Category Archives: Documentary

In Theatres: I AM CHRIS FARLEY

farleyComing the theatres today, Friday, July 31: I AM CHRIS FARLEY

Brent Hodge and Derik Murray’s tribute to the late comedian makes its debut this weekend in limited theatrical engagements around the country prior to its broadcast debut on Spike next month.

Farley, best known for his time as a SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE cast member before breaking into films with TOMMY BOY, died of a drug overdose at the age of 33. Hodge and Murray’s film chooses to focus more positively on the trajectory of the comedian’s life and career than on his sad death – a choice that often sits awkwardly with the emotional tenor of the interviews they elicit from friends and family. Hewing closely to biopic conventions, the film trots out family members in the form of Farley’s siblings to sketch out his idyllic, loving Wisconsin upbringing and his natural showmanship, while college friends and Second City castmates trace the early development of his talents as he discovered performing, particularly through improv, which paved the way for his SNL breakthrough, and which are showcased here through intriguing albeit crude video recordings. The requisite focus on his memorable SNL characters takes up the bulk of the film, accompanied by an impressive roster of talking heads, including the typically reclusive Adam Sandler and Lorne Michaels – a testament to the enduring impact Farley had on his collaborators nearly two decades after his death. At the same time, the filmmakers’ never seem to give enough breathing room to process the seemingly still-raw grief expressed by Farley’s friends over his sad death, instead taking pains to shift the mood back to one of celebration, a tactic that ends up feeling forced, making this look back at a self-sabotaged career feel a bit too superficial and rose-colored than well-rounded.

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In Theatres: BEST OF ENEMIES

best of enemiesComing to theatres today, Friday, July 31: BEST OF ENEMIES

Morgan Neville and Robert Gordon’s revisitation of a notorious battle of the minds debuted at Sundance this year. It has traveled extensively since, screening at Nantucket, BAMcinemaFest, AFI Docs, Outfest, San Francisco, SXSW, Hot Docs, Full Frame, Srasota, Miami, and IFF Boston, among others.

I profiled the doc before Sundance here.

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Special Screening: RACING EXTINCTION

racing extinctionComing to NYC’s Rooftop Films tomorrow, Friday, July 31: RACING EXTINCTION

Louie Psihoyos’ rousing environmental call to action had its world premiere at Sundance at the beginning of the year. It has since screened at Nantucket, Telluride Mountainfilm, DC’s Environmental fest, Seattle, Maui, SF Green, and Boulder, among others.

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

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Melbourne 2015: Documentary Overview

miff_art_940_470hzFounded in 1952, the Melbourne International Film Festival is among the longest-running film events in the world, championing Australian cinema while also showcasing the best international work on the fest circuit. The 2015 edition opens today, Thursday, July 30 and runs through Sunday, August 16, and presents approximately 80 new and retrospective feature length documentaries as part of its impressive line-up. A selection of world premieres, regional filmmaking, and less familiar titles are noted below. Continue reading

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In Theatres: LISTEN TO ME MARLON

listen to me marlonComing to theatres today, Wednesday, July 29: LISTEN TO ME MARLON

Stevan Riley’s stunning posthumously constructed autobiography of the screen legend made its bow at Sundance this year. It went on to screen at Nantucket, San Francisco, New Directors/New Films, Hot Docs, AFI Docs, Sydney, Seattle, Provincetown, and Ashland, among others.

I profiled the doc before Sundance here.

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Sound + Vision 2015 Overview

danny saysThe third edition of the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s annual music documentary series, Sound + Vision, opens tonight, Wednesday, July 29, with Brendan Toller’s appreciation of a seminal behind-the-scenes figure in American punk music, DANNY SAYS (pictured). The event continues through Wednesday, August 7, presenting more than twenty additional recent and retrospective nonfiction features, including a tribute to the work of Julien Temple.

redemptionAmong the newer offerings are Micha Hollenbach and Johann Rashid’s SUNSHINE SOUP, an experimental companion to a noted electronica album; NC Heikin’s SOUND OF REDEMPTION: THE FRANK MORGAN STORY (pictured), about a sax legend’s rise, fall, and rise; a work-in-progress screening of Paul Rachman’s LOST ROCKERS, about a number of musicians whose careers didn’t take off as expected; and Wayne Price’s HEARTWORN HIGHWAYS REVISITED, a spiritual sequel to James Szalapski’s 1976 portrait of Outlaw Country musicians, which will also be screened during the series.

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On DVD: REVENGE OF THE MEKONS

Revenge-of-the-Mekons-Key-Image-Photo-by-Frank-Swider-580x300Coming to DVD today, Tuesday, July 28: REVENGE OF THE MEKONS

Joe Angio’s exploration of the enduring band had its world premiere at DOC NYC in 2013. Its fest circuit also included Cucalorus, Leeds, Milwaukee, DOXA, Sarasota, and In-Edit Barcelona, among others.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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