GOLDIROCKS OPENING PARTY with the Chickens , Teenage Head , Tijuana Bibles , Wayne Omaha and special guests at Lee's Palace (529 Bloor West), tonight (Thursday, May 27), 9 pm. Free. 416-532-1598, www.goldirocks.com.
As rock and roll fantasies go, the Goldirocks cinematic fairy tale of a young woman's aggressive pursuit of the rocker chick dream - which Toronto filmmaker Paula Tiberius has loosely based on the old Three Bears storyline - could've been set in anytown anywhere. However, the first glimpse of the familiar bar and stage set-up of Lee's Palace immediately brings it home. Even before the well-pierced Robin Black comes prancing forth or Moe Berg asks a guitar shop clerk for a curly cord, it's clear that Goldirocks is a Toronto indie production, shot on location here with local scenesters filling in the support roles.
For University of Toronto cinema studies grad Tiberius, who grew up on the Toronto club scene and briefly fronted all-girl garage rockers Sticky Rice, the project was merely a matter of shooting what she knew. And for that we have Bruce McDonald to blame.
"Bruce McDonald's Roadkill was a key inspiration for me," Tiberius proclaims. "I saw that movie when I was 14 years old - right around the time I started going to all-ages shows - and it really blew my mind. It was my introduction to the world of independent filmmaking, so I was, like, 'Wow, you can make a movie about some guys in a band from Toronto going on the road? Cool!'"
Goldirocks, which opens at the Carlton Friday (May 28 - see Film Openings, page 97), is Tiberius's first feature-length film project. Unfortunately, that's exactly what it looks like.
Not only is the narrative weak, but the characters are poorly drawn, the dialogue is uniformly lame, and the amateurish acting of the principals - including first-time lead Sasha Ormond, who plays the dreadlocked Goldi - does nothing to save it.
For all its faults, Goldirocks does a decent job of more accurately depicting the less than glamorous life of indie musicians on their way up than most Hollywood films of the genre, which tend to be about "making it," as in getting the major-label contract, scoring the big hit record and all the drugs and groupies that go with it.
Not once in Goldirocks does anyone toss out the idea of recording, let alone the possibility of a label deal. Instead, the members of the Neglected spend their evenings rehearsing to play for five people at Lee's Palace on a weeknight only to schlep their gear back to the band squat where three months' dishes and black mould have taken over the kitchen.
It seems too gross to be true, but Tiberius claims the Neglected squat was inspired by real life.
"The band's kitchen in the film was actually based on a house on Bathurst where Ian Blurton used to live with some of the other members of Change of Heart. I remember going over there once and thinking you'd need a gas mask just to get near the sink, let alone clean up the mess."
Typical of many rock flicks, the best thing about Goldirocks is the soundtrack, which is being released on the Rubber Road label and doubles nicely as a Toronto indie scene survey.
That comprehensive quality is a point of pride for Tiberius.
"When we were looking at the 47 songs we used in the film to narrow the list down to 22 tracks that would fit on a disc, we knew we had to include a song each from the artists who appear in the film - the Chickens, Cheerleader, Sticky Rice and Robin Black - and then all the feature songs by bands like Tricky Woo, John Critchley and the Swallows, but I also wanted to get on as many female artists as possible.
"Both the music supervisor, Tina Cooper, and I had a few songs we wanted on the disc that didn't make the cut, but I think it still does a good job of showing off the wide range of music being made independently in Toronto. I really thought of the film as as a showcase for Toronto artists, and I think the soundtrack reflects that."