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Alan Hustak

Raise a Million, Save The Sun

Par Alan Hustak le 12 décembre 2013

IMG_1604_s.jpgThe Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has launched a million dollar fund-raising campaign to acquire the monumental  Chihuly glass sculpture entitled The Sun, which enchanted thousands of people this summer when it was mounted on the steps of the museum’s  Hornstein pavilion.   The work has been moved inside to the atrium  of the Jean-Noel Desmarais  pavilion across the street.  The dazzling sculpture is more than 4  metres  in diameter, with 1,200  shimmering rays of  yellow  tendrils  accented with elements of blue and red. The sculpture takes four days to assemble. It was the focal point of last summer’s  Chihuly exhibition, Utterly Breathtaking.

JEAN LOUIS ROUX: 1923-2013 - Grand homme du Theatre

Par Alan Hustak le 29 novembre 2013

Jean-Louis_Roux.jpgJean-Louis Roux was a distingushed actor who was hounded out office as Quebec’s lieutenant-governor by Quebec nationalists within six months after he admitted he once wore a swastika in his teens while taking part in an anti-conscription demonstration during the Second World War. One of the founders of Montreal’s Theatre du Nouveau Monde  and former head of both the National Theatre School and The Canada Council for the Arts, Mr. Roux was also briefly a Canadian senator. “He was a great man of the theatre, an electrifying doyen,” recalled author Jan Martel.

Reading Room Remembers Richler

Par Alan Hustak le 29 novembre 2013

florence_and_jake.jpgAs children, Jacob Richler and his siblings weren’t allowed into their famous  father’s upstairs study when Mordecai Richler was pounding away at his typewriter writing his books or his satirical essays.   So when Jacob dedicated the Mordecai Richler Reading Room at Concordia University last week  the occasion brought back “happy memories of my father.” 
The room on the sixth floor of the McConnell  Building  is not, as some have suggested a replica or a re-creation  of Richler’s office  in the family  cottage at Lake Memphremagog. 

OTHELLO: Climbs a slippery slope.

Par Alan Hustak le 27 novembre 2013

othello.jpgA word or two before you head out to see the Segal Centre’s production of Othello running until Dec. 1. It is only the third time the Segal has done Shakespeare, so one wonders why it decided to tackle what is arguably the most difficult play in the canon. It is certainly a stretch to suggest, as artistic producer Paul Flicker does in  the program that Othello  is a work that might foster intercultural understanding. Nor does it have anything to do with the Charter of Quebec values. Othello is a sexual tragedy, a story of twisted relationships that encompasses inter-racial marriage,  prejudice,  jealousy, calumny, insecurity and murder.

Seeds: Monsanto Under The Microscope

Par Alan Hustak le 2 novembre 2013

petersen_as_schmeiser.jpgWho would have thought a play about canola, corn, soybeans and wheat could be so, uhm, damned entertaining and thought provoking. Seeds, AnnabelSoutar's docudrama at the Centaur until Nov. 24 is all about the perceived evils of Monsanto Inc., the international bio-tech seed monopoly,  and the meaning of life.

It is a complex, fast paced, three-hour experience which examines the “unintended consequences of genetically modified seeds.”

Korean NAvy vessels arrive in Montreal

Par Alan Hustak le 15 octobre 2013

IMG_1160.JPGVisit Commemorates 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean engagement

A South Korean destroyer and an auxiliary naval vessel arrived in Montreal Sunday as part of ceremonies being held to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean engagement.  The  Roks Dae Jo Yeong and Roks Hwa Chen will be open to visitors in the Old Port until Wednesday, Oct. 16  The ships are on a round the world cruise and are visiting ports of call in 14 countries which sent troops to the Korean engagement.

DOUBLE WHAMMY: SEGAL AND CENTAUR SCORE WITH SEASON OPENERS

Par Alan Hustak le 6 octobre 2013

aint_misbehaving.jpgMontreal’s  English Language theatre season is off to a rousing start with two shows:  The premiere of local playwright  Steve Galluccio’s acerbic but stirring family drama,  St Leonard Chronicles at the Centaur and a wonderfully entertaining revival of the Fats Waller cabaret  musical revue,  Ain’t Misbehavin’ at the Segal Centre.   It takes a while for the joint to start jumping at the Segal, but when it really gets off the ground in the second act, it leaves you on a high wanting more.  In addition to the title tune, the revue includes favorites like  I’m Gonna  Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter,  Tain’t Nobody’s Bizness if I Do, and lesser-known crowd pleasers like the silly but irresistible Your Feet’s  Too Big. 

