The GATE http://www.thegate.ca Entertainment Magazine Fri, 25 Jul 2014 19:36:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 Comfortable meets distinguished at Viceroy Hotel, New York Cityhttp://www.thegate.ca/spotlight/travel-destinations/021997/viceroy-hotel-new-york-city/ http://www.thegate.ca/spotlight/travel-destinations/021997/viceroy-hotel-new-york-city/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 19:31:54 +0000 http://www.thegate.ca/?p=21997 For ten years now I have been writing about hotels for The Gate and for newspaper travel pages, in addition to my last book. I have been in about as many hotels as the Gideon Bible and given that I have formed very definite, almost subconscious ways of determining if I am digging a hotel I am in--and that usually begins immediately with the way I am treated on my first approach to the front desk for check in.

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Viceroy New York
120 W 57th Street, New York City
www.viceroyhotelsandresorts.com/en/newyork/

For ten years now I have been writing about hotels for The Gate and for newspaper travel pages, in addition to my last book. I have been in about as many hotels as the Gideon Bible and given that I have formed very definite, almost subconscious ways of determining if I am digging a hotel I am in–and that usually begins immediately with the way I am treated on my first approach to the front desk for check in.

If I am treated like I am approaching an agent at a customs desk or a bank official asking for a loan, it sets a tone for the whole stay, just the way being greeted with a genuine smile and being treated like a friend who is a guest in your home sets a tone as well–a feeling of comfort and relaxation.

Such can be said most emphatically for the new, and boldly ambitious hotel Viceroy in New York City. A wonderful new hotel, and I do mean ‘new’ as this hotel is barely a year old and was built from scratch in the very middle of Manhattan.

The Viceroy is a tall, elegant looking building squeezed in between the Directors Guild of American building and the famed Russian Tea Room restaurant and it was designed and built in such a way that it appears to have been a part of that block forever.

The rooms and the suites are a combination of the high-tech and the comfortable; wood grain cool and efficiency that you would find in the cabins of luxury yachts (and this is not by accident, by the way). The beds are low to the ground and very comfortable, the windows large, and no matter what the size of your suite I guarantee you will never have had more storage and closet space in a hotel room ever before (also modeled after the way storage space is arranged in yacht cabins).

The bathrooms are big and luxurious with generous full sized amenities (from Neil George) and large walk in showers. Some of the suites even have porthole windows in the bathrooms that subtly add to the nautical feel. And the rooms and suites have one high-tech feature that I really found convenient–the Samsung smart device that acts not just as a telephone but also as an alarm clock, TV remote control and hand-held computer. Of course such devices are commonplace but what makes this particular one worthy of note is it is so easy to use, even by someone such as myself who gets easily frustrated when not being able to quickly figure out how to get the high-tech things working (I have been in new hotels that were so high-tech it took a computer science degree just to turn on the shower). I had this device figured out in seconds, which definitely added to the overall comfort and relaxation of being in the room.

It is often said that a new hotel rises or falls based on location, location, location–well, in the extremely competitive New York City hotel market, Viceroy has managed to secure itself one of the best locations imaginable. When you enter the lobby, before you arrive at the front desk, you will pass under a bronze map of Manhattan and there is a red jewel embedded in the map to indicate the location of where you are standing in the Viceroy, and it is geometrically almost dead centre of Manhattan. If you are a walker (and New York is a wonderfully walker-friendly town) then you could not pick a better place to be based–you are within blocks of Central Park, Fifth Avenue, Times Square, Bryant Park, the New York Public Library, and on and on.

The Viceroy Hotel, Suite 57 - Bathroom

The Viceroy Hotel, Suite 57 – Bathroom

I was particularly interested in the location and the fact that a brand new hotel was able to secure such an ideal one (even though the Viceroy is part of a renowned group of hotels in places like Los Angeles and the Caribbean). I sat down for an interesting chat with Viceroy General Manager in the comfortable Library lounge on the main floor– “In a market like New York City you aren’t really competing with every other hotel in the city, you are competing with the hotels that can be found in a few block radius around you,” explained Gerard Denneny.

“Many hotel guests coming to New York City want to be in a specific part of the city, so it is up to us to provide them with and experience that is everything they want, everything they need, and at a price that is reasonable–while adding in some unique little touches of our own on top of everything.”

Which is where the yacht cabin design scheme comes in. I asked Mr. Denneny if that was something that was incorporated out of practical necessity or was is more of an aesthetic decision. “Well, we had one of the top design firms in the world with us (Roman and Williams) so to answer your question, it was both,” said Gerard Denney. “As you mentioned, the closets and drawers and the arrangement of things in the rooms and suites is unique and practical, the way they are out of necessity on a yacht.”

I asked GM Denneny about the target guest demographic that the Viceroy attracts – “What we have done here is capture a kind of middle area between business travelers, leisure travelers, the artists, so our core demographic would be the 30 to 50s and beyond, the young at heart who are still adventurous and who are still explorers.”

For new hotels today it seems almost essential that your restaurants and clubs are good enough to attract a stand-alone crowd–attract customers well above and beyond those who are guests within the hotel. In less than one year the ground level restaurant, the Kingside, and the lounge and outdoor deck on top of the hotel, The Roof have already established themselves to such a degree that they are both constantly very busy. I visited The Roof at 5:00 on a Thursday afternoon and it was already crowded (you have to check out The Roof–there is something magical about sitting in a comfortable lounge chair outside with a drink and a snack and a spectacular view of Central Park below you).

The Viceroy is a cool, elegant, extremely comfortably addition to the New York City hotel landscape and one worth checking out no matter what your purpose or the duration of your stay in New York. The staff is all first rate, they are genuinely good at their jobs without being patronizing. For example–I asked a Doorman (and that I don’t know his name is my bad) if he could hail me a cab for the trip to LaGuardia Airport. He smiled and got right on it, but this was Friday afternoon in the dead centre of Manhattan so I was expecting a bit of a wait. This fellow disappeared up the block and then from sight. A couple of minutes later a cab pulled up in front of the Viceroy, our Doorman jumped out–he had run a few blocks from the hotel looking for a cab for us, then found one and jumped in himself and had the driver take him to us. At the Viceroy that is not service above and beyond, that is the service that is granted everyone with a nod and one of those cool New York smiles.

The Viceroy Hotel, New York City The Viceroy Hotel Kingside The Viceroy Hotel, Suite 57 The Viceroy Hotel, Suite 57 - Bathroom The Roof Viceroy Park Suite - Bathroom Viceroy Park View Viceroy Terrace Room

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Lessons from the first year with my little girlhttp://www.thegate.ca/blog/that-guys-a-dad/021630/lessons-from-the-first-year-with-my-little-girl/ http://www.thegate.ca/blog/that-guys-a-dad/021630/lessons-from-the-first-year-with-my-little-girl/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 20:18:16 +0000 http://www.thegate.ca/?p=21630 Almost 12 months ago I became a dad. I even bought an appropriate domain (nothing fancy--it points to this part of my blog) in anticipation for the big day, but since my little girl was born, I haven't blogged about her once. (Sorry, girlie!)

