Hot Docs Review: Still Working 9 to 5 (Camille Hardman, Gary Lane, 2022)

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The film 9 to 5 came out more than forty years ago. A comedy that dealt with the issues faced by women in the workplace, it became fairly successful at the time, spawning a TV sitcom as well as a Broadway musical many years after the fact. Inspired by the 9to5 political movement, star Jane Fonda and producer Bruce Gilbert set out to make a movie that would deal with a serious issue in a comedic way in the hopes of reaching the widest audience possible. Still Working 9 to 5 tells the story of the making of that film while also examining its impact and legacy and showing that four decades on, it’s still quite relevant.

Placing the film within a larger cultural context, directors Camille Hardman and Gary Lane examine both the fight for equal rights and equal pay decades ago and the fact that even today we still have a long way to go. “It’s not about politics,” says Dolly Parton. “It’s about downright fairness.” And when put as simply as that, it’s hard to argue with her, but of course, the fight for such “downright fairness” has indeed become a political issue. We see it in this film through the ’70s and ’80s era fight for equal rights as well as in the rise of the Me Too movement over the past few years.

Ultimately, Still Working 9 to 5 is an entertaining and compelling doc that is equal parts heartwarming reminiscence on the making of the film and serious look at the film’s political impact. Well worth checking out.

Concert Review: Luna Li, April 29, Axis Club

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“This is so special. I’m so happy to finally play Toronto.”

So said Luna Li near the outset of her show at Axis Club last night, though even if she hadn’t said it explicitly, it was clear that she was indeed very happy to be playing a hometown show.

And what a show it was. Playing songs from her debut album Duality alongside a few from her breakout Jams EP, Luna Li put on a solid performance that showcased her skills not only as a songwriter and guitarist, but as a harpist and violinist. There was confetti too, and we all know confetti makes everything more fun.

Sure, Luna Li has played plenty of shows around Toronto over the past few years, but playing a show to a sold out crowd after it had been postponed a couple of times definitely made this one seem a bit more special.

“We have played so many of these songs in the shittiest basements, the wackest venues, playing to like, two people,” she noted. “And now we’re here.” This show definitely had the feel of a homecoming. Here’s hoping Luna Li plays some more hometown shows soon enough.

Hot Docs Review: Images of a Nordic Drama (Nils Gaup, 2021)

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Photo Credit: Paranord Film

As the old cliched saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and that phrase was certainly going through my mind while watching Images of a Nordic Drama.

In telling the story of Norwegian art collector Haakon Mehren and his quest to garner some recognition for relatively unknown artist Aksel Waldemar Johannessen, Images of a Nordic Drama examines the idea of what’s considered ‘real’ art, what gets allowed into the established canon and all of the issues that might arise when one dares to go against the art establishment.

After finding a cache of Johannessen’s long forgotten art in a barn, Mehren makes it his life’s mission to become Johannessen’s champion, constantly pushing for this art which he sees as a unique portrayal of the common people of the time. And while many come to agree with him on this, the elites of the Norwegian art scene, including those in charge of the National Museum, instead see Johannessen’s work as awful and unworthy, with some even suggesting the only thing it’s fit for is the rubbish bin.

While it seems unlikely that Johannessen’s detractors will ever change their opinions on him, the film makes it abundantly clear that Mehren’s life has been forever changed by his association with these paintings. And that, in itself, is a testament to the power of art to affect people, even if some can only see it as trash.

Sat, Apr. 30, 11;30 AM @ Varsity Cinema 8
Thurs, May 5, 8:45 PM @ Varsity Cinema 8

Song of The Day: HAEPAARY – Born by Irreproachable Gorgeousness (Live at SXSW 2022)

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It’s now been over a month since this year’s edition of SXSW ended and just yesterday, the festival shared a bunch of live performance footage from several of this year’s shows, including a song from one of the more memorable acts we saw all week – HAEPAARY. The Seoul-based duo blend together traditional South Korean sounds with electronic elements to produce something rather unique.

Check out HAEPAARY’s performance at the International Day Stage in Brush Square Park below.