Reviews - Page 87

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

‘Made You Look’ and the Art of the Con

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Made You Look: A True Story About Fake Art (Canada, 90 min.) Dir. Barry Avrich “How can you have a fake Jackson Pollock hanging on the walls of your house for ten years?” moans M.H. Miller in Made You Look: A True Story About Fake Art. The words of the New York Times’ Style Magazine editor precede a laugh-out-loud funny money shot in Barry Avrich’s documentary that reveals the name “Jackson Pollok” scrawled on a forgery that fetched millions. This entertaining rubber chicken of a documentary does for the art scene what Sour Grapes did for highfalutin wine connoisseurs. It’s a wild-but-true crime caper about

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Netflix Reclaims Its True Crime Credence with ‘The Innocence Files’

Netflix reclaims its true crime credence with The Innocence Files. After the hugely entertaining, but highly flawed and ethically dubious, quarantine sensation of Tiger King comes this nine-part feat of investigative rigour. The Innocence Files admittedly lacks the binge-able sex appeal of Tiger King, yet it easily matches the stripes of its predecessor in terms of wild-but-true jaw-droppers. The doc series opens the files of The Innocence Project, a New York based non-profit organization that works tirelessly to correct wrongful convictions. (Innocence Project founders Peter Neufield and Barry Scheck appear in the series and receive consulting producer credits.) Spearheaded by the powerhouse trio of Liz Garbus, Alex Gibney, and

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‘Slay the Dragon’ and the Battle for Democracy

Slay the Dragon (USA, 104 min.) Dir. Barak Goodman, Chad Durrance The numbers for contemporary democracy don’t add up. Too often one looks at election results and sees the seat counts favour candidates who lost the popular vote. In the USA, states have governments that don’t adequately represent the will of the people. Slay the Dragon illustrates how this power imbalance results in hyper-partisanship and the passage of extraordinary laws that would never have a realistic chance of survival on level playing fields. The seed behind the perverse politics of the day is gerrymandering. The political practice of rigging the field to obtain

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‘Crip Camp’ and the Long Strange Trip for Civil Rights

Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution (USA, 104 min.) Dir. James Lebrecht, Nicole Newnham The Obamas had a high bar to meet after American Factory won the Oscar, but Crip Camp grabs it. The film marks the latest documentary from the Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground production company. As with Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar’s American Factory, Crip Camp is a thoughtful and absolutely necessary portrait of America at a time of change. The film, this year’s Audience Award winner for American documentary at Sundance, offers an inspiring story of the civil rights movement for people with disabilities. Crip Camp feels like a landmark for inclusive filmmaking. Crip Camp explores

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‘The Internet of Everthing’ Tracks the Hidden Costs of Smart Tech

The Internet of Everything (Canada, 52 min.) Dir. Brett Gaylor Things are getting smarter. Tech companies are getting sneakier. The internet is everywhere and it’s embedded in more tools that people use daily. Smart technology offers opportunities to plug in, connect, and enjoy data-driven efforts that optimise one’s routines to make life more convenient. However, some terms and conditions may apply. Brett Gaylor rides the waves of the web in The Internet of Everything. The doc dives into the world of smart technology. Gaylor investigates the pros and cons of letting plugged-in and data-driven devices into one’s home—or, in some cases,

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‘Afterward’ Review: Film as Therapy

Afterward (USA, 95 min.) Dir. Ofra Bloch If one spends a lot of time watching documentaries, either as a critic, a programmer, or a fan, one develops certain likes and dislikes. For me, documentaries often raise red flags in two cases: when they have academics at the helm or when filmmakers inject themselves into their own stories. One doesn’t want to make an argument for two wrongs making a right, but Ofra Bloch’s Afterward delivers a stimulating personal odyssey precisely because of her intellectual background and her eagerness to put herself at the centre of her inquiry. Afterward follows the Israeli-born and New York-based

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‘Your Turn’ Gives Voice to Youth Protest

Your Turn [Espero tua ( Re )volta] (Brazil, 93 min.) Dir. Eliza Capai If Petra Costa took audiences to the edge of democracy with her Oscar-nominated portrait of Brazilian politics, then Eliza Capai throws viewers into the thick of the storm with Your Turn. This dizzying political doc offers a participatory glimpse at the student movements that rippled throughout Brazil during the past decade. They’re not related to the impeachment of former President Dilma Rousseff that audience saw in The Edge of Democracy, but the stories intersect. Your Turn is all about the intersections of political movements and the criss-crossed wire of the film’s

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‘Beyond Moving’: Siphe November Takes Centre Stage

Beyond Moving (Canada, 84 min.) Dir. Vikram Dasgupta The story of Siphe November has been likened to that of Billy Elliot. While Billy Elliot grew up in a small town of Northern England where young boys were expected to become coal miners and not ballet dancers, Siphe November’s tale is also one of an unlikely ballet star. Beyond Moving, directed by Vikram Dasgupta, profiles November and his trajectory to the world stage via Canada’s National Ballet School. At 22 years old, the South African November’s career is remarkable – not simply as one of very few Black men to lead a ballet,

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The 2019 Oscar-nominated Short Docs

One can only commend the documentary branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science for its selections this year. The Oscar nominees for Best Documentary (Short Subject), like their feature documentary counterparts, represent one of the few categories where the Academy got it right. While the short docs are admittedly more conventional than they have been in recent years—no hybrids or animated docs here—their quality is hard to deny. Similar to the feature documentaries, the short docs boost the profiles of talents from underrepresented pockets of the industry. In doing so, they give worthy creators a spotlight and

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