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Almost 12 months ago I became a dad. I even bought an appropriate domain (nothing fancy–it points to this part of my blog) in anticipation for the big day, but since my little girl was born, I haven’t blogged about her once. (Sorry, girlie!)

There have been lots and lots of updates on Facebook about her, mind you, and Instagram, but the amount of time I’ve made to sit and write down thoughts about her have been fairly limited. That’s my first mistake, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been keeping track of how she has grown and changed. I’m lucky enough to have a wife who has been documenting our little girl’s progress since the start, and I did keep a journal of the first two weeks, so we had it locked down on paper. I’ve also been taking an astounding number of photos and videos of her along the way too, of course.

At this point, I feel like I could write a book about being a dad, but most of it is speculative and emotional, rather than concrete. Certainly nothing as wise as “50 Rules for Dads of Daughters”–at least not yet–but I feel like I’m getting closer. I’m also happy to say that I feel like I’m a dad, and I think I can check off quite a few of those 50 rules already too.

What amazes me at this point, beyond how she changes almost each and every day, is the fact that even trying to be prepared before she was born, I don’t think we were even remotely ready for the days ahead.

So, in the interest of passing on some wisdom for would-be parents, here’s what I’ve learned so far, just to finally have it written somewhere.

There is no way to be prepared for being a parent.
My wife and I read books (she read way more than I did though), researched parenting topics online, went to a prenatal class for a few weeks, and talked about plans and goals a lot, and it has still been a tipsy-turvy adventure for almost all of the last 12 months, but especially the first one. It was tough, it was happy, and we never got enough sleep for weeks and weeks (we’re still a little sleep-deprived at times), and that’s maybe the best lesson I could tell anyone about becoming a parent: you should try to be prepared, and you need to plan lots of it ahead, but you never will really be prepared for everything.

You will love them more than anything else in the world.
This sounds like a no-brainer, but it still amazes me how much I love our little girl, and you can’t prepare for this either. I love my wife, I love my parents, and I love other family too, but I love my daughter in a completely different way than anyone else. I really can’t explain it, but it’s a mix of pride, hope, and a feeling like I have to be there to guide her through the world for as long as she’ll let me, or as long as she needs it.

Sleep any time you can.
My wife and I have tried, as often as possible, to nap when our daughter naps, but we have not always been very successful either because she doesn’t nap for long some times, or life gets in the way. But, the lesson we’ve learned is definitely to nap when we can because you never know when there will be a bad night, or a day where there are just not enough hours to make you feel awake.

Our daughter actually sleeps fairly well throughout the night, starting at around 8:00 PM these days until 6:00 AM or even 7:00 AM, but sometimes she wakes up and it takes us anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour to get her back to sleep. We take turns with her over night and in the mornings, but that means that one or both of us are tired throughout the day. Working from home most days means I can help out, but neither of us gets many chances to nap, and we’re the lucky ones since we’ve been home together for this first year. I would suggest to anyone that the sleep you can get is essential to your sanity, and to being able to enjoy your days with your little one.

Don’t rush it.
The old saying may be cheesy, but it’s true: time flies. One day you’re figuring out how to deal with dirty diapers for this tiny little human, and the next you’re figuring out how this little girl started walking and deciding if you’ve really baby-proofed the house enough.

Everyone says it, but one moment you’re looking down in the crib at a sleeping little doll, and the next she’s looking up at you smiling, laughing, and babbling away.

It’s a wonderful experience, and no matter how hard it is, it goes way, way too fast. In 17 years I’m sure I’ll say the same thing when she’s graduating, or whatever she’s doing, and it’s a great reminder to make every day count, and to cherish your life, your family, and the child that has flipped your life wonderfully upside down.

It’s tough, and like all difficult things, very rewarding.
You may cry from frustration, and you might feel like a failure even when you want to do your best for your child, but in the end there is nothing like being a parent and caring for your child. The rewards are everywhere: in the smiles, the baby steps, and throughout the whole experience you will take with them, but it still won’t always be easy.

My daughter thankfully teaches me new things each day, including patience, respect, and little dribbles of other wisdom, and I hope I’m doing the same for her. She makes me want to be a better person, and to me that’s maybe the best reward of all, even during the tough times–clambering around keeping her safe, making sure she’s eating enough, and just getting her to sleep.

If you can remember that, then even when you’re stressed out running around without enough sleep, you’ll still find a second or two to smile and keep on going.

You will need help–don’t be afraid to ask for it.
If I have learned one lesson as a parent it’s simply that there is no shame in getting help from your family. It will take time before you’re ready to have someone babysit your child, but once they’re old enough, date nights are a fantastic thing now and then.

It may even be less obvious, but having someone help around the house when things are getting too messy can even be a life saver. Or getting a friend to bring over a meal early on when you’re still just trying to cope with the weird hours, feedings, and randomness of being a new parent.

The best thing is that your friends and family will be all too happy to help you too. They will jump in if for no other reason than to see your little one.

——–

Good luck to all the soon-to-be or new parents out there. I would love to hear what you think new parents should think about, so leave your comments below.

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Toronto International Film Festival announces 59 filmshttp://www.thegate.ca/spotlight/tiff/021987/toronto-international-film-festival-announces-59-films/ http://www.thegate.ca/spotlight/tiff/021987/toronto-international-film-festival-announces-59-films/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 19:48:22 +0000 http://www.thegate.ca/?p=21987 On Tuesday, July 22, the Toronto International Film Festival announced a few of the films that will debut this year, including 13 Galas and 46 Special Presentations.

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On Tuesday, July 22, the Toronto International Film Festival announced a few of the films that will debut this year, including 13 Galas and 46 Special Presentations.

Piers Handling, the CEO and director of TIFF, with Cameron Bailey, artistic director of the festival, led the press conference at TIFF Bell Lightbox, presenting trailers for some of the films, and answering questions from the media afterwards.

Of the films announced so far, some of the notable directors involved include: Noah Baumbach, Susanne Bier, Peter Ho-Sun Chan, David Dobkin, Philippe Falardeau, Mia Hansen-Løve, Ning Hao, François Ozon, Christian Petzold, Lone Scherfig and Chris Rock.

“Toronto can anticipate another remarkable lineup of films,” Handling said in the announcement. “Cinema’s collective and transformative experience lives at the heart of our Festival–a sentiment that inspires the global dialogue rippling throughout the selections revealed today.”

“We can’t wait to present the new films from some of cinema’s brightest talents,” said Bailey. “This year we’ll welcome filmmakers from France, Germany, China, the UK, the US and more to red carpets in Toronto.”

During the announcements, Handling and Bailey announced the festival’s closing night film, which is Alan Rickman’s A Little Chaos starring Kate Winslet, Stanley Tucci, Rickman and Matthias Schoenaerts.

The 39th Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 4 to 14, 2014. Find out about ticket sales here, and otherwise stay tuned for more updates over the coming weeks.

