Hot Docs: White Vans with Carts Of Darkness

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

Two movies from Vancouver. Lets start with White Vans

I love short films. White Vans is everything that a short film or short documentary should be. It was fun, to the point, had a beginning, middle, end and left you wanting to watch it again.

This is a story of Aren Hansen who had his bike stolen. He is so angry that he decides to set up a sting operation using a planted bike in a high bike theft area of Vancouver. He catches his bike thief on camera and in the act, but then something weird happens. These bike thieves who you hate for the entire film suddenly get compassion from you. As you watch this guy try and steal Arens’ bike, you end up wanting him to get away with it. This movie ultimately ends up being about compassion and trying to make the world a better place by doing what is right. Not bad for a 13 minute short.

Bad Boogie Balling from the Pink Mountain Tops was a nice surprise too.

Carts of Darkness

This movie was billed as being about homeless guys who race shopping carts down hills in Vancouver. But really, it has nothing to do with shopping carts and/or hills.

The movie starts out all about the extreme sport of cart racing and the homeless bottle collectors that do it. Then the movie shifts to focus on the lives and struggles that these men face and the choices they have made in their lives. The director, Murray Siple, told us during the Q&A that he made this movie with the National Film Board. During the process the NFB told him that he had to make the movie WITH his homeless bottle collecting cast, rather than ABOUT them. He did exactly this and it worked.

This movie is about Murray and how he connects to his homeless cast. In the final shot of the movie, it all comes together when Murray is able to give something back to his film friends who have given so much of themselves during the filming process. It is an inspiring moive that everybody can find something that connects to the struggles in their own lives.

Also some great Ladyhawk and Black Mountain in the soundtrack.

5/5

If you are keeping track, that is a grand total of 10/10 for these two Vancouver flicks. A solid program to see. The next showing is happening Thursday, April 24th at 12:00 PM at the Isabel Bader

Hot Docs: Junior

Posted on by Ricky in Hot Docs, Movies, Sports | 1 Comment

Toronto – As most people know, hockey is more or less religion in Canada. You might not see it in such an ethnically diverse urban metropolis such as Toronto, but travel to any small town anywhere else in Canada and you will see that people there live and breath hockey. Most of these little towns primarily follow their junior teams as NHL teams are for the big boys. These junior teams are the heart and soul of the cities – which leads to the documentary I saw on Sunday – Junior.

Junior chronicles a year in the life of a junior hockey team – Baie-Comeau Drakkar of the QMJHL, one of the major factories in creating NHL players. The documentary chronicles most of the things you would want to know about life as a junior hockey – the pressure, the business side of things, the scouts, the wear and tear – pretty much everything of interest happens during the course of the year. The documentary focuses on a few players – the superstar on the team, the new hot shot, the bully and a homesick kid. As cliche as some of these are, you know they exist within the fabrics of most sport teams and it makes for a compelling look at the industry.

The film never shows any hockey clips, and primarily relies on events and peoples reactions to gather emotional momentum. Being a hockey fan, I found this documentary quite intriguing and it provided the public with inside access to all the factors that plague a hockey team and if you are a sports fan, its well worth the effort to go and see it.

4.5/5

Junior plays today at 4:30 at Innis Town Hall, wherever that is.

I hate to end articles on a down note, so here is a song. Call it an ode to these junior players, as they have to grow up quickly and stuff. Or something.:

Hot Docs: Carny

Posted on by Ricky in Hot Docs, Movies | 1 Comment

Toronto – One of the movies I had wanted to watch quite a bit was a little documentary by Allison Murray called “Carny” which is – “An intimate, gritty and poetic adventure following the lives of carnies, traveling fairground workers who have abandoned the security of the “real world” for the refuge and variety of the road.” according to the website.

Its really hard to write a review when you are listening to the Flight of the Conchords cd. I have to say. Anyways, I’ll do my best. So how was this documentary? It was alrite. Sometimes, the camera was a bit shaky but that’s hardly a complaint. Most of the documentary followed a few characters – all outsiders who somehow found family in the carny. The characters include – a lesbian with a troubled past, a odd threesome, a guy who was born into it and some other random people. All winners. Haha, no seriously. It’s a look into why the carnies do what they do (travel town to town and work for ridiculously low rates). The pay is not good for Carnies, let me tell you.

My only complaint with the film is that I think the documentary takes the most extreme of cases for characters working in the carnival. Maybe it is to make it more dramatic and such, but I am not convinced that these characters can represent all carnies out there. I guess the film is more about outsiders anyway. I didn’t find any of the characters that likable either.

3/5

Hot Docs: The Last Continent

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

Toronto – Sunny, sunny Toronto. On the first gorgeous weekend of the year, what better way to spend it then spend it indoors watching documentaries — about Antarctica? The scene was Sunday, at 12:45 and the documentary was “The Last Continent“. To spare you from my typical non nonchalant, semi-detailed-that-might-be-right-or-wrong description, Here is the description of the documentary, according to the press kit:

Biologist and filmmaker Jean Lemire, accompanied aboard the schooner Sedna IV by a
handpicked team of scientists and filmmakers, dared to experience climate change and
its consequences within Antarctica’s icy grip. More than a full year of daring, isolation, danger, intensity: it was a spectacular adventure full of risks and triumphs, joys and perils. The crew was prepared for the worst but faced even worse!

So how was this doc? The cinematography was off the charts. They get some excellent shots of everything in Antarctica. Icebergs, penguins, seals, birds, whales – everything looks nice. Most of this film, which runs about 90 minutes or so, you will be thinking ‘wow, this looks nice’.

The story itself is okay, as you can gather from press kit, the team is staying in Antarctica for a year, and they do face struggles, but it really doesn’t look or seem as hard as the summary makes it to be. I am sure its somewhat difficult, but from the movie itself, it barely touches on any of the difficulties of living in such a place. If you go from the documentary alone, it seems like a day in the park. That would be my only complaint. I was expecting like – mental breakdowns, arguments, hysteria, scurvy – and all I got was a seal pup that might have been abandoned by its mom, but not really.

The movie is in french, with subtitles and yeah, its about how climate change (and THE MAN) is destroying the environment. So as with a lot of french movies, theres a lot of pondering, rhetorical questions and green hippy subliminal messages splatter thru out the film. There are also some funny scenes which made a friend of mine compare it to ‘The Life Aquatic’.

Overall, I would recommend this movie – the cinematography is phenomenal and as green hippy as the messages you get from this film are, it is a valid one.

4/5