Movie Mondays: If You Like Movies, We’re Your Man
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! It’s Monday! And if you work a nine to five and you’re reading this in your pyjamas, you’re probably late for work. So get dressed, rush to work, then come back and read about which movies are playing this week. Here’s a sneak peek just to wet your whistle: we’ve got a bit of film noir, some classic Altman, a li’l Blaxploitation, and for your weekly dose of Can-Con, Mr. Leonard Cohen.
A while back, we told you all about Toronto film critic Kevin Courrier’s
This week, Kevin gets to the bottom of one of film noir’s most enduring mysteries—the femme fatale. An enduringly popular archetype dating all the way back to Jezebel and Eve, the femme fatale uses her womanly wiles to manipulate the dopey guys around her into doing what she wants. In film noir, the femme fatale typically works to kick off the plot: strolling into some hard-boiled private eye’s office and luring him into some shadowy web of extortion, murder, and usually some light making-out. But we’ll leave the full debrief to Mr. Courrier, who will be using clips from The Maltese Falcon, Gun Crazy, and Out of the Past to illustrate just how deadly these deadly women can be. Will he touch on cinema’s most seductive femme, Jessica Rabbit? You’ll have to show up to find out.
Here at Torontoist, we try to avoid using the editorialized “I” whenever possible. But being anecdotal kind of demands it, so I’m going to bend the rules a bit, is what I’m going to do. One time I took a class on American Cinema in the 1970s, and the guy teaching it usually gave solid introductions to the screenings, providing the necessary background, context, insight, et cetera. But when it came time to screen Robert Altman’s 1975 black comedy/musical Nashville, he simply prepped the class by saying, “If this film doesn’t appeal to your sensibility, you should have serious misgivings about your sensibility.” Now that’s the kind of excellent comment you mentally file away to be used later in your own life, just once, and to be dispensed at exactly the right moment, like if you ever host a screening of Phantom of the Paradise or Total Recall.
But anyways, yes. Nashville. One of the finest American motion pictures ever made. Some people may try to tell you that the film is awfully mean-spirited or something other than pointedly satirical, but those people are wrong. Altman crafts a layered probing of the American heartland, dovetailing country music with populist politics (and before Bob Roberts). Formally, the film stands out of as probably the finest exemplar of what people talk about when they talk about Robert Altman’s style. There’s an expansive cast (including Ned Beatty, Jeff Goldblum, Karen Black, Shelley Duvall, Keith Carradine, and dozens more), and a multifarious narrative tracking the movement of these characters in a shared space (Nashville, TN, natch) over the course of five days. And there’s plenty of overlapping, naturalistic dialogue that diffuses anything like a centralized plot, letting character, story, and environment emerge organically. There’s also some dandy musical numbers, and one of the more memorable climaxes in the history of the cinema. So what are you waiting for? Go see Nashville, Tuesday, March 22 at 9:10 p.m. at the Bloor. And remember: if you don’t like it, you’re wrong.
It’s a bit disappointing that Detroit 9000 doesn’t take place in the year 9000, when the city of Detroit will likely just be one enormous forty-block skyscraper shaped like a garbage pail. Otherwise, though, Detroit 9000 doesn’t disappoint.
In this 1973 blaxploitation kind-of classic, Alex Rocco (who you may remember as Moe Greene in the popular American motion picture The Godfather) plays a Detroit cop partnered up with a young up-and-comer (Jesse Williams) in order to find $400,000 that was stolen from a fundraiser for a prominent black politician (Rudy Challenger, of Sheba, Baby fame). Like any worthwhile blaxploitation film, Detroit 9000 is packed to the oversized afro with slick suits, frantic foot chases, and plenty of pimps in wide-brimmed fedoras. And it’s a perfect fit for the Underground’s ongoing Exploitation Alley series. Check it out at 9:30 p.m. on Friday, March 25, you “jive” “turkeys.”
In 1988, Leonard Cohen’s I’m Your Man album introduced the venerable Canadian singer/songwriter/poet/novelist/best-dude-ever to a whole new audience thirsting for catchy synthpop and songs about constabularies patrolling the performance of jazz music. Then, in 2006, Lian Lunson’s musical documentary Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man hipped an even newer generation to Cohen’s music, genius, and musical genius.
Nowadays, it’s hard to get kids into good music. Solution? Get Rufus Wainwright to cover it! In fact, let’s get Rufus Wainwright to cover every song ever! That’s basically what happens in this Leonard Cohen doc, which brings in a bunch of contemporary musicians (U2, Antony, a couple of Wainwrights) to help make Cohen’s music more palatable. But between all the musical tributes, there are plenty of great interviews—with Cohen, and with the scads of musicians who have been influenced by his endlessly moving husky dirges. Plus, you get to see Nick Cave cover “I’m Your Man,” which is fantastic. And in their cinematic tribute to the Junos, the Lightbox is screening this delightful Leonard Cohen tribute doc at 9:45 p.m. on Saturday, March 26.