Pain and Gain film

This Week in Film: Pain & Gain, Tai Chi Hero, Upside Down, and Hot Docs 2013

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.


Pain & Gain (Carlton, Cineplex Yonge & Dundas)

It's not every Friday that a Michael Bay picture is the most promising new release steamrolling into your local megaplex, but this Friday is indeed one of those Fridays. Now that #TeamBay have thoroughly argued and submitted their case for the Armageddon director's status as an auteur, we can anticipate each new zillion-dollar product as the next piece of evidence in the great 'what-the-hell-is-going-on-in-this-man's-mind' debate, and not worry about whether or not it's actually any good. As far as this one goes, it appears Bay has taken every adjective that's been used to describe his work in the past and written a script that materializes them in the most explicit manner possible. For better and worse.

Tai Chi Hero (Cineplex Yonge & Dundas)

Tai Chi Hero is actor/director Stephen Fung's second installment in his Tai Chi trilogy, coming on the heels of his Tai Chi 0, which screened at TIFF last September. Very much in the same vein as that film, this is a "Chinese steampunk martial arts blockbuster" that illustrates the early years of Tai Chi master Yang Luchan, the guy who founded Tai Chi in the 19th century. Anyone who practices or has an interest in Tai Chi, or who caught the impressive predessor last year, will definitely want to check this out.

Upside Down (Carlton)

Upside Down might just be the most blatant tent pole concept to ever get swept under a rug. Starring Jim Sturgess and Kirsten Dunst - as, egad, Adam and Eden - the film looks nothing short of Inception-grade sci-fi with Cloud Atlas-esque facepalm abandonment of logic, coherence, and self-awareness. Likely motivated by the awesome Melancholia, Dunst appears to already be getting typecast as "girl who loses her shit as another planet threatens to collide with the one she's on," and I think she should be careful of that in the future what with filmmakers only beginning to scratch the surface of the metaphorical weight inherent to that scenario.

Also opening in theatres this week:

  • Becoming Redwood (Cineplex Yonge & Dundas)
  • The Big Wedding (Cineplex Yonge & Dundas)
  • The Colony (Carlton, Scotiabank)
  • The Company You Keep (Varsity)


Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival (April 25 - May 5)

We've already posted a preview showcasing the 10 films getting the biggest advance buzz at this year's Hot Docs festival, and soon we'll have a post up that highlights the best docs we were able to take an early look at. Everyone already knows what Hot Docs is and why it's awesome, so I won't spend too much time detailing why you should care that Toronto's second largest film festival (right behind TIFF) kicks off today and will run all day, every day for the next week and a half. It's as much a celebration of the best documentary filmmaking being made today as it is a spotlight on a less flashy side of cinema; one less focused on glitz and glam, and more engaged with, quite literally, reality. Many of the year's best films premiere here every year, so don't hesitate to dive in.

Lead still from Pain & Gain

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