Video Games: The Movie
Someone had to make Video Games: The Movie if for no other reason than to put all of the disparate, surface level history of the world’s most self-conscious entertainment industry in one place. Jeremy Snead seems to have been the perfect person for the job. His documentary gives a comprehensive crash course in the fledgling medium, scoring tons of style points and nerd cred along the way.
Narrated by Sean Astin, the doc features a cavalcade of nerd stars, including Wil Wheaton, Chloe Dykstra, Hideo Kojima and Cliff Bleszinski, with the film serving first and foremost as a loving archival document. As a lifetime lover of video games, the “no-IP-left-behind” attitude of the film’s stock footage ignited the fanboy of my youth, while the sheer scope of the subject matter made sure I left with a few new gaming factoids.
Still, it’s unclear who Video Games: The Movie is actually for. About half of the documentary wants to rally gamers and preach to the choir on topics of violence in media and why games are great for society. The remainder seems targeted at the uninitiated mom or dad who can’t tell you the difference between Grand Theft Auto IV and a school shooting. As such, Video Games: The Movie is the perfect documentary for gamers to take their parents to while probably not telling them too much they don’t already know or believe. (Peter Counter)
Prior to the 7:15pm screening on Saturday, July 19th you can play classic video games on the Bloor’s screen. The screening on the 19th will also be part of a special double bill with Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World at 9:30pm. The event will be hosted by Electric Playground host and producer Shaun Hatton.
Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago
Since the release of the Emilio Estevez directed and Martin Sheen starring drama The Way a few years ago, there has been more awareness of the famed spiritual pilgrimage of walking the 500 mile Camino de Santiago across Spain to the alleged burial site of St. James. That was a surprisingly strong film that captured why such a journey is important to those who take it. Director Lydia Smith’s well intentioned, but somewhat boilerplate look at some real life travellers, however, suffers from not always knowing who to follow to make the film resonate with any interest to casual viewers.
Some of the stories Smith tells along the way are engaging, but only in fits and spurts. Even though not all of the subjects being profiled will say so, these are people who are looking for some sort of betterment of self. That’s fine, but when every story gets reduced to anecdotes and cut together with people who might have lesser stories to tell, it amounts to a film that doesn’t have much narrative, journalistic, or emotional drive to it.
That doesn’t mean it isn’t inspiring or boring. The Camino itself is gorgeously photographed and Smith does a great job of distilling meaning from the journey as a filmmaker without assigning the same meaning to her different subjects indirectly. And some of the stories are particularly affecting and engaging. It’s worth it alone for Sam, a young woman battling tough times and depression who could be the star of the film on her own, and Tatiana, a single mother who bafflingly brings her three year old along in a stroller. Those are good stories and the journey still looks like something worth trying someday. There just should have been fewer asides and a narrower focus.
Co-producer and film subject Annie O’Neil will participate in Q&As on Friday at 6:30pm, Saturday at 3:30pm, and Sunday at 1:00pm and 6:30pm.
Also at The Bloor this week:
Opera lovers will surely want to check out the latest edition of Opera on Screen on Saturday at 12pm to catch The Royal Opera Company’s recent staging of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut.
Art lovers who missed last week’s chance to catch Manet: Portraying Life can catch an encore presentation on Wednesday at 4pm.
And people who love insufferably smug advocacy docs that do more harm to their cause than help, can check out a special one night only screening of the intensely overrated Fed Up on Thursday at 6:30pm. The screening will include a Q&A with Bill Jeffery, the Canadian National Coordinator for the Centre for Science in the Public Interest. The Q&A might be more informative and useful than the film, so there’s that.