Movie Mondays: Oscar's in Town
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Movie Mondays: Oscar’s in Town

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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Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal in Crazy Heart. Photo by Lorey Sebastian.

As film fans patiently wait for Hot Docs to kick into high gear next week—shameless plug: make sure to stay tuned to Torontoist for comprehensive coverage of the fest’s hottest docs—this week offers a handful of worthwhile screenings, including a few last chances to see some of this year’s worthier Academy Award winners on the big screen.

The Royal (608 College Street West)

Though some people wrote of Crazy Heart as 2009’s answer to The Wrestler (a bit silly, considering that The Wrestler was just 2008’s answer to Leaving Las Vegas), Scott Cooper’s debut feature manages to tug at the old heartstrings with considerable finesse. Granted, all the booze, failed marriages, and cheap motels may make the melancholic tale of country singer Otis “Bad” Blake (Jeff Bridges, whose performance netted him the Best Actor Oscar) seem a lot like a country-western song. But that’s probably the whole point. Ryan Bingham and T-Bone Burnett’s music (which scored them the Best Original Song Oscar for “The Weary Kind”) outshines even Bridges’ career-defining performance. Check it out at The Royal Monday and Tuesday. Because singing along with an audience is more fun than watching the DVD at home.

The Fox (2236 Queen Street East)

Speaking of Oscars, the historic Fox Theatre in the Beaches offers a chance to check out the Avatar-slaying The Hurt Locker on the big screen Wednesday and Thursday. Unanimously well received, and well worthy of Best Picture and Best Director trophies, Kathryn Bigelow’s excellent sketch of masculinity under duress is further strengthened by a first-rate performance by star Jeremy Renner, who you may have forgotten entirely from Canadian director Kelly Makin’s entirely forgettable National Lampoon’s Senior Trip.

The Revue (400 Roncesvalles Avenue)

If you’ve ever dabbled in devil-stix or nodded your head to a half-hour Phish jam, then you likely know that this Tuesday is 4/20: cannabis culture’s Fourth of July. To commemorate the pothead holiday, Conspiracy Culture, the fringe bookstore on Queen Street West, is hosting a night of back-to-back weed-themed docs at the Revue. At 7 p.m. is a screening of Kevin Booth’s 2006 doc, American Drug War: The Last White Hope, which wildly connects everything from the Drug War to the Iran-Contra scandal to the incarceration of Tommy Chong. Following that is Booth’s latest film, How Weed Won the West, a more focused study of California’s emergent medical marijuana industry. Seems like interesting stuff and a tad more engaging than the tired 4/20 ritual of getting really high and watching Half Baked, The Big Lebowski, or some other cult classic stoner film.

The Bloor (506 Bloor Street West)

For the most part, The Bloor is booked solid this week with the Toronto Jewish Film Festival. But regular rep programming returns near the end of the week, including the monthly midnight screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (speaking of tired rituals). Chief amongst this week’s offerings are the screenings of Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet (Un prophète), which commence this Friday at 8:45 p.m. and continue into next week. Working just as well as a crime flick as it does as a piece of gripping social realism, A Prophet may eschew many of the more explosive gangster movie shenanigans (Audiard has called it an “anti-Scarface”), but it remains no less entertaining in its portrait of a young French-Albanian man (Tahar Rahim, in a breakout performance) who becomes mixed up in the Corsican mafia after going to prison for assaulting a police officer. Part Oz, part The Godfather, A Prophet is assured filmmaking well-deserving of the Grand Prix honours it received at Cannes last year.

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