Each week, Now in Rep Cinema compiles the best repertory and art house screenings, special presentations, lectures, and limited engagements.
Monday August 15, 7 p.m.
|A Gun to the Head
Tuesday August 16, 7 p.m. p.m.
Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre
Thursday August 18, 7 p.m.
TIFF Bell Lightbox
Friday August 19, 9 p.m.
A Gun to the Head
So we were kind of asleep at the wheel when we didn’t review A Gun to the Head, the debut film by Blaine Thurier of New Pornographers fame (if you consider the New Pornographers famous). Anyways, our bad. But we’re going to make up for it, damn it! Right… now.
We all have those nights that get away from us. When what’s supposed to be a few beers turns into dialling a bottle and taking your roommate’s Ritalin and accidentally smashing a bathroom mirror and not getting to sleep until ever. A Gun to the Head is about just those kinds of nights. (It’s also been a, if you will, “long night” of sorts for the film itself, which premiered at TIFF in 2009 and is just now making its proper Toronto debut at a tiny, new theatre, way in the east end.)
Thurier’s film starts Tygh Runyan as Trevor, a freshly married thirty-something whose wife (Marnie Robinson), however well-meaning, keeps him on a pretty short leash. Dulled by an especially dreadful Japanese-themed dinner party with his wife, her boss, and the young thing dangling off of the boss’s arm, Trevor sneaks out to run an errand and ends up driving around Vancouver with his cousin and former good-time buddy Darren (Paul Anthony). Darren convinces Trevor to come on another errand, which ends in key bumps of coke and a journey down the rabbit hole of irresponsibility (and criminality).
On a budget of like zero dollars, Thurier pulls together a fleet, fun caper movie, populated by a slew of memorable characters (Hrothgar Mathews as a kind, psychotic crime boss proves particularly hard to shake). There’s a vitality to Thurier’s film that’s hard to find in contemporary cinema, especially given that films like this fall through the cracks entirely, never getting the bloated promotional budgets of flops like Score. Smart, funny, and thrilling, A Gun to the Head is already a hidden gem, screening at a theatre that, while still new, seems to be catering in hidden gems.
Also Unspooling…Red State
Kevin Smith is back in Toronto, stopping over to screen his new independently distributed film, Red State. A send up of American religious fundamentalism (finally, right?), Smith has been touring the movie around all by his lonesome, annoyed by the typical Hollywood best practices of releasing his films, and doubly annoyed by the critics who have lambasted his last few movies (all shitty). Red State, though, seems a bit more mature than, say, Clerks II or Cop Out, and it starts John Goodman and Melissa Leo, so it’d have to try really hard to be bad.
You’d be hard pressed to name a filmmaker whose canon is more eclectic than Takashi Miike’s. From the hyper-violent to the kid-friendly, he’s done it all. So in some ways, a samurai period drama seems a bit tame. But 13 Assassins is far from tame. Heck, it’s known for a nearly hour long action climax. When it premiered at TIFF last year, Torontoist‘s Ryan West said, “The expertly crafted climactic clash—forty-five minutes long—will keep an audience on the edge of their seats the entire way through.”
As part of their ongoing Norman Jewison retrospective, Friday night sees the Lightbox screening one of the filmmaker’s odder features, and his one foray into sci-fi, Rollerball. Set in a corporate controlled future where roller skating is super extreme, Rollerball laid the thrills of the Roman coliseum over a cold futuristic dystopia. Also: James Caan in roller skates! Remember when they remade it in 2002 with LL Cool J and Chris Klein? No? That’s okay. Nobody really remembers that. Not even Chris Klein.