Hot Docs

Hot Docs: Carny

Posted on by Ricky in Hot Docs, Movies | 1 Comment

Toronto – One of the movies I had wanted to watch quite a bit was a little documentary by Allison Murray called “Carny” which is – “An intimate, gritty and poetic adventure following the lives of carnies, traveling fairground workers who have abandoned the security of the “real world” for the refuge and variety of the road.” according to the website.

Its really hard to write a review when you are listening to the Flight of the Conchords cd. I have to say. Anyways, I’ll do my best. So how was this documentary? It was alrite. Sometimes, the camera was a bit shaky but that’s hardly a complaint. Most of the documentary followed a few characters – all outsiders who somehow found family in the carny. The characters include – a lesbian with a troubled past, a odd threesome, a guy who was born into it and some other random people. All winners. Haha, no seriously. It’s a look into why the carnies do what they do (travel town to town and work for ridiculously low rates). The pay is not good for Carnies, let me tell you.

My only complaint with the film is that I think the documentary takes the most extreme of cases for characters working in the carnival. Maybe it is to make it more dramatic and such, but I am not convinced that these characters can represent all carnies out there. I guess the film is more about outsiders anyway. I didn’t find any of the characters that likable either.


Hot Docs: The Last Continent

Posted on by Ricky in Hot Docs, Movies | Leave a comment

Toronto – Sunny, sunny Toronto. On the first gorgeous weekend of the year, what better way to spend it then spend it indoors watching documentaries — about Antarctica? The scene was Sunday, at 12:45 and the documentary was “The Last Continent“. To spare you from my typical non nonchalant, semi-detailed-that-might-be-right-or-wrong description, Here is the description of the documentary, according to the press kit:

Biologist and filmmaker Jean Lemire, accompanied aboard the schooner Sedna IV by a
handpicked team of scientists and filmmakers, dared to experience climate change and
its consequences within Antarctica’s icy grip. More than a full year of daring, isolation, danger, intensity: it was a spectacular adventure full of risks and triumphs, joys and perils. The crew was prepared for the worst but faced even worse!

So how was this doc? The cinematography was off the charts. They get some excellent shots of everything in Antarctica. Icebergs, penguins, seals, birds, whales – everything looks nice. Most of this film, which runs about 90 minutes or so, you will be thinking ‘wow, this looks nice’.

The story itself is okay, as you can gather from press kit, the team is staying in Antarctica for a year, and they do face struggles, but it really doesn’t look or seem as hard as the summary makes it to be. I am sure its somewhat difficult, but from the movie itself, it barely touches on any of the difficulties of living in such a place. If you go from the documentary alone, it seems like a day in the park. That would be my only complaint. I was expecting like – mental breakdowns, arguments, hysteria, scurvy – and all I got was a seal pup that might have been abandoned by its mom, but not really.

The movie is in french, with subtitles and yeah, its about how climate change (and THE MAN) is destroying the environment. So as with a lot of french movies, theres a lot of pondering, rhetorical questions and green hippy subliminal messages splatter thru out the film. There are also some funny scenes which made a friend of mine compare it to ‘The Life Aquatic’.

Overall, I would recommend this movie – the cinematography is phenomenal and as green hippy as the messages you get from this film are, it is a valid one.


Hot Docs – Weekend Primer

Posted on by Ricky in Hot Docs, Movies | Leave a comment

Toronto – Every year, around this time, Toronto is home to the great Hot Docs Festival. It is North America’s largest documentary festival. There are all kinds of documentaries about all things that will probably depress you (as most documentaries do), but every year there are some quality documentaries that come out. Lets face it, documentaries are good information pieces and then when you go out afterwards to the bar or meet a girl at a party, you can recite some info you learn from these documentaries and impress them with your knowledge of the problems that some random kids in some non important third world country has. You can be like ‘Yea? Darfur? Have you heard of the issues they have in kazmikistan? Yea, its FAR WORSE then Darfur .. the kids there eat glass for desert’. It’ll get you props. Specially if you can shed a tear.

Anyways, here is some documentaries that interest me:

Emoticons (w/ Kids with Money)
Its about six girls obsessed with the internet. “these girls are lost souls in search of contact, consolation, help, friendship and love. “. I say, let them be obsessed with the internet, I work for an internet company, these people pay my bills probably.

Kids With Money
Its like a documentary version of the Hills, I gather. Some statement about consumerism is probably made.

7:15 @ Rom,

Carny (9:45 pm Saturday at Royal, other times available)
I imagine its about Carnies, so thats interesting enough by itself. It can also be about Carnivores, like Lions and Pumas. That’d be cool too. Either way, it should be good. Theres also a British Sea Power song called Canvey Island. I started that sentence thinking it was Carney Island, but I was wrong.

