JWR Articles: Film/DVD - Toronto Urban Film Festival - Imaginary (Programmer: Janine Marchessault) - September 19, 2009
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Toronto Urban Film Festival - Imaginary

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That was a dream, wasn't it?

Aeroplanes
Ryan Hughes
Four stars

A colourful, flashing collage of magnificent flying machines captures the imagination of an impressionable young boy and a contented giraffe. Well conceived, engagingly realized.


city green
Riaz Mehmood
Two stars
Lush, verdant, near spinach-like foliage dissolves early on into concrete, asphalt and steel. This experiment soon loses interest as the singular payoff can’t grow into a punch line: metaphorical or wry.


CRAiNED
Merlin Crossingham and Will Becher
Four stars
The ups and downs in the daily life of a crane operator are intriguingly captured in this plasticine-on-glass depiction of man and machine performing Herculean tasks. Even the operator’s personality finds its way into the mix.


Day Tripper
Annette Mangaard
Four stars
For just the second time in the Fest, travelling the TTC takes on natural appeal as idyllic images magically find their way onto the subway’s windows. The unmoving stares of the riders beautifully contrasting with shots of a pristine swamp where a regal-looking frog patiently awaits the next winged meal.


EmBodying Toronto
Joyce Wong and Sonia Hong
Four and one-half stars
Toronto’s streetscapes are fancifully laid out on the literal physique of the female form. Following a curvaceous route—including the pride parade and upscale Bloor Street shopping emporia—the fleshy traffic grid comes up with a few surprises of her own: snakes of all stripes can only marvel at the deft tongue flicks (and their cargo) which—happily—burst into an unheard song from the comely terrain.


Night Rides
Chrysanne Stathacos
Four stars
This after-sunset survey of the CNE is chock-a-block full of dazzling wheels: games of chance for those who like their excitement indoors; the gut-wrenching feelings experienced in the open air due to the gravitational gyrations of the Swing Tower. The ‘60s colour scheme only adds to the fun and tone of unabashed entertainment.


Running in a Maze
Paul Wong
Three stars
The two inhabitants of this mirror-image maze lack any sense of drama to add much-needed contrast to the otherwise happy-go-lucky tone. The likes of Hansel and Gretel or Stephen King would not likely have shared their optimism.


Somnambulist
David Rendall
Four stars
The troubling sleep disorder has a worthy proponent in Kate Struthers. Her unwanted, dark journeys when blissful rest is sought come through with a fine eeriness befitting the often dangerous condition. Yet no pharmaceutical fix appears to come to her rescue. Better the devil you know?


Underground Dream
Dean Fourie and Gerhard Gouws
Four and one-half stars
Finally, a twinge of real horror. A week full of disturbing (perhaps not the buxom nurse depending on which side of the sexual street the subject travels down), progressively sinister scenes come to a haunting climax that—one can only hope—is completely imagined. Replete with little people and fire eaters, this one awakens the appetite for more.


Upstate
Andy Hazell and Sam Clough
Four stars
This constant nightmare of frenetic city living is a cautionary tale for those caught on an urban treadmill and seem unable to get off. Whether to move away from the source of high anxiety or succumb to the temporary respite offered in neon-lit bars are just two of the alternatives presented in the filmmakers‘ deliberately edgy vision of despair. JWR

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