Hot Docs Preview: Ramen Heads [Koki Shigeno, 2016]

Posted on by Ricky in Hot Docs | Leave a comment

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Half documentary, half food porn, Ramen Heads is a film that mostly follows the story of “king of ramen” Osamu Tomita. We get a glimpse into his daily life, his philosophies and his meticulous attention to his craft. You might think of ramen as a simple bowl of noodles, but after this documentary, you will look at it very differently. A perfect bowl, you will find, requires dedication, creativity and attention to detail that you would never imagine. Tomita is a great representation of what it takes to be a great ramen chef and the film documents that with great detail (and also the director scored a few bowls of ramen, which is an inherent benefit)

Also embedded within this movie is the story of ramen as well as gorgeous shots of many bowls of ramen, from many different restaurants, all of which I want to now eat at.

Go to this movie, and then go eat some ramen after.

Thu, May 4 @ 5:45 PM Scotiabank Theatre 13
Fri, May 5 @ 10:15 AM TIFF Bell Lightbox 3
Sat, May 6 @ 10:45 AM TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Sun, May 7 @ 12:00 PM Hart House Theatre


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On a sunny Wednesday afternoon, we were invited to actually experience the ramen that made Osamu Tomita famous. As part of a promotional event for Tokyo docs, Osamu Tomita showed up at Momofuku and proceeded to tell us not only what’s in his broth (a host of animals and vegetables) but also, cook a small sample of it.

Having taste the ramen, it is something else. It’s so hard to define the taste of the broth. There is a certain level of complexity it achieves by incorporating so many animals into it. Not quite pork, not quite seafood but a mismatch of both, the broth and the amazing noodles made for a great combination. Let me tell you, that was legit. I left with a dumb smile on my face and that’s a great sign of great food.

Hot Docs Review: Shiners [Stacey Tenenbaum, 2016]

Posted on by Paul in Hot Docs | Leave a comment


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.

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


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.

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

SXSW Review: Totally Mild, All Our Exes Live In Texas, March 16, Brush Square Park

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

Totally Mild

I will admit that I had never heard of them until this year’s SXSW, but Melbourne-based Totally Mild ended up on my list on the strength of “Move On” from their last album, Down Time. It’s a bubbly vocalized piece with a music video that showed the band members drinking and regurgitating milk. Hearty, mind-bending, sardonic stuff. Since then, they have delivered another short album titled Alive in Denmark.

The lead vocalist Elizabeth Mitchell has a naturally high-pitched and clear voice that resonates well. She needs to – their music is moody, expressive and forlorn with twisting passages spanning quite a range. “The Next Day” is a good example. It’s like a slower version of a coloratura’s training scales. Listening to them in the BBQ tent really made me feel like an exemplary irony. Should I feign philistine and continue to shove food down my throat, or stop chewing midway to better hear the lyrics? Test this out for yourself with “More” – I’d stop half way.
All Our Exes Live In Texas
Fluttering women have no patience to stay in Texas – they belong in Sydney, Australia. That’s why they left all their exes in Texas. At least that’s the story I made up. In truth, members of All Our Exes Live In Texas are from Sydney, and so are their exes. The Texas came in for a rhyme and dime.

All Our Exes appear to have coalesced as a revenge band – and playing at SXSW while their male counterparts (also a band) fester in Sydney gave them some degree of satisfaction. One would be hard-pressed to say that they are performing out of spite. They were playful and energetic (that would be anything other than head-bobbing in folk music). In a short set consisting of just 5 songs, each is enjoyable with bright melodies and close harmony. The rendition of their showcase “Boundary Road” is fairly true to the recording. It’s fun to guess who would be singing which part, as each seem equally capable of a similar range. All in all, not bad for their first time singing live in Texas.