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#HotDocs14: Final Batch of Reviews

May 4, 2014

By John Corrado

Hot Docs Poster

After eleven days of documentaries, we are finally at the last day of Hot Docs and with that comes my latest batch of capsule reviews, bringing my final count up to a whopping 48.

Yesterday I shared my thoughts on Marinoni, Guidelines and Bronx Obama.  Here are my reviews of the three films that I closed the festival with today, including two very good ones and what was perhaps my biggest disappointment.

Please come back tomorrow for my concluding thoughts on this year’s festival and full list of highlights, and as always you can get more information on everything that played Hot Docs right here.  Enjoy!

Giuseppe Makes a Movie: Giuseppe Andrews is an independent filmmaker who works out of his trailer, casting local homeless men in his small productions, paying them with alcohol and often filming at the local motels.  Director Adam Rifkin follows the former child actor as he starts his thirtieth feature Garbanzo Gas, which he plans to complete in just two days, following a cow who goes on a paid vacation from the slaughterhouse.  His frequently crude scripts are handwritten and read out to the actors just before the camera starts rolling, and his finished films are laughably inept, but also very funny to behold.  It’s clear that this eccentric artist sets out simply to have fun, and Giuseppe Makes a Movie is a very quirky and often hilarious look at the process of a no budget filmmaker.

Saturday, April 26th – 7:00 PM @ Scotiabank Theatre
Monday, April 28th – 11:15 PM @ Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
Sunday, May 4th – 6:00 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 3

Self(less) Portrait: Fifty random people sit against a sterile white background and talk about their lives in Canadian director Danic Champoux’s Self(less) Portrait, many of them opening up about suicide attempts and histories of abuse.  All blandly framed in the middle of the screen, there is little connection between their stories, other than the fact that they mostly deal with death in some way or another.  These interviews are edited together with random images of murky light, all backed up by weird ambience that comes in and out of the soundtrack.  Although some might connect to the film, I just wanted these people to stop talking to the camera and get real help.  Maybe Self(less) Portrait could have worked as a short, but at 98 minutes this is a depressing and uncomfortably long experience akin to watching other people’s therapy sessions, prompting walkouts at the screening I attended.

Sunday, April 27th – 6:30 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 4
Monday, April 28th – 8:45 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 4
Sunday, May 4th – 3:00 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 3

Beyond Clueless: After John Hughes all but defined the high school genre in the 1980s, others followed in his footsteps, and the 1990s and 2000s gave us plenty of films that connected with the attitudes and fears of teenaged audiences.  Narrated by Fairuza Balk, Beyond Clueless is a visual essay that examines the messages of social conformity behind everything from The Craft and Spider-Man to Bubble Boy and Mean Girls, even bringing to light the homoerotic overtones of the raunchy comedy Eurotrip and the horror movie Jeepers Creepers.  Although not much of the title classic is actually seen, and masterpieces like Rushmore and Donnie Darko are only shown in brief flashes, Beyond Clueless is all about justifying our appreciation of the ones that weren’t necessarily as critically acclaimed, but still connected with teens.  With clips from over two hundred sources, the film is also refreshingly mature, leaving in all the nudity and gore that was such a big part of these influences.  As talented young director Charlie Lyne uses hypnotizing editing to theorize surprisingly thoughtful meaning behind these modern high school films, Beyond Clueless is a uniquely entertaining and captivating experience.

Tuesday, April 29th – 10:00 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Thursday, May 1st – 11:30 PM @ Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
Sunday, May 4th – 12:30 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 3

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