Hot Docs Preview – Cat Ladies [2009, Christie Callan-Jones]

Posted on by Wade in Everything, Hot Docs, Movies | 3 Comments

Cat Ladies. The title says it all. This doc gives us the inside scoop on four crazy cat ladies. Well maybe they aren’t all crazy, but they do all have issues. We all have problems in our lives. Some of us drink, some of us collect cats. What can you do?

The four characters featured in this doc all have varying degrees of cat lady syndrome. The story follows a good arc, keeping you interested until the end and answering the questions in your head as they pop up. It was produced in partnership with TVO, so it did have that made for TV feel, which really didn’t take away from anything.

One of my favourite parts was seeing Tre Smith…again. If you don’t know this guy, he is everywhere when it comes to animal protection issues in Toronto. If there is a raccoon stuck in a fence or dog with only three legs, you can count on Tre coming to the rescue and being the face of the Humane Society. He first got his start on the Toronto based reality show The Lofters (2001), where he lived in a downtown loft with Jennifer Hedger (TSN) and Arisa Cox (E!Online). You may also remember him from an incident last summer when Tre, a Humane Society Inspector, found a dog in the back seat of a car that had its windows cranked shut. After Tre busted out the cars window to rescue the dog, the dogs owner returned. Tre then handcuffed the guy to the car and took the dog to get medical attention. Bystandards then knocked out three of the dudes teeth and pelted him with stones as he stood handcuffed to the car. It was a pretty big deal at the time. Some paint Tre as a villain, I would say he is more of a hero. Anyway, Tre is in this movie, much to the delight of the single female animal loving population of Toronto.

Schedule *Screens with Statistics
6:30 PM, Friday, May 1 – Cumberland 3
9:45 PM, Saturday May 9 – The Royal Cinema
9:00 PM, Sunday May 10 – Cumberland 3

Hot Docs: Soulwax – Part of the Weekend Never Dies [2009, Soam Farahmand]

Posted on by Ricky in Hot Docs, Movies | 2 Comments


Toronto – Given that I have been dabbling on the outer edges of electronic music in recent times, it would only make sense for me to be interested in the Soulwax documentary “Part of the Weekend Never Dies‘, a rock tour documentary about Soulwax’s travels in the summer of 2006. Many of you might know Soulwax by their DJ names – 2ManyDJs. I guess they are somewhat regarded as pioneers in this new electronic age, according to many people interviewed during the documentary (including LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy, Peaches, Justice, Digitalism, Erol Alkans among others). The tour that the film was made for, was one where the people in the band Soulwax also did double duties as 2ManyDJs (Soulwax would open, 2ManyDjs would close). It’s a bit convoluted, but the documentary will explain it better.

The documentary was just filmed with one camera (whereas Beastie Boys documentary was filmed with 50) and features many interviews, concert footage and behind the scene moments that is typical of a rock tour documentary. To me, this documentary seemed like one large commercial for a Soulwax concert, but you can say that about any music documentary where everyone they interview sings praises. The editing was pretty interesting, sometimes sloppy as they splice the many many concert shots with the everyday going ons for David and Stephen Dewaele(Soulwax).

Overall, it is definitely a good look into this new age of electronic music, where DJs get treated like rock gods, tour the world over, play to thousands of people all while standing behind some knobs. I don’t think this documentary really differentiates much from other rock tour documentaries, so I guess if you are a fan of music, or soulwax or electronic music, you will probably enjoy this one.

Screening information:
Midnight, Sunday, May 3 at Bloor Cinema
9:30 Pm, Sunday, May 10 at Royal Cinema

Hot Docs Preview – Carmen Meets Borat [2008, Mercedes Stalenhoef]

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

Wow, a documentary about Borat! Who said documentaries were boring? As the story goes it is common knowledge that Sacha Baron Cohen took advantage of poor villagers in Romania when he filmed his movie. I thought that this doc was going to be about how the villagers rose up and stuck it back to Sacha through a lawsuite. Well, that isn’t exactly how this one panned out.

The movie mostly focuses on 17-year-old Carmen who works in her father’s bar, waiting on layabouts, watching Spanish soap operas, and planning a life far, far away. As Carmen searches for a husband in her small village of Glod, big city lawyers come to town and convince her father to file the lawsuit against Borat for the way the villagres were portrayed in his movie. As the whole lawsuit thing happens, we keep watching as Carmen deals with her life as a 17 year old girl in her village.

