I was lucky enough to get the chance to interview The Hard Stop’s director, George Amponsah, producer, Dionne Walker and co-star Marcus Knox-Hooke, recently, before watching a screening of the film followed by an audience Q&A with Amponsah, Walker, Knox-Hooke and co-star Kurtis Henville. It was one of the most moving and insightful experiences I’ve had for a long time, and I’m still unravelling the many thoughts and feelings both the film and our conversation inspired. The IMDB description of the film The Hard Stop explains:
There are no shortage of docs that explore underworlds and subcultures most of us have hardly considered, if we knew they existed at all. These sorts of films, which have been a hallmark of the modern documentary since Salesman and feature subjects as varied as those of Paris is Burning and Murderball, serve both to reveal what is unique about adherents of a particular subculture as well as communicate how they have the same hopes and dreams as everyone else. The new documentary Tickled is no exception, but it flips the idea on its ear.
The old is boring and the new is exciting; right or wrong, that’s just how our brains our wired. So when something is in danger of becoming not just old but extinct, it’s only natural that they would seek to extend their longevity by latching onto something new. We could be witnessing an extinction event for one such aging institution, the daily newspaper.
The world is a terrifying place. Its machinations are convoluted constructions managed by a mixture of public servants or private business people whom we would like to assume have the public’s best interests at heart, but whose true motives are more dubious and difficult to discern. Oftentimes financial imperatives outweigh common sense, and the result is disaster on a massive scale.
Life Itself is a superlatively crafted documentary that gives a compelling, poignant insight into Roger Ebert, while also delving into the subject of film criticism and its relationships with the film industry. When I want to see a film’s critical reception, I head for Rotten Tomatoes rather than IMDB, because the latter is saturated with fan-boys and uninformed opinion. Rotten Tomatoes introduced me to many different critics who wrote for reputable sources such as The Guardian, The New York Times and The Telegraph, but time and again I was drawn to the small thumbnail image of a white haired, bespectacled man who wrote for the Chicago Sun-Times.