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

Toronto Star - - ENTERTAINMENT - JA­SON AN­DER­SON

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.

IN BRIEF

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.

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