Montery Pop (11:55 pm Saturday, Bloor)
This movie is about the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, during the Summer of Love. You know, 1967, that year was nicely recapped in Forrest Gump. Expect a lot of Janis Joplin, and other hippies in this documentary. Also, Rick James saying ‘Coke .. its a hell of a drug’. Haha if only. I should make documentaries.

The Last Continent (12:45 @ Bloor, Sunday)
Its about Anarctica, its made by French-Canadians. Supposed to have some gorgeous pictures, being the Earthy guy that I am, that stuff appeals to me.

Junior (sunday, 7 pm at Alliance)
A documentary about Arnold’s 1993 movie about a man who gets preg– No, its actually a french canadian documentary about the lives of junior players. If you are a hockey fan, this will appeal to you.

Ps. Yes I know I don’t really have much information on these documentaries, but you can always click on the link to read the actual synopsis. I mean, those guys probably paid some publicist who probably spent a few hours typing up those descriptions.

Heres a song for all your troubles

Hot Docs – Music

Posted on by Wade in Everything, Hot Docs, Movies | Leave a comment

hot docs

Well the Hot Docs Documentary Film Festival announced its official line up this past week. For those of you who don’t know, Hot Docs is happening in Toronto from April 17th – 27th and is the best film event that happens here each year. Here is why:

1. The films are good
– Truth be told, most people who make documentaries are not film people. They are regular people who have access to a good story and decide to get into filmmaking. Story telling is an art and this festival has stories that you didn’t even know existed.

2. It is accessible and you can afford to go – My suggestion is to get a 10 pass for only $90. This pass is transferable, so you can split the cost with a buddy and you can each see 5 movies for $45. My only suggestion is to get your tickets NOW. Two weeks before the festival, the high profile films will be sold out.

Make sure you check out the full schedule. Take the time and spend an hour reading through the films. You will find a few that will speak to you.

Lets start with some docs about music.

Anvil! The Story of Anvil
At the age of 14, best friends Lips and Robb Reiner make a pact to rock together forever. Their band Anvil, hailed as the “demigods of Canadian metal,” influences a musical generation including Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax. Though Anvil never makes it big, they never stop playing or believing. Following a calamitous European tour, Lips and Robb, now well into their 50s, set off to record their 13th album, This Is Thirteen, in one last attempt to fulfill their boyhood dream.

All Together Now
Music is the star in this dizzying documentary about Montréal-based Cirque du Soleil’s new Beatles-inspired Las Vegas show, Love. After three years of negotiations and with a budget of $180 million, director Dominic Champagne has to wrangle an international cast and crew of 500, and an approvals process that includes the founders of Cirque, the Beatles holding company, Apple Corps Ltd., Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison’s widow Olivia, and Yoko Ono-one wonders how he didn’t have a nervous breakdown. With fabulous archival footage and spectacular performances-this is one behind-the-scenes story you won’t want to miss.

Talking Guitars
Talking Guitars is an engrossing portrait of master guitar craftsman, Flip Scipio, an unassuming Dutchman with an obsession. Based in New York, Flip is revered in the music industry. His clients include Jackson Browne, David Lindley, Ben Taylor, Paul Simon, David Tronzo, Leni Stern and Carly Simon. The film is a musical journey that follows Flip from his quiet, sunny workshop to captivating face-to-face sessions with his famous clients. Watching him at work is as interesting as hearing the musicians play. The film draws you into his world, and makes you want to hear what he hears

Tonite Let’s All Make Love in London
One of the few filmmakers trusted within the perfumed gardens of the 1960s Brit rock illuminati, Peter Whitehead was allowed unparalleled access into the centre of the pop circle to capture the moment for his kaleidoscopic film. With contributions from the likes of Mick Jagger, Michael Caine, Julie Christie, Lee Marvin and David Hockney, Tonite presents a dazzling and intimate record from the very core of the “in-crowd.” With music by Pink Floyd, among many others. “Not a documentary in any ordinary sense,” wrote Variety, “but rather an impressionistic view of the ‘land of mod’ as seen by a sympathetic participant.”

Monterey Pop
This vanguard concert film is an explosive portrayal of the 1967 Monterey International Pop Festival at the height of the Summer of Love. Monterey launched the careers of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Otis Redding and ushered in a new era of rock ‘n’ roll. Other performances by artists like Simon and Garfunkel, The Mamas and the Papas, The Who and the extraordinary Ravi Shankar are vividly captured by both Ricky Leacock and Al Maysles, who were camera operators. Monterey Pop lives up to its legendary status, making it as timeless as it is powerful.

Planet B-Boy
Kids in Osaka, Paris, Seoul and Las Vegas are all doing it-B-boying, breakin’, bustin’ moves you’ve gotta see to believe! Planet B-Boy features insane dance performances, unforgettable power moves, impossible synchronization and sweet choreography. The film tracks the evolution of a street dance turned universal art form, culminating in an international showdown. B-boy crews from 18 different countries face-off in Germany at the annual “Battle of the Year” World Championships, eager to reprazent.

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