Published On: Fri, Nov 10th, 2017

Asian film fest takes up the sword — and the teacup: Projections column

Reel Asian: One can only hope that President Trump’s recent reference to Japan as “a country of samurai warriors” was a subtle indication of his deep appreciation for movies full of thrilling swordfights between tough guys in robes and top knots. In any case, a fine example of this noble genre is among the offerings at this year’s Reel Asian International Film Festival. Presenting a wide array of new features, shorts and docs by filmmakers working in Asia and throughout the Asian diaspora, the festival runs to Nov. 18 venues downtown and in North York. Devotees of samurai cinema can savour the Toronto premiere of Blade of the Immortal, the mayhem-filled 100th feature by the ultra-prolific Japanese director Takashi Miike — it screens Nov. 16 at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre. If you’re looking for more swordplay, the Chinese thriller Brotherhood of Blades II: The Infernal Battlefield offers a comparably kinetic display of sharp pieces of steel on Nov. 11 at TIFF Bell Lightbox.

Of course, Reel Asian’s slate contains much more besides action fare. Doc selections include Masala Chai (Nov. 11 at Innis Town Hall), a portrait of five tea makers in very different regions of India, and My Dear Art (Nov. 13 at Lightbox), a look at the artists and collectors who’ve fuelled the boom for contemporary Chinese art. The lineup of comedies range from Jesus Is Dead (Nov. 11 at Lightbox), a bawdy road movie that essentially transplants Little Miss Sunshine to the Filipino countryside, and Stand Up Man, about an aspiring Korean-Canadian comedian who gets stuck running his parents’ sushi restaurant in Windsor. The latter, a first feature by Toronto’s Aram Collier, plays its local premiere on Nov. 17 at the Isabel Bader Theatre. Reel Asian runs to Nov. 18.

European Union Film Festival: Always a favourite of budget-conscious movie buffs due to its bounty of offerings and free admission, the European Union Film Festival is back at the Royal with a two-week slate of recent features from 28 countries. Thankfully, Brexit has yet to affect the U.K.’s participation in the EUFF, which is good news for would-be viewers of Adult Life Skills, a British comedy that won two awards at the Tribeca festival last year and plays here Nov. 12. Other prizewinners at the EUFF include Little Wing (Nov. 14), a Finnish drama about a 12-year-old who hits the road in search of her father, and Saint George (Nov. 17), a Portuguese feature about a boxer who gets pulled into a life of crime. The festival wraps up on Nov. 23 with the North American premiere of The Dissidents, a comedy about three Estonians who flee the Soviet Union in hopes of living large in the west. Visit the EUFF’s website to reserve your free tickets.

Andrei Tarkovsky retrospective: TIFF Cinematheque’s first retrospective in 15 years for one of world cinema’s most revered figures, The Poetry of Apocalypse: The Films of Andrei Tarkovsky provides an invaluable primer on the Russian director’s admirably austere, sometimes gloomy but often sublime body of work. At the heart of the series are limited runs of new digital restorations of Stalker and Solaris, the director’s two philosophically minded, pensively paced and massively influential forays into the realm of science fiction. (Blade Runner 2049’s debt to both movies couldn’t be clearer.) More autobiographical in nature, TheMirror and The Sacrifice — which Tarkovsky finished shortly before his death in 1986 — are just as mesmerizing. The Poetry of Apocalypse runs at the Lightbox to Nov. 30.

Gabriel and the Mountain + Infinity Baby: Opening in Toronto this weekend after a recent preview at the Brazil Film Fest, Gabriel and the Mountain is a Cannes prizewinner based on the story of a big-hearted young Brazilian who met a tragic fate while travelling in Africa. It opens at Famous Players Canada Square on Nov. 10. Opening the same night at Cineplex Yonge-Dundas, Infinity Baby is the latest off-kilter comedy by American indie director Bob Byington. Featuring a cast of reliably funny people like Nick Offerman, Megan Mullaly, Stephen Root and Martin Starr, the film imagines a near-future world in which breakthroughs in stem-cell research allow parents the option of having infants who do not age. As you might expect, such a scenario entails some complications.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

TORONTO STAR

Submitted by:

- Blue-collar guy interested in politics, business, and internet - Fan of sports and leisure - Movie buff

Leave a comment

Asian film fest takes up the sword — and the teacup: Projections column