Monday, January 2, 2012

Three for three

Sure I like Toronto. But the idea of wandering the streets window shopping all afternoon on a cold December day prior to a friendly business gathering in the evening kind of left me, well, cold. The solution? How about sitting in a theatre watching back-to-back matinees? You can do that in the big city, where movie houses start screenings at noon and often run until late evening (some things, gladly, never change). And then, since I wasn’t catching the bus home to Windsor until 1 am, I had time to kill after dinner. The solution? Another film of course. It all worked out perfectly.....My train arrived in Toronto at 1.05 pm, allowing me theoretically just enough time to catch a subway up to Bloor St. and the Cumberland Theatre. The Cumberland is a venerable old TO art house in Yorkville, about three levels in height with an escalator taking you from the main floor. The theatre, which I have been to occasionally over the years, hasn’t changed since it was built likely in the 1970s. No matter. With tickets priced just over $10 the theatre threw in a sizable popcorn and large pop, a promotion I haven’t seen at any other place....My first film at 1.30 (okay, by the time I got there it was 1.45) was Café de Flore by Quebec’s  Jean-Marc Vallée (of C.R.A.Z.Y., 2005 fame, which I have not seen but now will). In truth I was a bit leery of this movie’s plot, since it swings back-and-forth between contemporary Montreal and 1969 Paris, with a connection that seems a stretch. But, watching it, both stories are deeply absorbing, even if the connection still isn’t all that apparent but vaguely appears as the film moves on. I won’t vouch for the overall plot's credibility. I think this might depend on what your way of looking at the world is. But each story is wonderfully acted and packs an emotional punch.....This movie was followed by a 3.45 screening (“You’ll make it just in time,” the ticket seller said) of Australian director Fred Schepisi’s The Eye of the Storm starring Geoffrey Rush, Judy Davis and Charlotte Rampling based on the early 1970s’s novel by Patrick White. This is an acting tour-de-force with Rampling playing the dying wealthy matriarch Elizabeth Hunter, literally on her death bed, with her selfish children Rush (Basil, a famous and conceited British actor) and Davis (Dorothy de Lascabanes, some Parisien aristocrat). The story is a send-up of privilege and selfishness, and could easily be a stage play. Davis is particularly good as the frustrated, neurotic “princess,” who only knows too well how to put her foot in her mouth.....Finally, after the Christmas dinner and a short subway ride from "the Danforth" back to Toronto’s midtown, I caught a 10.30 pm screening of The Artist, the hot silent film that has been garnering many award nominations and is many critics’top pick for 2011, by French director Michel Hazanavicius. This is an extraordinary recreation of a silent film set in 1927. And it has all the tropes of that genre, from the cutesy musical score to a Rudolf Valentino lead (Jean Dujardin as George Valentin) and a plot (the downfall of the silent actor with the rise of the talkies). John Goodman (as a stereotyped shouting – of course - 1920s producer) and Penelope Ann Miller also star. (The movie is currently showing in the Windsor-Detroit area at Landmark’s Maple Art Theatre in West Bloomfield.)

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