Rainy Sunday Movies

film, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal


Although I normally spend rainy days curled up on the couch with a great book, last weekend the only thing I felt like doing was losing myself in a movie or two. I am no movie connoisseur, in fact my fiancé doesn’t let me choose movies because my taste is THAT bad. Thankfully he’s usually pretty good at finding a movie that we both like. I’ve compiled a few of our favourites from the last weekend (and prior rainy days).

Inside Out: not the BEST Pixar movie I’ve ever seen but it has a great concept. I may or may not have shed a few tears when Riley started going through all of those awful teenage angst filled emotions. I may or may not have cried when her imaginary friend finally said goodbye. I may or may not have cried at the very last frame when the family embraces.

Mad Max Fury Road: Intense, weird, innovative. I’m still not quite sure what happened during this film. There was a lot of driving, shooting, blowing things up, and special effects. If you’re looking for a laugh, this isn’t the right film, but if you’re looking for something to keep you guessing, keep you on the edge of your seat, this is it! Charlize Theron kicks ass and Tom Hardy is amazing (and not bad to look at).

Home: Cute, funny, memorable. Rhianna and Jim Parsons are the voices of the main characters. I preferred this film over Inside Out – it had more laughs and the characters were more loveable.

This is Where I Leave You: Tears, laughter, and all of the feels. Great cast with an excellent script.

Jurassic World: Probably the best combination of action, romance, adventure, and humour I’ve seen in a long time. Oh and CHRIS PRATT!

What are your favourite movies to watch on a rainy day?

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo 

 **movie posters from imdb**

Whiplash: the film, the writing, the life you’re living

film, Lifestyle/Personal


Last weekend, Alex and I watched Whiplash. He’d seen it before and said to me, “when you watch this, think about your writing”, so I kept that in mind as the opening credits rolled out. There’s no denying that Whiplash is a time-bomb of emotion, a story that depicts what it really takes to be one of the greats. There’s a part in the film where the band teacher (Fletcher) says to his student (Andrew), “There are no two words in the English language more harmful than good job”.  Why? because it promotes mediocrity. It promotes that just because you’re good, you don’t have to push yourself beyond the capabilities that you don’t even know are there.

I was there to push people beyond what’s expected of them. I believe that’s an absolute necessity

If you’ve watched Whiplash, you’ll know that Fletcher is a little insane in the way he pushes his students – especially Andrew. But it kinda worked, didn’t it?

Andrew: But isn’t there a line? You know, maybe you go too far, and you discourage he next Charlie Parker from ever becoming Charlie Parker?

Fletcher: No, man, no. Because Charlie Parker would never be discouraged.

This line moved me beyond belief. It inspired me to sit down every morning and evening this week; to write all of the words I could let out of my head. It inspired me to start trying again, to believe in myself, and to push myself harder when the words won’t flow as well as I hoped they would. Because, the next Dorothy Parker would never get discouraged.

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

*Quotes from Imdb*

American Heist [MOVIE REVIEW #TIFF14]

film, Toronto Adventures

Friends of mine get a block of tickets for TIFF every year and are just awesome enough to take the bf and I to a screening or two. On Saturday we attended a screening American Heist at the Scotiabank Theatre. I don’t usually write film reviews, but I feel inclined to rate this film. I always thought that films at TIFF have to be amazing; with the best of the best stories, plots, writing, and acting. Apparently I was wrong.


American Heist is the combination of every gangster/bank-robbing film you have ever seen. Every cliche can be found in this film, along with a terrible script and sub-par acting. The film begins with Frankie (Adrien Brody) getting out of jail after completing a 10-year-stint. He dances his way out of the prison wearing a leather jacket that covers up his tattoo of Frank Sinatra, and a yellow-gold chain around his neck. His moves are as awkward as the two thugs waiting to pick him up (one being Akon). After a night celebrating his freedom in a strip club filled with cocaine, he’s brought to a warehouse and is slapped around by another thug (Tory Kittles).

Earlier on we meet Frankie’s brother Jimmy/James (Hayden hottie Christensen), a mechanic trying to get loans from the bank to open up his own shop and turn his life around. Jimmy got into trouble because of Frankie, went to jail for a bit, and completely cut ties with his brother. Frankie and the thugs he works for need Jimmy to help them rob a bank, since he can make bombs and drive like no one else. Basically it’s these thugs against the banks, trying to take back America or whatever. Some twist of fate (a broken car) brings Jimmy’s ex-girlfriend into the mix, who just happens to be a police dispatcher. Emily is played by Jordana Brewster, and even though she is a decent actress, the cheesiness of her lines takes away all of the character’s credibility. 

