• We Are X (2016)

    X Japan is a band like no other. The band combined punk aesthetics with speed metal musicianship and unusually emotional lyrics which led to the existence of the so-called Visual Kei genre. After growing in the underground for several years, the band rose to stardom in Japan in the late eighties. The group went on to integrate more and more elements of classical music in its sound and gradually focused on writing epic ballads throughout the nineties. The band attempted to conquer the international market but didn't have the self-confidence to release an entirely anglophone record. They were however considered highly influential stars in their home country, similar to what bands like Queen achieved in the Western world.

    What sets this band apart from many others is its share of tragic events. Band leader Yoshiki's father committed suicide without leaving any explanations behind when his son was only ten years old. This event would traumatize the brilluant but fragile band leader for the rest of his life. When the band reaches its peak of success, influential bassist Taiji was fired under vague but emotional circumstances. Singer Toshi started to be manipulated by a sect his wife was a member of that declared X Japan's music devilish work that would harm the Japanese society and the singer decided to exit the group, leading to a shocking disbandment in 1997. Charismatic guitarist hide died under mysterious circumstances less than a year later, hanging himself with a towel hanging from a doorknob. Experts consider it a suicide while fans believe it was an accident. This event came close to a national tragedy as several fans committed suicide in similar ways. Former bassist Taiji would also end up committing suicide with a bedsheet in a prison cell after having been arrested following inappropriate behaviour on a flight in Japan.

    Despite all these hardships, the band reunited ten years after it had called it quits, willing to achieve international success this time. The band played numerous shows all around the world including a concert at legendary Madison Square Garden.

    This last event is the leitmotiv of this documentary as we witness the media work, band practices and the concert itself. Band leader Yoshiki is the key figure in this documentary and tells us his story and the one of X Japan in numerous flashbacks. Singer Toshi also opens about the time when he was brainwashed by his former wife. The other members sadly don't have much to add. Local and international supporters of the band tell some anecdotes from Yoshiki's mother over Gene Simmons to Stan Lee.

    The documentary manages to help X Japan rise to international acclaim. It captures the melodramatic essence of this innovative band. It's filled with amusing, curious and depressing anecdotes we won't forget.

    The only negative elements are the facts that the documentary focuses too much on Yoshiki and not enough on the band X Japan and that the emotionally draining melodramatic anecdotes sometimes feel exhausting.

    Still, any music fan should watch this documentary, no matter if you usually listen to classical music, pop music or heavy metal. X Japan certainly is one of the most fascinating bands in the planet.

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  • Innu Nikamu: Chanter la résistance (2017)

    Innu Nikamu is the name of a cultural music festival celebrated annually by First Nations in Maliotenam, in North-Eastern Quebec, Canada. It's also a documentary that tells the background story of said festival, its location and the First Nations involved in it. The documentary has a lenth of one hour and thirty-six minutes and was made by local filmmaker Kevin Bacon Hervieux. The film was presented at numerous occasions, including a tour with famous Innu singer Florent Vollant who was once a member of folk rock duo Kashtin. He is also one of the numerous people that were interviewed in the documentary.

    The movie tells the tragic history of First Nations in Quebec, Canada and even all around the world with the help of the example of those who lived and continue to live in Maliotenam. Indian families were forced to leave the northern parts of Quebec and Labrador and were relocated to desolate reservations. First Nations children and teenagers were then forced to go to religious boarding schools were they were forced to speak French and English, get rid of their cultural and religious beliefs and were often physically and sexually abused which led to torn families, desperate suicide attempts and severe drug addictions until today. The fact that the Catholic boarding school was torn apart and its last remnants set on fire decades after it had closed, was seen as a spiritual liberation and the fact that the festival now takes place at this very same spot is a way for First Nations to attempt to reappropriate their cultures. More and more artists, institutions and journalists support this festival and actively fight against racism, prejudice and oblivion.

    Just like the brilliant drama Indian Horse, released in the same year, this documentary should be shown in high schools all around Quebec and Canada. It teaches about the country's and province's past, present and future. It actively fights against racism, prejudice and oblivion. It spreads a message of togetherness to overcome obstacles of the past and establish a bright future for every Canadian citizen. If you consider yourself a human rights activist or sympathize with them, you should definitely watch this film.

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  • This documentary review tells the story of Johan Beetz, a young man from Belgium who has come to the northeast coast of Québec in North America to live the adventure of his life and to dedicate his life to his great hunting passion.

    The film talks about him, his ancestors, a young family who know lives in his ancient residence in Belgium and where the father of this family is invited to come to Québec. The film also talks about customs and life of the Innu tribes who live in the region and who have known Johan Beetz.

    There are several mixed story lines who introduce a lot of interesting apects and little story, but it all works as a patchwork and there is no really continuing storyline and the movie seems somehow undecided and is largely focused but not really profound. One would have liked to know more about he Canadians's First Nation's culture, European immigrants in those northern regions or the ladder life of Johan Beetz within the Innu tribe. You are asking yourself the whole movie long what the director really wants to transmit and show you, what its intentions are.

    All in all, this movie shows some really interesting facts, is authentic, relates history to present and is quite entertaining, but it stays all somehow in a superficial and chronological disorder and shows some things which seem to be quite apart and unnecessary in regard to the main topic.

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