Archive for category: Documentary

Videophiled: ‘Bettie Page Reveals All’

22 April, 2014 (08:44) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, Documentary, DVD, Film Reviews | By: Sean Axmaker

Bettie Page Reveals All (Music Box, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD, On Demand) doesn’t quite live up to its title, at least not when it comes to delving into the darkest days of her turbulent life. Bettie Page was the good girl and the bad girl all wrapped up in one package, the girl next door […]

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Film Review: ‘The Unknown Known’

10 April, 2014 (07:49) | by Robert Horton, Documentary, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

The conceptual appeal is unmissable: Having won an Oscar for his 2003 The Fog of War, a study of Vietnam War architect Robert McNamara, documentary giant Errol Morris would naturally turn to another controversial U.S. Secretary of Defense for a bookend project. The subject here is Donald Rumsfeld, who held the job during the commencement […]

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DVD: ‘I Am Divine’

7 April, 2014 (15:02) | by Sean Axmaker, Documentary, DVD, Film Reviews | By: Sean Axmaker

Divine is, of course, the name of the most famous (or perhaps more accurately infamous) drag queen of the 1970s and 1980s, and the subtitle to Jeffrey Schwarz’s I Am Divine–”The True Story of the Most Beautiful Woman in the World”–comes right out of Divine’s stage show introduction. But the title is also a commentary […]

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Film Review: ‘Anita: Speaking Truth to Power’

4 April, 2014 (08:42) | by Robert Horton, Documentary, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

In October 1991 the Oklahoma law-school professor Anita Hill went before a Senate hearing (and TV cameras) to give testimony in the confirmation of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court. Oh, you remember this? The drama of the moment is difficult to forget. Hill was alleging that while working as an assistant to Thomas […]

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Film Review: ‘The Missing Picture’

4 April, 2014 (08:37) | by Robert Horton, Documentary, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

In 1975, at age 13, filmmaker Rithy Panh’s world turned into a complete nightmare. As a child in Phnom Penh, he saw his family expelled from their urban environment and sent to the countryside of Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge had begun its ruthless process of re-educating the population according to the communist ideology of the […]

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Film review: ‘Particle Fever’

13 March, 2014 (08:34) | by Robert Horton, Documentary, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

If nothing else, this documentary confirms something you’ve probably always suspected: Really brilliant physicists are almost exactly as nerdy as the average science-fiction geek. A sense of humor and issues of personal style appear to be aligned on the same spectrum in both groups, as is the ability to imagine the future in a new […]

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‘Tim’s Vermeer’: An Art-History Exploration by Penn and Teller

6 March, 2014 (09:58) | by Robert Horton, Documentary, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

How did Vermeer do it? This question is apparently important to some people, including a Texas millionaire named Tim Jenison, the founder of NewTek. Jenison decided to prove that the 17th-century Dutch master must’ve had help from special lenses and mathematical devices to create his luminous canvases, so he sets out to replicate the hypothetical […]

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‘American Promise’: Shadowing Your Kids With Your Camera

23 January, 2014 (12:18) | by Robert Horton, Documentary, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

American Promise begins with serious intent and high expectations. The filmmakers, Joe Brewster and Michele Stephenson, set out to chronicle their young son Idris and his schoolmates over a dozen-year period—a process inspired by the remarkable British Up series and, presumably, Hoop Dreams. Only two children stuck with this project, however: Idris and his friend […]

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‘Bettie Page Reveals All’: Meet the Pin-Up Legend

2 January, 2014 (09:36) | by Robert Horton, Documentary, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

This new documentary contains many disclosures, some of them strange, some terribly sad. But one of the weirdest is surely the description of a “camera club” in New York in the late 1940s and early ’50s, shutterbugs who trooped out of town every weekend with a handful of models to take pin-up photos. Such pictures, […]

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‘Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?’: Noam Chomsky Submits to an Interview, With Cartoons

12 December, 2013 (10:28) | by Robert Horton, Documentary, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

Which honor is more likely to make you the star of a movie: being voted People’s “Sexiest Man Alive” or Foreign Policy’s “Leading Global Intellectual”? For perhaps the only time in screen history, this documentary opts for the latter, choosing 2005’s top vote-getter, Noam Chomsky, as its subject. A lot of this probably had to […]

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‘At Berkeley’: Four Hours of Frederick Wiseman

5 December, 2013 (17:22) | by Robert Horton, Documentary, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

In his close looks at how systems function, the esteemed documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman favors the fly-on-the-wall style. Some of those systems are as large as Madison Square Garden or the Paris Opera ballet, some as small as a homely boxing gym in Austin, Texas. Given his free-ranging curiosity about subject matter, it’s surprising it […]

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DVD: ‘Stories We Tell’

10 November, 2013 (07:46) | by Sean Axmaker, Documentary, DVD, Film Reviews | By: Sean Axmaker

Sarah Polley has been an actress from almost the time she could speak. The daughter of two actors in Toronto, Canada, she attended her first audition when she was five years old and made her feature debut at age six in the film One Magic Christmas. As a child she starred in the TV shows […]

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Channeling Movies: The ultimate movie history class runs Monday nights on Turner Classic Movies

31 August, 2013 (08:47) | by Sean Axmaker, Documentary, Film Festivals | By: Sean Axmaker

In The Story Of Film: An Odyssey, filmmaker and film historian Mark Cousins takes an unconventional, expansive, and almost exhaustive approach to the history of cinema, from the first moving images to modern movies. His 15-hour documentary series is an ambitious attempt to encapsulate cinema, from birth to the present, as practiced all over the […]

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‘The Act of Killing’

28 July, 2013 (09:58) | by Kathleen Murphy, Documentary, Film Reviews | By: Kathleen Murphy

Some days it seems the world is chock-full of killing grounds, some known, always more to be discovered. Filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer digs one up for our edification in Indonesia, where gangsters and paramilitary types massacred a couple million Communists and ethnic Chinese in 1965. The “stars” of Oppenheimer’s problematic memory piece are Mandela-lookalike Anwar Congo […]

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‘We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks’: Julian Assange Refuses to Be Captured

13 June, 2013 (10:36) | by Robert Horton, Documentary, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

Alex Gibney is the documentary filmmaker whose politically charged exposés include Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room and the Oscar-winning Taxi to the Dark Side. It makes sense that he would clamber onto the spicy tale of Julian Assange, the white-haired super-hacker whose WikiLeaks enterprise has brought down the wrath of governments and corporations. […]

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