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.
Plenty of international flavour in town this week. We’ve got some Greek, French, and African films, as well as the funky sounds of some Texas high schoolers. You can’t lose!
If you read our sister column, In Revue—and if you don’t, then what’s your problem anyways?—you’ve probably noticed our enthusiasm in the past few weeks for some new features out of Greece. There’s Yorgos Lanthimos’s feverish family drama, Dogtooth, and Athina Rachel Tsangari’s twenty-something sex-rom curio, ATTENBERG. If you’ve yet to see them, this week marks your best (and maybe last) chance.
Until Thursday, The Royal is cueing up all this Hellenic booty for a bunch of double screenings, so check out Dogtooth and ATTENBERG while the checking out’s good. That way, when Dogtooth gets gypped out of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, you can act like you were personally cheated.
Eye Weekly’s Adam Nayman sets up shop at the Miles Nadal JCC again this week, for another instalment of Toronto’s pun-iest screening series (with apologies to The Revue Cinema’s Book Revue program). This time around, New Wave Foreign Cinema Lectures IN NAYMAN’S TERMS (cue rimshot) looks at recent trends in French-language cinema.
Monday, January 31 at 7 p.m., Nayman will look at the diverse movements in French-language filmmaking over the past fifteen-or-so years, focusing on French filmmakers such as Claire Denis, Bruno Dumont, Olivier Assayas, and Belgium’s Dardenne brothers. With clips from Twentynine Palms, Irma Vep, Demonlover, Beau travail, The Son, and more, Nayman will speak to how French-language cinema is developing, be it through the penetrating social realism of the Dardennes or the provocative violence and sexuality of Dumont.
A hit at Hot Docs 2010, Mark Landsman’s Thunder Soul is an incredibly lively and moving look at the Kashmere Stage Band, an elite high school band formed in Houston in the late ‘60s. Under the tutelage of the school’s music teacher, Conrad O. Johnson, the members of the Kashmere Stage Band developed a reputation for being unbeatable, consistently taking home awards at high school music competitions. For decades, recordings of their music were highly sought-after by funk and soul crate-diggers, until re-releases began to emerge in 2003, garnering further attention for the band of insanely tight teenage musicians.
Thunder Soul interviews members of the KSB on the eve of a reunion concert held in 2008. The topic may seem a bit narrow for anyone uninterested in the music, but Landsman’s film is more than just an especially esoteric episode of Behind the Music. Thunder Soul surveys the singular dedication of Johnson (known as “Prof”), and the role that high school bands like these played in bringing together black youths in 1960s America. The film screens Wednesday, February 2 at 6:30 and 9:15 p.m. at The Bloor, as part of Doc Soup. Get funky, you all!
In time for Black History Month, TIFF Bell Lightbox is presenting a retrospective series featuring the films of Ousmane Sembène, the so-called “father of African cinema.” Though he initially worked as a novelist, Sembène turned to cinema around age forty. Worried that his novels only reached a cadre of literate cultural elites, Sembène began making films in hopes of reaching a wider audience.
After making a few shorts in the early 1960s, Sembène released his first feature, La Noire de… (The Black Girl of… or, more commonly, Black Girl in English), in 1966. Based on one his own short stories, Sembène’s feature-length debut follows the travails of a young Senegalese woman (Mbissine Thérèse Diop) hired to work for a well-to-do French couple. Though brought on as a nanny, her work drifts towards indentured servitude as time passes. Apart from its historical significance as arguably the first major release from a sub-Saharan African filmmaker, La Noire de… is an aesthetically and thematically rich—and deeply disturbing—study of racial torment. See it at the Lightbox at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 5.