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Take Two: David Lynch

David Lynch is the ultimate disruptor of mainstream films

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David Lynch is the ultimate disruptor of mainstream films

No one has fully understood, properly analyzed or thoroughly dissected the life and times of American filmmaker David Lynch. For that, cinephiles are eternally grateful. We secretly yearn for surrealists, such as Lynch, to spin his elaborate tales because they defy gravity and turn logic into madness. Re-watch his television triumph Twin Peaks for all the giddy evidence you need. Plus, you get pie.

David Lynch
David Lynch

We need his cryptic mysteries because they do not always get solved in routine ‘whodunit’ ways. Re-experience Blue Velvet, his early cinematic masterpiece. Plus, you see the late Dennis Hopper, as the ultimate method actor, doing his career-best performance.

Blue Velvet (1986)
Blue Velvet (1986)

Finally, we value an artist who is the ultimate disruptor, because most mainstream filmmakers are now obliged to be mundane conformists by their Hollywood bosses. Reevaluate Mulholland Drive, Lynch’s mature masterwork, in this context. Plus, you get a dizzying trip into the machinations of old Hollywood.

Now 73, Lynch is in another lull in production since his successful return to Twin Peaks in 2017. No matter, something wonderful and/or weird is sure to happen. And, we are allowed more time to contemplate his universe. Not incidentally, in July and August, the Toronto International Film Festival launches David Lynch: The Big Dream at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Setting out to chart ‘the director’s ascension from cult favourite to cultural icon,’ TIFF will screen the features Eraserhead (1977), The Elephant Man (1980), Dune (1984), Blue Velvet (1986), Wild at Heart (1990), Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992), Lost Highway (1997), The Straight Story (1999) and Mulholland Drive (2001).

The Elephant Man (1980)
The Elephant Man (1980)

TIFF’s Brad Deane, who curated The Big Dream, has also lined up some of Lynch’s provocative shorts. These include his student-era drama, The Grandmother, the strange story of a neglected boy who, from a seed, grows his own grandmother as a caregiver. The ‘seeds’ of Lynch’s future work are found here.

But why now at TIFF? “For me,” says Deane. “It’s the new Twin Peaks series that triggered this – just seeing how relevant it all is and how innovative he still is as an artist. The lure is the mix of the most traditional forms of filmmaker with the avantgarde. So it is a good time to go back and revisit all the work.”

The Straight Story (1999)
The Straight Story (1999)

Meanwhile, no one who has ever met Lynch – and I interviewed him repeatedly for The Toronto Sun – has seen him without a cigarette. He’s a relentless chain-smoker. After 9/11, when stranded at the Toronto film fest, Lynch refused to join friends who offered him a lift home to New York in a non-smoking van. He waited until a smoking-friendly opportunity arose.

Puffing or not, Lynch is always charming. But every interview that I transcribed led to one conclusion: I still do not really know what goes on inside his mind. The inspiration that drew him into the sadomasochistic weirdness of Blue Velvet; the obsession with the road movie motif that led to such oddly diverse films such as Lost Highway and The Straight Story; his fascination with deformity that plunged him into The Elephant Man saga; these all eluded me.

And, yes, this is a good thing. Not all mysteries should be revealed.

Bruce Kirkland‘s career spans more than four decades, working as a film critic for The Toronto Star, The Ottawa Journal and for 36 years at The Toronto Sun.

A life-long film buff, Bruce now shares his passion and insight with Active Life readers.



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NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH: Toronto Entertainment District a condo community?

Toronto Entertainment District a booming condo community in the making

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Toronto Entertainment District a booming condo community in the making

If you haven’t been to Toronto’s Entertainment District lately, you’re in for quite the surprise.

In fact, you might not even recognize this booming neighbourhood.

Long a Toronto hot spot filled with some of the city’s best theatres and restaurants, the Entertainment District is in full-on transition mode – into also becoming one of the most prestigious condo destinations.

A place to live

The Entertainment District, a condo community?

Yes, that same area punctuated by such landmarks as Roy Thompson Hall, the Princess of Wales Theatre, and Canada’s Walk of Fame, known as a place to play and eat, is now becoming known as a place to live.

“Look around at all the buildings being built and how the neighbourhood is changing and will continue to change,” Alan Vihant, senior vice-president, highrise at Great Gulf recently told Condo Life at the ground-breaking for the company’s 357 King West project. Great Gulf’s 357 King West is a 42-storey condo at the corner of King St. W. and Blue Jays Way.

This development and population growth is now leading to other expansion. “It’s not just a place to live now,” Vihant says. “A lot of offices are moving here, the bars and restaurants continue to evolve. It’s a great time to be building down here.”

Essentially born in the 1990s as an entertainment and tourist hub, with a burgeoning nightclub scene elbowing its away among the existing theatres and restaurants, the early 2000s brought the first wave of a condo boom.

