May 3, 2012 More Hotdocs! We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists, Black Block, Tchoupitoulis

Posted in Cultural Mining, documentary, Italy, Music, New Orleans, Uncategorized, US by on May 9, 2012

Hi, this is Daniel Garber at the Movies, for and CIUT 89.5 FM, looking at high-brow and low-brow movies, indie, cult, foreign, festival, genre and mainstream movies, helping you see movies with good taste, movies that taste good, and how to tell the difference.

Toronto is right in the middle of spring festival season. Starting today it’s TJFF – the Toronto Jewish Film Festival – which runs through next weekend, screening movies both downtown and north of Toronto. There are cool documentaries like Cabaret Berlin the Wild scene, and A People Uncounted about the genocide of Roma and Sinta people; comedies like the funny and quirky French Let My People Go; and coming-of-age dramas like “My Australia”. And there’s also a unique sidebar series this year called ‘The Sound of Movies” that’s screening classic films like Planet of the Apes, Coppola’s The Conversation, and the seldom seen indie flick “Something Wild” specifically highlighting their musical scores, by composers like Aaron Copeland, and Lalo Schiffrin. And free rush tickets are available for students, right before all the screenings. So check it out (

And Hotdocs, Toronto’s documentary film festival is still going strong, with almost all titles showing again this weekend. Here are some documentaries you might not have heard about.

We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists

Dir: Brian Knappenberger

Who are the web-based activists group Anonymous? Well, they’re not exactly a “group”. This excellent documentary clears up the oft-repeated mainstream media misconceptions using uncensored interviews with some of its members and other online pundits.

It all started with the inventive and disgusting posters on the site 4chan — those kind souls who gave us lolcats and other online memes and detritus. Whenever they put up their chat comments without a nickname they were automatically labeled “anonymous”. But after years of competitive trolling, they encountered the Scientologists who were using their power to silence online criticism.

But no one tells a troll-hacker to shut up, so the apolitical peeps on 4chan fought back and the “capital A” Anonymous was born. They were represented online using the Guy Fawkes masks from the comic book and movie V is for Vendetta. Soon, diverse hackers across the globe were lending their anonymous power to international political activism, shutting down sites like paypal, who were trying to isolate and silence Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Along with the suave and brilliant Lulzsec, they’ve become a third, major player in the online political sphere, formerly completely controlled by vast government and corporate interests. This is a great movie.

(One thing puzzled me — the filmmaker chooses to include images of bandana-ed Black Block activists alongside the Anonymous masked protesters as if they were one and the same.)

Who are the Black Block? Where did they come from? Are they ust a bunch of violent kids breaking windows? Another movie…

Black Block

Dir: Carlo A. Bachschmidt

…talks about one such group and what happened to them.

In 2001, political, environmental and other activists from across Europe gathered for what they thought would be peaceful protests and marches at the 2001 Genoa G8 conference. That didn’t happen. The police reacted in an unexpectedly violent way, shooting protester Carlo Giuliani point blank in the face, killing him instantly.

The police left a trail of blood across the city. The marchers ran in fear, disbanded and bunked in an empty building – the Diaz School. This filmmaker got the protesters – from Germany, Spain, Holland, France and the UK – who were there to give their account of what happened. And it’s really shocking and upsetting to hear. The police broke in, dragged sleeping women down hallways by their hair, punched, kicked, bludgeoned and beat the kids nearly to death, threw them down staircases, stripped them naked… the riot police even formed a line to spit on them.

This movie uses period news footage, and videos by the protesters to show what happened to them. It’s very shocking.This was possibly the worst police violence directed at protesters in contemporary European history.

I was expecting a normal documentary. It was not. This one is a testimonial history told plainly, unembellished, by the protesters themselves. And it’s devastating.

So, isn’t it time for something… nice?


Dir: Bill & Turner Ross

… follows three young brothers for the night in New Orleans. They walk past strip bars and gay bars, hiphop bars and jazz bars, blues singers and street performers. With their dog Buttercup they explore the lanes and alleys, wide-eyed, taking it all in, talking abut their dreams. But they miss the last ferry back to Algiers, so they’re there for the night. Walking through the empty city. The camera stays back, occasionally taking detours into the places the kids can’t go. With a non-stop, seamless  blend of music and singing, flutes and jazz, bass and drums meld from one song to the next, all shot in an early-70’s style of unbelievable coolness. The whole movie feels like an early Sesame Street episode, without muppets: kids living in a safe, adventurous unvarnished urban space. They talk about their wishes, feelings and dreams as they wander in and out of abandoned boats and empty alleys. It’s all totally contemporary but somehow nostalgic. I love this low-key but exciting movie and want to see and listen to it and experience it again and again. Tchoupitoulas!