You can browse through the titles announced so far below:

Julianne Moore in Maps to the Stars

Julianne Moore in Maps to the Stars

GALAS

Black and White – Mike Binder, USA (World Premiere)
Black and White is the story of a widowed grandfather who is left to raise his bi-racial granddaughter. When the little girl’s paternal grandmother seeks custody, a bitter legal battle ensues that forces the uneasy family members to have an honest conversation about life, death, anger and America’s racial divide. Starring Academy Award-winners Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer, as well as Anthony Mackie, Jennifer Ehle, Gillian Jacobs, Bill Burr, Andre Holland and Jillian Estell.

The Equalizer – Antoine Fuqua, USA (World Premiere)
In this big-screen adaptation of the cult ‘80s TV show, McCall believes he has put his past behind him and has dedicated himself to beginning a new, quiet life. But when he meets Teri, a young girl under the control of ultra-violent Russian gangsters, he can’t stand idly by –— he has to help her. Armed with hidden skills that allow him to extract vengeance upon anyone who would brutalize the helpless, McCall comes out of his self-imposed retirement and finds his desire for justice reawakened. If someone has a problem, if the odds are stacked against them, if they have nowhere else to turn, McCall will help. He is The Equalizer. Starring Denzel Washington, Marton Csokas, Chloë Grace Moretz, David Harbour, Bill Pullman and Melissa Leo.

Foxcatcher – Bennett Miller, USA (Canadian Premiere)
Based on true events, this film tells the dark and fascinating story of the unlikely and ultimately tragic relationship between an eccentric multi-millionaire and two champion wrestlers. Starring Anthony Michael Hall, Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Vanessa Redgrave, Mark Ruffalo and Sienna Miller.

Haemoo – Shim Sung-bo, South Korea (International Premiere)
The ragtag crew of a fishing boat takes on a dangerous commission to smuggle a group of illegal immigrants from China to Korea, in this tense high-seas adventure co-scripted by South Korean genre-movie guru Bong Joon-ho. Starring Kim Yoon-seok and Park Yoo-chun.

The Judge – David Dobkin, USA (World Premiere)
Big city lawyer Hank Palmer returns to his childhood home where his estranged father, the town’s judge, is suspected of murder. Hank sets out to discover the truth, and along the way reconnects with the family he walked away from years before. Starring Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong, Dax Shepard and Billy Bob Thornton.

A Little Chaos – Alan Rickman, United Kingdom (World Premiere) [Closing Night Film]
A landscape gardener with a taste for the unconventional is invited to design one of the fountains at the Palace of Versailles. As she battles with the weather, the perilous rivalries at the court of Louis XIV and her own private demons, she finds herself drawn closer to the formality and enigma of the architect who hired her. Starring Kate Winslet, Stanley Tucci, Alan Rickman and Matthias Schoenaerts.

Maps to the Stars – David Cronenberg, Canada/Germany (North American Premiere)
David Cronenberg forges both a wicked social satire and a very human ghost story from today’s celebrity-obsessed culture. Starring Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, Olivia Williams, Sarah Gadon, John Cusack and Robert Pattinson.

The New Girlfriend (Une nouvelle amie) – François Ozon, France (World Premiere)
When her best friend Lea dies, Claire falls into a deep depression. However, after making a surprising discovery about her late friend’s husband, she’s given a new lease on life. Starring Romain Duris, Anaïs Demoustier and Raphaël Personnaz.

Pawn Sacrifice – Ed Zwick, USA (World Premiere)
In this remarkable true story set in the height of the Cold War, chess legend Bobby Fischer is locked in a gripping championship clash with the Soviets as he struggles against his own psychological demons while the whole world anxiously awaits the outcome. Starring Tobey Maguire, Peter Sarsgaard and Liev Schreiber.

The Riot Club – Lone Scherfig, United Kingdom (World Premiere)
A privileged young man is inducted into the exclusive, debaucherous company of Oxford’s elite “Riot Club,” in this scathing dissection of the British class system. Based on the hit play Posh, the film stars Natalie Dormer, Max Irons, Sam Clafin, Jessica Brown Findlay and Douglas Booth.

Samba – Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, France (World Premiere)
Samba migrated to France 10 years ago from Senegal, and has since been plugging away at various lowly jobs. Alice is a senior executive who has recently undergone a burnout. Both struggle to get out of their dead-end lives — Samba’s willing to do whatever it takes to get working papers, while Alice tries to get her life back on track — until fate draws them together. Balancing light-hearted moments with heavier emotion, Samba is a story about two strangers on a new path to happiness. Starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, Omar Sy and Tamar Rahim.

This is Where I Leave You – Shawn Levy, USA (World Premiere)
Shawn Levy’s dramatic comedy follows four adult siblings who return home after their father’s death to spend a week with their over-sharing mother and an assortment of spouses, exes and might-have-beens. Confronting their history and frayed relationships among those who know and love them best, they reconnect in hysterical and emotionally affecting ways. Starring Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, Corey Stoll and Kathryn Hahn.

Wild – Jean-Marc Vallée, USA (International Premiere)
After years of reckless behaviour, a heroin addiction and the destruction of her marriage, Cheryl Strayed makes a rash decision. Haunted by memories of her mother Bobbi and with absolutely no experience, she sets out to hike more than a thousand miles on the Pacific Crest Trail all on her own. Wild powerfully reveals Cheryl’s terrors and pleasures as she forges ahead on a journey that maddens, strengthens and ultimately heals her. Starring Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Thomas Sadoski, Michiel Huisman, Gaby Hoffmann and Kevin Rankin.

Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler

Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler

SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS

99 Homes – Ramin Bahrani, USA Canadian Premiere
After his family is evicted from their home, proud and desperate construction worker Dennis Nash tries to win his home back by striking a deal with the devil and working for Rick Carver, the corrupt real estate broker who evicted him. Starring Andrew Garfield, Laura Dern and Michael Shannon.

American Heist – Sarik Andreasyan, USA World Premiere
Two brothers with troubled pasts become embroiled in a high-stakes bank robbery, in this indie action thriller. Starring Adrien Brody, Hayden Christensen, Jordana Brewster and Akon.

Before We Go – Chris Evans, USA World Premiere
Set in Manhattan, the story follows two strangers after their serendipitous meeting in Grand Central. Over the course of one night, they form an unlikely bond and the conflicts in their own lives become the basis for exploration into each other and themselves. Starring Chris Evans and Alice Eve.

Breakup Buddies – Ning Hao, China World Premiere
Recently cuckolded and reeling from a messy divorce, a hapless former singer hits the road — and the bar — with his all-too-helpful best bud, in this hilarious romantic comedy.

Cake – Daniel Barnz, USA World Premiere
Cake tells the story of the acerbic Claire Bennett who has managed to alienate everyone from her life, with the exception of her loyal housekeeper. When Claire becomes fascinated with the suicide of a woman in her chronic pain support group, she develops a poignant relationship with the woman’s grieving husband and comes to terms with her own personal tragedy, catapulting her forward into life. Starring Jennifer Aniston, Anna Kendrick, William H. Macy, Felicity Huffman and Sam Worthington.

