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The 16th Annual Hot Docs Film Festival

Tyson
Directed by James Toback
USA/90 MINUTES

Essentially one long interview packaged as a full-length documentary, Tyson features an extremely open Mike Tyson discussing his career and personal life in almost minute detail - as the famed pugilist touches upon some of the most controversial events within his past (including his short-lived marriage to Robin Givens and the now-infamous ear-biting episode during a match against Evander Holyfield). Director James Toback generally does an effective job of eliciting exceedingly candid responses from his subject, with Tyson's refusal to pull punches (ie he refers to the woman who accused him of rape as "wretched swine") certainly proving instrumental in the film's ability to initially sustain the attention of sweet-science neophytes. And although Tyson's colorful past - coupled with his penchant for using oddball words like "skullduggery" - would appear to make him an ideal candidate for his own movie, there ultimately reaches a point at which the former fighter's relentless chattering simply becomes too much to take. Toback's lamentable decision to indulge his subject results in a number of hopelessly pointless digressions that only exacerbate the film's increasingly uneven atmosphere, with Tyson's philosophical musings and poetry readings (!) sure to test the patience of even the most ardent boxing fan. The end result is an effort that's sporadically intriguing yet mostly self-indulgent, as for every compelling story offered up by Iron Mike, there are another two or three whose inclusion will leave most viewers scratching their heads in confusion.

out of


Invisible City
Directed by Hubert Davis
CANADA/75 MINUTES

There's little doubt that Invisible City benefits substantially from its admittedly superior production values, as the documentary is otherwise almost entirely lacking in elements designed to capture (and sustain) the viewer's interest. Director Hubert Davis has infused the proceedings with a lush, thoroughly cinematic vibe that initially proves effective in compensating for the less-than-enthralling atmosphere, with the utterly unaffecting subject matter eventually rendering the film's myriad of positive attributes moot. In its early scenes, however, Invisible City does provide an eye-opening look into the lives of two troubled youths living within Toronto's social-housing project Regent Park, as Hubert details the day-to-day trials and tribulations of subjects Mikey and Kendell (as well as their respective efforts at breaking free of their crime-ridden surroundings). But the filmmaker's inability to transform either teenager into a figure worth caring about and rooting for ultimately cements the movie's downfall, and there's no denying that Invisible City consequently grows increasingly tedious as it progresses - with the end result a well-meaning yet entirely underwhelming documentary that might hold more appeal for viewers with a more personal connection to Regent Park and its denizens.

out of

© David Nusair