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Evocative Images of Lost Toronto

Goldie

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I love the idea of a "great historical film epic of Toronto."
Some thoughts:
Since Toronto's Grand Opera House was recently featured on these pages along with notes on the theatre's owner,
The film could be based on the 1919 mystery of Amrose Small and filmed by Norman Jewison in the style of Citizen Kane.
Many of the street scenes and buildings we admire would be featured landmarks in such a film.
Here's a Wikipedia brief on Small:
Ambrose Joseph Small (born January 11, 1863 in Bradford, Ontario, vanished December 2, 1919) was a Canadian theatre magnate, who owned theatres in several Ontario cities including the Grand Opera House in Toronto and the Grand Theatre in London, Ontario. More notably, he is a famous Canadian missing person. He disappeared on 2 December 1919 and his body was never recovered. He was 56 years old. It is alleged that Small's wife and her lover killed Small and cremated his body in the London Ontario Grand Opera theater furnace (ironically, one of Small's holdings). It is further alleged that a police inspector was involved in a "cover-up" of Small's disappearance.
What a magnificent plot!!
 

thedeepend

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Oddball Torontonians who vanished from Toronto in their mid-50s
ok--Buscemi is in. He's a man of many moods, just what we need to capture 'the magic of Harry'. He's working for scale, but we're throwing in the top 8 floors of 1 King West as a sweetener.


Hmmm, why not? 110 stories it is!


Another dream dashed! In Hamilton! Oh, the ignominy....
 

thedeepend

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of course, the only real reason that this Canadian epic has never been made, outside of the absence of a killer script (no one has written one) is:




the fear of:





and stories like:


 

thecharioteer

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Good point. But didn't "Passchendaele" do well? There is so much talent in this country. I think of Jeremy Podeswa, who did some of the episodes of "Rome" and "Carnivale" for HBO. Imagine someone like him handling "Consolation" or "In the Skin of the Lion", someone without that plodding CBC "heritage minute" sensibility or the light-weight "Murdoch Mysteries". Hey, remember Scorsese did "The Age of Innocence". Perhaps Egoyan is the right guy.
 
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Goldie

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Does anyone remember "Goin' Down the Road"?
One of the most memorable Canadian films and it featured life in TORONTO!
 

thecharioteer

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I thought of that, Goldie. I still remember the scene of one of the heroes flipping through LP's at Sam the Record Man, listening to Satie.

Other classic movie filmed in Toronto was "Outrageous"

From Cinematheque Ontario (on the 30th anniversary of its premiere):

OUTRAGEOUS! was the paradoxical paving stone of Canadian queer cinema in the Seventies, spurned by The Body Politic and embraced by The Toronto Sun, the low-budget sleeper that could only make it in Canada when it had made it in New York – just like its drag queen protagonist Robin. A showcase for the understated brilliance of first-time director, Richard Benner, and the over-the-top brilliance of its star Craig Russell (who would both fall to the HIV pandemic in 1990), OUTRAGEOUS! fully deserved its exclamation mark. On the occasion of this thirtieth anniversary, this talk will show how it was the right film in the right place at the right time, English Canada’s CASABLANCA. I will dissect this ultimate feel-good movie about schizophrenia, stillbirths, roommates, self-hating hairdressers and artists-in-exile, and situate it within the first decade of the Canadian “industrial” feature film industry, within the urban landscape that Toronto gays were reshaping in the decade of the Spadina Expressway, and within the utopian and sometimes doctrinaire exhilaration of queer politics and culture in the decade of Anita Bryant. – Thomas Waugh
 
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Edward Skira

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thedeepend

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Good point. But didn't "Passchendaele" do well? There is so much talent in this country. I think of Jeremy Podeswa, who did some of the episodes of "Rome" and "Carnivale" for HBO. Imagine someone like him handling "Consolation" or "In the Skin of the Lion", someone without that plodding CBC "heritage minute" plodding sensibility or the light-weight "Murdoch Mysteries". Hey, remember Scorsese did "The Age of Innocence". Perhaps Egoyan is the right guy.
i think Passchendaele did do well overall, but it probably lost money (it certainly didn't make any---$20m budget was the biggest ever for Can), anyway, it certainly wasn't a bomb in the Canadian market. it got atrocious reviews in the The Guardian, The Independent and The Times however, for its stilted writing and plodding pace, and it sank like a stone in the UK and US market...
anyway, Charioteer you are right: there is an enormous amount of talent in the country, mainly in the trades: cinematographers, editors, costume designers, set design etc. There are some solid directors like Podeswa who as you point out have directed a lot of high end American dramas in the HBO vein, and certainly Sturla Gunnarsson, Guy Maddin and Egoyan are important names on the 'auteur' end of things.
as i said however, there are no good scripts--and without a good script there are no good films. it all starts there. it actually is one of the great mysteries of the business: how a country that produces top notch world class novelists can do such a shitty job writing screenplays. you'd think we would have an advantage, but in fact the opposite is true...
 

