After Earth

This Week in Film: After Earth, Cinema of Prayoga, Intertidal, An Estranged Paradise, and Toronto Korean 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.


After Earth (Carlton, Cineplex Yonge & Dundas)

It's pretty amazing that major Hollywood studios like Columbia Pictures are still willing to throw this much money at an M. Night Shyamalan project, even as they're timorous enough about him to not put his name anywhere in the movie's extended trailer. Shyamalan's filmography has taken the most dramatic nosedive in the history of cinema, to the point where all he can do to get funding is to somehow convince A-listers like Will Smith to star in his ostensible blockbusters, actual pseudo-auteurist passion projects.

Once again exploring environmental concerns and the nature of fear as an obstacle in our way of truth and catharsis, Shyamalan here pits Smith and and his son Jaden in a far future scenario when Earth has long been abandoned by humans. Animals and nature, left to their own devices, evolved accordingly without our interference. Of course, many of the once-familiar creatures have developed into unwieldy, man-thirsty beasts, and a pesky alien presence only complicates the Smiths' attempts to return to safety back who knows where. It's not the silliest idea Shyamalan's come up with, you have to at least give him that.

Also opening in theatres this week:

  • Charles Bradley: Soul Of America (Bloor Hot Docs Cinema)
  • The English Teacher (Cineplex Yonge & Dundas)
  • Erased (Cineplex Yonge & Dundas)
  • The Ghosts in Our Machines (Carlton)
  • Hava Nagila (Bloor Hot Docs Cinema)
  • The Lesser Blessed (Cineplex Yonge & Dundas)
  • Lore (TIFF Bell Lightbox)
  • Now You See Me (Carlton, Scotiabank)
  • Old Stock (Carlton)
  • Pieta (TIFF Bell Lightbox)
  • Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (Cineplex Yonge & Dundas)


Cinema of Prayoga: Indian Experimental Film and Video 1913-2006 (Tuesday & Wednesday, June 4 & 5 at 7:30pm; CineCycle)


"Cinema of Prayoga is a conceptual framework that locates the history of experimental film in India within an ancient history of pre-modern tradition of innovation, of prayoga. It celebrates a cinematographic idiom that is deeply located in the polyphony of Indian philosophy and cultural imagination. It attempts to reconfigure the generally accepted notion of the experimental and the avant-garde by conjuring the term 'Prayoga' from Indian philosophical thought. The Prayoga oeuvre is marked by its deeply temporal temperament, the samaya svabhト」a, so to say." Both programs are curated by Mumbai-based film scholar, curator and historian Amrit Ganger, and are also free of charge.


Pleasure Dome presents - Intertidal: A Film Performance by Alex MacKenzie (Friday, May 31 at 7:30PM; CineCycle)


Pleasure Dome and LIFT have joined forces to present Alex MacKenzie's newest expanded cinema work Intertidal. The piece, running nearly an hour, involves a 16mm analytic projector performance inspired both by Ed Ricketts, an American marine biologist and philosopher known for his pioneering study of intertidal ecology (the study of ecosystems where organisms live between the low and high tide lines), and the groundbreaking science films of Jean Painlevテゥ. MacKenzie will also be instructing two workshops at LIFT that will be worth checking out: Handmade Emulsion on June 1, 2013 from 10AM to 6PM, and Expanded Cinema on June 2, 2013 from 11AM to 4PM.

The Free Screen - Yang Fudong: An Estranged Paradise (Wednesday, June 5 at 7PM; TIFF Bell Lightbox)

Estranged Paradise

"Shot in 1997 and premiered at Documenta XI in 2002, An Estranged Paradise displays many of Yang's signature motifs - crisp black-and-white 35mm cinematography, storylines that blur contemporaneity with traditional stylistics, homages to/revisions of genre cinema akin to the early work of his influences Jean-Luc Godard and Jim Jarmusch - while also reflecting his early studies as a painter, notably in a prologue that muses on the traditional methods and subjectivity of Chinese landscape painting.

Set in the city of Hangzhou (where Yang had studied at the China Academy of Fine Art), the film takes as its focal point a restless young man, Zhu Zi, following him as he aimlessly wanders through the city. Through a series of distinct vignettes, Yang depicts Zhu Zi's inability to find comfort in friends, lovers or environment as a reflection of the existential difficulty of China's "nameless generation," cast adrift during the rapid changes at the turn of the millennium." The Free Screen is free and open to the public, as usual.


Toronto Korean Film Festival (June 6-8 at Innis Town Hall)

Focusing more on older works by established auteurs than usual, this year's Toronto Korean Film Festival will give Toronto cinephiles welcome opportunities to revisit or catch up with Bong Joon-ho's break-out hit The Host (2006), Lee Change-dong's early masterpiece Peppermint Candy (1999), and Kim Ki-duk's forgotten Address Unknown (2001). The sole new films can be seen in the shorts program, or in Kim Sung-hoon's childrens film, Ryang-kang-do: Merry Christmas, North! (2011). Tickets and passes can be purchased here.

Lead still from After Earth

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