Reviews - Page 78

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

TIFF Review: ‘Sharkwater Extinction’

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Sharkwater Extinction (Canada, 88 min.) Dir. Rob Stewart Programme: Special Events (World Premiere) There won’t be a dry eye in the house when the credits roll on Sharkwater Extinction. This final film by adventurous eco hero Rob Stewart is a fitting call to action. Stewart, who died in a diving accident in January 2017 while researching the film, continues his mission to draw attention to the plight of sharks that began with his 2006 hit Sharkwater. The director once again takes on the deadly sharkfinning industry, in which hunters catch sharks for their fins and throw them back into the water where

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TIFF Review: ‘When Arabs Danced’

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Three cheers for the power of positive images! [328] [patrick-mullen] Mullen, Patrick _When Arabs Danced_ is a welcome reminder that actions speak louder than words. {image_1} *_When Arabs Danced_* (Belgium, 84 min.) Dir. Jawad Rhalib Programme: TIFF Docs (North American Premiere) Three cheers for the power of positive images! Too often do western media characterize the Arab world through images of war, conflict, poverty, and misery. While these elements are factors of contemporary reality, they do not offer the full picture. Director Jawad Rhalib offers a bold and much-needed corrective to characterizations of the Arab world in the compelling and

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TIFF Review: ‘Maria by Callas’

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Maria by Callas (France, 113 min.) Dir. Tom Volf Programme: TIFF Docs (North American Premiere) Every good diva deserves a doc portrait. Maria Callas receives a meticulously curated and assembled appreciation in this archival tapestry by director, photographer, and actor Tom Volf. Maria by Callas is an impressively assembled first feature and an obvious labour of love from a talent who has already penned three books about the star. The doc lets the late Greek-American soprano tell her story in her own words as Volf draws upon Callas’s diaries, interviews, and letters. Much in the fashion of Lisa Immordino Vreeland’s luminous Love, Cecil about photographer and

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TIFF Review: ‘Diamantino’

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Diamantino (Portugal/France/Brazil, 97 min.) Dir. Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt Programme: Midnight Madness (North American Premiere) Abrantes and Schmidt are part of a New York avant-garde film scene comprised mostly of Cooper Union grads that includes sometime collaborators Alexander Carver, Benjamin Crotty and James N. Kienitz Wilkins. They’re all in their 30s now and their oeuvres of purposely stilted, sort of political, sort of funny (or at least in-jokey) objets d’art—“queasy comedies,” in Nick Pinkerton’s terms—have been fixtures of experimental film festivals and programs like Images and Wavelengths for around a decade now. I’ve never been a big fan. So

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Review: ‘Wall’

Wall (Canada, 78 min.) Dir. Cam Christiansen In 2018, “wall” is a volatile word. Donald Trump’s oft-threatened wall on the USA/Mexico border epitomizes the current White House administration’s deranged, sensationalist, and polarizing attitude towards international relations. There are many good ways to be a good neighbor, but erecting a huge barrier isn’t one of them. Acclaimed playwright and screenwriter David Hare brings some star power to the NFB as he adapts his play Wall in this animated documentary by director Cam Christiansen. The compelling and provocative Wall sees Hare visit the “security fence” between Israel and Palestine and reflect on the impact that this invasive,

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Review: ‘Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda’

Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda (Japan/USA, 100 min.) Dir. Stephen Schible Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda sings with a whisper. This quiet and contemplative film offers a portrait in pianissimo of Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto. The 66-year-old artist delves into his passion for music after surviving cancer and seeing his nation devastated in 2011 by an earthquake and the ensuing Fukushima nuclear disaster. To sing is to give life, though, and Sakamoto hits every note as if it’s his last. As he shares his art and his philosophy on life with director Stephen Schible, Coda is philosophically poignant melody about relishing each day on Earth. The doc

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Review: ‘Generation Wealth’

Generation Wealth (USA, 106 min.) Dir. Lauren Greenfield With self-proclaimed financial genius Donald Trump being the most significant politician in the world and the global economy continuing to affect everything from Brexit to far-right populist regimes in Eastern Europe to the rise of the nouveau riche in China, Lauren Greenfield’s documentary Generation Wealth couldn’t have been made at a more appropriate time. The film ratchets up interest immediately, plunging us into the chaotic present where a cigar smoking German proclaims “I love money” and closing his eyes, prays, “Come to me;” an attractive American in her 40s, says that it’s “Unamerican” not

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Review: ‘Hitler’s Hollywood’

Hitler’s Hollywood (Germany, 105 min.) Dir. Rüdiger Suchsland “What kind of a nation is it that needs poets to be able to kill and to die?” asks Udo Kier in voiceover in Hitler’s Hollywood. This comprehensive slice of film history asks difficult and relevant questions. How audiences of the present make sense of the films of the past is a discussion worth having, particular as movie buffs consider how to contextualize influential films that one can no longer celebrate without awkwardness or political correctness. Hitler’s Hollywood is as thorough and informative as a Master Class seminar, if as dry as Melba toast, and

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