THE MONTREAL ARTS CENTRE: A NEW KIND OF “INCUBATOR”

Par Alan Hustak le 13 août 2013

IMG_0438.JPGBusiness discipline and artistic creativity produce unique marriage.

In business, the word “incubator” has become synonymous with investors taking a chance on hi-tech start-ups. The partnerships have worked so well they have been responsible for some of the most important technological advances. It’s rarely been tried in the art world. Now Montreal is home to one of these unique experiments.

Steam Punk Sherlock

Par Alan Hustak le 12 mai 2013

Pipe_Sherlock.jpgJay Baruchel is the big drawing card in Sherlock Holmes at the Segal Centre until May 28, but the hometown Hollywood actor of The Trotsky  fame is not the best thing about the production.  Undeniably,  Baruchel lends an enthusiastic presence.   His charisma cannot disguise the fact that he is an undisciplined stage actor whose rapid-fire, nasal delivery seems at times to channel Groucho Marx through John Cleese. Certain allowances, however, must be made.  With   a nod to his celebrity and to his  credit,  Baruchel accepted a challenge, took the risk, and does not play safe.  He certainly doesn’t embarrass himself, even though he does look a little too youthful to be sucking on a curved briar pipe.
 

What A Ride! The Bus Number 14

Par Alan Hustak le 6 mai 2013

AxisTheatre_Number14_0362.jpgAnyone who  regularly  depends on public transit can’t help but revel in the antics of The Number 14, the extravagantly theatrical stage  production running at the Centaur until May 26.  Staged by  Vancouver’s  Axis Theatre company,  a troupe of six masked  Commedia  dell’Arte  performers,  it  is a bus ride like no other.   Put together on the west coast 20 years ago by the Centaur’s artistic director Roy  Surette  (who originally directed) and Wayne  Specht,  the founding director of the Axis Theatre, (responsible for  this version),  The Number 14 basically illustrates the day in the life of a bus and its driver.

House Of Wax

Par Alan Hustak le 26 avril 2013

bieber_wax.jpgEmbrace the kitsch.  

Almost 30 years after the wax museum at the corner of Queen Mary Road and Cote des Neiges closed its doors an interactive exhibition featuring wax celebrities has opened again, this time downtown in the Eaton Centre.  More than 120 life-size figurines are arranged in lavish  settings  on the top floor of the The work of artisans with the celebrated Grévin studio in Paris, the exhibition is, for the most part, geared to a francophone Quebec  audience.

How Great Can Gatsby Be?

Par Alan Hustak le 26 avril 2013

 

dicaprio_gatsby.jpgWill Baz Luhrman succeed where others have failed?  

The Australian film-maker’s  $150-million adaptation was to have been in theatres last Christmas but shooting down under was prolonged – not always a good sign in the industry of things to come.  It is now scheduled to open the Cannes Film Festival in May and is expected to be in movie theatres this summer.


 

Dance Me To The End on/off Love

Par Alan Hustak le 22 mars 2013

dance_me_02.jpgDance me to the end on/off love at the Centaur until April 14 is a lugubrious, downright macabre exploration of love and pain by Granhoj Dans, a contemporary dance troupe from Denmark. The North American premiere of the show is described as a poetic meditation, an attempt to make Cohen’s words become flesh.
From the moment director Palle Granhoj steps on stage and boldly edits one of Cohen’s poems, furiously scribbling to make the verse suit himself , he makes it clear that he is expropriating the poet’s work to make it conform to his image of himself - although anyone sitting beyond the fifth row may have had trouble reading his scrawl. 

 

Oklahoma!

Par Alan Hustak le 21 mars 2013

Ocklahoma_Stefania_Vetere.jpgI won’t throw bouquets or sigh and gaze too much, nor will I praise its charms too much.  People might think I liked the Hudson Village Theatre’s revival of the Rogers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! And they would be right – I  am head over heels in admiration of the intimacy and the ingenuity of the amateur production of this rousing musical, which was mounted on a stage no bigger than a postage stamp. (Complete with the ballet dream sequence.)  Because the theatre in an old train station is so small the romantic atmosphere of the story was in fact, somehow subtly deepend. 

