Hot Docs 2016: ‘Fear Itself’ and ‘Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World’

Fear Itself (DIR. Charlie Lyne)

By: Shahbaz Khayambashi

What is the source of fear and why does it excite us when we are seated in a dark room, watching awful things happen to photogenic strangers?

This is not the question that documentarian Charlie Lyne attempts to answer in his latest work Fear Itself, a deeply personal study of the horror genre told through the same metatextual and introspective methodology that previously manifested itself in directorial efforts like Beyond Clueless.  Actually, the most obvious influence comes in the form of a work he co-produced and co-edited, one of my picks for the ten best films of last year, Standby for Tape Back-up.

Lyne uses horror cinema – in its many shapes and forms – to understand himself more deeply (through the potentially baffling use of a female narrator) and question his own mental state. Do not go into this documentary expecting to learn anything or get answers for lifelong questions: this is purely an act of freeform thinking, not so much a study of horror cinema, but rather a study of – if I may – fear itself. While ephemeral images from a diverse selection of films (everything from canonical fare to cult classics to the unknown) flash across the screen, the narrator discusses everything from serial killers and mass murderers to cannibalism, car accidents and familial deaths – clearly a form of public therapy. It should be pointed out that Lyne is not Adam Curtis: the editing is occasionally intrusive and frequently invites the viewer to play “guess that movie” at the expense of the narration, which is also, at its worst, meandering and forgettable.

However, at its best, Fear Itself is a fascinating work which deserves an audience.

Catch Fear Itself at Toronto’s Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival on:

Sunday, May 1 at 10:00 p.m. @ TIFF Bell Lightbox

Tuesday, May 3 at 3:45 p.m. @ TIFF Bell Lightbox

Wednesday, May 4 at 9:45 p.m. @ Bloor Hot Docs Cinema


Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World (DIR. Werner Herzog)

By: Addison Wylie

Werner Herzog’s latest documentary Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World is a reconstruction of a life-changing building block in today’s society – the Internet.

Through thought-provoking interviews, Herzog’s dry and didactic questioning, and a spray of different possibilities and outcomes, the doc is able to show movie goers how a brainstorming theoretic procedure acted as a wave of inspiration for technological advances. The filmmaker acknowledges the current accomplishes of humankind and then expands on the given material to offer audiences a peek into what the future could hold, and where scientists and entrepreneurs have the ability to go.

After so many interesting examinations and studies throughout his career, Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World is Werner Herzog’s dullest entry as a documentarian in terms of presentation. Granted, there’s only so much a filmmaker can do to make this dense, binary information digestible for a general audience; suggesting that maybe Lo and Behold will only be truly enjoyed by fans of Herzog’s work.

There are portions, however, that can be accepted by all. Stretches articulating possible advances in the future (including self-driving cars and artificial intelligence with increased aptitude) are the most exciting moments, while an enigmatic question towards interviewees propositioning if the Internet could dream of itself is spellbinding.

Catch Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World at Toronto’s Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival on:

Thursday, April 28 at 9:45 p.m. @ TIFF Bell Lightbox

Friday, April 29 at 1:00 p.m. @ Bloor Hot Docs Cinema


Click here for more festival details and to buy tickets.

Do You Tweet? Follow These Tweeple:

Shahbaz Khayambashi: @ShaKhayam

Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie

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