Coming Home – Zhang Yimou, China North American Premiere
Lu Yanshi and Feng Wanyu are a devoted couple forced to separate when Lu is arrested and sent to a labour camp as a political prisoner, just as his wife is injured in an accident. Released during the last days of the Cultural Revolution, he finally returns home only to find that his beloved wife has amnesia and remembers little of her past. Unable to recognize Lu, she patiently waits for her husband’s return — until Lu determines to resurrect their past together and reawaken his wife’s memory. Starring Chen Daoming and Gong Li.

The Dead Lands (Hautoa) – Toa Fraser, New Zealand/United Kingdom World Premiere
Hongi, a Maori chieftain’s teenage son, must avenge his father’s murder in order to bring peace and honour to the souls of his loved ones after his tribe is slaughtered through an act of treachery. Vastly outnumbered by a band of villains led by Wirepa, Hongi’s only hope is to pass through the feared and forbidden “Dead Lands” and forge an uneasy alliance with a mysterious warrior, a ruthless fighter who has ruled the area for years. Starring Xavier Horan, Raukura Turei, Rena Owen, James Rolleston, Lawrence Makoare and Te Kohe Tuhaka.

Dearest – Peter Ho-Sun Chan, China/Hong Kong North American Premiere
Drawing on remarkable true stories, Peter Chan delivers a moving drama about child abduction in China. Huang Bo stars as a father whose young son disappears in the streets of a big city. He sets out on a search across China, stopping at nothing to find him. In this star-studded cast, Zhao Wei plays the role of a mother from a poor rural area.

The Drop – Michael R. Roskam, USA World Premiere
The Drop follows lonely bartender Bob Saginowski through a covert scheme of funnelling cash to local gangsters in the underworld of Brooklyn bars. Under the heavy hand of his employer and cousin Marv, Bob finds himself at the centre of a robbery gone awry and entwined in an investigation that digs deep into the neighbourhood’s past where friends, families, and foes all work together to make a living — no matter the cost. Starring Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, James Gandolfini, Matthias Schoenaerts and John Ortiz.

Eden – Mia Hansen-Løve, France World Premiere
In the ‘90s, French electronic music is developing at a fast pace. Entering this exciting Parisian nightlife, Paul and his best friend form a DJ duo called Cheers. But just as they rapidly find their audience, they are caught up in a euphoric and short-lived rise to fame. Eden retraces the steps of the “French touch” generation from 1992 to today — a generation that still enjoys outstanding international success thanks to DJs like Daft Punk, Dimitri from Paris and Cassius. Starring Félix de Givry, Pauline Etienne, Vincent Macaigne, Greta Gerwig, Golshifteh Farahani, Laura Smet and Vincent Lacoste.

Far From Men (Loin des Hommes) – David Oelhoffen, France North American Premiere
Algeria, 1954. While the rebellion rumbles in the valley, two very different men thrown together by a world in turmoil are forced to flee across the Atlas mountains. In the midst of an icy winter, Daru, a reclusive teacher, has to escort Mohamed, a villager accused of murder. Pursued by horsemen seeking summary justice and vengeful settlers, the two men decide to confront the unknown. Together, they fight to gain their freedom. Starring Viggo Mortensen and Reda Kateb.

Force Majeure – Ruben Östlund, Sweden/Norway/Denmark/France North American Premiere
A Swedish family’s ski trip in the French Alps is cut short by news of an oncoming avalanche, during which an impulsive decision by the father Tomas drives a wedge between him and his wife, Ebba — he has run for his life, while she has stayed to protect her children. When the anticipated disaster fails to occur, reality and embarrassed relief returns to the mountainside resort, but the family’s world has been shaken to its core. Force Majeure is an observational comedy about the role of the male in modern family life. Starring Johannes Bah Kuhnke, Lisa Loven Kongsli, Clara Wettergren, Vincent Wettergren, Kristofer Hivju and Fanni Metelius.

The Gate – Régis Wargnier, France World Premiere
Two decades after forging an unlikely alliance in Pol Pot’s Cambodia, a French ethnologist and a former Khmer Rouge official meet again after the latter is arrested for crimes against humanity, in this drama from top French director Régis Wargnier.

Good Kill – Andrew Niccol, USA North American Premiere
A Las Vegas-based fighter pilot turned drone pilot fights the Taliban by remote control for 12 hours a day, then goes home to the suburbs and feuds with his wife and kids for the other 12. But the pilot is starting to question the mission. Is he creating more terrorists than he’s killing? Is he fighting a war without end? This story follows one soldier’s tale with epic implications. Starring Ethan Hawke and January Jones.

The Good Lie – Philippe Falardeau, USA World Premiere
Academy Award winner Reese Witherspoon and an ensemble of young Sudanese actors — all of whom have direct personal ties to the war in their country — bring the inspiring and uplifting story of The Lost Boys of the Sudan to the screen in a film about heartbreak and hope, survival and triumph. Also starring Corey Stoll, Arnold Oceng, Kuoth Wiel, Ger Duany, Emmauel Jal and Femi Oguns.

Hector and the Search for Happiness – Peter Chelsom, Germany/Canada North American Premiere
Hector is a quirky psychiatrist who has become increasingly tired of his humdrum life. Deciding to break out of his deluded routine, he embarks on a global quest in hopes of uncovering the elusive formula for true happiness… and so begins his larger-than-life adventure with riotously funny results. Starring Rosamund Pike, Toni Collette, Christopher Plummer, Simon Pegg, Stellan Skarsgård and Jean Reno.

The Humbling – Barry Levinson, USA North American Premiere
The Humbling tells the story of a legendary stage actor who has an affair with a lesbian woman half his age at a secluded country house in Connecticut. Based on Philip Roth’s final novel, it is a tragic comedy about a man who has lived inside his own imagination for too long. Starring Al Pacino, Mandy Patinkin, Dianne Wiest and Greta Gerwig.

Hungry Hearts – Saverio Costanzo, Italy International Premiere
Mina and Jude meet while stuck together in the restroom of a restaurant, marking the beginning of a true love story. They move in together. They get married. And anticipate the arrival of their baby — until a spiritual guide tells Mina she is bearing an “indigo” child. Starring Adam Driver, Alba Rohrwacher and Roberta Maxwell.

The Imitation Game – Morten Tyldum, United Kingdom/USA Canadian Premiere
Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Alan Turing, the genius British mathematician, logician, cryptologist and computer scientist who led the charge to crack the German Enigma Code that helped the Allies win WWII. Turing went on to assist with the development of computers at the University of Manchester after the war, but was prosecuted by the UK government in 1952 for homosexual acts which the country deemed illegal.

Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet - Canada/France/Lebanon/Qatar/USA World Premiere
Roger Allers, Gaëtan Brizzi, Paul Brizzi, Joan C. Gratz, Mohammed Saeed Harib, Tomm Moore, Nina Paley, Bill Plympton, Joann Sfar and Michal Socha
Inspired by the beloved classic, Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet is a richly-animated story and celebration of Gibran’s book, created by artists, animators and musicians from around the world. Starring Liam Neeson, Salma Hayek-Pinault, John Krasinski, Frank Langella, Alfred Molina, John Rhys-Davies and Quvenzhané Wallis.