All the movies I mentioned — Tchoupitoulas, Black Block and We Are Legion: the Story of the Hacktivists — are all playing at Hotdocs through the weekend.

This is Daniel Garber at the Movies each Friday morning on CIUT 89.5 FM, and on my web site

October 28, 2011. Hallowe’en! Films Reviewed: Paranormal Activity 3, Rabies, Anonymous PLUS Guillermo del Toro’s Devil’s Backbone & Cronos, NFB, Face-Off 40th Anniversary re-release, and Stop Concussions!

Posted in Canada, Darkness, Drama, Dreams, Hockey, Horror, Israel, Mexico, Shakespeare, UK, Uncategorized, US, violence by on October 30, 2011

Hi, this is Daniel Garber at the Movies, for and CIUT 89.5 FM, looking at high-brow and low-brow movies, indie, cult, foreign, festival, genre and mainstream movies, helping you see movies with good taste, movies that taste good, and how to tell the difference

I’m going to dive right with some movies to watch this Hallowe’en weekend ’cause there’s lots to cover.

Now, I know about the weird phenomenon of Holiday Creep (where one day celebrations get stretched into month-and-a-half long marketing seasons) and that hallowe’en has been totally commercialized and stolen from kids so the grown-ups can have a good time, but I’m not complaining. We get to act like idiots, eat poorly, imbibe substances in excess, and disguise our identities. Anonymity rules the day. So get ready to stuff your faces with peanut-free snacks, put on your zombie blood and stripper outfits, and swarm out, en masse, to some hallowe’en movies. Go with someone who can handle a nails-in-the-palm hand squeeze. Because they’re scary. This week I’m talking about a ghost story caught on tape, a horror story in the woods of Israel, and a historical drama about anonymity and disguise. Plus some movie classics.

Paranormal Activity 3

Dir: Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman

Julie, her two kids, and her boyfriend Dennis have moved into a new suburban, California home. Dennis likes video cameras – he works as a wedding photographer, so he’s always in a room editing VHS tapes. But when they try to film a provate sex tape, something scary appears on the footage. And her youngest daughter Kristie Rey’s imaginary friend Toby… might not be imaginary. So Dennis sets up cameras around the house to try to catch some paranormal activity on tape. But he might uncover some stuff he shouldn’t mess with.

This is the third of the Paranormal seres, and it’s pretty scary, with little surprises, shocks, and lots of red herrings. The idea is, the two little girls will grow up to be the young women of the first two pictures. And that this whole movie is just excerpts of found footage from a box of old 1988 VHS tapes. So it jumps around, sometimes even in mid sentence, to the next tape, or fast forwards in the middle of scene, like we’re watching the private videos but someone else holds the remote control. Lots of things are never explained they’re just there and they’re scary. But, strangely enough, it’s completely understandable, even though it’s all over the place, like watching youtube. It’s the building tension that’s great, and wondering what’s happening just off camera that you can hear but not see. The scenes shot by a camera taped to a slow moving oscillating fan, that pans left and right, left and right, are really good and scary. If you want to have nightmares on Hallowe’en, this is the one to see.


Wri/Dir: Aharon Keshales, Navot Papushado

Two young men in tennis shorts clothes and two women in track suit tops and white skirts drive down some out-of-the-way road as they look for tennis courts. They meet up with a guy named Ofer – after hitting him with their SUV — who is trying to rescue his sister who is trapped in a hole – possibly an animal trap –underground. Meanwhile, a middle- aged forest ranger is out inspecting the reserve when his German Shepard disappears. And a truly sinister killer in a green jumpsuit is doing various bad things.

So the three guys go out to search for the missing girl and the women stay behind to wait for the cops. But one of the cops is a skeeze-bag molester who insists on a full-body search, which puts the girls in a- uncomfortable position. From there, most of the characters end up splitting-up and and gradually either getting killed or doing the killing in various gruesome ways, involving things like bear traps, explosions, knives and rocks. Is it the woods, or the blood, or is it something in the air? I’m not saying. But they all seem driven to extreme behaviour. In between, everyone communicates using static-y walkie-takies, adding to the surreal feel.

The killings are mainly off-camera, but they spare no expense on blood splashes and missing body parts. Afterwards you get to see people so mushed-up they look like extras in a zombie movie… but no zombies here.

