Inequality for All
Director Jacob Kornbluth and former US Labor Secretary Robert Reich team up for exactly the kind of well meaning, well intentioned political expose documentary that never finds a way to connect to the people it should be trying reach the most. This look at the widening gap between America’s wealthiest people and an increasingly impoverished definition of what middle class means, aims itself squarely at the converted by going over a litany of facts and figures that are already well known and documented without really adding anything new.
Reich, who has been working in Washington since the Ford administration and presided over one of America’s last economic booms under President Clinton in the 90s (where he left because by his own admission he was a pain in the ass to everyone around him), now travels the country talking and advocating for unions and change to restore balance to the workers of the country. Kornbluth follows the UC Berkeley professor and pundit, and lets him describe in his own words how America has taken away the chance for upward mobility in the workplace, busted unions, given more money to lobbyists, and how the rich aren’t spending enough to stimulate the economy.
A better and more human approach would have been to follow Reich around to more of his meetings with average people, like in one heartbreaking scene where a man seems hesitant to join a union because he feels good helping people smarter than he is make money. The man states that he would have gone to college, but he wasn’t smart enough, and in that moment is everything one needs to know about the economic crisis and how the worker is being kept down by wealthy corporations.
Instead, Kornbluth goes in the more uninspired direction, loading up on montages, archival footage, cutesy infographics, a litany of figures and facts to throw at people, and it’s all set to a jaunty musical score. Reich is a heck of a speaker and magnetic enough personality to show the personal side to the US economic conundrum. The film should have just turned him loose, because this approach does nothing to inspire and very little to enlighten much further outside of the obvious.
Spring & Arnaud
Moving nicely between talk of great works of art and a romantic relationship solidified through mutual respect and admiration, the delightful documentary Spring & Arnaud focuses on a pair of Canadian artists living in Pars and the bonds that keep them together.
Despite a 25 year age difference, Spring Hurlbut and Arnaud Maggs have lived in harmony and love for quite some time despite their different, and yet somewhat complimentary art. Spring always believes that life is “a highly precarious business,” often gravitating towards works that talk of mortality and what remains after death. It’s this same viewpoint that makes her prepared to grieve for the octogenarian and cancer diagnosed Arnaud in advance of his death. But Arnaud (who sadly passed away last November) here seems as vibrant as ever, continuing his work looking into the nature of collections and systems of identification with almost a newfound sense of playfulness and humour.
Heartwarming and poignant, both Spring and Arnaud come across in Marcia Connolly and Katherine Knight’s film as serious artists who can let their guard down around each other. They good naturedly go back and forth, reassuring each other and jokingly poking holes in each other’s boats. It’s more than just about art, but about how true love can become a work of art in itself.
Sophie Hackett, Associate Curator of Photography at the AGO, and Spring Hurlbut will introduce the film and participate in a post-screening Q&A on Friday, November 1, at 6:15 p.m.
Directors Marcia Connolly and Katherine Knight will participate in post-screening Q&As on Saturday, November 2, at 12:00 p.m., 4:15 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. They will be joined by Spring Hurlbut at the 4:15 p.m. screening
Directors Marcia Connolly, Katherine Knight and Spring Hurlbut will participate in post-screening Q&As on Sunday, November 3, at 2:15 p.m. and 6:45 p.m., and on Tuesday, November 5, at 6:30 p.m.
Also at The Bloor this week:
The Music on Film series returns on Monday, November 4th at 6pm with a screening of Bert Stern’s 1959 look at the Newport Jazz Festival, Jazz on a Summer Day. Tickets are $15.
Doc Soup also returns to The Bloor with three screenings of director Banker White’s The Genius of Marian (Wednesday the 6th at 6:30 and 9:15, and Thursday the 7th at 6:45pm, with White in attendance for Q&As for all screenings). “When Pam White is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 61, her husband struggles to transition from partner to caregiver and her adult children find ways to show their love and support while mourning the slow loss of their mother. As Pam loses her ability to write, her eldest son, Banker, begins to record their conversations, allowing Pam to share memories of her childhood and her mother, renowned painter Marian Williams Steele, who died of Alzheimer’s in 2001. The resulting film is a beautiful meditation on the importance of family, the intangibility of memory and the power of art.”