…and the quest to see everything

Posts tagged “Toronto

Hot Docs: Sex Saves World


I’ve written about this year’s Hot Docs selections. Two of them are about the future in their own way – I Am Breathing and Future My Love, both of which I’ve written about in Entertainment Maven. The Other two are about how their subjects are trying to save the world. The first in the latter group is James Franco and Travis Mathews’ Interior: Leather Bar, which I wrote about for The Film Experience (link below).

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The second is Michal Marczak’s Fuck For Forest. I totally forgot that doc’s third Canadian connection. In the movie we see the titular group’s clashes against some of the people during the Berlin SlutWalk, a global movement that started when two Toronto police officers held a seminar in York University telling the co-eds not to dress slutty to avoid rape. Some of SlutWalk’s 2.5th feminist movement marchers sees FFF’s aggressively pro-sexual recruitment tendencies as anti-women, which is a totally understandable angle in seeing the former group. Click here to read my post on Entertainment Maven and judge for yourself if the doc – or my writing :S – gives these misunderstood idealists any justice.

 


InsideOut ’11: Advocate for Fagdom


The Advocate For Fagdom, about the life and work of Toronto film director Bruce LaBruce, is structurally a bad film. It uses clips of LaBruce’s films that discredits him as scatter brained. The interview subjects explain the provocateur’s work and doing so aimlessly, eventually going off into diatribes about an idea of queerdom and making LaBruce its main representative. A subject even audaciously claims that the shock audiences and actors get from LaBruce’s work is because male actors are more ‘shy’ about performing nudity and sexuality than their female counterparts.

ph. fabmagazine

Nonetheless, I just can’t write this movie off because LaBruce is essentially interesting. The POV footage of LaBruce’s hometown are raw and endearing. That there’s one subject who actually discourages LaBruce’s use of the latter’s experimental film influences. That John Waters talking censorship in Ontario is actually pretty funny. He also talks about the men in LaBruce’s early work with clips that surprisingly aren’t gratuitous. And yes, we probably share the same taste in men.  The film is a good introduction to the man, which the only thing it needs to be. 3/5.


Defending the Indefensible


Anniversary post!

Andrew and Sasha James e-mailed me this press release, brightening up my day.

ph. 20th Century Fox

Andrew Parker and Toronto Underground Cinema proudly present the DEFENDING THE INDEFENSIBLE film series starting MARCH 4, 2011.

Film criticism is a strange business these days.  In years prior to the rise of the Internet, it seemed like only a select few knowledgeable film critics held sway over the fickle viewing public. Now, it seems as if everyone is entitled to voicing their opinions no matter how strange or unpopular they might be. These conversations have lead to more heated arguments about films that in many cases, might not even be worth talking about. Even the most marginal of films can inspire passionate arguments amongst defenders and detractors. With that in mind Toronto blogger Andrew Parker devised the idea for the DEFENDING THE INDEFENSIBLE film series: a monthly exploration of films that time has either been unkind to or overlooked (or possibly should never be seen again) hosted by local film scholars, writers, and bloggers and designed to better educate the public that film criticism still matters even at it’s silliest.

After lengthy correspondence with several local film writers and various local film buffs, Andrew cultivated a list of suggestions of films that were liked by very few, but could be defended by one singular person very well. From this new list of films Andrew went back to the same writers and asked which of the films the other writers hated the most. Each screening will have a pair of local critics squaring off one on one in a discussion of some of the most divisive films in recent memory.

How it works:

-The evening will be hosted by an emcee that cannot stand the film screening that evening. This person will come on stage first to explain just why the film the audience is about to see is terrible and why the evening’s main presenter is wrong to defend it. This is all in good-natured fun and it will be dealt with in both a humourous and analytical fashion. The evenings should be thought of as a film school version of Fight Club crossed with the bravado of a professional wrestling match with a dash of old school Siskel and Ebert.

-Following the introduction by the evening’s host, our defender will take the stage and explain why the film about to be screened is a good film. This is an uphill battle not only because they are following someone who just blasted the movie about to be screened, but also because simply saying a film is entertaining is not a good explanation. All defenses must be grounded in some sort of close viewing of the film or in some sort of film theory. All defenses must be based somewhat in fact and no one can coast on the entertainment value of a film alone.

