Hot Docs 2017: ‘Gilbert’ and ‘Integral Man’

Gilbert (DIR. Neil Berkeley)

I expected to laugh while watching Gilbert, but I certainly didn’t expect to be misty-eyed and charmed by foul-mouth comic Gilbert Gottfried.  Just as Private Parts showed an identifiable side to shock jock Howard Stern, Neil Berkeley’s Gilbert shows Gottfried’s tenderness while staying true to the comedian’s relentlessly profane wheelhouse.

Berkeley, who seems to have a fascination with tortured artists (Beauty Is Embarrassing, Harmontown), is given permission by Gottfried to show what life is like off-stage for the performer.  He lives modestly in New York City with his lovely wife Dara and his two children when he’s not performing stand-up or starring in the latest Comedy Central roast.  He rolls with the punches when he’s heckled or performing in an unconventional venue, and he avidly collects freebies from the hotels he stays in.

Sure, Berkeley’s stripped-down approach may ring low-key, but it works considering how Gilbert Gottfried has sold his career – he’s a fearless and extremely vocal comic who is fuelled by awkwardness and apprehension.  Seeing a personal side to Gottfried is beneficial to both the audience and the film’s subject;  it’s new information and an affecting study of an outrageous personality who is still grasping his own nuanced reality.

Gottfried will also take pride in seeing the affectionate interviews from fellow comedians Neil Berkeley has collected for this dynamite doc;  including thoughtful talks from Artie Lange, Joe Piscopo, Jay Leno, Whoopi Goldberg, Anthony Jeselnik, and Richard Kind.

– Addison Wylie

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

Tuesday, May 2 at 12:45 p.m. @ Hart House Theatre

Sunday, May 7 at 9:00 p.m. @ Hart House Theatre


Integral Man (DIR. Joseph Clement)

Dreamy and plodding, Integral Man is as much a portrait of Integral House as it is of the man who built it.  In fact, it isn’t until several minutes into the film that we are introduced to Jim Stewart at all.

The camera lingers over the finer details of the house’s remarkable architecture: a staircase lined with blue glass panels, floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the greenery of Toronto’s Rosedale neighbourhood, and curved walls.  There is a tenderness to the cinematography.  Combined with concert footage of musicians performing in Integral House, it is difficult to resist the cold beauty of this film.

There is no denying that the house is an extraordinary creation, but it overshadows its master.  Jim Stewart is a fascinating character in his own right;  a mathematician and semi-professional violinist, Stewart made a fortune writing textbooks.  While Integral Man does devote screen time to celebrating Stewart’s commitment to supporting various arts and culture organizations in Toronto, his work as a gay rights activist is only mentioned in passing near the very end of the film.  Interviews with Stewart as well as with his friends add little depth.  Nothing of Stewart’s personal life makes it into the film, resulting in a documentary that is aesthetically beautiful but lacking in warmth and heart.

Still, for its rare footage and extensive access to all areas of the house, Integral Man is a must-see for architecture enthusiasts.

– Shannon Page 

Catch Integral Man at Toronto’s Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival on:

Tuesday, May 2 at 7:15 p.m. @ Isabel Bader Theatre

Wednesday, May 3 at 10:00 a.m. @ TIFF Bell Lightbox

Friday, May 5 at 4:30 p.m. @ Fox Theatre


Click here for more festival details and to buy tickets.

Do You Tweet? Follow These Tweeple:

Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie

Shannon Page: @ShannonEvePage

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