Reviews

Hot Docs Review: Dish: Women, Waitressing & The Art of Service [2010, Maya Gallus]

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

Toronto – Whereas March is a time of music festivals and bbqs, April is a time for one thing – documentaries. Once again, for the 17th year in a row, April brings us Hot Docs, a Canadian International Documentary festival that features around 150 documenataries from around the world. It starts on April 29th and runs until May 9th. Tickets are probably on sale now, so get off yo ass and book it. I love documentaries. They often tell me stories about people I either don’t think about or know or care about. I like additional knowledge, you never know when you need it. Maybe in a time of war. I don’t know. I’m rambling.

My first documentary is one called Dish, a Canadian documentary by Maya Gallus that examines waitresses in the service industry. Featuring a variety of waitresses young and old from restaurants all around the world (including Tokyo, Toronto, Montreal and Paris), the documentary examines what it’s like to be a waitress, why some of the women there chose the profession and some challenges they face.

I found this documentary to be fascinating. As someone who often eats out, it was interesting to see what it’s like from the waitresses point of view. It’s amazing to see how many different types of waitresses there are, from the comfortable homey types at truck stops, to the big tittied flirty types at Hooters to the crazy weird maid/servant types in Japan. Every waitress reveals some insight into their work – how you deal with aggressive males, how to deal with couples, how to deal with colleagues.. all the things you never think about when going to a restaurant. I’d list some, but I don’t really want to give anything away – I’ll just say some of the information revealed makes you go ‘hmm, never thought about that…’. It’s interesting.

As a documentary focusing solely on women in the service industry, I found this documentary to be excellent. The interest level never drops, the stories are well balanced and never drags and you get many different point of views. Also, if you are in Toronto, then you’ll be wondering where the hell the George Street Diner is. Go watch it.

* It’s probably best to not see this film on an empty stomach, you will get hungry.

World Premiere at Hot Docs
April 30 – The Bloor – 9:15pm – 506 Bloor St. W.
May 8 – The Royal – 1:30pm – 608 College St.

Running Time: 70 Minutes

Review: Love At the Twilight Motel [2009, Alison Rose]

Posted on by Ricky in Hot Docs | Leave a comment

Toronto – Formally known as Love at the Starlite Motel, Love at the Twilight Motel is Alison Rose’s journey in the seemingly dark world of the people who frequent hourly motels. The setting of the documentary takes place in Miami, and the Twilight Motel is one of the city’s busiest (especially the hours of 12:00 – 2:00). Here, many people arrive shrouded in secrecy to do whatever they have to do. The documentary follows the lives of an escort, a (dirty) massage therapist, a hooker, a junkie and a cheating housewife among others.

The Miami setting lends itself to a host of colorful characters that speak both English and Spanish. The subjects give out very intimate details about what they do at these motels and why they do/justify it. I found it extremely interesting, if not a bit depressing, as most of the characters seem to be stuck in a vicious cycle that seems to be having a negative impact on their lives. However, as messed up as you might think these people are, you are also surprised at how normal they are in the interviews and sometimes the justifications for their actions seem to make sense. You can kinda see it from their perspective, which is always a sign of a good documentary.

The documentary is nicely shot, and careful angles are used to ensure the subjects anonymity although anyone with lets say..okay voice recognition would probably be able to pick out who these people are right away if they knew them.

A compelling look into at the inhabitants of what most people would assume is a seedy underbelly of any city.

Love at the Twilight Motel plays at

The Royal April 10 & 11, 2010 at 7pm
The Revue on April 14 & 15, 2010 at 7pm

Concert Review: Matthew Good, March 24, 2010, Double Door, Chicago

Posted on by Tom in Concerts, Everything, Music, Reviews | Leave a comment

(photo from: http://www.queensjournal.ca/media/stories/v135/i18/matthew-good.jpg)

This was a show I wanted to see out of pure nostalgia, and is the first real concert I have seen since moving to Chicago last fall.

The nostalgia has its source from a show that the Matthew Good Band played at Red’s in Edmonton’s West Edmonton Mall…somewhere around 10 years ago (now I feel old).  The band entered to the Imperial March, and then stayed after the show to sign posters/t-shirts/cds etc.  I think I still have a signed poster (of the Underdogs album) somewhere in my storage closet.  Anyway, Matthew Good and his band were considered Canadian rock royalty back in the day (during the 90’s).