-The film will then be screened (in 35mm whenever possible and applicable) and following the film, the emcee and defender will once again take the stage for a brief recap of their arguments before turning over questioning to the audience that just viewed the film. For one of the first times ever in a public forum, a film writer will have to defend an unpopular viewpoint to the very public they have been writing for in the first place. Knowing that some people do not want to sit through these films for a second time, a special offer will be made to those who want to join in the discussion to come in after the film has screened to ask questions for a reduced admission price of $2 (all of which will be given to charity).

DEFENDING THE INDEFENSIBLE will be held once a month (on Fridays) at the TORONTO UNDERGROUND CINEMA(186 Spadina Avenue, Toronto, Ontario). Admission is $10 per screening with a portion of the proceeds to go to charities agreed upon by the evening’s emcee and defender. Much like Celebrity Jeopardy these people have been gracious enough to donate their time and energy for some truly great causes. People wishing to join the discussion, but not watch the film will be admitted at the end of the film for $2 to join in the Q&A session, all of which will be donated to the charities being represented that evening. All tickets available at the door with no advanced ticketing. Some films will also include special guests involved with the making of the films being screened and some screenings will also include bonus auctions for various charities.

DEFENDING THE INDEFENSIBLE SCHEDULE

(Films to be shown on 35mm when available. Films and Guests are subject to change.)

March 4th: Special Series Opening Double Bill ($15 double bill)

7pm: Alien Resurrection, Defended by Norman Wilner (NowMSN). Hosted by John Semley (Torontoist, amongst others)

9:30pm: Freddy Got Fingered, Defended by John Semley. Hosted by Norman Wilner

Let me interject here. Through their Twitters, John Semley and Norman Wilner were warming up their snarky knuckles for this night. Their passive aggressive banter is already awesome online and I can’t wait to see in person.

And now, a sentence or three that will result in me never getting hired in any major publication in Toronto: You guys are both kinda cute, one of you is a marry and the other’s a boff, but keep the shirts on. No one wants to see that. And yes, that’s in the context of seeing them both before and after seeing ‘horsecock’ on a big screen.

Moving on…

April 1st: Special April Fool’s Day Critic Battle Royale

7pm MacGruber, Featuring Will Sloan (The Varsity, Exclaim), Adam Nayman (Eye Weekly), Norman Wilner, and many more. Special guests and prizes!

April 15th: One of Our Own Night

7pm Speed Racer Defended by Toronto Underground Cinema’s Animation Series coordinator Peter Kuplowsky. Hosted by Adam Nayman

May 20th: The Tag Team Title Match

7pm Observe and Report Defended by Will Sloan and series creator Andrew Parker. Hosted by John Semley and Adam Nayman

June 24th: Ashton Kutcher Appreciation Night

7pm The Butterfly Effect Defended by Adam Nayman. Hosted by Norman Wilner.


And so forth. To my Toronto readers, come! To my readers who don’t live in Toronto, still come. I’ll write about further dates and movies as written in the press release and updates.


Scott Pilgrim: A Bibliography


Un Chien Andalou (1927) – Starting in one place and ending in another.

Looney Tunes (1930-1969) – Pointed out by Brad Brevet. Fight captions, as well as Scott leaving through the window.

A Star is Born ’37 – Lights on a cityscape far-ish away ?

The Lady Eve (1941) – Barbara Stanwyck reveals her many – fictional – exes to her new husband on public transportation. In the original graphic novel, Ramona does this on the Yonge-Finch subway train. Ha!

ph. Universal

Singin’ in the Rain (1952) – Goofball bursts through painted backdrop. Also, love triangle between histrionic and ‘intellectual.’

The Searchers (1956) – Roxy Richter is Scar and Michael Cera is John Wayne and Jeffrey Hunter in the same person?

Vertigo (1958) – John’s Ferren’s thin white whirlpool. [ETA: Also, zoom in dolly out when Scott and Lucas Lee run to each other and fight.]

Pillow Talk (1959) – Split screen, especially in phone conversations.

Richard Lester‘s films (1964 – ) Jason Anderson interviewed Edgar Wright who talked about four critics who compared the movie to Lester’s films.

Eraserhead (1977) – The white screen.

Hausu (1977) – Asian schoolgirls, one of whom is named Kung Fu, and thus, kicks ass.

Star Wars (1977) – I can’t believe it took me days to realize the swords. Fucking duh!

