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Entries in documentaries (286)

Tuesday
Oct172017

Doc Corner: 'Human Flow'

By Daniel Walber

Ai Weiwei’s Human Flow is the result of a truly enormous undertaking. Spread across four continents, the film is a distillation of the current refugee crisis. All of it. Rather than focus on a single geographic region or the fallout from a particular international conflict, this is a whirlwind tour of the entire global situation. Its scenes from the US-Mexico Border to the Mediterranean, Sub-Saharan Africa to Bangladesh. If that sounds like far too much, that’s because it is.

If the purpose were totally aesthetic and metaphorical, a wordless and breathtaking aerial tour of large-scale human movement, the scope might not have been a problem. It might have bypassed the head and gone straight to the heart. But Human Flow tries to have it both ways...

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Thursday
Oct122017

NYFF: Documenting Basquiat

by Jason Adams

I have only managed to make it to two documentaries during the New York Film Festival this year (which is a shame since they always have such a full program) - the doc on Steven Spielberg that I reviewed last week, and then this vividly lived-in one called Boom For Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat, which is also about an artist so great at what he does that he was destined to become the biggest brightest star of it at a very young age.

Of course things turned out pretty differently for Basquiat than they did for Steven Spielberg...

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Tuesday
Oct102017

NYFF: Arthur Miller: Writer

By Manuel Betancourt

There may not be a more towering figure of the American stage than Arthur Miller. From A View from the Bridge and Death of a Salesman to The Crucible and The Price, his plays remain some of the most performed / discussed / dissected dramas of the twentieth century. Capturing men (for they were so often men) caught adrift in an ever-changing world, Miller’s protagonists laid bare the most insidious aspects of American society. 12 years after his death, Arthur Miller: Writer (a riff on what he once said he hoped his obituary would read like), comes to offer a humanizing portrait of the New York City-born dramatist. That it comes courtesy of his daughter, Rebecca (yes, Mrs Day-Lewis, The Meyerowitz Stories’ bit part player, and Maggie’s Plan helmer) means that there’s a level of access and intimacy that we may not otherwise have gotten... 

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Tuesday
Oct102017

Doc Corner: 'The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson'

by Glenn Dunks

It is sadly just a matter of fact that women of colour rarely get documentaries made about them without tragedy informing their very existence. “Death” is even right there at the start of the title for David France’s new film about one such pioneering person. And indeed, the mystery surrounding Marsha P. Johnson’s death is what acts as the central spine of his The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson as one activist, Victoria Cruz, sets about solving the mystery of the death of another activist 25 years ago.

But like the literal meaning behind the title of France’s last film, the Oscar-nominated masterwork How to Survive a Plague, this new film is also about “life” and surviving and ultimately acts as a testament to Johnson’s tenacity and pure force-of-nature attitude in the face of adversity – a tired cliché of a phrase that is nonetheless truly warranted here...

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Friday
Oct062017

NYFF: "Spielberg" the Documentary

by Jason Adams

Before there was Hitchcock, before there was Michael Haneke and Todd Solondz and the Davids Cronenberg and Lynch, before Almodovar and Assayas and Campion herself, there was Steven Spielberg. A Jewish kid from the suburbs of Arizona who threw a malfunctioning shark robot into the Pacific Ocean and changed the movie business, he was My Guy. I saw Jurassic Park twelve times in the theater in the Summer of 1993 - I read my first Pauline Kael review for him. Steven Spielberg changed the movie business and his movie business changed my life.

Spielberg the documentary, on the other hand, isn't changing any business any time soon...

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Thursday
Oct052017

DOC NYC Announce Their 15 Oscar Potentials

by Glenn Dunks

Every year the mammoth New York based documentary film festival DOC NYC announces a program of films titled the “Short List”. These are films they describe as "[feeling] like worthy contenders for the Oscar short list based on festival accolades, reviews, box office”, culled from a longer list by means of “evaluating what titles appear to have momentum.”

The DOC NYC festival casts a very wide net for their selections with an annual line-up including films that have already screened in theatrical release or on television. Because of this, they’re able to claim to have played the last six winners of the Best Documentary Oscar. And in the four years since they began the Short List, the only Oscar nominee to not feature in the Short List program is Virunga. It’s an impressive statistic if not a somewhat deflating one knowing that this year’s nominees are likely somewhere to be found in this list of 15. But that's the Oscar prognastication game for you and we all love to play along so it's worth mentioning.

THE FINAL YEAR (Greg Barker)

There’s still about two months until the Academy release their own shortlist of 15 from the estimated 130 titles that will be submitted. But for now, let’s take a look at what DOC NYC are hedging their bets on...

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