The top 10 Toronto shot TV shows & movies on Netflix
Anyone who's ever gone down the rabbit hole of Netflix knows it easier to swallow yet another low-energy, high-carb episode of, say, 90210 than it is to get up off the couch and take that Criterion Collection DVD of Rainer Werner Fassbinder for a spin (assuming you still rock DVD, of course). No home entertainment innovation has ever made indulging in mediocrity so pleasurable, addictive and immediate.
The next time you're brain-fried, hungover or deep in reflection and looking for something you don't actually want to watch, but will, check out some of these classic Toronto-lensed movies and TV shows. At the very least, you can play drinking games with famous locations or sneer at the creative use of Toronto hot spots doubling as American ones.
The Boondock Saints
In 1994, Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction made such ridiculous amounts of money that producers spent the rest of the decade looking for its kin. The Boondock Saints was once bestowed the prized description "Tarantino-esq," however other than a surfeit of guns and f-bombs the comparison is lazy. Lots of circa-1999 Toronto on show here, and a fine drinking movie to boot.
A History of Violence
Local gov'nor David Cronenberg's tough as leather meditation on violence sees his hometown Toronto double for small town USA. Eagle eyed viewers may spot an infamous location on Queen Street East near Broadview pop-up at an important moment.
CBC's intelligent Quantum Leap meets Sex and the City was cancelled in 2011, sadly just missing out on the Mother Corp's dramatic renaissance, which surely would have kept this light and frothy time travel series alive. Perfect bedtime fodder for couples who like a stew of Doctor Who, chick flicks, and Cancon.
One of the more bizarre offerings from a dark corner of Netflix is this remarkable little film from the National Film Board of Canada, produced for the occasion of the Canadian centennial and screened with much fanfare at Expo '67. Features incredible aerial photography of City Hall being completed in glorious eye-popping '60s colour. Un-missable Canadiana!
Dreary torture-porn from the 00's has not aged well, but the original still manages to be a taut timewasting thriller, and the series has kept local set dressers and techies in business over the last decade. There's not much on offer location wise (99% of these were shot on sets at Cinespace), but Saw 2 has some cheeky Portland location filming with S.W.A.T trucks in situ. Sadly the installment with the most Toronto on display (Saw VIII aka Saw 3-D) has not yet hit Netflix.
Verbose legal eagles full of sass and vinegar play not-so-nice in Toronto as a not-so-obvious stand in for New York.
Are You Afraid of the Dark?/Goosebumps
The Rhythm & Blues of YTV's enormously popular Halloween Dark Knight marathons, Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Goosebumps play like tweeny Twilight Zone parables, and are short and variable enough that you can binge them in same way you mighty with Orange is the New Black, especially if you are a 90s kid in which case this stuff is legit legendary.
Assault on Precinct 13 (2005)
This is a remake of John Carpenter's masterpiece, for dummies. Ethan Hawke and Larry Fishbourne star as stranded tough guys trying to survive a sustained siege on a police station. Since the original classic is nowhere to be found on Netflix, this Toronto shot remake is better than nothing.
Highest grade TV that somehow has yet to reach the Sopranos/The Wire/Breaking Bad pantheon of "greatness" is one for the all-night guzzlers. Be warned however that the graphic imagery is enough to make a horse sick.
Toronto fanatic Guillermo del Toro lensed this sequel to the modest original here in 2002, building on the mythos of this Marvel-verse character long before Marvel acquired an auric Disney sheen. Stand out soundtrack mixes hip-hop and electronic (so you get the likes of Mos Def jamming with Massive Attack) and the film is the right amount of camp high energy and brooding darkness. Cited as del Toro's arrival to the big leagues and the last great piece of work from tax dodger Wesley Snipes.
Since the navigation on Netflix Canada is wonky at best, here's a helpful blog which maintains a running list on what is actually available to watch this month.
Let's hope that the CRTC wrangle Netflix into offering up a fair level of Cancon, at least the same quota asmother broadcasters are beholden to, that way more Toronto movies (good or bad) will show up on the service.
What did I miss? Please add your suggestions for the best Toronto flicks on Netflix in the comments section.
Main image from The Boondock Saints
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