Reviews - Page 94

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

‘Becoming Nobody’ is Chicken Soup for One

Becoming Nobody (USA, 80 min.) Dir. Jamie Catto Audiences can find a zen place with Becoming Nobody. This portrait doc profiles the life and philosophy of Ram Dass, the self-help guru and spiritual teacher whose complex ideas have changed many lives throughout his career. Among those converted by Ram Dass include Becoming Nobody director Jamie Catto, who displays clear admiration for his subject and mentor in the film. The doc unpacks the wealth of Ram Dass’s ideas, his journey to enlightenment, his experimentation with psychedelic drugs, and his transition from being a man of science to a man of faith. Catto uses an

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‘The Mill’: tearing people apart, bringing people together

The Mill (Canada, 44 min.) Dir. David Craig For more than 50 years, white foam and murky water have filled much of a lifeless harbour on Nova Scotia’s north shore. Now, the hunt for solutions is causing friction; industry against industry and neighbour against neighbour. At the centre of all this is the Northern Pulp Mill that has been allowed to dump effluent into Pictou Country’s Boat Harbour since 1967. The province has ordered an end to this, giving the mill a hard deadline of January 2020 to make changes to their systems of waste and sewage management or face

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Force of Nature: ‘Aquarela’ is Awesome

Aquarela (UK/Germany/Denmark/Russia, 94 min.) Dir. Victor Kossakovsky Numerous journalists, advocates, scientists, and environmentalists speculate that water scarcity will be the cause for World War III. However, Aquarela makes a compelling case that water will wage the next war against humans. Water can attack with greater force than bullets, it can cause greater damage than bombs, and its ability to fight isn’t limited by resources or soldiers. Director Victor Kossakovsky raises a glass to the imposing force that is water in Aquarela and delivers an intimidating visual essay about the limits of human activity when faced with the sheer force of nature. This visually stunning documentary

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Question Everything: ‘Cold Case Hammarskjöld’ a Wild Ride for True Crime

Cold Case Hammarskjöld (Denmark/Norway/Sweden/Belgium, 128 min.) Dir. Mads Brügger Fans of true crime documentary had better grab their notepads, stock up on sticky notes, and pour a mammoth cup of coffee. Cold Case Hammarskjöld unravels a peculiar true crime tale as director Mads Brügger (The Ambassador) revisits the 1961 mystery in which United Nations secretary general Dag Hammarskjöld’s plane crashed under strange circumstances, killing Hammarskjöld and most of his crew. This is a wild tale masterfully and superbly told—or a dangerous lark of self-indulgent nonsense, depending how one assesses the evidence. Brügger probably contents himself with audiences trying to decide which

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Humboldt Strong: ‘The New Season’ Returns to the Ice with the Broncos

Humboldt: The New Season (Canada, 45 min.) Dir. Kevin Eastwood, Lucas Frison Hockey is Canada’s game. It’s no wonder, then, that the nation found itself gripped by tragedy on April 6, 2018 when the bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos collided with a semi-trailer truck, killing 16 members of the Saskatchewan junior hockey team. The Sweet Hereafter is just a movie, but this story is real life as parents, friends, and neighbours struggle with the loss of the young players and the coach and support staff who helped unite the town in the arena. They were just boys on the way to a

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Mike-osaurus Rex: ‘Mike Wallace is Here’ Celebrates a TV Icon

Mike Wallace is Here (USA, 94 min.) Dir. Avi Belkin Bill O’Reilly calls Mike Wallace “a dinosaur” in an early clip in Mike Wallace is Here. The bullish former FOX News sleaze peddler provokes the veteran journalist by arguing that news stories driven by research and interviews are products of a bygone era. Wallace could be the first and the last in a long line of dogged TV journalists. The veteran journalist, who passed away in 2012 at the age of 95, spent nearly half a century interviewing subjects from all walks of life, elevating journalism with incisive conversations that got to the

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Rock of Ages: ‘David Crosby: Remember My Name’

David Crosby: Remember My Name (USA, 95 min.) Dir. AJ Eaton Rock and roll biopics often lean towards the hagiographic or, worse, milquetoast while providing pat stories of success or recovery that are little more than self-serving commercials. To the immense credit of filmmaker and subject alike, David Crosby: Remember My Name tries valiantly to avoid these pitfalls. Director A.J. Eaton tasks Crosby’s long-time friend Cameron Crowe (a producer on the film) to do the interviews, resulting in some true soul searching from the aging legend looking back on his varied career. The most telling realization by Crosby is that maybe he’s

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“Stupid and Naïve”: Free Trip to Egypt

Free Trip to Egypt (Switzerland/USA/Egypt, 103 min.) Dir. Ingrid Serban Reality television meets Michael Moore theatrics in the earnest misfire Free Trip to Egypt. This well-intentioned doc sees idealistic Egyptian-Canadian Tarek Mounib take a handful of Americans on an all-expenses paid trip to Cairo. Mounib hopes that the getaway may help the Americans overcome their prejudices, but the project simplifies complex issues of identity and cultural exchange far too much to satisfy. Alternatively humorous, heartfelt, awkward, ignorant, haphazard, and downright embarrassing, the film doesn’t do its participants any favours despite its sincere attempt to make the world a better place. The

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Faith in Branded Content?

Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable (USA, 100 min.) Dir. Aaron Lieber No matter your beliefs, take the kids to see Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable. This faith-based surfing documentary (yes, that’s a thing) offers a compelling and inspiring story of commitment and perseverance. Unstoppable finds a great character in Bethany Hamilton, an American surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack at age 13 and rebounded with a lucrative professional career. Buoyed by her faith but driven by her belief in herself and love for the surf, Hamilton is an unshakably positive force. Even a cynical atheist with a dozen years of (unconvincing) Catholic school under

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Marianne & Leonard and Broomfield’s Love Triangle

Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love (USA/UK, 97 min.) Dir. Nick Broomfield Nick Broomfield has rightfully earned an obnoxious reputation for injecting himself into every story he tells. (Watch his take on Tupac for the most egregious example of this crime.) It’s all the more ironic then that Marianne & Leonard seems to be his most effective turn at having the focus stay largely on the central protagonists, given that there is actually is an intimate connection between filmmaker and subject. The story of the love between Leonard Cohen and his muse Marianne Ihlen resulted in some of the greatest works of popular culture.

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