Movie Mondays: Have Yourself a Noir-y Almost Christmas
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Movie Mondays: Have Yourself a Noir-y Almost Christmas

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.
This week, we use the word “noir” a whole bunch of times. But we do so only in describing great movies by the likes of David Lynch and Ridley Scott. Also, a great doc about Eliot Spitzer, and some more good Canadian cinema at The Underground.

The Carlton (20 Carlton Street)

mm_carlton.jpgIn hindsight, Eliot Spitzer got a bad rap. Sure, he also got a bunch of sex from escorts, meaning that he not only cheated on his wife but proved himself the consummate hypocrite (as New York’s attorney general, he used to bust up the kind of classy prostitution rings he eventually wound up soliciting for company), but big deal. As the so-called sheriff of Wall Street, Spitzer kicked major ass and took names, holding white collar criminals accountable for their variously shady doings.
It’s this part of Spitzer’s career that make Alex Gibney’s doc Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (2010) so fascinating. The film is a bit guilty of sensationalizing all the seedier bits, and it’s not like Spitzer escapes squeaky clean, but for the most part, Client 9 makes a strong case for why we should move past the politics of scandal. The film continues its run at The Carlton until Thursday.

The Bloor (506 Bloor Street West)

mm_bloor.jpg In this month’s edition of Film School Confidential, Chris Alexander takes the stage at The Bloor Wednesday, December 8 at 9:30 p.m. to defend the merits of Lynch’s noir-ish, Wizard of Oz–influenced road movie. While it does play out at times a bit like an SNL parody of a Lynch film, there is a lot to like about Wild at Heart.
First off is Harry Dean Stanton, who’s tremendous as cuckolded private dick Johnnie Farragut. There’s also Laura Dern, who whether dressed down as Blue Velvet’s unspoiled girl-next-door or hypersexualized in stilettos and fishnets as she is here, consistently proves Lynch’s most reliable muse. And then there’s Nic Cage, whose performance as wacko romantic Sailor Ripley lands somewhere between his turns in Moonstruck and Vampire’s Kiss. As is usually the case at these screenings, Alexander will no doubt shed some light on why Wild at Heart remains one of Lynch’s most misunderstood films. After that, he can try and salvage Dune, that other widely loathed entry in Lynch’s canon, from the scrap heap.

The Lightbox (350 King Street West)

mm_lightbox.jpg It’s hard to think of a science-fiction film released in the past thirty years more influential than Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982) (please don’t say Avatar…or Inception). The seminal film took the junkyard aesthetic hinted at by the Mos Eisley cantina and Millennium Falcon in Star Wars and built it out in 2019 Los Angeles. Unlike the sleeker sci-fi trappings of 2001, Logan’s Run and even Scott’s earlier Alien, Blade Runner offered a despairingly prescient vision of an Earth assailed by corporate avarice, ubiquitous advertising, bad weather, and paranoia. Fitting then that the film play out more like a 1940s detective noir—with a browbeaten Harrison Ford playing a detective tracking down four humanoid organic robots—than space opera.
On Thursday, December 9 at 8 p.m., the Lightbox will host Doug Trumbull, one of the special effects supervisors on the film, for a two-hour seminar detailing the process of realizing Blade Runner’s gloomy dystopia. And at 10:30 p.m., following Trumbull’s presentation, the Lightbox will be screening Blade Runner. This isn’t the kind of thing you’d want to miss. (Also, stay tuned to Torontoist for our interview with Trumbull, coming up on Wednesday.)

The Underground (186 Spadina Avenue)

mm_underground.jpg Before Guy Maddin emerged as its figurehead in the late-1980s, the mantle of de facto leader of the Winnipeg Film Group fell on the head of John Paizs. His excellent 1985 feature, Crime Wave, (not to be confused, as it often was, with Sam Raimi’s Crimewave) was an oddball ode to pulp detective fiction and noir crime films, with a dash of surrealism thrown in to complete the whole Prairie Postmodern formula that filmmakers like Paizs and Maddin perfected.
Wait a sec, three nods to noir movies in one week? Could it be coincidence, or an early Christmas present for lovers of grizzled gumshoes all over town? Well, whatever the case, anyone interested in noir or Canadian cinema’s unheralded cult classics should check out Crime Wave at The Underground at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 11. Following the theatre’s “Good Canadian Cinema?” program last weekend, Crime Wave is further proof that great Canadian cinema’s a year-round affair.

Illustrations by Clayton Hanmer/Torontoist.