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The China Hustle

As a film critic, you try to keep an open mind;  especially with subject matter that may not be of personal interest in the first place.  Those films have the opportunity to teach something new.  That said, economical documentaries are still my kryptonite – they’re still too dense to comprehend.  Jed Rothstein’s The China Hustle – a film about devious activity on Wall Street – is more proof of that, but it also surprised me.

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Maker of Monsters: The Extraordinary Life of Beau Dick

A new documentary called Maker of Monsters: The Extraordinary Life of Beau Dick was formally titled Meet Beau Dick.  The older title is fitting because, over the course of 90 minutes, that’s exactly what the audience does thoroughly.  I assume the name change was for keepsake purposes since Beau Dick passed away last year at the age of 61.  But no matter what it’s called, Maker of Monsters is a good movie.  Standardly structured, but an honourable film…

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Catwalk: Tales from the Catshow Circuit

Last year’s Kedi, one of the best films of the year, showed us just how much potential there is in cat documentaries.  This year, CBC Docs attempted to follow that nascent tradition in Canada with Catwalk: Tales from the Catshow Circuit, a study of people and their pets who participate in such performances.  And, yes, there’s a healthy dose of cute cat action.

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Learning to See: The World of Insects

One thing that tends to endear viewers to a film is something that has been described as a “personal” style of filmmaking.  When the director finds something that they have a deep personal connection with and they present it to us in an authentic, unpretentious way, that is usually something to be commended.  Unfortunately, it is also possible to become too personal, giving up certain aesthetic qualities in favour of familiarity.  When that happens, the…

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Shiners

By: Jessica Goddard An intercontinental survey of the state of the archaic shoe shining profession, Stacey Tenenbaum’s Shiners is endearing in its graceful simplicity and ability to shine a spotlight on truly memorable, delightful characters.  Tenenbaum has a genuine gift for seeking out excellent subjects – from the quirky and lovable, to the inspiring and pleasantly puzzling.  All have in common a philosophical attitude towards the work of shoe shining;  whether they consider it a bona…

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Poop Talk

Poop Talk is kind of pointless.  It’s not entirely useless, but did we really need a dookie digest starring comedians cracking wise about what they’ve snapped off?  It’s quite literally “shits and giggles”.

Reviews

Charles Manson: The Final Words

By: Jessica Goddard One of last year’s most eagerly-anticipated headlines – the death of Charles Manson – makes this documentary on the notoriously fascinating subject all the more topical.  Narrated by Rob Zombie, Charles Manson: The Final Words uses disturbing files from the original murder investigation, interviews with members of Manson’s cult, and exclusive audio from phone conversations with the aged Manson himself while he was still alive and serving his life sentence at California State…