thedeepend

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OUTRAGEOUS! was the paradoxical paving stone of Canadian queer cinema in the Seventies, spurned by The Body Politic and embraced by The Toronto Sun, the low-budget sleeper that could only make it in Canada when it had made it in New York – just like its drag queen protagonist Robin. A showcase for the understated brilliance of first-time director, Richard Benner, and the over-the-top brilliance of its star Craig Russell (who would both fall to the HIV pandemic in 1990), OUTRAGEOUS! fully deserved its exclamation mark. On the occasion of this thirtieth anniversary, this talk will show how it was the right film in the right place at the right time, English Canada’s CASABLANCA. I will dissect this ultimate feel-good movie about schizophrenia, stillbirths, roommates, self-hating hairdressers and artists-in-exile, and situate it within the first decade of the Canadian “industrial†feature film industry, within the urban landscape that Toronto gays were reshaping in the decade of the Spadina Expressway, and within the utopian and sometimes doctrinaire exhilaration of queer politics and culture in the decade of Anita Bryant. – Thomas Waugh
btw, to anyone who might be interested: Thomas Waugh has done a lot of really extraordinary work looking at the history of Queer cinema from a Canadian perspective. his work is very worth checking out....

http://www.amazon.ca/Romance-Transgression-Canada-Queering-Sexualities/dp/0773531467/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1268956734&sr=1-4
http://www.amazon.ca/Fruit-Machine-PB-Thomas-Waugh/dp/0822324687/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1268956909&sr=1-7
 

thecharioteer

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i think Passchendaele did do well overall, but it probably lost money (it certainly didn't make any---$20m budget was the biggest ever for Can), anyway, it certainly wasn't a bomb in the Canadian market. it got atrocious reviews in the The Guardian, The Independent and The Times however, for its stilted writing and plodding pace, and it sank like a stone in the UK and US market...
anyway, Charioteer you are right: there is an enormous amount of talent in the country, mainly in the trades: cinematographers, editors, costume designers, set design etc. There are some solid directors like Podeswa who as you point out have directed a lot of high end American dramas in the HBO vein, and certainly Sturla Gunnarsson, Guy Maddin and Egoyan are important names on the 'auteur' end of things.
as i said however, there are no good scripts--and without a good script there are no good films. it all starts there. it actually is one of the great mysteries of the business: how a country that produces top notch world class novelists can do such a shitty job writing screenplays. you'd think we would have an advantage, but in fact the opposite is true...
I guess you don't have much hope for "Barney's Version", eh? Ironic also in a country where we have first-rate playwirghts. Not to make it too simplistic, but why don't Canadian producers just hire first-rate screenwriters, no matter what their nationality (or is the $ issue again?)
 

thedeepend

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I guess you don't have much hope for "Barney's Version", eh? Ironic also in a country where we have first-rate playwirghts. Not to make it too simplistic, but why don't Canadian producers just hire first-rate screenwriters, no matter what their nationality (or is the $ issue again?)
Its not so much the money paid in fees as the fact that Canadian film and television cinema is mainly financed by both federal and provincial tax subsidies. To take advantage of the tax credits and subsidies, productions must first be certified as “Canadian contentâ€.

The way films are deemed “Canadian†is based on a point system. A minimum of 6 points is needed for a film to be eligible for all the available subsidies and tax credits. Director=2 points, Screenwriter=2 points, Lead performer=1 point, Composer=1 point etc.

If you hire a non-Canadian writer you are out 2 points (only the director and the writer are worth 2), and it makes it very hard to get to 6. Even if the non-Canadian co-writes with a Canadian they are still ineligible (ALL screenwriters must be Canadian to get the points).

In any case, it’s a certainty that the easiest way to dramatically improve the quality of Canadian films would be to allow for the hiring of US or UK writers. Unfortunately, the system is set up in such a way as to render that quite difficult. From my perspective it’s a huge problem, one that seriously hobbles the industry.
 

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