This Week in Film: Tchoupitoulas, Side Effects, Only the Young, Twin Peaks Fire Walk With Me, and The 8 Fest
This Week in Film rounds up noteworthy new releases in theatres, rep cinema and avant-garde screenings, festivals, and other special cinema-related events happening in Toronto.
Tchoupitoulas (Bloor Hot Docs Cinema) [opens Saturday, February 9]
How to describe an indescribable film? To begin, it's "Chop-uh-tool-us." To continue, ignore the fact that it played at Hot Docs last May; it ain't no doc. While there is obviously a great deal of improv and naturalism involved (if not being entirely that), the illusion that we're watching three kids walk around downtown N'awlins over the course of one night is an entire narrative fabrication - the film took nine months to shoot. Further, there isn't really a central motivation or pull that tells us what we're watching or why we're watching it.
So, now that we've established that we don't know how to establish what the hell this thing is, is it any good? Yeah, actually; perhaps the best film about The Big Easy ever made; a corrective to David Gordon Green's Malick impersonation, George Washington; one of the best-looking digital films to date; and in the end - going back to the idea of 'correctives' - a refreshing and necessary antidote to last year's most flagrant film, Beasts of the Southern Wild.
Side Effects (Carlton, Scotiabank)
Steven Soderbergh's career has always...okay, was always somewhat scattershot. That the same man who made Schizopolis, Bubble, and the Solaris remake also made the Ocean's 11 trilogy and Magic Mike is still difficult to fully comprehend. So we shouldn't be too nonplussed to realize that he didn't use Side Effects, his (supposedly) final feature film, as an opportunity to make any grand, summarizing artist statement; something that exploits all of the themes and motifs we tend to regard as quintessentially Soderberghian.
Instead, it's yet another in his recent string of modest, aesthetically sterile tone dramas that explores the way our bodies can dictate the direction our lives go. A film with many twists and turns (probably too many), the plot involves a woman with crippling depression who cycles through medication after medication trying to find something that helps her and has minimal side effects. From there, I should say no more, but I will opine that the film is a swirling head-trip that deliberately trips up logic and character arcs, and Soderbergh ultimately subverts his traditional character-whose-body-becomes-uncontrollable to achieve something decidedly complicated (if not quite complex). Not my favourite choice for a final Soderbergh picture, but then it probably won't be the last one anyway.
Only the Young (Bloor Hot Docs Cinema)
Here's a film that played at Hot Docs '12 and is actually a documentary (see above for a counter example). There have been a handful of recent docs that look at teens and their hobbies and social lives - even a few about skaters, like this one - but rare is the coming of age doc (or even fiction) that so utterly nails the experience of being an adolescent. The lives of Garrison, Kevin, and Skye are fairly mundane and unspectacular, yet directors Elizabeth Mims and Jason Tippet were miraculously able to integrate into their clique without disrupting the palpable camaraderie and love that exists amongst them. As a coming-of-ager it's a revelation; as portraiture it's sublime.
Also opening this week:
CINSSU Free Fridays - Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (Friday, February 8 at 7PM; Innis Town Hall)
I'm going to just ignore for a moment the fact that Hiroshi Teshigahara's supreme, unstoppable masterpiece Woman in the Dunes is playing at the same time down at the Lightbox, and declare this here screening unmissable. I'm not really in a stance to decide for anyone whether or not this ought to be avoided if you haven't finished the TV series, as I only saw it after doing a marathon run through all 30 episodes and thought it made a great capper. Yeah, it's a prequel, but a prequel to a series entirely dedicated to a murder mystery that is explicitly shown in this film. But who am I kidding: this is a free screening of a David Lynch film in 35mm. Unmissable.
More in rep cinema this week:
The 8 Fest (February 8-10; Workman Arts Theatre)
In case you haven't noticed, Toronto has a thriving film community, and that extends well beyond awards season tearjerkers, into the art house, out the back door into the avant-garde, and on over to the community of (super) 8mm artists and enthusiasts. If you're a grain and/or flicker fetishist, this three-day event is as close to nirvana as you're ever likely to get. Among the headliners are new and canonical films by Ross McClaren, Daïchi Saïto, John Porter, and the feature-length (!) epic Salomé by Teo Hernández (and a lot more by a lot of awesome filmmakers), plus workshops and artist talks. Here's our preview, which breaks down some of the more tempting offerings in this year's 8 Fest. All events at Workman Arts Theatre; Tickets $5 per event or $25 for a festival pass (cash only).
Lead still from Tchoupitoulas
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