The story is a good idea but not executed well. The poor acting and cheesy lines screw up any chance of the movie making sense or holding onto the viewer’s attention. The word “bro” is significantly over-used and highly distracting. On top of that Frankie and Jimmy have the same conversation at least three times, there are tonnes of unanswered questions, and I think there must’ve been some budget issues or editing issues because there are a fews scenes that don’t make sense.

What’s my rating?


What was the best film you saw at TIFF?

Talk soon,


“And I realize that mystery is the catalyst for imagination.”

Bursting the Bubble, film, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

Lately I’ve been watching, reading, and searching for things to inspire me, to open up my mind, to get my brain going. The other day I watched one of J.J. Abrams TEDTalks on Netflix where he discussed this box.


When he was a kid he bought this $15 magic mystery box, which contained $50 worth of magic, with his grandfather. He has never opened the box. He keeps it in his office and looks at it often. He loves what the box represents – mystery, the unknown, potential, possibilities. It’s the not-knowing that intrigues him.

The night after I watched his talk, I was bullied into watching Castaway with my dad. There I was confronted with another unopened box, this one representing hope, faith, and grace.

What’s in the box and why am I being surrounded by unopened boxes?

Why is everything a mystery? 

Aren’t I supposed to be thinking OUTSIDE the box?!?! 

Needless to say I’ve been Googling the possibilities of what is in either of these unopened boxes and I’ve stumbled on some pretty creative answers. I’ve even written my own list of what could be inside that FedEx box because I gotsta knowwwww. I’m at the mercy of these mysteries but that’s where the magic begins. My mind is exploding with possibilities.


Because really, the possibilities are endless.

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

*The title of this post is a quote from the transcript of J.J. Abrams TedTalk*

A little late to the party….

Book Reviews, Bursting the Bubble, film, Lifestyle/Personal

I’m a little late to the Gatsby party (the DiCaprio film version, not the novel). I watched it this weekend and have to admit that it made me fall in love the book even more, it gave me a deeper understanding of the characters and the story. Granted, I still detest Tom and Daisy, I still pity and admire Gatsby, and I’m still thankful to Nick for sharing everything he saw.

largeThe past does, in many ways, dictate our plans for the future. It’s an anchor, a point of reference, a way to see how far we’ve come or how much we’ve changed. Plans, dreams, goals, they all stem from something that happened before, something or someone who showed us what we want. I believe in reflection, in reminiscing, and in memories. I believe in growth and change and getting everything you want. I believe in stepping back and looking at your life from the outside in order to gain perspective (just like Nick).

“I was within and without. Simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.”
― F. Scott FitzgeraldThe Great Gatsby

I believe in choices and options, and weighing them based on importance. I believe that if you’re hopeful, if you keep reaching out towards your dream, eventually you’ll be able to grasp it. That green light pulsating in the distance, that heart beat staring back at you, you’ll hold it in the palm of your hand — just don’t ask too much of it.


Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

The Jane Austen Marriage Manual — From Page to Screen

Book Reviews, film, Just for Fun

So you read my review of The Jane Austen Marriage Manual by Kim Izzo and then decided to read it yourself. You loved it and thought: Wow! This would make a great movie! Well my friend, your wish has just turned into a reality. Canadian producer David Cormican bought screen rights to Kim Izzo’s novel The Jane Austen Marriage Manual and guess what, I got to interview him about it!

PicMonkey Collage2

What is it about The Jane Austen Marriage Manual that made you want to see it come to life on the BIG SCREEN?

It just felt like I was reading a movie the way the characters and scenes play out. It’s very cinematic and every time I spoke about what book I was reading with my friends and family, the more I saw the same reaction: Why isn’t that a movie already?

Are you planning on sticking to the novel or are there going to be any/many changes to the story or characters? Will you be writing the screenplay? Will Kim Izzo fans be able to recognize her ‘voice’ in the film?

We’ve hired Kim to write the first draft of the screenplay. In talking with all of my partners it just makes sense and there would be no one better. Kim has such a wonderful voice written such a wonderful romantic comedy that already reads and feels like a film — and actually (Kim) has a history of writing for film and television before she started in to novels after going through the Canadian Film Centre’s writing program. Obviously we will have to cut the book down in order to fit it in to an under 2 hour time slot, so we are working on that right now as to what will stay and what must go or be combined. It’s a tough job to do, but Kim has some great ideas on how to do this and you will see her voice on every page of the script.

Kate travels a lot throughout the novel, will the movie be filmed in various locations? Which would you be most excited to film in? 

That’s going to be the fun part, is deciding which countries we go to film in while keeping an eye to the budget. I’d love to have us shoot in England (obviously) and perhaps Austria, Switzerland or Germany. And there is also all of the trips she takes to Florida. We’ll have to keep our eyes open for locations we can use to double up as other locations to increase the production value.

