Issue: May 2015 - Toronto Cinema History

Essential Canadian Cinema: The Rep

In May 2010 Torontonians were filled with hope when the Toronto Underground Cinema opened its doors. Run by three local cinephiles, the theatre community hoped it would fill the void in the city’s repertory cinema landscape left by Bloor Cinema (which closed its doors as a rep cinema, and found new life as an upscale documentary-focused art house theatre). Alex, Charlie and Nigel had no previous experience running a business, nor helming a single-screen theatre on their own. The cinema faltered and had a rough start, and local documentary filmmaker Morgan White decided to make a movie about the experience. This month Toronto Film Scene Editor-in-Chief Will Brownridge and Publisher Trista DeVries come together to discuss whether The Rep is Essential Canadian Cinema.   Trista: So, first, I should probably say that I loved this movie. In watching The Rep, I definitely got a different picture than I did when The Underground was open. I was difficult for me to get a handle on what was going on there, since from an industry perspective, they never seemed to have any real programming. It was never obvious to me that they had any kind of renaissance or re-opening. What I liked about the film the most was that it looked hard at the journey one specific cinema went on (with a ton of unusual obstacles), but contextualized it with the...

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Spring Awakening: interview with Aaron Moorhead, Justin Benson, and Nadia Hilker

Filmmakers Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson have jokes. Lots of jokes. Anyone that has ever seen one of their always fun post-screening Q&As – locally in Toronto following the debut of Resolution at Toronto After Dark a few years ago or following their world premiere of Spring (officially opening this Friday, May 15, 2015) at TIFF last year – would know that. They have an irreverence to them that makes sitting down with them and keeping a straight face sometimes difficult. They’re a joy to be around, and one hopes that joy never fades from them. It’s that same irreverence that makes their films so thoughtful and out of the ordinary. Resolution was an emotionally stunning, ultra-low budget, genre bending production about two friends – one addict and one responsible friend – holed up in a cabin in the woods. They try to patch up their damaged relationship, but they’re also caught in a sinister cat and mouse game with an unseen supernatural force that’s sending them threatening messages. With Spring, Benson and Moorhead take their nuanced approach to character based horror and use it to tell a story about a romantic relationship. It’s about a troubled American named Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) who is trying to blow off some steam by travelling around Europe. In Italy, he becomes infatuated with Louise (Nadia Hilker), a young woman he gets...

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Strolling the Promenade de la Croisette: TFS Cannes 2015 preview

Ah, the Festival de Cannes (or Cawww-nes, if you want to get all faux-pretentious about it). It’s the apex of high film culture, a bourgeois celebration of the cinema (not “movies”; that’s crass) that takes place along a sparkling European beachfront that James Bond might frequent. Accordingly, Cannes is also the most unattainable film festival that I can think of. Seriously, does anybody other than journalists, industry people, and Saudi princes attend this thing? Not even all journalists are allowed, as yours truly found out when his e-mails requesting accreditation went unanswered (on second thought, maybe I shouldn’t have sent it from my account… oh, well). Who am I kidding though? We all still love Cannes. The glitz, the glamour – it’s all a very classy old-school demonstration of celebrity. But most of all, they always have an amazing line-up of hotly anticipated new films that basically sets the course for the rest of the year. Guests may not be allowed to take selfies on the red carpet anymore (more on that later), but the people in charge sure love and respect the art of film. So here’s my preview of the 2015 edition of Cannes, as I sit here in my Toronto apartment, staring out the window at the brick wall of a subway station, fantasizing about strolling down la Croisette with Gerard Depardieu. Not talking or...

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No rest for the wicked: an interview with Katharine Isabelle, star of 88

Horror fans have been watching Katharine Isabelle on the big screen since her outstanding performance in Ginger Snaps in 2000. Since then she’s starred in a string of genre hits, including two sequels to Ginger Snaps, American Mary, See No Evil 2, and an ongoing role in the most disturbing show on network television, Hannibal. She’s certainly Canada’s scream queen, but Isabelle has been featured in a number of films and shows that are outside of the genre she may be most known for. Lawrence & Holloman showed she could pull off great comedy, something she’ll be proving once again as she stars in the upcoming How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town, while non-stop action is what she delivers in her latest release, 88. I had a chance to speak with the always enthusiastic and hilarious actress about her string of never ending credits, the joy of gunfights in film, and how she has been blessed with so many strong female characters. For an actress who has built a huge following playing characters with a bit of a nasty streak, Isabelle is immediately friendly and joking as she begins speaking. Even over the phone you can tell that Isabelle isn’t like the characters she portrays. Perhaps the most surprising thing is that she even has time to speak with me, as she is very rarely away from a...

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