Community creator Dan Harmon is one of those dangerous talents that mama always warned you about. He’s clearly a funny man and maybe even a bit of a genius. However, he’s also incredibly self-destructive in ways that doesn’t exactly define a good person. If you heard about his public scruff up with Chevy Chase and how he was subsequently fired from the show he created, you’ll have a rough idea. What you might not know is how that fight went public was through his uncomfortably confessional podcast. For years Harmon has been getting on stage with a few friends to tell embarrassing, funny, abrasive, depressing, and above all honest stories. That kind of honesty and Hollywood bubble celebrity don’t always mix well and so it led to Harmon waking up last year without a job, but with an army of podcast followers. So he went on tour, brought some cameras along with him and that’s more or less the movie Harmontown.
Director Neil Berkeley follows around Harmon and his podcast-mates to capture some impressively candid footage. Throughout we’re also treated to interviews with Harmon’s famous friends and collaborators about his uniquely abrasive ways, as well as sweet footage showing the army of freaks and geeks who Harmon has amassed through the podcast and has given a little joy and self-confidence to. All of that is wonderful and the documentary is certainly fascinating, funny, and touching. The unfortunate problem with the movie is ultimately that it plays exclusively to those who like Harmon already and he’s a pretty divisive figure (hey, just because you know you’re an asshole doesn’t mean that you’re not an asshole). You’ll either love Harmon for his flaws or hate him for them and Harmontown will split audiences, and that’s kind of what works best about it. Approach with caution if you’re not already a Harmon convert, otherwise dive right in. (Phil Brown)
Dan Harmon will be on hand with his fellow podcasters on Saturday, October 4th following the sold out 6:30pm screening of Harmontown to record an episode of the show at The Bloor, with special Master of Ceremonies, Bobcat Golthwait, at9:00pm.
Art and Craft
A wildly different and highly amusing kind of cat and mouse film, Art and Craft follows the overlapping timelines of a not so dangerous, but assuredly deceitful art forger and one overly obsessive investigator and former registrar that’s determined to take him down.
Quiet, unassuming, and mentally challenged Mark Landis from Laurel, Mississippi has a photographic memory and idolizes former TV pulp icon Simon Templar. For years Landis has made reproductions of famous works of art and has duped 46 museums in 26 states into accepting his works as gifts with no money exchanging hands whatsoever. He’s forged everyone from Picasso to Charles Schultz. Matt Leininger, a Cincinnati family man, former art expert, and full time obsessive, has turned his brief encounter to stop Landis and his numerous aliases as if his name were Thomas Crown.
This isn’t a flashy movie, but the subjects are rich and enthralling. Their situations are equally bits humorous, aggravating, sad, and most importantly, human. There’s a lived in and loving quality to Art and Craft that’s akin to an old school paperback bestseller, but it’s also a film unlike anything you’ve seen before. It’s a genuine original. (Andrew Parker)
Also at The Bloor this week:
For the past decade, award winning filmmaker John Kastner has been bringing to light the struggles some people have with mental illness within a system that’s designed to marginalize those who need the most help. His two most recent films (both of which played Hot Docs and have been successful and noteworthy television productions) will be screened on Wednesday and Thursday with panel discussions featuring Kastner, some of his films’ subjects, and various experts in the psychological field in honour of mental health week. NCR: Not Criminally Responsible will screen on Wednesday at 6:30pm, while Out of Mind, Out of Sight will screen on Thursday at 6:30pm.
If you’re looking to volunteer in the culture sector AND you want to see a special free screening of Art and Craft, go to The Bloor’s Volunteer in Culture meet-up starting Saturday morning at 11am, and meet with various arts and culture organizations (including Hot Docs, imagineNATIVE, Jane’s Walks, and the 2015 Pan Am Games) to find out more about how you can help in the arts sector.
The pay-what-you-can Cinema Politica series hosts another screening at The Bloor this week with a screening of I am Femen on Tuesday at 6:30pm. The film looks at noteworthy and controversial women’s rights group Femen.