JWR Articles: Film/DVD - Toronto Urban Film Festival - Journeys (Programmer: Lisa Steele) - September 15, 2009

Toronto Urban Film Festival - Journeys

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Inventively off in all directions

Big City
Steve Ferguson
Four stars

A magical subway ride for a pair of perky tourists and a semi-jaundiced commuter is a breath of fresh air in the dank confines of the underground. Where else could you circle the CN Tower and then hop off in Chinatown? Engagingly inventive; well produced.

Biking Home
Matthew Crookshank
Four stars
This frantic journey on two wheels has a marvellous point-of-view as the camera becomes the cyclist’s eyes. One particularly close call might have ended more than the film but it’s clear this daily route and all of its perils are well known. As the saucy graphics say: “nice!”

Midi Onodera
Three stars
Split-screen GO trains provide the literal image for Onodera’s three-hour, daily commute. At one with her preferences, the film prefers words over chat or becoming “train pals” with its audience.

David Frankovich
Four and one-half stars
Intriguing concept; rendered with pizzazz. The half-dozen subway platforms strut their coloured discs with polish and pride. Once all the same, through the ravages of time, pollution, stickers and graffiti their individuality is assured. The black-and-white countdown is ideal.

me City
Dennis Day
Three and one-half stars
This quasi surreal, slow motion day-in-the-life shows skill and imagination but—not surprisingly—needs more time to find its tempo and target. The irony of such a jam-packed schedule moving like a tortoise is not missed.

I Can, Can You?
Neal Cumming
Four and one-half stars
Where else but Toronto can you take a refreshing canoe ride and not leave the city limits? The initial portage through the financial district down to the lake was probably unnoticed by those feverishly working above, trying to find an investment strategy that increases the wealth of advisors and clients. Still, both paddler and pedlar could benefit from a life jacket.

Means of Conveyance
Simon Baker
Four stars
Baker’s modes of transport vision within the GTA flies across the screen like a CNE rollercoaster after hours. Curiously, the subway trains look like toys. Finishing the set at Pearson almost spoils the zesty mood until the last few frames lift everything and everyone in sight up, up and away.

Paul Wong
Two and one-half stars
This “Driving in the Rain” episode has the rhythm of the windshield wipers as its cantus firmus, yet soon loses its momentum while the evening traffic moves bravely forward unhampered by street or traffic lights. Oh for a solid crack or two of lightening (cross-reference below) to add balance and contrast.

The Bus Is Here …
Shirley Chan and Venuja Sriretnakumar
Two and one-half stars
What began as a fascinating essay on waiting-for-the-bus boredom, loses its early punch with the arrival of passenger No. 2. Even then, a wry payoff could have been arranged if—after all that “dea” time and friendly push off the fence—only the pungent exhaust of the disappearing public conveyance greeted the near-comatose fare.

Linda Bucholtzross
Two stars
Driving along a literal underground highway—replete with many curves, jerky lines and a fine sense of flow—very nearly explodes into greatness by journey’s end. Unfortunately, the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel fades to black before its impact can be savoured and felt. JWR

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Further information, future screening/performance/exhibition dates,
purchase information, production sponsors:
Heineken Canada Toronto Urban Film Festival
Cross-reference(s): Please click on the image link(s) below
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