Hot Docs 2016: ‘De Palma’ and ‘League of Exotique Dancers’

De Palma (DIR. Noah Baumbach, Jake Paltrow)

By: Shannon Page

Directed by Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha!, Mistress America) and Jake Paltrow (Young Ones), De Palma is a love letter to twentieth-century cinema and an engaging look into the mind of an artist whose career has been nothing if not eclectic.

Veteran filmmaker Brian De Palma takes audiences through a chronological journey of the many films he has worked on over the course of his career.  From the surrealist experimental shorts he directed as a film student at Sarah Lawrence College to blockbusters films like 1996’s film adaptation of Mission: Impossible.  The documentary, which is narrated entirely by De Palma, fuses clips from the filmmaker’s work as well as other films by influential directors that inspired him.

Egotistical, but with a bluntness and sense of humour that keeps the entire two-and-a-half-hour film from feeling like a self-indulgent drag, one of the highlights of De Palma is the subject’s self-assured openness.  Equally entertaining is his willingness to share amusing (and less than flattering) details and anecdotes about actors and other filmmakers.

Beneath the shiny surface of gossip about film legends like De Niro and Orson Wells, however, this documentary offers up a rare insight into an artist’s view of their own career.  Brian De Palma is an innovative and thoughtful filmmaker;  there is something undeniably special about hearing him discuss his creative process and approach to visual narrative with a passion for the medium – it’s simply infectious.

Catch De Palma at Toronto’s Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival on:

Monday, May 2 at 6:15 p.m. @ TIFF Bell Lightbox

Tuesday, May 3 at 10:00 a.m. @ Isabel Bader Theatre

Friday, May 6 at 9:30 p.m. @ TIFF Bell Lightbox

Don’t forget to catch TIFF Cinematheque’s retrospective of Brian De Palma’s work.  Split/Screen: The Cinema of Brian De Palma (including screenings of Dressed to KillObsessionBlow OutMission: Impossible, and Snake Eyes) plays at Toronto’s TIFF Bell Lightbox from June 18 to September 3.  Click here for more details!


League of Exotique Dancers (DIR. Rama Rau)

By: Trevor Jeffery

They’re the gin in your martini; the clams in your linguini…

Director Rama Rau gathers burlesque legends (from the 1950s, 60s and 70s) and puts them on camera to tell their stories.  League of Exotique Dancers is a condensed history on burlesque culture and impact – both socially, and on the lives of the performers.

The women tell interesting stories, but only a handful of great ones worthy of starring in Rau’s documentary.  The film bounces from dancer to dancer and back again, between almost too many performers to keep track of.  The wide diversity of subjects makes an otherwise well researched and filmed documentary on an objectively interesting subject a bit tedious and unnerving.  Just when you want to hear more about a dancer’s life, you’re shuffled off to the next one – who happens to be telling a story that’s close enough to one you’ve already heard before!

It’s nice to see so many performers included in Rau’s League of Exotique Dancers, but here, it seems like it’s done for the sake of filling out its roster rather than for the sake of character and story.  The variety of archived footage should be enough to keep your interest piqued though – if you find it wanes from time to time.

Catch League of Exotique Dancers at Toronto’s Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival on:

Monday, May 2 at 6:15 p.m. @ TIFF Bell Lightbox

Tuesday, May 3 at 10:00 a.m. @ Isabel Bader Theatre

Friday, May 6 at 9:30 p.m. @ TIFF Bell Lightbox


Click here for more festival details and to buy tickets.

Do You Tweet? Follow These Tweeple:

Shannon Page: @ShannonEvePage

Trevor Jeffery: @TrevorSJeffery

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