Author: Andrew Parker

Hot Docs 2017 Review: Long Strange Trip

It’s perhaps a touch ironic that documentarian Amir Bar-Lev’s lovingly crafted look back on the greatest American “jam band” in history clocks in at a sizeable four hours in length without being comprehensive, but Long Strange Trip deserves an immense amount of credit for making every second of this look back at the life and times of The Grateful Dead fly by. Instead of using every second of footage or every bootleg tape he can get his hands on, Bar-Lev (Happy Valley, My Kid Could Paint That) settles on an interesting structure, groove, and flow for his film that...

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Hot Docs 2017 Review: You’re Soaking In It

Madison Avenue was once run by advertising executives who hedged their huge firm’s budgets on the emotional reactions consumers would have towards commercials and billboards. Only about half of those ads would be successful, and even fewer would raise brands to iconic statuses. Today, the advertising landscape has changed thanks to the internet. Gone are the days of Mad Men, and now we live in a world run by cookies, complicated user agreements, and algorithms. Information and big data are on pace to become more valuable to corporations than actual currency. Scott Harper’s well researched, stylish, but ultimately redundant...

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Hot Docs 2017 Review: A Better Man

Over two decades after she bravely broke away from Steve, her physically, verbally, and emotionally abusive boyfriend; filmmaker and counsellor Attiya Khan (with the help of co-director Lawrence Jackman) reconnects with her former abuser on the streets of Toronto and the former couple carries on a therapeutic dialogue about how abuse starts, where it comes from, and how to break its devastating cycle. A Better Man is appropriately confrontational when it comes to the subject of abusive relationships. It’s hard to put into words how brave Khan’s actions are here, and although Steve wants no applause for confronting a past...

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Hot Docs 2017 Review: Mommy Dead and Dearest

In June of 2015, 19-year-old Gypsy Rose Blancharde of Springfield, Missouri was arrested in small town Wisconsin along with her boyfriend, Nicholas Godejohn. He was accused of murdering Gypsy’s mother, Dee Dee Blancharde, and there was a wealth of evidence to suggest that Gypsy was the primary accomplice and potential mastermind behind the murder. What was shocking to everyone familiar with the Blancharde family was that Gypsy was thought to be wheelchair bound and have leukaemia and a list of other ailments and developmental disabilities. It turns out that nothing about this case was what it seemed and Gypsy...

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Hot Docs 2017 Review: About My Liberty

In 2015, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe introduced a Security Bill that would effectively nullify the country’s pacifist constitution and grant the military the right to enter into foreign wars for the first time since 1954. The bill, perhaps understandably given its whopping 70% disapproval rating with the general public, was heavily protested by groups of persistent, well organized university student leaders throughout the summer of that year. While their first protests brought crowds in the dozens, towards the end of their campaign they were bringing in hundreds of thousands of like minded supporters of a peaceful Japan. Director...

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Hot Docs 2017 Review: My Life Without Air

Croatian world champion free diver Goran Colak has become the best in the world at what he does. His ability to hold his breath underwater for unfathomably long periods of time – which makes him practically unbeatable in competitions – has led to him setting the world record for staying submerged without coming up for air, lasting over twenty minutes, much to the awe of a silently stunned crowd. Some viewers of My Life Without Air will wonder why Colak has such a fascination with his death-defying and health-hazardous profession, but the explanation contained within Bojana Burnac’s gorgeously lyrical...

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Hot Docs 2017 Review: Libera Nos

Christians around the world seem to believe in the devil more than ever in modern history, and the demand for exorcisms and special blessings from the Catholic church have been on an unprecedented rise. Filmmaker Federica Di Giacomo spends time with an Italian priest specializing in exorcisms and some of the afflicted in the occasionally hilarious, occasionally frightening, theoretically fascinating documentary Libera Nos. Viewers who don’t believe that demonic possession is a real thing (this reviewer included) will be tempted to diagnose many of the people who come through the doors of Father Cataldo, and the priest seems to...

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