This Week at The Bloor: 8/1/14

Anita - Hot Docs 2013

Anita

Anita goes back to Anita Hill’s powerful testimony at the confirmation hearings for then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. It was a major legal event that brought sexual harassment into America’s national spotlight and daily consciousness. Twenty years on, Hill revisits those hearings and talks about the trial and what it was like trying to convince an all male jury that she was mistreated.

A landmark moment for better or for worse in the annals of human history, this film serves as a fair reminder of how far we have come yet how little has changed.  Director Frieda Mock paints a somewhat slanted film, where the story itself gets more focus than an obvious search for truth.  Hill’s work on helping to change our world where harassment is tolerated is a noble thing, but the film spends far too much time painting Hill as a crusading heroine, rather than someone who was simply trying to do the right thing. It’s lionizing when it should be humanizing since sexual harassment is an inherently human proble,.

The message is overwhelmingly blunt, but at its roots that this film documents a genuine miscarriage of justice where politics and patriarchy got in the way of telling the truth.  It’s a somewhat interesting time capsule of a film but it’s not as interesting or as vital as it could have been, either. (Dave Voigt)

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Breastmilk

Breastmilk

While it’s obvious that this look at breast feeding and the biology and culture that surrounds it comes aimed squarely at expectant parents and those curious about how the world’s oldest method of feeding works, I’m still not entire sure who this film is aimed at or if it’s even providing a real service. It bounces around so unconvincingly that it’s almost too long and too broad to work. It’s meant to calm the fear of those who might have questions about natural milk, but it’s almost as overwhelming as just asking a bunch of friends and doctors for advice on the subject on your own.

Dana Ben-Ari admirably never takes sides in the formula and supplements vs. natural breastmilk debate, and she is talking to a lot of varied parental units about the subject including gay couples where the non-birth mother provides the milk, professional types who lament never having time for their family, and a hippie couple who talk about “an austere division of labour” and “biological determinism.” That array of voices is great in brief bursts, but as a 90 minute whole, the film sort of exists in its own echo chamber.

It’s almost not worth combing through all the various opinions to find one that the intended viewer can agree with even though it’s bound to spark different reactions. It feels as overwhelming as it must be to be a future guardian who gets unsolicited advice from all sides. When authors and doctors start talking about a kind of biological feminism that underlines the task of breastfeeding, Ben-Ari’s work comes to life briefly before running off into anecdotal territory again. The film knows it wants to be about breastfeeding, but it’s never actually sure what it really wants to be about on anything more than a blanket, surface level. Consider how much the film talks about the sometimes fearful and apprehensive nature that comes from breastfeeding, that’s a bit problematic. (Andrew Parker)

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Best-selling author and long-time La Leche League leader Teresa Pitman will participate in a Q&A on August 2, at 6:00 p.m. There will also be a special Movies for Mommies screening of the film on Tuesday, August 5th at 11:00am.

Also at The Bloor this week:

It’s mostly just about the new movies this week with a couple of exceptions. Alive Inside carries over from last week with screenings every day except Wednesday the 6th. Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago also has an encore screening on Tuesday the 5th at 1:30pm. They’re better bets than the new releases this week.

The only special event this week is the return of the Exhibition on Screen series on Sunday at 2:00pm with Munch: 150, a look at an exhibition of over 200 works of art from the prolific artist best known for “The Scream.”

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