Hot Docs

Hot Docs Review: Shiners [Stacey Tenenbaum, 2016]

Posted on by Paul in Hot Docs | Leave a comment

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Shiners is an interesting look at a line of work that many of us rarely even think about – shoe shining. The film even makes this explicit with the first lines spoken from a man on the street being interviewed:”If I’m being honest, I’ve never thought about shoe shining.”

It’s true – I’d imagine most people, if they even notice shoe shiners, are apt to walk past and ignore them, but luckily, director Stacey Tenenbaum took the time to interview shiners from locations around the world and look into what drew them to the job.

The film profiles several people from various walks of life coming to the job for various reasons. There’s a Toronto based man who works out of a hipster-ish barber shop, drawn to the job while recovering from an accident, there’s Don in New York, who went through several careers before settling on shoe shining because he likes the freedom of it, and then there’s the San Francisco and Japan based shiners who see what they do as more of a niche, elite service. The most intriguing story, however, is that of the Bolivian workers who mostly have to wear masks to protect their identity due to the stigma surrounding the job there. Regardless of what brings them to it though, each and every one of these shiners takes a certain pride in the job, with some even seeing it as a calling.

Ultimately, Shiners is is a compelling look at an overlooked and somewhat out of the ordinary career.

Screenings:
Sun, Apr 30 1:00 PM @ Hart House Theatre
Thu, May 4 9:30 PM @ Hart House Theatre

Hot Docs Preview: Becoming Bond [Josh Greenbaum, 2017]

Posted on by Paul in Hot Docs | Leave a comment

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Becoming Bond is a light hearted, entertaining film about the life of George Lazenby, the man who became known for famously taking on the role of James Bond for one film and one film only before giving it all up.

Told through a series of reenactments and narrated by Lazenby himself, it tells the tale of his early life, how he made his way up from car mechanic to salesman to male model and eventually, to somehow bluffing his way into replacing the departing Sean Connery in one of the most iconic film roles around.

While he spins a good tale, one gets the sense that Lazenby must be embellishing his story for effect to at least some extent. He’s got enough charm to pull it off though and the performance by Josh Lawson as Lazenby as well as cameos from Jeff Garlin, Jane Seymour, Jonathan Slavin, and Jake Johnson make for an entertaining watch.

Screenings:
Wed, May 3 @ 8:30 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox 1
Thu, May 4 @ 3:45 PM, Isabel Bader Theatre
Fri, May 5 @ 7:00 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

Hot Docs Review: Miss Sharon Jones! [2016, Barbara Kopple]

Posted on by Ricky in Hot Docs | Leave a comment

Not so much a music doc as it is a triumphant look at the human spirit, Miss Sharon Jones! is a heartwarming tale of the incomparable Sharon Jone’s fight with cancer, which occurred a few years ago.

Directed by Barbara Kopple, the documentary follows Sharon Jones from the onset of her illness to her recovery stage, mixing in live music footage, talking heads and an observational style. The documentary mostly assumes that you are aware of who Sharon Jones is (even if most of the regular day people she encounters does not) and doesn’t really delve into her musical journey from wedding singer to Daptones MVP. Still, those who are fans of her will delight in the fact that Sharon Jones is as much a fighting spirit off the stage as she is on the stage.

As you watch the Sharon Jones battle cancer, you can’t help but feel a sense of joy when she overcomes the illness and goes back to what she loves doing most – performing. The film, as you would expect, is soundtracked by the music of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and the songs are carefully chosen, lending extra weight to some of the lyrics of the songs that accompany the journey.

A splendid film.

Miss Sharon Jones! plays this upcoming week at Hot Docs Cinema, click here for more details.

Hot Docs review: After Circus (2015, Viveka Melki)

Posted on by Paul in Hot Docs | Leave a comment

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The circus is generally seen by many as a world of wonder, a place where we can be entertained by performers engaging in acrobatics, feats of strength, and various acts of derring-do. But what becomes of those performers when they get too old to keep performing? Where do they go when it’s time to call it quits?

After Circus takes a look at the community of retired (or semi-retired) circus performers based in Sarasota, Florida, the circus capital of the world.  Going in, I wasn’t certain what to expect, and thought that this might be a doc along the lines of Beyond The Mat, Barry Blaustein’s 1999 look at the lives of pro wrestlers. Thankfully, this film isn’t too much of a downer and generally takes a more lighthearted, sentimental look at it’s subjects’ lives, though it does touch on some of the realities of life after the circus and the struggle with issues such as health concerns, where to live, and how they’ll take care of themselves as they reach old age.

Even though most of the performers we see onscreen are no longer able to perform as they once could, each of them look back fondly on their experiences and seem to hold no regrets over their time in the circus. After Circus presents a heartwarming and slightly bittersweet look at people who are still loving that circus life.

After Circus screens again on Saturday, May 7 at 1:00pm at Scotiabank Theatre 13.