This Week in Film: Chungking Express, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, The High Cost of Living, Cowboy Bebop, Beauty Day, Highway Gospel, and Strike
This week in film rounds up the most noteworthy independent screenings and cinema-related events happening in Toronto.
MONDAY APRIL 25TH / CHUNGKING EXPRESS / TIFF BELL LIGHTBOX / 7PM & 9:20PM
Chungking Express is really a tale of two romances, one short and fleeting, the other a long burn. The first half oscillates between a desperate drug smuggler and mopey rookie cop whose chance encounters are couched within a whirling dervish of shaky camera and quick cuts as they meet and quickly part ways. But the latter half halts as we follow a young counter girl as she develops a slow-burning obsession with another mopey beat cop. This half is full of long shots, missed moments and the Mama's and the Papa's. Despite their distinct differences, acute loneliness pervades each half of the story and is just one of the reasons why this film is a masterpiece. Tickets are $12 and can be bought online or at the cinema.
TUESDAY APRIL 26TH / THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY / THE REVUE / 6:45PM
Part of the highly popular 'Book Revue' series with Geoff Pevere, this month's focus is on Julian Schnabel's adaptation of the autobiography of French journalist Jean-Dominique Bauby, who at the age of 43 suffered a stroke so severe he was limited to the use of just one eyelid for communication. With only his eyelid, it took Bauby ten months to finish his book blinking each time a letter was correctly used, 2 minutes per word. Subsequently Schnabel used a variety of low-budget tricks to immerse the viewers into Bauby's life, giving them a locked-in position to experience how Bauby viewed the world. The film will be followed by a lead discussion about the adaptation of the work. Tickets are $12 and can be bought at the cinema
WEDNESDAY APRIL 27TH / THE HIGH COST OF LIVING / CUMBERLAND CINEMA / 4:45PM, 7:15PM, 9:50PM
While The High Cost of Living was previously mentioned in January as part of the Canada's Top Ten programme, the film has finally come into a full release at the Cumberland Cinemas. The High Cost of the Living is a dark melodrama following a woman whose lost her unborn child in an accident, who strikes up a bizarre relationship with the man who put her there, without knowing his guilt. While on the surface it seems a fairly predictable redemption story, director Deborah Chow and her actors bring out some surprising depth to their roles. Definitely worth a see, if to anticipate her next film. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased online or at the cinema.
THURSDAY APRIL 28TH / COWBOY BEBOP: THE MOVIE / TORONTO UNDERGROUND CINEMA / 9:30PM
It's hard to talk about Cowboy Bebop: The Movie without mentioning the TV series it was based off of. Cowboy Bebop the series was one of the first major anime hits in North America with adults and is considered one of the best and coolest of all time. The film is a great standalone that takes part about mid-way through the series, so a knowledge of the characters is useful but not necessary. Knockin' on Heaven's Door (or Cowboy Bebop: The Movie) stars our favourite space bounty hunters, Spike, Faye, Jet, Ed and Ein as they hunt a terrorist with a huge bounty on his head who plans to infect the entire colony of Mars with a deadly disease. But things get messy as another bounty hunter, joins the hunt with a particular interest in apprehending the villain, dead or alive. Ticket are $8 and can be bought at the cinema.
FRIDAY APRIL 29TH / HOT DOCS PRESENTS BEAUTY DAY / ISABEL BADER THEATRE / 6:45PM
Previously posted, Beauty Day is one of my favourite picks so far. The film follows 'Cap'n Video' aka, Ralph Zavadil, a St. Catharines man with a camera, a cable access show and tons of terrible ideas. The once small-town curiousity became (in)famous after a misguided self-recorded stunt landed him in the hospital and was distributed to news media outlets who portrayed him in the wrong light. As his antics post-accident became more desperate, his show was cancelled. But almost two decades later, the temptation arises again, and his long-time fans want to help. Can they do it? Tickets are $14 and can be bought online, at the festival box office, or at the Isabel Bader on the 29th.
SATURDAY APRIL 30TH / HIGHWAY GOSPEL / ROYAL CINEMA / 9:30PM
What does a skateboard champion from the 80's and a rowdy set of highway skateboarders have in common? A love for the board! Highway Gospel is an extremely fun ride following two very different kinds of skateboarders in Ontario and BC as they prep for the equivalent 'World Cup' in their specific events. With one sport legitimatized and one still stigmatized, the film paints a really interesting contrast of the sport and not in a way you've seen before. Gone are the attractive skateboarders of Dogtown and in come the missing teeth, scabs and bruises of downhill boarders and the experienced grey of an aging champion who wants one more go. Tickets are $14 and can be bought online, at the festival box office or at the Royal on the 30th.
SUNDAY MAY 1ST / SILENT SUNDAYS PRESENTS: STRIKE / THE REVUE / 3:30PM
Silent Sundays returns to the Revue with Work, a short film by Charlie Chaplin about a hapless employee who is more burden than help for his boss, and followed by the feature Strike by Sergei Eisenstein. Strike is a filmic essay about a rebellion by factory workers in pre-revolutionary Russia which shows the collective power of the people as they attempt to revolt and demand fair wage from the factory shareholders for their labour, only to experience violent action against them. Strike was Eisensteins first full feature length film and he would go on to create Battleship Potemkin later that year. While silent, both films will feature live piano accompaniment. Tickets are $12 and can be bought at the cinema.
Still from Chungking Express
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