Two screenings this week, you guys! TWO!! 2016 is finally taking shape at the cinema…granted this was helped in no small part by a piece of 90’s pop culture and a day off from the office.

#52FilmsByWomen continued this week with Gina Prince-Bythewood’s BEYOND THE LIGHTS.

I arrived at this selection with slightly mixed expectations; one blogger I know adores the film while another described it to me as abysmal. I trust both of their opinions, so all I could figure was that something was or wasn’t striking a particular note for one of them. Turns out, it was the latter of the two whose opinion differed from mine so deeply.

It’s a complete fluke that I arrived at this film the same week that Beyonce released “Formation”, but the song and the video that accompanies it were absolutely on my mind throughout my time with this film. So too was TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey’s recent article in The Globe And Mail about sharing experiences that are not my own. Had I arrived at this film when it arrived in theatres, or even six months ago, might I have come away from it with different feelings? Probably. That’s the beauty of film though; the work is static, but our mindset when we encounter them is fluid.

BEYOND THE LIGHTS is handily one of my favorites of the films I have chosen for the project so far, especially everything it has to say about the image of a pop star in the times we live in. I would never lob stones at the choices women in music make in terms of how they are portrayed and how they come across, but I do wonder about the cost and what their feelings are on it. Perhaps more of them would like to step up to a microphone unadorned and just let their talent take over…all the same, perhaps some of them enjoy the visual component that comes along with being a woman in pop. There’s a trendsetting aspect to it, a trailblazing element.

I don’t know of course, but I thought about it all as I watched the film…and it will certainly be on my mind whenever someone like Rihanna, Nikki Minaj, or Bey drop a new music video.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again – sometimes the very best films are the ones that have you struggling to concentrate because they get you thinking about so many other things.

Here’s the week at hand…


COOL RUNNINGS – TIFF Lightbox screened a 35mm print of this on Friday afternoon. Not gonna lie, I got a bit misty at the end this time.
DEADPOOL – I like that we have arrived at this place in comic book film culture. I’ll explain more tomorrow.


Streaming/Blu-Rays/DVD’s I’ve Never Seen
MANGLEHORN – I think I could have done without the scene of cat surgery
CARTEL LAND – Only one of the films up for Best Documentary left to go, and this one bummed me out severely.
BEYOND THE LIGHTS – Any new film Gina Prince-Bythewood drops from now on, I’m all over.


Streaming/Blu-Rays/DVD’s I’ve Seen Before
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL – Inspired by my time with HAIL, CAESAR! Would that it were so simple.
RENT – I have a tough relationship with this film. On the one hand, I adore this musical deeply, on the other hand I hate that they brought back the original cast ten years after-the-fact. I connected with it deeper when most of the stars were “nobodies”.
L.A. CONFIDENTIAL – Also inspired by my time with HAIL, CAESAR!…amazing how one film can send you in so many directions, ain’t it?
THE SOCIAL NETWORKThis is quickly becoming one of my most-watched films from this decade.


Boxscore for The Year
24 First-Timers, 26 Re-Watched
8 Screenings
50 Movies in Total

How’s about you – seen anything good?