This Week in Film: Saturday Night Fever, Bitter Rice, Conan O'Brien Can't Stop, Son of the Sunshine, Return to Oz, Nights of Cabiria
This week in film rounds up the most noteworthy independent screenings and cinema-related events happening in Toronto.
TUESDAY AUGUST 9TH / SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER / YONGE & DUNDAS SQUARE / 8:30PM
Saturday Night Fever was famously based on an article in New York Magazine called 'Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night.' An in-depth crash course in disco, it's where all the stories, characters and situations were sourced. The article followed a working class disco dancer Tony, as he fought class divides, racism and his own shortcomings to make it in life, while furiously dancing during his weekends. A runaway hit, the film made John Travolta a household name and brought disco culture into small towns everywhere. Whether its origins make it more or less authentic, it helped define and describe a musical subculture to the masses. Screening is free, seating limited.
WEDNESDAY AUGUST 10TH / BITTER RICE / TIFF BELL LIGHTBOX / 9PM
The grass is always greener, or is it? Bitter Rice follows two women, dissimilar in any way except their general age range. Francesca is a small time crook on the run after a heist gone bad, Silvana is a sumptuous young country girl heading to the rice paddies to pick for the summer. Both meet by accident en route to rice country while Francesca tags along with the rice picking girls and the two strike up a tenuous friendship. But while Francesca opens her eyes to possibilities outside thieving and crime, Silvana becomes attracted to her older friends glamorous lifestyle of petty theft and grifting, and she's got just the looks to make it work. A smoldering Italian neo-realist film noir set in post-war Italy, Bitter Rice is rarely seen but oft enjoyed, see it while you can. Tickets are $12 and can be bought at the cinema.
THURSDAY AUGUST 11TH / CONAN O'BRIEN CAN'T STOP / AMSTERDAM BREWERY / 9PM
A runaway hit at the Hot Docs Film Festival this past May, Conan O'Brien Can't Stop exposed the true face of Conan O'Brien as he traveled all across North America and back again during his six month forced vacation from television. The film showcases some really frantic moments with the overly stimulated and highly neurotic late night host as he entertains and terrorizes his staff from one city to another. While he spends his time onscreen mostly in good humour, the exhaustion from the tour is visible as he plans his eventual comeback. For all Open Roof screenings, doors open at 7:30, the live band Locomotive 8 begin their set at 8pm and the film begin at 9pm. Tickets are $15 and while advance tickets are sold out, more will be released at the door. Get there early and enjoy!
FRIDAY AUGUST 12TH / SON OF THE SUNSHINE / PROJECTION BOOTH / 7PM
It's been a good season for dramas with a slight fantasy or sci-fi element to really shine, films such as Monsters, Moon or Blindness that use a trope to flesh out human characters. Son of Sunshine follows Sunny, a man in his early twenties who suffers from a wicked case of Tourette's and lives with his addict mother in isolation and poverty, only to undergo a controversial procedure to cure him of his illness. The only problem is that along with the Tourettes, he loses his secret ability to heal the sick and dying, a skill that has come in handy more than once in his life, a skill he may need sometime soon.. Even without the fantastic element of the story, high praise has been laid upon the film for addressing the complexities of Tourette's Syndrome in a way other than as the butt of a joke and it's Canadian too. Tickets are $5.99 as part of a limited time retro pricing and can be bought at the cinema.
SATURDAY AUGUST 13TH / RETURN TO OZ / 519 BACKYARD CINEMA (519 CHURCH ST) / 9PM
Return to Oz is just one of those films that really imprints on you, that is to say, it is the stuff of nightmares for years to come. For those fond of the 1939 classic, this version made in 1985 reunites us with Dorothy a few months after her first trip to Oz. Unfortunately, folks back home didn't take too well with her story and she's being sent to an insane asylum for shock therapy treatments. A golden-haired coed saves her from her fate and in another stormy night she returns to Oz', only to find it overrun by villainy and she's the only one who can stop it. Admission is free, be sure to check out the event listing for more details.
SUNDAY AUGUST 14TH / NIGHTS OF CABIRIA / TIFF BELL LIGHTBOX / 6:15PM
And for the pinnacle of the week, my absolute favourite Fellini film, the hilarious, touching and outlandish Nights of Cabiria. A disjointed tale of stories, perhaps true, perhaps exaggerated, as they occur to our heroine, the happy-go-unlucky prostitute Cabiria. Whether she's being robbed blind by a boyfriend, as she is when we meet her at first, or locked in a bathroom while her prospective client reunites with his girlfriend, Cabiria is full of good humour and charm, while being helplessly naive at the same time. When she finally meets true love (at least, for now) you won't know whether to cheer or cringe. Who knows what this firecracker will do next! Tickets are $12 and can be bought at the cinema.
For Toronto movie showtimes, view our Movie Listings section.
Still from Conan O'Brien Can't Stop.
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