The Keeping Room – Daniel Barber, USA World Premiere
Left without men in the dying days of the American Civil War, three Southern women — two sisters and one African-American slave — must fight to defend their home and themselves from two rogue soldiers who have broken off from the fast-approaching Union Army. Starring Brit Marling, Hailee Steinfeld, Sam Worthington, Muna Otaru and Kyle Soller.

The Last Five Years – Richard LaGravenese, USA World Premiere
In this adaptation of the hit Broadway musical, The Last Five Years is a musical deconstruction of a love affair and a marriage taking place over a five year period. Jamie, a young, talented up-and-coming Jewish novelist falls in love with Cathy, a Shiksa Goddess and struggling actress. The film, told almost entirely through song and a beautiful pop music score, portrays an honest, heartbreaking, often funny, exploration of love and its consequences on individual identity. Starring Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan.

Learning to Drive – Isabel Coixet, USA World Premiere
As her marriage dissolves, a Manhattan writer takes driving lessons from a Sikh instructor with marriage troubles of his own. In each other’s company, they find the courage to get back on the road and the strength to take the wheel. Starring Patricia Clarkson and Ben Kingsley.

Love & Mercy – Bill Pohlad, USA World Premiere
Focusing on Brian Wilson, the mercurial singer, songwriter and leader of The Beach Boys, Love & Mercy paints an unconventional portrait of the artist by interweaving seminal moments in his life, from his artistic genius to his profound struggles, and the love that keeps him alive. Starring Paul Dano, Elizabeth Banks, John Cusack and Paul Giamatti.

Manglehorn – David Gordon Green, USA North American Premiere
Angelo Manglehorn is a small town locksmith who never got over the love of his life. Clara was a beautiful, idealized woman who left him heartbroken 40 years ago. He still writes her letters obsessively as he tries to find her and get back the woman of his dreams. Manglehorn is the journey of this magical man, his son, his cat and a beautiful new woman trying to help him put the pieces of his heart back together. Starring Al Pacino, Holly Hunter and Chris Messina.

Mary Kom – Omung Kumar, India World Premiere
Glamorous Indian star Priyanka Chopra completely transforms herself to play Mary Kom, world champion in women’s boxing. From traditional village life in remote Manipur state to high-stakes bouts in India and around the world, this is a remarkable story of triumph.

Men, Women and Children – Jason Reitman, USA World Premiere
Men, Women and Children follows the story of a group of high school teenagers and their parents as they attempt to navigate the many ways the internet has changed their relationships, their communication, their self-image, and their love lives. Starring Jennifer Garner, Adam Sandler and Judy Greer.

Miss Julie – Liv Ullmann, Norway/United Kingdom/Ireland World Premiere
A country estate in Ireland in the 1880s. Over the course of one midsummer night, Miss Julie explores the brutal, charged power struggle between a young aristocratic woman and her father’s valet. Starring Jessica Chastain, Colin Farrell and Samantha Morton.

Mr. Turner – Mike Leigh, United Kingdom Canadian Premiere
This biopic explores the last quarter century of the great if eccentric British painter J.M.W. Turner (1775–1851). Profoundly affected by the death of his father, he forms a close relationship with a seaside landlady with whom he eventually lives incognito in Chelsea, until his death. Throughout his life, the popular — if anarchic — member of the Royal Academy of Arts travels, paints, stays with the country aristocracy, visits brothels, has himself strapped to the mast of a ship so that he can paint a snowstorm, and is both celebrated and reviled by the public and by royalty. Starring Timothy Spall, Dorothy Atkinson, Marion Bailey, Paul Jesson, Lesley Manville, Martin Savage, Joshua McGuire, Ruth Sheen, David Horovitch and Karl Johnson.

My Old Lady – Israel Horovitz, USA World Premiere
A down-and-out New Yorker inherits an apartment in Paris from his estranged father and is stunned to find a refined old lady living there with her protective daughter. Starring Maggie Smith, Kevin Kline and Kristin Scott Thomas.

Ned Rifle – Hal Hartley, USA World Premiere
Ned Rifle is the third and final chapter of Hal Hartley’s tragicomic epic begun with Henry Fool (1997) and continued with Fay Grim (2007). At once a saga concerning the Grim family of Queens and how their lives are turned upside down by the arrival of the self-proclaimed genius Henry Fool, the trilogy is also an illustration of America’s grappling with ideas, art, politics, and religion over the course of 20 years. In this swiftly paced and expansive conclusion, Henry and Fay’s son Ned sets out to find and kill his father for destroying his mother’s life. But his aims are frustrated by the troublesome, sexy and hilarious Susan, whose connection to Henry predates even his arrival in the lives of the Grim family.

Nightcrawler – Dan Gilroy, USA World Premiere
Lou Bloom, a driven young man, discovers the nocturnal world of L.A. crime journalism. Joining a group of freelance camera crews who film marketable mayhem, Lou makes his own place at the table, aided by Nina, a veteran of the blood-sport that is local TV news. Blurring the line between observer and perpetrator, Lou finds his calling in a murderous world reduced to transactions. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed and Bill Paxton.

Pasolini – Abel Ferrara, France/Italy/Belgium North American Premiere
Rome: on the night of November 2, 1975, the great Italian poet and filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini is murdered. Pasolini is the symbol of an art that’s fighting against the power. His writings are scandalous, and his films are persecuted by the censors; many people love him and many hate him. The day of his death, Pasolini spends his last hours with his beloved mother and later with his dearest friends, until he finally goes out into the night in his Alfa Romeo in search of adventure in the eternal city. At dawn Pasolini is found dead on a beach in Ostia on the outskirts of the city. In a film dreamlike and visionary, blending reality and imagination, it reconstructs the last day in the life of this great poet. Starring Willem Dafoe.

Phoenix – Christian Petzold, Germany World Premiere
Nelly Lenz is a concentration camp survivor who has been left with a disfigured face. Following facial reconstruction surgery, Nelly begins the search for her husband Johnny. When she finally does find him, he does not recognise her. Nevertheless he approaches her with a proposal: since she resembles his wife, whom he believes to be dead, he asks her to help him claim his wife’s considerable inheritance. Nelly agrees, and becomes her own doppelganger — she needs to know if Johnny ever loved her, or if he betrayed her. Starring Nina Hoss.

The Reach – Jean-Baptiste Leonetti, USA World Premiere
Ben, a young man who works as a hunting guide, gets a job of a lifetime when he is hired by Madec, a wealthy businessman from Los Angeles, to hunt a bighorn sheep. Their excursion in the Southwestern desert quickly goes from bad to worse when overly-eager Madec gets trigger happy, accidentally killing an old prospector. He attempts to bribe Ben for his secrecy, but Ben staunchly refuses. Outraged, Madec turns on Ben, determined to eliminate the only witness to his crime. Trapped in a sadistic cat-and-mouse game, Ben has to rely on his basic survival skills to make it out alive. Starring Michael Douglas, Jeremy Irvine, Hannah Mangan, Lawrence and Ronny Cox.