Waiting For The Barbarians

Par Alan Hustak le 2 février 2013

Waiting_for_the_Barbarians.jpgThe North American premiere of Waiting for the Barbarians at Segal Centre until Feb. 17 is a highly stylized, strikingly  contrived  South African production of a play based on J.M  Coetzee’s  allegorical novel of the same name.  It explores the monstrous aspects of the human psyche, and  centres on the abuse of  imperial power.  The play  suggests  that nothing really changes when one  regime is replaced with another -  a persecuted  minority, once empowered,  finds minorities of its own to tyrannize.  Even in democratic and free countries can governments  manipulate public opinion to marginalize opponents. Unless you are familiar with Coetzee’s book, the stage adaptation by  Alexandre Marine, may be occasionally dense and not easily accessible.

Innocence Lost

Par Alan Hustak le 1 février 2013

lost_innocence.jpgInnocence Lost  at the Centaur Theatre until Feb 21, tells  how a  web of mindless suspicion woven by decent,  god-fearing folk  in a rural Ontario  ensnared and destroyed Stephen Truscott, the  14-year old who was convicted and sentenced to hang for the 1959 rape and murder of a 12-year old classmate, Lynne Harper,  - a murder he  did not commit.   Under  Roy Surette’s  flawless,  even- handed direction, the production  of Beverley Cooper’s play quietly lays bare every painful emotion of that reprehensible chapter of  Canadian judicial history.  The cast of ten in  multiple  roles  is inspired.  Each and every actor brings to life the various respectable small-minded characters they play in a distinct theatrical creation. 

ZERO DARK THIRTY: Boots-on-the-ground thrill ride.

Par Alan Hustak le 14 janvier 2013

zero_dark_thirty.jpgIgnore the controversy over whether the Americans used torture in their hunt for Osama Bin Laden, Zero Dark 30 is a boots- on- the- ground suspense thriller about the raid on his compound in  Abbottabad  which left Bin Laden and three others dead.    The movie is a draining,  morally complex exercise  that owes it success to director Kathryn Ann Bigelow and  to Jessica Chastain, in the role of  Maya,  the CIA operative whose intuition about the Al Qaeda  leader  is ignored  by her superiors, including the head of the CIA, (James Gandolfini)  precisely because she is  woman.
  

Les Misérables: An intimate spectacle

Par Alan Hustak le 26 décembre 2012

Les_Miserables.jpgLes Misérables, the movie version of the durable stage play which has been running for 30 years, is an epic three-hour opera, with almost no spoken dialogue, and probably the best screen musical since West Side Story won 10 Oscars fifty years ago.  Tom Hooper, who directed last year’s Oscar w inning, The King’s Speech  gives us a production that creates 19th Century Paris on a grand scale,  a film that is simultaneously  intimate and spectacular, even  if, from time to time is also tuneless, choppy  and occasionally tedious.

Spielberg's Lincoln

Par Alan Hustak le 20 novembre 2012

Lincoln_Daniel_Day_Lewis.jpgAbraham Lincoln’s marble statue shuffles down from his  monument in Washington D.C.  dons  a stove pipe hat and is  deified on the screen in Steven Spielberg’s  reverential  historical drama  Lincoln. The movie, now playing, covers the last three and a half months of the 16th U.S. president’s life. 
As portrayed with a high pitched voice by Daniel Day Lewis,  this is an embattled  Lincoln,  world weary,  war weary,  wily, but still stubborn and politically expedient.

A Dark and Comic read: Bluebeard’s Seventh Door

Par Alan Hustak le 19 octobre 2012

Vescei_Andre.jpgSex, guilt, music, Serbian-Croatian politics and the atrocities committed by the fascist  Croatian Ustasha revolutionary movement during the Second World War figure prominently in Bluebeard’s Seventh Door, Andre Vecsei ‘s didactic novel which his wife has published posthumously. The title comes from one of the author’s favourite operas by Bartok  in which pentatonic chords reminded him of “The antagonism between men and women.”

Vecsei is at his best describing  the musicians sexploits, especially a  licentiouis lecture tour in New York state. He returns to discover that his  Schererazade, has run away with a colleague and  learns the end of her story from a “a fat old  fabulist” .

CREATURE MYTHOLOGIES St. Henri gallery combines art and interior design.

Par Alan Hustak le 19 octobre 2012

Rhino_rabbit.jpgNostraCasa  a  new  concept gallery opening in St. Henri Aug 30 represents a felicitous  marriage of contemporary  art, interior design and eco-luxurious furniture.

A dozen artists are represented at the gallery’s opening art exhibition  Creature Mythologies, a show that features fairy tale beings, astonishing animals, and esoteric creatures that dwell in an artist’s deep flight of fancy. It is an usual concept  that combines the surreal with conceptual photography and sculpture.

