Once In A Lullaby: The PS 22 Chorus Documentary (USA, 89 minutes)
When I was invited to the press screening for the NXNE Film Fest this year, I mistakenly registered to see this, the first flick of the afternoon. I reread the description for it the day of and became awash in unenthusiasm. A children’s chorus? Something to do with Anne Hathaway and the 83rd Academy Awards?? Talk about things I don’t give a shit about. Luckily for me, I went anyway.
The tale of the Public School 22 Chorus and their instructor “Mr. B”, is quite possibly the most charming and heart-tickling thing you’ll see at this year’s festival. “The 10-year-olds who stole the Oscars” aren’t what you’d expect them to be. They’re a bunch of excitable weirdos with an abundance of natural talent, passion and lives that are far more real than you’d hope for a child to live.
If you were one of the 12 people still awake and watching the Oscars last year, you may have seen them perform Somewhere Over The Rainbow to close out the event. If you weren’t, thank god you have taste. Either way, Once in a Lullaby is a doc worth seeing.
One may get the sense that this is the kind of movie that will make it to a TV set near you for free sometime in the coming year. Although, seeing it on the big screen, being forced to keep most of your commentary to yourself, you can’t help but get wrapped up in the unbridled joy and excitement these kids exude. In fact, I’m fairly certain the volume is muted for many of their cheers as most mics aren’t equipped to handle such purity.
Jobriath AD (USA; 104 minutes)
Jerry Brandt is an asshole. That is about half of the lesson you’ll get out of this well-crafted doc about the man who could have been The American David Bowie.
Despite Jobriath (aka Bruce Wayne Campbell, aka Cole Berlin, aka a bunch of other names)’s mutli-instrumental mastery, pitch-perfect vocals and dazzling stage presence, this is not your standard rise and fall of a rock god story. Without giving away too much, both the over-hyping of greatness before his first record dropped in 1973 and the openness about his sexuality lead to this story being one for the books of glam rock. Just one that hasn’t been told until now.
When asked in a television interview if he was gay, Jobriath responded:
“Asking me if I’m a homosexual is like asking James Brown if he’s black”
(Note: The announcer in this video says his name wrong)
Slaughter Nick For President (Canada, 72 minutes)
By far the most enjoyable doc we were privy to at the screening. Slaughter Nick For President shares the remarkable story of a star who didn’t know he was famous, Canadian actor Rob Stewart, until a Serbian punk band contacted him to fill him in on the impact his character in Tropical Heat had made in their country.
Seemingly near the bottom rung of his success in adult life, Rob discovers that he was a key figure in the Serbian revolution of the 1990s. An unapologetic fame whore, he visits Serbia more than a decade later (6 months after he finds out) and basks in his true 15-minutes of fame.
This is the kind of movie that any Canadian will enjoy. With its light-hearted and ironic sense of humour, both surrounding the sequence of events and that of Rob and his counterparts themselves, Slaughter Nick For President certainly needs no spoilers:
My Father and The Man In Black (Canada; 90 minutes)
When the day started, there were 6 of us in the theatre for the PS22 screening. By the time we got to this documentary about Johnny Cash and conversations he had with manager Saul Holiff, the place was packed with gaggles of journos representing all stripes. So, I left. Exhausted after intently watching three flicks in succession and assured that there would be plenty of rabble about this one elsewhere. Also, Walk The Line gave me a headache.
For a full listing of movies and showtimes at NXNE 2012 click [here]. Also, check back Friday for our first music preview to help plan your NXNE adventure and next week for our daily coverage/top picks starting Wednesday.