Oscar History

The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. All material herein is written and copyrighted by Nathaniel or a member of our team as noted.

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Months of Meryl: THE RIVER WILD

"Great post and comments. Yes, Streep had to navigate the rough waters of being in her 40's! I do think she smashed through the glass ceiling for women since she persevered and then became an even bigger star in her 50's." - Sister Rona

"One of my favourite movies from my teen years - I'm shocked at how long ago this was released. It was Meryl that sold this movie for me and is the reason I saw it. At the time, and I still feel this way, she is the reason to watch and believe this film." -Filmboymichael

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Entries in documentaries (325)


Doc Corner: 'In the Intense Now'

By Glenn Dunks

With the recent conclusion of the Cannes Film Festival, it’s perhaps easy to forget that 50 years ago the Festival de Cannes was shut down. The event, which had curiously opened with a restoration of Victor Fleming’s Gone With the Wind, last barely a few days with Jean-Luc Godard and Claude Lelouche spearheading a mission to close the festival down in solidarity with the student protests and union strikes that were sweeping across the country.

It perhaps says a lot about the scope of global upheaval in 1968 that this famous and dramatic moment in cinematic history isn’t even mentioned in João Moreira Salles’ No Intenso Agora (or, less elegantly, In the Intense Now). Despite its rich dive through film history, Salles (his brother is Walter Salles, director of The Motorcycle Diaries and On the Road) instead chooses to focus his attention on celluloid of an altogether different kind; assembling a quietly stunning collection of family home-movies, documentary, and observation archival footage into a visual collage that bounces between France, Czechoslovakia, China and Brazil to observe the wildly escalating political shifts and doing so with an unromanticized sense of anti-nostalgia.

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Doc Corner: The Notorious 'RBG'

By Glenn Dunks

There is little denying that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a great woman. Sadly, however, she has not been granted a documentary of equal merit. The new documentary RBGrushes through many of her life’s accomplishments without any of the attentive analysis deserving of somebody who has been so instrumental to the shaping of society. Directed by Julie Cohen and Betsy West (producer of The Lavender Scare which you may have seen on the queer festival circuit), RBG is never less than full of effusive praise, but sloppy directorial choices make the film less than totally involving. It's light on the force and scope that one ought to expect.

RBG covers most of what you're expecting: her early life studying law and meeting her future husband, her efforts to fight for equality in the courts, her confirmation to the Supreme Court in 1993 by President Bill Clinton, her discenting vote in Bush v Gore and so on. The film, eager one supposes to present her as somebody of mere blood and bones, also covers her extra-curricular fun: the opera predominantly, but also her efforts to stay fit in her 80s, her late-in-life ascension as an internet meme, and her unlikely friendship with Antonin Scalia...

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Doc Corner: Women Astronauts and Rachel Dolezal on Netflix

By Glenn Dunks

“That’s one small leap for a woman, another giant step for mankind” is how Mercury 13 opens. Ignore that it is probably the teensiest bit too twee of a means to open a movie – and also doesn’t make much sense in so far as what they’re referencing – and consider for a moment what could have been. David Sington and Heather Walsh’s film isn’t one of speculative fiction, but rather the untold story of the women who partook in a NASA program.

In many ways, Mercury 13 feels like a blueprint for a feature narrative drama film. Watching the doc and one can almost see it playing out with actors like Emma Stone in the roles of these determined women who took to the skies and played an important part in the war efforts before being recruited for a secret mission to test whether women were fit for space travel.

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Doc Corner: William Friedkin's 'The Devil and Father Amorth'

By Glenn Dunks

It’s becoming more common for directors known for fictional narrative cinema to work in the documentary medium as well. Not all of them land as successfully as, say, Ava DuVernay who managed a Best Documentary nomination at the Oscars as her first nod, despite previous critically acclaimed narrative features including even a Best Picture nominee. Documentary is, after all, just another form of building a narrative. There’s no real reason why telling a story in that form ought to be any different to building one around real people and real locations.

The Devil and Father Armoth, now in limited release and available on digital platforms, isn't William Friedkin's first documentary. He's made short docs like 2007’s The Painter’s Voice, 1985’s Putting it Together: The Making of the Broadway Album for Barbra Streisand, and the feature-length Conversations with Fritz Lang. That latter example, a 1975 film, followed Friedkin’s one-two-three narrative punch of The Boys in the Band, The French Connection and The Exorcist.

The filmmaker and his subject

The Exorcist remains his most famous film and also lays the groundwork for The Devil and Father Amorth...

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Doc Corner: 'Yours in Sisterhood' is an Essential Film for 2018

This week we're going to the Art of the Real festival in NYC from April 26 to May 6, which will feature documentaries by big names of international cinema like Sergei Loznitsa, Corneliu Porumboiu and Kazuhiro Soda, and will open with Julien Faraut's John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection.

By Glenn Dunks

I finally just finished season one of The Handmaid’s Tale, which feels appropriate to note as I sit down to write about the incredible documentary Yours in Sisterhood. If people thought that the themes of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel remained pertinent to present day society, then what can be said about this documentary that repurposes unpublished letters to the editor of Ms. magazine from the 1970s as a reflection on the struggles of women in contemporary society.

This compelling documentary by Irene Lusztig, full of rich words and thought-provoking dichotomies, takes its name from Amy Erdman Farrell’s 1998 non-fiction biography of the history of Ms. entitled Yours in Sisterhood: Ms. Magazine and the Promise of Popular Feminism. But that doesn’t necessarily make for the sort of rapturous documentary about Ms. that one might expect. Rather it asks the viewer to consider the many ways equality – and more specifically, feminism – has come, how it succeeded and how it failed, both then and in the current day, and how we look at and interact with history...

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Soundtracking: "Woodstock"

The 1970 Smackdown is coming! To kickoff our look at everything 1970, here's Chris looking the music of that year's landmark Oscar-winning documentary...

We love examining the lasting cultural impact of our subjects here at Soundtracking, but rarely do the soundtracks explored serve as a cultural artifact themselves. Woodstock is an event that became a part of the American story, and essentially by accident. It was more than a concert, but a landmark display in anti-war sentiment and activism through artistry. Michael Wadleigh’s staggering cinematic account shows how music and movement lived symbiotically during the era, empowering a generation and an art form.

One of the significances of the concert film is that it allows the viewer to participate in a musical moment that they didn’t get first-hand. But the very best of the genre (see: Stop Making Sense) imbue their own perspective of the artistry on display and provide something an attendee of the live experience couldn’t have lived. Here Wadleigh creates a split-screen, all-encompassing view of the weekend, one that presents the crowd and the musicians as peers moved by the same feeling.

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