As a means of rounding up Toronto’s various cinematic goings-on each week, Movie Mondays compiles the best rep cinema and art house screenings, special presentations, lectures, and limited engagements.
This week sees a lot of second-run rehash (The Social Network, Due Date, Never Let Me Go) as all the old 2010 reels makes their final rounds. As ever though, there are some standout screenings this week, like a great anthology film, some second-run Coens, and more trashy goodness from local B-moviemeister Chris Alexander.
Well, well, well. If it isn’t our old friend Chris Alexander, editor-in-chief of Fangoria magazine and cult cinephile about town, back at The Bloor with any program exploring cinema’s unseemly annals. With the success of his Film School Confidential screening series, Alexander is now upping the ante, hipping audiences to some real trashy horror crap with his new weekly B-Movie Fest.
The maiden voyage of B-Movie Fest has Alexander bloodying The Bloor with a double bill featuring 1970’s I Drink Your Blood and 1965’s The Bloody Pit of Horror. The former sees a backwoods community go off the rails after some meat pies are injected with rabies, and the latter is described by Alexander as an “[a]bsolutely insane, homoerotic camp classic.” You’d have to be a bloody idiot to miss this bill. Get your blood on, starting at 7 p.m. on Monday, January 10.
Who says camp is dead? Nowadays, loads of films are trying to self-consciously replicate the cheeky sexuality of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (see: Repo! The Genetic Opera). Most of them fail in the process, because excessive self-consciousness and camp are strange bedfellows. (It’s Aronofsky’s earnestness that makes Black Swan such an excellent piece of incidental camp.) Watching these films struggle to be sufficiently campy, though, can often be part of the fun.
Enter Burlesque, this year’s non-anticipated big screen team-up of Cher and Christina Aguilera: the story of a down-and-outer (Aguilera) who finds out that dreams can come true in the underground world of burlesque performance. So it’s kind of like The Damned and Cabaret meets Showgirls, except without all the Nazi stuff or underwater blowjobs. And it’s dumb. But good dumb, you know? The kind of exquisite failure that certifies eventual entry into the “so bad it’s good” canon. Can-can you dig it? If so, check out Burlesque at The Royal at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, January 11
The popularity of the omnibus film, in which a whole bunch of big name directors get together and contribute shorts unified by a larger theme or event (usually a festival), seems to be enjoying a revival of late, with major figures of world cinema collaborating on city symphony films like Tokyo! and Paris je t’aime. It’s a revitalization recalling the boom in European omnibus films of the 1960’s, like 1963’s Ro.Go.Pa.G. or 1969’s Amore e rabbia (Love and Anger), which screens Saturday, January 15 at 4:30 p.m. at the Lightbox.
Featuring five films by four major Italian filmmakers, as well as Jean-Luc Godard (who always seemed to conspicuously weasel his way into these anthologies), Love and Anger sees the omnibus film used for explicitly political ends. Premiering at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1969, the film is steeped in the leftist fallout of May 1968 in France (which resulted in the cancellation of Cannes that year). Whether it’s Carlo Lizanni’s look at indifference and inaction in an American metropolis, Bernardo Bertolucci’s depiction of a New Age funeral ritual, or Godard’s politicized pillow talk, Love and Anger captures the spirit of an age of unrest. And apart from Godard’s phoned-in short (“L’Amore”), all the films in this anthology are first rate, with Bertolucci and Lizanni’s proving particularly memorable.
It’s easy to feel lukewarm about the Coen Bros. remake of True Grit. On our end, we kind of thought the Jeff Bridges—tried though he might—didn’t really hack it as hardnosed federal marshal Rooster Cogburn, and that the film lacked many of the more memorable scenes that distinguished the original. But more than this, it seemed like a certain pizzazz, the dash of quirky je ne sais quoi that always made Joel and Ethan Coen seem like they were operating just on the fringes of mainstream American cinema, was missing.
But then we read this essay by Stanley Fish, which makes a pretty interesting case for True Grit as a “truly religious movie,” which seems to connect it at a deeper level with permeating, if absurd, spirituality of A Serious Man, The Man Who Wasn’t There, and even the dopey Zen silliness of The Big Lebowski. It’s a pretty compelling piece of writing, and one which makes a solid case for True Grit being more than the Coens’ inevitable march forward from the almost-margins of Hollywood cinema. Read it, and then go see the film again. It’s playing all week at the Rainbow Market Square.