When I originally posted on Facebook about having bought tickets to Hot Docs as “pompous movie watching”, I was thinking about how people’s queues on Netflix tend to be slightly aspirational. “A lot of people tell us they often watch foreign movies or documentaries. But in practice, that doesn’t happen very much.” Hell, I won’t link Netflix to my FB account primarily because the self-curation I’m trying to achieve and my penchant for bad action flicks and mediocre romantic comedies.
That said, I ended up seeing a number of really enjoyable films. I think probably my winner for “best” doco would have been The Fish Tamer. But my favourite was definitely, PULP: A Film about Life, Death & Supermarkets.
Alternative rockers Pulp found stardom in the ‘90s with hits like “Common People” and “Disco 2000.” Twenty-five years later, and 10 million albums sold, they return to their hometown of Sheffield for a reunion show. More than just a concert film, Pulp evokes the live-music experience as a fantastic collective dream seen through the dual perspectives of both audience and band all at once. Everyone is equal in the escape, where performers are pedestrian and the spectators are made stars. This exhilarating look at popularity and performance blends concert footage, interviews with the band, bystanders and fans, and songs performed by Sheffielders in telling tableaux. Filmmaker Florian Habicht gets us lost in the moment as much as in the music. Forget fame and fortune—they’re fleeting. After all is said and sung, it isn’t the sexy front man or the whiff of youth that keeps us dreaming, it’s the tunes.
I have actually seen quite a few documentaries lately, what with the Banff Mountain Film Festival back in March and a number of Hot Doc films. I’m sure I’ll get around to watching those in my Netflix queue any day now…