Ai Weiwei

This Week in Film: Ai Weiwei (Never Sorry), Joffrey (Mavericks of American Dance), Deranged, Ward's Island Picnic, and what's new in 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.


Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (TIFF Bell Lightbox)

Every society needs a revolutionary figure - especially China right now - and it isn't often that the figure should be an artist. It's nothing new for artists to promote radical and revolutionary thought in their work; the impetus for working at all is typically derived from some sort of lack in his or her experience of the world. But it's something quite new for an artist to be this successfully incendiary on an international level. Ai Weiwei, the artist, represents the best case of political art-making. On the other hand, the film - intentions commendable as they are - only functions to expose his work to a Western middle-class who's been ignoring him up until now, in a sugar-coated and safe manner that feels entirely at odds with the subversive nature of his work. It's essentially a thrilling prison break (see also: The Cove) that pushes the Twitter factor as shorthand for contemporary insight.

Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance (Bloor Hot Docs Cinema)

The Joffrey Ballet is considered to be the first "truly American dance company." They combine traditional ballet with modern dance, and perform to pop and rock music instead of the standard Tchaikovsky or Lully. For those who saw First Position last week, this is a chance to see a different level of dance; perhaps an imagined twenty-years-later sequel for the players in that film. Joffrey plays like the American version of Frederick Wiseman's epic observational, La Danse - The Paris Opera Ballet, and has as its subject the organization that inspired Robert Altman great, late film, The Company.

Deranged (Cineplex Odeon Yonge & Dundas)

Read this, and tell me if you've seen it before: "Just before dawn, gruesomely skeletal bodies surface on the Han River. The cause of death is determined to be a mutant parasite--a hairworm--that brainwashes its hosts." Okay, so it's not exactly the same thing as Bong Joon-ho exemplary monster movie from 2006, The Host (there isn't any brainwashing in that one, as I recall). But come on. It's not like this is getting any kind of wide release or anything, but rather getting essentially the same obligatory opening as your weekly Bollywood title at Yonge & Dundas. Even the movie poster is a rip-off, if you care to seek them out and compare.

Also in theatres this week:

  • Kyaa Super Kool Hain Hum (Cineplex Odeon Yonge & Dundas)
  • Step Up Revolution (Cineplex Odeon Yonge & Dundas)
  • United States of Africa (Bloor Hot Docs Cinema)
  • The Watch (Carlton, Scotiabank)


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


LIFT and Images Festival Present: Ward's Island Picnic & Screening (Saturday, July 28 from 3PM - 10:30PM)
To celebrate this year's Tom Berner Award winner Milada Kovacova, LIFT and Images Festival (who are also celebrating their 30th and 25th anniversaries, respectively) have organized an all-day event of "games, food, suds, and good times in great company." The Tom Berner Award was created in 2002, and recognizes individuals who provide "extraordinary support for independent filmmaking" in Toronto. Along with this year's winner, 16mm films by past winners Phil Hoffman, Mike Hoolboom, Roberto Ariganello, Sebastjan Henrickson, and more will be shown on the island at dusk, or approximately 9PM. The film component of the event is free, but be sure to bring the $7 return fee for the ferry, and cash for food and bar.


360 Screenings (Wednesday, August 15th from 7PM - 11PM)

360 Screenings provides a fully immersive experience by combining a screening of a film and live performance. The film being shown is only revealed on the night of the screening, while the locations (typically Toronto heritage buildings) are unveiled just 24 hours prior. Once you step through the door, however, no detail is forgotten. You're intended, and encouraged, to interact fully with your surroundings and its decorations--both chosen to complement the chosen film. The series' first screening earlier this year, Ghost, was met with rave reviews for its mix of performance theatre and murder mystery. It's an innovative, and almost intuitive, way to experience a film, and worth the hefty $60 price tag. As for what will be shown on August 12th? The info is kept tightly under wraps, with the only info coming at the above video's end, with the disclaimer that the film is rated R--well, that narrows it down.


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