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Thelma & Louise - A Tag Team Revisit

"I love how Thelma slips into a swimsuit in the middle of all this -- I imagine most criminals are this bad at being criminals, and it makes complete sense to me she still hasn't quite processed how screwed she and Louise are." -Marsha

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Entries in documentaries (191)

Tuesday
May242016

Review: Weiner

To paraphrase Jean-Luc Godard: if you want your movie to hook an audience, all your story needs is a girl and a smoking gun. In Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg’s queasily absorbing political documentary Weiner, the two smash against one another on the dick pic-riddled smartphone of disgraced former congressman, Anthony Weiner of New York.

Capturing Weiner’s catastrophic 2013 New York City mayoral campaign from within the scrum and beyond the sack, the film scrutinizes the self-obsession of its candidate against his noble political ideals, and the media’s lethal manipulation of the former and abject disinterest in the latter. It is also a thrilling and meticulous account of a campaign staff in free-fall, with the candidate mistaking the whir of escaping air for flight. If D.A. Pennebaker’s The War Room shows us how the machinations of campaign politics successfully operate around pitfalls and personal indiscretions along the trail, Weiner demonstrates how the media can lethally wedge a dildo right between the gears.

More after the jump...

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Tuesday
May242016

Doc Corner: Jia Zhangke Gets a Tribute in 'A Guy from Fenyang'

Glenn here. Each Tuesday we bring you reviews and features on documentaries from theatres, festivals, and on demand. This week we’re looking at Walter Salles' doc about Chinese film giant Jia Zhangke.

In the opening scene of Jia Zhangke’s sublime Mountains May Depart, characters dance to the Pet Shop Boys’ euphoric rendition of “Go West”. The song may have been a demand for a gay utopia, but it is also an apt choice for a movie in which characters slowly shift from rural China to the blue skies and bright lights of Australia. Zhangke’s characters are often caught between two worlds, travelling down a road (literal of metaphorical) to an unknown future and it is these pervading themes that have made him the unofficial cinematic chronicler of modern day China. They are also what makes Jia Zhangke: A Guy from Fenyang such a fitting tribute to the man.

Directed by Walter Salles, A Guy from Fenyang follows the director in intimate fashion as he returns to his hometown as well as prominent filming locations featured across his filmography in movies like Xiao Wu, The World, Platform, Still Life (my personal favourite of his works), and most prominently A Touch of Sin for which this doc was made as a sort of companion piece. [More...]

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Tuesday
May172016

Doc Corner: Revisiting 'Fahrenheit 9/11' and It's Cannes Influence

Glenn here. Each Tuesday we bring you reviews and features on documentaries from theatres, festivals, and on demand. In celebration of not just the Cannes Film Festival, which is underway right now, but also the release of my book Cannes Film Festival: 70 Years out now through Wilkinson Publishing, we're looking at only the second documentary to win the Palme d'Or. The book is a glossy trip through history, looking at the festival's beginnings, the films, the moviestars, the fashions and the controversies. You better believe I convinced my editors on a double-page Nicole Kidman spread!

Just earlier this year I said of Michael Moore’s most recent film, Where to Invade Next?, that it was “utterly disgraceful” and that it was bound to “truly be one of the year’s worst movies.” That film was on my mind as I sat down to rewatch the director’s 2004 Palme d’Or winning documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11. Would the impact of that initial viewing of Fahrenheit 9/11 remain all these years later now that my eyes and mind are much wider? It’s a little bit of yes and a little bit of no. ...more after the jump.

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Thursday
May122016

Sydney Film Festival line-up announced

Whilst the world's cinephiles eyes are all turned to the mother of all film festivals, Cannes, down under the Sydney Film Festival have just announced their cracking line up. While it's not one of the most prestigious festivals, it's carved a perfect spot for itself on the cinematic calendar in June each year. It's one of the first festivals to be able to screen films only previously shown at Sundance and Berlinale in the first half of the year, and the then just concluded Cannes film festival. Sydney Film Festival of course has its own world premieres of Australian films, and while this year doesn’t have as many as previous years, there’s some exciting works all the same. Here is just a sample of what’s in store for Sydney siders.

