This past summer, both Pages Books and the Cumberland Theater (which is actually still open, but not for long) announced their pending closures, now it seems the Carlton Cinema is joining the club. That leaves downtown Toronto – Canada’s alleged culture center – with a gaping hole in its cinema exhibition (in addition to its gaping holes in fun bars, nice parks, cheap rent, bookstores, real grocery stores, and affordable and efficient transit). The Carlton was really the only place you could see smaller scale independent and foreign films that the Varsity or Cumberland wouldn’t program, or if you missed a film’s three week run at one of those cinemas, you could see it on one of the Carlton’s screens basically until it comes out on DVD. It’s a great shame that effective December 6th, it will be converted into office space after a 28 year run.
On my first ever big gay date, I saw “Far From Heaven” there just after I’d moved to the city. Since, I could go on for half page with what I’ve seen… “Lost in Translation,” “Vera Drake,” “Before Sunset”, “4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days”… Before this whole film journalism thing started working out, it was basically my primary source for non-Hollywood cinema outside of TIFF or Hot Docs. Sure it was a bit of a shithole, but I’d always take it over the cookie cutter multiplex setting of AMC or Scotiamount. While there’s still the Varsity (which usually has 2 or 3 usually rather major indies or foreign films running), and the pending hope of whatever the year-round programming TIFF’s Bell Lightbox provides… I fear this is just one more (tiny) nail in the nearly shut coffin of hope I have for Toronto as a city.
Anyway… Rest in peace, Carlton Cinemas.