The best of stage, screen and in between for the month.
Succession, Season 1
I'm throwing you a bone here because season two of this under-loved HBO show starts August 11, so you have enough time to binge and be up to speed in time. The story is a thinly veiled take on the Rupert Murdoch empire, with the estimable Brian Cox, playing the Murdochian Logan Roy, an aging patriarch trying to keep his media empire together while playing his three children against one another. It's produced by Adam McKay of The Big Short fame (he also directed the first episode) and it's able to replicate that film's rare ability to make business and finance seem fascinating and full of intrigue while still be grounded in the here and now. It has a high Rotten Tomatoes score (86 percent) and has done well at the awards—it's up for Best Drama at the upcoming Emmys—but, for some reason, it hasn't resonated with people as much as I'm sure HBO would have hoped. Mostly, I hope you watch it so when I'm at my next cocktail party I won't be that guy who was always trying get you to watch Dexter. Instead, we might have a chat about the difficulties of estate planning within the context of the downturn of traditional media.—Neal McLennan, food editor
Shakespeare in Love at Bard on the Beach
I’m a Bard on the Beach diehard in spirit, but not in practice. I always make it to one show a year and invariably have the best intentions to see the entire playbill if I could wean myself off Netflix for one more night. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the plays; it’s just that something inevitably gets in the way—like the Handmaid’s Tale, Stranger Things, The Crown or reruns of the Handmaid’s Tale. And if we’re continuing the brutally honest theme, the idea of seeing an adaptation of Shakespeare in Love wasn’t high on my list—I remember the Academy award-winning Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard-written movie with fondness, but I also have a husband who routinely reminds me that Saving Private Ryan was robbed of Best Picture that year. And Colin Firth as the bad guy while Joseph Fiennes (Commander Waterford!) as the romantic lead? Come on! Fiennes’s Elizabethan ruff was no match for Firth’s wet blouson in Pride and Prejudice.
But guess what? At this year's 30th anniversary of Bard on the Beach, I had a romping good time at Shakespeare in Love. Maybe one of my most playful Bard experiences. We know so little of the great poet’s life, but for a few short hours, I was transported into the reimagined quotidian realm of the world’s greatest playwright. The set's costumes were every bit as theatrical as Outlander; its acting as good as Ozark, which I’m now binging (Charlie Gallant as a young Will makes a fine lead, too); and there is all the sex, violence (bendy swords and all) and dire wolves (er, dogs) that any Netflix junkie could ask for. The only downside—which tends to rear itself every year—is the distractingly stunning view of False Creek yonder the stage. But the cast made sure to hold our gaze with its jaunty, mirthful spree far from the sometimes heavy shackles of Shakespearean script. If you haven’t been to Bard in a bit, this one’s an easy segue way back in.—Amanda Ross, contributing editor
Pride in Chinatown
Pride month, internationally, may have been in June, but in Vancouver, events celebrating our LGBTQ+ community take place throughout August—and they go beyond the standard, increasingly corporate-driven Pride Parade that runs through the West End on the 4th. There’s March on Pride, a gathering organized by Black Lives Matter Vancouver that centres queer, trans and Two-Spirit folks of colour; Untoxicated, a sober shindig featuring Alaska, Bob the Drag Queen and Violet Chachki of Rupaul’s Drag Race fame; and Pride in Chinatown, an inclusive party-slash-exhibition that spotlights LGBTQ+ Asian-Canadian artists showcasing everything from theatre and EDM to opera and lion dancing. Presented as part of this year’s Alternative Pride and curated by Chinese-Canadian artist Paul Wong, the second annual event will include all-Asian drag fam House of Rice, classical pianist Rachel Iwaasa and sword-dancing prowess from the Chau Luen Athletic Club. The whole thing takes place at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden in the heart of Chinatown, offering LGBTQ+ Asian-Canadians the chance to reclaim a cultural space where queerness is traditionally unacknowledged. For at least one night, however, it’s there they’ll be celebrating, flaunting and living their truths—which, really, isn’t what Pride is all about?—Lucy Lau, style editor
Dedicated by Carly Rae Jepsen
Carly Rae Jepsen may as well have named her latest album after me because I am Dedicated to an evangelical level. Yeah, it dropped back in May, but since I'm still playing it daily two months months in, I have nothing else to recommend for August—this pop masterpiece was my summer jam before it was even summer yet. My Spotify recently played list is just this and the "Chillhop for Working" mix, which I only put on when I need to be productive and get my writing done so I can hurry up and get back to dancing to "Too Much." If you only know the Vancouverite (okay, technically Missionite) for her "Call Me Maybe" infamy—and I don't even want to hear your excuses for missing her brilliant, saxaphone-packed Emotion in 2015—it's time to get acquainted with her ouvre of next-level, highly danceable love songs... because you're going to want time to scalp tickets to her two-nighter at the Commodore this August.—Stacey McLachlan, executive editor
Knowing When to Fold 'Em
There is plenty of pop culture, especially when it comes to TV and movies, that I already have or will be indulging in this month. I’m up on The Handmaid’s Tale, Big Little Lies and Stranger Things on the TV side of things, whereas I’m anxious to see Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Spiderman: Far From Home and Rocketman on the big screen. But in this age of never-ending pop culture choices, I’ve also made the conscious decision to say enough is enough and stay away from two titles that I would otherwise be inclined to fork over my money for.
One of the first movies I ever saw (and my favourite Disney film of all-time), The Lion King, holds a special place in my heart. You know what doesn’t share a spot there, though? An animatronic Simba looking plainly at his dead dad while the voice actor sobs away. Realistic-looking animals can’t emote! And you will not lure me to this, no matter how much I enjoy Beyoncé, Donald Glover and Seth Rogen! What’s next to be bastardized in the form of a Disney live-action cash grab? Actually, there’s no point in guessing. Because it’s everything. Everything is next.
The other intellectual property I’m staying away from this month is Orange is the New Black. After six seasons, yes, I’m somewhat curious to see what the show’s seventh and final iteration has in store (it premieres tomorrow). But the once intriguing drama has obviously lost its fastball and has been clearly surpassed by other, more innovative shows. There have been some solid characters and a couple great villains, but Orange has been rather colourless for a couple seasons now. I’m happy to say that—like the show’s protagonist Piper Chapman—I’m out.—Nathan Caddell, associate editor