ASIAN FILM FEST TAKES UP THE SWORD — AND THE TEACUP
And the films of revered Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky get the spotlight at TIFF Cinematheque
Reel Asian: One can only hope that U.S. 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, 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 in Asia and throughout the Asian diaspora, the festival runs to Nov. 18 at 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 Thursday at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre. If you’re looking for more swordplay, the Chinese thriller Brotherhood of Blades II: The Infernal Battlefield is on Saturday at TIFF Bell Lightbox.
Of course, Reel Asian’s slate contains much more besides action fare. Doc selections include Masala Chai (Saturday at Innis Town Hall), a portrait of five tea makers in very different regions of India, and My
Dear Art (Monday 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 (Saturday 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 budgetconscious movie buffs due to its bounty of offerings and free admis- sion, the European Union Film Festival is back at the Royal with a twoweek slate of recent features from 28 countries. Thankfully, Brexit has yet to affect the U.K.’s participation, 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 Sunday. Other prizewinners include Little Wing (Tuesday), 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. 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. More autobiographical in nature, The Mirror 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 Moun
tain 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 Friday. 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.
The Toronto Film Society’s series at the Carlton takes a scintillating turn with the 1952 romantic thriller Macau and 1953’s Dangerous Crossing on Sunday.
A celebration of Armenian cinema, the Hamazkayin Toronto Pomegranate Film Festival runs Wednesday to Nov. 19.
The Regent Park Film Festival begins its three-day program with a set of amazing shorts by emerging women directors on Wednesday at Daniels Spectrum.
And sadly, after seven years of bringing some attention to all the festivals, series and one-off screenings that make Toronto’s cinematic ecosystem so unique, this column is turning off its klieg lights. Check the Star’s listings for more info on upcoming film events.
Blade of the Immortal is prolific director Takashi Miike’s 100th feature film.