Low Budget. Movies reviewed: Mourning Has Broken, 12 0’Clock Boys. PLUS the Great Digital and Super 8 Film Fests

Posted in ATV, Baltimore, Canada, comedy, Coming of Age, Crime, Cultural Mining, Death, documentary, Drama, Movies, Uncategorized, US by CulturalMining.com on January 24, 2014

Hi, this is Daniel Garber at the Movies for culturalmining.com and CIUT 89.5 FM, looking at high-brow and low-brow movies, indie, cult, foreign, festival, documentary, genre and mainstream films, helping you see movies with good taste, movies that taste good, and how to tell the difference.

You may have noticed: not everyone’s rich. A recent report estimated the world’s richest 85 people have more money than the poorest 3.5 billion people. That’s not even the 1%; just 85 people own as much as half the people in the world. After news like that, it doesn’t seem right to promote some $300 million Hollywood blockbuster. This week I’m looking at low-budget movies, cheap places to see them, and films about the have-nots.

Despite all the Cassandra-like predictions, Toronto still has rep cinemas. Places like the Royal, the Revue, the Fox, Bloor Hotdocs, and Big Picture Cinema let you see an always-changing selection of art films, indies, retro, second-run and cult movies, at a reasonable price.

akiraBut there are other screens too. At one end, there’s the Great Digital Film logansrunFest showing at Cineplex beginning next week. No rom-coms, but superheroes like Batman from the 80s, rare science fiction pics like Logan’s Run and Japanese anime like Akira.

Just 6 bucks a pop.

At the other end of the spectrum, there’s the Super 8 festival this weekend showing the best of Toronto’s art and indie cinema. Go to the8fest.com for details.

This week, I’m looking at a Canadian comedy/drama about a misanthrope doing errands; and a US documentary about a kid who wants to join a particular type of gang.


Mourning has Broken

Dir: Brett and Jason Butler

A neurotic, troubled man (Robert Nolan) leads a normal life in a Toronto suburb. He lives with his wife and his cat, Mignon. On this special day he has a list of errands to run: wash his car, return his wife’s dress, buy a red velvet cake – simple things like that.  He has to do them all that day… or else. So he kisses his wife lying motionless in bed (she’s either asleep, ill, or dead) and sets off. But easier said than done.

He can’t stand small talk and is deeply irritated by almost everyone he sees. And in this movie, he meets an unusual selection of bottom-feeders, douches, nosy neighbours, nasty women, eye-rolling cashiers, know-it-all mechanics, and pushy salesmen. And like Peter Finch in Network, Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver or Michael Douglas in Falling Down, here’s another middle aged, middleclass guy on the brink.

We get to hear his internal stream-of-conscious, his muttered rants, and his 544833_419808448075051_1885620781_noccasional outbursts. Respect the big screen! he shouts in a movie theatre where people are talking and texting during a film. He stampedes a dad bullying his chubby son. And he goes to a sporting goods store to buy a bat. Uh-oh… looks like Ford Nation is out for revenge.

What’s so special about this day? Who’s the bat for? And what’s he bringing home to his wife?

Mourning Has Broken is very much a one-man show, and character actor Nolan generally carries it off, with the help of dozens of funny (or not-so-funny) side characters. The pace is a bit odd, with him going crazy one scene then back to muttering again the next. (He ends up losing it all and recovering more than once.)

What’s remarkable about this simple story? This feature dramady was made last year for 1000 bucks as part of Ingrid Veninger’s 1K Wave Feature Film initiative. That, friends, is very impressive.

12OB_PosterHiRes12 0’Clock Boys

Dir: Lotfy Nathan

This is a documentary about three years in the life of an African-American kid named Pug. Pug goes to church in Sunday, has pet turtles and wears his hair in braids. His mom, Coco, is a former exotic dancer. Pugnacious Pug says he likes his life in Baltimore — it’s a city without earthquakes, hurricanes or collapsing buildings. He lives with Coco and his sibs in West Baltimore.

This is a neighbourhood where you learn “the right way to do the wrong things.” And in Baltimore, the thing to learn is dirt biking.

Dirt bikes, dune buggies, fat-tired cars and ATV are the bomb. They zoom down city streets, popping wheelies, revving engines and generally showing off and having fun. It’s a Baltimore tradition. And Pug really, really wants to join this gang.12OB_Still1

The problem? It’s the popo, the turtles, 40, peaches… you know, the police. You get fifty or 100 young black men in one place and the cops see trouble, crime, danger. The guys in the group see freedom, fun, and flash. It’s unclear what is, exactly, the crime they’re committing  (aside from potentially reckless driving), but the police don’t like it. And the TV news paints it as an epidemic, a horror, an out-of-control crime-fest leading to countless deaths.

So the cops chase down the dirt bikers using police cars and helicopters. Legally, the city has a no-chase policy, but chase accidents still happen. One of which really disturbs Pug’s life.

Rabinowitz_TOCB_013As his voice changes so does his vocabulary – he uses four-letter words, acts tough, Pug wants to earn his bonafides. But will he ever be allowed to join this group?

12 0’Clock Boys is a terrific slice-of-life doc, seen through a kid’s eyes. It’s filled with sublime, slow-motion dirtbike rallies paired with excellent beats. And rounded off with news clips, outdoor interviews and just people mouthing off. Worth seeing.

Mourning has Broken opens today, 12 O’Clock Boys starts next week in Toronto. Also opening today is the multifaceted French family drama The Past, as well the8fest.com .

This is Daniel Garber at the Movies, each Friday morning on CIUT 89.5 FM and on my website culturalmining.com

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