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Retrospectives of some unique cinematic visionaries hit the Lightbox

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It is quite simply two retrospectives for the price of one as even though the upcoming festival is the talk of the town in the film community here in our fair city, it doesn't mean that the TIFF Bell Lightbox isn't open for business and bringing some great retrospective programming to our screens of two very distinct filmmaker's who are inexorably connected. "Magic, Realism: The Films of Sara Driver" & "Strange Paradise: The Cinema of Jim Jarmusch" kick off today at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.

Both these filmmakers are the product of the vibrant independent scene that came out of New York City in the 1980's and while their work and career paths both took two very different paths, they have both been collaborators and crafted some very unique and interesting films that challenge our perspectives on storytelling and are must viewing for any film fan looking to expand their palette and their knowledge.

With "Magic, Realism: The Films of Sara Driver" we get a filmmaker who ranges a little more into the experimental efforts as her first effort "You Are Not I" plays very much like a fever pitch ride of self discovery and awareness as an intense and highly psychological drama plays out in what may or may not be her own subconscious.

I am the first to admit that this kind of stuff isn't necessarily for me, but with that being said something like this and a film like "Sleepwalk" her very first feature (and most universally accessible film) we see these themes play out and it is more than a little fascinating to watch because while film has always been a medium to entertain and delight audiences, it is still an art form that challenge and stimulate us as well. For anyone looking to expand your cinematic palette with something a little different, this is something you should check out.

While the canon presented in "Strange Paradise: The Cinema of Jim Jarmusch" might be a touch more well known to the casual cinematic fan, his films are no less influential and downright fascinating, even when they are a bit messy.

Kicking off tonight with his debut feature "Permanent Vacation", Jarmusch is the kind of storyteller who seemingly adapts to the tone of everyone of the stories that he tells while still be unique, distinct and original.

Ranging from the thrilling to the quirky, Jarmusch has never been afraid to mix it up and spark discussion no matter what he is doing. While many point to his earlier work in films like "Down By Law" & "Stranger Than Paradise" I have always found that his more interesting efforts have come when he is clearly wearing his influences on his sleeve like in his most recent effort "Only Lovers Left Alive" which is ode to the gothic love story set in a desolate ravaged landscape and "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai" which flashes moments of French and Japanese New Wave cinema while wrapped up in the warm and comforting blanket of a gangster movie.

Jim Jarmusch has always been the kind of filmmaker that even when you aren't the most interested in any one of the stories that he is trying to tell, they still amount to films that are fascinating to watch.

"Magic, Realism: The Films of Sara Driver" & "Strange Paradise: The Cinema of Jim Jarmusch" are now playing at the TIFF Bell Lightbox through the month of August, please check with their website for more details and show times.

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