More bad news for Toronto bookstore lovers.   Leave a comment

The iconic Chapters/Cineplex combo at the corner of John and Richmond.

The iconic Chapters/Cineplex combo at the corner of John and Richmond.

As someone who completed a double major in Theatre & Film and English studies, an appreciation for cinema and an appreciation for literature are very much intertwined for me. Thanks to some very convenient locations, I have often been able to satisfy both of these artsy interests at virtually the same time.

Such is the case at the corner of John and Richmond in downtown Toronto. Passersby are sure to notice the enormous cube on top of the building which houses both the 13-screen Scotiabank Theatre and a 3-storey Chapters, side by side. It is a great setup, and many times when I have been waiting for a movie to start, I would head next door and peruse the selections at the bookstore.

But no longer. Chapters Indigo announced this week that their John and Richmond location will close on May 30th. This is the latest blow for Toronto bibliophiles, on the heels of the closures of Book City, World’s Biggest Bookstore, and the Chapters at Bloor and Runnymede, amongst others. While I lament the loss of the John and Richmond Chapters, I also worry about the future of the smaller community bookstores. On numerous occasions, I have found some hidden gems and hard-to-find classics when browsing through a quaint little bookshop.

Are bookstores disappearing? For that matter, are books? Others assure me that the latter isn’t the case, and they’re probably right. I’m sure actual, paper books will be around for many years… they’ll just only be available online. Yes, it is often cheaper and more convenient to do it this way, but I can’t help thinking that some day I will grow wistful for the bookstores of old. Devices like e-readers are quite nifty, but I’ve never felt compelled to invest in one; I guess I’m a bit old-fashioned when it comes to my reading habits. Perhaps this is an approach that I will re-evaluate in the future… only time will tell.

Meanwhile, I’m going to need to find some other way to kill time in the John and Richmond area when I go to the Scotiabank Theatre. Any suggestions?

 

-Dan Bulmer

How I Met Your Mother?   Leave a comment

 

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WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS OF THE HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER FINALE

If you have been on any social media site lately, you must have noticed several frustrated statuses and tweets about the finale of How I Met Your Mother (which aired on Monday March 31st), and it’s not because the series is over. The finale of a nine-season build-up of how Ted Mosby met the mother of his children ends as such: we learn she passed away, and he ends up with their aunt Robin.

If the show had a different premise, or simply a different title, this would have been an acceptable ending. For example, if the show was simply about Ted’s quest to find his true love, this ending would have made sense. We would have followed the ups and downs of Ted’s love life, and would have been happy that he ended up with Robin for two reasons. The first, because Ted is a hopeless romantic, and fell in love with Robin in the very first episode. The second, because we have come to identify with Robin for 9 seasons, and have seen her strong impact on the rest of the gang (Lily’s bond with her, Barney actually having a mature relationship). The final shot of Ted hoisting up the Blue French Horn at Robin’s window, the same gesture from the first episode, would have been a nice way to bring the series full circle.

Unfortunately, as it says in the title, there was more to the show than Ted and Robin. From the moment the series started, we have been listening to Ted, along with his children, tell us countless stories, with the anticipation of learning HOW HE MET THEIR MOTHER. It was great getting to know the mother, Tracy McConnell, in this final season. How could we not all fall in love with a girl who is the bass player for a band called Superfreakonomics and paints pictures of robots playing sports? The moment when Ted and Tracy do finally meet under her yellow umbrella was perfect, and it should have ended there. While the actual ending provided a shocking twist and caused a strong emotional response from its fans, it just does not seem worth it. Especially since many of us have been dedicated since episode one, only to be extremely disappointed.

I think the majority of us can agree that this ending was far from Legendary, especially since we never learn the answer to the pineapple incident!

-Julia Crocco

The Spotlight Charity Film Festival and Discovering High School Filmmakers   Leave a comment

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This week, I had the pleasure of participating as a judge in the Spotlight Charity Film Festival, hosted by Bishop Strachan School. The event brings together exceptional work from high school students across Toronto. Being new to the student short film scene, I was particularly impressed with the high level of technical, narrative, and acting sophistication achieved by the participating students. The films ranged dramatically in terms of their content including love stories, silent film serials, dystopian futures, and reality show riffs, and also in terms of their style and form. Students successfully integrated stop motion and time lapse cinematography, the fast paced editing of action cinema, and carefully curated and effective soundtracks. Overall, the students deftly demonstrated how accomplished student and youth film can be, and set an exceptional precedent for the great films we’re expecting at the Toronto Youth Shorts Film Festival.

For those of you who are interested, the Spotlight Charity Film Festival will be screening participating films April 8 at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. Tickets are $10 and proceeds will go to the charity of the winning filmmaker’s choice!

