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Entries in Doc Corner (138)

Tuesday
Apr092019

Doc Corner: 'Hail Satan?'

By Glenn Dunks

How long do you think it took director Penny Lane to choose between putting a ? or an ! in the title of her latest delight of a documentary. Her follow-up to the equally wonderful Nuts! (another one where either punctuation mark would work), Hail Satan? left me wanting to convert from the cosy world of agnosticism to the Satanic Temple, which I suppose is as glowing a recommendation as one could get for a film directly about the Satanic Temple.

I was first introduced to Lane through Our Nixon, a relatively staid and standard assemblage of home movies that held little suggestion that Lane would quickly become one of the most interesting purveyors of absurd American life working today.

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Tuesday
Apr022019

Doc Corner: The Compelling 'Roll Red Roll'

By Glenn Dunks

“She is so raped right now… this is the funniest thing ever.”

That’s one of the callous lines that opens Nancy Schwarzman’s debut feature documentary, Roll Red Roll. Played against misty images of an otherwise seemingly peaceful hamlet, the opening minute is not the last time we will hear those words, spoken as they were by a male high schooler as a young girl lay drunken and unconscious on the floor of his friend’s rec room. The words return later, this time in video form, as the boy in question laughs and smiles, his face radiating with some sort of queasy pride for his friends, two fellow high schooler students who would eventually be found guilty of rape.

It’s important to not beat around the bush here – after all, Schwarzman’s film doesn’t...

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Wednesday
Mar272019

Doc Corner: Orson Welles x2

By Glenn Dunks

It has been suggested that Mark Cousins is a very unique brand of filmmaker. In that regard, he makes a perfect filmmaker for a project about another very unique brand of filmmaker: Orson Welles. I have not seen Cousins’ much-loved The Story of Film: An Odyssey nor any of his other film-centric documentaries so I can’t speak to how his latest fits into his oeuvre, but I do know that I was pleasantly surprised to discover that The Eyes of Orson Welles was not a typical bio-doc about Welles.

 

Instead, it takes the novel approach of using his work in another medium, his love of drawing and painting, to approach his cinematic output and his character as a man more broadly...

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Wednesday
Mar202019

Doc Corner: Feminist History of Revolution in ¡Las Sandinistas!

By Glenn Dunks

A feminist tribute to the female soldiers of Nicaragua’s underground rebellion, Jenny Murray’s debut feature ¡Las Sandinistas! is an appropriately-timed documentary about the capacity of women in times of social upheaval and democratic unrest. It is an often-thrilling account of a revolution that represents in part the keen importance of women creatives behind the camera as a way of hunting stories that have gone previously unexplored and unexamined in film and yet hold worth to contemporary audiences.

Murray, who also produced and edited ¡Las Sandinistas! after a pair of short films (she is also an actress), has struck upon really fascinating subjects and it’s both her luck and ours that many are still alive and able to tell their stories...

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Wednesday
Mar132019

Doc Corner: Fyre Festival, Jean-Luc Godard and Eureka in First-Quarter Round-Up

By Glenn Dunks

We sometimes get so carried away with Oscar and all things award season adjacent that we forget there are very real movies being released in those first couple of months of the year. After last week's very topical Leaving Neverland review, we're going to back back into January and February and pluck out a few titles we have seen: Fyre, The Image Book, and The Gospel According to Eureka. 

FYRE 
It's not very often that Shoah comes up in conversation at a party, but there we were when somebody asked me about Fyre, the new documentary from the director of American Movie, Chris Smith. I had said I would rather watch all nine and a half hours of Holocaust testimonials than I would watch another 90 minutes of Fyre (including the adjacent Hulu documentary Fyre Fraud that I have no endured). I may have been several margaritas down and it may come off as unnecessary flippant, and yet here I am weeks later and it is a sentiment I would stand by...

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Tuesday
Mar052019

Doc Corner: 'Leaving Neverland'

By Glenn Dunks

Please note this review discusses topics that will be upsetting to some readers.

How long is too long for a film like Leaving Neverland? Not long enough, it would seem. Don’t get me wrong – watching Dan Reed’s four-hour document of the physical and psychological abuses heaped onto two underage boys in the 1990s by the most famous man in the world, Michael Jackson, is rough-going. It’s sickening, it’s confronting, and its hard to sit through. It’s also compelling and I, for one, believe them. --  I figure I should get that out of the way right at the top.

Reed does something great with with this material, which could so easily have been sensationalized or turned into cheap, ghoulish true crime fodder. His approach is elegant, refined and simple and yet holds the weight that such a discussion deserves...

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