|Creepy Daddy, Cocksman Extraordinaire|
Dir. Kalina Bertin
Review By Greg Klymkiw
Gee whiz! If my Dad managed to sire 15 kids, part of me thinks I'd be, "Whoa, dude! Pass me a bottle of that cocksman DNA!" However, if he was anything like filmmaker Kalina Martin's father, I'd be compelled to add: "Uh, but hold the crazy, dude! Don't need any wing-nut juice coursing through my veins." (Actually, I have plenty of it roiling around within, but that's another story, for another day.)
Manic is compulsive viewing. This personal documentary sees its director on a mission to find answers to the reasons why mental illness is "tearing" her family apart. Her siblings are fraught with all manner of bats in the belfry, including bi-polar disorder. Right at the beginning of the picture, we get a brief glimpse of the filmmaker looking into a mirror, and she does not look super-happy. She immediately declares in her voice-over what this movie is going to be about.
We hit the ground running and the picture never lets up.
This is personal documentary filmmaking of a very high order.
Bertin has a great head start. Her family, most notably Daddy Dearest, were seemingly obsessed with taking home movies. This stuff is worth its weight in gold. As first, we get the portrait of a pretty cool, handsome and quite probably brilliant man - a dude who eschewed the status quo and had his family living in all manner of far flung locales. The kiddies look pretty happy too. They're a bit like a hip, hippie Von Trapp family. Alas, the hills are not alive with the sound of music.
And remember, the movie is called Manic. Creepy shit is going to happen and Oh, does it ever. We get the portrait of a devious, dangerous, unhinged con-man-cult-leader who will stop at nothing to achieve total acquiescence from all those around him - not just his kids, but the women who fall madly in love/lust with the hunky Canadian "Chuckles" Manson-like dick-dipper.
This guy is insatiable - not just for sex, but power.
Sadly, he has kids and what we discover is just how mental illness is ripping them to shreds. His legacy is not enviable. Manic is not just a creepy-crawly scary film, but it's savagely, relentlessly heartbreaking.
THE FILM CORNER RATING: **** Four Stars
Manic, from EyeSteelFilm, enjoys its World Premiere at Hot Docs 17.