Archive for the 'Documentary Love' Category

Another Hot Docs

Friday, May 11th, 2012

Hot Docs, my favourite festival of the year, has come and gone. I adore documentaries. I love peeking into people’s lives and being inspired, informed or incensed. With so many documentaries in such a short span of time I am petrified that I will be forced to kick myself incessantly when I hear about the amazing ones I missed.

I can rest easy knowing that I saw Charles Bradley: Soul of America. It’s the story of a down and out aspiring singer and James Brown impersonator who released his first album at the age of sixty-two. It is about dreams that won’t die and perseverance, but above all it is about a beautiful soul that couldn’t be crushed despite heartbreaking hardships. Somehow his spirit remained so pure and loving and hopeful. Naturally I cried like a maniac and of course I am going to get his debut album, stat.

When I was describing the movie to my fellow doc nerds one friend looked on in horror and asked, “He wasn’t at the screening was he?”

I knew right away that my friend was concerned for the safety of Charles Bradley because he had witnessed first hand what I can be like when I am overcome with emotion after a documentary. I am not particularly skilled when it comes to pulling myself together after a sobfest. I tend to gush and frighten people.

Enjoy the trailer below and to make it more like a Hot Docs experience imagine a sniveling woman clutching her Kleenex to her chest and doing everything in her power not to burst into spontaneous cheers and applause.

Hot Docs and Talking Dogs

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Hot Docs, my favourite of all favourite festivals, is on right now. So far I have filled my film dance card with nothing but heavy dark movies involving broken hearted convicts, pedophiles, murderous warlords and dysfunctional families. They have been moving and provoking but I have been feeling a little spent as a result. Perfect time to cheer myself with a talking dog.

Vanity is a Dangerous Thing

Friday, May 7th, 2010

I was getting ready for a Hot Docs marathon yesterday. I had back to back movies and being a fan of snacks I had prepared assorted foodstuffs ahead of time.

I realized that I needed a bigger bag for carrying all of my movie snack bounty. I selected the woven bag I bought in Mexico during my glorious beach vacation. It is adorable, with green and yellow embroidered roses and is a perfect vessel for all of my movie snacks. I slipped the bag across my shoulder, posed in front of the mirror and was instantly enchanted. I looked like a foxy documentary film goer – arty, independent and irresistibly fetching. Perhaps I’d be mistaken for a free thinking European filmmaker.  I was still admiring my reflection while placing my enormous water bottle in my bag, completely missed the opening, and dropped it on my big toe.

My toe is killing me. It is as bruised and swollen as my ego. I insist on showing it to The Sweetie on an hourly basis. If my toenail falls off just in time for sandal weather I am going to be very very angry.

Vanity is a dangerous beast. Narcissus died looking at his own reflection. My big toe died a little today because I thought I was too adorable for my own good. My cute bag and massive ego are properly humbled.

Hot Docs is Here Again!

Saturday, May 1st, 2010

My favourite time of the year has returned! Everything is green and budding, and it is Hot Docs time again! I am a loud and proud documentary nerd and Hot Docs never disappoints. I will be spending the week watching hard-drinking Buddhist monks, small town murderers, fragile artists and Star Wars geeks. I will be inspired and incensed and exhausted. I will eat way too much popcorn and chocolate and feel like my eyes are bugging out of my head. I will freeze in the theatre that always seems to pump out the air conditioning midway through a movie. I will be irritated by the documentary scensters who will actually wear their documentary festival lanyards. I will love every minute of it. It will be a glorious documentary week.

The September Issue

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

One extremely positive thing about autumn in Toronto is that it signifies the arrival of Doc Soup. I love my monthly documentary dates at the Bloor Cinema and adore their popcorn, best in the city by far.

This month’s documentary offering was The September Issue, about Vogue magazine’s telephone book sized tome that is the most anticipated glossy of the year. The film is a behind the scenes look at what goes into developing the magazine, offering a glimpse of terrifying ice queen Anna Wintour in action.

Clad in a grubby old t-shirt, I dug into my extra buttered large popcorn, prepared to roll my eyes and guffaw at pin-thin models. I expected to do a lot of smirking at self important fashionistas pontificating about the importance of fashion, how it is high art and is changing the world.

I have to grudgingly admit that I have a new regard for the hard work and artistry that goes into Vogue magazine. The photo shoots looked beautiful and every detail is examined with a  fine toothed comb. I was in awe of creative director and genius Grace Coddington, a feisty redhead who refuses to tremble before the force that is Anna Wintour. It was intriguing to witness the power struggles between these two strong women which stood in sharp contrast to the other minions too afraid to voice any opinion not already sanctioned by the mighty Anna herself. Grace also seemed to be the only one wearing comfortable footwear. She was like a cool hippy grandma among a sea of uptight, coiffed sycophants.

Anna Wintour’s reputation as a frosty figure remains intact. Meryl Streep’s portrayal of her as a terrifying ice queen in The Devil Wears Prada seems to be accurate. She has intimidation down to an art with her stony silence and withering stare. I am certain I would turn into a pillar of salt if I came within a two block radius of her, but I came away from the film with a lot of respect for her as a decisive editor. Maybe our focus should be on Anna Wintour the brilliant editor rather than her icy persona. An arrogant blowhard male mogul would be judged first by his accomplishments. His personality would not be scrutinized or derided to the same extent that it is with powerful women like Anna Wintour or Martha Stewart. I may not want to go shopping at Goodwill with Anna, nor would I want Martha to come over for dinner, but they are certainly worthy of respect and admiration for thriving in male dominated industries.

Overall the first Doc Soup offering was a success. The popcorn was stellar, the movie was fantastic and I came away with a new found respect for scary Anna Wintour and acceptance that fashion can be art after all.

Big River Man Documentary

Friday, May 15th, 2009


Big River Man was my favourite documentary at Hot Docs this year. The programmer who introduced the film summed it up perfectly – it is a combination of Borat meets Apocalypse Now. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time.

The subject is Martin Strel, an overweight, alcoholic Slovenian endurance swimmer who decides to swim the Amazon, crocodiles, piranhas and evil fish that can swim up your penis be damned. Already a world record holder for having swum the Mississippi, Danube and Yangtze rivers, he wanted to draw attention to pollution and the rapidly declining rain forest. What starts as a quirky and funny movie about a portly fifty three year old swimmer quickly transcends into something frightening, strange and utterly fascinating. The river plunges him into madness, where he may be swimming from his own demons or becoming one himself.

It is a riveting and odd film. We don’t get a clear idea of what drives this swimming madman, he is remote throughout most of the film and he doesn’t seem to be interested in fame or fortune. It is a thoroughly quirky ride. I hope it gets a wide release because I can’t wait to see it again.

Here is a great read about Martin from The Guardian and it is worth checking out the movie’s website to see the trailer.