Paul Williams: Still Alive
It's looking like a right gloomy weekend in Toronto, but really, isn't that just an excuse to patronize your local movie house? You can go hiking or picnicking some other time; this week, take a warm beverage and retreat into the cinema.
Out in Leslieville, the Projection Booth continues its commitment to limited runs of offbeat cinema with Craigslist Joe, a documentary that follows filmmaker Joseph Garner as he sets himself the Spurlockian challenge of spending a month traveling around America, finding all of his food, lodging and companionship on Craigslist.
Garner's an amiable guy, and the movie reflects that attitude, seeing Craigslist as a hub for all human kindness. (The site's more adult purposes are addressed only obliquely, and not very often.) And the problem with Craigslist Joe's sunny outlook is that it really doesn't allow for much conflict or drama.
As the weeks pass, it becomes more and more apparent that Garner's either oblivious to - or wilfully unaware of - the considerable class divide he's crossing. His job in the film industry (and his friendship with Zach Galifianakis, who takes an executive producer credit on Craigslist Joe) allows him the privilege of taking a month off to wander around bumming rides from people.
If you want to see someone who's really struggled, hop over to the Annex, where the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema is devoting its schedule to the wonderment that is composer-performer Paul Williams, who plunged into addiction after his 70s heyday and clawed his way back on a combination of determination and fan adulation.
Stephen Kessler's celebratory documentary Paul Williams: Still Alive, which popped up at TIFF 2011 and this year's NXNE film component, screens tonight through Sunday and again on Tuesday and Thursday, supported by weekend matinees of the Williams-scored Bugsy Malone and screenings tonight and Monday of Brian de Palma's cult classic Phantom Of The Paradise, in which Williams plays a particularly groovy Mephistopheles. (Shame they couldn't get hold of The Muppet Movie, though.)
Now, the weather's due to clear up later in the week, so if you should find yourself more amenable to outside activities come Thursday, you might want to check out the Toronto Port Authority's Sail-In Festival. Kicking off August 16 down at Sugar Beach, the festival will screen The Poseidon Adventure, the original Creature From The Black Lagoon and Steven Spielberg's Hook over three consecutive nights, projecting each feature on a dual-sided screen viewable from both the lake and the shore.
It's a free series, though "landlubbers" will need to book tickets for the individual screenings. And please try to keep the pirate noises to a minimum during Hook; that's not nearly as much fun as you think it is.
And as long as we're on the topic of watery movies, Niki Caro's Whale Rider is this week's Harbourfront Free Flick. Come down to the WestJet stage around 9 pm on Wednesday night, and watch me do my best not to spoil the New Zealand crowd-pleaser's shocking twist ending. Even though the title kinda does that all on its own, honestly.