I never would have expected a film talking about theoretical physics and the construction of the Large Hadron Collider to be as entertaining as director Mark Levinson’s Particle Fever to be as entertaining as this, but this search for the Higgs-Boson particle is possibly the most charming film ever to be made on such a dense and potentially unexplainable scientific concept.
Although it has been in construction since the 1980s, Levinson joins his subjects –a blend of theorists and experimentalists from around the world – as they try to move forward towards completion on not only the largest machine ever created by humans, but one that has the potential to make or break their entire profession. The results of turning on the machine will lead to results no one can guess. Some people think it will provide the key to all of creation as we know it and some conspiracy theorists it will create an Earth swallowing black hole or bring about armageddon. Despite all this, the worst fear for the people involved comes from their own worst case scenario: nothing happens and all the work they have devoted their lives to can become almost immediately irrelevant.
Although we now know how the story has ultimately turned out, Levinson (who is himself a physicit) does a fine job of making sure the audience is invested in the lives of the people trying to get closer towards the meaning of life. Asides where people try to explain to economists with little success how they have no immediate answer what will happen or silly, joking complaints of working long hours when no one thought to bring coffee or food help a great deal to add a bit of fun to the proceedings. It’s also very clear that the stakes for these people are fairly high. Sure, there’s a fair bit of science, but it’s explained well enough to only include the relevant information instead of dwelling in hard to comprehend theoretical material. It’s a film about a complex mechanism that doesn’t require a high learning curve or have a prerequisite for being a science nerd. (Andrew Parker)
Members of CERN’s LHC-Atlas Experiment (discoverer of the Higgs boson) will participate in Q&As.
March 7, 6:30 PM: Pierre Savard and Peter Krieger
March 12, 6:30 PM: Bob Orr and Wendy Taylor
March 20, 9:00 PM: Peter Krieger and Eric Poppitz
Producer and theoretical particle physicist David Kaplan will participate in a Skype Q&A on March 8 at 6:00pm.
Bettie Page Reveals All
In filmmaker Mark Mori’s documentary, the real Bettie Page emerges from behind a veil of myth and rumor via audio interviews taped a decade prior to her death in 2008. Bettie tells her own life story, from humble beginnings as one of six children in an impoverished southern family, to high school salutatorian, to scandalous 50s pin-up model, her shocking retirement in 1957 at the peak of her modeling career and her fiercely private life beyond that. Sharing rare details about her short-lived first marriage and many torrid affairs, the film follows Bettie through decades of broken marriages, born-again Christianity, and bouts of mental illness.
Mori’s biggest hurdle right comes from Page’s passing and her unwillingness to appear on camera for the any of interviews. He attempts to use her classic photographs and her recordings as a voice over to tell the story, reminiscent of the classic Robert Evans documentary The Kid Stays in the Picture, but while Evans is a brilliant storyteller Page meanders in her stories, skipping over major chunks of her life that are later filled in by other interview subjects who can often only speculate about what happened.
For a vivacious, bawdy and taboo shattering icon as Bettie Page was, this film is shockingly lacking in energy. It’s nothing more than hero worship that glosses over the harsher times of her life, and while presenting an impressive amount of information and gorgeous photos to admire of its subject, the film contains less life than one of Page’s celebrated photos. Major fans of Ms Page should be delighted with all the information, but the rest of the audience is likely to be disappointed. (Kirk Haviland)
Director Mark Mori will participate in a Skype Q&A on Friday, March 7, at 9:00 p.m.
Laura Desiree and CoCo Framboise will perform a burlesque tribute to Bettie Page for the 9:00pm performance on March 7th and the 8:30pm performance on March 8th & 9th.
Also at The Bloor This Week:
Even though it debuted earlier in the week, the photography documentary Everybody Street still has a few screenings left, including one on Saturday that’s a double bill with one of the most influential films ever made about hip-hop, the groundbreaking Wild Style on Saturday, March 8th at 3:30pm. The double bill is $17 regular and only $12 for members, with Everybody Street screening first at 1:00pm.
The only other major event this week is the latest installment of Oppositions: Architecture on Film on Thursday, March 16th, which will screen a double bill of Visual Acoustics: The Modernism Of Julius Shulman (6:30pm) and Mock-Ups In Close-Up: Architectural Models In Film (9:15pm). The directors of both films, Gabu Heindl and Drehli Robnik, will be on hand for post screening Q&As.