Film Toronto

This Week in Film: Sparkle, Bill W., This Space Available, Goin' Down the Road, SPANE, and what's new in 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.


Sparkle (Cineplex Odeon Yonge & Dundas)

We'll never see Whitney Houston look any older than this. The singer's tragic death came at the tail end of production on Sparkle, the Dreamgirls-esque music drama about three sisters who form a girl group and soon become Motown sensations. Hack job though it may be, the reverb of current events proves effective yet again (cf. Heath Ledger and The Dark Knight). Every scene with Houston becomes laced with a tinge of melancholy that it otherwise wouldn't have had, and it gives the film something that could reasonably be called 'impact.' The tunes aren't bad, either.

Bill W. (Bloor Hot Docs Cinema)

Assuming you've actually heard of him before, you may think you have a solid understanding of who Bill Wilson was; this doc might surprise you in that regard. Bill W. was the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, the two million-member strong fellowship aiding sobriety since 1935. Informative as it is, directors Dan Carracino and Kevin Hanlon show they aren't afraid to employ a range of documentary tactics, weaving together dramatic reenactments, photographic montages, diary pages, and recorded speeches to assemble a tribute to how humanity can heal certain things better than science was ever able to.

And If We All Lived Together? (Varsity)

Depending on how well you responded to Hope Springs (which, you have to admit, was better than it had any indication of being), you may already be clamoring for another shot of well-calibrated mid-life angst. Fortunately for those people, this is pretty much that except for a slightly older crowd, and it's even in French. Starring - among others - Jane Fonda as a Francophone, this Locarno '11 alum is about five friends who elude retirement homes by deciding to all move in together. It's a brisk little comedy with the right amount of sentiment to send you home with what you paid for.

Also in theatres this week:

  • The Awakening (Cineplex Odeon Yonge & Dundas)
  • Fortunate Son (Carlton)
  • The Expendables 2 (Carlton, Scotiabank)
  • Hit & Run [opens Wednesday, August 22]
  • ParaNorman (Carlton, Rainbow Market Sq., Cineplex Odeon Yonge & Dundas)
  • Somewhere Tonight (Carlton)
  • This Space Available (Bloor Hot Docs Cinema)


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


Screening of Performance Art in the Natural Environment (SPANE) (Sunday, August 19 at 5PM; Artscape Gibraltar Point)
Though the acronym might sound like some comic book B-movie's evil villain or a household cleaner, SPANE is a one-night event that will be celebrating its second year as one of Toronto's best platforms for performance art. The S in the name may stand for Screening, but the evening gets started off at 5pm with a series of new works by artists Alicia Marván and Johannes Zits in a culmination of their three-week residency at Artscape. The 'screening' part occurs afterward at 7:30 and will be a programme of video works (curated by Zits) in which the filmed performers interact with their uncultivated or rural surroundings. This is a co-presentation with The Tree Museum, and attendees are asked to pay what they can.

Book Revue: Goin' Down the Road (Tuesday, August 21 at 5:30PM; The Revue)

Celebrating two years of Book Revue-ing and the theatre's brand new, barely-week-old Digital projector (sorry 35mm!), this is the kind of all-in-one evening of entertainment that comes across all too rarely. The centerpiece, of course, is the new, digital restoration of Goin' Down the Road (the 5th greatest Canadian Film of All Times), which is reason enough to shell out the $26 double-bill premium, prefaced by the book launch for Geoff Pevere's Donald Shebib's Goin' Down the Road, a novel based on the movie. Then after you've taken the iconic trip down Yonge street, you can do it all over again at 9:15pm with the borderline sacreligious sequel Down the Road Again, which at least had the courtesy to be directed by Donald Shebib. If your eyes haven't blanked out by a swarm of swirling maple leaves after all that, stick around for a Q & A with Shebib and Pevere before heading home to read the book.


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