Archive for category: Documentary

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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Film Review: ‘An Honest Liar’

19 March, 2015 (05:49) | by Robert Horton, Documentary, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

For people of a certain age, these names may act as a time machine back to the 1970s: The Amazing Randi, Uri Geller, Peter Popoff. All come tumbling back to life in An Honest Liar, an unexpectedly fun (but sneakily forceful) portrait of a rationalist. That’s not the way James Randi would have been described […]

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Film Review: ‘Kung Fu Elliot’

12 March, 2015 (05:14) | by Robert Horton, Documentary, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

In the geek-show school of documentary, strange pockets of humanity are uncovered so we can laugh at the foibles of people who are not us. Either you feel bad for laughing, or you reject that sort of condescending approach altogether. (Or you feel superior to other people, I guess.) Kung Fu Elliot invites audience mirth […]

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Review: Antonia: A Portrait of the Woman

11 March, 2015 (10:01) | by Claudia Gorbman, Documentary, Film Reviews | By: Movietone News contributor

[Originally published in slightly different form in Movietone News 41, May 1975] “My stepmother and I used to go to these … spiritualistic meetings, and get messages from …”—a little hand gesture—”yonder. They went into trances and said that Liszt was standing in back of me.” The 73-year-old reminisces about her childhood in California: receiving […]

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Film Review: ‘A Fuller Life’

26 February, 2015 (05:03) | by Robert Horton, Documentary, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

If you are already a fan of Samuel Fuller’s uncompromising pulp cinema, you’ll be delighted by this new documentary tour covering the life and career of the director,writer, and producer. If you’ve never encountered one of his two-fisted yarns, you’ll almost certainly wonder how you got this far without stumbling across this flabbergasting character. A […]

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