Reviews - Page 90

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

TIFF Review: ‘City Dream’

City Dream (China, 100 min) Dir. Weijun Chen Programme: TIFF Docs (World Premiere) It doesn’t seem to matter whether a system is capitalist or communist. The consequential things remain the same. Weijun Chen’s latest documentary City Dreams dramatically reveals what happens to an individual trapped in an urban structure that isn’t of his devising. We quickly find out that the “little guy” hasn’t got a hope in hell of emerging a winner in just about anywhere in the world. Street vendor Wang Tiancheng simply wants to run his business on the busy retail district he’s been serving for more than a decade. Tiancheng hasn’t

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TIFF Review: ‘Ibrahim: A Fate to Define’

Ibrahim: A Fate to Define (Denmark/Lebanon/Qatar/Slovenia/Palestine, 110 min.) Dir. Lina Al-Abed Programme: TIFF Docs (World Premiere) We’ve seen films like Ibrahim: A Fate to Define before, the ones where family members find out much—sometimes too much—about their missing relatives. It’s a great doc genre, incorporating thriller and mystery elements while allowing for deeper dives into questions of character and identity. Often they’re first features, since siblings, parents and cousins are far more likely to give you intimate access into their thoughts and lives than people you’ve just met. It’s a pleasure to see a new doc director create an intelligent, emotional film in this

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TIFF Review: ‘Paris Stalingrad’

Paris Stalingrad (France, 86 min.) Dir. Hind Meddeb w/Thim Naccache Programme: TIFF Docs (International Premiere) Back in 1960, the filmmaker Jean Rouch, already acclaimed for Moi, un Noir, his genre-busting semi-fictional documentary shot in Africa’s Ivory Coast, combined with philosopher Edgar Morin to create Chronique d’un été, the first cinema verité feature. Shot in the summer, the film covered what Rouch called his “tribe,” Parisians, as they dealt with the effects of the Algerian war, the end of colonial Africa, getting worthwhile work, and deciding whether or not they were happy. Fifty six years later, during the Parisian summer of 2016, filmmakers Hind Meddeb

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TIFF Review: ‘The Kingmaker’

The Kingmaker (USA, Denmark, 100 min.) Dir. Lauren Greenfield Programme: TIFF Docs (Canadian premiere) Lauren Greenfield has become an award winning documentarian thanks to films like Generation Wealth and The Queen of Versailles, which illustrate the obnoxiousness of obscene wealth as well as the power and problems that surround individuals who possess it. A kind of dark spin on the Lifestyles of the Rich And Famous ethos, her films have often been a mix of profound social commentary mixed with a dose of morbid fascination. Greenfield’s latest, The Kingmaker, ups the ante, taking all her gifts and focusing on the perfect subject for this type of

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TIFF Review: ‘Cunningham’

Cunningham (US/France/Germany, 93 min) Dir. Alla Kovgan Programme: TIFF Docs (World Premiere) Two-thirds of Cunningham consists of exquisite dancing choreographed by the iconic American choreographer Merce Cunningham, taking place on sets by the likes of Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol and set to music by John Cage, Morton Feldman, Christian Wolff and their ultra-modernist ilk, shot in sumptuous 3D with the very mobile camera almost becoming a dancer unto itself. For anybody inclined to this kind of work—somehow both coldly intellectual and playful, showing off what well-trained bodies are capable of doing without ever indulging any obvious emotion—it’s a sheer delight. The elaborate twenty-page

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TIFF Review: ‘Citizen K’

Citizen K (USA, 125 min) Dir. Alex Gibney Programme: TIFF Docs (World Premiere) Alex Gibney is a master of the well-made doc. It’s hard to find fault in his films. Everything is in its place. Staged interviews with key players, archival footage and expository voiceover are all seamlessly edited together into a well-paced narrative. Just as it’s hard to find fault, it’s hard to be surprised by anything Gibney does. Though he gravitates to scandal and controversy, he rarely if ever renders judgment or even offers much in the way of argument. His films are less like essays and more like 101

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TIFF Review: ‘Incitement’

Incitement (Israel, 123 min) Dir. Yaron Zilberman Programme: Contemporary World Cinema (World Premiere) The 1995 assassination of Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin by far-right Jewish law student Yigal Amir derailed the Israel–Palestine peace process at its most promising moment, in the midst of the “Oslo Accords’:Lhttp://povmagazine.com/articles/view/review-the-oslo-diaries progress through Israeli parliament. Never since has peace seemed so close. Incitement, a tense docudrama of sorts by Israeli-American director Yaron Zilberman that dramatizes the life of Amir in the year leading up to the assassination alongside extensive documentary footage of speeches by Rabin and his political rival Benjamin Netanyahu, immerses us in the quagmire

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TIFF Review: ‘Red Penguins’

Red Penguins (USA, 80 min) Dir. Gabe Polsky Programme: TIFF Docs (World Premiere) In 2014 Gabe Polsky had a TIFF hit with Red Army, a terrific doc about the Soviet national team’s dominance of international hockey from the Fifties to the Nineties and about the incursion of Russian players into the NHL after the Soviet Union collapsed. Five years later Polsky returned to the festival with Red Penguins, a spiritual sequel that shows the flipside of the Russia-US exchange, when a group of entrepreneurial Americans sought to bring their business acumen and flourish for spectacle to a post-Soviet sports system. The film focusses on Steve Warshaw, a fast-talking, high-strung executive

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TIFF Review: ‘Western Stars’

Western Stars (USA, 83 min) Dir. Thom Zimny, Bruce Springsteen Programme: Galas (World Premiere) Over the last 24 months Bruce Springsteen has been on a reinvention of sorts. After the publication of his memoir Born to Run, he parlayed the stories of his childhood and rock-and-roll mythmaking into a celebrated Broadway show. Western Stars forms the other part of this series, as an album and a documentary providing other facets, albeit more fictionalized, of the man and his music. Western Stars, the record, draws from 1970s California country music, exemplified by the likes of Jimmy Webb and Glenn Campbell. It’s a string saturated,

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TIFF Review: ‘Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Cinema’

Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Cinema (UK, 840 min.) Dir. Mark Cousins Programme: TIFF Docs (World Premiere) “Most of the recognized so-called movie classics were directed by men,” contends film historian Mark Cousins in his latest opus Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Cinema. “But for thirteen decades, and on all six filmmaking continents, thousands of women have been directing films too. Some of the best films…What can we learn about cinema from them?” The comprehensive series – 14-hours, five episodes and 700 film clips from the work of 183 female filmmakers – premiered at this year’s Toronto International

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