A veteran photojournalist on the arts and entertainment scene, Julian Bynoe is a Toronto-based cartoonist, artist and arts blogger. From 1996 to 2014, he was the arts/entertainment editor for the street publication The Outreach Connection, and has had articles featured in Realms Magazine, among others.

EDITION #93 - WEEK OF JUNE 20-26, 2016

Fish sequel does swimmingly well

Finding Dory (Walt Disney/Pixar)

Voice Talents: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson

Directors: Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane

Producer: Lindsey Collins

Screenplay: Andrew Stanton; story by Andrew Stanton, Victoria Strouse and Bob Peterson, based on the characters created by Andrew Stanton

Film Reviews

A long wait for a follow-up to a beloved animated film that really didn’t need one to begin with, Finding Dory gives really good reasons why sequels should exist by maintaining the heart and soul of its 2003 Academy Award-winning original, Finding Nemo, just as the sumptuous animation that came with it, in making fish seem likeable again. And Pixar spares no expense in giving us an actually substantial storyline to follow along.

It kind of starts off like an origin story with the good-natured blue tang fish Dory (DeGeneres) afflicted with short-term memory loss making her home with clownfish Marlin (Brooks) and his young son Nemo (Hayden Rolence) in the Great Barrier Reef, when witnessing a migrating school of manta rays triggers off her early memories as a small fry (Sloane Murray) with her parents Jenny (Diane Keaton) and Charlie (Eugene Levy) and her lifelong search for them.

With a highly reluctant Marlin but more than eager Nemo in tow, they cross the Pacific again all the way to the Californian coastline to the Marine Life Institute, an public aquarium-cum-research facility where she came from in the hope of finding them there. Accidentally finding herself in the quarantine section, she runs into old fryhood friend Destiny (Olson), a near-sighted whale shark, a hypochondriac beluga Bailey (Ty Burrell) but also a grouchy octopus named Hank (O’Neill) that’s a master of disguise and a chiraptophobic – the fear of being touched – who help in Dory’s search for her folks that turns into one frantic caper after another.

Bringing back a majority of the original voices back after thirteen years – minus Alexander Gould who originally voiced Nemo and has long outgrown his pubescent voice – is a bonus all round along with the new characters that co-writer/creator/director Stanton crafts with love and care (including a very brief cameo as the ultra-cool surfer turtle Crush) with the script and character studies that made the last film such a charmer.

DeGeneres, being the main focus here, gets a wider berth for Dory in rediscovering herself and to what family means, but the real surprise in letting Rolence get a word or two in with Brooks as the ever-frantic homebody Marlin finding in value of his friend and her search for closure. Levy and Keaton as Dory’s doting parents and Olsen are perfect touches with their warmth and humour; Murray is such a dear as the young Dory mixing smarts and innocence; Idris Elba and Dominic Ray as two lazy, territorial sea lions make a fun comic relief duo and O’Neill shines being the mercurial octopus with a heart – or should I say three hearts – of gold with his moments.

Finding Dory holds the theme of family in all different shades alive and well as a high-spirited and fast-paced undersea adventure while keeping it all fun. The preceding short Piper about a sandpiper chick learning to forge for itself and overcome the fear of the ocean tide is quirky, yet sweet in its life lesson in dealing with life’s obstacles and handling independence created by Canadian-born writer/director Alan Barillaro, who’s worked with Pixar since 1998’s A Bug’s Life. A sure-fire Oscar contender here for Best Animated Short if there ever was one.

Vancouver’s virtual bowery, Statuesque abuzz

Luminato 2016 Reviews

Part 2 of a 3-part series

CIRCA 1948

Turbine Hall, Hearn Generating Station, 440 Unwin Avenue

From the dramaturge behind the critically-acclaimed cinematic stage production hybrid Helen Lawrence, Stan Douglas creates a spin-off of sorts with CIRCA 1948, a National Film Board of Canada/Toronto International Film Festival/Luminato project which immerses the viewer into a virtual reality setting of post-World War II Vancouver to compare modern times that isn’t all that unfamiliar.

Through kinaesthetic navigation and CGI, the booth puts one in long-gone places: the inner-city slum row of Hogan’s Alley and the ageing Vancouver Hotel, once a downtown grand dame stripped of its former glory into a fleabag for layabouts, disillusioned veterans returning from the war and overnighters looking for a cheap place to stay (viewer can choose only one program). For five all-too-brief minutes, it’s getting a feel of how disjointed society was then; caught in economic uncertainties, a relentless recession and constant external threats – much like ours today, only replace the Cold War with terrorism.

It takes a couple of minutes to get the hang of “moving” about the simulation room within a circled area like an interactive videogame, with the understanding of what befell these places in the name of progress that would make 1,200 vets homeless in the streets of 1948 Vancouver, the grittiness of the cityscape and the majestic, if greyish elements swirled about you. There can be a long line-up in getting into the simulation room, but the earlier you come the lesser the wait time is and it’s worth it.

Michel de Broin: One Thousand Speculations

Turbine Hall, Hearn Generating Station, 440 Unwin Avenue

When it made its debut at Luminato back in 2013, I felt Michel de Broin’s gigantic mirror ball sculpture One Thousand Speculations, in spite of its size; wasn’t very impressive displayed high above David Pecault Square, plus being out in the elements didn’t do it much justice or effect as a statement of throwaway pop culture.

Now placed inside the Hearn, it’s a whole lot better and appreciative in the context of things with its reflective surface bouncing off shards of light on a very slow rotational pace, which would make the gutted power station feel like one huge, glorious discotheque and a little restorative glory to the venue space, even if its’ just a temporary measure.

Peter Huyghe: Untilled (Liegender Frauenakt/Reclining Nude)

Hearn Generating Station, 440 Unwin Avenue

French sculptor Peter Huyghe puts a backspin on the post-human world reclamation of nature for Untilled (Liegender Frauenakt/Reclining Nude) set not too far away from the Hearn where a live beehive colony totally obscuring a concrete nude sculpture’s head, thus literally turning it into a living work of art.

Spending two years with beekeepers on how to attract the honeybees to the sculpture and the bees themselves “contribute” their artistic touch by naturally allowing the evolutionary anthropocentric shape of the hive to come by its own, Huyghe addresses the delicateness of our ecosystem, the very real threat to the world’s food supply through colony collapse syndrome and the symbiotic need between ourselves and the bee population is interesting to contemplate in thought, as much as it is fascinating to see a actual beehive colony within safe distance alone is one of Luminato’s more intriguing art pieces that they’ve put on in ages.

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Luminato 2016 ends this Sunday (June 26). Turbine Hall displays are FREE from Tuesday-Sunday 12-6 p.m.. For tickets and information, call 416-368-4849 or visit luminato.com.