Have you given any thought to who you would like to play the main characters? 

All  the time. We have a very long and ever-growing list of people to play Kate and Griff and Scott. There are so many tremendous actors out there who could play the roles. We’ll have a tough time narrowing it down to the perfect people.

Are you a fan of Jane Austen? How do you hope to incorporate the quotes that began each chapter of the novel? 

I am a fan of the classics. My first exposure to Jane Austen though was actually through the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice back in high school. In terms of incorporating the quotes device used in the novel. I think that is something we’d like to collaborate on with our eventual director for the film. There is clearly a lot of fun that can be had with this subject matter and it will be exciting putting all the pieces together and bringing it to the screen for fans of the novel, romantic comedies and Austen!

I’m really glad to hear that the screenplay’s first draft will be written by Kim Izzo, there’s nothing worse than a film adaptation that doesn’t have the same feel or voice as the novel — especially when you loved the novel so much! Thank you to David for taking the time to chat with me about all of this!

The Jane Austen Marriage Manual will hopefully be hitting the big screen in 2015 and I’ll be first in line to buy a ticket!


Love Always

Vanessa Xo 

Photo Sources: David Cormican, The Jane Austen Marriage Manual, Kim Izzo, Jane Austen Quote

Nobody's Fool — Books on Film

Book Reviews, film, Just for Fun, Toronto Adventures

Nobodys-FoolOn Monday I spent the day downtown with the bf. We went to the seven o’clock screening of Nobody’s Fool, a film based on Richard Russo’s novel for the Books on Film Series. The film came out in 1994 and stars Paul Newman, Bruce Willis, Jessica Tandy, and Melanie Griffith. You can find the movie info on IMDb so I’m not going to rehash it all.

What I will say is that this film is full of unforgettable characters. What starts out as a slow-moving film turns into an eye-opening experience about an old man who doesn’t want to grow up. A man with a big heart, who under his smart-ass, sarcastic exterior is a man among men. A man who really loves life and all the people in his little town. A man who is worn to perfection. A man who grows on you. A man who is trying to make amends for the mistakes he’s made.

I’m a little sad that I watched the film before reading the book but I picked up my copy at the Tiff store just before the screening so I haven’t really had time. I’m looking forward to reading it though, I feel like there is so much MORE to Sully (Paul Newman’s character) than the film let’s on.

Stay tuned for my book review in a few weeks, I’m looking forward to comparing the two.

“Don’t expect too much out of yourself at the beginning, I couldn’t do everything at first either.” – Sully

Are you attending any of the screenings for Books on Film?? LMK!

Love Always 

Vanessa Xo

Books on Film — A Love Affair [#TIFF #SERIES]

Book Reviews, film, Just for Fun, Toronto Adventures, Uncategorized

I was recently told about a series from Tiff — Books on Film. Now in its third season, I am really shocked that I didn’t know about it. I love books, I love film, and since my trip to Tiff for Tim Burton’s exhibit, I’ve been in love with Tiff. Now that this series has been brought to my attention I’m happy to share it with all of you book and film lovers out there!


“Books on Film brings together book and film lovers to examine great cinema that began as outstanding literature. Host Eleanor Wachtel of CBC’s Writers and Company welcomes filmmakers, authors and experts to discuss the art of adaptation and the sometimes challenging passage from page to screen.”

Guests and films include:

February 11— Hilton Als (author and New Yorker theatre critic) on The Innocents

March 4 — Richard Russo (Pulitzer Prize–winning author) on Nobody’s Fool

April 8 — Lisa Cortés (music and film producer, driving force behind success of Def Jam Records) on Precious

May 6 — Christopher Hampton (award-winning screenwriter and playwright) on Atonement (which he adapted to screen)

June 3 — Ted Kotcheff (filmmaker and executive producer of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) on The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz

June 24 — Deepa Mehta (Canadian filmmaker) on Midnight’s Children


The Books on Film Series launches Monday February 11th — seems to me like this would make the perfect Valentine’s day gift for your book-loving girlfriend or film-fanatic boyfriend. Or maybe it’s just a great excuse to see some wonderful films, learn about the books they came from, and spend an evening downtown with a loved one.

Subscriptions to the series are available for $153 for TIFF Members or $180 for non-members (prices include tax). Based on availability, single tickets may be released closer to the event.

I’m really hoping to check out the Richard Russo event — his memoir has been on my To-Read list for way too long! I need to get a copy of Nobody’s Fool A.S.A.P.

Which film or guest are you hoping to see?

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

**Books on Film description, pricing, and guest and film list taken from the Tiff website **