This week in Toronto: Rockers, on screen and in the flesh
Watch this for: Overlooked and under-sung First Nations history put to music.
Chamber music, dance, film and drumming elements, not to mention a dynamite subject, make this exploration of the life of Anishinaabe leader Francis Pegahmagabow (1889-1952) among the most anticipated and adventuresome new compositions at this year’s Toronto Summer Music Festival. Pegahmagabow was a renowned First World War sniper and scout — Canada’s most decorated Indigenous soldier — who came home after the war to lead his Georgian Bay community and nationally, was a pioneering chief of the country’s nascent native-rights movement. Vancouver composer Tim Corlis will be on hand for a pre-concert talk. (Walter Hall, 80 Queen’s Park, 7:30 p.m.)
Watch this if: You think summer is a good time for scary TV.
Chalk up another peak TV must-see with this psychological-thriller series inspired by the horror canon of Stephen King. The cast is jam-packed with a mix of King movie veterans (It’s Bill Skarsgard and Carrie’s Sissy Spacek) and just plain fine actors (The Knick’s Andre Holland, The Leftovers’ Scott Glenn, Lost’s Terry O’Quinn and Melanie Lynskey of Togetherness). The story begins with a strange young man (Skarsgard) found locked in a cage beneath Shawshank prison and lawyer Henry Deaver (Holland) returning warily to his hometown to help him. (Space and CraveTV at 9 p.m.)
Watch this if: You want a cinematic head-start to your Caribana weekend.
Surely there’s no better week than this one to mark the 40th anniversary of a Jamaican film that’s long been a favourite of cult-movie devotees and reggae fans alike. Originally released in 1978, Rockers mixes fictional and documentary elements in its gritty, vivid tale of a drummer — played by real-life musician Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace — doing whatever it takes to get by in the streets and sound systems of Kingston. Along with Wallace, reggae giants like Gregory Isaacs, Big Youth and Sly & Robbie are all part of the action. The Royal’s Royal Stompbox series and the CaribbeanTales Film Festival co-present a screening event that also includes musical guests and a chance to win prizes from local music retailers. (Royal Cinema, 608 College St., 8 p.m.)
Watch this if: If you want to know why Sam Shepard is still an indie icon.
Almost exactly a year since the eminent American playwright Sam Shepard died on July 27, 2017, one of his most popular plays returns Wednesday to Toronto’s indie-theatre scene. Famously co-written with Patti Smith in their room at the Chelsea Hotel, passing a typewriter back and forth, the play channels Shepard as Slim and Smith as Cavale, two lovers rebelling against the world inside, you guessed it, a hotel room. Benjamin Blais directs Cowboy Mouth at The Assembly Theatre, featuring beloved local drag queen Tynomi Banks in a guest role. (Through Saturday, 1479 Queen St. W., 8 p.m.)
Belle de Jour
Watch this if: You want to revisit a racy classic of world cinema.
A succès de scandale for director Luis Bunuel and star Catherine Deneuve when first released in 1967, Belle de Jour delights in busting taboos in an unusually elegant fashion. Deneuve stars as a bourgeois housewife who escapes her boredom by taking a job at a Parisian brothel with some highly specific specialties. An auteur who loved to play with his audiences, Bunuel makes it hard to tell whether all this kinkiness is happening for real or evidence of its heroine’s rich fantasy life. Either way, Belle de Jour will be looking its very best thanks to a 4K restoration that debuted last year and begins a limited run at the Lightbox. (TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W., 2:15, 7:20 and 9:45 p.m.)
Watch this if: You want to devote some attention to Canadian moviemakers.
The second season of this interview show focuses exclusively on female filmmakers, appropriately enough in the era of Time’s Up. It kicks off with a chat with Mina Shum, whose 1994 movie Double Happiness broke ground for Asian-Canadians and helped launch the career of Emmy nominee Sandra Oh. Shum discusses her latest, Meditation Park, also starring Oh and Pei-Pei Cheng of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon fame. Each week, the film being highlighted will air immediately after the show. (CBC at 8:30 p.m., also at cbc.ca/watch)
Watch this for: Toronto pedigree and raw power.
This fivesome, a side project that finally unleashed its debut LP last fall, comes across as something like the louche, less arty cousin of two-time Polaris finalist U.S. Girls, or the headbanging alternative to psych-roots stalwarts The Highest Order, to cop from the credits on the respective resumés of band members Meg Remy and all-world drummer Simone TB. Unabashed rockers all, and drawn from some of the city’s most clever noisemakers; they’d also work well this week if you’re looking for a sonic bookend to Wednesday’s visitors, L7. (Lee’s Palace, 529 Bloor St. W., doors 9 p.m.)
Shangela is Shook!
Watch this if: You’re a comeback queen.
The world was shook when a plot twist in the finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 3 robbed (yes, robbed) Shangela Laquifa Wadley of the crown and $100,000. But we know this queen won’t stay down for long, so — Halleloo! — she’s on a tour of her one-woman comedy show Shangela is Shook! which arrives in Toronto on Sunday night. We have a feeling that this show will be what? Professional. (The Opera House, 735 Queen St. E., 9:30 p.m.)