Do Me A Solid: Happy Earth Day

We are lean, mean green living machines – Happy Earth Day
everyone! But much like Valentine’s Day, International Women’s Day or Mother’s Day, shouldn’t every day be
Earth Day? After all, we only have one planet so we need
to show it a lot more love, a lot more often to preserve it for our future generations. We
were drilled with
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
when we were kids in middle school and now that we’re “adults”, our lot in life
largely depends on the responsibility to be an informed and active citizen in society.

Now, we don’t know about you but when we think of Earth Day, we promptly think about this handsome fella:

David Suzuki is
considered a pioneer in green living and people often look to his expertise as
the model by which we should all aspire. The David Suzuki Foundation is a encyclopaedia for environmental issues and while there are hundreds of tips for going
greener, we compiled a few baby steps that are well-suited for just about anyone. 

TIP: Recycle your old
We live in a society where we need to have the best/newest/most high-tech product and that material want produces a lot of unnecessary garbage. Think
is a free environmental service that rewards members with money and
environmental incentives in exchange for your unwanted gadgets. There are plenty
more organizations that accept old, gently used electronics, including Shift
ReBoot and our very own City of Toronto. Pick one. That old phone isn’t coming back in style any time (ever). 

TIP: Reduce
unnecessary waste
by becoming a DIY Beauty Queen. Since most ingredients in
our cupboards and fridge are good enough to put in our body, don’t you think
they’re good enough to put on it? For a super-soothing facial
, mix two tablespoons of honey with one teaspoon each of nutmeg and cinnamon until it’s a thick paste. Apply to face. Nutmeg and honey are natural
anti-inflammatories that reduce swelling and redness, and cinnamon is a drying
agent that can combat breakouts. Voilà! No extra containers and more beauty. 
TIP: Boycott plastic. Bottled water doesn’t actually prove to be any cleaner or better for you than Toronto’s finest AND it clogs up our already-polluted landfills. First off, there is “stuff” in the plastic that may be more harmful for your body than anything found in Toronto tap water. Bisphanol A (BPA), a compound that mimics estrogen and has been a controversial chemical for quite some time, most recently for its presence in various plastics, including water bottles. Secondly, it takes up to three litres of water to produce one litre of bottled. Thirdly, tons of greenhouse gases are generated both transporting the bottles and keeping them cold. Honestly, there’s a pile of other reasons to take a hard look at the choice to drink bottled water. We are unbelievably fortunate to live in a city (and a province and a country) with safe drinking water. So, invest in a BPA-free, stainless steel reusable water bottle to keep on your desk or throw in your purse to encourage the consumption of those pesky 8 glasses a day while saving the planet, your body and your wallet. Win-win-win-win. 

To win even more, consider replacing all of your plastic bowls and servingware (once they’re no longer usable, that is!) with something more sustainable and biodegradable – like bamboo-based products. They now come in modern designs and really nice colours, and are pretty affordable. We like the PC Home line – easy to get anywhere and won’t ruin our budget.

 PC Home bamboo products available in select Loblaw banner stores including Real Canadian Superstores
TIP: When available, choose
eco-friendly cleaning products
. Brands like Seventh Generation (also endorsed by our earthy master
above) have biodegradable formulas, hypo-allergenic, non-toxic, and don’t
contain dyes or synthetic fragrances. Look for products that are packaged in
recyclable containers, and made from 100 per cent recycled fibres. 

And of course, a little peer pressure always helps. Here are
some familiar faces who (apart from just being annoyingly beautiful) devote their time and efforts to keeping our planet pretty while encouraging others to do the same.

Canadian actress and environmental activist Rachel McAdams lives in a house powered by Bullfrog Renewal energy and bikes everywhere she can.

(Hot) Hollywood heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio  has received praise from various environmental groups for his activism, and chooses to fly on commercial flights rather than chartered jets. #StarsLikeUs

British designer, Stella McCartney mixes her earthly love with high fashion. In addition to her studio and website being powered by wind energy, McCartney offers her online shoppers the option to have their purchases shipped carbon neutral. Brilliant. 
There you have it: a brainy scientist, scary stats, easy alternatives that are good for you, the planet AND your wallet, and famous people, all resulting in some pretty compelling motivators to become more eco-conscious. No excuses now – start making some changes. 