Australian World Premieres
Opening the Festival and also running in competition will be Ivan Sen’s Goldstone, which is a sequel to his Mystery Road which opened the festival in 2013. Ivan Sen is one of Australia’s most influential and consistent Australian directors whose casts always reflect the diversity of Australia and in particular the traditional owners of the land, so this is a must see. There’s even Jacki and David Wenham to bring the star wattage. Other Aussie treats to keep an eye out for is queer teen drama Teenage Kicks by Craig Boreham, and gore fest horror film Red Christmas by Craig Anderson refreshingly featuring Dee Wallace as a middle aged horror heroine.

Auteurs, LGBT films, and documentaries after the jump!

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Tuesday
May102016

Doc Corner: 60 Years Since The Silent World's Historic Palme d'Or

Glenn here. Each Tuesday we bring you reviews and features on documentaries from theatres, festivals, and on demand. In celebration of not just the Cannes Film Festival, which launches this week, but also the release of my book Cannes Film Festival: 70 Years out now through Wilkinson Publishing, we're looking at the first documentary to win the Palme d'Or. The book is a glossy trip through history, looking at the festival's beginnings, the films, the moviestars, the fashions and the controversies. You better believe I convinced my editors on a double-page Nicole Kidman spread!

Despite the belief that documentaries are as rare among the Cannes line-up as rain in the desert, the Cannes selectors of old were particularly fond of them. Especially so through the 1950s and 1960s. That just happens to be where we find the first documentary winner of the Palme d’or, The Silent World, or Le monde du Silence.

The documentary is a collaboration between explorer Jacques Cousteau and a pre-fame Louis Malle, who was just 23 years old at the time and was only two years away from delivering the noir masterpiece (so says me) Elevator to the Gallows. In The Silent World, Cousteau and Malle are able to capture images of natural wonder that 60 years later continue to thrill and take the breath away and sing with poignancy while putting our place among nature into perspective. More after the jump...

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Monday
May092016

Interview: The Filmmakers, and Stars of 'Strike a Pose' Talk Madonna, Dance Moves and Movie Stars 

We're celebrating the 25th anniversary of "Truth or Dare" this week. Here's Jose having a brilliantly fun chat with its dancers who have an unofficial sequel, if you will, making the festival rounds...

Clockwise from top: Carlton, Madonna, Luis, Gabriel (RIP), Jose, Kevin, Oliver, and Salim (aka "Slam")

Jose here. I was four years old when Madonna went on her Blonde Ambition Tour, but I distinctly remember being hypnotized by the woman with the pointy bra on TV that was making the Pope very upset. Fast forward a couple of decades and not only am I a huge Madonna fan, but I’ve made more sense of that specific era in her career thanks to the revolutionary documentary Madonna: Truth or Dare. So I was thrilled when I found out Dutch filmmakers Ester Gould and Reijer Zwaan had made Strike a Pose, a documentary about the male dancers that were so prominently featured in the tour and the film. For Madonna fans, the names of Carlton Wilborn, Kevin Stea, Oliver S Crumes III, Salim "Slam" Gauwloos, Jose Gutierez Xtravaganza, Luis Xtravaganza Camacho and the late Gabriel Trupin (1969-1996), are akin to those of Christ’s disciples. Not only for the devotion that comes with fandom, but also because we have each developed our own mythologies about who these men were (they choreographed the “Vogue” video!)

Read the conversation after the jump...

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Tuesday
May032016

Doc Corner: Documentaries at the Box Office in 2016

Glenn here. Each Tuesday we bring you reviews and features on documentaries from theatres, festivals, and on demand. This week we look at the medium's flatlining box office is a sign of 2016's roster of documentaries.

Looking at Nathaniel’s listing of the highest grossing documentaries list of the year so far and I was – to put it mildly – a bit bummed out. Not surprised, of course.

Certainly, the comfort of one’s home is a perfectly fine place to view many of these films, and a necessary advancement given the general downturn in boutique and arthouse cinema-going. But as a lover of movies, going to the movies, and writing about movies, it is frustrating and a worry that no documentaries other than Michael Moore’s disappointing Where to Invade Next and the Christian-themed Patterns of Evidence have made any sort of impact at the box office (and even then, Moore’s film is a dramatic slide from even his most recent film Capitalism: A Love Story at $14m) in four months of the new year.

The reason the doc box office figures particularly worried me was because the first quarter of the year is peak opportunity to take advantage of a quiet marketplace...

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