By Anne Brodie
It’s straight out horrifying, revisiting D.C. January 6th in the HBO documentary Four Hours At The Capitol. Dan Reed’s cinema verite compilation of footage from news organisations, security and police body cameras and personal cameras of those who attacked the US seat of government is utterly dispiriting. Reed found a vast amount of additional footage from the men and women who trod into the Capitol with the intention of hanging Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi to “take back the country” when electoral votes were being counted. The attackers were sent there by Pres. Trump, they said, they were just doing their duty as patriots, but with such hatred and contempt, it verged on evil. Emotional, descriptive interviews outline just how despicable were their actions, things we didn’t hear in news reports. New interviews with the Capital police hero Eugene Goodman who led rioters away from key areas where staffers were hiding, accounts from lawmakers, Rep. Jim McGovern, Rep. Eric Swalwell, Rep. Ruben Gallego, Rep. Buddy Carter and Rep. Rosa DeLauro; senators Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin; D.C. Metropolitan police officers Mike Fanone, Jimmy Albright and Daniel Hodges; Commanders Ramey Kyle and Robert Glover; and Capitol police officers Winston Pingeon, Byron Evans and Keith Robishaw; protestors/rioters including County Griffin, Dominic Box, Nick Alvear, Eddie Block and Bobbie Pickles; journalists/videographers and Capitol staffers. Five people died that day and four policemen committed suicide in weeks following, and 140 officers were injured. There’s no filler here, just the facts from both sides of the divide. So far, 668 people have been charged since the insurrection. This is a moment no country should not forget.
Oscars alert! In writer-director Fran Kranz’ Mass, seasoned actors Ann Dowd, Martha Plimpton, Jason Isaacs and Reed Birney put in sublime performances, compressed and powerful, two hours of human interaction following a tragedy that will rip your heart ripped out. Two couples are to meet in a church space to grapple with an awful event and try to make sense of it so they can carry on. Gail (Plimpton) and Jay (Jason Isaacs) arrive first and nervously await Linda (Dowd) and Richard (Birney). They’re taken to a room where church staff has been careful to place a box of tissues inconspicuously, a little food and water. The parents get by staff that walking on eggshells and sit down to … what? We don’t know what happens to a person when their son shoots up his school or your son is shot at school by another student. These are their parents. It’s folly to make presumptions, as we watch them try to understand, agonise, cry out, pull back and grasp at straws to continue the hard conversation. In the hands of these great character actors, it feels real and startling and painful – human. In theatres Oct. 15.
Rachel Fleit’s devastating, award-winning documentary Introducing, Selma Blair on the former actor’s battle with multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that attacks the brain and spine, is painful to watch. Blair, who grew up on TV and in the movies before our eyes, is now, in her words “disabled”, she moves with a cane and scooter, often can’t form words, and suffers constant exhaustion. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Blair worries for her son Arthur but has help from her sister and loyal friends, Arthur’s father, another ex who helped her through the ordeal of a stem cell transplant and heavy chemo, and a loving manager and staff. She believed the procedure would restore the person she was, but her doctor withheld information so the struggle isn’t over. Some people would be utterly levelled, but Blair’s wit, intellect and abiding sense of humour help her – and us – deal. Her personality shines through. She wants to dedicate herself to being a better person and helping others. An excellent and honest reflection of what it is to be a person as special as Blair. On discovery+ which launches in Canada Oct 19.
Fun idea, poor execution. The Grand Duke Of Corsica, starring Timothy Spall, Peter Stormare and Alicia Agneson finds a celebrity, personality-challenged architect whose fun name is Alfred Rott (Spall) beginning a commission for a batty billionaire, the fake Grand Duke of Corsica, (Stormare) in Malta where the sun constantly glares. You know that saying about Mad Dogs and Englishmen. Well, Rott’s not doing well; he’s in a perpetual foul temper and a deadly pandemic is sweeping the island. Cut to 1221 and a monk is fulfilling his passion and duty to God walking to a holy place as a sacrifice for others’ sake, kissing lepers on the lips for God. He will be known as St. Francis of Assissi. Back to now, as Rott attends a gobsmackingly ritzy private party; a woman has been assigned to sleep with him. He rejects her but the two become chummy and engage in philosophical banter. Guests slap themselves all night as mosquitoes descend carrying the virus. An actor tells Rott he’s paying Francis of Assissi in a local theatre production. All fascinating ideas, tied together, from a creative mind, but it’s glib self-consciousness and lack of characters to love is problematic. Written and directed by Daniel Graham and on TVOD Oct 15.
Amazon Prime has the 2013 biopic Colors Of Heaven (a.k.a. A Millon Colors) which won two South African Academy Awards, the true story of an unlikely friendship during apartheid. Wandile Molebatsi is Muntu Ndebele and Jason Hartman plays his best friend, a white man named Norman Knox; starred in a movie together as boys and it was a huge hit, and they’re recognised still as grown men. Ndebele’sa troubles began when during the 1975 Soweto Student Uprising, he was separated from Sabele, the woman he loves. Sadly, she is sold to a faraway Chief. He endures pain and oppression as a Black man living under occupation by a Dutch racist government, police force and society. He falls on hard times and becomes a thief and begins this charming, violent, defeating and inspiring picaresque journey. Interesting insights into international politics that shaped the country, Communist Cubans training freedom fighters, the Russian influence, economic and social upheaval and police brutality against Blacks. It’s remarkable that Ndebele survived, so often was he beaten and tortured and he overcame drug addiction thanks to Norman. His optimism keeps him going, and that dream of returning to Sabele.
