This Week in Film: Senna, The Robber, Mary Poppins, Eco-Pirate, Batman Returns (Shadowcast), El Bulli, and Tree of Life
This week in film rounds up the most noteworthy independent screenings and cinema-related events happening in Toronto.
MONDAY AUGUST 29TH / SENNA / VARSITY CINEMA / 7:10 & 9:50PM
Winner of the Sundance World Cinema Audience Award for a documentary, Senna was last seen as part of the Hot Docs Film Festival in May and finally has a wide release in Toronto. The story of F1 racer Ayrton Senna is an interesting one for a sports doc, as Senna, personally was considerate, courteous and a highly devout Catholic as well as one of the fastest drivers of all time. The documentary tracks the 10 years of his career, from his early beginnings, to his well-documented clashes with teammate Alain Proust and his rise to one of the best in the business, winning the World Drivers' Championship three times before his death. Tickets are $12.75 and can be purchased at the theatre or online.
TUESDAY AUGUST 30TH / THE ROBBER / THE PROJECTION BOOTH / 9:30PM
The reason I'm most excited for The Robber is mostly due to its country of origin. A Hollywood film about a marathon-running-ex-con would be treated by Hollywood as a 'good man gone bad' rather than as a talented athlete simply taking advantage of his skills for criminal means, and thankfully The Robber appears to be the latter. The other absurdity about this tale is that it is true, the film is based off of the story of real life bank robber Johann Kastenberger, who became a nationally recognized athlete after his release, only to return to a rather spectacular life of crime. Think of it as The Shawshank Redemption without any redemption. Tickets are $5.99 and can be bought at the cinema.
WEDNESDAY AUGUST 31ST / MARY POPPINS / DAVID PECAUT SQUARE / 8PM
The Toronto International Film Festival is a little over a week away, but before you spend your hard earned money on our most recommended films, enjoy one on the house! The last TIFF in the Park screening this summer is none other than the musical adventure of Mary Poppins. Bring your blanket and your besties and chim-chiminy along with Mary, Bert and the Banks children as they enjoy whimsical carousel races, tea parties on the ceiling and melodies while flying kites. But I think the best part of the film is that wonderful feeling when you realize adults can be just as fun as children. Tickets? There are no tickets! Just be prepared to snag a spot early and as it's almost September, an extra sweater wouldn't hurt.
THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 1ST / ECO PIRATE: THE STORY OF PAUL WATSON / OPEN ROOF FILM FESTIVAL / 9PM
Throughout the summer, the Open Roof Film Festival has shown itself to be a force to be reckoned with. They entertained audiences with a plethora of films programmed and paired with musical guests, of the films, six were documentaries, four were Canadian, three were music related and all were awesome. Pitched as more of an outdoor festival each week, complete with music and film, this summer proved that Open Roof has legs and will hopefully be here to stay (and always with booze!) The final screening this summer is Eco Pirate, a film we've recommended before, paired up with a musical set by The Junction. Doors open at 7:30, the band starts at 8 and the film starts at 9pm. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online or at the door.
FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 2ND / BATMAN RETURNS: SHADOWCAST / TORONTO UNDERGROUND CINEMA / 9:30PMThe Toronto Underground is upping the ante this weekend with a highly anticipated shadowcast to Tim Burton's Batman Returns, a movie not quite so bad as it's sequels, but very borderline campy. A shadowcast, for the uninitiated, is a little more intensive than Rocky Horror-type screenings because shadowactors perform the entire movie as it's being played, hamming up scenes with embellishments, menace or vamping it up if appropriate. They are really an extremely fun interpretation of events and scenes that fans know and love and make an excellent addition to the film you're already interested in watching. Tickets should be $10 and will be available at the cinema.
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 3RD / EL BULLI: COOKING IN PROGRESS / TIFF BELL LIGHTBOX / 6:15PM
Sometimes, especially with documentaries, it's fun when a little bit of time and perspective is put into the viewing of a film. At the time of filming, El Bulli was one of the best restaurants in the entire world, winning the coveted Number One spot in Restaurant Magazine's Top Restaurant list in the world five times over. They put molecular gastronomic food on the map, you know, delicious foams and stuff. The interesting part of this story however is that while the film was travelling the circuit and even hosting large overstuffed screenings at Hot Docs, the restaurant was nearing it's end. As of July 30th this summer, the restaurant has closed. Now the film lives as a relic of time past, of a place during it's season in the sun, perhaps making it a more interesting artifact. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased at the cinema or online.
SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 4TH / TREE OF LIFE / TIFF BELL LIGHTBOX / 9:30PM
The movie that has bewildered, bewitched and bothered film critics and audiences alike is finally leaving the Lightbox this weekend in preparation for TIFF 2011. Terrence Malick's masterwork about an all-American family struggling with life, loss and grief while all wrapped up in the mystical ether of the universe, was one of the most challenging films released this year. While many didn't quite know what to make of it, yet enjoyed it, others loudly shook fists and declared it pompous, cold or worse, boring. I've yet to meet two people at the same mind of it and merely from the response of the masses? I think whatever Malick was trying to do, succeeded. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased at the cinema or online.
For Toronto movie showtimes, view our Movie Listings section.
Still from The Robber