hotdocs 2011 part i

Yes, folks, it’s that time of year when a transit blogger burrows into dark theatres to watch documentaries for eleven days.  Our regular programming will resume in due course.

This year’s hotdocs has 199 films and the most dedicated won’t see even half of them.  Me?  I manage two or three a day with the odd foray to other events such as concerts and even the occasional political/transit meeting.  Hard to break old habits.

This post covers days 1-3 of hotdocs and includes reviews of:

  • POM Wonderful Presents:  The Greatest Movie Ever Sold ***
  • A Hard Name ***
  • How to Make a Book with Steidl **½
  • That’s Life ***
  • Our Persian Rug ***
  • Mighty Jerome ***½
  • Battle for Brooklyn ****
  • The National Parks Project *½

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TIFF 2010 Part I

Yes, it’s that time of the year again, when Steve disappeared into many theatres for 10 days and the unwary thought they could get away with transit announcements while he’s wasn’t looking.

Reviewed here:

  • Cirkus Columbia
  • Shi (Poetry)
  • The King’s Speech
  • How To Build Your Own Country
  • Dhobi Ghat (Mumbai Diaries)
  • The Conspirator
  • Beginners
  • Tabloid

In each review, the film title is linked to the corresponding page on the TIFF site which contains credits, stills and, in some cases, trailers.  Where titles are shown in their original language, note that the English version is the one assigned by the production, not necessarily a literal translation.  The reviews appear in the order that I saw the films.

My rankings are:

  • ***** Personal favourite
  • **** Excellent
  • *** Good
  • ** Worth One Viewing
  • * Don’t Bother

Due to circumstances, these articles have sat half-finished for the past few weeks, and work on them will be further interrupted by a busy agenda at a recent TTC meeting.  In any event, I hope to finish them before (Canadian) Thanksgiving.

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hotdocs 2010 Part I

Yes, readers, it’s that time of the year again when this site veers away from transit (although not completely) and turns to film reviews.

The annual hotdocs festival ran from April 29 to May 9.  Despite competition from concerts, a rather hectic transit/political environment and a birthday party (not mine), I managed to stay in festival mode most of the time.   My reviews will appear over the coming week.

Reviewed here:

  • The Oath
  • Dish: Women, Waitressing & the Art of Service
  • And Everything Is Going Fine
  • Osadné
  • Flawed
  • Small Wonders
  • Matthew Remembered
  • The Player
  • Farewell

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On The Rocket: A Review

Last night, CP24 premiered a new show featuring TTC Chair Adam Giambrone talking about the transit system and fielding calls/texts/emails from viewers.  Giambrone’s guest for the evening was Mitch Stambler, TTC’s Manager of Service Planning.

Their show, broadcast live from a streetcar looping via Queen, Spadina, College/Carlton and Parliament, touched on many issues but none of them deeply.

Right off the top, CP24’s Anne Rohmer asked about the pending fare increase.  Giambrone replied that fares had to go up to maintain and improve service, but that he was concerned about the proposed jump in Metropass pricing, the fare that affects the majority of adult rides taken on the system.  By now, they had reached Rohmer’s stop, and the rest of the evening was the Adam & Mitch Show.

A brief cutaway took us to Roncesvalles Division’s CIS control room, the location where all streetcar routes are managed.  I was amused by a comment about how they short turn cars to ensure regular service on the trips back into town.  This is precisely the sort of problem raised by a later caller, but the irony of that focus on the central part of lines was lost on all but the alert viewers.  The quick tour also stopped off at Harvey Shops where the CLRV overhaul is in progress. 

CP24 did their usual bit of playing over-the-top music for this segment.  It may be their style, but it got in the way.

The first question from a caller concerned accessibility.  This set the pattern for much of what would follow — an answer that really didn’t fully address the question.  After a commercial break, the show returned to a different topic, but picked up on accessibility again eventually.  We heard too much about how complicated it all is and not enough about when things would actually happen (not to mention the effect of recent capital budget cuts on the TTC’s plans). Continue reading

TIFF 2009: Part I

The Toronto International Film Festival (aka TIFF) is over for 2009, but as usual I am left with the task of writing the long form of my reviews.  Those of you who want transit stuff can just ignore this sequence of posts, and of course there have already been capsule reviews in another article here.

In theory, now that I am retired, I should actually be able to finish these in short order, but it’s amazing how the schedule of transit events and other cultural activities can fill up my time.

This post contains a few general observations plus two guest reviews from my cousin whose TIFF schedule partly overlapped my own.

Included here:

  • Introductions
  • A Conversation with Michael Caine
  • Mao’s Last Dancer

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TIFF 2009

This year I will maintain a list of films I have seen with ratings and brief descriptions, and will add to this on a daily basis including pointers to items of special note.  Full reviews will appear as I have time to write them out from my notes, mainly after the festival ends.  The titles below are hotlinked to the TIFF website.

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