Reviews - Page 89

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

Review: ‘The Monster’

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The Monster (Sweden, 29 min.) Dirs. Lisa Gustafsson & Johan Palmgren Programme: Magnificent Obsessions (International Premiere)   Putting a new spin on the term “blood lust,” Lisa Gustafsson and Johan Palmgren’s new film The Monster follows Elena, a young woman with hematophilia: she is aroused by blood. Gustafsson and Palmgren show us Elena’s journey through life, from drinking the blood of her partners, to everyday activities, culminating with her confessing her secret desires to her family. The Monster is a most deliberate film. It looks to shock: graphic scenes of blood-letting and blood drinking make the punk clubs and dive

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Review: ‘Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World’

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Rumble: Indians Who Rocked The World (Canada, 103 min.) Dir. Catherine Bainbridge, Alfonso Maiorana Programme: Special Presentations (Canadian Premiere)   As a music film this talking-head style documentary may not break much new ground, and the cynical may dismiss it as just another in a long line of similarly themed retrospective works. Yet the key to really appreciating Rumble: Indians Who Rocked The World is found in a quote from Robbie Robertson, where he speaks of being told to be proud of his Indigenous heritage, but to never speak of it to those outside of the community. Loudly, proudly, Catherine

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Review: ‘Mommy Dead and Dearest’

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Mommy Dead and Dearest (USA, 82 min.) Dir. Erin Lee Carr Programme: Special Presentations (International Premiere)   Fans of true crime must see Mommy Dead and Dearest. If documentaries such as Amanda Knox, The Imposter and OJ: Made in America chilled and enthralled you, Mommy is for you. This doc tells one twisted tale. One might not believe Mommy Dead and Dearest if it were an episode of Law & Order or CSI, but the interviews that director Erin Lee Carr gets from her subjects, particularly from the killer, offer more unexpected reveals than a writer of TV drama could

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Review: ‘Last Men in Aleppo’

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Last Men in Aleppo (Denmark, 104 min.) Dir. Feras Fayyad Programme: World Showcase (Canadian Premiere)   Somewhat better than last year’s slick, saccharine Oscar-winner The White Helmets, Last Men in Aleppo treads similar ground but takes advantage of a feature-length format to spread out a bit, mixing the first responders’ heroism with off-duty camaraderie and a bit of revolutionary sentiment, building to a fairly devastating conclusion. Unfortunately, like the earlier film, Last Men in Aleppo’s single-minded focus on the human scale becomes as much a weakness as a strength. Given the overwhelming complexity of the Syrian Civil War and the

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Review: ‘A Story of Sahel Sounds’

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A Story of Sahel Sounds (Germany, 82 mi.) Programme: Artscapes (North American Premiere)   There’s a term that has gained credence in recent years to describe the new wave of interest in non-Western music: World Music 2.0. Epitomised by the globetrotting Sublime Frequencies record label, it has also been applied to more localised endeavours like the blog-turned-label Awesome Tapes From Africa and the similar Portland-based venture Sahel Sounds. The Sahel—the semi-arid region directly south of the Sahara desert, stretching from Mauritania through Sudan—is well known even among World Music 1.0 aficionados as the home of the great Malian guitarist Ali

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Review: ‘The Departure’

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The Departure (USA, 87 min.) Dir. Lana Wilson Programme: Special Presentations (International Premiere)   After Tiller director Lana Wilson returns with The Departure, a haunting parable about death. The doc profiles Japanese Buddhist priest Ittetsu Nemoto and his mission to help people in despair save themselves from succumbing to their pain. The priest essentially acts as a one-man suicide prevention line offering callers a direct connection to their own spiritual advisor. Japan’s alarmingly high suicide rate ensures that Ittetsu’s line is always busy. Worse, this statistic bodes a dire forecast for the priest’s success rate. So many lost connections begin

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Review: ‘Birth of a Family’

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Birth of a Family (Canada, 79 min.) Dir. Tasha Hubbard Programme: Canadian Spectrum (World Premiere)   A revelatory documentary, Birth of a Family is a family-reunion doc unlike any you’ve seen before. It follows the first meeting in decades of the four children of Mary Jane Adam, a Dene single mother from Saskatchewan, who were all victims of the notorious Sixties Scoop in which the Canadian government plucked Indigenous children from their families and put them into foster homes where white parents raised them without contact to their heritage, languages, or traditions. Hubbard captures a powerful event of restorative catharsis.

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Review: ‘Becoming Bond’

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Becoming Bond (USA, 90 min.) Dir. Josh Greenbaum Programme: Singular Sensations (International Premiere)   George Lazenby is the punchline for the biggest and best series the film world has ever seen. He’s the only actor in the 007 franchise to play James Bond once—David Niven’s outing in the spoof Casino Royale doesn’t count—and his performance as the suave secret agent was the worst until the eternally bland Roger Moore outdid him in the ‘70s. Lazenby’s performance might be forgettable, but his career trajectory is not. Becoming Bond lets Lazenby describes his journey from humble Australian used car salesman to London

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Review: ‘Spookers’

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Spookers (New Zealand/Australia, 82 min.) Dir. Florian Habicht Programme: Nightvision (World Premiere)   Zombies are all the rage these days. The walking dead are more popular than ever before with zombiewalks happening around the world and hit television shows spewing blood, guts and brains. The city of Auckland, New Zealand, ups the ante at the scare park Spookers, at which actors play zombies who roam the ruins of the now-defunct Kingseat Psychiatric Hospital. What creates fear for some offers therapy for others. Florian Habicht’s doc features interviews with a number of actors at Spookers who see the opportunity to escape

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