While the Toronto International Film Festival may have shifted into a more relaxed mode, it’s still offering plenty of opportunities to gawk at movie stars—they’re just a little more spread out. Midweek, fans could catch the premieres of Good Kill (Ethan Hawke as a drone pilot), Maps to the Stars (David Cronenberg’s new bit of oddness), The Imitation Game (Benedict Cumberbatch as World War II cryptographer Alan Turing), Jauja (Viggo Mortensen, and we don’t know much else really), Laggies (Sam Rockwell and Keira Knightley in a comedy about people taking their sweet time to grow up), October Gale (Patricia Clarkson and Scott Speedman in a thriller/drama set in a remote cabin), Pawn Sacrifice (about the chess duels between Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer), The Cobbler (Adam Sandler’s latest) and Escobar (Benicio Del Toro is the famous drug kingpin).
If Fringe and SummerWorks aren’t enough to satisfy your summer theatre cravings, the world-renowned Stratford Festival is now only a bus ride away from downtown Toronto, thanks to the new Stratford Direct bus route (“the best thing [the Festival] has done in years” according to one usher at the Avon Theatre). Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino has put together a season to please tastes from the traditional to the extravagant. Here’s what we think about five of Stratford’s current productions.
Flight: A Thrilling History of an Idea is a new exhibition from the Toronto Reference Library that gathers a number of rare items that explore the theme of the possible and the impossible. Some of the highlights on display are La vingtième siècle: la vie électrique (a rare French book that shows how scientific discoveries would have affected people in 1955), Tame (a sci-fi pulp magazine), and Worldly Wisdom (watercolour that depicts a Leonardo da Vinci-like figure creating a winged flying machine). You’ll find the exhibition in the library’s TD Gallery.
When Animal House first turned the toga into suitable party attire in 1978, the landscape of the film comedy was forever altered. TOGA! The Reinvention of American Comedy, a new film series that kicked off Wednesday at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, seeks to chart the changing comedic sensibilities that have occurred in the years since the film’s release. From big budget blockbusters, to libido-fuelled sex romps, to carefully calibrated exercises in nuance and timing, the selections in the program are some of the funniest films ever made.
Tirgan, the world’s largest Iranian festival, is making its summer return to the Harbourfront Centre to bring you a weekend of arts and culture showcasing Iranian diversity. Some of the highlights include a performance by Vancouver Pars National Ballet, short films by Shirin Neshat (with a Q&A), learning to cook Iranian cuisine with Najmieh Batmanglij, and a variety of art projects happening all weekend long. Click here for the full itinerary.
This year’s edition of UNITY Festival is a little flashier than those in years past.
The annual festival is put on by UNITY Charity, which works in communities across the country to help at-risk young people channel their anger and frustration into the arts. The festival is a four-day celebration of the organization’s work. This year, UNITY participants will get to both open for and perform in front of some of their heroes, including MC Talib Kweli, who will be playing a free show at Yonge-Dundas Square on Saturday night, and beatboxing legends Rahzel and Scratch.
Seamlessness can be a yawn. This year, the Parkdale Film and Video Showcase has programmed sabotage into its lineup. Sometime during the festival weekend, artist Jon Sasaki will try to shut off each of the monitors displaying the other video installations in the showcase. Ostensibly Sasaki’s jealous retaliation over the disappointing outcome of his own piece, this act of planned troublemaking finds an appropriate home in a festival that, due to funding uncertainties, almost didn’t happen this summer.
The Beaches International Jazz Festival marks its 25th anniversary as it wraps up its 2013 edition this weekend. On tap are lots of cover bands, pan flute-led ensembles, and a sea of boomers in Hawaiian shirts walking their dogs.
Is that “Cheeseburger in Paradise” you just heard? Probably. Is that 70-year-old white gentleman in the “Canadian Tuxedo” doing a Bob Marley cover? You bet he is. One love, Toronto. Calling this event a jazz festival at this point is just illogical. The flavour is really more akin to the Taste of the Danforth, or Taste of the Kingsway,than a music festival.
So what’s the best way to enjoy this fest? Grab a seat on one of Queen Street East’s many great patios, get a bite and drink and soak up the great weather and the people watching. If you’re interested in going specifically for the music, don’t linger or wander. Head directly to see one of our top three picks, which are below.
The Big on Bloor Festival is back! This annual, CAR-FREE festival celebrates all of the culture found on Bloor Street between Dufferin and Lansdowne. Here, you’ll find over 200 vendors, music and dance performances, culture works, and much more to do with the some 70,000 other attendees. Check out some of our photos from last year’s event here.
Soulpepper Theatre collaborates on a Joe Orton play, Entertaining Mr. Sloane, with Buddies in Bad Times Theatre’s artistic producer Brendan Healey. Guest director Healey has coached some Soulpepper theatre stalwarts—Stuart Hughes, Fiona Reid, Michael Simpson, and David Beazley—for this dark comedy about a charming lodger who incites illicit passions among his other housemates.
Looking to brush up your cultural and history knowledge on all things Toronto? Heritage Toronto 2013 Tours offers you an enormous chance to learn tons and tons about the city you love via walking tours, bike tours, and more. Some of the events on the agenda of this weekly series include tours of Fort York, Korea Town, Don Valley, and Black Creek. It’s running all summer long so don’t miss out!
If you don’t have enough furry friends in your life, don’t miss out on this adopt-a-thon that’s taking place in Dufferin Grove Park. Here, you’ll be able to find dogs, cats, rabbits, and rodents up for adoption (though no monkeys unfortunately). There will also be colouring activities, face painting, and brick-oven pizza available.
CUE, a non-profit arts organization that encourages artistic expression from the city’s fringes, hosts “Margin of Eras.” The exhibit gathers over 20 different artists’ work for display in a pop-up gallery on Wednesdays to Sundays for two weeks in July. For the launch party on Friday, July 12 at 7 p.m., there’ll be a live New Orleans jazz band, and more.
Cats is a challenging musical to stage for a number of reasons. The narrative is thin and strange; the lyrics are drawn primarily from T.S. Eliot’s poetry collection Old Possum’s Book Of Practical Cats, with more borrowed from some other Eliot poems, “Rhapsody on a Windy Night” (which original director Trevor Nunn adapted into the song “Memory”) and “Moments of Happiness.” The result is not so much a story as ideas and character sketches. Old Deuteronomy, patriarch of the Jellicle Cats, calls the creatures together once a year to celebrate, and for one cat to be chosen to ascend to the Heaviside Layer (essentially, to die and be reincarnated). Most of the songs detail the adventures and virtues of a single cat in particular, essentially serving as that cat’s audition for the honour of ascension.
The world’s most ubiquitous doll gets a subversive makeover in Frantz Brent-Harris and Rose-Ann Marie Bailey’s “BLK Barbie Project,” a photo exhibit on the “representation of beauty and body image of black women.” The gallery is open Saturday and Sunday afternoons until 5 p.m. through July 21, with an opening reception at 7 p.m. on June 28, an artist’s talk at 5 p.m. on July 13, and a closing reception at 7 p.m. on July 21.
Who doesn’t love outdoor film screenings? The Christie Pits Film Festival is a chance for you to check out some free films in the park with your Toronto neighbours. The films that will be shown are Gimme Shelter (July 14), Shut Up and Play the Hits (July 20), Buena Vista Social Club (July 21), and The Last Waltz (July 28), That Thing You Do! (August 4).
The July 7 viewing of That Thing You Do! was rained out, so it’s been moved to August 4.