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Entries in documentaries (414)

Tuesday
Jul302019

"Kathy Griffin: One Hell of a Story" and "The Great Hack"

by Eurocheese

Kathy Griffin: A Hell of a Story’s one night only theatrical event (Wednesday, July 31st) and Netflix’s disturbing expose on digital exploitation The Great Hack couldn’t be more different in tone, but they would make an interesting double feature. I couldn’t have imagined either film would exist just a few years ago. In a decade, I wonder what we’ll be saying about both of them...

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Wednesday
Jul242019

Doc Corner: Oscar-nominated 'Streetwise' and its 35-years-later sequel

By Glenn Dunks

For a film about teenagers living rough, squatting in dilapidated and abandoned hotels or homeless on the streets, there is a remarkable amount of poetic beauty in Streetwise. The work of director Martin Bell (American Heart) was born out of a Life exposé called “Streets of the Lost” by his photographer wife (also noted as a film still photographer) Mary Ellen Mark and journalist Cheryl McCall and it is the latter pair’s continued relationship with the runaway teenagers who populate its intimate yet sprawling narrative that was so essential to Bell being given the remarkable access that Streetwise offers.

Originally released in 1984 and now restored for its 35th anniversary, Bell’s documentary was nominated for an Academy Award. And it probably would have won, too, had it not been for The Times of Harvey Milk. So not quite as egregious of a loss as I had assumed as I sat stunned through the end credits of the 35th anniversary restoration. Re-released in tandem with a belated sequel, Tiny: The Life of Erin Blackwell that is also directed by Bell, the power of Streetwise remains with its all too relevant story of teenagers on the streets of Seattle known at the time as the most liveable city in the world...

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Wednesday
Jul172019

Doc Corner: 50th Anniversary of the moon landing inspires multiple documentaries

By Glenn Dunks

It’s amazing to think that there can still be so much previously unseen footage from the biggest television event in history, and yet here we are at the 50th anniversary of the moon landing with a bus-load of new documentaries claiming new takes, new interviews and, yes, new footage. Don’t ask me what exactly is new to us, though. I watched three such films within days of each other and I, at times, felt like I was going nuts: the subject of one is a talking head in another who happens to be in different footage in the other movie, which is probably just a different angle to footage a few feet to the left in the first movie!

And on top of that, if you’ve watched even just one or two other works about the American space program – whether that be documentaries like For All Mankind, or dramatic features like Apollo 13 – then you will already be familiar with a lot, not to mention the moon landing itself. It’s exhausting. I even saw another moon landing documentary on the tele while I was at the gym the other night. And then there is the six-hour PBS documentary that I, quite frankly, just don’t know if I have the patience for after this triple-play. The three films I have watched all do have something in them that is ultimately worth the time. Especially if you’re in a particularly lunar mood on this landmark date. The best of the three, the most cinematic and effectively rousing, is Todd Douglas Williams’ Apollo 11

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Thursday
Jul112019

Doc Corner: Hitting the High Seas with ‘Maiden’ and ‘The Raft’

By Glenn Dunks

Did anybody see that Colin Firth movie about the amateur sailor who attempted to circumnavigate the world and failed miserably. It was called The Mercy, and while I never watched it, I did think of it as I watched Maiden. This is a film with such a remarkable true story that I couldn’t believe nobody had made a film out of it already but they had made The Mercy. Although I suppose one shouldn’t expect more: a movie about a male failure will almost always get made before that of a female success. But now we have Maiden, which puts a full stop at the end of that and seeks to settle a few more filmmaking blindspots with its oft-exhilarating telling of Tracy Edwards, a 24-year-old rebel who in 1989 became the skipper of the first ever female crew to compete in the Whitbread Round the World boat race.

Bless whoever invented the 16mm camera because anybody whose worth having a documentary about them apparently had one of them handy all the damn time...

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Monday
Jul082019

What did you see over the holiday week?

Given the craziness of holiday weekends at the box office, we opted to wait until "actuals" were released rather than run with an "estimates" column yesterday. So herewith a complete picture of the Fourth of July weekend with all 12 pictures still in wide release and the corresponding top of the charts in platform or limited titles. What did you see this first week of July? 

Weekend Box Office
July 5th-7th (Actuals)
🔺 = new or expanded theater counts / ★ = recommended
W I D E
PLATFORM / LIMITED
1 🔺 Spider-Man Far From Home $92.5 (cum. $185) *NEW*  TOM HOLLAND
1 Pavarotti [DOC] $458k on 250 screens (cum. $2.9) 
2 Toy Story 4 $33.8 on 4540 screens (cum. $306.1) PODCAST
2 🔺  Last Black Man... $431k on 188 screens (cum. $2.7) ★ REVIEWPODCASTBEST OF

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Wednesday
Jul032019

Doc Corner: 'The Edge of Democracy' on Netflix

By Glenn Dunks

There is a moment towards the start of The Edge of Democracy where director Petra Costa suggests that she thought both she and the political democracy of her homeland, Brazil, “would be standing on solid ground” now that both are in their 30s. It’s a noble idea not to mention a bit cute and certainly a little naïve because anybody with the benefit of hindsight knows that one’s youthful ideals often rarely bear such fruit.

It’s also an appropriate introduction to this, her third feature. That blending of the two narratives is just one small part in how Costa, whose 2012 earlier feature Elena was an even more intimate debut, makes her homeland’s troubling descent into authoritarianism all the more painful. It’s personal. For her and the audience of her gripping and devastatingly relevant documentary.

The Edge of Democracy is easily one of the great works of documentary this year.

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