Reviews

Hot Docs Preview: People’s Republic of Desire (2018, Hao Wu)

Posted on by Ricky in Hot Docs | Leave a comment

Eerily similar to what you would think was a Black Mirror episode, The Republic of Desire is an interesting and ultimately depressing look at the world of live streaming in China.

In China, live streaming has become extremely popular, and much like youtube stars, the promise of fame and fortune has driven a lot of individuals to great measures to attain popularity online. The film follows the a few of these online celebrities as they attempt to win an annual competition that promises fame and reward. We also follow other players in the world of live streaming, including the fans and the people behind agencies that promote the personalities.

Without getting too much in the movie, it is pretty clear that desire is a strong theme in the movie – there is desire for fame, desire for money, desire for recognition, desire for friends and a desire for identity. Everyone in this film is in the search of something and it brings to the forefront just how disconnected we have become from each other as we become more connected on the internet.

There is a lot going on in this film to digest and it makes you wonder where we are heading as a society. Check it out.

Sat, Apr 28 @ 9:00 PM Hart House Theatre
Mon, Apr 30 @ 3:00 PM Scotiabank Theatre 4
Sat, May 5 @ 6:15 PM Revue Cinema

Click here for more info

Hot Docs Preview: The Cleaners (2018, Hans Block, Moritz Riesewieck)

Posted on by Ricky in Hot Docs | Leave a comment

thecleaners

The Cleaners is an astonishing, terrifying and disturbing look at the hidden side of the internet. While we celebrate the fact we are able to share our thoughts and content to anyone and everyone across the globe, we learn there’s always a catch.

On the internet, most of us are content with sharing memes, random life updates and curated pictures of our lunches. However there is a small section of society who want to share more nefarious things. TPropaganda, acts of violence and nudity are among the nastier things on the internet and throughout this film, we realized that’s just peeling back the top layer. This content doesn’t often reach the masses, so the question is … so who moderates them?

The Cleaners is a film about the people who moderate our content. Based out of a non descript office in Manila and working as third party contractors for our tech giants, the people we meet really do look like they have seen it all.

The film brings us insight into the lives of these people but also dives into many other topics including right free speech, corporate and government responsibilities on the web and also contract work in poor countries. It is a very well rounded and slick film that brings forth a ton of information without exercising judgement and leaves a lot of food for thought. It’s not a very happy topic as one would imagine but it’s definitely one that should be looked at.

Highly recommended

Wednesday May 2nd @ Scotiabank: 2:45 pm
Friday May 4th @ Revue: 9 pm

For more information, go to this page

SxSW Review: Hatchie, Anna Burch, March 15, Cheer Up Charlies

Posted on by Gary in Everything, Reviews, South By Southwest | Leave a comment

Hatchie, March 15, 2018

Hatchie
Despite how the number makes me feel old, having a touch of the ’90s isn’t a bad thing. Hatchie certainly captures the sound of that glittering bygone era in spades. Her music reminds me a little of Natalie Imbruglia (I’m fairly certain it’s not because she is also Australian).

The slow, dreamy melodies of “Sure” and “Try,” especially the bright guitar and harmony, seem like they could float on forever. This is true when listening to them live or recorded.

Anna Burch, March 15, 2018

Anna Burch
To follow Hatchie with Detroit songwriter Anna Burch seems to me like an intentional juxtaposition. One offers up glittery melodies, but another communicates with lyrical, descriptive songs. True to this change, we went from shoegazing to speaking directly to the audience. Which made my second job as a photographer a bit easier.

Still light and airy, Burch’s songs, such as “Asking 4 a Friend” and “2 Cool 2 Care” are catchy in their own ways. Twisting and turning, you never quite know where the next hook is coming on the first listen – and then they will grow on you quite quickly to confuse your normal expectations. Quite interesting. My favorite would still be “Tea-Soaked Letter.”

SxSW Film Review: Science Fair (Cristina Costantini and Darren Foster)

Posted on by Gary in Movies, Reviews, South By Southwest | Leave a comment

science-fair-120085

If I had wanted to start my scientific career with… correction: if I had known that people still consider it meaningful to launch one’s scientific career by going through a pageantry similar to the Westminster Dog Show, I could have marched on and decimated my cynical optimism much more effectively and quit a long time ago.

For those of you unfamiliar with Science Fair, the International Science and Engineering Fair, run by Intel, is an annual convention that plucks kids around the world, together with their nerdy chemical-volcano-equivalent and drop them in front of the relentlessly all-seeing eyes of Sauron. Um, I mean, real expert judges in their respective STEM fields.

I was of course only half joking about the LOTR analogy. Pragmatically, everyone knows that the Science Fair is akin to a gateway-to-Harvard lottery. Once you complete the task, the world is your oyster, and your life will never be the same. Only differences being that you shoulder only your future; an unspeakable evil will not stop taking over both your mind and the world if/when you fail. And like Mario, you have a few tries. And to be perfectly blunt, no one “sciences fairly” at science fairs, either. At least, not if you wish to place or win awards. I would much rather a PhD helms the science program in my school, instead of running a program that tutors elite students to specifically win science fairs. Yet the disparity between true experts and a teenage prodigy can still be devastatingly vast. A unprepared, raw experience can still recall being chased by the Predator, or cowering like the lamb in the jaws of the Jurassic Park T-Rex. So, kids do need guidance – but is it worth the cost of everything else?

All these conflicting lines of thoughts are what make this film so fascinating to watch. Co-directed by a past participant of the Fair (Costantini), Science Fair is an uproarious, hilarious, naive and yet aching look at how we glory in our own (apparent) success in preparing the next generation for the most technologically advanced society humankind has ever seen. While there are really no surprises given the current sociopolitical context, I won’t give anything away about the narrative, except to say that it is the wunderkind characters themselves who really drive the film. How can you not be drawn into the youthful energy focused 123% on curing malaria one moment, 314.159% on head-banging to trap music the next, while holding a religious certainty of your unique significance in the universe? Ostensibly, the film wants to promote the continuation of the Science Fair, as Intel has been decreasing its funding recently. What we should also do, besides rushing to watch this documentary, is to re-live and reflect on whether it is the best way to promote scientific learning. Just remember – your tube-full of all-3-meals each bedridden day at 98 could come with a side of shitty rave music (or perhaps we would all be reprogrammed to love rave music). Shudders all-round.