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culture

Reel Toronto: Pushing Tin

Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton, before they became a Hollywood power couple, in a movie about New York air-traffic controllers that just happened to be shot in Toronto.

Toronto’s extensive work on the silver screen reveals that, while we have the chameleonic ability to look like anywhere from New York City to Moscow, the disguise doesn’t always hold up to scrutiny. Reel Toronto revels in digging up and displaying the films that attempt to mask, hide, or—in rare cases—proudly display our city.

It might be hard to believe today, but there was a time when Angelina Jolie was just an ordinary actress. She did some fairly ordinary movies, like Pushing Tin here, before becoming the uber-brand she is today. Indeed, though it wasn’t a big hit, Pushing Tin is where she met Billy Bob Thornton, whom she would eventually marry, and honour by carrying around his blood in a necklace.

Yeah, where were we? Right, so here she is in this wacky movie about the wacky lives of air-traffic controllers in New York, alongside a fairly decent cast, like Billy Bob and John Cusack and a not-quite-famous-yet Cate Blanchett. Not surprisingly, shooting at a New York airport wasn’t going to be easy, so north they came!

They did all sorts of generic airporty shooting at Pearson Airport. But during the opening credits, with its handsome skyline shots of New York, we see an Air Canada plane fly through the frame. That’s gotta be a shout-out, right?

We’re not going to pretend locating this one didn’t drive us crazy. It’s a generically sprawly street that’s supposed to be in New Jersey. In fact, it’s out in Mississauga.

You can see that the house here is actually this one, at 5480 Planters Wood Court. If John Cusack ever stood in our driveway, we’d never paint the garage door ever again, but that’s just us.

They hang out at some great character dives, like Scarborough’s Amazing Ted’s, seen outside…

…and in.

There’s also some hanging out way on the other side of town, at the old Club OVs on the Queensway. Today it’s the somewhat incongruously (though sensibly, given our current context) named Hollywood on the Queensway.

This is the interior.

Hey, look, it’s a Via Rail billboard! They don’t have those in New York!

So, Pushing Tin fits the typical mold of a not-so-great-fake-New-York movie, but it’s definitely the best movie about air traffic controllers ever made here.

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