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Entries in Citizenfour (4)

Tuesday
Oct032017

Doc Corner: Laura Poitras' Risky Business

By Glenn Dunks

There is a knack to watching Laura Poitras’ latest film, Risk, her first as a director since winning the Academy Award for Citizenfour. And it’s not being abreast of the life and controversies of its on-screen subject, Julian Assange. Although that certainly helps to a point, his journey felt to be of little consequence to me in regards to how I ultimately felt about the movie. The film is messy and often perplexing, no better personified by an utterly surreal and bizarre sequence with Lady Gaga that is not kind to either of its participants.

Rather, the key to Risk’s success is to not view the film as about Assange at all, but rather  Poitras herself. Sure, the WikiLeaks co-founder is front and centre in the film, and documenting him was the modus operandi, but as a documentary subject he’s often far less interesting than the people that orbit him. I am not unaware that I am cutting Poitras an awful lot of slack here...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Sep062016

Doc Corner: 'Cameraperson' is Simply Extraordinary

Glenn here. Each Tuesday bringing you reviews of documentaries from theatres, festivals and on demand.

Cameraperson is the most extraordinary of documentaries. A compelling first-person visual memoir that intricately weaves some 15 years of filmmaking into a remarkably watchable cinematic patchwork quilt. A truly wondrous mix-tape that finds documentary cinematographer Kirsten Johnson taking directorial duties upon herself in the creation of a film about the creation of films. She utilizes b-roll footage, outtakes, and home movies to build, as if like free-form lego, a powerful portrait of not just herself, but the world we live in. Cameraperson is without a doubt the best documentary of 2016, and just maybe the best film of the year, period.

You have surely seen some of the films that Johnson has used footage from. Popular titles like Fahrenheit 9/11 and Citizenfour from Johnson's frequent collaborator Laura Poitras, the latter of which makes a wonderfully obscure and unexplained appearance yet which only proves how impressively that doc was filmed. We’ve even reviewed some of them right here at The Film Experience like Dawn Porter’s Trapped, which was the very first title we reviewed in the Doc Corner.

No matter how many of the 24 titles Johnson draws from that you have seen, you haven’t seen them like this. And any that you haven't will no doubt rocket to the top of your must watch pile...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Feb032015

In Conversation: Oscar's Documentary Class of 2014 (Part 2)

Welcome back to The Film Experience's look at this year's Oscar documentary nominees. Glenn Dunks is again joined by Daniel Walber of Nonfics in this second part looking at the once maligned and controversy-filled Best Documentary Feature category. If you missed part one then go read that first - our thoughts on Wim Wenders' The Salt of the Earth were not echoed by you, the readers, but that's what makes this all so fun. If you're a fan, check out discussion from last year about the 1989 winner, Common Threads.


Daniel: (cont'd) The way [Virunga director Orlando von Einsiedel] orchestrates it all, particularly in the thrilling climax, is what sets it apart. In a way that makes it not unlike Last Days in Vietnam (Glenn's review). Both films take a single sequence of events, in that case the 1975 evacuation of Saigon, and tell its story with several different perspectives. I’m not sure the strategy works quite as well for Last Days in Vietnam, which is also the only nominee this year made up primarily of archival footage. Do you think that has something to do with it?

Archival power, Roger Ebert and our own ballots after the jump

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Dec212014

Box Office: The Battle of the Holiday Releases Part 1

Manuel here reporting for box office duty. While news about the Sony hack dominated headlines, the domestic box office was slowly showing signs of life after a rather muted start to december (Exodus: Gods and Kings anyone?). Thankfully (for studios, critics would clearly disagree) the crop of new films offered some needed entertainment and seem poised to offer some successes as the holidays approach this coming week.

Peter Jackson’s sixth (sixth!!) entry in the Tolkien saga easily won the weekend (having opened on Wednesday), proving that, yes, audiences will visit Middle Earth #OneLastTime. New family-friendly films Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb and Annie came in second and third respectively while in the lower-rung of the Top 10 (and hovering right below it), specialty releases and Oscar-bound films performed rather well. I for one, am happy to see Reese Witherspoon (who we just Posterized) and Cheryl Strayed’s Wild at #6. It’s a great film which has, for reasons that feel both expected and frustrating, not been making enough of a dent in the “Best of”/Oscar conversations (after the McConnaissance and the Reesurgence, might Jean-Marc Vallée ratify the Gyllenhaalism we’re all experiencing with Demolition, out next year? Who should he take on next?)

TOP SIXTEEN
01 BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES $56.2 NEW (cum. $90.6) Five Beautiful Armies
02 NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM 3  $17.3 NEW
03 ANNIE $16.3 NEW
04 EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS $8 (cum. $38.9) Michael's Review
05 MOCKINGJAY PT 1 $7.7 (cum. $289.2) Michael's Review
06 WILD $4.1 (cum. $7.2) Nathaniel's Review, Laura Dern Interview
07 TOP FIVE $3.5 (cum. $12.4) Nathaniel's Thoughts
08 BIG HERO 6 $3.5 (cum. $190.4) Tim's Review / Nathaniel's Take
09 THE PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR $3.5 (cum. $64.1)  Tim's Review
10 P.K. $3.5 NEW

11 INTERSTELLAR $2.6 (cum. $171.4) Michael's Review, Podcast
12 HORRIBLE BOSSES $2.1 (cum. $47.7)
13 THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING $1.59 (cum. $19.8) Review, podcast
14 FOXCATCHER $0.95 (cum. $4.4) Review, Michael's Take, podcast
15 BIRDMAN $0.91 (cum. $22.2) Review, podcast, interview

That #10 entry is for the Bollywood film P.K. which made headlines a couple of weeks back with its NSFW-ish poster of leading man Aamir Khan. Needless to say, it’s doing great business in India where it was also released this weekend. You’ll also note that the male-skewing Oscar favorites continue to expand (or hold on, in the case of Birdman) as they rack up critical and industry citations. Indeed, The Imitation Game’s #16 placement is impressive considering it is only in 79 screens, by far amassing the greatest haul for a film in under 100 screens.

PLATFORM (Under 100 screens)
01 IMITATION GAME$0.89 79 locations (cum. $3.19) Review, Glenn's take, Podcast
02 INHERENT VICE $0.147 5 locations (cum. $0.6) Conversation
03 MR TURNER$0.109 5 locations NEW Review, Press conference
04 THE BABADOOK $0.089 79 locations (cum. $0.466) Interview
05 CITIZENFOUR $0.058 52 locations (cum. $2.04) Podcast

Both at five locations, PTA's Inherent Vice and Mike Leigh's Mr Turner posted strong numbers. This gives them both a needed boost (and Vice the distinction of posting the biggest per screen average two weeks in a row, though losing half of its audience. Guess them PTA fans rushed to see it last week?)

What did you see this weekend?