(Alan Black, 2009)
An exquisitely simple, well crafted documentary about the regulars at a Toronto bingo hall. Without getting judgmental, sentimental, or unduly ironic, the film manages to avoid deadening neutrality and establishes a voice to complement the genuine characters it captures. The editing is especially strong: building tension and gradually shifting the tone from sequence to sequence, it serves the content wonderfully, as do the careful, unobtrusive compositions. There's just enough of a glimpse of the subjects' outside lives to provide context without diffusing the focus. I appreciate the decision to limit most interview content to the soundtrack, providing counterpoint to the action. And when the interviews to take place on screen, there's counterpoint as well: one heartbreaking moment has a living room discussion disrupted by a televised horse race, wordlessly expressing the dangerous pervasiveness of gambling culture in these lives. But the movie makes clear that, like any self-destructive subculture, there are social benefits to go with the neurosis; and every one of these weathered survivors are as likeable as the film itself.