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#HotDocs14: Fifth Batch of Reviews

April 28, 2014

By John Corrado

Hot Docs Poster

As we come down from the first weekend of Hot Docs, welcome to my latest batch of capsule reviews, to help launch us into the final week of the festival.

Yesterday I published reviews of Mission Blue, To Be Takei, The Creator of the Jungle, The Special Need and A Different Kind of Boy.  Below are my thoughts on five that I screened in advance and are all premiering tonight, including Super Duper Alice Cooper which is being simulcast to theatres across Canada, followed by a Q&A with the rock legend.

Please come back tomorrow and throughout the week for more capsule reviews, and you can follow on Twitter for thoughts on what I’m seeing.  As always, you can get more information on Hot Docs and purchase tickets right here.  Enjoy!

Mugshot: Mugshots have gained their place in pop culture over the years, with websites and even entire publications devoted to sharing these identifying photographs.  But for every celebrity like Justin Bieber who gets arrested and has their hilarious mugshot plastered all over the tabloids, there are hundreds of others floating around of criminals and murderers who don’t automatically make the news.  This provides fodder for historians and collectors who turn the portraits into art exhibitions, and they are the main subjects of Mugshot, an intriguing behind the scenes look at the sort of portrait you don’t want to have taken.  Director Dennis Mohr packs a lot into the brief running time of just 51 minutes, providing an interesting history of dangerous criminals and ordinary people who have been mostly forgotten by time, but are immortalized through these photographs.

Monday, April 28th – 7:00 PM @ Isabel Bader Theatre
Tuesday, Apr 29th – 4:00 PM @ Isabel Bader Theatre
Saturday, May 3rd – 1:00 PM @ Scotiabank Theatre

Hotline: Millions of people have turned to helplines in times of need, whether they were looking for help accepting themselves, contemplating suicide, wanting to have their fortunes read or simply looking for pleasure.  Director Tony Shaff not only turns his attention to the people who utilize these services, but also the ones answering the calls, and their stories are shared in Hotline.  Many of them volunteers, they are faced with the responsibility of being the only voice that someone might hear in the middle of the night, or even at the end of their life.  But they have devoted their lives to answering these calls, because they understand the importance of hearing someone’s voice and knowing you are not alone.  There is something quietly profound about the way that Hotline presents these ideas, a small gem that is both thought provoking and incredibly touching.

Monday, April 28th – 7:15 PM @ Hart House Theatre
Tuesday, April 29th – 1:00 PM @ Scotiabank Theatre
Friday, May 2nd – 9:45 PM @ Scotiabank Theatre
Sunday, May 4th – 6:30 PM @ Isabel Bader Theatre

Before the Last Curtain Falls: With footage from the closing night performance of their interpretive European ballet Gardenia, Before the Last Curtain Falls shows us the offstage lives of the six elderly performers behind the production, sharing their often tragic stories of growing up gay and transsexual in Belgium.  Directed by Thomas Wallner, the film is at its best during these interviews, revealing some of the meaning behind their silent performance art.  Although the footage of Gardenia itself is incredibly pretentious, and the film feels overlong even at 86 minutes, Before the Last Curtain Falls is at least beautifully shot and has some affective moments, courtesy of their heartbreakingly human stories.

Monday, April 28th – 8:30 PM @ Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
Tuesday, April 29th – 4:00 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Friday, May 2nd – 12:30 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 2

Super Duper Alice Cooper: Vincent Furnier was a pastor’s son who got his musical start as a Beatles wannabe in high school.  But when the persona of Alice Cooper was created with help from a Ouija board, he became a fearless rock icon, shocking and entertaining audiences in equal measure.  His story is told in Super Duper Alice Cooper, including the addictions to alcohol and cocaine that threatened to derail his life, before his surprising faith helped him jump back and further immortalize himself as the founding father of glam metal.  Doing away with talking head interviews, the subjects are heard in voiceover while images and thrilling concert footage fills the screen.  This is a visually arresting film, as the story is edited together with scenes from the 1920 classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a nice touch that adds an extra dose of insanity.  These elements all make Super Duper Alice Cooper a compelling and wildly entertaining rock doc, that is sure to play well with a crowd of fans.

Monday, April 28th – 9:00 PM @ Scotiabank Theatre (Hot Docs Live!)
Tuesday, April 29th – 9:50 PM @ Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
Saturday, May 3rd – 11:00 AM @ Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

Children 404: After the Russian government passed an unjust law banning “homosexual propaganda,” an internet support group was started for gay and lesbian teens to anonymously share their photos and stories, video documenting the bullying they are subject to at school and the abuse they receive just for coming out.  Although this footage is expectedly amateur, Children 404 is an important film for the ways that it shows firsthand how these laws are directly effecting LGBT youth in Russia, with one young activist planning for a better life in Toronto.  Through intimate interviews with these fearless teenagers who are sharing their stories as a way to help others accept themselves, Children 404 is a revealing and often heartbreaking film that ends on a note that is hopeful for a better future.

Monday, April 28th – 9:30 PM @ Isabel Bader Theatre
Tuesday, April 29th – 3:30 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 1
Thursday, May 1st – 9:00 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 3
Saturday, May 3rd – 8:30 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 3

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