Blue Is The Warmest Color

This Week in Film: Blue is the Warmest Color, Late films by Claire Denis, Backbone, and the EU 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.


Blue is the Warmest Color (TIFF Bell Lightbox, Varsity)

Blue is the Warmest Color was this year's winner of the coveted Palme d'Or at the Cannes film festival, which in many people's books is a prize that sits right next to the Oscar for Best Picture in terms of prestige. Since that victory, things haven't gone so well for the film, mainly due to the fact that certain people don't know how to keep their mouths shut. Ignoring all of the silly cast & crew kerfuffle, plus the cries of the film being misogynistic or something to that effect, on top of the film's battle with ratings boards, there is still a formidable motion picture of the cinema on our hands here. So how and/or what is it?

The film shows the sprawling relationship between two late-teen French girls (performed so well by actresses Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos that the Steven Spielberg-led Cannes jury decided to award them a Palme d'Or, too). Controversial for its sexual frankness and extended sex scenes, this is, at heart, a coming-of-age film, the thematics of which derive not from subversive eroticism or bitter break-up scenes, but from the youthful impulse to resist conformity and a working-class lifestyle at all costs. The romance angle is, to be honest, fairly banal, and it only deserves credit for being well-acted. And yet, don't let anybody tell you it drags; it's some of the fastest-moving three hours you'll spend at the cinema all year.

Also opening in theatres this week:

  • Blood and Ties (Cineplex Yonge & Dundas)
  • The Broken Circle Breakdown (TIFF Bell Lightbox)
  • The Human Scale (Bloor Hot Docs Cinema)
  • Kill Your Darlings (Cineplex Yonge & Dundas)
  • Oil Sands Karaoke (Carlton)
  • Random Acts of Romance (Carlton)
  • Thor: The Dark World (Carlton, Rainbow Market Sq., Scotiabank)


Late films by Claire Denis

It's a fairly slow week in rep cinema, so we'll go ahead and spotlight these TIFF screenings that are closing out the fantastic Claire Denis retrospective, which includes her last three films prior to Bastards. First there is her sublime homage to Ozu's Late Spring, 35 Shots of Rum (Saturday, November 9 at 5PM; TIFF Bell Lightbox) which features the best cinematic application yet of the Commodores' 'Night Shift.' The next night presents White Material (Sunday, November 10 at 3:45PM; TIFF Bell Lightbox), which stars great French Actress Isabelle Huppert (who would later play Denis in Hong Sang-soo's In Another Country) and screens with her medium-length film To the Devil, which has never screened in Toronto until now.

More rep cinema this week:

  • Rabid (Friday, November 8 at 6:30PM; TIFF Bell Lightbox)
  • Crash (Friday, November 8 at 8:45PM; TIFF Bell Lightbox)
  • The Dead Zone (Saturday, November 9 at 2:30PM; TIFF Bell Lightbox)
  • The Brood (Saturday, November 9 at 7:30PM; TIFF Bell Lightbox)
  • Tetsuo: The Iron Man (Saturday, November 9 at 10PM; TIFF Bell Lightbox)


Backbone: Vancouver Experimental Cinema 1967-1981 (Saturday, November 9 at 8PM; Innis Town Hall)

Whether you caught Thursday night's Free Screen dedicated to Vancouver's experimental film scene of the 60s and 70s at TIFF Bell Lightbox or not, you'd do well to catch this companion screening of Richard Martin's documentary on that collective of filmmakers. Martin curated the aforementioned edition of the Free Screen, and you could say he's a bit of an expert on the topic. And, even though this screening at Innis isn't also called the Free Screen, it will still cost zero dollars. So there.


The European Union Film Festival (November 14-27; The Royal)

One of the best film festivals in Toronto, the European Union Film Festival arrives once again to bring us free movies from all over Europe — in fact, one from each and every country, no matter how big or un-locatable on a map. This year's highlight is unquestionably Eat Sleep Die, a Swedish film that played in TIFF 2012 and knocked each and every person I know who saw it on his or her ass with its Dardennesian social realist depiction of a young woman forced to take a job that pulls her away from her friends and family. Sounds dire, perhaps, but it's as alive and cathartic as they come. Be sure to catch as many films as you can, though, because who knows what countries this year's gems will come from.

Lead still from Blue is the Warmest Color.

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