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Movie Mondays: Teachers, Mall Cops, Lizard Sheriffs, Hobos with Shotguns

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.
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Another dandy week in town, true believers. (We’re just going to start talking like Stan Lee from now on. It’s just folksier. And funnier.) This week, TIFF brings a Palme d’Or winner to the Lightbox, Johnny Depp gives voice to a delusional lizard cowboy (finally), film critics go to bat for Seth Rogen and Jody Hill’s mall-cop comedy, and a hobo with a shotgun finally makes his way into the rep circuit. Excelsior!

The Lightbox (350 King Street West)

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As Cannes 2011 keeps rolling along—Tree of Life premieres today, FYI—TIFF is flipping the script. On Wednesday, May 18 at 7 p.m., they’re flying in a French Palme d’Or winner, and bringing a little taste of Cannes to the Lightbox in the process. In 2008, Laurent Cantet took the film world’s most prestigious honour with The Class, a smart and deeply felt drama that looks at school through personal and institutional lenses.
As far as analyzing the problems with the contemporary school system, The Class ranks right up there with Summer Heights High, the fourth season of The Wire, and that sixth season Simpsons episode, “The PTA Disbands.” And if you’ve never seen it, well, now’s your chance. And especially because the Lightbox is presenting the screening of the film as part of their In Conversation With… series. So don’t miss In Conversation With Laurent Cantet this week. Because school’s in. And you don’t want to be “absent.” Do you?

The Bloor (506 Bloor Street West)

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In terms of films that came out this year about shotgun-toting hobos, you could do a lot worse than Jason Eisener’s Hobo with a Shotgun. Starring an excellent, and unmistakable, Rutger Hauer as a drifter fed up with the scum and sleaze in a small Maritime town who takes arms against the sea of troubles surrounding him, Hobo is easily the most interesting Canadian film to hit theatres this year. So far.
Mixing blood, guts, sex, and violence so fierce it’d make Takashi Miike blush, Hobo with a Shotgun’s a throwback to tasteless splatter films that actually works. Really well. It’s awesome. But if one thing wasn’t awesome about it in its first run, it was having to see it at the glossy Scotia Bank. But now that it’s in second run, you can really get the grimy rep house viewing experience the film deserves. So ride shotgun with Rutger Hauer, this Thursday, May 19 at 7 p.m. at the Bloor.

The Underground (186 Spadina Avenue)

mm_underground.jpg The Underground’s Defending the Indefensible series continues this month with Jody Hill’s oft-maligned feature Observe and Report (2009’s other mall-cop movie). Will Sloan (film critic for Exclaim! and The Varsity) will take the stage alongside series coordinator and Criticize This! contributor Andrew Parker. The two intend to present different arguments as to why the mean-spirited Seth Rogen vehicle is worth your time. Or anyone’s.
For some, Observe and Report is lifeless and desperately edgy, giving it about the same tone as an early South Park episode. And even if Jody Hill has managed to make misanthropic, schlubby comedy work with his Danny McBride–starring HBO series Eastbound and Down, Observe and Report just feels nasty, and worse, reeks of effort. It even manages to squander Patton Oswalt. But then again, it has Anna Faris in it. And Andrew and Will are both clever guys, so maybe they can salvage it. But you’ll have to show up to the Underground at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 10 to find out. Drink every time one of them uses Paul Schrader’s name as an adjective.

The Fox (2236 Queen Street East)

mm_fox.jpg A lot of animated movies these days try to do that thing where they say they’re for adults and kids at the same time. But in most cases (see: Pixar) they just make everything super depressing, confusing solemnity with gravity. Like Up. How can you even enjoy the talking dog after having seen the guy’s wife—spoiler alert—die? You can’t! Not even the talkingest dog in the world can make you forget that she’s dead.
Rango is a different beast. It’s a film that’s sufficiently adult in its plotting, characterizations, and joyous love of cinema that it’s amazing that it even appealed to kids at all. A pitch-perfect Johnny Depp plays the titular lizard, lost in a Nevada desert that’s been deprived of water. A wannabe actor, Rango steps into the role as sheriff, tasked with finding water and defending the town against the malicious Rattlesnake Jake (Billy Nighy). With an excellent supporting cast including Ned Beatty, Harry Dean Stanton, and Tim freaking Olyphant, and enough winks, nudges and hat tips to other movies to win the heart of even the most hardened cinephile, Rango’s one of the best films of 2011, animated or otherwise. So see it at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 21 at the Fox, smack in the heart of everyone’s favourite beaches neighbourhood, the Beach(es).

Illustrations by Clayton Hanmer/Torontoist.

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