Hot Docs: I Am Jesus [2010, Valerie Gudenus, Heloisa Sartorato]

Posted on by Paul in Hot Docs | Leave a comment

Toronto – Christianity is one of the largest religions on Earth.  But what is Jesus Christ were to come back today?  And what if there were actually three of him, each claiming that they really are Jesus and each with his own group of followers?  That’s the premise of I Am Jesus and it’s really a pretty fascinating look at these three individuals and their followers.  Yes, each of these men have their own followers who (mostly) believe that they are who they say they are. 

The first of these men (and maybe the most interesting) is David Shayler (AKA Dolores), a former MI5 agent, who is seen early on in the film stealing discarded food from a Marks and Spencer bin to feed himself and his fellow squatters.  He first came to the conclusion that he was Jesus while on a mushroom trip and enjoys going out to the people (sometimes in drag, so as to keep in touch with his feminine side) and telling them about how the world will definitely change somehow in 2012.  

Taking a different tactic in getting his message to the people, Inri Cristo of Brazil travels around in a big bus emblazoned with his website URL and accompanied by his mostly female followers.  He also makes good use of the media, making various TV appearances and creating a bunch of Youtube videos featuring pop songs with the lyrics rewritten to be all about him.  He seems to at least have a sense of humour and fun about what he does and I guess in a way in kind of makes sense – a modern day messiah would have to reach the people through goofy Youtube videos.

The last of the Jesuses (is that the plural of Jesus?) is the somewhat mysterious man known as Vissarion, who is barely seen in the film.  His followers refer to him as “The Teacher” and travel on a three day pilgrimage through the freezing cold of Siberia just to see and hear him speak to them.  Of the three men profiled, he seems the creepiest and most cult leader-ish of the bunch.  I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that probably none of these guys are actually Jesus, but they’re all pretty interesting characters.


Hot Docs: Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop [2011, Rodman Flender]

Posted on by Paul in Hot Docs | Leave a comment

Toronto – The title of this documentary is the perfect description of it’s subject.  Conan O’Brien really can not stop.  This guy is always on.  Sure, that could be a reflection on the fact that a camera crew was following him around during the duration of his “Legally Prohibited From Being Funny On Television” tour, but after watching this, you get the impression that he’s just incapable of not being funny.  Even in his quieter, more pensive moments, even when he’s actually being a bit mean to others, he’s still always hilarious.

Director Rodman Flender offers us a glimpse of Conan as a performer and as an individual.    “I’m like Tinkerbell.  Without applause, I die,” he says.  As I said, Conan is pretty much always on.  He’s also incredibly smart and often endearingly goofy, such as when he makes a joke about the “Wang showers” at Boston’s Wang Theatre or his repeated statement that “I introduced Damien Marley and Nas” after his appearance at the Bonnaroo Festival. 

Not only is Conan funny, he also comes across as a really nice guy, albeit one with a biting, sarcastic sense of humour.  He’s too nice of a guy not to spend a long time meeting with fans after his often exhausting performances, but he’ll happily complain about it afterwards.  It’s of course understandable.  He loves the attention, but would also like to go home to his family.  Conan O’Brien can’t stop, sure, but he realizes the need for a break sometimes. 

Song of the Day: Beth Jeans Houghton – Dodecahedron

Posted on by Ricky in Song of the Day | Leave a comment

Toronto – When I first saw the title of this song by UK singer songwriter Beth Jeans Houghton, I thought “cool! she’s singing about a dinosaur!” Then I looked it up on the internet and apparently a dodecahedron is any polyhedron with twelve flat faces. That’s kinda cool, but not as cool.

What is cool however, is this song. Now, now I know what you are thinking: Ricky promoting another female English singer, what a big surprise. Well, unlike some of the previous female talents I have promoted, Beth Jean Houghton does not appear to be a sugary pop star. This track is a rather quirky affair, featuring Beth’s unique voice, a xylophone and backing vocals when you least expect it. Check it out.

Hot Docs: Recessionize! For Fun and Profit! [2011, Jamie Kastner]

Posted on by Ricky in Hot Docs | Leave a comment


Toronto – Recessionize! For Fun and Profit! is light hearted look at the worldwide recession and how people worldwide are dealing with it. Shot in 15 segments, director Jamie Kastner travels the world and visits some people who have a unique approach to dealing with the recession. We meet a goat herder in California, hamster hotel owners in France and a brothel in Germany among others. Each person has unique approach on how to make it in tough times. While the spirit of the documentary might be to let the viewers know that the recession isn’t that bad, I find that the director James Kastner often seem to take an almost condescending look at his subjects, presenting them in a “look what we got here!” tone. Maybe he wanted to present the documentary with a dose of humor, but when the humor is at the expense of the subjects of your documentary, then I’m not quite sure.

Recessionize! For Fun and Profit! is a breath of fresh air for most part. Most documentaries about the financial crisis are rather depressing and so it’s nice to see a documentary that sees the lighter side of things.

Thu, May 5 9:45 PM @ The ROM Theatre
Sat, May 7 6:30 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 2