We arrived in time to catch the last 2 songs of the opening set by The Ragtones (the opener on the ticket was a band called Automatic Loveletter…not sure why they didn’t play).  I don’t have much to say about these guys…the music sounded alright, but the vocals were drowned out by the guitars.  Blame the sound guy for that one.  They all did wear really cool hats though, so there may be hope for them.

Enter now a 38-year old, slightly chubby, hipster-glasses wearing Matt Good.  I was a bit worried at first, since I had such fond memories of his music; however, despite his less-than-rocker appearance, once he stepped up to the mic and started singing, my worries were assuaged.

He played a spirited set featuring songs mainly from his new album “Vancouver”, with old favourites like “Apparitions” and “Load Me Up” from earlier albums mixed in.  Crowd involvement peaked for “Weapon”, a popular song from the “Avalanche” album, with many people singing along to the lyrics.  While I can’t say that he was as energetic as before, he still can belt out the vocals.

What amazed me most from the set, however, was not the music.  It was the late 20’s/early 30’s groupie who stood at the front of the stage, trying to get Matt Good’s attention.  At first it was funny…she had a couple of patches that were sold at old Matt Good concerts and had sewn them on a jacket.  He played along for a bit, but it was clear he was mostly amused by this woman.  Apparently, she has been following him along on his US tour, and was going to see the next show in Detroit.  I thought that this groupie was at once both amusing and pathetic, but at least it shows that Matthew Good still has some of the attributes of star performer.  I think once you lose your groupies, it is an inevitable sign of your decline as an artist.

So, for a solid set and for the nostalgia, this show gets a Panic Manual rating of:

P.S. The Double Door is a venue in Wicker Park, and is famous for being the music club that was featured in the movie “High Fidelity”…pretty cool place! (although the drinks are expensive – $6.50 for a beer).

CMW Film Review: Separado! [Dyl “Goch” Jones, Gruff Rhys, 2009]

Posted on by Paul in Canadian Music Week, Everything, Movies | 2 Comments

Toronto – Separado! is the story of Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys’ quest to find some distant relatives.  It’s also kind of about language, the love of music and just music in general. 

Driven by the desire to meet René Griffiths, a Welsh-Argentinian musician who he once saw on the BBC as a kid and then discovered was related to , Gruff travels to Patagonia to trace his family’s lineage there and to play some music along the way. 

So off he goes to Patagonia, armed with an acoustic guitar, various electronic noisemakers, and a motorcycle helmet looking piece of headgear which supposedly teleports him from place to place (Go Go Power Rangers!)  The helmet is one of the odd stylistic choices Griff has made and it suits the film perfectly.  This, along with the bizarre opening reenactment of a tragic horseracing accident and the opening credits done in ’60s/”70s explotation film style, make a great story even more enjoyable.  There are also several musical interludes that are basically little music videos within the film.

And the music is central to this film.  Even though the thrust of the story is about the search for Griffiths and various other family members, in many ways, it’s really about the music.  Another large reason for Griff’s trip was that he had a new album coming out and had to go on tour.  Deciding he was sick of just going to towns where abooking agent or promoter says there will be a good crowd, Gruff goes way off the beaten path, playing shows in various parts of South America.  His shows are often in small community centre type places (and in one case, an open field with an audience of one horse) and it’s amazing to see the audience’s reactions to this Welshman playing his beautiful, bizarre little tunes for them.  People of all ages (and largely Welsh heritage) come out to the shows and all seem to be enjoying themselves.

One of my favourite parts of the movie is when Gruff meets up and collaborates with a musician named Tony, who plays an electronic percussive instrument he built himself.  Even though neither man understands the other, they share the language of music to the point where all they need is to jam and give each other the thumbs up every now and then.  Language itself is another interesting theme of the film, with Gruff switching between Welsh and English in his narration and also seen in  the various Patagonian residents who hold on to their language and heritage despite the fact that I’m sure many of them have never even been to Wales. 

If you are a Super Furry Animals fan, this one is a must see and even if you’ve never heard them before, it’s still pretty much a must see.  Now I just need to find out where to get one of those teleporter helmets.