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.
If last week’s screening of Predator only served to wet your whistle for Arnold action, then you’re in luck—this week we have a double-shot of the Governator’s love. Also, a great indie drama, a disturbing post-Vietnam film, and Speed Racer. Yes! Speed Racer! If you’re like everyone else, you missed it when it was in theatres in 2008, so now’s your chance to finally see it. Sure, it’s getting nice outside, but that’s no excuse. You have literally no excuse to not see Speed Racer.
In last week’s In Revue roundup, we clumsily lamented not being on-the-ball enough to file a review of Mike Ott’s excellent American indie Littlerock. Well, in a case of too little, but maybe not too late, we’d like to make up for it now. The story of two Japanese siblings stranded in the titular one-horse (if that) California town, this film constructs a sense of small-town isolation that rings true with anyone whose youth was spent passing between passable keg parties, smoking pot, and trying to cobble together some sort of ham-handed “artistic” persona for yourself.
When brother and sister Rintaro (Rintaro Sawamoto) and Atsuko (co-writer Atsuko Okatsuka) fall victim to car troubles, they end up wasting some time in Littlerock. Eventually, Rintaro buzzes off while Atsuko putters about, trying to bridge linguistic chasms to forge friendships, as well as tactfully deflect the affections of the dorky Cory (Cory Zacharia). At once tender and unforgiving (especially in its depiction of Cory, Littlerock’s highly effeminate loser who sees Atsuko as his last gasp at reclaiming his professed heterosexuality), Ott’s films proves that Americans are still making real-deal indie films, not just “indie” films distributed by major studios that serve as yet another opportunity for Paul Giamatti to struggle into a pair of unflattering khakis and shove his schlubby mug around the screen. Littlerock screens Monday, April 11 at 9 p.m. at the Royal.
Vietnam, eh? The big one. The war to end all wars. The war heard round the world. And also, the war that’s most lent itself to despairing, disturbing visions of a fractured American psyche. Just think of Born on the Fourth of July. Or Platoon. Or other movies not directed by Oliver Stone. Like Jacob’s Ladder.
Starring Tim Robbins as a Vietnam vet suffering from an intense series of traumatic hallucinations, Ladder deals with the fallout of the Vietnam War (widely considered, along with the War on Drugs and, maybe, Iraq II, the only conflict America ever lost) on the national consciousness. In 1975 New York, Robbins’ Jacob Singer begins to question his actions during the war, and how an experimental drug may have radically altered him. It’s plenty disturbing, and counts as one of the better Tim Robbins performances, right up there with Short Cuts and Top Gun. So go watch Tim Robbins watch his buddies die face down in the muck, Wednesday, April 13 at 7 p.m. at the Revue.
Pop quiz, hot shot: what’s the only thing deadlier than a Terminator that has been sent back in time to kill your mom? Time’s up! Answer: a different kind of Terminator, made out of some futuristic liquid alloy, trying to kill you! And your mom!
Sometimes it’s hard to decide which Terminator film is better (answer: the first one). Or which one you like better (answer: the second one). Well this week, you won’t have to choose. Because the Bloor is screening James Cameron’s one-two cyber thriller punch of Terminator and Terminator 2, at 7 p.m. and 9.10 p.m. (respectively) on Tuesday, April 12. So you can see Linda Hamilton outfox a cyborg. And then see Linda Hamilton get all heavy-handed and covered-in-ammo as she outfoxes another kind of cyborg with the help of the first cyborg. Awesome. It’ll be like the third and fourth ones never existed.
The Underground’s screening series in which valiant local film enthusiasts assemble to defend their favourite bad movies continues this week, with 2008’s Speed Racer. Hosted by Eye Weekly critic and noted Speed Racer hater Adam Nayman, the evening will see Peter Kuplowsky (fedora-topped fixture of Toronto’s film scene) go blue in face explaining why the film, which was commonly regarded as an overly-long and overly-bright failure, is actually good.
Both disputants have their points. On the one hand, Speed Racer was a huge budgeted, hyped-up film that can be seen as serving up nothing but candy-coloured empty calories and (maybe) disingenuously making a case for the survival of mom-and-pop shops, in the guise of a $120 million studio picture. Then again, who’s to say you can’t put forward an inherently anti-corporate message in an overwhelmingly corporate product? Master’s tools, and all that. And there’s the argument that the film, even if bungled in places, is actually some overpriced piece of avant-garde spectacle passing in the guise of a kid’s movie. Much to discuss! Hear it all (and see the movie) at 7:15 p.m. on Friday, April 15.