 

Sex at TIFF   Leave a comment

Here it goes, my first post as a board member and it’s NSFW!

Sex at TIFF

I spent part of my weekend watching two films at TIFF, The first volume in Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac and Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Arabian Nights. Never before had I even thought to compare the works of these two directors, until I saw them back-to-back at TIFF. These two arthouse directors are known for their explicit sexual nature and, in that, their non-simulated sex scenes. Decades apart, Nymphomaniac and the explicit works of Pasolini share the tropes of an undying controversy of explicit sexuality within cinema. Could Von Trier be considered the modern day Pasolini?

 

The Pier Paolo Pasolini Retrospective at TIFF is about half was through. Below I have listed a couple of my ‘must-see’ films from the collection. Please be advised, they are a sight to see, a.k.a. gruesome, explicit, full-frontal, etc.

Both Volumes of Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac are now playing at TIFF. See links Below.

 

Pier Paolo Pasolini: The Poet of Contamination

Oedipus Rex – March 30th – 6:00PM

Four Short Films By Pasolini – April 5th – 5:00PM

Salò, or The 120 Days of Sodom – April 12th – 7pm

 

Nymphomaniac

Volume I: http://tiff.net/programming/new-releases/nymphomaniac/nymphomaniac-volume-i

Volume II: http://tiff.net/programming/new-releases/nymphomaniac/nymphomaniac-volume-ii

Both now screening at TIFF Bell Lightbox.

-Emily

Hot Docs presents the International Documentary Challenge finalists   Leave a comment

On May 1, Hot Docs will host the theatrical premieres of the top 12 finalists of the sixth annual International Documentary Challenge. This is a timed filmmaking competition where teams have five days to make a short documentary that is 4-7 minutes long. The screening takes place at 1pm at Innis Town Hall.

The registered participants made their films from Feb. 26 to March 2, 2014. They were asked to choose between assigned genres and a theme that shape the content of their film.doc_challenge-small

Timed competitions allow filmmakers to spend a specified period of time focusing on one project. It also teaches them how to manage their time with available resources, make quick decisions and work well under pressure. They learn to prioritize what is and is not important to their film, which can lead to an inspiring product. These types of challenges can be an exhilarating and rewarding experience for filmmakers and enhances their creativity. It is important to push the boundaries every so often and challenge yourself to embrace new cinematic possibilities.

For the complete list of finalist and other information about the International Documentary Challenge, visit docchallenge.com

The 2014 Hot Docs Film Festival takes place April 24 to May 4 and will feature 197 films from 43 countries.

- Michelle

Student Showcases 2014   Leave a comment

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Henry and Sia at 2013 York U Finish Line

Spring is upon us, which means students are finishing up their yearly film projects and we’ll be visiting the different schools to find some of the best short films of the year produced by young filmmakers in the GTA.  It all starts next week with the U of T Film Festival (our programmer Julia will purposely miss the finale of How I Met Your Mother just to be there). York University’s Finish Line is spread across multiple weeks in April.  The Augmented Cinema Film Festival run by T24 Project veteran and 2014 audience choice winner, Jamie McMillan, and features work by students and alumni of OCAD is also in April and free to attend.  The Zoom Film Festival, featuring high school films held at Earl Haig Secondary, takes place in May along with the Toronto Student Film Festival, where this year’s winning entry from the T24 Project, Peaches, will play.  The Ryerson University Film Festival will also be in May.

Do you have a screening you want us to attend?  Let us know!

-Henry

PLAY (The Film): What You Can Do With 2 Weeks, $1,000, and A Whole Lotta Talent   Leave a comment

Play-The-Film-Poster-Feb-12-837x1024If only I had the time. If only I had the money — Laments every aspiring filmmaker ever. Well, PLAY: The Film ran at the 2014 Canadian Film Fest last week and blew those sad, lazy excuses out of the water.

PLAY follows the opening night of an indie theatre production gone horribly awry. The actors are forced to improvise to at times disastrous, at times brilliant, but always hilarious results.  This is a team with powerful comedic timing, as laid back as it is precise, and a script as erudite as it is irreverent. It has won numerous People’s Choice Awards and it was created for a song.

Writer/Producer Kelly McCormack wrote for fifteen hours a day for two weeks to get the script finished, followed by two-weeks of filming. With a budget of $1000 out of pocket, McCormack has called it “some serious gritty ninja bootlegging indie film-making at its best and somehow we all stayed friends.” She sounds cool, doesn’t she?

PLAY was created in response to a challenge by maverick producer/director Ingrid Veninger to create a film for $1000. McCormack describes Veninger’s philosophy as “you don’t need permission. You’re only a filmmaker when you’re making a film, so why don’t you go do that?”

 So, to all of the broke, aspiring filmmakers out there, why don’t you go and do that?

- Maggie Clapperton

 

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