Reviews

Review: Bruce Dickinson, November 23, Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Posted on by Paul in Reviews | Leave a comment

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Shortly before the start of Bruce Dickinson‘s one man show at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Saturday night, I witnessed a man in the crowd who appeared to be putting earplugs in … before a spoken word show. It seemed a bit odd.

Granted, I don’t know what this guy’s situation was – maybe he’s got very sensitive ears (the pre-show music – all Maiden of course – being pumped through the speakers was perhaps a bit loud) or maybe those were actually earbuds and he was listening to the game or something. Still, it was a little unusual. I know it’s Bruce Dickinson, but what the hell was this guy expecting?

Truth be told, other than the general idea that Dickinson would be talking about his life and career over the years, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect either, but I had to assume that he’d have some pretty good tales to tell. After all, as far as legendary metal vocalists go, they don’t get much more legendary than the Iron Maiden frontman, so surely he’s got some stories. And over the course of the evening, Dickinson indeed regaled the crowd with stories from throughout his career, from his beginnings in his hometown of Worksop (which to his surprise, at least someone in attendance had heard of) to his time at an English public school (actually not public at all, but a private school – oh, those wacky English) to his early days in the music business as singer for Samson and onto his days as frontman for Iron Maiden and his other life as an airline pilot. So yeah, dude’s got a lot of stories. And he tells them well.

Memorable moments from throughout the night included his accounts of his time at that English public school, wherein he developed a healthy opposition to authority and was eventually expelled (“I pissed in the headmaster’s dinner. And he ate it.”) as well as the stories of his time singing in Samson and their general lack of experience when it came to the business side of the music industry. Also amusing was a segment of the show wherein he critiqued some of his past sartorial choices as he shared some slides of past stage wear with the audience.

Overall, Dickinson proved himself to be a very animated, enthusiastic storyteller. Funny too, albeit a bit corny at times. But I suppose Bruce Dickinson’s allowed to be a little corny if he wants. He’s earned it.

Hot Docs Review: American Factory (Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert, 2019)

Posted on by Paul in Hot Docs | Leave a comment

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A failing automobile factory is on the verge of going under, only to be saved by an Asian investor, after which culture clashes, of course, ensue. If this sounds like the plot of the 1987 Ron Howard directed film Gung Ho, you’re not wrong, but it’s also the story of American Factory. Except in this case, there’s no plucky, wisecracking lead character played by Michael Keaton coming in to ultimately save the day. No, real life is more complicated than that.

American Factory tells the story of a Dayton, Ohio based GM plant that is converted into a factory for Chinese owned company Fuyao Glass, thus saving many jobs. Of course the story doesn’t end there. Aside from the obvious cultural clashes, the real issues begin once it becomes clear that the differences run a little deeper, with problems specifically arising once the workers decide that they need to unionize, something to which management is completely opposed.

Featuring in depth, honest interviews with those from both sides of this conflict, the film presents a fascinating look at the issue. A clash between labour and management is not a new story by any means, but as told by directors Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert in American Factory, it’s a very compelling one.

Screenings:
Sat, May 4, 6:00 PM @ Isabel Bader Theatre
Sun, May 5, 4:15 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

Hot Docs Preview: Gaza (Garry Keane, Andrew McConnell, 2018)

Posted on by Paul in Hot Docs | Leave a comment

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Gaza has long been the site of much conflict and unrest, but while it’s one thing to see reports in the news of what’s happening there, it’s hard for many to imagine what it would be like to actually live through it all. In Gaza, directors Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell focus on the people of Gaza and their daily lives from their own perspectives.

While the film certainly doesn’t shy away from the harsh reality of daily life in Gaza, it’s not the sole focus either. That reality is unavoidable and always hanging like a spectre over everything, but the directors choose instead to focus for much of the film on the lives of its various residents, ranging from young children to aspiring musicians to a taxi driver and many more. Despite the hardships they may face, the vast majority of those profiled in the film try to focus on the positive aspects of their lives rather than dwell on the negative.

Though the filmmakers don’t really spend much time on the political aspects of life in Gaza, that likely wasn’t one of their main goals while making the film anyways. Rather, the focus on the human element shows us a unique look at a side of life in the region that is not often seen.

Screenings:
Tue, Apr 30, 6:00 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Wed, May 1, 3:45 PM @ Isabel Bader Theatre
Fri, May 3, 3:45 PM @ Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema

Hot Docs Review: Push (Fredrik Gertten, 2019)

Posted on by Ricky in Hot Docs | Leave a comment

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An insightful film about the global housing crisis in urban centers, Push follows UN Rapporteur Lailani Farza across the globe as she investigates the continued demise of affordable city housing. For some reason I thought this film was going to be just about Toronto, but I was glad to see the scope of this film expanded.

Through conversations with experts, politicians and just plain regular people, we come to learn that the issue is far more complex than we realize and that this crisis will be far more difficult to untangle.

An eye opener of a film. Check it out.

Screenings:
Wed, May 1, 1:00 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 1
Sat, May 4, 9:15 PM @ Hart House Theatre

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