Dinosaurs loose again in 'Jurassic World.' Alternative: Real stories in The Best of Hot Docs

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In a fit of extravagance in these days of shrinking newsrooms and dying newspapers, the Denver Post appointed a marijuana editor, assigned two reporters and contracted two marijuana critics, one described as a “weed genius.” The other tried to write about both pot and parenting until she was told to choose just one. The team did investigative journalism and found a hash producer delivering less THC than he claimed. The reporters were all over the Cannabis Cup competition and the editor travelled to Uruguay where pot is also legal but found it overly-regulated and low in quality. These and a lot of other issues come up in this lively, breezy film. (Tonight, June 12, 8:30) 3 ½ out of 5

HELP US FIND SUNIL TRIPATHI:  A different take on social media. This is almost a denunciation, certainly of how some people use it.


A student from Boston goes missing at his university in Rhode Island and his family and friends mount a systematic search. A month later the bombs went off at the Boston Marathon. Somebody says the grainy photo of a suspect looks like the student. Somebody is sure the police mentioned his name on their radio. The rumours went viral on social media. Reporters started calling from CNN, AP and all sizes of news media. (We hear several calls on voicemail). Twitter, Facebook and Reddit exploded with obscene messages. “Get the f… out of my country,” was one of the milder ones. (The family is Hindu). A virtual mob mentality had taken over and the film is a strong and troubling case study of the dark side of social media. (Monday June15, 6:30) 4 out of 5

THE WOLFPACK: This is the weirdest one of the bunch that I saw. It’s just short of creepy but it does make you wonder about parenting styles. Seven children were raised in New York’s Lower East Side with almost no contact with the outside world. The controlling father didn’t let them go out more than a few times a year — one year not at all — because he wanted to protect them from all the bad influences out there. How Quentin Tarantino movies were better for them is a mystery.


That was their education: home schooling and many movies. They learned the dialogue and acted out their own versions. Eventually, grown-up, one wandered out, had his eyes opened and started rebelling. He led his brothers out too and now says, “We were in a prison." The film recalls it all through their articulate stories, their mom’s seeming bewilderment and their dad’s self-serving philosophy. (“My power is influencing everybody.”) There are big unanswered questions left hanging but also a strong feeling that you’ve peered into something very odd. (Monday 8:30, Tuesday 6:30) 4 out of 5    

LIVE FROM NEW YORK: Of the four, this is the most enjoyable. Nostalgia is usually fun and this one has lots: Sinead O’Connor ripping up the Pope’s picture; Sarah Palin meeting Tina Fey; Hillary Clinton meeting Amy Poehler; Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg’s song about a special Christmas gift; and many, many tiny fragments from skits going right back to 40 years ago when Lorne Michaels, “the Canadian” as he was referred to, started Saturday Night Live.


Larraine Newman says it was intended to combine the ethos of 60 Minutes and Monty Python. It wasn’t expected to last more than six shows but It’s lasted as an institution and the list of cast members and guests who talk about it is fabulous — Chris Rock, Al Gore, Alec Baldwin, Ralph Nader, Candice Bergman, Julia-Louis Dreyfus, etc. etc. Oddly no Eddie Murphy, Bill Murray or Mike Myers. What they say is interesting but not much is new, although I hadn’t heard about the fuss Leslie Jones stirred up with her slavery jokes. There’s not much on the periods when the show was panned as no longer funny and nothing on the movies it led to. We also don’t get much on how the show is put together, although there’s an extended sequence on writing the first show after 9-11. Until a more insightful documentary is done about SNL, this one is easy to take. (Tonight and Saturday 10:30. Also at The Rio for four days starting Monday) 3 out of 5


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