Weekly Toronto Flick Picks: Talkin’ Buffer Fest, Reel Indie at The Royal, and more


Outside the Royal Cinema for last year’s Reel Indie Festival

Image: Reel Indie Facebook

Reel Indie

Riff—aka Reel Indie Film Festival—is taking up a residency at The Royal from the 14th to the 19th this week as part of Toronto’s Indie Week. The premise of the festival is to give the viewer the experience of chasing after the dream of pop idol-dom through the combination of music and video. So, each night this week there’s an opening music video followed by a short film and then the feature documentary. Of course, there’s also an accompanying after-party at The Mod Club on College Street. The big opening night shindig is at The Crawford Bar and comes after the opening screening of a documentary about Johnny Winter tonight.

You can get individual screening tickets as well as all-encompassing Indie Week passes here.

Also, a quick note that the New York-based Zero Film Festival is stopping in Toronto tonight at the Drake Hotel. The hope is to give an outlet to exclusively self-financed filmmakers. Here’s a link to the preview.

Buffering... Buffering…

I don’t need to tell you the number of hits that a YouTube video can generate. I probably also don’t need to tell you that the way we watch movies is changing. For many, streaming is their primary media content source, and YouTube is far more than a cat video repository. Spreading the word on just how dynamic the filmmaking scene is on YouTube was part of the reason Corey Vidal launched the Buffer Festival last year.

“This is really about having a theatrical experience for videos that have millions of views, for creators and very successful filmmakers. We’re trying to bring that level of maturity and prestige to the YouTube community and YouTube filmmaking community.”

Vidal’s company, ApprenticeA, creates videos that have generated over a million hits. They use expensive camera equipment that can shine in 1080p on large screens just as well as on a tablet. For Vidal seeing his films on a big screen, with everyone in attendance’s eyes glued on screen, has been a joy. In a world where people watch movies on the go or between several browser tabs, undivided attention is at a premium and remains something that perhaps only the cinema can provide.

“Everyone gets YouTube. We’re not trying to make it more accessible, we’re just trying to [show the films] in a format we really like. That's a filmmaker’s format—something that’s really big, really loud instead of watching it on your laptop or your cell phone," said Vidal about the excitement of seeing these films at venues like the TIFF Bell Lightbox.

The reality is that YouTubers possess huge followings and Hollywood noticed a long time ago. The event has over 40 screenings, over 100 YouTube celebrities from around the world, and has already moved thousands of tickets. Lucasfilm has sponsored a Star Wars-related short film contest and Ron Howard is also involved. There’s also an UpList contest which gives ten startup short films a chance to win a screening at Scotiabank Theatre in front of industry professionals. Get your tickets here.

The Shadow Returns

Geoff Pevere must be a busy man. Two weeks ago we mentioned him in this column interviewing one David Cronenberg, but this week he slinks back into the shadows. He’s been running an off and on series at the Revue for some time now called The Shadow, in which he looks at mystery, particularly noir, films with a literary source. This week he’s using James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice.

This version stars the immaculate blonde bombshell Lana Turner at the peak of her powers and the proto-Brando ruffian John Garfield whose star was cresting before McCarthy-era turmoil diminished his career. The plot is that old story of a man seduced into a life of crime by a bored house wife trapped at a highway-side gas bar. She’s got a life insurance policy and a gross husband ready to be bumped off that, together, make for a ticket out of the place. She just needs the right guy for the job, but can you trust someone like that? Sounds a lot like Cain’s other famous work, Double Indemnity, of course—and while this film isn’t quite that good, this is a staple of one of the more enduring genres in American Cinema.

My personal favourite film version of Postman is Lucino Visconti’s Ossessione. Frankly, the later Jack Nicholson-Jessica Lange version was a bit of an unpleasant sit, but this Tay Garnett version is the right kind of seedy. It’s a minor classic with two leads that haven’t really gotten their due in film history.

Toronto Screengrab of the Week

Last week’s entry was from the entirely mediocre Police Academy, which spawned a slew of less-than mediocre sequels, many of which were also shot in Toronto. The original featured wide shots of a barren Kensington Market where Mahoney et al get dropped off to stop those pesky rioters. More back to school this week:

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