Red Amnesia (Chuangru Zhe) – Wang Xiaoshuai, China North American Premiere
A retired widow has her daily routine derailed when she starts receiving mysterious, anonymous phone calls, in this scintillating thriller from Chinese “Sixth Generation” master Wang Xiaoshuai. Starring Lü Zhong, Shi Liu, Feng Yuanzheng, Qin Hao and Amanda Qin.

Return to Ithaca – Laurent Cantet, France North American Premiere
A terrace overlooking Havana. Five friends gather to celebrate the return of Amadeo after 16 years of exile. From dusk to dawn, they reminisce about their youth, the group they used to form, the faith they had in the future — also their disillusionment.

Rosewater – Jon Stewart, USA Canadian Premiere
The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart makes his directorial debut with the true story of Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari (played by Gael García Bernal), whose appearance on Stewart’s show in 2009 precipitated his five-month imprisonment by the Iranian government.

A Second Chance (En chance til) – Susanne Bier, Denmark World Premiere
How far are decent human beings willing to go, when tragedy blurs the line between just and unjust? Susanne Bier and Anders Thomas Jensen have crafted a startling yet moving drama, about how easily we lose our grasp on justice when confronted with the unthinkable, and life as we know it hangs by a thread. Starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Ulrich Thomsen, Maria Bonnevie, Nikolaj Lie Kaas and Lykke May Andersen.

Still Alice – Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland, USA World Premiere
Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children, is a renowned linguistics professor who starts to forget words. When she receives a devastating diagnosis, Alice and her family find their bonds tested. Alice’s struggle to stay connected to who she once was is frightening, heartbreaking, and inspiring. Starring Kristen Stewart, Alec Baldwin, Kate Bosworth and Julianne Moore.

The Theory of Everything – James Marsh, United Kingdom/USA World Premiere
The extraordinary true story of one of the world’s greatest living minds, Stephen Hawking, who falls deeply in love with fellow Cambridge student Jane Wilde. Hawking receives an earth-shattering diagnosis at age 21. Together, Stephen and Jane defy impossible odds, breaking new ground in medicine and science. Starring Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, David Thewlis and Emily Watson.

Time Out of Mind – Oren Moverman, USA World Premiere
George, a man on the decline, enters the New York City homeless shelter system when he runs out of options. George struggles to navigate his way through this new world with the help of Dixon, a shelter veteran while trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter Maggie. Starring Richard Gere, Ben Vereen, Jena Malone, Kyra Sedgwick, Jeremy Strong, Yul Vasquez, Coleman Domingo, Geraldine Hughes, Michael Kenneth Williams and Steve Buscemi.

Top Five – Chris Rock, USA World Premiere
Written, directed by, and starring Chris Rock, Top Five tells the story of New York City comedian-turned-film star Andre Allen, whose unexpected encounter with a journalist forces him to confront both the career that made him famous and the life he left behind. Starring Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson, Smoove, Gabrielle Union, Tracy Morgan, Cedric the Entertainer, Kevin Hart, Jerry Seinfeld, Adam Sandler, Whoopi Goldberg, Sherri Shepherd, Jay Pharoah, Anders Holm and Michael Che. And featuring music by Questlove.

While We’re Young – Noah Baumbach, USA World Premiere
Noah Baumbach’s exploration of aging, ambition and success, stars Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts as a middle-aged couple whose career and marriage are overturned when a disarming young couple enters their lives. Also starring Amanda Seyfried, Adam Driver, Charles Grodin, Maria Dizzia and Adam Horovitz.

Whiplash – Damien Chazelle, USA Canadian Premiere
Andrew Neyman is an ambitious young jazz drummer, single-minded in his pursuit to rise to the top of his elite East Coast music conservatory. Plagued by the failed writing career of his father, Andrew hungers day and night to become one of the greats. Terence Fletcher, an instructor equally known for his teaching talents as for his terrifying methods, leads the top jazz ensemble in the school. Fletcher discovers Andrew and transfers the aspiring drummer into his band, forever changing the young man’s life. Andrew’s passion to achieve perfection quickly spirals into obsession, as his ruthless teacher continues to push him to the brink of both his ability — and his sanity. Starring Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Melissa Benoist, Paul Reiser, Austin Stowell, Nate Lang, Max Kasch and Damon Gupton.

Wild Tales (Relatos salvajes) – Damian Szifron, Argentina/Spain Canadian Premiere
More than living up to its title, director Damián Szifron’s compendium of outrageous, hilarious and truly bizarre anecdotes offers a subversive, blackly comic portrait of contemporary Argentina. Starring Ricardo Darin, Oscar Martinez, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Erica Rivas, Rita Cortese, Julieta Zylberberg and Dario Grandinetti.

The stars of This Is Where I Leave You

The stars of This Is Where I Leave You

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Watch “Rob Ford” in ‘Sharknado 2: The Second One’http://www.thegate.ca/television/021984/watch-rob-ford-sharknado-2-second-one/ http://www.thegate.ca/television/021984/watch-rob-ford-sharknado-2-second-one/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 18:26:06 +0000 http://www.thegate.ca/?p=21984 Space has released a clip of our "favorite" "mayor" "Rob Ford" from his appearance in Sharknado 2: The Second One. No, that's not the real Rob Ford, of course, but it's still worth a chuckle.

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Space has released a clip of our “favorite” “mayor” “Rob Ford” from his appearance in Sharknado 2: The Second One. No, that’s not the real Rob Ford, of course, but it’s still worth a chuckle.

The video is actually a clip from the exclusive Canadian version of Sharknado 2: The Second One, which splashes down July 30 at 9:00 PM (ET) on Space. Sharknado 2 will air on SyFy in the U.S. at the same time.

As the press release sums up, “Toronto Mayor Rob Ford holds a press conference in New York, announcing that Toronto will offer relief aid to the Sharknado disaster in New York City. As seen in the clip below, the results are deadly.”

Nothing says good satire like a shark through a mayor’s chest.

Synopsis: In Sharknado 2: The Second One, the sequel to last summer’s social media smash hit Sharknado, a freak weather system turns its deadly fury on New York City, unleashing a Sharknado on the population and its most-cherished iconic sites – and only Fin (Ian Ziering) and April (Tara Reid) can save the Big Apple. Vivica A. Fox joins the cast as Skye, an old high school friend of Fin, while Mark McGrath stars as Fin’s brother-in-law.

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Traveling the Virtuoso wayhttp://www.thegate.ca/spotlight/travel-destinations/021967/traveling-virtuoso-way/ http://www.thegate.ca/spotlight/travel-destinations/021967/traveling-virtuoso-way/#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 02:48:02 +0000 http://www.thegate.ca/?p=21967 There was a time not too long ago when taking a vacation trip was a big deal--people dressed in their Sunday best to take an flight on a plane. Now travel is commonplace and flying is as routine as jumping on your local commuter train.

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There was a time not too long ago when taking a vacation trip was a big deal–people dressed in their Sunday best to take an flight on a plane. Now travel is commonplace and flying is as routine as jumping on your local commuter train.

The internet has made destination selection and hotel options a feverishly competitive and cluttered arena where there are many websites that climbing all over themselves to offer their services in connecting you with the cheapest hotel rooms they can find for you in your desired destination. There are even websites that will select the hotel for you and not even tell you exactly where it is until you are fully booked in… and then there is Virtuoso.

