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Entries in Review (67)

Tuesday
Apr302019

Doc Corner: 'The River and the Wall'

By Glenn Dunks

The effects of the current administration on the psyche and the soul of American life have been well-documented in cinema. Documentaries about how Donald Trump has torn at the fabric of the country are almost a dime a dozen. Many have been great, and there will be many more until the day filmed entertainments cease to exist. It is a part of our cinematic lives now.

Less common as a subject is the effect the current administration is having on the land itself. That's surprising considering Trump and his cabinet are doing everything within their power to not just continue environmental genocide but speed it up. The soil and the water and the earth that surrounds us are at the heart of the evocative new documentary The River and the Wall...

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Thursday
Apr252019

Doc Corner: Beyonce's 'Homecoming'

By Glenn Dunks

Reviewing a concert film can be tricky. The lines between what is merely a good concert with good music can become blurred with what is a good film. A concert film can quite easily be one and not the other (I will save you the examples), but to decipher what is what is an equation that it is all too easy to flub the maths on.

In the case of Beyoncé’s Homecoming, the numbers are a bit easier to put together as the film is more up front about its craft – tricky use of editing (those yellow/pink switches!!), the use of retro cinematography filters (Coachella ain’t Woodstock), scripted narration and so on. However, even when trying to filter out the rhetoric that often comes along as baggage with her, it’s easy to see that Homecoming belongs among the list of great concert documentaries.

It’s a joyous and exciting collage of sound and image from a moment in cultural history, a captivating two hours and 17 minutes.

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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
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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