A Perfect Fake

   28 April 2005, early morning

A Perfect Fake was a creepy film to say the least (and the 6th documentary I watched this week). The movie starts of by examining the state of the art in computer animation, and asking questions as to how advances in computer graphics effect our understanding of each other, of beauty, and of art. It then moves on to examine the state of the art in computer animated pornography and virtual women. Oh yes. From there the movie transitions in to the bizarre world of life-like (sex) dolls. We are introduced to some unique characters throughout the film. There is a fellow that has on the order of 40 or so dolls (all of which he has fucked he tells the audience). There is a fellow who takes some amazing (albeit strange) photographs of the 4 dolls he owns, though he doesn’t seem to have a sexual relationship with any of them. I’m not sure if that is better or worse. There are interviews with doll makers, video game makers, and a professors, who all discuss the changing nature of our interaction with the virtual world (and by “our”, I suppose I mean “mens”). The movie was really quite good, though quite graphic at times. The section on computer animated pornography leaves nothing to the imagination.

Information on A Perfect Fake at the HotDocs web site

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Lifelike

   28 April 2005, early morning

Lifelike was the fifth film I watched at the HotDocs film festival, it screened with A Perfect Fake. I had no idea what the film was about, but went because I wanted to see Tyler before he jets off to Seattle. I was pleasantly surprised to find out the film was about the very strange world of taxidermy. The movie looks at the lives of several people; the first set of characters are taxidermists who are preparing for the premiere taxidermy competition in Canada; there is a woman who is having a taxidermist preserve her pet dog; finally there is a fellow who has the largest collection of stuffed animals in Canada. (His collection is very huge; it features: a Giraffe, an Elephant, a Tiger, a Lion, a Rhino, and a slew of other animals.) The movie was quite funny, and surprisingly interesting. It’s definitely one of the better movies I have watched this week.

Information about Lifelike at the HotDocs web site

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Little Jesus

   27 April 2005, late morning

Little Jesus was the third film I watched at this years HotDocs festival. I should have bought a pass. The movie is a look at how the lives of the filmmaker Andre-Line Beauparlant and her family were effected by the birth (and death) of her brother Sebastien. Her brother is born severely handicapped, which places a heavy strain on her family. Each member deals with this strain differently. It’s interesting to see how each person reacted to the boy; for some he is seen as the very embodiment of God, for others he is a sad figure that evokes their pity and nothing more. I thought her brother was the most interesting person in the film. Sebastien’s life and death seems to have had the biggest effect on him. The movie was quite good. If you are interested at all in religion, it’s pretty interesting at times.

Information about Little Jesus at the HotDocs web site

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Stroke (Am seidenen Faden)

   26 April 2005, early morning

Stroke was the second film I watched as part of the HotDocs festival. The movie was made by Katarina Peters as a sort of diary documenting her life during the aftermath of her young husband’s stroke. The subject matter is very moving, but Peters attempts to inject art-house really detract from the film. At times the movie seems very forced. When she brings the camera back to her husband, the film really picks up. He is what makes the film worth watching. His attitude after the stroke is amazing; he is filled with so much hope and a new love of life. My opinions on the film are mixed. It’s difficult to be critical of a film whose subject is so amazing. The film’s ending was really lovely.

Information about Stroke at the HotDocs web site.

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Operation: Dreamland

   26 April 2005, early morning

HotDocs, Toronto’s documentary film festival has been underway for a few days. I watched two films on Monday, the first being Operation: Dreamland. The movie focuses on the lives of a squad of US soldiers stationed in Fallujah, just before that city went to hell. Shima and Riadh, who I watched the film with, were unimpressed, but I thought it was done well. Though the film-makers were both against the war, the movie itself comes off as quite apolitical. The film’s focus is always on the soldiers themselves, and it doesn’t try to push any political message. The soldiers are an interesting group, some quite bright, others not so much. They surprise you: one soldier, a high-school drop out, argues quite sharply about why they are in Iraq in his opinion (to make money for people like Cheney). There is a lot of cynicism, but at the same time a lot of patriotism. One of the soldiers, very vocal in his criticism of the army, challenges anyone to call him unpatriotic (he is after all getting shot at each and everyday). And I guess that is what it takes to be in the army, a willingness to put aside introspection (at least till you’ve done what is required of you). Gunner Palace is the film about soldiers in Iraq that is getting all the hype at the moment, but I think Operation: Dreamland is well worth a look.

Information about Operation: Dreamland at the HotDocs web site.

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