4035 St-Ambroise, Suite 407, Montreal, Quebec  Tel.: 1 (514) 937-1549

John Lynch-Staunton

Par Alan Hustak le 23 août 2012

John_lynch.jpgJohn Lynch-Staunton was the amicable Canadian senator who played a crucial role in the merger of the Canadian Alliance and Progressive-Conservative Parties and served as the Conservative Party’s first interim leader for four months until Stephen Harper won the leadership  in  2004.  Before Lynch-Staunton was named to The Senate by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in 1990 he had been a Montreal city councillor and vice-chairman of the City of Montreal’s Executive committee when Jean Drapeau was Mayor. 
Lynch-Staunton was 82 when he died August 17 of a heart attack while on vacation in the Alberta foothills.

 

105: The New 85 Westmounter Lucille Pacaud

Par Alan Hustak le 19 août 2012

Lucille_Pacaud.jpgLucille Pacaud joins an exclusive club next Monday (Aug 27) when she celebrates her 105th birthday. Only about  100 women in Quebec have reached that age. Not many of them who have are  as alert as the woman affectionately known to her friends as  “Auntie Lou. “It’s a hell of a nuisance,” she said about her birthday as she thumbed through  some letters that she wrote in 1926 which she hadn’t seen in years.  “I am a little bit  frightened and  amazed  that have outlived all the friends of my generation. There is so much to remember and so much to forget.”   The secret to living so long she says, is to “walk, to keep walking everyday.” Pacaud retired from her job as a volunteer at the Montreal General Hospital six years ago shortly after she moved into Fulford House.

No Ordinary Joe

Par Alan Hustak le 14 août 2012

killer_joe.jpgThree things you need to know about Killer Joe:  the movie which opened Friday at the Scotia Cinema : it is directed by William Friedkin, who made The Exorcist so nerve wracking,  it stars Matthew McConaughey, an actor of deadly charm as a West Dallas police officer who moonlights as a contract killer  and it’s based on an offbeat Broadway play by a skewed Pulitzer prize winning playwright, Tracy Letts.

China Pulls Focus at This Year's Montreal World Film Festival

Par Alan Hustak le 8 août 2012

million_dollar_croc.jpgIt’s hard to know what to make of Million Dollar Crocodile, the Chinese film chosen to open the Montreal World Film Festival this year. Is it high camp, art, a publicity stunt or simply pandering to the growing Chinese influence in Canada?
A  Chinese delegation at the festival  will  take  part  in a week long  forum on film distribution in China.  “The Chinese cinema is one of the strongest in the world right now, and it can be compared to Hollywood in its variety and Its depth,” festival president Serge Losique explained.

Reverend Msgr. Barry Egan-Jones 1932-2012. “God’s publicist,” priest promoted Jewish Christian dialogue.

Par Alan Hustak le 30 juillet 2012

IMG_2664.JPGBarry Egan-Jones was English-language director of public relations for the Roman Catholic diocese of Montreal for 25 years before he was named administrator of St. Patrick’s basilica in 1996 where he was given the daunting task of completing the $2.5-million restoration of the historic downtown church.  He started the Catholic Times diocesan newspaper, was on the CBC’s regional advisory council and was the commentator for the national broadcaster during Pope John Paul’s 1984 visit to Canada.  Urbane and socially well-connected, Rev. Egan Jones also conducted part of his ministry writing pointed letters to the editor.  He was 80 when he died of a heart attack on July 25.

A final salute for a fallen comrade.

Par Alan Hustak le 20 juillet 2012

IMG_2622.JPGThe casket of firefighter Thierry Godfrind, 39, who died accidentally while fighting a fire on July 13 leaves Montreal City Hall  Friday July 20 after lying in state. 






Leo Leonard, a.k.a Clawhammer Jack : last of the urban horsemen.

Par Alan Hustak le 18 juillet 2012

6899727.jpgLeo Leonard, affectionately known as Clawhammer Jack, was an authentic urban horseman who maintained a horse palace in the heart of  Montreal’s Griffintown  neighbourhood for almost five decades.  A third generation Irishman, Leonard was a horse whisperer and a former caléche driver who lived in the same neighbourhood just below the Bell Centre for almost all of his 86 years. He held out almost to the end against developers  who wanted his property for office and commercial space and for affordable and subsidized housing. He died on July 5 several months after finally moving out of Griffintown.

