Friday, 24 July 2015

Film Fest Day 3: Thoughts from the back row

One of the benefits of ushering at the film festival is that I get to see a variety of movies I would have never seen on my own. While Day 2 was all my picks, yesterday was completely out of my control. To make the experience more interesting, I did not bother to read up on these movies beforehand.

I Am Thor
This as something else. A fly on the wall documentary about underground rock non-star Thor, a nude waiter/bodybuilder-turned-rock star, I Am Thor feels like a spiritual brother to Anvil!, the documentary from a few years back about the veteran Canadian metal act.

Constantly on the cusp of breaking out in the 70s and the 80s, Thor's rise was stymied by a series of  mishaps (at one point during contract negotiations before his first US tour, he was kidnapped and held for ransom by one of the parties involved). A nervous breakdown in the late 80s was the final nail in the coffin, and Thor left music for 10 years.

The documentary follows Thor through his 11 year comeback as the ageing rocker goes through band members, shitty venues and a series of health issues to a reunion with his original band in a Scandinanian tour.

Picture and sound quality are occasionally variable, and the opening 20 minutes are a bit too brief, speeding through his heyday with little context (I could have used a few more dates). However, the movie's strength lies in its portrayal of the central character, a relentlessly positive music fan who continues to chase his dream despite the naysayers, lack of money and his own physical struggles.

Peggy Guggenheim - Art Addict
Shot in a more conventional expository mode, combining stills, archive footage, Guggenheim's voice and various talking heads, Art Addict is a biographical piece about the eccentric art collector and her effect on the history of 20th century art.

Even for a layman, it is a fascinating journey through the giants of modern art (Max Ernst, Salvadore Dali, Jackson Pollock are among the many luminaries) decorated with spicy anecdotes and Guggenheim's witty asides.

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