Andrew Bujalski Talks Mumblecore
When young Boston director Andrew Bujalski made a perceptive, low-key comedy called Funny Ha Ha in 2002 on a shoestring budget with a 16mm camera and a group of friends who had little experience, he could have no idea of the ripple effect it would create. Filmmakers started to make movies with whatever meagre resources they had at their disposal and collaborated with each other, and the resulting wave of lo-fi cinema became known as “mumblecore.” Although mumblecore is now considered to include such mainstream successes as Lena Dunham and the Duplass brothers, Bujalski is viewed by many as having led the move to embrace financial limitations and focus on capturing authentic interactions between characters.
Bujalski will be on hand for screenings of Funny Ha Ha and his second feature, Mutual Appreciation, on February 3 and 4 respectively. The event is being presented by CINSSU and video magazine The Seventh Art, as part of an ongoing Live Directors Series that has previously brought Whit Stillman and Paul Schrader to town.
Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story
Possibly the most anticipated non-fiction book in recent years in Toronto, Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story is Toronto Star reporter Robyn Doolittle’s comprehensive detailing of her investigation into the mayor’s criminal behaviour and substance abuse problems. Doolittle, who shared Torontoist‘s Superhero of 2013 win with her co-workers, will discuss the book and her work with Kristine Stewart, CEO of Twitter Canada.
Some people believe William Shakespeare wrote plays other than those contained in the “First Folio” collection of his works. Whether you believe that or not, getting a chance to see one of these plays performed and judge for yourself is rare indeed. The Ale House Theatre Company will make a case for the historical drama Edmund Ironside, and present a staged reading featuring sixteen actors, including veterans Richard Beaune and Peter Wylde. (Wylde, who performed at the Stratford Festival in the 1950s when it was still in a tent, may very well be able to claim six degrees of separation from the Bard himself.)
Idiot’s Delight: Not Exactly Theatre for Dummies
The word “idiot” was originally used in ancient Greece to describe a person unconcerned with public affairs like politics, but dedicated to following private pursuits. The setting of Robert E. Sherwood’s 1936 romantic comedy Idiot’s Delight, a failing luxury hotel in the Italian Alps called the Hotel Monte Gabriele, initially seems to be full of idiots: newlyweds on their honeymoon, a group of burlesque singers and their manager, a blissfully genial waiter, and a couple of ornery managers sour over the lack of business. And when a spark flies between a beautiful and mysterious Russian and a smooth-talking American showbusinessman, while the other guests dance, drink, eat, and sing, there’s another piece of juicy plot that can be used to distract themselves, and the audience, from the war that’s literally raging outside the hotel windows.
TIFF 2014 Scenes: Tuesday–Thursday Nights, Featuring Good Kill, Maps to the Stars, The Imitation Game, Jauja, Laggies, and More
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).
Want more TIFF coverage? Torontoist‘s film festival hub is right over here.
TIFF Promises to Love Godard Forever
“Photography is truth,” Michel Subor’s young draft-dodger announces in Jean-Luc Godard’s Le Petit Soldat, “And cinema is truth 24 frames per second.” Though that statement is often misattributed to the French filmmaker himself rather than to his character, the sentiment seems to hold true enough for Godard. On the strength of his wide-ranging, by turns playful and socially committed, and equal parts aesthetically and politically revolutionary filmography, one might even say that Godard’s life’s work has been dedicated to elevating the cinema to the esteemed status in which philosophers hold first principles like truth.
That effort to haul the cinema out of its infancy and into a kind of artistic maturity is the subject of TIFF Cinematheque’s newest and fullest retrospective in some time, a two-season programme entitled Godard Forever, which is intended to span the length of the filmmaker’s remarkable, varied career—from the jazz-infused improvisation of Breathless to the Marxist montage of recent work like Film Socialisme. The first half of that retrospective, a fifteen-film programme dedicated to what most consider Godard’s golden age—the period from 1960′s Breathless to 1967’s apocalyptic, decade-capping Weekend—runs this season, highlighting the period in which Godard famously moulded existing genres like Hollywood gangster pictures and musicals into his own unique creations.
Life Is Good, When it’s This Cabaret
It’s 1931 in Berlin, and the Nazis are on the brink of supremacy. But there remains another side to the city—one that’s decadent, permissive, and artistic. And that’s the world we meet when we’re beckoned into the extravagant and sleazy Kit Kat Klub by eccentric Emcee and his troupe of saucy dancers, performing “Willkommen.”
Cabaret’s primary plotline begins with the arrival of American writer Cliff Bradshaw (David Light). Without a real agenda, he’s come to Berlin to work on his novel and teach English. A patron of the Kit Kat Klub, he catches the eye of the star performer Sally Bowles (Kylie McMahon). A natural stunner, Sally is a bubbly young Brit with a powerhouse voice, a dancer’s grace, and a reputation for flitting from man to man like a bumblebee in a flowerbed. It’s not long before she and Cliff fall in love—though the question of whether he’ll be able to satisfy her wild side constantly hangs over their heads. The sweetness lacking in their relationship can be found in the romantic pairing of the boarding house landlord Fraulein Schneider (Adeen Ashton Fogle) and Jewish shop owner Herr Schultz (Don Berns). As appealing as they are, though, these middle-aged lovebirds are just as susceptible to trouble and heartbreak as their younger counterparts.
Time once again for the City of Toronto’s annual cold-weather enticement to get people out to fine dining establishments, the Winterlicious Festival. Over 200 restaurants have signed up to offer lunch and dinner prix-fixe menus over the official two-week period (many of them continue the pricing for longer), and the City’s also arranged for a number of different culinary events as well. For a full listing of the restaurants participating, visit the City’s website.
From Geisha to Diva: The Kimonos of Ichimaru
Ichimaru—once one of Japan’s most famous geishas—left the profession in the 1930s to pursue a career in entertainment. Never really leaving her past life, she became known for adorning herself in the traditional geisha garb when performing in concert or on television. “From Geisha to Diva: The Kimonos of Ichimaru” exhibits several decades’ worth of outfits and personal effects, shedding light on the woman behind the makeup.
Defining Greatness: Director Steven Spielberg
Film critic Shlomo Schwartzberg is spending his Mondays for the next several months on a lecture series about the career of one of America’s greatest commercial filmmakers. Defining Greatness: Director Steven Spielberg launched on January 20 with a examination (and clips) of some of Spielberg’s greatest hits (E.T. the Extraterrestrial, Lincoln). On January 27, the series looks at early films like Duel and Jaws, before moving weekly through the rest of Spielberg’s body of work. There’s a flat fee of $90 for the whole series, or drop-in prices for single lectures.