toronto movies

This Week in Film: The Queen of Versailles, Total Recall, The Invisible War, Kumare, 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.


The Queen of Versailles (Varsity)

One of the best films from this year's Hot Docs, The Queen of Versaillles is a scathing feminist portrait disguised as an actualized revenge fantasy on the hedonistic 1%. The doc takes a look at the billionaire Siegel family, who've just begun construction on a 90,000 sq. ft. home to house them and their eight kids. Filming began in 2007, so when late 2008 rolled around, things got a bit interesting. While we feel a gleeful catharsis watching the uber-rich struggle through the recession as most of us did, the matriarch of the film's title exudes a buried sadness that renders the economical details to be almost superfluous. A graduate from a technical institute, Jackie is now only utilized for her (increasingly artificial) beauty, and is so outside the business that makes her husband wealthy that she blends in with the eight children as just another dependent and needy inconvenience. And I won't even get into the iguana incident.

Total Recall (Carlton, Scotiabank)

Sure, Paul Verhoeven > Len Wiseman, but is this is a sacreligious remake we should get behind? Maybe, but probably not. Adapted from Philip K. Dick's short story "We Can Remember it for You Wholesale," Verhoeven's 1990 original adaptation coasted to box office success on the Governator's beefcake appeal, and now sits as a cult classic as 'beefcake' evolved into camp value (even Jingle All the Way is better today than it has any right to be). Colin Farrell precludes a similar type of success for this reboot, but one way it could've improved is by going back to the source, much like 1997 The Shining miniseries was reworked according to King's book, not Kubrick's film. This Wiseman remake doesn't do that, though, and is more concerned with replicating Verhoeven than reimagining Dick.

KumarĂŠ (Bloor Hot Docs Cinema)

This is one of the best alums from Hot Docs' 2011 edition, tackling themes such as the manufactured nature of religion and the loss of faith. Like Sacha Baron Cohen but less moment-to-moment silly, filmmaker and performer Vikram Gandhi is an impersonator who aims to provoke the buried prejudices and hypocrisies out of the people he encounters. In KumarĂŠ, Gandhi - a normal, urban New York City resident - dresses up and performs as a guru. Naturally, he gets a healthy legion of followers, all swooning over the wisdom of this holy man who has blessed their lives. Like any undercover impersonator, however, the truth must come out eventually, and the reveal is one of the tensest scenes of the year - as if the existence of God has been disproven before these poor souls' very eyes.

The Invisible War (Carlton)

Like most of the "most important films of the year," which tend to be topical, humanist docs, The Invisible War works just as well on paper as it does on the screen. Of course, it is absolutely essential that this film's topic - the epidemic of rape in the military - reach a wide audience. Therefore, it seems ridiculous to tell anyone to not go out and see it. But at the same time, there isn't much value in spending time or money on it if you're already aware of this horrible problem. Filled with talking head accounts and statistical factoids that will send your blood pressure through the roof, it's cinema as prime time TV special, which, really, is a format that would reach a ton more people than the theatrical documentary ever would.

Also in theatres this week:

  • Celeste and Jesse Forever (Cineplex Odeon Yonge & Dundas Cinemas)
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (Rainbow Market Sq., Cineplex Odeon Yonge & Dundas Cinemas)
  • GF*BF (Cineplex Odeon Yonge & Dundas Cinemas)
  • Hope Springs [opens Wednesday, August 8] (Rainbow Market Sq., Cineplex Odeon Yonge & Dundas)
  • Racing Dreams (Bloor Hot Docs Cinema)
  • Ruby Sparks (Cineplex Odeon Yonge & Dundas Cinemas)
  • 360 (Varsity)


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


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