Placement Of The Grain
Well, it's been a hell of a news cycle, hasn't it? Senators drummed out of caucus, the mayor of frickin' Toronto allegedly caught on video smoking a substance which appears to be crack, an earthquake ... if a lamb should wander up to you this holiday weekend and offer to open the seventh seal, do not engage with it and call 311. Operators will be standing by.
When Rob Ford inevitably stumbles into his next controversy/distraction, we're all going to need a break. And since I'm assuming you'll see Star Trek Into Darkness over the weekend (preferably in IMAX 3D, where it will be spectacular), let me suggest a couple of other options for you.
Tuesday night, The Royal is holding a screening of Albert Nerenberg's new documentary Boredom at 7 pm. As the title suggests, it's an examination of the phenomenon of boredom. And while there's surely an interesting movie to be made about boredom from a neurological or cultural perspective, this ain't it.
Nerenberg is less a documentarian than a light satirist; he models his documentaries after Michael Moore's ironic pastiches, using jaunty musical cues and winky stock footage to illustrate his points rather than approach a subject head-on.
That approach worked really nicely in Let's All Hate Toronto and Stupidity, when the material is already halfway to ridiculousness. It doesn't work here, because the subject doesn't really lend itself to an ironic tone; all Nerenberg can do is invent a dopey framing story about being motivated to investigate boredom because he misplaces his iPhone, and deliver a lot of voice-over narration in a knowing tone. So, yeah.
Wednesday night is brighter, with TIFF hosting its annual Student Film Showcase at the Lightbox. Featuring an assortment of live-action and animated works from film schools across Canada, it's a good way to scope out rising talent.
On the animated front, I particularly enjoyed Blackout, Sharron Mirsky's illustrated oral history of the epic power outage of August 2003, and Mitch Kraft's surrealistic Placement Of The Grain. On the live-action side, Byron Chan's 1997 is an intriguing found-footage experiment worthy of the Images festival, and Dylan Stirewalt's Savage feels like a continuation of the rural and interpersonal themes Denis Côté has been exploring in his recent features.
The Student Film Showcase screen at 8 pm; it's preceded at 6 pm by TIFF's Next Wave program Jump Cuts, showcasing works from Ontario high-school students. (No preview was available.)
One more thing before I go back to monitoring my Twitter feed: The North York Drive-In has announced that it'll be closing this year. The news came as a surprise; I didn't even know there were any drive-in theatres left in North York. Turns out it's North York as in "York Region"; the North York Drive-In is actually located in Holland Landing, north of Newmarket. Or it was, anyway.
On Tuesday, a note on the theatre's Facebook page announced the North York would not be opening this summer. "Technology, and conversion to digital projection has made us obsolete and threatens other independent theatres," it said.
It had never occurred to me that the phasing out of 35mm prints for distribution would affect the drive-in circuit, but of course those operations wouldn't have had the money to go digital. Drive-ins went out of fashion in the 80s, when people began to understand they didn't have to experience movies in the worst imaginable conditions and might prefer the new-fangled picture houses with nice seats and Dolby Surround.
Now, with the tradition of taking your car to the movies having turned back into a novelty, the inability to book new movies is snuffing out the last of the drive-ins. I guess we should be sad about that.
But ... well, 3D came back, so anything's possible. Maybe some wily entrepreneur will reinvent the concept with a powerful video projector and a collection of retro Blu-rays. Artisanal snacks! Private-label pop!
Come to think of it, that sounds like a pretty good idea. Someone might want to run with that. At the very least it'd give us a distraction from that (alleged) train wreck we (allegedly) elected mayor.