Werner Herzog wants to talk to you about the internet, its fragility and where the species sits at this moment. His latest documentary, Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World is a very talking heads and stock footage affair, but it has the legendary voice-over narration (and interviewing skill set) one has come to know and love from the German auteur. Lo And Behold will have its premiere at the upcoming edition of the Sundance Film Festival. Toronto locals can probably expect to see it at Hotdocs a few months later. Let’s hope the internet survives the wait.
Cinecast Classic-style! The same great taste you remember and love. We heed not at the beck and call to assemble with Avengers this week. Mother’s Day is coming, so we need to talk about Mommies. And a Mommy we talk about! Xavier Dolan’s work of wonder, Mommy, is at the top of the heap this week and I can’t think of an episode in which both Kurt and Andrew are as blown away as they are while discussing this picture. From there, the guys talk about “Game of Thrones” (Sandsnakes, Raegar Targatheon, Harpys and Parabolani) and cap off their joint reviews with the not-quite-great Robot & Frank. Quentin Tarantino makes another appearance on the wath list, as does Ender Wiggin, Big Bird and AIDS.
As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!
“I didn’t give a damn about going to the party, or being at the party. It was getting dressed for the party – And there is poetry in that.” Albert Maysles‘ penultimate film, Iris, gets a high energy, very funny trailer with its 93 year old eponymous subject, fashion artist Iris Apfel, having full comfort in front of the camera. The more documentaries I watch, the more I fall in love with character-based ones, and this one looks to be full of vim and vigour. Maysles himself gets a nice on-camera cameo at the end, too.
Magnolia is releasing the documentary theatrically on April 29th.
Iris Apfel, quick-witted, and flamboyantly dressed 93-year-old style maven has had an outsized presence on the New York fashion scene for decades. More than a fashion film, the documentary is a story about creativity and how, even at Iris’ advanced age, a soaring free spirit continues to inspire. IRIS portrays a singular woman whose enthusiasm for fashion, art and people are life’s sustenance and reminds us that dressing, and indeed life, is nothing but an experiment. Despite the abundance of glamour in her current life, she continues to embrace the values and work ethic established during a middle-class Queens upbringing during the Great Depression.
“Making a film isn’t finding the answer to a question; it’s trying to capture life as it is.”
he elder half of the famous Maysles documentary filmmaking team, Albert Maysles died yesterday at 88. David (who passed on in the late 1980s) and Albert documented The Rolling Stones in one of the best documentary films ever made, Gimme Shelter, shot during the infamous Altamont Concert; a touch-point considered the end of the Hippie movement, and the beginning of the flower-power narcotics hangover. (We did a Movie Club Podcast on the 1970 doc here.) They were leading proponents int the Direct Cinema Movement which aimed to minimize cinema tricks in the documentary form to represent their stories honestly (and as the name states, directly.) They also documented The Beatles, IBM, The extended Kennedy family (Grey Gardens)the dynamic of the modern salesman in the classic documentary, Salesman. In his solo career Albert Maysles made an equally diverse stretch of films from the 1950s all the way up to 2009. Maysles was a titan of the documentary field, as important to its development as Robert J. Flaherty, Frederick Wiseman, Werner Herzog and Errol Morris.
When you get Terrence Malick to lend his credibility to your documentary, you make darn sure to put his name on the poster. Jack Pettibone Riccobono directs a documentary on a Minnesota Ojibwe reservation that has a gang problem, but he does it from the point of view of a 5-time incarcerated gang leader and his 17 year old protege.
The classic, minimalist one-sheet emphasizes sun down, and the wide open space of the midwest, but the deep red-orange could equally mean love or violence.
The Seventh Fire opens at the Berlinale Film Festival this week. The gorgeous trailer is also tucked under the seat.
The tales of epic cinema disaster that involve the 1990s remake of The Island of Dr. Moreau are many. Two extremely difficult actors to work with, Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer, the former was dealing with the suicide of his daughter, the latter was going through a nasty divorce at the time. Richard Stanley had developed the project for four years, but was replaced midway through shooting by New Line Cinema with John Frankenheimer. Stanley legendarily kept sneaking onto the set to sabotage shooting, as his original script was slice and diced on a daily basis. Basically a very expensive studio film was being changed on the fly while the actors and former director were hell bent on destroying the thing. The result is a terrible film, that is surprisingly watchable if only for its terribleness.
