Ryan’s buried brilliance, Rick’s return to the stage and CBC corners Don & Ron for a new mini-series

CHERRY, KEESO, WATTON, MACLEAN: They shoot! They score!

THE WRATH OF GRAPES:  The sequel to the hit mini-series Keep Your Head Up, Kid premieres this Sunday on CBC with Jared Keeso reprising his Gemini-winning performance as Don Cherry. The mini-series charts Don’s journey from the NHL to Coach’s Corner, with Jonathan Watton as Ron MacLean. And if this sequel is only half as good as the original, it can’t help but

ROBERTS: on stage at Tarragon

be a hit … the three-day Toronto International Film & Video Awards festival kicks off today at 5 pm at Victoria College … attention foodies: Insight Productions chief John Brunton is bringing Food Network Canada’s top-rated Top Chef Canada series back for a second season on March 12 … the Shakespeare in Action production of The Diary of Anne Frank opens March 15 at the Al Green Theatre in the Miles Nadal JCC. Sascha Cole returns in the central role of Anne as do Chris Karczmar and Alexis Koetting as Mr. and Mrs. Frank … and Rick Roberts, so good as Stephen Leacock’s errant father in Sunshine Sketches Of A Little Town, is back on the boards again, this time in the English-language premiere of The Small Room at the Top of the Stairs. The Carole Fréchette play, translated by John Murrell, is helmed by Kim’s Convenience director Weyni Mengesha. Now in previews, it opens March 7 at the Tarragon.

MEANWHILE: Veteran rocker George Olliver postponed his gig at the Courtyard Restaurant in Pickering last week due to fearsome media weather forecasts predicting the storm of the century.  Which, as I recall, translated to some rain. He’s now set to play the Courtyard tonight instead … pop/jazz vocalist Joel Hartt makes his debut performance at the Green Door Cabaret tomorrow night with piano man Mark Kieswetter … DanceWorks presents Sylvain Émard Danse in the Toronto premiere of Fragments – Volume I,  for one night only, tomorrow at the Enwave Theatre at Harbourfront …Liona Boyd is Alberta-bound for nine concerts with Michael Savona. You can find her tour dates on her new renovated website at www.LionaBoyd.com… and  Discovery Networks have snagged versatile screenwriter and producer Edwina Follows (Traders, Relic Hunter, Beast Master, Emily of New Moon) as its new  Director of Commissioning and Production. Follows is now responsible for the commissioning  independent programming for Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, Discovery World HD, Investigation Discovery and Discovery Science.  Smart move, Discovery.

MEANWHILE, BACK ON THE HIGH SEAS:  Yesterday our Floating Film Festival on the Seabourn Sojourn made its first stop, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I like San Juan, but whenever I come here all I always think of Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics to America from West Side Story:

Puerto Rico / My heart’s devotion / let it sink into the ocean /

After our stop in San Juan we screened two more movies. First up was an intriguing documentary called Jealous Of The Birds. Did you know that more than 15,000 Holocaust survivors chose to remain in Germany after World War II? Me neither. How could they stay? Jealous Of The Birds is a first-time documentary by young filmmaker Jordan Bahat that attempts to answer that question. Bahat’s quest is clearly personal; he longs to understand the choices made by his own grandparents – he even persuades his grandmother to revisit Auschwitz – and how they managed to rebuild their lives  Bahat’s film is a study of survivors, their children and other Germans who choose to live among perpetrators. and includes interviews children whose legacy includes the crimes of their parents. Fascinating stuff, and a fine start for a first-time filmmaker.

GOSLING & DUNST: brilliant performances, buried treasure

Last night’s bedtime story, screened after dinner, was All Good Things, a 2010 psychological thriller with an outstanding case. Both love story and murder mystery, it was inspired by one of the most notorious missing person’s case in New York history, in which Robert Durst, scion of the wealthy Durst family, was suspected of, but never tried for,  killing his wife, who disappeared in 1982 and was never seen again. Ryan Gosling plays Robert Marks, Kirsten Dunst plays his doomed young wife Katie, and Frank Langella plays the powerful family patriarch. The film is already regarded as a buried treasure, mysteriously abandoned by its distributors when it could easily have been an Oscar contender. Dunst and especially Gosling offer brilliant, breathtakingly believable performances as the young couple destined for tragedy. We watch horrified as Dunst’s slow corruption plays directly into Gosling’s sophisticated spiraling psychotic, with just enough information gleaned en route to show us how he got that way.  Easily the most talked-about film so far at this year’s Floating Film Festival, this is bone-chilling drama at its best. Catch up with it if you can.

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