Virtuoso is a company dedicated to finding you the absolutely best place to stay when choosing a vacation or trip destination, not just in terms of the hotel but in terms of what else there is to do there and where the best location is for you to stay based on what it is you want to do there. This is achieved through the use of a network of real live advisors who have a myriad of connections and who have actually explored the various countries and the over one thousand hotels that are on the Virtuoso roster of preferred properties. The set up being as easy as connecting with a Virtuoso advisor and telling him or her where you want to go and what activities you might want to make part of your trip and the Virtuoso advisor takes over and sets the whole thing up, you don’t have to worry about a single further detail.

Virtuoso has been on an aggressive tour of the world lately to introduce their services and trip advisors to large travel markets all over the world–recently they rolled in to Toronto for an intimate little get together at the Shangri-La Hotel during which they described their services and some of the dazzling hotels (and cruise ship lines) that they represent over a wonderful lunch of wine and red snapper.

Virtuoso is not a cheapie hotel site, it is not a service that can be used by everyone from the seasoned traveler to the hostel hopper–this is a refined and highly professional service and the people that handle your vacation arrangements are seasoned and highly trained people who not only know everything to know about their hotels and destinations, they also love doing this stuff.

That said, this service is not limited to travelers who can throw it around like Kim and Kanye, this is, I would say, for the upper-middle range budget to the sky is the limit high end.

For example, of the hotels that Virtuoso represents in Canada you can choose from properties such as the Park Hyatt in Toronto to the Queen Elizabeth in Montreal to Shangri-la in Vancouver (and Toronto)–all fine hotels but not all are budget stomping in terms of their cost.

I spoke to Virtuoso Vice President David Kolner at the event and he explained the advantages of using their service.

“Sure, anyone can go to a hotel site and find something, but the hotels are just trying to fill rooms. There is nothing personal in the treatment or transaction. We are connected with each person as a person,” said Kolner.

“What our advisors have is a great deal of inside knowledge and personal relationships with the hotels they are representing, so through a Virtuoso advisor a traveler can be connected with all kind of perks and amenities that they could never get for themselves–this adds enormously to the value of your trip without adding to the cost.”

I asked Kolner what the difference was between Virtuoso and the average travel agent; “What we provide is a service that begins with the selection of your destination and the hotel that best fits your needs, or exceeds them, then we find ways of developing your trip into something unforgettable through our experience with the destination and our connections to local events and attractions, but where we differ from the average travel service is we are available throughout your vacation. If on day three of a two week trip you decide you want to do some you have heard about wherever you are, you contact your Virtuoso advisor and they will take over and see to it that you can do what you want to do,” said Kolner.

And for something completely different, check out virtuoso.com and have a look at one of their latest clients–none other than Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. Virgin Galactic is developing crafts that can fly civilian travelers into sub-orbital space. Virtuoso has an Accredited Space Agent who has been personally selected and highly trained by Virgin Galactic to represent them. Now, how awesome is that? Not only can Virtuoso arrange for a perfect, memory filled vacation here on earth, but very soon you will be able to call them to arrange for your trip to space as well.

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Matt Smith, William Shatner, Patrick Stewart to visit Fan Expo 2014http://www.thegate.ca/news/021956/matt-smith-william-shatner-patrick-stewart-visit-fan-expo-2014/ http://www.thegate.ca/news/021956/matt-smith-william-shatner-patrick-stewart-visit-fan-expo-2014/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 20:57:32 +0000 http://www.thegate.ca/?p=21956 Whether you're a fan of Star Trek, The Walking Dead, comic books, horror, video games, or even the classic series Twin Peaks, Fan Expo has some big names in store for you this year, Toronto.

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Whether you’re a fan of Star Trek, The Walking Dead, comic books, horror, video games, or even the classic series Twin Peaks, Fan Expo has some big names in store for you this year, Toronto.

From August 28 to 31, Fan Expo will welcome nerd heroes William Shatner and Patrick Stewart, Stan Lee, Nathan Fillion, Bruce Campbell, Matt Smith, Elijah Wood, Dave Bautista, and a slew of other actors and stars at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

“This year’s celebrity line-up brings the most iconic names in film and TV together under one roof including living legends William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, Stan Lee, and Adam West,” said Fan Expo HQ president Steve Menzie. “This year will also add another level of fandom with a new generation of sub-culture royalty Stephen Amell, Ian Somerhalder, and pro-cosplayers and YouTube sensations like Yaya Han.”

Last year’s news that Informa had bought out Hobby Star Marketing, which ran Fan Expo, was obviously a good thing. In 2013 the event felt like a big upgrade over previous years, and in 2014, Informa seems to be carrying that idea even further as they seem to be working to bring in bigger names and more people from particular shows.

One of the biggest announcements for 2014, might be the Twin Peaks mini-reunion as stars Ray Wise, Sheryl Lee and Sherilynn Fenn are all set to meet and greet fans.

Here is the current list of celebrity guests headed to fan expo this year:
William Shatner (Star Trek)
Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: The Next Generation, X-Men franchise)
Richard Dreyfuss (Jaws)
Stan Lee (legendary comic book creator of Spider-Man, X-Men fame)
Nathan Fillion (Castle, Firefly & Serenity)
Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead)
Elijah Wood (The Lord Of The Rings)
Adam West, Burt Ward (Batman television series)
Danai Gurira, Lauren Cohan, Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead)
Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon (A Nightmare On Elm Street)
Dave Bautista – Aka “Batista” (WWE & Guardians Of The Galaxy)
Hulk Hogan (WWE)
Ray Park (Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, X-Men, G.I. Joe)
Ray Wise, Sheryl Lee, Sherilynn Fenn (Twin Peaks)
T.J. Thyne (Bones)
Ted Raimi (Evil Dead, Spider-Man)
Jon Heder, Efren Ramirez (Napoleon Dynamite)
Yaya Han, Jessica Nigri, Meg Turney (Celebrity Cosplayers)
Matt Smith (Doctor Who)
Stephen Amell (Arrow)
Ian Somerhalder (Vampire Diaries)

For more details visit www.fanexpocanada.com and stay tuned to The GATE for coverage during the event.

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On the set of ‘Hemlock Grove’ season twohttp://www.thegate.ca/blog/021933/set-hemlock-grove-season-two/ http://www.thegate.ca/blog/021933/set-hemlock-grove-season-two/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 19:20:16 +0000 http://www.thegate.ca/?p=21933 Toronto was a lot colder back in February when I stepped onto the set of Netflix's Hemlock Grove to meet nearly the entire cast for season two, plus new showrunner Charles "Chic" Eglee and members of the effects and wardrobe teams. The day was a full one, as set visits go, but it's hard to complain about a long day when you get the chance to explore a set like Hemlock Grove.

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Toronto was a lot colder back in February when I stepped onto the set of Netflix’s Hemlock Grove to meet nearly the entire cast for season two, plus new showrunner Charles “Chic” Eglee and members of the effects and wardrobe teams. The day was a full one, as set visits go, but it’s hard to complain about a long day when you get the chance to explore a set like Hemlock Grove.

