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.
The thirty-fifth annual Toronto International Film Festival rolls its red carpets into town next Thursday. For film lovers, it’s the highlight of the year, and a strong case for living in Toronto in the first place. There’s plenty of exciting stuff at TIFF this year, and Torontoist will be on top of it all. But for now, it’s still business as usual at Toronto’s movie houses, including some free NFB action, a stomach-churning horror flick, and the double-bill to squash all double-bills.
The Underground (186 Spadina Avenue)When the trailer for Tom Six’s The Human Centipede oozed onto the internet last year, its intimations of ass-to-mouth nastiness caused a minor viral sensation. For those (blissfully, perhaps) unaware, The Human Centipede is a horror film about a psychotic German surgeon who dreams of stitching live human subjects together via their digestive tracts. When three wayward tourists show up at his door, he’s provided with the opportunity to suture together his mutant triptych. The doctor proceeds to train his creature as if it were a dog, beating it when it doesn’t obey, and watches gleefully as victims swallow, re-digest, and re-swallow each other’s feces. Gross, right? Yeah, it is. But it’s also one of those weird, perverse things you really want to see. It’s sort of like gawking at a highway car crash. Well sickos, The Underground continues its limited engagement of The Human Centipede this week, where the film screens at 9:30 p.m. nightly until Friday. So go and see it, and then race home and take six showers, you disturbed perverts. See you there.
The Bloor (506 Bloor Street West)If you were to make a list of the best American films of the 1980s and Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop wasn’t on the top of that list, then that list would be a lie. (Okay, Blue Velvet is a worthy contender, too.) Besides being one of the best sci-fi action movies ever made, Verhoeven’s first English-language film addresses, however tacitly, everything from Reagan-era private sector boosterism to media saturation and the relationship between mind and body. It was a “smart” goofy action movie, well before films like The Dark Knight got all self-serious about their inherent goofiness, evacuating a lot of the fun in the process. (Its vision of a near-future Detroit as apocalyptic wasteland also wound up being cannily prescient.)
After further cementing his Hollywood cachet with Total Recall (1990) and Basic Instinct (1992), and then all but squandering it with Showgirls (1995), Verhoeven returned to high concept sci-fi satire in 1997 with Starship Troopers. Adapting Robert A. Heinlein’s proto-fascist pulp novel as a sly parody of militarism and state propaganda mechanisms, Starship Troopers pits a futuristic human arm (led by Casper Van Dien’s Johnny Rico) against an intergalactic insectoid army. Like RoboCop, Troopers is as clever as it is entertaining, with plenty of spilled blood and other icky splatter to boot. As a gift to everyone who loves awesome things, The Bloor is hosting a double-bill of Robocop and Starship Troopers, starting at 7 p.m. on Monday. Unless you hate robots, exploding insect aliens, and fun, you should probably go.
NFB Mediatheque (150 John Street)Ever since An Inconvenient Truth guilted everyone into not leaving their lights on when they leave the house or running their taps constantly, enviro-docs have proven to have not only a dedicated audience, but some serious box office potential. As the concerns become lost in a wash of big-budget sensationalism and global apocalyptic prophesy, it’s nice to see a film that examines environmental concerns at a micro level. Such is the case with Glynis Whiting’s Worst Case Scenario, which looks at the tension between a small community in Clearwater, Alberta opposed to Shell Canada’s proposed sour gas well. In focusing on local, specific, ground-level concerns, Whiting’s doc draws attention to a particular problem in Canada, while also suggesting the myriad of similar situations that exist across the globe. Worst Case Scenario plays at the NFB Mediatheque at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, as part of their Green Screens series.
The Revue (400 Roncesvalles Avenue)“Who is Salt?” It’s one of those great riddles: like the sound of one hand clapping or a tree falling in the forest with nobody around to hear it. It’s the question that hung over summer 2010, and the one that may well come to define a generation. Because really, who is Salt? Can anyone really know Salt? And isn’t it in Salt’s innately fluid nature to skirt definition? To change as soon as we come close to understanding who exactly Salt is? Yes. But what we do know about Salt is this: she’s some sort of super-spy who may or may not be a KGB agent and goes to explosive lengths to avoid capture. We also know that Salt is played by Angelina Jolie and is the star of a movie, also incidentally called Salt. We also know that Salt (the movie) is set for a limited second-run engagement at The Revue on Roncesvalles, starting at 7 p.m. on Friday. But we don’t know much more than that. If you really want to know who Salt is, you’ll have to see it for yourself.
Photos by Eugen Sakhnenko/Torontoist.