touchedComing to theatres this Friday, August 28: I TOUCHED ALL YOUR STUFF

Maíra Bühler and Matias Mariani’s unusual chronicle of an unreliable narrator’s love life debuted at Rio last year. It has also screened at FID Marseille, Minneapolis-St Paul, RIDM, and MoMI’s First Look fests, among others.

Initially setting out to document the stories of foreigners in Brazilian prisons, Bühler and Mariani, who appear on camera here throughout, quickly shifted gears once meeting their ultimate protagonist, Christopher Kirk. An American who traded his rote life as an IT consultant in Olympia WA for one of self-stylized “adventure” in Colombia, Kirk relates his story in a well-rehearsed yarn delivered from prison, but what becomes quickly apparent is that this film is not really about how he ended up behind bars. Instead, the focus seems to be on Kirk’s obsessive and exasperating relationship with a Japanese-Colombian woman – referred to only as “V” and only shown in fragmented or blurry visuals – who he suspects, and confirms through shady means, is an unfaithful liar. However, as Bühler and Mariani demonstrate through interviews with Kirk’s friends, V is little more than a MacGuffin here as well, with Kirk himself emerging as the more curious, and potentially even more manipulative, figure. While the filmmakers make a number of frustrating missteps – their largely unnecessary inclusion within the film, Kirk’s groan-inducing voiceover, and the repetitive and not particularly illuminating footage of scrolling through his hard drive – their overall sense of story construction makes the film thoroughly engaging.

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our man in tehranComing to VOD today, Tuesday, August 25: OUR MAN IN TEHRAN

Drew Taylor and Larry Weinstein’s Canadian-focused look back at a now legendary escape from Iran made its bow at Toronto in 2013. Its festival circuit also included Thessaloniki Doc, Full Frame, Newport Beach, and Galway, among others. It now comes to VOD via iTunes.

I previously covered the doc out of Toronto here.

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irisComing to DVD today, Tuesday, August 25: IRIS

Al Maysles’ portrait of an inimitable NYC mainstay premiered at the New York Film Festival last year. other festival screenings included the Hamptons, San Francisco, Tallinn Black Nights, Palm Springs, Miami, Ashland, Full Frame, Sarasota, and Belfast, among others, before it came to theatres this past Spring.

I previously wrote about the doc upon its theatrical release here.

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citizenfour-300x160Coming to DVD tomorrow, Tuesday, August 25: CITIZENFOUR

Laura Poitras’ Oscar-winning behind-the-scenes story of Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing debuted at the New York Film Festival last year. Other fest screenings included DOC NYC, London, DOK Leipzig, CPH:DOX, IDFA, and Goteborg.

I previously wrote about the film upon its release

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424146_424146_PRG-DOC_Banksy_Art-copy-1160x652Coming to DVD tomorrow, Tuesday, August 25: BANKSY DOES NEW YORK

Chris Moukarbel’s look at the notorious street artist’s month of NYC-based activities had its world premiere at the Hamptons last year. It went on to screen at DOC NYC, New Zealand, and DocAviv, among others.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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iron ministryComing to theatres today, Friday, August 21: THE IRON MINISTRY

JP Sniadecki’s immersion into China’s railway system made its debut at Locarno last year. Since then, it has screened at the NYFF, Rotterdam, Vancouver, Edinburgh, Camden, Chicago, DocLisboa, Viennale, CPH:DOX, San Deigo Asian, RIDM, Cork, Ambulante, and Vilnius, among several others.

Though filmed between 2011 and 2013, Sniadecki erases any indications of specific time or place in his presentation, suggesting instead a singular, if non-contiguous, journey to and from unidentified stations, but which nevertheless offers quiet commentary on contemporary China. After an extended introduction in which the audience only hears mechanical noises against a blackness, the filmmaker offers disorienting close-ups of the connectors between train cars before widening out to showcase the far-from delectable wares of a butcher who’s set up an improvised stall. From there, Sniadecki traverses the expanse of the locomotive, lingering occasionally to record conversations between passengers, including some surprisingly outspoken thoughts on politics and the economy. Welcome moments of humor, notably an early scene in which a precocious young boy performs a scathing satirical impression of a conductor’s welcome, contrast with longer, drawn out sequences, as when a snack car vendor sells his items through car after car, answering the same question over and over. Like the work of the Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab with which the director is associated, this is spectatorship as experience, and while not for every viewer, it offers an immediacy that is both memorable and fleeting at the same time.

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station to stationComing to LA theatres today, Friday, August 21: STATION TO STATION

Doug Aitken’s collaborative look at creativity premiered at Sundance earlier this year. It has gone on to screen at Sydney, Singapore’s Design fest, and the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Sound + Vision.

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

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