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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Toronto Stories DVD Review

Toronto Stories - A E1 Films Release


On DVD: April 21st, 2009

Rated 14A for coarse language, and nudity.

Running time: 88 minutes

Aaron Woodley (dir. segment "Shoelaces")

Sook-Yin Lee (dir. segment "The Brazilian")

David Sutherland (dir. segment "Windows")

David Weaver (dir. segment "Lost Boys")

Carly Pope as Roshanna

Lisa Ray as Beth

Gil Bellows as Henry

Julian Richings as Leather Jacket

Sook-Yin Lee as Willia

Joris Jarsky as Doug Shannon

Shauna MacDonald as Lowry

Tygh Runyan as Boris

Stephen R. Hart as Greely

James Lafazanos as Night Manager

Toka Murphy as Boy

Mojalefa Murphy as Interpreter

Cameron Kennedy as Zach

Our reviews below:


Toronto Stories DVD Review By John C.

*** (out of 4)

Toronto Stories is a well made and interesting film about the city. It opens with a nameless immigrant boy wandering off from the Pearson Airport. Not speaking a word of English and his only possession being a Canada postcard, we watch as he wanders around the city. The film follows four different situations and in each situation, how the people involved see or hear about the boy.

The four segments, each one by a different director, are titled Shoelaces (Aaron Woodley), The Brazilian (Sook-Yin Lee), Windows (Sudz Sutherland) and my probably favorite of the four, Lost Boys (David Weaver). The film was slightly confusing on the first viewing, so I look forward to watching it again, now that I know what's going on. The best of the four shorts are definitely Windows and Lost Boys.

The DVD has no extra material. It would definitely be worth at least a rental.


Toronto Stories DVD Review By Erin V.

*** (out of 4)

Toronto Stories starts with a young boy arriving at Pearson International Airport. Dressed in a suit, and carrying nothing but a Canada postcard, airport staff bring him to the office to try to sort it out. They take his picture, and when they turn their backs for a second, he walks off. The picture is soon used in an Amber alert across the city, yet no one recognizes the boy for a while.

The movie is then divided up into four short stories, where the boy crosses through each of them. In the first one, Shoelaces, he meets another boy around his age, but then disappears again. The other boy, then goes out with a girl who he is friends with, and together they try to find an elusive ‘monster’. The next story is called The Brazilian, in which a women meets a man, and they have a sort of relationship where neither of them are quite in tune to what the other one wants. In the next story, Windows, a window washer meets up with his old friend who has just escaped from jail. Tension soon mounts as the purpose of his jail break becomes a chance to see his ex-girlfriend who wants nothing to do with him. Then, in the last and final story, The Lost Boys, a man named Henry, who lives on the street and invites people to play chess with him in the subway, finds the young boy standing in front of him. He notices the boy’s picture on the screens around the subway, and brings security to where he left the boy, only to find him gone. When he sees him taken by a man known around the streets as not nice, he takes it upon himself to get the kid rescued. The boy, who enters all of the stories at some point, has his story resolved in a satisfying enough way by the end.

Toronto Stories is an interesting indie movie, that would probably be enjoyed more by people in the GTA, due to the recognition of the different landmarks. An interesting concept and delivery, this is a film that is worth checking from the festival circuits. The fact that there were four different directors on this project gives it a very interesting feel, with four different styles, almost like a film class project. If you can find it, check out Toronto Stories - it’s worth watching.


Toronto Stories DVD Review By Nicole

*** (out of 4)

Toronto Stories is a unique film that looks at the hidden, and often darker side of urban life. The movie follows a lone boy from Africa, who arrives at Pearson Airport. Nobody knows who he is, and before anyone can figure out who he is, the boy runs off. The boy, unaware that an Amber alert has been issued for him, runs through the city, and winds up downtown. He encounters another boy, then disappears again. The child that the mysterious boy encountered meets up with a young girl, and they search for an elusive “monster”, (really a homeless man sleeping in a culvert). The next short segment involves a woman who meets a lonely , “love shy” man in a bar, and has a relationship with him. The same woman later sees the mysterious boy in a library then hears about him on the radio. Meanwhile, a window washer encounters an escaped con, and , in a harrowing scene, has to rescue the convict’s ex-girlfriend. Around the same time, a street person named Henry encounters the boy, and feels a need to protect him. Henry’s story brings the boy’s story to an exciting conclusion.