Fave 5: Book/movie crossovers in 2013

season is officially over which means it’s time to let (Ar)go and look at the silver
lining(s playbook): the 2013 movie bonanza begins. Being a well-read group of
ladies, we took a look at some of our favourite books-turned-movies that are
coming to a theatre near you in the future. Let’s take a look, shall we?

The Great Gatsby
This is not the most uplifting book in the library. But a hefty number of affairs,
betrayals, and extravagant parties make this quite an interesting read. Why we want
to see it: The great Leonardo DiCaprio takes on Jay Gatsby, the 32-year-old
millionaire who desperately wants to win the heart of Daisy Buchanan (Carey
Mulligan). The over-the-top parties, the drama, the soundtrack… we’ll meet you
there on opening night. Look for it on Friday, May 10 (finally, after several upsetting delays). 

A cult
classic, Ender’s Game is a well-known story to all who love science fiction.
The story follows Ender, an unusual third child born on a futuristic Earth, one
that has been ravaged by war against an elite alien species. He is selected to
go to military school to learn to fight against the “third invasion”. Alright,
we hear you. It sounds a bit… lame. But just trust us, okay? Read it – you won’t regret it. The hotly
anticipated film opens on Friday, November 1. 

If you
haven’t already been swept up in the Hunger Games trilogy, stop reading this
right now and get to the library! Just kidding, keep reading. But then go.

is the second installment in the impossible-to-put-down series. Katniss
Everdeen is back, battling the Capitol with Peeta by her side. Without giving
away anything, the movie will be sure to ignite your own inner rebel.
Catching Fire lands in theatres Friday, November 22.  

The Hobbit:
The Desolation of Smaug
The fact
that The Hobbit has been split into three installments instead of one should
infuriate us. How dare they make us wait to see what Bilbo gets up to next! Three
years?! But the truth is, we loved the first one so much we can’t wait for the
next film. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug follows the dwarves, wizard, and
hobbit (adorably charming Martin Freeman) as they continue their journey to
Erebor and the Lonely Mountain to fight the dragon. Benedict Cumberbatch as the
voice of Smaug is just the icing on the cake. Watch for the fire-breathing
adventure on Friday, December 13. It’s almost got us looking forward to next December. Almost.

The Devil
in the White City
Leo again
enthralls us with his unusual choices in roles. In Django Unchained we saw him
as a malicious slave owner, and he’s about to turn evil in The Devil in the
White City
. Still in preproduction, DiCaprio is rumoured to be taking the helm
as producer and star in this movie about two very different men in 1893. One is
an up-and-coming architect about to astonish the world with the Chicago World’s
Fair; the other is a charming serial killer who lures victims with his
charismatic personality. No film date has been set (yet), so you have plenty of time
to get reading! 

Rave: Django Unchained

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, chances are you’re likely going to go to the movies over the holidays. (Hey, everyone needs a break from the fam jams, amiright?) Fortunately, Christmas Day has become the day for studios to bust out the year’s most anticipated movies. This year’s offerings include Les Miserables (!!!) and Django Unchained

We were lucky enough to be invited to an advance screening of Quentin Tarantino’s latest, with the venerable director in the audience, no less. While we didn’t love this film as much as Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained certainly makes for some interesting counter-programming to the normal holiday fare. Set in the American South, two years before the Civil War when slavery ran rampant, Django Unchained stars Jamie Foxx as Django, a slave who crosses paths with German-born bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz). Schultz and Django pair up, initially to capture the murderous Brittle Brothers, and then as a bounty hunting duo. While developing his vital hunting skills, Django remains focused on his goal of finding and rescuing his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington). Their search ultimately leads them to Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), the proprietor of “Candyland,” an infamous plantation. 

Now that we’ve given you the overview, we’d like to share some important notes on Django:  

Be prepared to hear the “n word”. A lot. 
Django features a lot of cursing and violence. While generally this is par for the course with Tarantino, this time around the violence is predominantly directed towards the black characters and involves numerous examples of degradation and abuse. There are a few scenes that are very uncomfortable to watch and stayed with us long after leaving the theatre. The characters also use the “N word” quite liberally. As in, over a 100 times. We’re not passing judgement one way or the other, but it’s fair warning before heading into the theatre. 

