Toronto Film

This Week in Film: The Salesman, Miss Bala, W.E., Cinefranco Youth, The Great Digital Film Festival, and what's new on DVD and BluRay

This Week in Film rounds up noteworthy new releases in theatres, as well as key DVD / Blu-Ray releases, festivals, and other cinema-related events happening in Toronto.

IN THEATRES

The Salesman (Cumberland)

The only feature film in this year's Canadian top 10 that didn't play in the film festival last September (Hobo with a Shotgun doesn't count because it was ineligible after opening wide in the spring)? That would be Sébastien Pilote's The Salesman. Perhaps not coincidentally, it's also, tied with Amy George (snubbed completely from the top 10!), the best Canadian feature of last year. Gripes aside for a moment, this is a wonderful, leisurely paced film about an apocalypse. An apocalypse of "what," though, is the film's leading question, so I shan't elaborate too much here, but it clearly involves the auto industry in some capacity (key point: when the cars have taken their toll, it's worth noting just what kind of vehicle it is that we're shown in the last shot). A totally unexpected knock-out, when all is said and done.

Miss Bala (AMC Yonge & Dundas)

Gerardo Naranjo is a pretty darn good director. He's also Mexican, and yet he's never included among that Thee Amigos, Cha Cha Cha clique thing comprised of Iñárritu, Del Toro, and Cuarón. To each his own, but this strikes me as borderline ageism, only letting the big kids play in the schoolyard, that sort of thing. (I won't even get started on Carlos Reygadas' exclusion from this elite club) The injustice is particularly vexing now that Miss Bala exists, because there are some action scenes and moments that are more exhilarating and corrosive than even the best moments of, say, Cuarón's Children of Men. Additionally, you get to see a movie with a naked beauty queen running around for half the time, and then side with its feminist outlook as an excuse to turn any wagging fingers in the opposite direction. This is one well-thought out movie.

W.E. (Carlton)

Madonna is a woman of many talents, and if she wants to make a motion picture, then by God she is going to make a motion picture. So she did, and it played at the Venice Film Festival days before it played TIFF, and you'd think you were hearing the reaction to a certain other Madonna pet project directed by her ex-husband. Truth is, when it comes to mega stars crossing over into new media, they have to play it safe if they want to avoid the wrath of a thousand angry critics flexing their muscles in the spotlight of an amped-up festival frenzy. Madonna didn't do that, so even though W.E. is 10 times more interesting and strange than 90% of the crowd-pleasing "whatevers" that get a nice, polite applause when the credits roll — including the wretched, Audience Award-winning Where Do We Go Now? — it gets called a disaster of epic proportions. She deserved better.

Also Opening This Week:

IN REP CINEMA

For recommendations on what to catch at Toronto's rep cinema's this week, check out This Week in Rep Cinema.

FILM FESTIVALS

The Great Digital Film Festival (February 3 to 9 at the Scotiabank)
That this is being advertised within its own title as some kind of epic event that we've been waiting our whole lives for is reason number #47 for us to worry about the future of cinema, and yet I can't not get excited at the prospect of seeing films like Jurassic Park, Robocop, and Scarface on a massive screen, surrounded by monolithic speakers. (Not to mention a bunch of 80s classics) In fact, this little week-long squirt of a festival maybe have the most consistently solid film-by-film quality-level in the history of Toronto film festivals; they're all classics! It's also dirt cheap to attend with prices set at only $6 a film. Not that I condone this sort of thing.

Cinéfranco: Youth Program (February 6 to 17 at the Scotiabank)
Before adults get to have their Franco-fun at the Cinéfranco proper in late March, youth groups, teens, and anyone else who is up for some family-friendly French movies will be able to get their fix right here at the beginning of February. While there is plenty of light entertainment in the eight-film line-up, one can also find some serious-minded fare in the form of a film based on a novel by Albert Camus (The First Man), a film about 'war' (War of the Buttons), and a film dealing with irreverent racism (Free Men). Check the website for specific dates, times, and venues, the latter of which may vary from the headquarters at Scotiabank.

DVD & BluRay Releases


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