Festivals: Hot Docs Reviews

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Hot Docs 2016 Review: ANGRY INUK Recontextualizes Activism

"Martha Stewart does not live here," reads a sign in the home of lawyer, seal skin seamstress and economic activist Aaju Peter. The feminist icon you have probably never heard of, from her abode in the capital city of Nunavut,...

Hot Docs 2016 Review: BEWARE THE SLENDERMAN And The Wisconsin Justice System

If you have not heard of the Slenderman at this point, trust me that your kids have. He is a tall thin man in a suit usually seen looming in the background of locations where children play or blending into...

Hot Docs 2016 Review: HOW TO BUILD A TIME MACHINE Beautifully Mixes Craft And Emotion

The famous Serenity Prayer of american theologian Reinhold Niebuhr is as follows:  "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." Jay...

Hot Docs 2016 Review: TICKLED, A Tale From Which It Is Difficult To Squirm Away

Tickled is a documentary about power when one is the 'tickler'. Tickled is a documentary about the sudden whiplash from silly to terror when one is the 'ticklee'. Tickled is David Farrier's investigative reporting magnum opus, a deeply engaging ride-along...

Hot Docs 2016 Review: BROTHERS Says A Lot About Parents

In Aslaug Holm's gorgeously shot documentary on her own children - make no mistake, this is no home movie, but a rigorous 16mm film production by a veteran filmmaker - a recurring image is laundry hanging out on the line...

Hot Docs 2015 Review: The "Fuckery & Shenanigans" Of FINDERS KEEPERS

What would you do if you acquired a storage locker and all its random contents, only to discover one such item consisted of a barbecue containing a human foot? I guess the answer largely depends on who you are. If...

Hot Docs 2015 Review: UNBRANDED, Wild, Wild Horses Couldn't Drag Us Away

Four Texas A&M University graduates choose one hell of a in-between-school-and-real-life adventure, opting to adopt a dozen or so wild mustangs, train them, and make a 3000 mile journey from the Arizona-Mexican border up the spine of former 'wild west'...

Hot Docs 2015 Review: DEEP WEB Examines Justice On The Electronic Frontier

The 21st century is a foreign country. If you had asked someone in the 1989 what the charming fantasy adventure The Princess Bride, and slacker time travel history lesson, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure had in common, you would likely have...

Hot Docs 2015 Review: DRONE And The Terror Of "Point And Click" Warfare

Here in the 21st century, we find ourselves sliding down the slipperiest of slopes. As the paradigm of warfare undergoes yet another significant metamorphosis, one of remote assassinations, or as one drone pilot succinctly puts it, "just point and click."Tonje...

SXSW 2015 Review: WESTERN, A New American Marvel

The Ross Brothers' 2012 film Tchoupitoulas showcased Bill and Turner's proclivity for visually arresting imagery, compelling yet dreamlike narrative flow, and a keen eye for the undercurrents that run below the more obvious stories that have flooded from post-Katrina...

Hot Docs 2014 Review: LOVE AND TERROR ON THE HOWLING PLAINS OF NOWHERE

In a sparse corner of Nebraska, as far as possible from the state's cities of Lincoln and Omaha, sits the high-elevation prairie town of Chadron, population 5600.  The town, described as 'politely hanging on' after peaking somewhere in the 19th...

Hot Docs 2014 Review: THE GREEN GIRL Reveals Prolific Actress, Director, And Aviator Susan Oliver

Proving in its own way that most actors of a certain era ended their careers with a guest spot on Murder, She Wrote before quietly going into obscurity, The Green Girl presents its sexy Star Trek hook, that of the...

Hot Docs 2014 Review: THE DARKSIDE Upholds the Tradition of Oral History

I learned a new phrase while watching spiritual Australian documentary The Darkside.  To take a 'stickybeak' is to pry around the premises and ask uncomfortable questions. A lady uses this phrase while talking about an Ouija board her and her...

Hot Docs 2013 Review: 12 O'CLOCK BOYS Is A Hell Of A Ride

It's no surprise to long term readers of my reviews that I'm kind of enamoured with David Simon's Baltimore. From Homicide: Life On The Streets, through The Corner and of course The Wire (still perhaps the best programme that has...

Hot Docs 2013 Review: AFTER TILLER Is Important, Vital Look at Late Term Abortion Doctor in US

On May 31, 2009, Doctor George Tiller was murdered while attending his regular Sunday church service. The doctor was one of a handful trained and willing to perform what are almost antiseptically referred to as "late term" abortions, the termination...

Hot Docs 2013 Review: MUSCLE SHOALS Is A Stunning, Soulful Achievement

It's a rare thing, the truly engaging music documentary. You have to have a number of things come together to make it more than just a series of clips from some music you feel palatable. The best films are those...

Hot Docs 2013 Review: THE EXPEDITION TO THE END OF THE WORLD Asks Big Questions in Wide Open Spaces

Specifically, the eponymous End of the World is a place: The northern shores of Greenland that have been inaccessible due to ice-locked waterways, which now, due to changing climes, are open for a mere few weeks a year to such...

Hot Docs 2013 Review: WE ALWAYS LIE TO STRANGERS

The title is a mouthful, but is a entirely appropriate and poetic link to the film's subject matter, the bizarre Vegas-in-the-Ozarks refuge that is Branson, Missouri.Nestled in the heart of hillbilly country, the town of 10,000 plays home to millions...

Hot Docs 2013 Review: TALES FROM THE ORGAN TRADE Is Wonderfully Nuanced

Far too often "issue" films play out as mere polemics, dogmatically reemphasizing a given point of view to a receptive audience. I often find these type of films dreary and intellectually barren, a lazy form of near propaganda that does...

Hot Docs 2013 Review: WILLIAM AND THE WINDMILL Subverts the Expected TEDtalk Narrative

What exactly is William and The Windmill about?  Is it the story of a resourceful and ingenious young Malawi boy who builds a windmill from available detritus using diagrams in a book so his parents have a way to...