The epic snowstorm raging outside is putting a damper on all sorts of activities today ... which is terrible luck for a number of cinematic events around Toronto. I'm going to run through them quickly in the name of optimism, but you're best advised to call ahead to make sure they're still underway.
Elizabeth Mims and Jason Tippet's exquisite documentary Only The Young begins a limited run at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema tonight. It follows teenage friends Skye, Garrison and Kevin in a small California town as they skateboard around, hang out, fumble through relationships and edge towards that larger understanding of the world and their place in it that's tritely called "coming of age".
With a little slow-motion footage and a great sense of timing, Mims and Tippet turn potentially banal conversations into gripping drama; a moment in which Garrison tries to get Kevin to discuss some mysterious cuts on Kevin's arm is both tender and tense. And Skye has layers, too - living with her grandparents, hardly communicating at all with her mother and father, and trying to define herself as a woman when it's clear she's still very much a girl.
The Bloor has Only The Young booked for just three shows - one tonight, one tomorrow afternoon and one on Thursday - but hopefully it'll come back before too long. It's a lovely, thoughtful picture, one that captures the uncertainty of adolescence and allows its subjects to be confused, but not lost. It's kind of beautiful, really.
If you're looking for something more experimental, the sixth annual 8 Fest kicks off tonight, screening small-gauge cinema through Sunday at the Workman Arts Theatre. This year's programming includes two collections of internationally sourced shorts (tonight, 9 pm and Sunday, 9 pm), a feature adaptation of Oscar Wilde's Salome by Teo Hernandez (tonight, 11 pm), the annual three-hour 8mm workshop (Saturday, 2 pm) and a nifty look at home fashions and furnishings, The Design Of Everyday Life, presented by the Home Movie History Project (Sunday, 7 pm).
Hopefully, the snowstorm won't keep spotlight artist Ross McLaren from attending a showcase of his work (Saturday, 9 pm) and the related Artist Talk (Sunday, 2 pm). But you might want to keep an eye on the website, just in case.
Not interested in the small stuff? Tony Scott's Top Gun sneaks back into theatres this week for an IMAX 3D engagement designed to pimp the movie's February 19th Blu-ray release. I haven't seen the new conversion so I can't speak to its quality - and bear in mind that this is only playing on digital IMAX screens, which are but a shadow of the proper IMAX experience. But let's be honest: people who love Top Gun have never been overly concerned with quality, have they?
Finally, we come back to the concept of intimate, small-scale filmmaking. Anticipating Tower paves the way for the arrival of Kazik Radwanski's feature debut at the Royal next week. Five shorts by Radwanski and his collaborators at Medium Density Fibreboard Films will be screened Wednesday at 7 pm at the Royal.
If you've caught Princess Margaret Blvd. or Out In That Deep Blue Sea at a film festival (or as part of the Canada's Top Ten screenings for 2008 and 2009, respectively), you should really familiarize yourself with the rest of the MDFF's catalogue. And then be sure to see Tower when it opens February 22.