Toronto Stories is a movie worth seeing. Each story is directed by a different person, each in their own respective styles. The stories play out like parts of a book, each having a different name. (The stories, in order of appearance are aptly titled, Shoelaces, The Brazilian, Windows, and Lost Boys.) The score by E.C. Woodley really fits each story perfectly. There is some relatively mild violence in this film (none of which is graphic or deadly). The 14 A rating is deserving for the language and the nudity (some of which is brief full frontal female nudity, in a non-sexual setting.) The nude shots are not really necessary to the plotline.

However, Toronto Stories is a unique film, that makes you think about how everyone is connected. As a Torontonian, this film made me think about who my neighbour might be, and how we don’t always think about who might live next door. Whether from Toronto or not, Toronto Stories is a thought provoking art film that you should definitely see.


Toronto Stories DVD Review By Maureen

*** (out of 4)

Toronto Stories provides an interesting glimpse into the inner city lives of several ordinary and marginalized people. The four distinct stories - Shoelaces, The Brazilian, Windows, and The Lost Boys are connected by a common thread, a lost boy.

The film starts at Pearson International airport where a young immigrant boy is found alone with nothing more than a Canada postcard in his possession. While authorities are trying to sort out his identity, the boy manages to board a bus heading to downtown Toronto. Once in Toronto, the boy manages to weave in and out of the four stories linking one to the other.

The individual stories on their own are not that remarkable. Yet we watch with curiosity and throughout each story a sense of isolation in each character’s lives. It is no wonder they all end up connecting like links holding together the fragile chain of a big city. The final story, ‘Lost Boys’ ties everything together and the ending about the missing boy is satisfying. I enjoyed watching Toronto Stories. It has a real film festival feel to it. Living in Toronto, it was fun to watch for familiar landmarks. The music score was really nice to listen to and it moved the four stories along well. This would be a good film for those studying film or social studies. Torontonians who enjoy indie films will also want to see this one if they haven’t already.

This is worth checking out if you like this type of film and especially if you have a connection to Toronto.


Toronto Stories DVD Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

Toronto Stories starts with a prologue (directed by David Weaver) where a silent African boy (Toka Murphy) arrives at the airport without papers and evades authorities to find himself in the middle of the city. The boy appears briefly in each of the four stories that follow.

In the first story Shoelaces (directed by Aaron Woodley), a young boy Jacob (Ricardo Hoyos) first discovers the lost boy and takes him to Riverdale Farm. That night Jacob and his friend Cayle (Samantha Weinstein) search for the legendary Cabbagetown Monster near the west bank of the Don River below the Viaduct and Necropolis and make not one but two scary discoveries.

The Brazilian (directed by Sook-Yin Lee) is a story about the quirky relationship between two deeply isolated people in Kensington Market. Willia (Sook-Yin Lee) is strangely drawn to Boris (Tygh Runyan) who is not sure what he wants. Note that this segment contains some brief nudity, if only to justify the title.

Windows (directed by Sudz Sutherland) takes place around St. Clair and Vaughan, a largely African-Canadian neighbourhood bordering the affluent Forest Hill. Alton (K. C. Collins), on probation from previous crimes, now has a responsible window washing job and a pregnant wife. His former partner Doug (Joris Jarsky) has escaped from prison and is going after his rich former girlfriend Roshanna (Carly Pope) with a gun. Alton arrives just in time to try to defuse the situation.

In Lost Boys (directed by David Weaver) a homeless man Henry (Gil Bellows) spends his days playing chess at Union Station. It is implied, though never stated, that the loss of a son in their swimming pool contributed to the separation between Henry and his wife Beth (Lisa Ray) and his mental breakdown and crack addiction. When he spots the boy with a child molester, Henry’s appeals to the police are not taken seriously at first.

Toronto Stories is an ambitious project by four young Toronto directors that uses interesting tales to celebrate its diverse locations in rich 35 mm film. The musical score is good throughout, composed by E. C. Woodley for Shoelaces and Lost Boys and elsewhere using tunes by various local artists. We hope the DVD release will give it the wider audience it deserves, after its limited exposure in festivals and typically brief one screen run in Toronto itself.


Consensus: With four different directors on Toronto Stories, this film has a very interesting feel. A very film festival kind of movie, if you can find it, it’s worth checking out. *** (Out of 4)

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