This week, a trio of past festival favourites open up for runs at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. Here now are looks back at the musically minded Peaches Does Herself (coming via TIFF and Inside Out) and Ain’t in It for My Health (arriving by way of CMW), and the health conscious Free the Mind (fresh off a debut at Hot Docs).
Peaches Does Herself
Remounting her crazed psychosexual cabaret originally performed in Germany, the un-pigeonhole-able Canadian musical artist and queer icon Peaches makes a pretty assured jump to the big screen despite her film not being anything more than just the same show she’s performed before simply captured by a camera.
Her sexually explicit lyrics and swagger make the theatrical nature of the production a no-brainer and despite the entire thing essentially being a deeply Freudian look inside Peaches’ mind and thought process, there’s no denying her chops as a musical artist and consummate entertainer for those willing to push the envelope and follow her to the edge. Her blending of electro, hip-hop, new wave, and the occasional hardcore breakdown is like a history lesson set to lyrics so explicit that squares just might squirm so heavily they could develop rounded edges by the end of it.
It’s just a stage show (for the most part), but it makes for a captivating watch. After all, Peaches sums it up best herself: “I’m a stage whore/I command the floor.” (Andrew Parker)
Free the Mind
Free the Mind takes a look at Richard Davidson, an expert in the field of brain research who’s devoted his life to the study of meditation as a method of restoring mental health and happiness. A traditionally trained scientist and practitioner of meditation rooted in Buddhist practice, Davidson’s work employs brain imaging to support the idea that an ancient technique offers new hope for treating psychological illness. This film documents Davidson’s most challenging experiment to date, employing the technique of Mindfulness to treat Attention Deficit in children and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in veterans.
Writer/director Phie Ambo takes us into the complex mechanisms of the human psyche as we follow two very different cases. She stays separated from her subjects, maintaining a certain level of detached objectivity, particularly with a young child who has ADHD. We see them actively training him to regulate and control his emotions through a variety of exercises in order to break the cycle of feelings that they don’t want and to ultimately take control. The cases of post-traumatic stress in soldiers play out similarly as they acknowledge how war broke them and they need this help to get back to normal. The brain is such a complex organ and system in the human body that we may never know all of its mysteries, however this film is a real eye opener and even inspirational to show what we as people are truly capable of, if only we put our minds to it. (Dave Voigt)
Ain’t In It for My Health: A Film About Leon Helm, is a disarming parable about the dangers of a rock star lifestyle and believing in your own bullshit. Following former member of The Band Leon Helm through his last days of trying to set things right, it’s a touching and gut wrenching look at a man who came to humility far too late in life for it to make a difference. It’s a heck of a documentary and Helm’s life is like a Johnny Cash song come to life. (Andrew Parker)