HOT DOCS 2014: Reviews Set 2

April 26, 2014 | By

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The latest set of Hot Docs 2014 reviews span another eclectic mix of subjects, some exceeding personal expectations, others going in slightly different directions than expected.

By my count there have been at least 5 docs on George A. Romero’s zombies films – Cinemall (2012), Another One for the Fire: The Legacy of NOTLD (2008), Autopsy of the Dead (2009), NOTLD: 25th Anniversary Documentary(1993), and Document of the Dead (1985) – which isn’t a bad thing, but the emergence of Doc of the Dead (2014) does beg the question: What more can be said of the brain-munching, walking dead? The answer: a fair bit, especially if the subject isn’t zombies in movies, but in pop culture,and more. Instead of retreading the familiar, director Alexandre O. Philippe keeps branching off towards different expressions of zombies love, some of which are ridiculously funny.

Early into its original narrative of the internet slowly making its way to the remote Bhutan village of an 8 year old boy, Happiness (2013) takes a slight turn and loses a bit of steam as director Thomas Balmès refocuses his lens on a new storyline, but the views of the mountain region are breathtaking, and certainly the boy’s family is remarkable for maintaining steady stoicism in the midst of tough challenges.

The image of former Soviet bigwig Nikita Khrushchev is of the shoe-stomping ‘We will bury you’ figure in old newsreels from the Cold War era, and although director Tim Toidze doesn’t attempt to sanitize the Soviet regime and its totalitarian tactics designed to keep its population behind iron borders, in Khrushchev Does America (2013), he does show Khrushchev to be more than an icon: savvy politician, profane, and sharp, plus you too will be able to spell “Khrushchev” without error by the end of the hour-long doc. Years ago I read a biography of the leader by his son, and the doc supports the view that Khrushchev wasn’t a demon but a sly leader who managed to work the system and attempt some positive actions before he was ousted, politically neutered, and like many former leaders, ignored by the succeeding regime.

Lastly, not unlike The Darkside (2013), Self(less) Portraits (2014) relies on on-camera confessions which might prove a little tough for some. However, it’s a great concept that should win over most viewers with its breadth of personal stories – some following similar topics of tragedies and tough trials – and director Danic Champoux employs some interesting, subtle experimental effects to ensure his film has more than a few moody beats.

 

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Coming next: more Nikkatsu Naughties, and another set of Hot Docs 2014 reviews, including Love Hotel.

 

 

Mark R. Hasan, Editor
KQEK.com

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Category: EDITOR'S BLOG

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