate this kind of concept, especially with a product that aims to be as natural as possible. Lush is also going to auction off a giant Charity Pot, which has been signed by stars who have come to the lounge, for their charities.

Lush Charity Pot

Lush Charity Pot

Tonia DeBellis

Tonia DeBellis is a Canadian designer with a clever eye for deep textures and beautiful patterns. At the Tastemakers Lounge she was showing off her Haute Hoodie, which retails for $399, and brings real sophistication to the concept of the hoodie.

The design is wonderful, and for me, what I also really appreciate, is the use of incredible textures, which show off the sophisticated lines and the overall look of the hoodies.

DeBellis also was showing off her Haute snoodies, which fit over the head inside any regular jacket, and again, the fabric really makes these look very, very classy.

Tonia DeBellis Tonia DeBellis Haute Hoodie Snoodie fabrics Tonia DeBellis snoodie

Other Highlights:

olive + piper had their fashionable, and affordable, jewellery on display, which includes rings, necklaces and bracelets. Most of their stylish jewellery retails for between $25 and $35.

Rise Gear has the answer for the busy traveler who doesn’t want to bring a lot of luggage, and still wants to keep things organized. Rise Gear offers collapsible shelving inside of a duffel bag, making it easy to “unpack” once you get to your destination–just open, lift, and hang the entire bag up in the closet. The Jumper size bag retails for $79.

Counting Sheep Coffee is the night-time answer for coffee lovers who want to enjoy a cup of java, but don’t want to risk ruining their sleep. This decaffeinated coffee includes a mix of organic Valerian root, which acts like a sedative and relaxant.

Papa D’s Tropical Hot Sawce Counting Sheep Coffee Consonant Skincare Reveal by Calvin Klein Brita olive + piper jewellery olive + piper earrings Rise Gear Sorel boots Sorel boots

Here is the full list of brands at Tastemakers Lounge: Pekota Design furnishings, Lush, Brita, Sorel, Danier Leather, Piloti, Tonia DeBellis, olive + piper, Rise Gear, Papa D’s Tropical Hot Sawce, Counting Sheep Coffee, Consonant Skincare, and Calvin Klein.

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