The death of Roger Ebert last week derailed a lot of film stuff, including the Friday web column I'd originally intended to write. Fortunately, the thing I was going to write about then is still a going concern now - and maybe even more relevant in the wake of a critical titan's passing.
That thing is Cléo, a quarterly online film journal that launched earlier this month. Founded by my good friend (and occasional NOW Movies contributor) Kiva Reardon, it's intended as "a journal of film and feminism" - which means, at least in its first issue, it's a collection of incisive essays written by intelligent, politically aware women.
In her inaugural editor's note, Kiva lays out Cléo's theoretical underpinnings, citing Agnès Varda and Claire Denis in her ambition "to forge an open space where writers can address various feminist perspectives in all forms of film, new and old."
She's off to an excellent start, with the first issue - organized around the theme of "flesh" - including managing editor Julia Cooper's examination of Spring Breakers director Harmony Korine's "radical intimacy", Lindsay Jensen's look at the physicality of characters in Zero Dark Thirty and Kiva's own essay on Steven Soderbergh's use of Gina Carano's body as action object in last year's Haywire, among other pieces.
Cléo is soliciting submissions for its second issue. The theme is "Home". I'm very keen to see what results.
The staff of Cléo aren't the only movie lovers in Toronto, of course; just the newest ones to lay claim to their territory. Christopher Heron, Pavan Moondi and Brian Robertson have been carving out their own space at The Seventh Art, which bills itself as "a video magazine about cinema".
They've released engaging long-form interviews and thoughtful, witty video essays about specific films - including all five features in the Psycho franchise, which is either ambitious or insane - and last year they brought the filmmaker Whit Stillman to Toronto to screen and discuss his films Metropolitan and The Last Days Of Disco at the first of their Live Directors Series.
The second event in the series was just announced: maverick American filmmaker Paul Schrader will be at the Royal next Sunday evening (April 21) to screen a new digital restoration of Taxi Driver (which he wrote for some guy named Marty), present a clip from his new feature, the infamously complicated Los Angeles drama The Canyons and sit down for an extended conversation and Q&A with Heron.
Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door; this is not something you're going to want to miss.