Maria Marrelli, Italian Community Activist, and former Citizenship Court Judge

Par Alan Hustak le 24 juin 2012

Maria_Marelli_01.jpgMaria Marrelli was the community activist and local columnist before she was named a Citizenship Court Judge in 1977. Mrs. Marrelli, who was 97 when she died on June 21 was well known in Notre Dame de Grace, where she was heavily involved as a Liberal party organizer and as a warden of St. Raymond’s parish, and as an interpreter at the local caisse populaire.

”She was a leader. A force to be reckoned with. Not only was she able to express her views, she was able to rally people behind her so when she spoke, she spoke with a unified voice,” said  Montreal’s Executive Committee Chairman, Michael Applebaum. Applebaum said the borough will see how best to honour her achievements in a permanent manner

Madeleine Parent

Par Alan Hustak le 18 mai 2012

parent.jpegMadeleine Parent was a diminutive but fearless union organizer, labour leader and community activist who devoted her life to improving the cause of working women and to the creation of uniquely Canadian labour unions. Parent, who was 93 when she died March 12 helped to create the Candian Textile and Chemical Workers Union, organized women in Ontario, was active in the Féderation des femmes du Québec, fought for abortion on demand in the 1950s, and championed the rights of aboriginal women.

Neil McKenty 1924-2012: broadcaster, author, and former Jesuit.

Par Alan Hustak le 18 mai 2012

neil_mckenty.pngThe irreverent Jesuit who left the priesthood and went on to become the cornerstone of Montreal talk radio died Saturday morning at the age of 87. During his 14 years as a CJAD telephone talk show host in the 70’s and 80’s he brought a degree of  civility to  the charged political atmosphere  in province after the election of the Parti Quebecois in 1976, and in the referendum that followed.  In its heyday, his program, Exchange, attracted as many as 85,000 listeners or more than a quarter of the city’s English-speaking audience.

Marc Gervais: Jesuit champion of cinema. 1929-2012

Par Alan Hustak le 28 mars 2012

Gervais_during_mass_s.jpgRev. Marc  Gervais was a charismatic Jesuit priest, teacher and movie critic who rattled Vatican authorities in the late 1960s by championing Teorma,  a  homoerotic  film by a Communist film maker Pierre Pasolini which celebrated the healing power of human sexuality.    Rev. Gervais taught cinema and communication arts at Concordia University in Montreal for 25 years  where he  influenced the careers of students such as Clark Johnson, who plays in the HBO television series, The Wire,  Oscar winning Quebec film maker, Denys Arcand , producer Kevin Tierney (Good Cop, Bad Cop) and the CBC television journalist Hannah Gartner. Admired as a leading authority on the films of Ingmar Bergman, whom he knew, Gervais died Sunday (march 25) at a retirement home in Pickering, Ont. He was  82 .

Heard the one about the priest, the Rabbi and the Imam?

Par Alan Hustak le 12 mars 2012

rabbi_priest_imam.jpgIt’s no joke, but there is a punch line: faithblender.com.  The new inter-faith blog which went on line three weeks ago (Feb 14) features postings by Montreal broadcaster  and Roman Catholic priest John Walsh, Orthodox Jewish Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz, and Imam Ziyad Delic of Ottawa, who is considered to be among the world’s 500 most influential Muslims. 

 

 

 

KNUT HAMMARSKJOLD, DIPLOMAT 1922-2012

Par Alan Hustak le 12 mars 2012

Knut_LP_13r_784908d.jpgKnut Hammarskjöld was the Swedish diplomat who served in Montreal for 18 years as the second executive director of the International Air Transport Association, which regulates the interests of most of the world’s commercial airlines. Hammarskjöld was the nephew of the United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld, who was killed in a mysterious plane crash in Africa in 1961. Knut Hammerskjold, who died at his home in Lidingo on Jan. 3, two weeks shy of his 90th birthday, considered his distinguished uncle as a second father. 

Irving Layton

Par Alan Hustak le 12 mars 2012

layton_irving060104.jpgIrving Layton wrote more than 50 books of poetry during his lifetime. When he died seven years ago  Leonard Cohen  eulogised  him as  “our greatest poet and our greatest champion of poetry.”   Had Layton  lived, he would be 100 on March 12.  To mark the centennial of his birth in  Tirgu Neamt, Romania there will be poetry readings from his work in 20 cities across Canada, including Montreal. “This is the first time that Canada will be connected through poetry,” said Elias Letelier, co-founder of the online magazine, Poetry Quebec, which is sponsoring the event. 


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