TIFF Elegant Pairings

Director James Ivory curates screenings at TIFF

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but I disagree. I think a work that is complementary but unequivocally unique is probably the better of the two options. Some directors go all-out with their homages while others merely make faint call-backs to the works and directors who inspired them, but if you're director James Ivory, you get to program a screening series dedicated to works that you inspired and those who inspired you.

Screening as part of Cinematheque retrospective programming this summer is James Ivory: Elegant Pairings, a delicate series of double-bills featuring films from the prolific director, matched with an appropriate film from another cinematic visionary.

As long as our collective history has been recorded, mankind has felt the urge to 'go native' to explore traditions, routines and cultures extremely dissimilar to our own, or to find some sort of amorphous 'truth' in a foreign land. This theme comes alive in Bombay Talkie and The Darjeeling Limited as our protagonists grapple with undefinable longings and urges that can only be wholly understood through the relationships they build while from afar.

In Bombay Talkie, our heroine searches for meaning in the Bollywood film industry, while in The Darjeeling Limited, three brothers struggle to reconnect while exploring India in search of an epiphany. The connection between these two films can also be found with the music, as Wes Anderson used the opening credit theme from Bombay Talkie for the beginning of his own film.

Luis Bunuel has recently received popular culture mention from a minor inclusion in Woody Allen's smash hit Midnight in Paris, but The Exterminating Angel is a film that has always been ahead of its time. The surrealist classic shows the ugly side of the bourgeoise as a group of wealthy diners find themselves physically unable to leave a dinner party and are forced to cohabit one room for, seemingly, eternity.

Savages on the other hand reverses the situation, faking a documentary style and following a group of 'primitives' as they discover civilization and swiftly turn into detestable wealthy urbanites in less than a day. The two films both offer creative vivisections of the middle and upper classes and format them in non-typical narrative styles to heighten their impact, a great match by two directors whose collected works have little else in common.

James Ivory's most recognizable works are his English period dramas full of costume, artiface and characters engaged in sophisticated intrigue. This pairing matches themes of mutually beneficial marriage, the burden of societal expectations and the culture clash of American and European sensibilities. In The Europeans, a pair of siblings travel to the New World to find wealthy American spouses and instead uncover the moral, emotional and traditional values of their distant cousins to be strict and puritanical.

In The Age of Innocence, a young American finds himself questioning his engagement when he's introduced to a European divorcee who challenges his expectations and those of their fair society. The latter film also features Daniel Day-Lewis in the lead role, the man who had his career made by another James Ivory film, A Room with a View.

Remaining Schedule

Sunday July 1 - Bombay Talkie - 5pm
Sunday July 1 - The Darjeeling Limited - 8pm

Sunday July 8 - Shakespeare Wallah - 5pm
Sunday July 8 - Charulata - 8pm

Sunday July 15 - Savages - 5pm
Sunday July 15 - The Exterminating Angel - 8pm

Sunday August 5 - A Room with a View - 5pm
Sunday August 5 - My Beautiful Laundrette - 8pm

Sunday August 12 - The Europeans - 5pm
Sunday August 12 - The Age of Innocence - 8pm

Sunday August 19 - The Bostonians - 5pm
Sunday August 19 - Maurice - 8pm

James Ivory: Elegant Pairings runs almost every Sunday until August 19, tickets are $12 and can be purchased online or at the cinema.

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