Author Archives: Jay

April 30

Hot Docs 2017: Ask The Sexpert

When Dr. Mahinder Watsa was starting out his career as a doctor, he wrote a medical column in the back of a ladies’ journal. At the time, young women were dying from back-alley abortions while others committed suicide, unwilling to let their prospective husbands know they were not virgins (due to sexual abuse). Dr. Watsa […]

April 30

Hot Docs 2017: Tokyo Idols

Sad-sack middle-aged men in Japan are flocking to ‘pop’ concerts performed by underage girls. These artist are called Idols, they perform in ‘girl groups,’ and to date there about 10,000 of them. They are so intoxicating that one 43-year-old man has blown his life’s savings on this “religion” that saved him from depression. They’re providing […]

April 27

Hot Docs 2017: Sunday Beauty Queen

Hong Kong, like many cities around the world, benefits from the help of underpaid Filipino workers. A local domestic worker would cost $8 an hour, but a Filipina in the same role works round the clock, 6 days a week, for just $500 a month. There are strict rules for these poor workers, who aren’t […]

April 25

Hot Docs 2017: Shiners

Shoe shiners: at the airport, a busy subway station, a kiosk in your local mall, even on the street corner. There they are, every day, providing a service to the people walking by. Yet this humble profession is often overlooked. Who goes into shoe shining, and why? Director Stacey Tenenbaum gives us the answers by putting […]

April 24

Hot Docs 2017: Do Donkeys Act?

Did you ever have existential questions about donkeys? No? Well, move on. Or not. The truth is, you haven’t seen anything like Do Donkeys Act? It’s a documentary about donkeys, made reputedly by humans (Ashley Sabin and David Redmon), for the enjoyment of – donkeys? There are no talking head interviews in the film, very […]

December 02

Things To Come

Nathalie (Isabelle Huppert) is a philosophy teacher who takes pleasure in thinking and inner life. She’s a recent empty-nester with a rocky marriage and a demanding mother. If she were to suddenly be shed of all those ‘obligations,’ would it be tragic or frankly freeing? The very plot of this movie, languid as it is, […]

December 01

Don’t Blink – Robert Frank

When Robert Frank put out a book of his photographs called The Americans in 1958, it was panned by critics. They called him an angry, joyless, outsider. Today that same series of photographs is considered before its time, influential, seminal. The photos haven’t changed at all, nor the man taking them. It is only that the […]

November 30

Miss Sharon Jones!

When a film includes punctuation in its title, it’s a signal that you should pay attention. The exclamation adorning Miss Sharon Jones is no anomaly. The woman is a phenom worthy of exclamation. Often called the female James Brown, you’ll notice the similarities not just in the soulful tone of her voice, but in her […]

November 28

The Seventh Fire

Rob Brown takes a moment to consider his beloved Ojibwe community, and pronounces its new tradition: booze and bingo. Director Jack Pettibone Riccobono gives us plenty of cut-away shots of the things that used to feature strongly in the aboriginal culture: water, trees, and sky, but those days are gone. Today Brown’s remote Minnesotan reserve is […]

November 10

Reel Asian 2016: Mixed Match

If you are facing a life-threatening disease, finding a bone marrow match for donation may be life-saving, even a cure, but as we all know, people languish on lists waiting for matches and sometimes die before they ever find one. For people of mixed race, finding that match is so much harder, akin to finding […]

October 26

Cinéfranco 2016: Made in France

It starts out reasonably enough: we hear a lecture against pornography. But the words are angry, vehement, and even if we agree with the content, you can’t help but worry about the tone. Then it continues: the Internet is evil too. And so is “fraternization” – males and females hanging out together…merely looking at each […]

October 23

ImagineNATIVE 2016: Dig It If You Can

This film by Kyle Bell serves as an introductory piece to Native American artist, Steven Paul Judd. Judd is a mostly self-taught man, whether it be film, Photoshop, even writing for television. The need to create drives him but his Native (Kiowa-Choctaw) ancestry is what inspires him. Growing up on a reservation, Judd had limited exposure to […]

October 19

ImagineNATIVE 2016: God’s Acre

You hear the squelching of his boots before you register much else. An older Aboriginal man is paying his respects at a rustic grave. The mud takes hold of his boots, lets go only reluctantly. He plods back to his humble shack, and sets to work counting stores. His traps are empty. Nothing grows. A way […]

October 18

ImagineNATIVE 2016: Born to Dance

The ImagineNATIVE Film & Media Arts Festival celebrates Canadian and international Indigenous filmmakers and artistic expressions. Tammy Davis is the filmmaker in question today. Of Maori descent, he identifies with Ngati Rangi and Atihaunui a Paparangi. The Maoris are the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand. They have a rich mythology, a knack for horticulture, […]

September 14

TIFF 2016: In the Blood

Rasmus Heisterberg is perhaps most well known to date for having written the screenplay for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but this Dane’s putting himself on the map as a writer-director with In the Blood (I Blodet). In the Blood is about a defining time in a young man’s life. It’s summer in Copenhagen […]

June 24

Leslie Caron: The Reluctant Star

Ms. Caron is the warm kind of storyteller that makes you fall under her spell. She on her sofa, you on yours, a pot of tea (and by tea I mean wine) between you, and you’ve got a lovely way to spend an hour catching up with an old friend. Leslie Caron was a 17-year-old […]

June 01

Inside Out 2016: I Love You Both

Krystal and Donny are super twins and super friends. They live together, they hang out together, and they even date the same guy. Wait – what? Only in 2016? Even in 2016? Somehow they’ve met this supercool dude named Andy (Lucas Neff), and he’s everything either of them could hope for. He’s interesting and charming. […]

May 30

Inside Out 2016: Strike A Pose

In 1990, an ad went out for FIERCE male dancers; 7 men were picked from obscurity and within months were surfing the zenith of fame alongside Madonna in her Blonde Ambition tour and Truth or Dare documentary. All but one were gay, and Madonna, having recently lost friends to AIDS, was outspoken about gay rights […]

May 29

Inside Out 2016: Jonathan

This German film by writer-director Piotr Lewandowski is beautifully shot with lush cinematography; you won’t believe it’s his first feature. The theme is surprisingly mature as well. Jonathan (Jannis Niewöhner) is stuck at home working on the farm and caring for his dying father (André Hennicke). The relationship is strained. There are whiffs of resentment. […]

May 25

Inside Out 2016: Suicide Kale

Moral dilemma: one couple hosts another for a pleasant, mostly-vegan dinner party, and a little light snooping on the part of the guests turns up a suicide note. What to do, what to do? Obviously the visitors, Penn (Lindsay Hicks) and Jasmine (Brittani Nichols), themselves a newish couple, are concerned for their friends, who up […]