Mussels in Love
Straddling the unusual line between a nature documentary and gastronomic pornography, Dutch filmmaker Willemiek Klujfhout takes a look at one of the world’s most beloved molluscs, the mussel.
Shot quite nicely on 35mm, Klujfhout looks at the many different uses and cultivation methods of one of the world’s cheapest forms of shellfish. From laboratory hatcheries that can produce them on their own to fishing operations in danger of collapsing thanks to overfishing, there’s some interesting insight into how the mussel situation pertains to both environmental and social issues. There’s a look at how the formerly derided and easily prepared invertebrate can be used as a delicacy these days, and how different varieties have sparked a muscular war between some Belgian and Dutch distributors. There’s also a visit with an obstetrician who has been harnessing the adhesive properties of the mussel to help aid in the treatment of in utero birth defects.
The film appeals mainly to those willing to spend 70 minutes willing to listen to the many different uses of mussels, but far duller and less accomplished docs have been made about far less. It’s insightful and playful, and that definitely counts for a lot.
The Venice Syndrome
One of the most unique cities in the world, Venice, Italy might have a booming tourism industry – bringing in over $1.5 billion a year – but the city itself has suffered greatly over the past several decades thanks to changing vacationing practices. Director Andreas Pichler takes a look at the once great, now decaying, and still popular city in a thought provoking look at the burden of a tourism based economy that might make some travellers rethink their plans to visit a place based on coolness factor alone.
Venice might look jam packed with people to the point where it’s impossible to manoeuvre around, but really the number of actual city residents is barely higher than it was in the late 1400s when a plague wiped out a significant amount of the population. Skyrocketing property costs, a year round increased emphasis on foreign visitors, and a decreased amount of time people spend in the city and put back into local businesses has created a nightmarish situation for the hardened souls who still call the city of canals home. When the residents get fed up at their futile situation or rappers take to the streets decrying local politicians and tourists as “ugly motherfuckers,” it’s completely understandable.
The seagulls that open Pichler’s film are certainly foreboding, and the more times they appear on screen the more they begin to look like vultures: unwelcome scavengers picking apart a corpse. One owner of a moving company decries that the city has simply devolved into a glorified dormitory. It’s impossible for residents to even find a place to simply buy milk or get their child treated for an illness. It’s certainly eye opening, bringing to light everything that people tend to take for granted while out on a leisure trip. Venice still has a certain charm, but talking to those who live there in great detail makes one think it’s time to cool off the gondola rides for a while.
Also at the Bloor this week:
The Rocky Horror Picture Show Shadowcast returns for its monthly engagement on Friday, July 26th at 11:30pm.
Somm returns after last week’s special presentation for another screening on Monday, July 29th at 7:00pm, sadly this time without a really cool wine tasting and talk before and after it.
A pair of recent Bloor releases come back for return showings this week: The fashion doc Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s (Sunday, July 28th, 9:00pm, Thursday, August 1st, 4:00pm) and the pithy travelogue Italy, Love It or Leave It (Saturday, July 27th 4:15pm, Wednesday, July 31st, 4:00pm). May we humbly suggest you see pretty much anything else screening there instead.