This Week in Film: Brave, Your Sister's Sister, Alps, The Cameraman, Toronto Korean, Parkdale, and Italian Contemporary film festivals, DVD & 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.
Brave (Varsity, Rainbow Market Sq., AMC Yonge & Dundas)
Is Pixar officially in a slump? They've now gone four films since their last masterpiece (Ratatouille), and it's perhaps not coincidental that that film marked the takeover by Disney. Wall-E and Up have their supporters, but Cars 2 misfired from the word 'Go,' and here we have a merely passable children's film that falls pretty much right in line with most of Disney's other post-The Lion King ditties. Superficially close to Shrek, Brave does at least have its share of Pixar-esque moments that crackle while eluding any pop culture snags. Maybe they'll pick up again soon, but then again their next one is yet another sequel, so 'oy.'
Alps (TIFF Bell Lightbox)
Yorgos Lanthimos' follow-up to his smash art house hit Dogtooth can feel a little bit too 'more of the same' sometimes, and it is. The set-up is comparably surreal and playful, showing the eponymous group carry out their business in which they literally replace the dead, filling the voids for grieving loved ones. Where the absurdist dialogue and awkward social behaviours made sense in his prior film's repressed and controlled world, Alps extends that to an entire worldview. Everyone now acts like they were raised by a pack of wolves, and you can only make sense of it by assuming that Lanthimos has extended the exact same critique from the suburban nuclear family to state and society in general. It's some food for thought, but it's also less funny and fresh this time.
Your Sister's Sister (AMC Yonge & Dundas)
I don't know about anyone else, but the only disappointment for me in Lynn Shelton's previous comedy Humpday was that Mark Duplass and Joshua Leonard didn't actually do it in the end. Aside from that little quibble, that film marked the arrival of an extremely promising talent in American independent cinema, and it's comforting to see that she's done it again (unfortunately, the limp last act is carried over, too). Nobody currently working with improv is doing it with this much effortless exactness, eliciting naturalistic yet complex behaviours from her cast that cuts right to bone when it needs to.
Also in theatres 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.
God bless Silent Sundays (and why aren't they every Sunday?). In the face of the death of 35mm exhibition in rep houses, the team at the Revue remain committed to bringing Toronto the jewels from the Silent Era's archives with what could very well be these films' last screenings ever in this city (or anywhere...). This is Buster Keaton's penultimate silent picture, and it's also one of his most self-reflexive and critical of the Hollywood system. Playing a character named Buster, he bends over backwards - learning to operate a movie camera - in an effort to win the heart of a girl working in MGM's offices. Ever reliant on stunts and his unique, unsentimental brand of slapstick, Keaton remained ever the avant-gardist in his set pieces.
Parkdale Film + Video Showcase (June 21-24)
A cute whatsit of an arts and film festival - amusingly organized by the Parkdale Beauty Pageant Society - has, in its fourteen-year existence, become one of the major arts events in the city. Featuring work that is self-described as whimsical and defiant, there are some significant works, new and not-so-new, by local artists that premiere here each year, such as Carolyn Tripp, Chris Kennedy, and Deirdre Logue this year. Location varies from event to event, and everything is pay-what-you-can.
Toronto Korean Film Festival (June 22 - July 1 at Innis Town Hall)
For being its first ever event, the Toronto Korean Film Festival has the made a strong case of a new, major annual film festival in Toronto. Programming almost every major film from South Korea made in the last six years, TKFF act like they're making up for lost time. Lee Chang-dong's exhausting and wrenching Secret Sunshine opens things up on the 22nd, and is followed up by films from the likes of Bong Joon-ho, Park Chan-wook, and Kim Ki-duk, not to mention Hot Docs 2012 favourite Planet of Snail. Tickets and passes can be bought at a number of locations (all listed on their website, of course), and screenings will take place at Innis.
Italian Contemporary Film Festival (June 26 - July 1 at TIFF Bell Lightbox)
Also in its first year, The Italian Contemporary Film Festival is bringing us exactly what it advertises: a strong slate of recent films from Italy. Not all of the films are made by Italians, though, speaking directly of their gala event for Woody Allen's newest, To Rome with Love. Other highlights include Terraferma, which competed for the Golden Lion in Venice last September, and Moretti's papal-poking We Have a Pope. The 14 features are accompanied by a smattering of parties and panel discussions that are also well-worth the time of anyone interested in the current state of Italian cinema (and drinks, apparently). Tickets are now on sale at the TIFF box office and online here.
DVD & BLU-RAY
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