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#HotDocs14: Seventh Batch of Reviews

April 30, 2014

By John Corrado

Hot Docs Poster

As we are nearly a week into the documentary film festival, welcome to my seventh batch of Hot Docs capsule reviews.

Yesterday I published reviews of The Case Against 8, Mad As Hell, Art and Craft and Advanced Style.  Here are my thoughts on four more films, including three good ones that focus on relationships and are playing as part of the aptly titled Love, Factually program.

Please come back tomorrow and over the next few days for a few more sets of capsule reviews, and you can follow along on Twitter for thoughts on what I’ve been seeing.  As always, you can get more information on Hot Docs and purchase tickets right here.  Enjoy!

112 Weddings: Documentarian Doug Block has filmed over a hundred weddings, leaving every one of them wondering what became of the couples after their big day.  Nine of their stories are told in 112 Weddings, through interviews that are sometimes sweet and other times quite sad.  Among the most interesting and also heartbreaking stories is that of David Bromberg, an independent screenwriter with bipolar who speaks candidly about his life in a way that makes him a great subject.  At 92 minutes, the film sometimes feels a touch unfocused in the narrative structure of these interviews.  But there are some great scenes here, along with a few moments of genuine wisdom about why some marriages last and others end in pain.  We can tell that Doug Block has great affection for all of the couples he has filmed, and 112 Weddings is an often engaging and at times heartbreaking experience.

Friday, April 25th – 7:00 PM @ Isabel Bader Theatre
Saturday, April 26th – 11:00 AM @ Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
Tuesday, April 29th – 1:30 PM @ Isabel Bader Theatre

The Immortalists: Biologists Aubrey de Grey and Bill Andrews are both working towards the same goal of trying to reverse the aging process, and therefore achieve immortality.  The only problem is that their ideas on how to actually achieve this medical breakthrough sometimes conflict, and they both seem able to overlook the moral and environmental concerns that an immortal population could eventually pose.  Although this is all fascinating stuff to think about, the science presented in The Immortalists doesn’t go that deep, more focusing on the quirky personalities themselves.  But the film sometimes still intrigues as a character study, and serves as a fine jumping off point to an interesting conversation.

Sunday, April 27th – 7:00 PM @ Hart House Theatre
Tuesday, April 29th – 3:30 PM @ ROM Theatre
Friday, May 2nd – 9:30 PM @ Fox Theatre
Sunday, May 4th – 9:30 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

Meet the Patels: Ravi Patel is approaching thirty and facing pressure to find a wife, a process that is complicated by living in a family where Patels marry Patels, and nobody breaks away from their Indian culture.  His more traditional parents are more than happy to play matchmaker, but this comes at the cost of breaking up with his American girlfriend Audrey, whom he has kept secret from them.  Directed by Geeta Patel, who follows her brother around to different blind dates and even a matrimonial convention exclusively for people with the last name, they use the process to explore themes of family and trying to find love through arranged marriage.  Their story is aided by scenes of animated narration, with plenty of culturally appropriate humour and fun plays on romantic comedies along the way.  What follows is a charming, heartwarming and utterly delightful film that left me smiling, and I couldn’t think of a higher recommendation than that.

Sunday, April 27th – 9:30 PM @ Royal Cinema
Tuesday, April 29th – 11:00 AM @ Isabel Bader Theatre
Thursday, May 1st – 9:30 PM @ Isabel Bader Theatre

Sleepless in New York: Helen Fisher is an anthropologist who is fascinated by human relationships, determined to prove that falling in love is an evolutionary trait as powerful as any addiction, and that breaking up can hurt just as much as a toothache.  Director Christian Frei uses her research to connect the stories of three different people in New York.  Alley has just been dumped by her boyfriend of several years, Michael is no longer receiving contact from his girlfriend, and Rosey is still thinking about a stranger who she kissed and spent the day with months earlier.  Their stories are relatable in the ways that they yearn to feel these connections all over again, and Sleepless in New York is a touching portrait of the moments when we feel hopelessly alone, and an interesting look at the brain chemistry that accompanies these feelings.

Wednesday, April 30th – 9:30 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 1
Thursday, May 1st – 9:30 PM @ Hart House Theatre
Sunday, May 4th – 1:30 PM @ TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

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