Movie Mondays: Orchids, Magic, and—Of Course—Satan
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Movie Mondays: Orchids, Magic, and—Of Course—Satan

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.
Wake up, cine-folk, time to die! It’s another whole new week of moviegoing in town, and all your local cinemas are making you offers you can choose whether or not you’d like to refuse. Hold onto your butts, because we’ve got a new series at the Lightbox, some Satanic cinema, a bit of animated magic, and some wing-nut conspiratorial cinematic cajoling. You’re going to need a bigger boat, to fit all these movies in! With the blast shield down, you can’t even see these films! So take your best shot. Your move, creeps. Are you feeling lucky? Frankly, my dears, we don’t give a damn. Just see something. And we’ll stop acting all eager to please.

The Lightbox (350 King Street West)

mm_lightbox.jpg TIFF Bell Lightbox kicks off its Books on Film Club (which connects cinematic adaptations with their literary sources, and sounds a lot like the Revue’s Book Revue program, but whatever) on Monday, February 7 at 7 p.m.—with, appropriately, Spike Jonze’s excellent Adaptation. Based on Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief, Adaptation details the bout of writer’s block that screenwriter Charlie Kaufman suffered while trying to adapt that non-fiction book. Starring the frequently excellent, almost-always-entertaining Nicolas Cage in the dual roles of Charlie Kaufman and his made-up brother Donald, Adaptation collapses the boundaries between cinema, literary non-fiction, and something resembling reality.
The series is presented in association with Random House Canada and hosted by the CBC’s Eleanor Wachtel, and we’d be remiss in not telling you that tickets to the Books on Film Club can only be purchased in blocks for all six screenings. That’ll set you back $180 ($144 for students and seniors). But what do you expect? The Lightbox can’t give away all this culture for free! And it’s not like you could just rent Adaptation and take out The Orchid Thief at the library and talk to your friends about it. And it’s not like you’re friends with Eleanor Wachtel. Unless you are. In which case, we’ll see you at the Lightbox.

The Underground (186 Spadina Avenue)

mm_underground.jpg When Lars von Trier’s Antichrist screened at TIFF in 2009, it was so intense that apparently at one screening a guy in the audience had some kind of episode and fell out of his seat. (Apparently festival audiences unaccustomed to the one-upmanship of torture porn and New French Extremity horror films find scenes of Charlotte Gainsborough pulverizing Willem Dafoe’s testicles super shocking or something.) In the intervening years, it seems as if the film’s badass rep has mellowed some, its unsettling domestic weirdness bested by the likes of Dogtooth and its icky hyper-violence one-upped by whichever Saw movie we’re up to.
But regardless, Antichrist is well deserving of a spot in the Underground’s Satanic Sinema. For those who haven’t been subjected to it, the film trails Gainsborough and Dafoe as they trek into a secluded forest (called Eden, of course) following the death of their son. There they get wise to all kinds of universal truths: like that women are the root of all evil, nature is Satan’s playground, and chaos, like it or lump it, reigns. They also learn that it hurts a lot to snip off your clitoris with a rusty pair of scissors. Kick-start your Valentine’s Day with the best date movie of the past decade, at 9:30 p.m. this Thursday, February 10.

The Fox (2236 Queen Street East)

mm_fox.jpg Probably the finest animated film of 2010 that wasn’t about dragon-taming or the existential crises of a bunch of toys, Sylvain Chomet’s The Illusionist is a quietly moving study of aging, youth, and, of course, magic. We went gaga for it when it screened at TIFF last year, and its impressions have grown in our hearts and minds ever since.
Based on an abandoned script by French mime/filmmaker Jacques Tati, The Illusionist renders the story of an aging, increasingly redundant stage magician with exquisitely rich colours and textures. Besides being lovely (and deeply sad), Chomet’s film just looks splendid. It’s also old school 2D animation, which in the epoch of Pixar and Dreamworks makes it seem like much rarer a treat. Get enchanted at 7 p.m. on Friday, February 11 at the Fox.

The Bloor (506 Bloor Street West)

mm_bloor.jpg If there’s one film that captures the wackiness of our current zeitgeist in all its wacky zeitgeistiness, it’s Peter Joseph’s Zeitgeist: The Movie. Originally released online in 2007, the movie wrapped up all kinds of wonky conspiracy theories—from the idea that Jesus of Nazareth was a myth, to 9/11 conspiracy theories, to an exploration of the cabal of international bankers who have been pulling all the strings of global affairs in the twentieth century. As if the first film didn’t give you enough to chew on, Joseph expanded the project with Zeitgeist: Addendum in 2008 and now Zeitgeist: Moving Forward.
Casting its net typically wide, the latest film tackles all kinds of stuff: criticisms of private property, the nature vs. nurture debate, and peak oil disputes. The Zeitgeist films may be silly, paranoid, poorly researched, plagued by inaccuracy, etc., but they’re also kind of exceptional. For a start, they’ve all been independently released, and have managed to reach fairly broad audiences, mostly via word of mouth. What’s more, Joseph’s films express the swells of confusion and conspiracy swirling around current affairs in an age where access to information (and opinion) makes organizing raw data a heady, frustrating process. Joseph could probably find enough experts to connect the decline in Spirograph sales to the increase in gang violence if he wanted. But that’ll have to wait until Zeitgeist’s fourth instalment. In the meantime, get your lunatic fringe fix Friday, February 11 at 9:15 p.m. at the Bloor. Bring your own tinfoil hat.

Illustrations by Clayton Hanmer/Torontoist.