I have been trying to connect the two distict story lines in some type of metaphorical way, but I can’t. The whole lawsuit story line is kind of a let down and the Carmen story line is what it is. The only common thread that I could find was:

(1) Borat goes to Glod and takes advantage of poor villagers so that he can profit.
(2) American lawyers go to Glod and try to take advantage of poor villagers with the promise of a big settlement so that they themselves can profit
(3) Documentary makers go to Glod, and make a movie about it all. Documetary makers are poor, but they likely will profit from this movie too, or at least they got paid to make it.
(4) Glod continues to get screwed.

6:30 PM Saturday, May 2 – Bloor Cinema
4:30 PM Sunday, May 3 – The ROM Theatre
9:30 PM Sunday, May 10 – Cumberland 2

HotDocs Review: Roadsworth – Crossing the line [Alan Kohl, 2009]

Posted on by Gary in Hot Docs, Movies | 2 Comments


Toronto – By the time the week-long HotDocs ended last year, I think we had watched a total of 10 man-films between all of us at Panic Manual, which entirely justified the cool response from the festival guys this year around. Alas, they were very cool in the pop-culture sense of the word, and sent us material regardless of our past records. We collectively broke down, wept and now have a guilty-conscience. Seriously, I really appreciate this. I am reminded that my self-professed love for docs and shorts together with last year’s incongruous behavior made me a snobbish hypocritical ass, and so I deserve to dwell with my kind in Toronto. And in Peter Gibson’s mind (at least in 2001), Toronto’s not as cool as Montreal. For, around that time the soon to be crowned “Lord Roadsworth” felt an need to express himself. The general fear and hatred stemming from 911 was too much, and he detected the time was right to cheer us up through the most mundane of urban substance – the streets. So spray cans were picked up, plans were meticulously made, stencils were designed and cut, long hours of nights and dawn were spent, and the illegal act of public mischief and vandalism was carried out to the delight of an appreciative public. This was the same people who would eventually be the voice leading to his arrest, the contentious issue of public space, exoneration and even employment. Roadsworth couldn’t had stenciled the response to his street art more dramatically himself.

The documentary opened with a stoic graffiti artist who just wants to do his work. The story quickly mounts to the original motivation and some computer graphics that animates his static stencils. It was a nice touch used sparingly throughout. If one couldn’t read that this was produced with the National Film Board of Canada, by the time it rolled to Peter’s arrest, you would most definitely have identified him as Canadian. The event wasn’t headlining as a freedom of expression crusade. There was no constitutional amendments or artistic movement beneath the yellow paint. The atmosphere was mellow, and the film portrayed the entirety almost as harmless as child’s play. Which it literally was – none of the subjects were obscene/vulgar. Owl, vines, flowers, transformer logo, doves, shoes, zippers and candle sticks are hardly controversial (fine, sharks, bullets, demons and toilet drains weren’t G-rated… but the context were innocuous). Peter himself was not entirely indifferent, but throughout the film you will get a sense that he has accepted that it isn’t a trivial pursuit. Although coming to terms with persecution and the realization that not everyone loves his art – he himself didn’t sometimes – was a little rough around the edges. This isn’t exactly tear-jerking material – but it sucks when it rains on your parade. Keeping with the tone, the artists, friends and even the lawyer interviewed were all fairly evenhanded. As I am writing this, I feel a little similar to what I think the film was trying to say: this was an artistic exercise gone public. The mid section of the film was about Roadworth’s search for why and how he is to expand his career, as he grew more famous. The hindsight look over his works in Europe was presented with a little skew. I didn’t know if I should think of it as a contrast to his more positive public treatment back home, or as a growth phase when he’s running a bit dry on materials. The English at Ashford hated the doves/birds, the toilet drain at Berlin met a down-pour so almost no one noticed, oh and then we have the Dutch lady. Witness she-who-called-the-police while Peter tried to demonize her sidewalk with clouds and tulips. I guess we all have our breaking points but I would not have guess it’s tulips…

You may argue that he “sold-out”. The vandalism lawsuit ended with a slap-on-the-wrist; he now works with the city sometimes to paint public spaces. But I’d say he’s right. There was never anything to sell. He wanted to paint the streets. Whether the City of Montreal allows/pays him to do so is irrelevent. There is integrity in that. If I’m cynical (which I’m not), perhaps that was the goal and he acted in a script that he wrote – in that case all the power to Roadsworth. I do wish he’d use other colors though… but that’s his call really. Any way, I recommend this, especially as a good documentary for a piece of Canadian modern art history.