The Last Waltz (1978) – Sex Bob Omb plays empty room. Also, Young Neil looks like a young Neil Young.

[ETA] Hair (1979) Medium (?) close-up of Knives Chau’s (Ellen Wong) image panning from right to left just like the Asian girl singing ‘Walking in Space.’

Phantom of the Paradise (1980) – Evil rock band contract deals. Final fight scene in rock venue where, SPOILER, both men technically die.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1989) – Scott apparently modeled between Ferris and the other guy.

“Seinfeld” (1990) – I didn’t know Jerry was gay. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Poison (1991) – A gay guy and a straight in sleeping in the same bed?

Riki-Oh (1991) – Hero fights hunks first before fighting skinny Asian dudes. What the fuck is up with that?

Dracula ’92 – Enemy evaporates at will?

The Big Lebowski (1998) Dream sequence portraying altitude and doors and love.

Rushmore (1998) – Dweeb in a love triangle between white girl and Asian.

American Beauty (1999) – But instead of roses, there’s a shower of hearts.

Fight Club (1999) – Protagonist fights many enemies and eventually has a fight with SPOILER himself.

High Fidelity (2000) – Pretentious CD store with rude customer service – the Sonic Boom people are nice, by the way – and movie about exes and the one true love.

Romeo Must Die (2000) – Guy uses girl to fight other girl, or the other way around.

ETA: Harry Potter (film series) (2001-2011) – Scott’s sister says ‘It’s been over a year since you got dumped by “she who will not be named.”‘

Gerry (2002) – Hazy desert scene. Dead white boy.

Phone Booth (2002) – By the way, there is no phone booth like that in Bloor and Bathurst.

“Arrested Development” (2003) – Apparently Michael Cera and the lesbian ex dated in a string of episodes.

Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003) – Animation interludes depicting violent childhood. Also, fight between velvety voiced white girl and shout-y Asian. [ETA: Scott fighting Lucas Lee’s stunt doubles remind me of the Crazy 88.]

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) – Pirates are in this year!

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) – Dweeb hooks up with girl who changes her hair colour a lot.

Shaun of the Dead (2004) – MegaScott kinda looks like Zombie Ed.

The Fantastic Four (2005) – Chris Evans. Good actor.

The Last Winter (2006) – CGI air animals? We’ve probably seen this before.

Superman (2006) – The unrecognizable Brandon Routh.

[ETA] Juno (2007) – Michael Cera probably loses his movie virginity for the first time here.

Let the Right One In (2008) – The snow and swings. Also, ovaries > balls.

The Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) – Jason Schwartzman kinda plays a superhero ?

Up in the Air (2009) – Anna Kendrick reuses her archetypal role as the younger but sane one.

Chloe (2010) – Movie about Toronto, awesome architecture, creepy phone calls.

Armond White is correct, okay? There are tons of movie references. If I wanna over-read these references, most of the recognizable are from movies made in the past decade, which means that these movies are worth referring to. Despite my pessimism, new movies aren’t so bad after all.

Yes, it underperformed at the box office, probably because of  apprehensions, as Peter Martin points out, that the references do target the ‘video game generation.’ The first reference I pointed out is from 1927. I don’t know if that helps ‘people over 30’ to be herded into the theatres, but if I could see a relationship to pop culture before video games, hopefully someone else will.


The Luminous Kate Winslet



I realized how well April Wheeler (Kate Winslet) is photographed in Sam Mendes’ Revolutionary Road. She’s often wearing white or bright colours. Summer colours, like she’s on a permanent summer vacation in the Hamptons, or stuck in heaven. Or more than likely sitting or standing near a window. Frank Wheeler (Leonardo di Caprio) has a beautiful wife and so did director Sam Mendes, and the latter wanted to show that off. And it’s like there’s light within her but, as per the movie, I have the feeling that that light in her is clamped down.

Revolutionary Road is gonna be screening at the Revue Cinema at 7 tonight, with an introduction and post-screening discussion led by Toronto critic Geoff Pevere. I’m still wondering whether I’m going or not. I don’t particularly wanna slit my wrists tonight. I also don’t wanna see couples masochistically watching the movie and coming out talking about the performances, because they don’t wanna talk about Frank and April’s relationship. I also think about the numerous casting possibilities if this movie have been greenlighted earlier (Paul and Joanne, Mia and Robert, Jessica and William, Julianne and Dennis). I’ll give the movie another shot, and hopefully, so will you.


