Reviews - Page 66

Giving you our points of view on the latest docs in release and on the circuit.

Review: ‘Around India with a Movie Camera’

Around India with a Movie Camera (UK, 72 min.) Dir. Sandhya Suri Was there a random box of archival footage at the British Film Institute labelled Odds and Ends – India? One can only wonder how such a haphazard assortment of bits and pieces from film history landed in such an unwieldy heap. These clips and reels feature some of the earliest footage of India and chronicle the life of the country over 50 years from the advent of film to the country’s independence in 1947. The footage itself is obviously valuable and culturally, historically, and (in some cases) artistically significant. Around

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Review: ‘Hal’

Hal (USA, 90 min.) Dir. Amy Scott Is there a director with a winning streak better than Hal Ashby? Perhaps rivaled only by early career Woody Allen in his prolific output, but far more consistent in the quality of his formative years, Ashby delivered one influential film after another in the 1970s. From the box office success of Shampoo (1975) to the Oscar-winning gold of Coming Home (1978) to the comedic brilliance of Being There (1979), his films occupy a decent chunk of what many film buffs consider the best decade in cinema. Ashby gets a warm cinephile’s appreciation in Hal, an engaging crash course on authorship

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Review: ‘Finding Hygge’

Finding Hygge (USA, 93 min.) Dir. Rocky Walls I’ll admit that work/life balance is an alien concept to me, partly because I simply enjoy what I do. However, I have definitely never experienced hygge, a term (pronounced hoo-gah) that the people of Denmark use to conceptualize happiness. Admittedly, hygge remains an elusive thing after watching the documentary Finding Hygge and I’ve now seen the film twice. It just seems too abstract or “out there” to have any meaning in my life as a Millennial who lives paycheck to paycheck in the gig economy. However, that disconnect between my life and those featured in

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Review: ‘Pugly: A Pug’s Life’

Pugly: A Pug’s Life (Canada, 44 min.) Dir. Michael McNamara, Aaron Hancox If cats have nine lives, how many chances do dogs have? After strutting with the feline friends of the catshow circuit in Catwalk: Tales from the Catshow Circuit, Michael McNamara and Aaron Hancox are going to the dogs with Pugly. This cute companion piece to Catwalk shares the stories of a group of Torontonians eager to fight for the rights of pug dogs, those cute but butt-ugly toy pooches with the squishy faces and curly tails. The film focuses on the efforts of the pug rescue network Pugalug, led by Blanche Axton

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Review: ‘What is Democracy?’

What is Democracy? (Canada, 107 min.) Dir. Astra Taylor If Astra Taylor wanted to find some easy answers, she could have travelled the world and asked people, “What is a lemon?” Her interviews might have yielded answers such as: “It’s that yellow fruit,” or “It’s a tangy citrus,” or “It’s the basis of lemonade,” or “It’s that thing I slice into wedges and serve with a vodka tonic.” Those answers would all be fair, but even then, someone would have inevitably responded, “It’s that thing I slice into wedges and serve with a gin and tonic.” That interviewee would, of

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Review: ‘The Great Buster: A Celebration’

The Great Buster: A Celebration (USA, 104 min.) Dir. Peter Bogdanovich “What you see is what you get,” says film critic Leonard Maltin while appraising the works of Buster Keaton in The Great Buster. “To me, the best special effect in his films is Buster.” Maltin is one of many notable figures in the film world who gushes about the appropriately monikered Buster Keaton in The Great Buster: A Celebration. Peter Bogdanovich’s documentary truly is a celebration of one of the silent film era’s greatest and most influential stars. Keaton’s shot at being #1 on the list is rivalled only by Charlie

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Review: ‘You Are Here: A Come From Away Story’

You Are Here: A Come From Away Story (Canada, 84 min.) Dir. Moze Mossanen One doesn’t need to be able to afford exorbitantly priced theatre tickets to appreciate You Are Here. This Come From Away tale offers the stories behind the hit musical told by the people who inspired the characters. While audiences who have seen the musical might get more out of the documentary simply because they recognize the characters and stories, You Are Here also works as a primer for anyone who hasn’t seen Come From Away. It’s an inspiring film that will make audiences sing—and is clearly doing so with an

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Review: ‘Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes’

Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes (USA, 90 min.) DIr. Alexis Bloom One of the key factors behind America being taken over by the extreme right wing of the Republican Party is due to a coherent media campaign that has targeted liberals, big city dwellers, and intellectuals as demons bent on destroying the traditional values that have made the United States “great.” The architect of that media strategy was Roger Ailes, a small town Ohioan, who wanted to create a “G.O.P. TV station” as early as the Seventies and eventually organized and orchestrated Fox News for Rupert Murdoch,

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Review: ‘Rams’

Rams (USA, 74 min.) Dir. Gary Hustwit Take a look around your kitchen. Survey your living room furniture and ogle your electronics. How many of them bear the Braun name? Chances are that Dieter Rams designed something in your house. Rams profiles the German designer who fashioned many household items for brands like Braun and Vitsœ. The doc features an impressive catalogue of gadgets and furniture with designs that everyday viewers might take for granted. Rams has an offbeat sense of humour and his awkward yet pleasant screen presence illuminates the mind that approached design in his signature way: everything

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Review: ‘Almost Almost Famous’

Almost Almost Famous (Canada/USA, 84 min.) Dir. Barry Lank Nowadays everyone wants to be famous—and it’s possible to achieve stardom in an instant. With social media spin and “influence,” one can easily skyrocket to the spotlight without doing anything extraordinary. This isn’t anything new, mind you, but it’s gotten way, way, way out of control in the age of selfies, Instagram, and viral videos. The question of why someone wants to be famous without being particularly interesting, insightful, creative, or original remains endlessly fascinating. The documentary Almost Almost Famous looks at the fringes of fame and fandom by probing the

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