Are you energized by the break in the oppressive humidity, but have no concrete plans for the weekend? (Other than seeing Pacific Rim, of course.) Perhaps you'd like to wander down to the Lightbox, where TIFF Cinematheque has scheduled a terrific little mini-festival of Johnnie To films as part of its summer-long Century Of Chinese Cinema series.
"Who's Johnnie To?" you ask. He's the guy who took the cops-and-gangsters genre John Woo pioneered in the 80s and 90s with films like A Better Tomorrow, The Killer and Hard-Boiled and nudged it in the direction of expansive procedurals that take a macro view of the crime drama. It's not just police and crooks who are examined in To's films but entire institutions.
To will be at the Lightbox on Saturday to introduce a screening of his gangster epic Election at 6 pm and its sequel Election 2 at 8 pm. In complexity and density, if not emotional potency, these are Hong Kong's equivalent to the Godfather movies, and they play wonderfully on a big screen. See them.
Earlier on Saturday afternoon, To will sit down for one of TIFF's in-depth In Conversation With ... chats at 4 pm, and [Sunday] at 9 pm he'll introduce a special screening of his latest film, Drug War, which opens commercially next month.
It's a typically complex thriller about a narcotics detective (Sun Hong-lei, of Mongul: The Rise Of Genghis Khan and The Warring States) who infiltrates a cartel with the extremely questionable help of a mid-level manufacturer (Louis Koo, who co-starred in the Election films) who'll do almost anything to avoid a death sentence. It's awfully violent and fairly amoral - so it's right in To's wheelhouse.
If you're in a sportier mood, you might want to wait until Wednesday, when Maiken Baird and Michelle Major's documentary Venus & Serena gets a one-night-only cross-Canada screening at 7:30 pm in select Cineplex theatres. (In the GTA, it's playing at the Yonge & Dundas, Queensway, Colossus and Winston Churchill Cinemas.)
It's a fairly standard up-from-nothing sports documentary, aimed at people who already adore the Williams sisters for their tennis prowess and their ability to overcome numerous challenges on their way to winning many, many matches. I am obviously not the target audience for this movie - which is probably why it slipped by me when it played the Toronto Film Festival last year - but if you are, you will probably enjoy the access to both Serena and Venus, and the many nice things people say about them.
One small downside: If you go to Venus And Serena, you won't be able to make it down to Harbourfront for 9 pm, which is when I'll be introducing this week's Free Flicks screening of Nick Park and Steve Box's delightful stop-motion adventure Wallace & Gromit In The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit. And if you haven't seen Wallace & Gromit In The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit you're almost certainly incomplete as a human being, so you're going to want to fix that.