More recently, SoHo Metropolitan Hotel & Residences, Festival Tower, and Bisha Hotel and Residences are among some of the notable condo projects that are up and running.

Abuzz with excitement

One key cultural attraction is TIFF Bell Lightbox, which opened in 2010 on the northwest corner of King Street and John Street. The first five floors of this 42-storey tower serve as headquarters for the Toronto International Film Festival, while the Festival Tower residences sit atop. With TIFF Bell Lightbox serving as host to countless international stars and pre-screenings during the annual festival, the area is often abuzz with excitement.

Add to this more recent landmark developments such as Bisha Hotel and Residences, and Nobu Residences, and you have an expanding array of exciting residential opportunities.

Then there’s Wayne Gretzky’s Restaurant at 99 Blue Jays Way, and more recently even a Wahlburgers (of the Wahlburgers restaurant chain and famed brothers Donny and Mark Wahlburg). All of it a stone’s throw from the Rogers Centre, Ripley’s Aquarium, the CN Tower, Metro Toronto Convention Centre and Scotiabank Arena.

The team at Great Gulf breaking ground at 357 King West.
The team at Great Gulf breaking ground at 357 King West.

Transition to excellence

And more is on the way.

Great Gulf and Ed Mirvish Enterprises, for example, recently announced they have reached an agreement on the sale to Great Gulf of the site of the proposed landmark Mirvish+Gehry project in the Entertainment District.

All of it adds up to an area in transition indeed – to excitement and excellence.


Location, location, location

Bordered by Spadina Avenue, King Street West, University Avenue and Front Street

Key landmarks

  • Roy Thompson Hall
  • TIFF Bell Lightbox
  • Wayne Gretzky’s Restaurant
  • Wahlburgers
  • Rogers Centre

Select existing condos

  • SoHo Metropolitan Hotel & Residences, by Mastercraft Starwood
  • Festival Tower, by Daniels
  • Bisha Hotel and Residences, by Lifetime Developments

Select upcoming condos


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Neighbourhood Watch: Queen West & King West

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Neighbourhood Watch: Queen West & King West

Housing Options

The condo boom began in the Entertainment District when abandoned warehouses in the area began to be transformed into lofts, or were demolished to make way for condo towers. With the huge increase in residents, there has been a decrease in the number of night clubs, mostly because of the noise and traffic issues associated with those types of venues.

David Mirvish’s two-storey condo complex at the northeast corner of King and John Streets, designed by Frank Gehry, would see the addition of a huge art gallery space. The 92- storey and 82-storey towers will be developed by Great Gulf, which also has 357 King West Condos under development. As well, Robert De Niro’s Nobu Hotel started sales of their first Nobu Condos in the summer and Empire Developments will develop Maverick Condos, a 47- storey condominium at 323 King St West.

Leisure Pursuits

Do you need to ask? The area is called the Entertainment District. Live theatre rules, with the Princess of Wales Theatre, the Royal Alex, Roy Thomson Hall, the Four Seasons Centre, Theatre Passe Muraille and the Factory Theatre. But cinema is also well represented with the TIFF Bell Lightbox and the large complex of movie screens at the Scotiabank Theatre at Richmond and John Streets and the National Film Board of Canada’s home right across the street. Need a laugh? Try an evening at Second City, Yuk Yuk’s or the Forget About It Supper Club.

If you want to stroll the area, check out the stars of Canada’s Walk of Fame along King between Simcoe and John Streets, and on Simcoe south of King. This year’s inductees were Olympic sprinter Donovan Bailey, civil rights pioneer Viola Desmond, actor Anna Paquin, businessman Ted Rogers, scientist and broadcaster David Suzuki, singer/songwriter Stompin’ Tom Connor, and singer/songwriter and Shawn Hook (Allan Slaight Honour).

Parks & Rec

Clarence Square – located where Wellington Street West meets Spadina Avenue – is one of the oldest remaining parks in the downtown core. Although a small area, it is relatively quiet and shady, with many large trees, a spacious grassy area and a fenced in dog park. The Roundhouse Park is 17 acres and features the John Street Roundhouse, a preserved locomotive roundhouse that is home to the Toronto Railway Museum.

Retail Therapy

Shop until you drop into one of the fabulous restaurants, cafés or bars located throughout the district. Although there aren’t any large indoor malls in the area, stores of all kinds are plentiful and range from modest to bespoke.

Queen Street west of Spadina Avenue has some of the highest density of independent and chain stores. But if you want to stay inside, just wander through Toronto’s PATH to find an outstanding array of retail, or head on over to the Eaton Centre.

Easy Access

Subways, streetcars and all-night buses service the area. Union Station is close by, so GO Transit is readily available, as is easy access to the Gardiner Expressway and DVP.



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