JWR Articles: Film/DVD - Jackpot (Director: Alan Black) - October 20, 2009


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Collectively looking out for number one

Whether intentional or not, this trio of films—in three distinct ways—have the notion of numbers squarely at their root. Those with a taste for adventure (or sense of fate) may well consider using 3, 11 and 52 (their respective timings) as lottery (real or metaphoric of life) choices.

The million dollar question

Tshitashun (Number)
James Picard
2008, 3 min.
Four stars

Picard fills his entire film with verbal utterings of numbers in many tongues. Marvellously, his million dollar question (in Innu) seems to stump the engaging panel of number spewers (even as non-materialistic riches are rightly lauded), but manages to avoid a three-count with a most convincing final intervention.

No fixed address

Love on the Street
Kerry Potts
2009, 11 min.
Three and one-half stars

A quintet of street people who have all been down for the count empathetically populates Potts’ survey of those whose homelessness was most certainly the result of various forms of lovelessness. Despite their disparate/desperate circumstances, there is a tone of hope (including a loving couple who met in a shelter) and proffered solution for the sorry state of so much of the world. Sadly, those who truly live the life-affirming, conflict-reducing mantra of “love they neighbour” (cross-reference below) are still too numerous to count, much less rescue. Perhaps a remix of the sound (putting the music slightly “back”) would let some of the voices be heard with even more authority.

Margaret dabs the hours away

Alan Black
2009, 52 min.
Four and one-half stars

“Winning is laugh,” says widower Lee, hoping to have the last one and win the elusive $30,000 jackpot at the Delta Bingo (St. Clair location in Toronto). Director Black and producer Michelle Latimer have lucked out in capturing a covey of die-hard gamblers ranging from near-centenarian, Margaret, to the we-met-dabbing-numbers, share-the-winnings-with-the-table-couple Rick and Nancy. All of the usual rationalizations (“What else would I do?” “It’s my money.” “It’s entertainment—those who spend the equivalent amount on a night out are [perpetual] losers.rldquo;) slip into the mix, but—in their heart-of-hearts—everyone’s in the stark hall to win. As the butt-covered sidewalk attests, the banishment of tobacco from public spaces has not stubbed out attendance by also-addicted smokers. (Curiously, the scene of Peggy in the Holy Rosary Church prior to her Sunday sitting at the Delta, immediately brings to mind how bingo used to be the near-divine domain of the Catholic Church.)

The truly pathetic mutual connivance amongst staff and clients (not content with just card-revenue, the affable attendants patrol their devoted flock proffering “balls”—paper slot machines—tickets to fill the “excitement” void between games) is frequently overshadowed by a few laughs, but the defiant cries of “Bingo!” (“There, you see I am a winner!”) leaves the viewer with a disquieting feeling—not dissimilar to the brief look of satisfaction from junkies as their needles find a vein and deliver fleeting relief.

Graham Withers’ editing was first rate and the musical contributions by The Fembots much appreciated. JWR

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Director - Alan Black
Producer - Michelle Latimer
Cinematography - Christopher J. Romeike
Editor - Graham Withers
Further information, future screening/performance/exhibition dates,
purchase information, production sponsors:
Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival
Cross-reference(s): Please click on the image link(s) below
for related work: