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Five Favourite Moments of TIFF 2014

Hacker Renders
I don’t know if it qualifies as a “guilty pleasure” exactly, but the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival was certainly a love/hate experience.

We’ve both had some previous exposure to what I’ve never stopped thinking of as “The Festival of Festivals”.  However, this was our first time being so involved, so immersed, so overwhelmed.

Over the course of two weeks, we went, we saw, we felt conquered.  As a pair of avowed introverts, neither geek nor goth were entirely prepared for the lines, the waiting, or the socializing, but we managed to come away a bit wiser and refilled with fond memories nonetheless.

Here are just five . . .

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Lucy (2014)

Lucy_2014Dedicated to Anastasia

“Life was given to us a billion years ago. Now you know what you can do with it.”

* *

Hey kids!

Want to be smart, efficient and learned? Try Luc Besson’s patented ‘Whole Brain Program’ that lets you unlock the power of your entire brain quickly and easily.

It is simple! ….How you ask?

Drugs! Lots of them!

Just shove fistfuls of what appears to be Walter White’s large-format blue meth crystals into your face and …Blammo! You are using your *whole brain* to do fun stuff.

What kind of fun stuff, you say? Fun stuff like shooting a cab driver in the leg for not being able to speak English!

Shooting a dude on an operating table. It’s cool because he was going to die anyway!

Don’t forget to stab people. Lots of people. Stabbing is awesome too. Speak in a creepy monotone! Feel how people’s kidneys are functioning from the outside! And sure you might be killing 100s of innocent pedestrians and motorists in Paris by starting a wholly unnecessary high-speed car chase but remember this is a Luc Besson joint!

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Five Favourite Swiss Picks

Hacker RendersHot on the heels of July’s Canada Day is another Summer “first” I enjoy: Swiss National Day, which kicks off August. While I most often celebrate the land where I live, like August Schellenberg, I’m actually Swiss-Canadian. And though I take considerable pride in recognizing the pop culture of my home-away-from-home, there’s less of it which is familiar, to be sure.

Still, we’ve covered several works which could qualify, being set or shot in — or simply paid for by — Switzerland.

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Drying Up The Streets (1978)


“Ain’t nothing shaking but the leaves on the trees.”

* * * *

My posts on this blog lately have been, to put it charitably, rather sporadic. I would like to be able to share a really cool excuse for my months’ long hiatus.

Like… maybe I was doing deep undercover to break up an international drug ring.

No, that’s a lie.

The truth is duller. Full of suburban, white-collar, first-world agonies.

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Cool Event Alert: Royal Cinema’s Laserblast Video Night

mechanical_violator_hakaider“If this peace is fictitious, I shall destroy it!” recently moved to Toronto. So far, we have a solid suspicion that we might very well never, ever sleep again. There’s so much to do here, so much to see.

So …many …awesome …film events. Puff, puff.

What’s with this town? This one time in Ottawa we hosted a “Bad Film Evening.” A few people showed up. It was okay. There were chips.

I even purchased a copy of the execrable Myra Breckinridge  should we ever do it again.

We didn’t (perhaps for the best).

Here in Toronto, people do it up right.

Case in point: Every third Wednesday of the month  The Royal Cinema (608 College St. Toronto) is hosting Laserblast Video Night. Forward-thinking, our-kinda-people founders and hosts Peter Kuplowsky and Justin Decloux play straight-to-video films in all their crappy VHS glory on the big screen …”the way they were never meant to be seen.” So brilliant.

In fact, this is so cool, I might explode like a futuristic android being hit with a Lite-Brite cattle prod. Speaking of, this week they are playing Mechanical Violator Hakaider.

Sweet jeepers, I love this town. Check out Laserblast Video Night at The Royal Theatre or check them out on Twitter @TheRoyalCinema

Five More CanCon Pride Picks

Hacker RendersI recently saw a comment which has stuck in my mind since. In response to an article about the role of female characters in video games, someone posted, “There are no small injustices.” Which is likewise why we keep banging the LGBT drum.

I’m a big believer in equal rights, but also in being entertained; movies seem like the perfect way to get the message across.

And when you’ve reviewed many hundreds of videos, then winnowed it down to CanCon, there’s still a decent subset of pride-friendly titles. Keep whittling away the not-enjoyed ones, and others with less positive messages, and you wind up with a list like this one from 2012: Five Gay-Positive Portrayals in Canadian Film

Still, 2012 was so two years ago, and we’ve covered more ground since then, enough to generate a whole new list to complement the original. So whether you’re celebrating Pride Week in Toronto, WorldPride anywhere else, or pride in general any old time, here’s a variety of solid picks to get you in the mood.

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World Film Locations: Toronto (2014)

World Film Locations Toronto (2014)

World Film Locations: Toronto may prove useful in an ongoing endeavour, to convince my fellow Canadians of the virtues of my home town. As echoed time and again on our blog, for me there’s just “something” about Toronto. It’s as close as I come to faith, a sense of devotion not yet overcome.

Perhaps it was meeting the actor Don Lake (Terminator 2), while filming at a local school yard. He’s since gone on to feature in the beloved films of Christopher Guest’s don’t-call-them-mockumentaries series. At the time, however, I knew him only vaguely from ads and SCTV. Yet here he was in person, in my neighbourhood, delivering the magic of showbiz. I remember him as gracious and engaging, duly signing whatever I proffered.

Not so warm was a later incident with an actor I still grudgingly respect: Al Pacino brushing past me with a snarl, on the set of Sea of Love. Who did he think he was, this ruffian, intruding on my territory?

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