At some point in the last few years, I started calling Thanksgiving Day, coming up this Monday, Canadian Thanksgiving. I blame my American friends, many of whom don’t understand why we celebrate Thanksgiving in early October. The common ground, however, is food and Montreal’s got plenty of food! But in between the turkey and pumpkin pie and leftovers, try to stuff in a cultural activity or two: a film festival, family-friendly theatre, new art, new dance, live music and a big gay party are all something to be thankful for…
(art intrigue) The Musee d’art Contemporain launches its Quebec Triennial 2011: The Work Ahead of Us exhibition this week, featuring perspective-altering painting, sculpture, installation, video, multi-media and performance work by contemporary Quebec artists, a number of them under 40 and living in Montreal. Throughout October, an installation by artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer lights up the Quartier des Spectacles, and until the beginning of January, Place des Arts’ Espace culturel Georges-Émile-Lapalme hosts a video creation by artist Lynne Marsh and the MACM presents live multi-media performances from artists Grier Edmundson, Séripop, 2boys.tv, Tim Hecker, Nuna Amun, Martin Tétreault and more. An exciting, multi-faceted exhibition that should not be missed.
(new film news) The 40th edition of Montreal’s best-kept-secret film festival, Festival du Nouveau Cinema, opens on October 12 with French filmmaker Valérie Donzelli’s La Guerre est déclarée and closes on October 23 with Canadian filmmaker Philippe Falardeau’s Monsieur Lazhar – in between see Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, Steve McQueen’s Shame, Pedro Almodóvar’s The Skin I Live In, Wim Wenders’ Pina, Takashi Mike’s Hara-Kiri and many, many other worthy and wonderful films from Quebec, Canada and around the world.
(ice dancing) It’s not quite Disneyland, but it’s definitely a trip. Disney on Ice’s Mickey & Minnie’s Magical Journey rounds up an assortment of Disney characters and puts them on skates in four magical kingdoms. It’s just like going to a hockey game, except way more magical and with Mickey, Minnie, Lilo, Stitch, Simba, Ariel, Peter Pan and a bunch of other Disney characters who could probably beat the Leafs any day. At the Bell Centre, to October 10, with English-language show on October 9.
(out of this world on stage) Montreal’s children’s theatre experts, Geordie Productions, stages one of the best all-ages tales around: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, October 13–23 at Centaur Theatre in Old Montreal. Meanwhile, Montreal’s English-language improv theatre troupes, including The Bitter End, Uncalled For and Bowman’s On The Spot, get their acts together with out-of-town troupes for improv theatre festival Mprov, October 12–16 at Montreal Improv Theatre. And choreographer-dancer-musician Clara Furey pairs up with actress Céline Bonnier in esoteric performance-art work Hello… How Are You?, at Theatre LaChapelle, October 11–15.
(on our toes) The intertwined creative and romantic lives of artists Auguste Rodin and Camille Claudel seem meant to be writ large on stage – the sculptors had a tumultuous relationship, marked by their own passionate personalities and the seemingly protective intervention of Claudel’s family. Choreographer Peter Quanz has always thought their story was meant for the stage too – his full-length, two-act ballet, Rodin/Claudel, premiers this week, starting the new Les Grands Ballets season off with an intriguing story of creativity, love and family betrayal. At Place des Arts, October 13–29.
(colorful dancing) What’s black and blue and hot all over? The dirty and the clean punchline is one in the same: The Black and Blue Festival, October 5–11. Turning tawdry 21 this year, Black and Blue, the centrepiece in the Bad Boys Club of Montreal’s fundraising events to find a cure for HIV/AIDS, promises to be fancier, sexier, bigger and badder than ever before. The fest’s centrepiece is Sunday night’s (and Monday morning’s) massive dance party at Olympic Stadium – this year called “BlackJack21″ – there won’t be gambling, but there will be thousands of people dressed in black and blue and betting the house on a good time.
(the jazz goes on/off) High season for festivals has come and gone, but just because the leaves change colour doesn’t mean Montreal changes too – the festivals must go on! And that includes jazz. The 12th edition of L’OFF Festival du Jazz brings over 150 musicians to venues around town October 7–15. It’s all jazz, all the time, with locals such as saxophonist Jean Derome and bassist Joëlle Léandre pairing up with local masters of collaboration and improvisation to play tunes on the more experimental side of standards, songs to sway to, and creative music that both challenges and entertainments.
(seven minutes to heaven) The Literary Death Match pits Montreal authors against each other in writerly battle – each has seven minutes to convince a live audience and a panel of judges (the likes of CBC’s Jonathan Goldstein, musician and performer Alexis O’Hara and music writer Sean Michaels) that they’re a winner. The international event teams up with Montreal’s Maisonneuve magazine to bring the laughs and lit to La Sala Rossa (4848 St-Laurent) on October 11, 8 p.m., $10 (includes magazine!).
(music magic) Atmospheric British band Portishead returns to add an ethereal glow to the night when they play outdoors at the Quays of the Old Port, October 7. On Saturday, fall in love all over again with Jonathan Richman at Sala Rossa (4848 St-Laurent), while Ra Ra Riot gets the party started at Il Motore (179 Jean Talon W.). The party continues on Sunday, October 9 with professional musician/producer/hipster-celeb Steve Aoki at Metropolis and the party gets heavy with Thee Silver Mt. Zion at La Sala Rossa. For something completely different, on October 9 and 10, experience the awesome Inuit throat singing of Tanya Tagaq at Gesu (1202 Bleury). And on October 13, become an instant fan of the charming 60s-ish folk-pop of Jimmy Hunt, with Sean Nicolas Savage, at Le National (1220 Ste-Catherine E.), or check out French music video and film director Yoann Lemoine in his musical persona, Woodkid, at Theatre Corona.