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Toronto Stories (2008)

Toronto Stories. Feature film. (2008, 89 mins) IMDB

...Toronto as Toronto for a change...

A

pre-adolescent boy arrives at Pearson International airport. He wears a suit and white shirt, doesn't speak English and has no identification. He probably comes from East Africa or the Middle East. Immigration officials take him in and so starts the story except it's four stories and this boy is the string linking them.

From the airport, he manages to walk out, get on a bus and head to downtown Toronto. Don't ask me how or why, but that's what happens. It defies logic, but hey.

In the first encounter, he meets a boy his age ridding a bicycle in the park near the Bloor Viaduct. The local boy helps the stranger but not long after our visitor vanishes and doesn't show up until the next story. This first story, SHOELACES, is about two pre-adolescent kids riding their bikes and investigating make-believe monsters. Ten-year old kids going out after midnight to investigate a monster in a park didn't strike me as realistic. It ends when they come across a suicide victim. Yet another person jumps off the Blook Viaduct.

The next story is THE BRAZILIAN. The name refers to waxing and not a specific person. Take a young woman eager to hook up with some guy and some guy who isn't sure about himself let alone about the idea of hooking up with some woman. They have sex. We see her naked before and after the waxing. Completely naked, but that doesn't make for an interesting story. The dialogue in this story was so stilted and on-the-nose as to be laughable. People just don't talk that way.

The next story deals with a black man who washes windows. He likes his job, does it well. He has a young wife with a child on the way. Everything is turned upside down when a friend from the past arrives. The two know each other because they did drugs together and what ever other crimes they were involved in. The twist is the fact our visitor has escaped from jail and our hero doesn't know it. This story made the most sense, seemed the most realistic. The complications include the escapee returning to his ex-lover, a woman who wants nothing to do with him. Somehow he got a pistol and holds her hostage. Our hero comes to the rescue and then the police show up. There are some intense and interesting scenes in this story.

In the final sequence LOST BOYS, we have resolution about the young boy from Africa. The story starts in Union Station. A homeless man shouts out offers to play chess. The lost boy shows up but before they can play, a security guard asks him to leave. A bit latter, our bum discovers the boy is the subject of a search, finds him, reports him and he's not there. He's so screwed up, no one believes him, yet he's obsessed with returning this boy and we discover why when he returns to his house. At least it was his house. He was married. Lived in a nice house. Had a son who we discover drowned. It seems his son's death totally screwed him up.

The film ends on a happy note. The lost boy has been found and is safe.

I don't think you can say there's anything terrible profound or new in these four stories. Not great. Not terrible.

What I enjoyed the most was watching a city where I've lived and recognizing it for what it is meant to be: Toronto. There have been hundreds of films shot in Toronto yet most of them have been done so as to be Chicago or New York or some other part of the US. Here, we get to see the city as the city. I liked that.

In may shots, there was a golden hue to the film. There's three explanations for this. First is the choice of film stock. The second is lighting choices. Third, some type of filter was added to the lens. I suspect it was the later, but it could simply be about the lights used. I don't know why it was done, but it was a distraction because there was no consistency. Given the film was made with a small budget, I suspect that had something to do with the look.

Posted 2009/04/30 at 20h55ET in Movie Commentary.

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