Hot Docs: Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then, Fightville, Magic Trip

Toronto – Hot Docs is upon us once again.  And in the interest of cleaning my plate before I see too many films and get backlogged, I’ll be killing three birds with the proverbial one stone by offering up reviews of three films at once.  On the surface of things, these docs have nothing in common.  One is the story of a man’s quest to somehow heal his sick wife, one is about ultimate fighting, and one is about LSD.  But in a sense, they have one thing in common: they’re all about people expressing individuality and finding new ways to look at the world.

Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then [Brent Green, 2010]

I’m not really sure if this even counts as a documentary.  Director Brent Green presents a quirky, stylized portrait of a man named Leonard who builds a special house in the hopes of somehow saving his wife Mary from cancer.  Green rebuilt Leonard’s house based on blueprints he found and with the help of some actor friends, recreated events the way he thought they happened.  While much of the film was rather sweet and endearing, I found Green’s voiceovers to be a bit  overbearing at times, especially when he went off on tangents about liking The Mountain Goats and Leonard Cohen and getting into some angry sounding rants against religion.  Actually, his narration sounded kind of frantic and nervous (and often annoying) throughout.  It got old quick.  Despite these stylistic digressions, I found the film to be somewhat effective and interesting, even though at the end of it all I was left wondering how much (if any) of this doc was actually true.  Maybe that was the point.  “You have to build your own world,” Green says at one point.  In telling the tale of Leonard Wood, he has certainly shown us such a world.  Still, I wish he wouldn’t try so hard.        

Wed, May 4  7:30 PM @ Cumberland 3
Fri May 6  6:15 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 4

Fightville [Michael Tucker, Petra Epperlein, 2011]

Fightville, on the other hand, was a totally satisying film.  A portrait of the World of mixed martial arts and the men who populate it (colourful characters, all of them), it’s a fascinating look at a handful of fighters, trainers and promoters and what it is that drives them exactly.  A common thread amongst them all is the notion that fighting is something real, true, and primal.  They not only see the world through the eyes of a fighter, but they kind of look at fighting as the most important thing in the world.  If you’re an ultimate fighting fan or a novice who’s curious what the appeal of it all is, this is definitely worth watching.

Tuesday, May 3 3:45 PM @ Cumberland 2

Magic Trip [Allison Ellwood, Alex Gibney, 2010]

The 1960s was a time of great social change and great musical milestones.  And drugs.  Lots and lots of drugs.  Magic Trip examines the exploits of writer Ken Kesey and his band of “merry pranksters” as they embark on a journey across America and within their own minds.  After volunteering himself for some early government sponsored experiments with LSD, Kesey becomes a proponent of the drug and it’s effects.  In fact, one of the most compelling scenes in the film revolves around an audio recording made of Kesey during one of these experiences as he describes what he sees.  Most of the information in this film is pretty much common knowledge to anyone who’s looked into the ’60s counterculture movement, but to see the footage and hear it in the words of those involved is still pretty interesting. 

Sat, Apr 30 9:45 PM @ Isabel Bader Theatre
Mon, May 2 3:30 PM @ Isabel Bader Theatre

Posted on by Paul in Hot Docs