Behind-the-scenes, Hemlock Grove has a space like just about any other set, but a couple of the set pieces are really exceptional. First off, Roman Godfrey’s new home is a stunner, and it’s the perfect way of expressing Roman’s character in a living space that feels cold and just a little alien while also screaming luxury and privilege. Likewise, the other stunning space is Roman’s office at the top of the White Tower. From inside the office, it’s a slick, creepy space, but from outside it, looking in through the windows, the set team has created the massive company name on the other side of the glass, allowing them to create impressive scale that you expect from the top of a tall corporate building.

After the set tour, and after chatting with the behind-the-scenes team, the cast came backstage to talk for about 15 minutes each, and that included newcomer Madeleine Martin (who plays Shelley Godfrey), followed by stars Bill Skarsgård (Roman Godfrey), Dougray Scott (Norman Godfrey), newcomer Madeline Brewer (playing Miranda Cates), Landon Liboiron (Peter Rumancek), Demore Barnes (Michael Chasseur), Joel de la Fuente (Dr. Johann Pryce), and of course Famke Janssen (Olivia Godfrey).

From the interviews, lots of details about the second season emerged, but of course Skarsgård revealed some of the more interesting facts as he chatted about Roman.

“Well, basically, he’s a junkie this year,” Skarsgård said of Roman. “He needs to drink blood and that’s an addiction for him. As opposed to last year, he was figuring out what he was, or who he was, but towards the end of it he becomes this thing and, yeah, he’s an addict.”

Going on, he explained that it’s not that Roman can’t eat anything else, but that he’s addicted to feeding on blood. That might be fairly obvious especially if you’ve seen the second season trailer that has been airing on television.

You’ll have to wait a bit longer though for more details from the set, but not too much longer.

Now that I can share the details from the set visit, and since I have so many audio clips with the cast, I’ve decided that this Friday I’ll be posting a special edition of the Media Box podcast (which has been on hiatus for a while) with clips from all of the interviews. I’m also happy to report that I’ll be sitting down on-camera with Famke Janssen and Chic Eglee next week as well, so you can expect that video later next week.

If you haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, season two of Hemlock Grove is out now on Netflix, and to whet your appetite for all the upcoming interviews, check out my photos from the set visit below.

Hemlock Grove season two on-set gallery:
Joel de la Fuente Dr. Pryce's Lab Dr. Pryce's Lab #2 Dr. Pryce's Lab #3 Dr. Pryce's Lab - Experiments The Box Inside the White Tower Madeline Brewer Destiny Rumancek's apartment Destiny Rumancek's apartment #2 Destiny Rumancek's apartment #3 Roman Godfrey home Bill Skarsgård Roman Godfrey home #2 Roman Godfrey home #3 Roman Godfrey home #4 Roman Godfrey home #5

Hemlock Grove season two synopsis:

Season two of Hemlock Grove continues with the town coming to grips with the shocking massacre incurred by one of its deadliest creatures. Roman and Peter are now faced with new responsibilities and the realities that come with adulthood. Roman’s relationship with his mother (Janssen) is all but dead as he struggles with his unwanted Upir birthright and the disappearance of his sister, Shelley (Martin). Peter moves in with Destiny (Horn) and is forced to get a job after his mother is sent away. Meanwhile, in search of a new life, newcomer Miranda Cates (Madeline Brewer), embarks on Hemlock Grove with an unknowingly profound effect on Peter and Roman. And Norman (Scott), still reeling from the loss of his family, must face the harsh truths that are uncovered about those he still loves.

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CBC departs from the usual with six-part sci-fi drama ‘Ascension’http://www.thegate.ca/television/021934/cbc-departs-norm-fall-sci-fi-drama-ascension/ http://www.thegate.ca/television/021934/cbc-departs-norm-fall-sci-fi-drama-ascension/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 03:06:25 +0000 http://www.thegate.ca/?p=21934 This fall the CBC will be shaking things up just a little bit with a series that bears little resemblance to what viewers have come to expect of the Canadian broadcaster. Announced last week, CBC will be airing the six-part Canadian-produced science fiction series Ascension, which was commissioned by Syfy in the U.S.

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This fall the CBC will be shaking things up just a little bit with a series that bears little resemblance to what viewers have come to expect of the Canadian broadcaster. Announced last week, CBC will be airing the six-part Canadian-produced science fiction series Ascension, which was commissioned by Syfy in the U.S.

The new series, which began filming in Quebec just last week, will premier in November 2014, and is set in 1963 when the U.S. government has secretly sent a starship–the Ascension–filled with men, women and children, on a century-long mission to bring mankind to a new planet. After 50 years into the trip, at the point-of-no-return, a woman’s murder makes everyone on Ascension wonder whether they know the truth about their mission.

Ascension stars Brian Van Holt as the ship’s captain, William Denninger, alongside Tricia Helfer as his wife, Viondra.

“In addition to Helfer,” the release from the CBC noted, “the cast features a number of Canadian actors including Jacqueline Byers and Andrea Roth. Wendy Crewson, Ryan Robbins and John Ralston are currently set to guest star. Other lead cast members include Brandon P. Bell and Tiffany Lonsdale.”

CBC Television’s Sally Catto, the general manager of programming, said in the statement: “Adding this futuristic drama series will complement our overall schedule nicely and will undoubtedly draw a strong audience with its compelling and unusual plot line.”

Ascension is created and written by Philip Levens, a producer and writer from Smallville, and he will act as executive producer and showrunner.

While there is no certainty as to why the CBC decided to pick up the rights to Ascension in Canada, it seems likely that the successes of Canadian-made series like Orphan Black and Bitten, not to mention Being Human, helped convince the broadcaster that a genre show could help bring in viewers.

Scroll down for the official character descriptions from SyFy, and head over to YouTube for a teaser of the series.

Cast and Character Descriptions:

Tricia Helfer – known and loved by million as Cylon Number Six in Battlestar Galactica- is part of the cast. She will play Viondra Denniger, a beautiful, manipulative and dangerous power broker on the Ascension.

Brian Van Holt – star of Cougar Town and The Bridge – will play William Denninger, captain of the ship and Viondra’s husband. A natural leader, William quickly rose through the ranks after playing a heroic role in a fire early in the spacecraft’s voyage. While his professional life is solid, William’s marriage to Viondra is anything but.

Andrea Roth, star of Rescue Me, will play Juliet Bryce, head doctor of the Ascension. Her relationship with her daughter, Nora (played by Jacqueline Byers) is difficult and strained. Nora, for her part, is a young woman under intense pressure to follow in the family’s footsteps of being a doctor despite her own dreams.

Rounding out the cast are Brandon P. Bell as First Officer Oren Gault, who was born on the lower decks of the ship to maintenance workers and must investigate the aforementioned murder; Tiffany Lonsdale as Chief Astronomer Emily Vanderhaus, the older sister of the murder victim; and PJ Boudousque (Pretty Little Liars) as one of the ship’s maintenance workers.

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