First Comes Love
Documentarian Nina Davenport (Always a Bridesmaid, Operation Filmmaker) feels her chances of having a child biologically slipping away at the beginning of her latest effort, First Comes Love. Spurred on by turning 41, watching all of her friends and relatives having kids, and the tragic, sudden death of her own mother, Davenport decides to forego settling down in a committed relationship before having a child of her own. A funny and frank look at one woman’s quest to start a non-traditional family before it’s too late, the film spends half of its running time leading up to the birth of her son Jasper, and the second half examining how her life has changed as a result of having her new son in her life.
Clearly a labor of love (pun intended on several levels), it’s a bit unwieldy at 105 minutes (we don’t need scenes of her friends getting ready to go on dates or her niece getting cruelly pranked into thinking she won’t get The O.C. Seasons 1 & 2 on DVD for her birthday), but more often than not the film actually serves to instill a lot of hope for people who might still be contemplating a family late in life. Davenport clearly has some setbacks along the way, but she deals with them realistically and in stride, and with a great deal of humility. Sequences where she deals with her gay best friend/reluctant sperm donor Eric and having her vagina described to her as “The Lincoln Tunnel” are more than worth the watch alone.
Director and subject Nina Davenport will conduct a post-screening Q&A following the 8:45pm performance on Friday, January 31st.
A Story of Children and Film
Following up his epically lengthy Story of Film, film writer and scholar Mark Cousins takes a look at cinematic tropes, theories, and histories in a much smaller space. Using his niece and nephew as a microcosm, Cousins uses their childish playfulness to talk about how kids are depicted on film. Using examples from around the world and as varied as E.T., Moonrise Kingdom, Night of the Hunter, Los Olvideros, and countless others, Cousins examines how children throughout cinematic history have dealt with trust issues, class relations, violence, and arrogance. He also independently examines how children cope with adventure, loneliness, and their own dreams in the film’s intriguing but wonky final 20 minutes.
Cousins is certainly an erudite, concise lecturer, and the film is as playful and deconstructed as the work of his niece and nephew. He’s still very much a “capital A academic” with some of his readings and theories occasionally coming across as grandiose, but they’re never based in anything less than thoughtful analysis. There’s also something winsome about the personal nature of the project that makes for a balanced and thoughtful narrative in itself to go along with all the close reading going on. It might not appeal to anyone outside of academics and critics, but those interested will find more than enough to chew on.
Also at The Bloor this week:
Doc Soup returns this week for its February sneak peek at If You Build It, on Wednesday, February 5th at 6:30 and 9:15pm and on Thursday, February 6th at 6:45pm. Directed by Patrick Creadon and making its Canadian debut, the film follows designers Emily Pilloton and Matthew Miller on a trip to the poorest rural community in North Carolina to help local teens transform their community into something better for the future.
The pay-what-you-can Cinema Politica series also has its latest installment on Tuesday, February 4th at 6:30pm with a screening of My Prairie Home, a look into the tumultuous life of musician and activist Rae Spoon. Both Spoon and director Chelsea McMullan will be in attendance for a Q&A.
It’s also once again time for the monthly throwdown of The Rocky Horror Picture show on Friday, January 31st at 11:30pm.
NOW Magazine, in keeping with their theme in this week’s issue about how much people love free stuff, will be hosting a free screening of Tracks on Tuesday at 9:15pm. Tickets are on a first come, first served basis starting at 8:45pm.
But it looks like the most important event at the cinema this week is also probably the priciest and definitely the most provocative. Toronto Star reporter Robyn Doolittle has been on the front lines reporting about Rob Ford’s actions for quite a long time now (she’s one of the few who has seen the infamous crack tape), and Tuesday marks the release of her book on the subject, Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story. At 7:00pm on Monday, Doolite will take the stage in a conversation with Twitter Canada CEO Kirstine Stewart to talk about her reporting and the book. Tickets are $40, but include a copy of the book the day before it hits bookstores. Tickets are available here.