Reviews - Page 8

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

The Adventures of Saul Bellow Review: Top of the Shelf

Saul Bellow is one of the most honoured writers of the 20th century. Over the course of a literary career that lasted well over a half century, Bellow won three National Book Awards, a Pulitzer Prize and the grandest accolade of all, the Nobel Prize. He ushered in the post-WW2 era when North American Jewish writers like Philip Roth, Bernard Malamud, Norman Mailer, and Mordecai Richler became best-selling novelists. His mixture of street wise argot and up-scale philosophizing hit the critics and the public as being utterly original; at any rate, it was a prose style that freed readers and

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The Legend of the Underground Review: Navigating Queerness in Nigeria

The Legend of the Underground (USA, 85 min.) Dir. Nneka Onuorah, Giselle Bailey   Audiences who (re)discovered Paris Is Burning thanks to the popularity of RuPaul’s Drag Race and Legendary will devour The Legend of the Underground. Much like Jennie Livingston’s acclaimed, if controversial, 1990 portrait of the New York ballroom scene, Nneka Onuorah and Giselle Bailey deliver an invigorating and necessary study of the necessity for safe spaces. The Legend of the Underground features a cast of characters with their fierce dancing skills, but the hook of the story is not the killer lewks or fabulous moves. (Which are,

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Summer of Soul Review #2: Believe the Buzz

Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (USA, 117 min.) Dir. Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson   While celebrity director Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and his producers have made much about their doc Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) finally being made more than 50 years after the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival took place, it is a great time for the film to be released. Hip hop, rap, house, electronica, drum & bass (and many others) have long since replaced gospel, jazz and r&b and blues as popular music genres but the Black Power

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Fathom Review: Whale Music

Fathom (USA, 85 min.) Dir. Drew Xanthopoulos “I’m trying to start a conversation,” explains Dr. Michelle Fournet in Fathom. Dr. Fournet is one of two researchers in the doc. The other is Scottish researcher Dr. Ellen Garland. Both women study the complexity of communication between humpback whales. They embark on parallel research missions exploring the non-human communication and see an intricate form of culture and language in the whale song that ripples through the oceans’ waters. Connected by a love for nature, a passion for research, and a drive to share knowledge, Fournet and Garland ultimately seek to draw connections

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Who Are You, Charlie Brown? Review: Celebrating Schulz

Who Are You, Charlie Brown? (USA, 54 min.) Dir. Michael Bonfiglio   Is any comic strip character as beloved by so many generations as Charlie Brown is? Perhaps bested only by his puppy pal Snoopy, Charlie Brown continues to endear himself to readers over 20 years after Peanuts retired. Who Are You, Charlie Brown? celebrates the success and longevity of this popular cartoon created by the late Charles M. Schulz. The doc poses the titular question to Schulz’s famed character and Charlie Brown spends the next hour pondering the nature of his existence and asks his fellow Peanuts friends just

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Wolfgang Review: The Recipe for Success

Wolfgang Puck has been called the “original celebrity chef” for the way he revolutionized American cuisine and elevated the role of chefs in American culture. Though he was not the first chef to appear on television—Julia Child was already nationally televised in the ‘80s when his star status began to rise—-he is the one who became associated with the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. His first restaurant, Spago, was the place that famous people flocked to in droves to dine and be seen. One’s celebrity status and influence could be altered each week simply based on the table you were

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The Sparks Brothers Review: Siblings’ Sweet Songs

Edgar Wright deserves kudos for making his first documentary feature about Sparks, a band that is simultaneously quirky and anonymous, capable of performing in genres ranging from bubblegum to glam and from disco to art rock. Wright’s pop gods are perfect subjects for his method, which is to send up everything from gangster films (Baby Driver) to zombie horror flicks (Shaun of the Dead). With The Sparks Brothers, he’s given us a couple of unique filmic characters, Ron and Russell Mael, genuine siblings who have been making music professionally for over 50 years. The two would be ideal for a

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Entangled Review: The Fight to Save Right Whales

Entangled: The Race to Save Right Whales from Extinction (USA, 75 min.) Dir. David Abel   The fight to protect the whales is at the heart of several environmental movements. From the Save the Whales campaign with Greenpeace and much earlier anti-whaling legislation in the USA, these large marine mammals have become symbols for humankind’s devastating impact on the natural world. Entangled looks at a new chapter in the plight of the world’s whale population: that of entanglement, which happens when whales become caught in the fishing lines strewn about the ocean. The consequences of entanglement, at best, lead to

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Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation Review: A Way with Words

Truman & Tennessee features one of the most engaging conversations that never happened. This warm documentary offers a two-hander of sorts by bringing together the voices of literary icons Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams. Director Lisa Immordino Vreeland (Love, Cecil Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict) couples the work of the two great writers through their own words and stories. The two wordsmiths have much in common beyond their knack for compelling prose and rich characters. The film draws the audience into the inner worlds of Capote and Williams to explore how their experiences as gay men in a time when society

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Gunda Review: Some Pig

In my corner of the filmmaking world, mostly filled with arty narratives, documentaries, and animation, Viktor Kossakovsky (Aquarela) is a big deal. He’s been winning awards since the early ‘90s for edgy docs, which use genre bending techniques to force audiences to become truly engaged with his subjects. In one film, he shot footage out of his window in St. Petersburg for over a year, turning viewers into the equivalent of neighbours, who become used to the sidewalk, the street, the buildings, odd people on the block and unnerving situations with road repair that seem to go on endlessly. In

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