This Week in Film: Spring Breakers, Beyond the Hills, Wake in Fright, Miami Connection, Hot Docs 20, Toronto Silent Film Festival
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.
Spring Breakers (Cineplex Yonge & Dundas)
The first two weeks of its American release have indicated what those of us who saw Harmony Korine's latest at TIFF last year suspected: most mainstream viewers are leaving the film feeling as those they've just been punk'd. Which isn't so surprising, really, as this is in many ways the same film as his previous provocation, Trash Humpers. Unlike Humpers, though, which was intentionally hideous, grating, and lo-fi, Spring Breakers has a surface as euphoric and gorgeous as anything movie theatres have seen since Michael Mann's Miami Vice, the visual palette drenched in an HD neon glow. Repetitive and blunt, this is as much as avant-garde work as it is a dip in the vernacular of MTV reality shows.
The central trio of former Disney girls form a Feuilladian gang of misfits who cheat, steal, and kill in order to attain their aspired state of permanent orgasm and bling. There's also James Franco, whose self-deprecating performance pretty much steals the show as a Riff Raff-esque character named Alien, who is by all turns embarrassing, riotous, and strangely poignant. More than anything, though, the film works because of Korine's ability to convey - emotionally when not literally - his general (albeit unsubtle) sentiment that Generation X is a defiled lot of violence and pop-obsessed hedonists. Finger-wagging aside, he also clearly loves these people, and sympathizes with their aspirations even as he shows how awful it is.
Beyond the Hills (TIFF Bell Lightbox)
Lover or not of 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days, Cristian Mungiu's sophomore film will likely clean the mat with you. Beyond the HIlls details an intense and tragic rejection of compromise between three parties: two girls, who appear to be lovers, and a Catholic Orthodox "papa." Basically, one of the girls, Alina, travels to a monastery to retrieve her (girl)friend, Voichita, who is stuck between her repressed love for Alina and her not-very-repressed love for The Almighty. The second half of the film in particular is just crescendo after crescendo of pure emotion that glides in direct parallel to the film's deliberate, visceral sense of inertia. Each individual's ideologies never budge, forcing the body to succumb. Far more of a 'roller coaster ride' than most Hollywood blockbusters.
Also opening in theatres this week:
I'm not sure why these two films are having brief theatrical runs through North American theatres right now, but they're now arriving in Toronto courtesy of FilmsWeLike and you won't hear any complaining on my end, what with Ted Kotcheff's Wake in Fright being some kind of savage masterpiece (Miami Connection, not so much). Both films are very much products of their times (the 70's and 80's, respectively), and, despite Wake in fright sounding like a horror picture - it kind of is, but more in a Deliverance kind of way - they are correspondingly programmed to one showtime per day in their appropriate time slots (at 7PM and 9:30PM, also respectively).
More rep cinema this week:
Hot Docs 20 (March 24 - April 23; Bloor Hot Docs Cinema)
To celebrate their 20th Anniversary, Hot Docs are screening a collection of some of their best (okay...most well-known) documentaries from the past 20 years of programming, from audience favourites to awardees. For this little retrospective, which leads up to the festival at the end of April, they've chosen 19 films to screen in March and April, with festival fans and audience members being allowed to choose the 20th via a vote (there are only a handful to choose from). The final crowd-sourced film will screen Wednesday, April 24 at 6:30PM. For Torontonians who've supported Hot Docs over their two-decade rise to the summit of North American documentary venues, this ought to be quite the ride down memory lane.
Screening this week in Hot Docs 20:
Toronto Silent Film Festival (April 4-9)
Two years ago, The Artist recaptured the magic of silent cinema for mainstream audiences, and Blancanieves continued the rally with it's well-received bow at TIFF last September. Meanwhile, The Toronto Silent Film Festival allows for a moment - six days, to be exact - of the real thing; it's one of the city's most essential events, bringing us super rare and importance films that go right to the heart of the medium.
Featuring work by Carl Theodor Dreyer, King Vidor, Yasujiro Ozu, Buster Keaton, Sam Taylor, and more, it's a case of 'brilliant brevity' that the festival is less than a week, because everything here is unmissable. With the screenings sprawled out from The Revue to The Fox, from Innis Town Hall up to the gothic Casa Loma where the Mary Pickford vehicle My Best Girl (one of the first, and best, romantic comedies ever made) will be accompanied by a score performed on Toronto's largest theatre organ, TSFF touches all of the bases to ensure that as many cinephiles as possible have a nearby screening. Most of the films will be screened from 16mm prints with live piano accompaniment. Check the website for specific times, locations, and ticket prices, which range from $12 to 20.
The Place Beyond the Pines was the hottest ticket at TIFF 2012 so we're excited to announce that we've teamed up with eOne Films to give you a chance to be at an exclusive advance screening of the film for blogTO readers only! This riveting new movie from the director of Blue Valentine is a sweeping emotional drama, powerfully exploring the unbreakable bond between fathers and sons.
View all the contest details here for a chance to win passes to the screening as well as prizes courtesy of TIFF, the Trump Toronto and STOCK Restaurant.
Lead still from Spring Breakers.
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