Can I make a confession to you, my fearless readers here at In The Seats? There is a lot of cinema going on here in the city of Toronto…and I mean A LOT. As usual at the forefront of all that, the TIFF Bell Lightbox and the TIFF Cinematheque program is just killing it as film fans are running between the multiplexes for the latest and greatest releases and the palace at King & John where cinema’s history comes to life. There isn’t just one, but three retrospectives that I felt compelled to share with you as the embracement of riches that this town has to offer for cinephiles is exactly that, downright embracing.
Kicking off a couple of weekends ago and in keeping with the Summer In Italy theme that we’ll learn more about in just a little bit, for the first time in twenty years a retrospective of one of the genuine maestro’s of Italian cinema is gracing our very screens as More Then Life Itself: Rediscovering The Films of Vittorio De Sica featuring some incredibly rare and restored prints of some of these classic gems is running until September 6th at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.
From his early haunting efforts in Bicycle Thieves, to the raucous comedy of Marriage, Italian Style and the award winning efforts in Two Women & Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow; De Sica was never afraid to push the boundaries as he dove head first into the realms of neo-realism, satire and good old fashion human drama.
I got the chance to sneak a peek at the rare 35 mm print of The Children Are Watching Us which is one of his first collaborations with Cesare Zavatini and has been deemed De Sica’s first truly important film by none other than the great Pauline Kael herself and without out a doubt this is a haunting piece of cinema that ruminates on the death of innocence as we witness a little boy suffer through the cold and bourgeois states of the adult world which can often reek an unintended havoc on more than just the individual suffering through it. He crafts a cold tale that clearly draws the grim line that can exist between adulthood and childhood. It is quite simply a dark gem that any cinema fan worth their salt has to go and see when it screens on Friday July 10th.
If you need something in a different vein, then that is alright as well since the cinema has inspired so many dreams out there in the universe the programming team at TIFF Cinematheque figures that there is no problem with Dreaming In Technicolor; a retrospective that celebrates some of the most eye popping use of color in the history of the medium. With restored gems and some forgotten classics this retrospective has been running the best of the best and still has some films that need to be experienced on the big screen to be truly appreciated.
And when we are talking about colour in film, the discussion begins and ends at The Red Shoes from the iconic Powell & Pressburger in what has to be their seminal masterpiece as we follow the tale of a beautiful ballerina who is swept up in the love of her art and is caught between her desire for the stage and her desire for a young composer. This is simply one of the more lush and epic films that has ever been made and watching it on the big screen is a must for any fan of the moving image. As an added bonus, before the screening of this on Saturday July 11th and the other Powell & Pressburger gem The Tales of Hoffman on Sunday July 12th audiences will get a special introduction from none other than Bob Hoffman; the vice-president of Public Relations and Marketing at Technicolor to talk about the genuine impact that these films have had on the medium.
However if you still need your fix of something Italian, the Summer In Italy retrospective is running until Sept 5th as well with classics from the likes of Frederico Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni & Luchino Visconti to keep you engaged. My personal choice among the plethora of good ones would be to check out Visconti’s The Leopard on Saturday August 8th. A lush and sweeping epic where Burt Lancaster delivers one of his best performances as an aging Sicilian aristocrat trying to push against the ever encroaching modernization that is threatening the classical traditions that he loves so well.
On top of all that I was lucky enough to check out The Fiancés in advance of the retrospective kicking off and this is a stunningly stark and simple film that reminds me of the works of a Yasujiro Ozu film that evokes such power through some beautiful yet basic imagery. From director Ermanno Olmi this tale of a man separated from his spouse for work only to be disillusioned and disheartened by his experiences that make him wonder what he went anywhere in the first place. It’s not the kind of film that will ultimately be for everyone, but it sits with you long after it is over and for anyone looking to expand their palette in the worlds of foreign cinema this will be a great one for you.
The retrospectives for Summer In Italy, Dreaming In Technicolor and More Then Life Itself: Rediscovering The Films of Vittorio De Sica are running as we speak right now at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. For more information, including ticket availability you can click right here.