Sex, Love & Goop on Netflix Oct. 21, from Executive Producer, Gwyneth Paltrow takes another walk on the wild side to “explore what intimacy is … in a relationship: to express your deepest fears and desires and to accept those of your partners.” Its called a “toolkit for finding more pleasure and connection in our romantic lives” and her products are available to buy through Goop. Couples in 6 episodes are schooled by Michaela Boehm – goop’s Go-To Expert in Intimacy, Relationships and Sexuality, and its trauma therapy, polyvagal theory and movement for nervous system regulation. Jaiya, a Sexological Bodyworker and Founder of The Erotic Blueprint Types – Energetic, Sensual, Sexual, Kinky and Shapeshifter. Amina Peterson, a Tantra and ‘Sacred Intimacy’ Coach says sex can be optimized at any age. Darshana Avila, an Erotic Wholeness Coach optimises body consciousness with a trauma-informed, nature-based, justice-oriented approach. Katarina ‘Kato’ Wittich a Family Constellations Facilitator says all unconsciously inherit family patterns that may have been needed for the survival of the family in the past, but now block us as individuals from living full lives. Instead, people might want to follow Selma Blair and invest in being a better person.
The 22nd annual imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival is underway in Toronto and across the country! The second pandemic hybrid edition allows viewers to watch the films, panels and events from anywhere there is internet access. It’s the world’s largest provider of indigenous content and a showcase of the talent and passion that drives filmmakers to tell their stories. 145 works, 51 indigenous nations and 26 languages are represented, a cornucopia and a celebration. Danis Goulet’s acclaimed thriller Night Raiders opens the festival on Tuesday with a Q&A and The Closing Night Gala at TIFF Bell Lightbox is Iwianch, el Diablo Venado (Iwianch, the Devil Deer) by José Cardoso (Achuar/Shuar). Titles include Portraits From A Fire by Trevor Mack (Tŝilhqot’in /Chilcotin), Akornatsinniittut – Kiinappalik (Among Us – The Masked Man) by Greenland’s Marc Fussing Rosbach (Inuk), Mo’ui Faingata’a (Brutal Lives), English/Tongan language drama, and Warrior Spirit by Landon Dyksterhouse (Navajo), about the first Native American UFC champion Nicco Montano. On Oct. 20, imagineNATIVE offers screenings at select Cineplex Theatres in Halifax, Montréal, Winnipeg, and Vancouver. For more information please visit https://imaginenative.org/
There’s an East Coast celebration of food and film happening in Wolfville, to catch online across Canada if you’re not in Nova Scotia. The hybrid Devour! The Food Film Festival runs Oct. 19-24, six days, 47 events, screenings, cooking workshops, stuffing your face and opportunities to watch themed films. The fest will open up discussion on aspects of food that are so important now – farming, sustainability and of course, food trends. This year’s spotlight shines on Global Indigenous Cinema and Cuisine. Some appetisers:
Hell or Clean Water is a Canadian doc about Shawn Bath, a diver in Newfoundland and Labrador whose Clean Harbours Initiative aims to protect the land and sea by cleaning up garbage on the ocean floor. T
Fries! The Movie, from Anthony Bourdain’s production company, explores three Michelin kitchens in Paris, carts of Hong Kong, and more to find the perfect fry. Canada’s own Malcolm Gladwell and Chrissy Teigen take an irreverent and learned approach to the humble and globally adored potato.
NIcholas Cage’s mighty performance as a woodsman and truffle hunter in Pig is a gamechanger. His character’s a former celebrity chef now living in isolation in the Oregon bush with his trusty truffle pig. Pig’s stolen and Cage sets out to find her, at any cost even if it means re-entering Portland. Much happens in this rich heartbreaker, but at its heart Pig is a love story, and Cage is so good.
Woody Harrelson’s Kiss the Ground teaches us through the actor’s passion, saving the planet. Regenerating the world’s soils can stabilize Earth’s climate, restore lost ecosystems, and create abundant food supplies by drawing down atmospheric carbon, that soil is the missing piece of the climate puzzle.
The Secret Path is a powerful animated adaptation of the late Gord Downie’s album and Jeff Lemire’s graphic novel on the life and tragic death of indigenous residential school victim Chanie Wenjack.
The fest closes with Bretten Hannam’s Wildhood in English and Mi’kmaw, a Two-Spirit road trip, coming-of-age gem about three indigenous boys and a dog filmed along the Bay of Fundy. LInk runs away with Travis his younger brother when he learns their mother could still be alive, beginning a journey that will change everything. They meet Pasmay, the two older boys share an attraction, and he joins their quest. Michael Greyeyes appears as a kind stranger who helps when they’re without a car, food or money.
Speaking of food, the absolutely yummy Great Canadian Baking Show, returns to the CBC and CBC Gem on Oct 17 for its fifth season, with returning hosts, the charming and funny Ann Pornel and Alan Shane Lewis. Judges Bruno Feldeisen and Kyla Kennaley welcome a new batch of ten amateur bakers. Oh, yeah, cool autumn Sunday nights, watching folks make seductive baked goods in the nostalgically summery tent at the Canadian Film Centre, and rooting for your favourite fondant former… Bliss! Be warned that first up are the sexiest, most mouth-watering pound cakes you’ve ever seen. Butter. Sugar. Eggs. Flour, writ large. Check out my interview with Ann and Alan.