No Jack Dawson here, ma’am.
With two decades of films under his belt, Leonardo DiCaprio is a familiar presence on the silver screen. His recent work has served to sever ties to the “heartthrob” label that’s been tied to Leo since Romeo + Juliet and Titanic. With Django‘s Calvin Candie, Leo is playing his most  villainous candidate to date. A Southern plantation owner, Calvin Candie is indulgent and despicable. His hobbies include pitting slaves against each other in fights to the death (a practice known as mandingo fighting). A real charmer, for sure. 

Welcome to Rick Ross’ Wild West.
Django Unchained is Tarantino’s stab at a Spaghetti Western, and the soundtrack involves several themes from spaghetti western music king-pin Ennio Morricone. What sets the soundtrack apart though, are the contributions from hip hop and R&B legends such as John Legend, 2Pac and James Brown. The set also includes a new track by Rick Ross called “100 Black Coffins”, which rumour has it may be up for an Academy Award nom for Best Song. In any case, the soundtrack is well worth a listen!

Thanks again goes to Alliance Films for inviting us to the screening. All images in the post are courtesy of Alliance Films. 

Rave: Red Riding Hood

You may have noticed that we really like movies, and often post about great ones that we’ve seen. We like them so much that we asked Paul Aguirre-Livingston to lend us his writing skills and become our resident film writer (and one of the token males on the fourth floor!). Luckily for us, he said yes. Here’s his first review – look for more to come!

You can’t glance at a newsstand without seeing big-eyed blonde Amanda Seyfried on the cover of, like, every magazine this month. Of course, she’s promoting her new romp Red Riding Hood (yes, based on the fairytale). I’m a Seyfried fan, post-lesbian thriller Chloe. I actually believed she would, and could, choose avant-garde roles laced with irony and mature themes. But, alas, a film is only as good as its director. Hood’s director? Catherine Hardwicke.

Catherine Hardwicke. Image source.

But first, a quick abridgment: Valerie (played by Seyfried) lives in a medieval village on the outskirts of a mountain that’s been terrorized for generations by a big, bad wolf. Just when she plans to run away with a boy, her sister is found mauled by said wolf, setting into motion a series of events that change the village – and Valerie – forever. You know the rest of the story. 

The film, to its credit, draws its plot from a variety of retellings, from the classic French folk tale to a Brothers Grimm adaptation. The only real differences you’ll find are the additions of sexual teen frustration and human villainy. But aren’t those at the root of all fairy tales anyway?  

The film is absolutely drenched in Hardwicke, (think Thirteen, the first Twilight movie). Shot in Vancouver, like Twilight, the opening credits take you right back to Forks, Washington. Hardwicke also does what she does best: introducing audiences to undiscovered, swoon-worthy male leads after Seyfried’s heart (in this one, it’s Shiloh Fernandez and Max Irons). 

Visually, the film is stellar: Tim Burton-esque cinematography, panoramic views, chilling imagery, Seyfried’s eyes, that beautiful red cape constructed from raw Indian silk and hand-stitched by 14 women in a sewing circle (and so on trend this season). 

I only wish Hardwicke would have really gone for it. Instead, she gives you one big tease. There’s not a sex scene to be seen (so feel free to bring the under-tween set). There is, however, plenty of gore and displays of masculinity, so the boys don’t yawn and the girls get all hot for heroes. The whole thing is supposed to be an Freudian-calibre allegory of a woman’s sexual awakening, set to danger and fear and teenage lust; “a sensual experience” Hardwicke called it in the Q-and-A. 

So, naturally, there are moments when you want it to be darker, when you think, “C’mon, Catherine, go for it,” but then she just cuts away to the mountains. Seyfried is never confident enough to own her power as the village beauty and the wolf’s desire, but not quite naïve enough to make you feel like she doesn’t know what she’s doing. The male leads just reek of fumbling teenager with a bra. (Not likeTwilight‘s Edward.) So, like the wolf, you’re left hungry and frustrated.

Don’t get me wrong, there really is a lot to like about the film: Its star, its producer (Leonardo DiCaprio – I know, right?), its concept. The best part is that it’s one big game of Clue: Who did it in the barn with teeth? The guessing game, combined with Hardwicke’s fondness of sweeping views and handheld camera work, also make for a tolerable pace to the film, so when it clocks in at 105 minutes, you were able to refrain from yelling out, “Eat her already!”

So, yes, I will give Hardwicke her kudos for keeping me intrigued, turned on and wanting a red cape all at once.

Opens today at theatres across Toronto.