Rabies is a comic mystery/horror/ slasher movie, apparently the first of its kind ever made in Israel. Like most horror movies, it’s partly for the thrill and the shock and the tension, and partly just to show attractive, scantily dressed actors running into trouble on screen. It’s more gross than it is scary – but it’s shot in the daytime which gives it a good, creepy and eerie tone. Its great, all-star cast includes Henry David (Restoration) as Ofer, Ania Bukstein (Secrets) as the tough-assed tennis player Adi, and Ran Danker (Eyes Wide Open) as Mikey.


Dir: Roland Emmerich

This movie is about a rich nobleman, Edward De Vere of Oxford (Rhys Ifans) during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (played by Vanessa Redgrave and her daughter Joely Richardson as the old and young Queen) who, because of his status, must disguise his writing talent. He gets a commoner, playwright Ben Johnson (Sebastian Armesto), to anonymously mount the plays Edward writes. Johnson, in turn, passes them on to a talentless, greedy, bumbling and illiterate actor named… William Shakespeare!

Edward has to deal with an evil, manipulative father-and-son team of the puritanical and art-hating Cecil family who are the Queen’s closest advisors, and his biggest rivals. IN his youth, he has an affair with the so-called Virgin Queen and unknowingly leaves an illegitimate child. Will a pretender succeed Queen Elizabeth? Will he be able to continue his writing undetected? Or will the Globe theatre be closed down for it’s political plays? And will the nefarious Cecils or the good Edward emerge triumphant?

So it sounds like a good movie – there are a few good scenes, and I’ll admit, it kept me interested, more or less, for the whole movie. Enough not to walk out. Problem is, it’s just a hard movie to watch. It has flashbacks within flashbacks within flashbacks, with tons of similar-looking characters (the men all seem to have little black van-dyke moustaches) emerging during different time periods, with different actors playing the same role. Especially for a movie about Shakespeare, the lines are not particularly beautiful or clever – they often sounds like ESL; the plot’s muddled, the score is intrusive, the motivations are confusing, and it is one of the gaudiest movies I’ve ever seen: Every pole has a vine around it, every wall has distracting tapestries, every crowd scene has extras in tableaux from Breughel or Hals, every outdoor shot has to have a bit of mist or fog floating past, every chimney has CGI smoke… Give it a rest! It made me long for a scene without neck ruffles and flickering candles. You’ve heard of minimalism? This movie is maximalism.

Anonymous is historically revisionist. It says a common person like Shakeseare could never have been so great — only a member of the nobility. And women in power (even a Queen) were all helpless biddies who can be easily manipulated by men.

It does have some shockingly unexpected plot twists, but not enough. You should leave this movie to an anonymous fate.

The Devil’s Backbone and Cronos

Dir: Guillermo del Toro

In Devil’s Backbone, Carlos, is a kid placed in an old orphanage during the 1930’s Spanish civil war, who meets a strange boy in a closed off part of the building. He might be a ghost who holds the untold secrets of the place, and he caries a warning.

In Cronos, a kindly old antique dealer finds a mechanical gold bug that can bring eternal life, but at a frightening cost – the bug attaches itself to a person and makes him do bad things.

If you’ve seen Pan’s Labrynth, you’ll recognize a lot of the character types from these movie– the stern but beautiful middle-aged woman, the kindly grey-bearded older guy, the cruel but handsome fascist soldier, and the quiet, observant child – a boy in Backbone, a girl in Cronos. I loved both these movie, and they rarely play on the big screen. They’re on Sunday night as a double feature at the Bell Lightbox. Go to for details.

Also on, this weekend only, at the NFB is a free animated film show, showing New short cartoons. It’s on everyday this weekend. For more information go to

And coming next week, right after the release of the sequel to Goin’ Down the Road, is the first release on dvd of another Canadian classic, Face-Off, about a small-town player who joins the Maple Leafs. Tagline: He’s a Rookie, She’s a Rocker! It’s especially apropos now with all the controversy about hockey goons and head injuries. The message now is avoid head trauma at all costs. Speaking from personal experience, the last thing you want is to injure your brain in any way. So there’s a special charity screening of this movie next Thursday at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Go to for more info.

Paranormal Activity is playing now, Anonymous opens in Toronto today, check your local listings, and Rabies is playing one show only, on Sunday, October 30th at 8pm at Innis College. For more information go to

This is Daniel Garber at the Movies for CIUT 89.5 FM, and on my web site, Cultural

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