Monday, June 4, 2012

Uninspired and uninspiring

The Detroit Film Theatre’s summer schedule is out and it’s all classics. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles 1941) (left) opens the series June 23, with All Quiet on the Western Front (Lewis Milestone 1930) closing it Aug. 25. Seems rather ho-hum to me and it’s not that I’m not interested in classic films. But how many times have we been exposed to Citizen Kane? Moreover all these films can be rented on DVD. To see the entire schedule click on the link at right.

In April The Globe and Mail ran an article reporting Toronto’s new TIFF Bell Lightbox was not drawing big enough audience.  “People have come. But not, it seems, in the numbers (management) might have been hoping,” the story said. The article doesn’t mention a reason why this might be so: the uninspired programming. I raised this in a post last Dec. 5. The Lightbox is an amazing building, with five cinemas (1400 seats), two restaurants and a film museum. But the movies screened, at least when I’ve checked the schedule, don’t vary a whole heck of a lot from what any other art house cinema would show. For example, tonight’s schedule is We Have a Pope (Nanni Moretti 2011), Where Do We Go Now? (Nadine Labaki 2011) and Marley (Kevin MacDonald 2012), all films that have already or soon will be screened in Detroit. No problem with that of course. But the Bell Lightbox, which is headquarters to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), by its very nature aspires to be a significant outlet for film. So why isn’t there more imaginative programming? Why not have at least one or two cinemas every night screening more obscure international films, or movies by unheralded directors or fantastic films that hardly see the light of day? Otherwise the Lightbox is simply a glorified neighbourhood repertory theatre. 

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