Festivals-a-Go-Go: Dec.1 – Dec. 9, 2011

December 3, 2011 | By | Add a Comment

Today’s post is quick and belated , but I’ll have several review clusters shortly.

First the bad news: there’s about 3 weeks left to Christmas, which means you have that much time to find the perfect gift, hint to friends / family / partner of your perfect gift, and develop a strategy to ensure you know how you’ll lose the dough from the chocolate, the pie, the cookies, and the beer before the end of January, or the new pants will not fit.

Now the sad news: actor Bill McKinney has passed away at the age of 80. Don’t recognize the name? McKinney played the lead sodomizer in John Boorman’s Deliverance (1972), and later became a member of Clint Eastwood’s stock company. Even if McKinney had acted in 100 films and brilliantly portrayed tragic Shakespearean heroes on the stage, he’ll always be remembered as the sick dude to made Ned Beatty squeal like a little piggy.

Now the so-so news: as it’s getting closer to Xmas, there are less film festivals overlapping, which probably is a deliberate tactic by festival planners to ensure they too have a semblance of a vacation. Below is the current festival tally, plus ongoing & upcoming screenings at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.

One highlight this month: critic Adam Nayman will host a Q&A after the Sunday Dec. 18th screening of Roman Polanski’s Chinatown, part of the TIFF Bell Lightbox’s tribute to the ingenue-happy director whose latest work, Carnage, opens in theatres at the end of the month.

I’ve never seen the film on the big screen, so I’m game, particularly with Jerry Goldsmith’s lush, deeply melancholy theme, which ranks as one of his best early seventies scores. Besides, you may have to see it on the big screen because you can’t buy it: Paramount’s Blu-ray never happened, and the special edition DVD was deleted weeks after it streeted without any explanation. Bah humbug, indeed.

A second highlight this month: Hot Docs has announced one can buy advance ticket packages for the 2012 festival which will run April 26 – May 6. Early Bird pricing remains in effect until March 19th. If last year’s sampling is any indication of the goodies offered at the world’s biggest documentary film festival, it’ll be easy to pick at least five films of interest.

Also from Hot Docs is the new membership & discount cards available for purchase for the re-christened Bloor / Hot Docs Cinema. Details about the cinema’s programming is still mum, but the inference is sometime in January.

Finally, the Toronto Underground Cinema’s announced a Hockey on the Big Screen day (Saturday Dec. 17). Early arrives can watch the Leafs at 7pm, and a 35mm print of Slap Shot will screen at 10:30pm.

An ultimate double-bill (in my eyes) would be the 1971 CanCon classique Face-Off, recently rescued from oblivion and released on DVD courtesy of VSC. Never heard of ‘Canada’s Love Story‘? Nul problemo, because a review will be up soon, weighing the gravitas of hockey and soapy scenes between Art Hindle (Black Christmas) and hottie Trudy Young (The Starlost).

Lastly, before we move on to this week’s festival tally & screening series, today is Nino Rota’s birthday. The Maestro would’ve been 100 today, and while most know Rota for his carnival-styled music for most of Frederico Fellini’s films, he also scored a number of fine dramas, of which The Leopard is a masterpiece in film + score (sparse as it is).

Rota’s music for the “Toby Dammit” sequence in Spirits of the Dead is equally potent, and I’m thinking in honor of the composer I should indeed treat myself to the new Blu-ray available in the U.K. from Arrow. It’s region free, and apparently looks smashing.


Film Festivals & Screenings on-the-go in T.O.:

Pomegranate Film Festival: Armenian Youth Centre, Thurs. Dec. 1 – Sun. Dec. 4
TIFF Bell Lightbox:
Hollywood Classics: The Cinema is Nicholas Ray: ending Tues. Dec. 13

Roman Polanski: Sat. Dec. 17 – Sun. Dec. 25

Films in 70mm this month: Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang (Sun. Dec. 25) + 2001:  A Space Odyssey (Sun. Dec. 25 – Wed. Jan. 4)

Current Exhibit Grace Kelly: From Movie Star to Princess: ending Jan. 22, 2012


Non-Festival / non-series / venues still really good & worth checking out:

The Projection Booth

Toronto Underground Cinema



Mark R. Hasan, Editor
KQEK.com ( Main Site / Mobile Site )

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