Sunday, 20 April 2008

Hot Docs Diary Day 3

My day at the movies started with Anna Magnani, Anthony Quinn and Tony Franciosa in Wild is the Wind at Cinematheque Ontario. "I love you!.. I keel you!" Director, George Cukor really knew how to work a melodrama!

After la Magnani, it was off to the ROM to see Victoire Terminus (dir. Renaud Barret and Florent de la Tullaye), a documentary about female boxers in Kinshasa set against the backdrop of the 2006 elections in the Congo. The film was very good at depicting the deplorable social and economic conditions of the city, and in explaining why the women choose to box rather than become prostitutes. The women are fascinating to watch and listen to as is their trainer and promoter (a civil servant who has not been paid in months!). There trainer is a man inspired by Muhammad Ali, and the women train in the same stadium where Ali knocked out Foreman in 1974. On the whole, though, the film could have been tightened up by dropping a few scenes at the beginning of the film. Bad editing means slow spots in the film and this leads to boredom. This 80 minute film should have been cut to fit into a 1-hour time slot. Still, the spirit of the boxers, and the perseverance of the Congolese people is what makes this film worthy of a first glance.

My next screening was also at the ROM. Song Sung Blue (dir. Greg Kohs) is the story of Michael and Claire Santini a.k.a "Lightening and Thunder". Micheal is a Neil Diamond impersonator while his wife sings Patsy Cline songs. I laughed a lot at this movie, mainly because Michael Santini is a very funny man, and because their Jerry Springer life is like looking at a traffic accident when you really don't want to. I liked parts of this film very much: you can't deny the love the couple share (in sickness and in health), or their dedication to their profession as performers, but I found some scenes repetitive, the family at times annoying and I especially hated the sentimentality of the last sequence. I had never heard of Lightening and Thunder before seeing this film (they are huge in Milwaukee) and had no idea that they had sung a Neil Diamond cover with Eddie Vedder at one of the largest summer festivals in the world. I'm happy for the introduction, but the film, as a whole, doesn't quite work for me.

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