Movies

Hot Docs: The “Socalled” Movie [Garry Beitel, 2010]

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

Toronto – What is it about human nature that drives us to create? Most of us travel through life worried about stepping outside the boundaries prescribed by society. But there are others that seem to have a creative fire that burns brightly from the outset. They create, and create, and create. Some are lucky enough to turn their mental manifestations into a career. The “Socalled” Movie is a portrait of just such an individual.

Socalled is the stage name of Josh Dolgin, a Montreal-based musician that blends Jewish klezmer music with hip hop and funk. The documentary consists of 18 short films that examine different aspects of his life. One vignette shows Josh introducing funk Trombonist Fred Wesley (of James Brown fame) to klezmer music. Another explores the creation of his youtube sensation You Are Never Alone.

It is interesting to see the creative process at work in Josh’s head. However, the energy and momentum created by many of the short films is often derailed with a more plodding interview style that is interspersed throughout. While the “18 short films in a row” approach does allow freedom to jump around, it does come at the expense of continuity. In glimpses we see Josh wear so many hats; first as a musician (pianist, singer, arranger, rapper, producer, composer, and accordionist), and then as a magician, a cartoonist, and a filmmaker.

How could you see [the history of the world] … and not want to be a part of that?  How could you see all this stuff that humans have done with their time and brains and not want to at least give it a try? Cause there’s only one shot of being a part of the world. – Josh Dolgin

It was only at the very ending of the film that things coalesced with Josh’s quote above. In an earlier short, he was quick to admit that he didn’t think of himself as a great singer. Yet he is inspired to keep trying by the creativity he sees around him. Josh wants to be a part of the human saga; and who can blame him? It’s what has been driving him to create his entire life. How human is that?

Hot Docs runs from April 29 till May 9th. The complete Hot Docs schedule can be found here.

Socalled is screened on the following dates

Sun, May 02 9:15 pm at Bloor Cinema.
Tue, May 04 11:30 am at The ROM Theatre.

Hot Docs Review – Broke [Rosie Dransfeld, 2009]

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


A few things about being broke that I have noticed over the past few months

1. You will eat a three-year-old box of Kraft Dinner and you will enjoy it.
2. You will always find money for alcohol.
3. Being home beats the shit out of getting up and going to work.

This movie, BROKE, was really good. It is a Canadian doc about an Edmonton pawnshop owner and the daily running of his business. They filmed it basically by putting a camera and sound guy in the pawnshop and filming what went down.

I found myself laughing out loud several times. The arrogant, rude, yet innocent things that come out of the pawnshop owners’ mouth are priceless. It was enjoyable for several reasons. First, you are interested in the clientele that come into pawnshop. Their stories, their haggling, their various states of intoxication. Priceless. Second, I was interested in the relationship between the Jewish pawnshop owner and his helper friend. Third, there was a narrative arc that brought us full circle. Yes, this movie was pretty spectacular. Great editing and a killer concept will leave you thinking ‘why didn’t I think of this?’

I am giving it a 4.5 out of 5. Why not a 5? Well, because the music was horrible. Imagine a bible thumping after school special from the 1980’s, then imagine music worse than that. Although the music was used sparingly, when it did come on, all I could think was “Who the crap chose this?”

You have one more chance to see Broke. It scored a repeat screening this Sunday night. I suggest you get your ass out and see it.

9:45 Sunday, May 10th – Innis Town Hall *plays with The Man Behind The Log

Hot Docs: Action Boys, [Byung-Gil Jung, 2009]

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

action_boys

Toronto – Anyone who follows Asian cinema will know that the past few years has been a tremendous boon for the Korean movie industry. With their flair for melodramatics and a dose of humility, Korean movies have been conquering Asian theatres for years now. Movies like Sassy Girl, Oldboy and The Host are well known internationally and Korean movie stars now are starting to cross over to English cinema (like the dude in Speed Racer). Action Boys is a documentary following several stuntmen all the way from their early days in the school to filming important action sequences in large scale productions. At 118 minutes, it is one of the longest documentaries at Hot Docs, but it is quite good. BlogTo thought it was boring, but I thought it was quite interesting to find some information about these stuntmen, who risk their lives on a daily basis without much of a payoff. The narration is self deprecating and often makes fun of the subjects hopes and dreams. This may sound mean, but as described early on, the documentary maker is also a stuntmen himself, so you get a good glimpse of the camaraderie that exist between these men. Overall, while the documentary is a bit long at times and some of the scenes are unnecessary, it is a good look into a profession that most of us are oblivious to, but at the same time, one that provides a lot of enjoyment in our lives when we are at the movies.

Hot Docs: http://schedule.hotdocs.ca/index.php/2009/film/action_boys
Innis Town Hall, Sunday May 3, 9:45
Cumberland 4, Monday May 4, 4:15

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