Away From Her


ph. Warner

In one the first scenes of “Away From Her,” Fiona Anderson (Julie Christie) puts a pan on a freezer. There’s no music to put this action in context. Fiona’s obliviousness and her husband Grant’s (Gordon Pinsent, voice of God) confusion add to the mix of what I felt as an audience. Do I react in shock? Burst in inappropriate laughter?

After that scene in the kitchen and other after that she is aware of being hit by Alzheimer’s and its consequences and warns Grant about the latter. At times she walks within a room like a ghost, mourning lost memory without crying over it. There is a repeated shot of her looking lost in her vast snowy backyard. The minimal use of the film score, the lack of overwrought crying scenes. Mostly, this movie’s approach is about what’s not being given nor shown nor heard, letting the audience react in their personal way.

I’m thinking of other actresses that might be able to pull of the character, Canadian ones. Mary Walsh would rock the skiing scene. But Julie Christie is a solid statue as Fiona and doesn’t let go, as they say. No one can do elegance like the kind she puts into her character.

That sounds a little dreary to many of you, but there’s some verbally aggressive yet sometimes comic anger from the characters, especially the women. Fiona gives Grant the worst goodbye ever. Miss Montpellier (Wendy Crewson) condescends to him. Kristy gives him a torrential speech about the obliviousness of men, out of character for archetypal customer service characters. Marian’s (Olympia Dukakis) is just rough yet likable. The men get in on the action too. Grant comments on seeing his wife in the aged home, and Fiona’s new boyfriend Aubrey (Michael Murphy) can do so much with a look.

You can look at the film as Grant’s world crumbling just as much as its implied gender dynamics. He’s learning about women and female anger and unwritten institutions of womanhood that he’s been oblivious to. Through Fiona’s degenerative condition, Fiona, Grant and the supporting characters in their lives are feeling the end, and therefore things must be said and revealed.

It’s also a ‘Canadian story for Americans’ narrative, which shows especially in Marion’s words like ‘Kamloops, BC’ ‘Canadian Tire.’ The whole room knew where Kamloops is. There’s also the retired hockey commentator who gives some of the best moments of the film.

The only flaw of this movie is when Grant uses a metaphor to describe Alzheimer’s, like light switches in the house turning off one at a time. Then the film shows their house and the lights turn off the way Grant has described. I believe in showing or telling by not both. The rest of it is a story about loss with comic relief, surprising for director Sarah Polley’s reputation.


Carlton Cinema, reopening


ph. Jonathan Loek for BlogTO

Ah, the Carlton. You have given me fond memories. Seeing “Ballast” by myself, Seeing “The Damned United” by myself. To clarify, ‘by myself’ doesn’t mean I didn’t go with someone, it means I was the only one in the room. I could text people, move seats. I’m gonna rephrase Norman Wilner that the Carlton was where short run art movies stayed for months. Watching the movies I listed above felt like discovering it, and yes, it’s a little sad that the movies I’ve listed above weren’t seen by more people despite the greatest performances and visual uniqueness packed in those films. The setting  and circumstances might have helped that feeling of discovery.

There’s also seeing “House of Sand,” the first movie I saw in that theatre, and “Road to Guantanamo,” both were pieces of crap. I watched one after the other with my family. It made me realize that not all foreign films are good and that Showcase lied to me. My sister and I decided that the movie theatre is cursed with bad foreign films, vowed to never come. However, the Carlton kept luring me in and I kept coming.

ph. NOW

There’s also seeing either “Son of Rambow” and “How My Parents Went on Vacation,” both great movies by the way, and losing my glasses in watching either of those movies – I never found them and never got them replaced. Don’t tell mom. I also saw “Bright Star” there which is one of the best movies I’ve seen.

Tonight my schedule should have been “Away From Her” and “Julie and Julia” but knowing that Atom Egoyan will be there and I haven’t seen him at the Cinematheque, this is my chance to bother him about “Chloe.”

Tonight will also be my first time downtown since the weekend. Although I tweeted about last weekend furiously I haven’t said a word about it here. I don’t know how sad I’ll feel seeing  my city’s scars but I still wanna see it and I feel like a coward not being there for her at her worst.

This entry is also the first one I’ve written since the weekend and planning to back to the Carlton got my energy back. The next entry will be one on “Mean Girls.”