In the spirit of Jodorowski’s Dune and Lost in La Mancha, filmmaker David Gregory has interviewed many of the people involved, in particular showcasing Richard Stanley, in the whole debacle as a lessons-learned documentary. I missed this on the festival circuit, where it got a quiet, and quite sparse, release, but it is now getting theatrical/VOD distribution, and as a result, a new trailer was cut for the film. Enjoy.
[It’s out on iTunes today. Give this one a whirl. The film was on Kurt’s Top 10 films of the year.]
In a sparse corner of Nebraska, as far as possible from the state’s cities of Lincoln and Omaha sits the high-elevation prairie town of Chadron, population 5600. The town, described as ‘politely hanging on’ after peaking somewhere in the 19th century is host to the State College and was the hometown of NFL wide receiver Don Beebe, but is now quite remarkable for its motley collection of characters unearthed and endeared by author Poe Ballantine (himself one of those characters) in his memoir-slash-true-crime novel, “Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere: A Memoir.”
It has been adapted, wrangled, and condensed into documentary form by Dave Jannetta in the same tattered, rascally spirit as the book – equal parts pragmatism and poetry. Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere is morbid, hilarious and whipsmart film-making that belies strained budget and open-ended narrative. It will never look as good as The Imposter or offer the closure of The Thin Blue Line, but its humour is mighty. The Chadron Record’s ‘Police Beat’ newspaper column which features heavily here (more on that in a minute) alone is a treasure of treasures.
In deep, dark winter of 2006, the college’s resident PhD theoretical mathematics professor, Steven Haataja, withdrew $100 from the local cash machine and bought a large bag of charcoal from the Safeway before trundling off onto the wilderness in sub-zero (Fahrenheit) temperatures. The townsfolk and the local police are baffled that the introverted professor, who appeared to be settling into the community just fine, left just before the end of the semester without offering any closure to his occupation, family, or colleagues. Chadron has always been a town of transience, a way-station for drifters (or footballers) to Denver or Omaha or any other American city, so someone up and leaving for greener pastures was a common enough event and an eccentric exit from a nebbish math professor was chalked up as just that. Already a source of gossip and amateur sleuthing, when Haataja’s corpse was found in the spring by a rancher on his property a few miles from campus, in copse of trees bound with electrical cords and burned right down to the bones, it becomes the towns biggest mystery.
This Sundance selected documentary on Amina Arraf, a pretty Syrian-American revolutionary who’s having an online affair with Montrealer Sandra Bagaria, looks interesting. Arraf launched the provocatively named blog, “A Gay Girl in Damascus.” back in 2011, as the Syrian uprising gains was gaining momentum. Amina’s subsequent abduction that sparked an international outcry to free her. Playing out like a detective story, The Amina Profile involves American intelligence agencies, major global media outlets, and a host of activists and sympathizers. But what started as a love story becomes the tale of an unprecedented media and sociological hoax, infotainment, deceit and betrayal.
Carrying forward the ‘texting and social media’ on screen aesthetically is as much of interest to me here, as the socio-political aspects. Sundance has a way of picking their docs in a larger hit-to-miss ratio than their features. Even if there seems to be a fair number of talking heads here, I’ve got my eye on this feature from Sophie Deraspe.
The Sundance Film Festival runs from January 22 to February 1, 2015. The Amina Profile has multiple screenings over the festival.
When you think of Mariachi, the first that comes to mind is likely not a woman but in Mexico City’s Plaza Garibaldi, female Mariachi are a presence even though they’re still a minority. In her latest feature Que Caramba es la Vida, German filmmaker Doris Dörrie travels to Plaza Garibaldi and gets to know a few of the women who make a living belting out traditional Mexican music in a cultural art form that is still dominated by men.
Dörrie introduces us to a few of the women who eek out a living by singing soulful tunes. María del Carmen is the best of the bunch, a single mother who spends her nights singing in the square in order to support her mother and her young daughter. Del Carmen seems an unstoppable force as she applies her make-up and dons her uniform for the evening but Dörrie slowly chips away at the calm and collected exterior and as the documentary progresses, del Carmen and the other women begin to talk candidly about the struggles of a career that is dominated by men and the harassment and hardship they face on a nightly basis.
Would you like to know more…?