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Bloor Cinema Release: Art and Craft and Harmontown

October 3, 2014

By John Corrado

Two of the year’s best documentaries are opening this weekend with Art and Craft and Harmontown both starting limited runs at the Bloor Cinema, a pair of standouts from Hot Docs that come highly recommended.  The former will be playing until October 16th, with the latter wrapping up a week earlier on October 9th, tickets and showtimes can respectively be found here and here.

Art and Craft Poster

Art and Craft: Mark Landis is an elderly artist who devotes his talents to meticulously copying classic works of art, and then donating them to prolific museums across the United States, under various false identities.  But his work hasn’t fooled Matt Leininger, an art collector from Cincinnati, who is obsessed with exposing his work as fraudulent.

The film weaves together the stories of both men, revealing that Mark Landis has severe mental illness and feels compelled to continue his forgery, despite being repeatedly told to stop.  We see Matt Leininger as increasingly fixated on his investigation, to the point of distracting from his family life.

There is never a dull moment in Art and Craft, and the 88 minute running time literally flies by with a tone that is both tragic and unexpectedly hilarious, just like the fascinatingly flawed subject himself.  This is a compelling and wildly entertaining portrait of a true character who has to be seen to be believed, that questions if the work of a forger should be considered real art.

Harmontown Poster

Harmontown: After being fired from Community, the show he created, Dan Harmon went on tour across the United States to record a live podcast at various local venues.  But what starts as a way for him to let loose in front of sold out crowds, becomes an emotional journey for the often self destructive writer, realizing the profound impact of his work on outsiders who have found their own community through his show.

Director Neil Berkeley paints a fascinating psychological portrait of Dan Harmon, who often speaks candidly to the audience about his personal struggles, and Harmontown is just as entertaining as you would expect from the subject.

But the film is also surprisingly moving, with a genuinely touching message about accepting yourself for who you are, that just makes me appreciate Community even more.  The result is a standout documentary that is hilarious, heartfelt and wonderfully inspirational for anyone who has ever felt like a social misfit.

Dan Harmon will also be in town to record a live podcast after tomorrow evening’s screening of Harmontown, with Bobcat Goldthwait acting as master of ceremonies, an event that promises to be a lot of fun and is unfortunately already sold out.

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