On Cable: THE 50 YEAR ARGUMENT

nyreview_3_060918_560-504x360Coming to HBO tonight, Monday, September 29: THE 50 YEAR ARGUMENT

Martin Scorsese and David Tedeschi’s tribute to The New York Review of Books debuted as a work-in-progress at Berlin at the beginning of the year before its office premiere at Sheffield. Other appearances have included Telluride, Toronto, Jerusalem, and the New York Film Festival.

Scorsese partners with Tedeschi, his documentary editor, to celebrate a half century of intellectual curiosity and debate, as realized through the pages of the influential, if rarified, New York City literary institution. Birthed in the vacuum of a newspaper strike that threatened the industry as a whole – and as a direct criticism of The New York Times Book Review – the Review has prided itself taking its own path, criticizing the critical darlings, and spilling ink on the underappreciated. Despite its supposed titular focus on “books,” the publication has always expanded beyond that remit to offer commentary and reportage on a range of non-literary cultural and political criticism. Effectively, then, Scorsese and Tedeschi’s challenge is to condense the major developments of the past five decades – and the viewpoints of editor Robert Silvers and his contributors on this history – into an accessible form. Largely, they succeed, offering viewers a survey of the magazine’s history, an overview of its greatest-hits, and a sense of its recent concerns – represented here by critical voices on Occupy Wall Street and Tahrir Square. The result can’t hope to be comprehensive, but that’s not its intent – instead it’s more akin to skimming through an issue, reading a bit here and there when one’s curiosity is piqued, and bookmarking some articles to delve into more deeply later.

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Special Screening: WATCHERS OF THE SKY

watchers of skyComing to the JCC in Manhattan’s CineMatters series this Wednesday, October 1: WATCHERS OF THE SKY

Edet Belzberg’s meditation on genocide had its world premiere at Sundance this year, where it picked up two awards. It’s gone on to screen at Nantucket, Cleveland, Hot Docs, Milwaukee, Melbourne, Sydney, and Human Rights Watch, among other events.

I profiled the doc before Sundance here.

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On DVD: IVORY TOWER

ivory towerComing to DVD this coming Tuesday, September 30: IVORY TOWER

Andrew Rossi’s look at the rising cost of higher education had its world premiere at Sundance this year. It’s gone on to Sarasota, Miami, Seattle, Full Frame, Cleveland, and Montclair, among others.

My pre-Sundance profile of the doc may be found here.

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On TV: THE RULE

ruleComing to PBS tomorrow, Friday, September 26: THE RULE

Marylou and Jerome Bongiorno’s look at an accomplished Newark prep school had its world premiere at Montclair this Spring. It recently was released theatrically in NYC and Los Angeles.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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In Theatres: THIS AIN’T NO MOUSE MUSIC!

This_Aint_No_Mouse_Music_4.470x264Coming to theatres this Friday, September 26: THIS AIN’T NO MOUSE MUSIC!

Chris Simon and Maureen Gosling’s portrait of a lover of American music debuted at SXSW last year. It went on to Hot Docs, Mill Valley, Margaret Mead, and Hot Springs Doc, among others.

I included the film in my Hot Docs coverage here.

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New York Film Festival 2014: Documentary Overview

imgres-2For New York cinephiles, Fall truly hasn’t begun until the start of the New York Film Festival. The 52nd edition of the venerable event kicks off this Friday, September 26 and runs through Sunday, October 12. While the festival was never particularly nonfiction-minded under the long tenure of Richard Peña, that has changed drastically in recent years, with documentaries now claiming a significant portion of the lineup – by my count, nearly half of the new features represented are documentaries or essay films. The following runs down several of these works: Continue reading

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In Theatres: HARLEM STREET SINGER

Harlem-Street-Singer-Key-Image-Photo-by-Alice-Ochs-Getty-Images--580x300Coming to theatres this Friday, September 26: HARLEM STREET SINGER

Trevor Laurence and Simeon Hutner’s exploration of the life and legacy of a little-remembered musician made its debut at DOC NYC last year. Its festival circuit also included St Louis, Leeds, Revelation, and Tallgrass, among others.

I previously wrote about the film here.

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