Category Archives: Film

On DVD/VOD: THE WAR AND PEACE OF TIM O’BRIEN

New to DVD/VOD this week:
THE WAR AND PEACE OF TIM O’BRIEN

Director:
Aaron Matthews

World Premiere:
Sarasota 2020

Select Festivals:
St Louis, Newport Beach

About:
A portrait of the acclaimed author as he confronts writer’s block, late fatherhood, and his legacy.

Beginning in 1973, Tim O’Brien published several books, many exploring the experiences of veterans, inspired by his time in Vietnam, including such heralded work as THE THINGS THEY CARRIED. His last published work was in 2002, however, as O’Brien put his typewriter away to focus on fatherhood. As Aaron Matthews’ film begins, O’Brien, in his early 70s, has made the decision to return to writing in order to pen what will likely be his last book, a project that is directed to his pre-teen sons. Through the course of the film, the author wrestles with his craft while considering his legacy: Staunchly anti-war, he is known for his writing about war, but despite his best intentions to expose the toll of waging war, O’Brien finds his efforts futile. When he has spoken about his experiences in Vietnam on college campuses, he has inadvertently inspired young men to enlist. Matthews largely focuses on the author’s present-day concerns – his current project, his relationship with his wife, and, especially, his concerns about how his impending mortality will impact his relationship with his sons – and could have delved a bit deeper into O’Brien’s past. That said, the impact of Vietnam, his upbringing with an alcoholic father, and his early career success does help to provide context to O’Brien’s story, and makes this a more rounded and satisfying portrait.

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On VOD Redux: THE WALRUS AND THE WHISTLEBLOWER

Coming to Discovery+ tomorrow, Thursday, March 4:
THE WALRUS AND THE WHISTLEBLOWER

Director:
Nathalie Bibeau

World Premiere:
Hot Docs 2020

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, DOXA, Taipei Golden Horse, Hot Springs Doc, Melbourne Doc, Newburyport Doc

About:
A former marine animal park trainer wages a war to save his beloved walrus.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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Thessaloniki Doc 2021 Overview

Festival:
The 23rd Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival

Dates:
March 4-14 (online)

About:
Greece’s respected nonfiction event will take part in two phases this year: March’s presentation of approximately 50 films – new and retrospective features as well as shorts – is exclusive to Greece and presented online, with a hybrid component taking place June 24-July 4 featuring several competition sections and a Greek panorama.

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On VOD: KOSHIEN: JAPAN’S FIELD OF DREAMS

Coming to VOD today, Tuesday, March 2:
KOSHIEN: JAPAN’S FIELD OF DREAMS

Director:
Ema Ryan Yamazaki

World Premiere:
DOC NYC 2019

Select Festivals:
DMZ Docs

About:
An inside look at Japan’s popular national high school baseball championship.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On DVD: ZAPPA

Coming to DVD tomorrow, Tuesday, March 2:
ZAPPA

Director:
Alex Winter

World Premiere:
SXSW 2020 (unscreened)

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, Camden, Montclair, Philadelphia

About:
The definitive portrait of musician Frank Zappa.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On DVD: ON THIN ICE

Coming to DVD tomorrow, Tuesday, March 2:
ON THIN ICE

Director:
Keli Price

World Premiere:
VOD release (Feb 2021)

About:
A look at athletes how have faced inequalities in competitive sports.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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Berlin 2021: Documentary Overview

Festival:
The 71st Berlinale

Dates:
March 1-5 (industry)

About:
Germany’s world-class film event presents its scaled-down line-up of approximately 100 features – docs or hybrids making up a third – for industry online over the next few days, with in-person screenings of these selections planned for the public this June.

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On VOD: ‘TIL KINGDOM COME

Coming to VOD today, Friday, February 26:
‘TIL KINGDOM COME

Director:
Maya Zinshtein

World Premiere:
Docaviv 2020

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, IDFA, Chicago, Denver, Double Exposure

About:
An investigation of unlikely political bedfellows between America and Israel.

The film screened as part of DOC NYC, for which our program notes read:
In this provocative look at strange political bedfellows, Israeli filmmaker Maya Zinshtein investigates the political alliance between American evangelicals and Israel’s right wing, and their influence on the Trump administration’s foreign policy. Why do American church leaders encourage parishioners to make donations to Israel, even from poor communities? Because they believe Israel’s expansion will play a key role in end-times prophecy, when Christians will be saved and others—including Jews—will perish.

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In Virtual Release: UNTITLED PIZZA MOVIE

Coming to virtual cinemas via Metrograph beginning tomorrow, Friday, February 26:
UNTITLED PIZZA MOVIE

Director:
David Shapiro

World Premiere:
Sundance 2020

About:
The filmmaker revisits a long-unfinished project to make sense of the passing of his friend and collaborator.

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

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On VOD Redux: SKI BUM: THE WARREN MILLER STORY

Coming to Discovery+ tomorrow, Friday, February 26:
SKI BUM: THE WARREN MILLER STORY

Director:
Patrick Creadon

World Premiere:
Slamdance 2019

Select Festivals:
Big Sky Doc, Seattle, Boulder, Calgary Underground, Breckenridge, BendFilm

About:
A portrait of the influential ski filmmaker.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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