Reviews - Page 93

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

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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Review: ‘Voices of the Sea’

Voices of the Sea (UK, 99min.) Dir. Kim Hopkins “…of the humble, with the humble and for the humble” were the words that Fidel Castro famously used to describe the Cuban socialist and democratic revolution. But this motto hardly reflects the reality of the humble in Cuba today. In Voices of the Sea, Kim Hopkins exposes the hypocrisy behind Cuba’s communist ideology. Hopkins follows Cuban native Mariela and her family to capture the daily struggles and anxieties of the country’s working class. While politics, Castro, and immigration foreground the narrative, the glimpse into Mariela’s life makes this doc so notable. The

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Review: ‘Whitney’

Whitney (USA/UK, 120 min.) Dir. Kevin Macdonald Whitney might be the first documentary made about Whitney Houston with the full authorization of her family but don’t let that much trucked-about showbiz line fool you. This documentary isn’t a completely sanitized account of the great singer. Houston’s story gets the full warts-and-all treatment from Oscar winner Kevin Macdonald (Marley). While the documentary inevitably bears evidence of well-calculated efforts by the Houston dynasty to overlook the darker aspects of the star’s tragically short-lived career, Whitney pushes hard enough to give audiences a deeper appreciation of the late pop icon. The film is as sad as

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Review: ‘Filmworker’

Filmworker (USA, 94 min.) Dir. Tony Zierra The mad artistry of Stanley Kubrick gets the doc treatment in Filmworker. This documentary is supposed to be a film about Kubrick’s devoted assistant Leon Vitali, but, by the midpoint, it becomes apparent that Vitali isn’t as interesting a subject as Kubrick is, so director Tony Zierra inevitably shifts his gaze towards the bigger prize. Vitali remains the Igor to Kubrick’s Dr. Victor Frankenstein years after the filmmaker’s death in 1999. Vitali continue to work on Kubrick’s films, having just overseen a new restoration of 2001: A Space Odyssey, so he’s devoted as many years

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Review: ‘The Oslo Diaries’

The Oslo Diaries (Canada/Israel, 97 min.) Dir. Mor Loushy, Daniel Sivan The late Shimon Peres gives his final interview in The Oslo Diaries. Appropriately enough, directors Mor Loushy and Daniel Sivan afford the former President and Prime Minister of Israel the last word in the documentary. As the credits begin to roll, they ask Peres if Israel and Palestine will ever see peace. Still an optimist over two decades after the peace talks and negotiations that nearly ended violence between Israel and Palestine were broken off, Peres hopes for a resolution. “The only alternative is a long-going war, but contrary to

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