Hot Docs 2017: Our Review of ‘PACmen’

Posted in Hot Docs 2017, Movies by - April 27, 2017
Hot Docs 2017: Our Review of ‘PACmen’

PACmen is fascinating and telling, if not often redundant, worthy piece of informative political filmmaking that offers a solid companion to many other stories on the topic. Unfortunately, it has terrible timing and suffers because of two major things beyond its control.

The first is that in a way, it buries the lead. Filmmaker Luke Walker hitched his ride to the wrong horse in telling a story about the rise of Dr. Ben Carson, neurosurgeon turned Republican candidate for President. A Super PAC aligns with Carson, and for some time he looks like a solid leader to take the nomination. Then he opened his mouth and showed he wasn’t particularly savvy, and then, you know, Donald Trump happened.

And that leads to the second complication. It’s both especially timely but way too soon. That is, it’s content is recent and relevant, but there is so much malaise, so much vitriol and fatigue surrounding the 2016 U.S. Presidential election it’s just a struggle to watch. We know the outcome, and so much has been catalogued about what has happened; things now are moving now at breakneck speed it seems.

All of that said, there are some interesting and likely unnerving insights presented, especially for political neophytes. PACmen doesn’t outright mock those surrogates and supporters who pray for Carson’s success, but it sure does come off awkward. Elsewhere, we get a nice handle on just how much money is pumped into this mechanism and its outrageous. And depressing. Such is politics.

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Anthony is a lover of a good story in any form, on any subject. Tirelessly navigating filmdom, he is equal parts an unbridled idealist and stubborn curmudgeon, trying to strike a balance between head and heart when it comes to pop culture. He pens stories about television, music, the environment, lifestyles, and all things noteworthy and peculiar.