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.
Lots of fun stuff this week, you ravenous film rats. The controversial directors lecture series at the JCC continues with a class on Toronto’s own David Cronenberg, Skeletor and Carl Weathers make appearances on local screens, and Marlon Brando gets the piss pounded out of him. As ever, we’ve compiled the best of the best, strategically excluding any art films or movies that encourage novel intellectual or emotional engagement.
Adam Nayman is back this week, with the latest instalment in his lecture series looking at controversial filmmakers. Having worked through Paul Verhoeven and Roman Polanski, Nayman now turns his critical eye to David Cronenberg, this Monday, April 4 at 7 p.m. at the JCC.
There’s so much in Cronenberg’s canon that makes him controversial—mutant vaginas, insect splatter, sexually aggressive typewriters, flesh portals, car sex, the whole ball of wax. But, we’re told, he’s something other than a shlock artist or Troma Video hack. He’s a genius. Right? Because his films aren’t just crass, they’re edgy. They invite ideas, encouraging higher-level considerations about the barriers of the physical world, the nature of media and violence, and video game stuff. It’s easy to be snarky about ol’ D.C., you know, because he’s making a movie about Carl Jung and directing the kid from Twilight in an adaptation of a DeLillo novella. But you know he’s great. And interesting. And The Fly is up there, in terms of Best Movies Ever. So why not get a little schooling on the guy who made you think sex was weird and scary and shameful and wrong when you caught snatches of Crash on Showcase when you were eleven?
It’s hard to believe, but there was a time where Robert Redford was a virtual unknown. Like, when Robert Redford’s mom birthed him, she really had no idea that he’d be the guy who directed The Legend of Bagger Vance. Hard to believe, right?
In 1966, when Redford joined a star-studded cast including Marlon Brando, Jane Fonda, Angie Dickinson, and Paul Williams, as a prison escapee in Arthur Penn’s The Chase, he was just a guy. But it would prove his breakout role, as well as one of Penn’s most enduringly fascinating films. The Chase is one of those great pictures that paints a portrait of the American South with manic brushstrokes. Anticipating films like In the Heat of the Night, The Chase showed a South confused by racism, violence, and fear. It’s not some great piece of regional filmmaking, but it is one of those films that gives a great sense of how outsiders viewed the South. Check it out at the Lightbox, at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, April 6.
Some people try to act like Michael Bay’s Transformers movies are some unheralded low point of American filmmaking because they’re based on toys. But it’s not like Michael Bay invented that. Hell, Mattel turned their He-Man toys into a whole multi-platform property, including toys, t-shirts, a TV series, and the 1987 Masters of the Universe movie, directed by Gary Goddard (not to be confused with Jean-Luc Godard, who spells and pronounces his name differently).
Starring Dolph Lundgren as He-Man and Frank Langella as Skeletor, Masters of the Universe parachute drops its moronic cast of characters (Man-At-Arms, Saurod, Gwildor, et al.) into planet Earth. Like Beastmaster II, it’s one of those hilarious films that thinks you can make sword-and-sandal stupidity relevant by the transposing it into a “real world” context. And the results, as you might imagine, are pretty freaking funny. So make sure to see it at 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 7 at the Underground. You’ll be screaming about the “cosmic key” for weeks.
Speaking of action movies from the ‘80s that are silly, Predator isn’t silly at all. Do you find anything silly about an eight-foot game hunter that has tendril dreadlocks and is from another planet tracking and killing Jesse Ventura, Carl Weathers, and Arnold Schwarzenegger? Didn’t think so.
But seriously. Predator is no Predator 2, but it’s still awesome. Directed by John “Die Hard” McTiernan, Predator takes the guiding logic of ‘80s slasher movies—super-killer stalking and chopping sex-crazed teens and other feeble victims—and flips it on its head, pitting a diabolical alien against a team of moulded muscle. It also boasts an excellent score by Alan Silvestri, and a mess of awesome one-liners, like “What’s the matter, the CIA got you pushing too many pencils?” And if you don’t get why that’s a great one-liner, it’s because you haven’t seen the movie. So see it, Friday April 8 at 7 p.m., or a Predator will hunt you down and almost certainly kill you.