With just a couple of days left in the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, all that's left for the media to do is play the People's Choice guessing game. I would have put odds on Ben Affleck's Argo, but for the predictable (and entirely manufactured) kerfuffle over the supposed marginalization of the film's Canadian characters.
Perhaps the big prize will go to The Sapphires, the Australian Vietnam-era soul-music comedy drama which The Weinstein Company is hoping to turn into this year's Oscar underdog. Personally, I'm hoping people get behind Sarah Polley's complex and heartfelt Stories We Tell, one of the festival's best movies. If you saw it, you know why it could become a popular favourite ... if you didn't, you can catch up to it next month.
The festival announces its awards at a brunch on Sunday; follow @nowfilm on Twitter as we provide up-to-the-minute coverage.
Of course, TIFF isn't the only game in town this weekend; it's not even the only TIFF in town. The Toronto Indie Film Festival has been running parallel to the Toronto International Film Festival all week, screening shorts, features and the odd documentary down at the Toronto Underground Cinema.
It's the sort of festival that you can admire for its passion more than for its content. Some of the movies screening have been knocking around the micro-fest circuit for a while - like last night's My Father And The Man In Black, which debuted at NXNE, and tonight's Below Zero, which played the Canadian Film Festival earlier this spring. I just have the feeling it'd be better off if it didn't position itself directly against Toronto's biggest movie event of the year.
And speaking of the Toronto Underground Cinema ... well, this will likely be the last time we speak of it. After two bumpy years and a few dark months, the theatre officially ceases operations this week, closing down Sunday night with a
free double-bill of Night Of The Comet and The Last Waltz ($5 for both films).
I've been a supporter of the Underground since its opening day, so this ain't sitting well. Operators Nigel Agnew, Alex Woodside and Charlie Lawton always knew opening a 35mm repertory theatre in the age of digital downloads was a risky proposition, and doubly so when you decide you're going to focus on the weird, culty stuff that by definition discourages a mass audience. But the Underground had some great ideas that should have caught on, and didn't; people filled the seats for a free screening of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, but they didn't come back in the same numbers - if at all - for the more eclectic stuff.
So that's it; Sunday's double-bill will be the Underground's last. But the guys are going out on their own terms; Night Of The Comet, which screens at 6:30 pm, is a goofy zombie comedy in which a projection booth is one of the last safe places in an apocalypse, and The Last Waltz, which screens at 9 pm, turns The Band's final performance into a celebration of impermanence, with Martin Scorsese perfectly capturing the joy of participating in something you know won't happen again.
On the Underground's home page, Alex, Nigel and Charlie vow they'll revive the spirit of the Underground in some form, somewhere down the line - and I believe they can. I'll keep you posted.
Elsewhere in the weekend movie calendar, the Carlton Cinema is supporting AIDS Walk Toronto Saturday with a day-long film festival. Vito screens at 1:20 pm, We Were Here at 4:15 pm, Philadelphia at 7 pm and Rent at 9:20 pm. Admission is free, though a $5 donation to ACT/AIDS Walk is suggested.
And finally, Disney re-releases Finding Nemo in 3D today. Like last year's Lion King reissue, it's a way to squeeze a little more cash out of a lucrative studio property and raise awareness of the Blu-ray coming out later this fall, but that's not important. What's important is that Finding Nemo, which is a truly delightful movie, is back on the big screen for a few weeks. So go see it when you have a chance.