Vic and Flo

This Week in Film: Nebraska, Vic + Flo Saw a Bear, John Akomfrah, the Coen brothers, and Planet in Focus

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.


Nebraska (Varsity)

The saddest American film in years, Alexander Payne rebounds from The Descendants with this masterpiece of middle class defeatism and strife. A reticent old man (Bruce Dern, who won the Best Actor Award in Cannes for his brilliant portrayal here) receives a letter in the mail claiming that he is the winner of a million dollar prize, and that he must claim it from the company's headquarters in Lincoln, Nebraska. His wife (June Squibb) and son (Will Forte) try to tell him it's clearly a scam, but he's stubborn and convinced that he has lump sum of money waiting for him 750 miles away. What follows is one of the most accurate representations of the essential sadness of growing old as a middle-to-lower class citizen ever put to film...okay, ever put to digital, though the cinemascope, inky black & white photography here sure is pretty.

Vic + Flo Saw a Bear (TIFF Bell Lightbox)

Denis C么t茅 has one of the more eclectic film-to-film trajectories in contemporary Canadian cinema - actually, I'm certain no one else even comes close. Just last year, he made one of the 2012's best documentaries with Bestiaire, his still, contemplative portrait of the Parc Safari in Quebec. Now comes this entirely distinct, and wonderfully distinctive, drama about an ex-con and her lesbian lover, who become targets of suspicion and revenge after settling in a quaint, rural Quebec town. Whether or not they actually see that bear is best left discovered with your own two eyes.

Also opening in theatres this week:

  • Delivery Man (Cineplex Yonge & Dundas)
  • Empire of Dirt (Cineplex Yonge & Dundas)
  • Gori Tere Pyaar Mein (Cineplex Yonge & Dundas)
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Varsity, Rainbow Market Sq., Scotiabank)
  • Looking is the Original Sin (Carlton)
  • Singh Saab the Great (Cineplex Yonge & Dundas)


Joel & Ethan Coen: Tall Tales (November 28 - December 20; TIFF Bell Lightbox)

Leading up to the release of their latest tour through folk music, existential melancholia, and classic Hollywood reflexivity (Inside Llewyn Davis), TIFF Bell Lightbox presents this thorough (though not quite complete) look back at some of the Brothers Coen's greatest work, both early and recent. Beginning with what is still one of their best, Fargo (Thursday, November 28 at 6:30PM), the series ricochets around their nearly three-decades-worth of output, covering all the bases of their singular brands of dramas, musicals, thrillers, and comedies (sadly, their funniest film, Burn After Reading, is not included), though to some extent these films are all totally unclassifiable despite their genre signposts. Most are on 35mm, all should be (rather, deserve to be) sold out, so claim tickets early is my advice.

More rep cinema this week:


Cinematic Translations: The Work of John Akomfrah (November 27-29)

John Akomfrah, a revolutionary filmmaker and artist, is a co-founder of the Black Audio Film Collective in 1982, as participated as an original member of the "New Black British Cinema" movement in the late 1980s. "Adopting a translation-based approach to the cinematic, he has produced documentaries, feature films, television, and art installations, garnering international critical acclaim. His work in all media is renowned for its sensuality of the image, intellectual veracity, and an over-riding concern with the social." Don't miss this three-day showcase of talks about, and screenings of, his work; screenings include The Last Angel of History and Seven Songs For Malcolm X. Check the website (linked above) for full details and schedule.


Planet in Focus (November 21-24; AGO Jackman Hall & TIFF Bell Lightbox)

"The 14th annual Planet in Focus Film Festival kicks off Thursday November 21st in Toronto, and what looks to be a fantastic lineup of program should be a welcome hoist up from the dismal abyss of hopelessness Fordmania has inflicted upon the city of late. The non-profit fest aims to raise awareness about issues from politics to environmental issues through film. Screenings, award ceremonies, and various events will take place all weekend at the TIFF Lightbox and the AGO Jackman Hall." Click here for our full preview of this year's festival, including five recommended, must-see titles.


Popular Toronto video magazine The Seventh Art are giving away passes to a screening of Her, the new film by Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation.). The screening will take place on Thursday, December 5, approximately two weeks before the film hits Toronto cinemas. Head on over HERE to enter for a chance to be one of the first cinephiles in Toronto to catch this hotly anticipated new movie.

Lead photo from Vic + Flo Saw a Bear

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