Film Reviews

Review: ‘The Man Who Saw Too Much’

Hot Docs 2016

Courtesy of Hot Docs

The Man Who Saw Too Much
(Mexico, 86 min.)
Dir. Trisha Ziff
Programme: Artscapes (International Premiere)

Mexican photographer Enrique Metinides is so impassioned about his work that he once snapped pictures in the midst of a heart attack. Metinides has been a photographer since as a child, he took shots of burning buildings from firemen’s shoulders. Eventually, he became a hugely successful tabloid photographer in a market that demands hyper-violent images.

Ziff’s moody doc, with a jazz score recalling Miles Davis’s for L’Ascenseur pour l’ échaufaud, grabs you with intriguing revelations about its protagonist. Now widely respected, Metinides’s pictures capture chaos as having surreal beauty. A truck balances crazily on a car roof; a remnant of a sign, OTEL, sticks out of a pile of rubble.

Acutely pained by the tragedies he’s witnessed, Metinides has often stopped shooting in order to help victims. In the doc’s intimate moments, he reveals self-protective measures like a wallet stuffed with icons. He owns a collection of lucky frogs, masks, dolls, and a roomful of toy fire trucks and ambulances that he meticulously dusts.

For this complex man whose exposure to horror began when he was a boy, his pictures are the “birth of a bad memory” and a reminder that chaos is always close by. Ziff’s doc probes the psyche of a man who has confronted horror since childhood and finds refuge in his inner child.

The Man Who Saw Too Much screens:

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Maurie Alioff writes about movies for publications off- and on-line, and is a screenwriter currently collaborating on a documentary featuring Bob Marley’s granddaughter while researching other Jamaica-related projects, including a magical-realist crime story drawing on stories he hears on the island. He has written for radio, journals and TV, taught screenwriting and been a contributing editor to various magazines.

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