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.
Guess what, gang? The 2010 Toronto International Film Festival is just around the corner. There’s already some promising films lined up, and we have our fingers crossed for a few more (we’re looking at you, Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life and the Coens’ True Grit remake). In the meantime though, it’s still business as usual at Toronto’s cinemas. This week also marks pretty much your last chance to see a movie at the TIFF Cinematheque at the AGO before the fest rolls in, and before they pull up stakes and decamp to the Lightbox. So if you have any reverence for Toronto’s First Church of Film As Art, this week is a good time to head over to Jackman Hall and see something.
The Bloor (506 Bloor Street West)Though there’s a whole mess of good stuff going on at The Bloor this week, including a choice screening of Charles Laughton’s The Night of the Hunter, the pick of the litter is Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru at 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday and at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. Though probably best known for his feudal-era period pieces and hard-boiled noir films, there is a more general thread that connects much of Kurosawa’s work: the distinction of the individual in society. In a Japan that favoured conformity and complacency, Kurosawa rooted for the spirit of those willing to go against the grain. While it’s easy to recognize this in the lone swordsman played by Kurosawa favourite Toshirō Mifune in Yojimbo and Sanjiuro, it is most elegantly articulated in 1952’s Ikiru (To Live).
Starring Takashi Shimura, another frequent Kurosawa collaborator, as a listless bureaucrat who tries to do something meaningful with his otherwise unremarkable life after being diagnosed with stomach cancer, Ikiru is a moving portrait of a man making peace with himself in the twilight of his life. In a lot of ways, Ikiru is kind of like that Queen Latifah movie Last Holiday. The main difference (apart from setting, characters, tone, and the one being Japanese) is that Ikiru isn’t all stupid bombast and feel-good bullshit.
TIFF Cinematheque (317 Dundas Street West)Javier Bardem may still be best recognized for his Oscar-winning role as Anton Chigurh, the bowl-haircutted killer in the Coens’ No Country For Old Men, but he was just as impressive as Cuban poet, novelist, and rebel Reinaldo Arenas in Julian Schnabel’s biopic Before Night Falls. An early supporter of the Cuban Revolution who eventually turned against Castro’s regime (it likely didn’t help that Arenas was wrongly convicted for sexually assaulting minors and spent much of the 1970s in and out of jail). As Arenas, Bardem is excellent, and the role marked the Spanish actor’s international breakthrough. Catch Before Night Falls at the TIFF Cinematheque Thursday at 9:30 p.m., with Schnabel in attendance.
The Underground (186 Spadina Avenue)Almost forty years before Christopher Nolan made Batman gritty, dark, and growly, a little filmmaker named Les Martinson (elsewhere known for directing choice episodes of ChiPs, Fantasy Island, and Small Wonder) did something even pluckier. In Batman: The Movie (1966), Martinson brought the legendary costumed DC comics detective to the movies in the campiest, goofiest, BIF-BAM-POW-iest way possible. A spin-off from ABC’s boffo, literally batty TV series, Batman’s first journey to the big screen had the not-so-Dark Knight (Adam West) and spirited sidekick Robin (Burt Ward) trading matching wits and colourful blows with pirates, an exploding shark, and Gotham City’s most notorious villains.
The Underground is not only screening Martinson’s Batman Friday at 8 p.m., but hosting a post-screening Q&A with billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne himself, Adam West. Now’s your chance to ask such pointed questions as “how come Batman doesn’t dance anymore?” or grill him on exactly how spray-on shark repellent works. Tickets for the event are on sale now, so you should probably snag yours sooner rather than later. West, along with Burt Ward and original Catwoman Julie Newmar, will be in town next weekend for the annual Fan Expo Canada convention, which incidentally, Torontoist will be covering.
The Royal (608 College Street West)Also on Friday, The Royal is hosting the premiere of No Heart Feelings, a collaborative project by local filmmakers Sarah Lazarovic, Geoff Morrison, and Ryan J. Noth. Described as a “post-post coming of age story,” No Heart Feelings sketches the lives of several late-twenty-something Torontonians and their collected anxieties regarding their careers, love lives, and all that other quarter-life crisis junk. Largely improvised, it mixes elements of films by Cassavetes, Altman, and the Duplass brothers into a piece that reflects poignantly and honestly on Toronto’s young adults. (In this regard, it’s kind of a more restrained, neo-realistic Scott Pilgrim.) It also has music by now-defunct Toronto garage rockers The Deadly Snakes, which is reason enough to see any movie. A limited engagement of No Heart Feelings kicks off at The Royal at 9 p.m. on Friday night.
Photos by Eugen Sakhnenko/Torontoist.