Archive for category: Documentary

Film Review: ‘Listen to Me Marlon’ (1)

20 August, 2015 (04:08) | Actors, by Kathleen Murphy, Documentary, Film Reviews | By: Kathleen Murphy

One summer evening, while visiting the shooting set of Sam Peckinpah’s The Osterman Weekend, I found myself chatting with John Hurt, never a knockout in looks but always a terrific actor. The easy banter, the charming way he leaned to light my cigarette, the suggestive slide of his eyes—suddenly there was a spotlit place where […]

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Film Review: ‘Listen to Me Marlon’ (2)

20 August, 2015 (02:56) | by Robert Horton, Documentary, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

His parents were Midwestern Gothic: the father a bitter drunk who settled things with violence, the mother a poetic type who couldn’t lay off the booze. Yet in the way of strange, sad American stories, these two souls created a combination of DNA and childhood trauma that birthed one of the definitive actors—why not say […]

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Film Review: ‘The Look of Silence’

6 August, 2015 (09:58) | by Robert Horton, Documentary, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

Joshua Oppenheimer’s 2013 documentary The Act of Killing earned an Oscar nomination and a raft of astonished reviews. There were skeptics, however, who questioned the film’s nausea-inducing strategy of encouraging the mass murderers of Indonesia’s mid-1960s genocide to proudly re-enact their atrocities for the camera. That’s a point worth raising, but with the release of The […]

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Film Review: ‘The Wanted 18’

6 August, 2015 (09:50) | by Robert Horton, Documentary, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

Taken separately, there is nothing wrong with political documentaries, animation, or talking animals. Put them together, and you have my kryptonite. So my lack of enthusiasm for The Wanted 18 can be taken with that in mind, especially if you like all of the above. The very slim 75-minute film is based on an incident […]

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Film Review: ‘Our Man in Tehran’

30 July, 2015 (02:17) | by Robert Horton, Documentary, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

Shouldn’t the documentary come first, followed by a fictionalized feature “inspired by true events”? Not in this case. Ben Affleck’s Argo introduced many viewers to the Mission: Improbable that sprung six U.S. diplomats out of Iran after the 1979 seizure of the U.S. Embassy. Argo was a Hollywood entertainment all the way, even copping the […]

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Film Review: ‘Do I Sound Gay?’

23 July, 2015 (03:28) | by Robert Horton, Documentary, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

David Thorpe tells us he got the idea for his documentary when he was riding a train from his home in New York to Fire Island. Surrounded by gay men, Thorpe was struck by the sound of the voices he heard around him. Being gay himself, he wondered: “Do I really sound like that?” He […]

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Film Review: ‘One Cut, One Life’

2 July, 2015 (03:51) | by Robert Horton, Documentary, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

Back in the ’60s Ed Pincus made some key social-issue documentaries and wrote a how-to book that became a bible for low-budget filmmaking. If he’d kept on that track, he would have remained a respectable figure in the world of nonfiction film. Instead, Pincus rejected the idea that a camera could record something without changing […]

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Film Review: ‘Sunshine Superman’

25 June, 2015 (04:28) | by Robert Horton, Documentary, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

The film was apparently eight years in the making, but Sunshine Superman happens to open just after the death of Dean Potter, which might color its rainbow feel-good spirit just a tad. Potter was the superstar climber and BASE jumper who fell to earth in May after he illegally leaped off a very high place […]

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Film Review: ‘The Wolfpack’

18 June, 2015 (04:00) | by Robert Horton, Documentary, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

You know your weird neighbors? They seem to be a big family, but nobody ever sees them, except when the angry-looking father goes out to get groceries. Sometimes you hear strange things going on. What are they doing in there? Well, keep your camera handy, because behind those cardboarded-over windows might be a documentary film […]

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Review: ‘Dreams and Nightmares’

16 June, 2015 (16:31) | by Rick Hermann, Documentary, Film Reviews | By: Rick Hermann

[Originally published in Movietone News 39, February 1975] With The Sorrow and the Pity and A Sense of Loss, Marcel Ophuls raised historical cinéma vérité to the height of artistic creation. Osheroff’s style of documentary moviemaking, as applied to the political situation in Spain and the ways in which it has evolved since the Spanish […]

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Videophiled: Politics on ice in ‘Red Army’

10 June, 2015 (09:12) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, Documentary, DVD, Film Reviews | By: Sean Axmaker

Red Army (Sony, Blu-ray, DVD, VOD) – Director Gabe Polsky, the Chicago-born son of Russian immigrants, dreamed of playing pro hockey and ended up making movies. This documentary, his directorial debut, finds the intersection of sports triumph, political gamesmanship, and personal sacrifice in the story of the powerhouse Soviet national hockey team of the eighties, […]

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Film Review: ‘Lambert & Stamp’

7 May, 2015 (05:02) | by Sean Axmaker, Documentary, Film Reviews, Musicals | By: Sean Axmaker

You could be forgiven for assuming that Lambert and Stamp are some forgotten folk-rock duo of the Peter & Gordon variety. Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp were part of London’s ’60s rock scene, though not as performers but as managers, promoters, producers, and mentors. They helped transform a mod-favorite club band called The High Numbers […]

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Aftereffects: Joshua Oppenheimer’s Shorts

3 May, 2015 (07:28) | by Sean Axmaker, Documentary, Essays | By: Sean Axmaker

“I’ve never thought of myself as an activist. I do think, though, that the purpose of art is to force us to confront the most painful and important aspects of who we are.” —Joshua Oppenheimer, interviewed by Jessica Kiang at Indiewire American-born filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer is a 1997 Marshall Scholar, a 2014 recipient of the […]

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Film Review: ‘Misery Loves Comedy’

30 April, 2015 (05:24) | by Sean Axmaker, Documentary, Film Reviews | By: Sean Axmaker

“Do you have to be miserable to be funny?” That’s the question at the center of Kevin Pollak’s documentary, signaling a somewhat different approach to the culture of comedy and comedians. (A veteran stand-up performer himself, Pollak also acts on TV and in films including The Usual Suspects.) With Robin Williams’ startling suicide still a […]

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Film Review: ‘1971’

16 April, 2015 (05:08) | by Robert Horton, Documentary, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

Even if you have an allergic reaction to dramatic re-enactments in documentary films—and I confess I get itchy during them—1971 provides an exciting, non-hokey account of a remarkable true story. The March ’71 break-in at an FBI office in Media, Penn., has not enjoyed the lingering prominence of the Pentagon Papers or other high-profile leaks. […]

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