Tag Archives: romance

Canada Reads 2024 In Review

Credit: cbc.ca

It’s over! The yearly competition to determine which book penned by a Canadian author is ‘the one that all Canadians need to read right now’ has concluded and a victor has been chosen. If you’re not familiar with the format, here’s how it breaks down. Five luminaries on the Canadian cultural scene decide to “champion” one of 15 longlisted books in a debate that’s broadcast over radio and televised across the country. Between March 4-7, daily debates took place, with a round of voting to eliminate one of the books at the conclusion of each discussion. Long-running host Ali Hassan was at the helm, acting as moderator and throwing in a few puns along the way. The theme for this year was an interesting one: Which work is the “one to carry us forward.” Carry us forward to where, you might ask. Fans of Jeopardy (such as myself), may be familiar with last year’s Canada Reads winner and overall excellent human, Mattea Roach. Roach was a formidable competitor on the classic quiz show and now holds the title for “most successful Canadian competitor” in the history of Jeopardy. Roach selected Kate Beaton’s graphic novel, Ducks, as their fighter in the ring. The true account of Beaton’s time working in the oil sands of Alberta and the complicated relationship the writer had with her gainful employment are conveyed through skilled illustrations. It was the first graphic novel to be honoured by the Canada Reads title. Check out one of Roach’s epic wins on Jeopardy here for a taste of their excellence. Turning to this year, the ‘great Canadian book debate’ was in its 23rd iteration, and this year’s contenders chose some intriguing reads. Here are the titles with their corresponding champions:

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Valentine’s Day on Kanopy!

Happy Valentine’s Day, readers! For those who observe, this awkward placement of a holiday right smack in the middle of the week might mean low-key plans. Take-out, sweatpants, maybe bingeing Netflix’s new adaptation of David Nicholl’s One Day (and sobbing into your tea, if you’re me). If you’re planning on a cozy night in, movie streaming platform Kanopy has got you covered with some prime Valentines films in their new Reel Romance in February collection. They’re got tons of classics like Four Weddings and a Funeral, Moonstruck, and Shakespeare in Love, but you can also find some more obscure gems. Below are some lesser-known films to check out with your VPL card on this day celebrating all things romance.  

Mr. Malcolm’s List 

For the Bridgerton fans looking longingly towards the new season in May! Mr. Malcolm’s List is a tasty little cake pop of a movie: short, sugary, covered in pink frosting. The plot is basically a series of Shakespearean-style hijinks, set in Regency England (aka Jane Austen time). Julia Thistlethwait is a vivacious young woman out on the Regency dating scene, but finds her charms thwarted by one Mr. Malcolm when she fails to meet his wifely criteria—his titular “list.” Determined to get revenge for this public embarrassment, Julia enlists her more docile friend Selina to ensnare Mr. Malcolm and then reject him. Of course, things don’t go according to plan, and soon enough real feelings are involved. Not a serious movie by any means, but perfect for those looking for an easy, breezy watch while munching on heart-shaped chocolates.  

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Past Lives and Other Reincarnation Stories

Cover-image-for-the-DVD-Past Lives

This post is a shameless excuse to tell you about an excellent movie by the name of Past Lives. I was lucky enough to see it at the TIFF Bell Lightbox Theatre in September, and it was the perfect venue. That being said, the TIFF theatre is pretty much the perfect venue for anything. It’s a gorgeous, glamourous, multi-story affair that screens untold cinematic gems. The biggest difference between a theatre like the TIFF and your neighbourhood cinema is that the movies shown are curated by experts in the field. It’s not just the latest films to hit the big screen after distributors secure the rights to show them. The selection process is based on the quality and individual merits of every work. Equivalent to an art gallery or a museum, but in movie theatre format. If you’ve never been and you live in the GTA, you must rectify this immediately. If you’re under 25 and you haven’t been, you really need to rectify that because you can often get tickets for free. And so I went one Friday in September, making the long voyage on the subway downtown, because I was successfully targeted by Instagram’s algorithm and a well-made ad.

It did not disappoint. It’s a lengthy, meditative, tranquil time that, nevertheless, would not suit every personality type. If you’re not the type of person that can sit still for hours at a time and passively experience something, this is not the film for you. However, if you can get yourself in a mindful place (keeping in mind that the relentless pursuit of productivity is a losing cause), you may relish the opportunity to take a few deep breaths and settle in for a while.

The story follows Nora and Hae Sung, beginning with their childhood friendship. A transition point comes when Nora moves from Korea to the United States (by way of Canada). Their paths move in separate directions for a while, but the connection between them is never lessened or forgotten. As the years go on, and they become adults, they find each other online — as the internet has enabled us to do. The capacity for something like Facebook to reconnect friends on different sides of the planet is given an almost magical quality here. The rest of the film is devoted to their efforts to grapple with the strength of their connection, given the realities of both their lives. When we see friends we made when we very young, how does that inform our other relationships? And how do we reconcile everything that person meant to us as a child once our lives have changed in monumental ways?

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