Good Ol’ Freda
The Beatles only lasted ten years as a band, and their historic rise and calamitous break-up has been well documented. But behind every four to six great men (if we’re counting former drummer Pete Best and late manager Brian Epstein), there was one great woman who always eschewed the spotlight and showed loyalty and dedication to the band beyond mere fan service. The tale of beloved Beatles former secretary and fan club runner Freda Kelly gets told after 50 or so years of relative obscurity in director Ryan White’s amusingly anecdotal and decidedly less than controversial look behind the scene.
From first becoming smitten with seeing the Fab Four in the now world famous Cavern to her current day job (still as a secretary, but for nothing nearly as glamorous), Kelly tells her life story. Nothing really new will come to light, but that’s partially because Kelly’s devotion to the band’s privacy still runs deep. She was never one for gossip or liar (at one point firing her entire staff for being dishonest and almost outlandishly gross in one particular incident). She never sold out the boys to gossip rags, and although she seems a bit reticent when she speaks of the mercurial John Lennon at times, she clearly adored the experience every step of the way. And the band always repaid that same loyalty in spades.
It’s not so much a juicy behind the scenes look as it is a never before heard oral history of the band’s ascension to superstardom. It’s mostly just a string of anecdotes, but Freda and the band are both likeable enough to entertain (even if the band never actually shows up outside of photos and minor archival footage).
Director Ryan White will conduct Q&As via Skype for the 6:30pm screening on Friday, September 20th and at the 9:30pm screening on Saturday, September 21st.
Despite a bit of a rocky start that drops viewers into a narrative as quickly as one of its subjects was dropped into the bloody and infamous Tet Offensive as a young soldier in Vietnam, Michael Jorgensen’s look at POWs left behind and the mystery of lost identity Unclaimed quickly becomes a captivating psychological drama that’s never been attempted before.
POW advocate and former veteran Tommy Faunce has been introduced to the strange case of MIA and presumed dead soldier John Hartley Robinson, who seems to have resurfaced inside Vietnam. The man claiming to be Robinson has suffered clear physical trauma and people seem to recognize him, but he has sever memory issues and now only speaks Vietnamese. Faunce does all he can to discern if Robinson is who he claims to be or a senile Vietnamese impostor.
Unclaimed comes with the kind of raw human drama that feels like picking at a still open and hurting wound. Initially it’s unclear if Jorgensen is trying to tell two separate stories – going heavily in depth with the details of Faunce’s life before getting to the actual bulk of the story – but once it becomes increasingly apparent that the man might be who he claims to be, things get exciting, depressing, and philosophically engaging within moments. It doesn’t get off to the most polished of starts, but it’s definitely worth sticking with.
Director Michael Jorgensen will conduct Q&As via Skype following the 9:00pm performance on Friday, September 20th and the 7:00pm performance on Saturday, September 21st.
Also at the Bloor (in the near future):
Nothing new opens at the Bloor for the rest of September, with Unclaimed hanging around until Sunday, September 29th and Good Ol’ Freda until Thursday, October 3rd. But there are also return showings for the still incredibly popular Twenty Feet From Stardom (Sunday, September 22nd at 4:15pm, Sunday, September 29th at 9:30pm), the harrowing Blackfish (Wednesday, September 25th at 6:30pm, Sunday, September 29th at 12:00pm), and the underrated The Venice Syndrome (Saturday, September 21st at 12:00pm, Tuesday, September 24th at 4:00pm, Sunday, September 29th, 2:30pm).
The Rocky Horror Picture Show Shadow Cast returns for their monthly instalment on Friday, September 27th at 11:30pm for more madness and mayhem.
The Toronto Palestine Film Festival holds their opening night ceremonies at The Bloor on Saturday, September 28th at 6:30pm with a screening of period drama When I Saw You. More information on the screening and the festival can be found here.
SkyWorks Charitable Foundation holds a special screening of Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Dreams on Monday September 30th at 6:00pm with directors Jim Hyder and Maggie Sofea on hand for a Q&A. More information on the film and SkyWorks can be found here.