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Basement Tapes: The Music of “Summer of Soul”

Motion Picture Soundtrack is a column that explores the soundtracks of music documentaries and biopics. Using songs featured in each respective film or series, the column offers readers a primer on artists and bands worth loving, revisiting, and discovering anew. This week, we look at Summer of Soul (…or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s provocative, brilliant, and essential new film about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival.

The Best Films of 2021 So Far: A Year of Hidden Gems

It’s only been 69 days since the Oscars. It therefore feels a weird to be picking the best films of 2021 so far. Nevertheless, we’re already halfway there. 2021 has had, perhaps unexpectedly, as many challenges for Hollywood as 2020 did. Movie theatres, at least in Toronto, haven’t been open for a single day this year. Some theatres, like my local the Mt. Pleasant, are surviving as churches. You can meet to sing hymns and shake hands, but god forbid…

Summer Reading List: 10 Upcoming Adaptations

Bookworms, rejoice. As we look forward to a safe return to movie theatres in the near future, let’s plan our summer reading list accordingly. The upcoming release schedule has a number of notable film adaptations. This means that read-the-book-before-seeing-the-movie-nerds like myself have lots to devour for the year ahead. Let’s crack the spine on a good book and get excited for some movies.

Beats, Rhymes & Life: An Introduction to A Tribe Called Quest

Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest (2011), Michael Rapaport’s raw-but-loving documentary on hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest, explores the connections and tensions that led to the group’s formation, ascension, breakup, and numerous reunions. Made up of MCs Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, and part-time member Jarobi White, as well as DJ/producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad, ATCQ released six albums, numerous singles, and some of the most visually striking videos in hip hop. They remain one of the genre’s most eclectic, beloved, and influential acts,…

The 50 Best Summer Blockbusters of the 21st Century, Ranked

It’s summer blockbuster season…everywhere but our home base of Ontario that is! Many writers at That Shelf can only look on enviously as colleagues elsewhere return to theatres and enjoy the best summer blockbusters on the big screen. If we can’t have the summer movies of 2021, then we’ll look back at the best summer blockbusters that defined the 21st Century so far.

Behind the Scenes of Disney’s Cruella: Canines and Costumes and Camp, Oh My!

Disney villains are a breed unto themselves and the most notorious of them all has to be the Dalmatian-hating, chain-smoking, lustfully murderous Cruella de Vil. As budding musician (and Dalmatian owner) Roger Radcliffe opines in the 1961 animated classic, “if she doesn’t scare you, no evil thing will”. Given de Vil’s longevity and continuing popularity, it’s no wonder Disney decided to give the twisted character her own uniquely cinematic origin story. Set to cover Cruella’s rebellious early days in 1970s…

Questlove’s Summer of Soul Review

Take a deep dive into the stellar Sundance documentary Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), which captures a major music moment too long overlooked. Directed by Ahmir-Khalib Thompson—aka Questlove of The Roots—and featuring an all-star ensemble that includes everyone from Stevie Wonder to Sly and The Family Stone, with the 5th Dimension, Nina Simone, The Staple Singers and countless others, the film took home both the Grand Jury and Audience Award prizes at this year's festival.

Hot Docs 2021: Review Wrap Up

Another year, another excellent Hot Docs Festival in the books! Catch up on our content from the past two weeks and discover some great new documentaries and filmmakers...

That Shelf’s Top 10 Films of 2020

The best films of 2020 remind us that the year wasn’t all bad. If not for escapism, quality entertainment, and films that helped us make sense of a crazy world, we might have all gone nuts.