Toronto #22

It’s official: as a movie buff, the Royal cinema is definitely one of my favourite places to go to in Toronto. I caught two films last week. One was Dark Star, an interesting early film of John Carpenter and Dan O’Bannon. It’s a comedy, but it’s a very peculiar and strange one. I strongly suspect it’ll be one of those films that’ll grow on me on multiple viewings.

Different to both Carpenter’s and O’Bannon’s usual work, but still a good watch, especially for seeing the talent of the filmmakers when they clearly had no budget. I especially appreciated reading a note from O’Bannon presented at the start of the film, where he admitted that, since Dark Star wasn’t exactly popular as a comedy, he’d essentially take the same basic story and turn into a horror. Thus, Alien was born.

The second film I watched was one I appreciated a lot more: Barfly. Starring Mickey Rourke before he fucked up his face and Faye Dunaway long before she announced the wrong Best Picture (now there’s a timely reference for ya), it’s a black comedy that focuses on two people who aim to live in permanently drunken states.

There are some films that portray alcoholism and poverty in a completely negative light. This is definitely not one of those films. Keep in mind, that’s actually not a criticism. Watching Rourke’s character of Henry was really fascinating. Clearly, from his thoughts and his writings, he’s in some ways a very intelligent man. He’s never seen to be depressed, but he’s not motivated to “be something”. Neither does he learn a valuable lesson at the end of the film about how important that is.

barflymovieposter
Pictured: not a representation of what this film is. At all.

The moment I saw a clip of Withnail & I – one of my favourite films of all time – shown before the film began, I knew I was going to love Barfly. (Especially as it has one of my favourite dialogue exchanges of all time on film, regarding “what’s-his-name”.)

I wasn’t disappointed. Barfly is one of those rare films that has no plot, but you love it for the dialogue and the characters that you’re spending the time with. I definitely need to look up the writings of Charles Bukowski, who wrote the screenplay. Interview clips with him were shown before the film, and he was clearly a fascinating man himself who seemed to just enjoy writing more than anything.

Speaking of which, I finished a short story last week. It’s only a few pages, and it’s really nothing more than to set a scene for a novel while exploring character writing. However, despite dreaming to be a writer for so long, it’s the first thing I’ve bothered to finish creatively since high school. It’s a small step, admittedly, but I’m glad I’ve made a step at all. Maybe coming out to Canada really is doing me some good and getting me more motivated. Writing in the journal is helping too, I think.

Back to Friday night – after seeing Barfly, I headed down to currently my favourite bar in the city, Cherry Cola’s. That was definitely an interesting night. While talking to complete strangers over drinks, we watched some decent live acoustic music that was then followed by something interesting called “Music for Murder”. It was performed on stage and reminded me of old-school horror soundtracks that had been mixed with Rob Zombie. It was interesting to watch (especially when it was shown with gore clips from horror classics like Deep Red), and a little strange too, but certainly not bad, at least if you’re a horror fan. Just a strange environment to demonstrate that kind of music.

At the end of the night, I watched some burlesque performances for the first time. Apparently, they’re a regular thing at Cherry Cola’s, but while I’ve been to the bar semi-regularly, either I had left before they started, or they simply weren’t having them that night. If Friday was anything to go by, though, they’re clearly done very, very well. There were several different performers, all with very different acts – some fun, some sensual, and some just fucking crazy. In all the examples, there was definitely a lot of planning and organizing done with their routines. I’ve gotta admit, I have a lot of respect for anyone who could do something like that. All through the shows, one thought popped into my head: “And I thought improvised comedy took a lot of guts!”

Sunday was quieter, and perhaps just a little more suited to my style, as me and a housemate headed out to a comedy bar to watch the Oscars. I don’t usually watch award shows, at least never in full, but I must admit, it was really fun to watch it as part of a small audience, especially with comedians commenting on stage. I was especially glad to catch that moment live: when Moonlight was announced as the correct winner for “Best Picture Award”, the reaction in the room was HUGE. Definitely glad I caught that live instead of reading about it on the internet, and with a crowd of people, too.

So that was my week. Films, music, horror, burlesque, writing, comedy and awards. Not a bad one, really.

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