Category Archives: Documentary

On VOD: DRUG$: THE PRICE WE PAY

Coming to VOD tomorrow, Saturday, December 15:
DRUG$: THE PRICE WE PAY

Director:
Jonathan Marshall Thompson

Premiere:
NYC theatrical (December 2018)

About:
An exploration of the power and influence of Big Pharma in fixing drug prices.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Documentary, Film, Releases

In Theatres: THAT WAY MADNESS LIES…

Coming to theatres today, Friday, December 14:
THAT WAY MADNESS LIES…

Director:
Sandra Luckow

Premiere:
Northwest Film Center (May 2017)

Select Festivals:
Hot Springs Women’s, Richmond

About:
The filmmaker is drawn into the financial, emotional, and legal mess of her brother’s mental health issues.

Over several years, filmmaker Sandra Luckow increasingly has to step up to deal with the cascading consequences of her 40something brother Duanne’s untreated mental health problems. Though always something of a misfit, particularly in any matters relating to women, Duanne was a capable small-business owner and talented classic car restorer, owned a home, and had a few close male friends. In a short time span, he lost everything, was pitted against his sister, and was committed involuntarily to the Oregon State Hospital. Before things went totally south, Sandra begins filming him, hoping this would help her make sense of his condition and help him admit his problems, as his own interest in filmmaking as a teen inspired Sandra to work in the medium. Over time, however, he moves from being a willing participant to an adversary, as the scope of his sickness is revealed and his resistance to being classified as mentally ill grows, despite engaging in increasingly damaging behaviors that threaten not only himself but his parents’ financial security. While the story has a number of disturbing and unexpected twists and turns that make it compellingly watchable at times, as well as revealing about the sorry state of our society’s willingness to properly contend with mental health issues, Luckow’s filmmaking approach unfortunately drags the project down. Given that she is a key part of the story, it’s unavoidable that Luckow have an onscreen presence, but she overdoes it by half, excessively and superfluously narrating and filming herself, resulting in an uncinematic documentary.

Leave a comment

Filed under Documentary, Film, Releases

In Theatres: LOTS OF KIDS, A MONKEY AND A CASTLE

Coming to theatres today, Friday, December 14:
LOTS OF KIDS, A MONKEY AND A CASTLE

Director:
Gustavo Salmerón

Premiere:
Karlovy Vary 2017

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, Toronto, IDFA, London, Sydney, Melbourne, Hamptons, Camden, San Sebastian, San Francisco, Docaviv, Encounters

About:
A film about the director’s eccentric mother as she reacts to the loss of one of her dreams.

The film screened as part of DOC NYC, for which our program notes read:
Spanish actor Gustavo Salmerón makes his directorial debut with a winsome, freewheeling family portrait. As a newlywed, his mother Julita made three wishes: she wanted lots of kids, a monkey, and a castle. She got them all with the help of a windfall inheritance. After an economic downturn, Julita is forced to sell the castle and unpack all its mysteries. Salmerón has created a boisterous, hilarious, and profoundly affectionate film.

Leave a comment

Filed under Documentary, Film, Recommendations, Releases

On TV: INTO THE OKAVANGO

Coming to National Geographic Wild tomorrow, Friday, December 14:
INTO THE OKAVANGO

Director:
Neil Gelinas

Premiere:
Tribeca 2018

Select Festivals:
Sheffield, Mountainfilm, Warsaw, Virginia, Los Cabos, Tahoe

About:
An expedition through Botswana’s biodiverse Okavango Delta.

One of the last few areas of pristine wetland wilderness, the Okavango Delta is home to a diverse range of animal species. Concerned that the freshwater rivers that sustain the habitat are under threat, South African conservation biologist Steve Boyes gathers a team to explore the Cuito River over a 121 days. As shown in Gelinas beautifully lensed chronicle of their voyage, not all goes to plan, with obstacles of all types emerging, from a dried up river to an angry hippopotamus. Still, along the way, the group makes discoveries both promising and worrying, lending an urgent note to this well-made project.

Leave a comment

Filed under Documentary, Film, Recommendations

In Theatres & On VOD: THE INSUFFERABLE GROO

Coming to select theatres and to VOD tomorrow, Friday, December 14:
THE INSUFFERABLE GROO

Director:
Scott Christopherson

Premiere:
Sheffield 2018

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, Sydney Underground, Calgary Underground

About:
A behind-the-scenes look at the life and work of a low-budget auteur.

I previously wrote about the film for DOC NYC’s program, saying:
Stephen Groo is a self-proclaimed auteur, narrowing in on his 200th film in 20 years. His oeuvre of outlandishly awful genre films has managed to attract admirers like NAPOLEON DYNAMITE’s Jared Hess and Jack Black, but the Utah-based director has never made a dime off of his work, leaving his wife to provide for their family of four small boys. As Groo attempts to make his latest opus, his narcissism threatens to prove his undoing in this entertaining look at low-budget guerrilla filmmaking.

Leave a comment

Filed under Documentary, Film, Recommendations, Releases

On TV: GG ALLIN: ALL IN THE FAMILY

Coming to Showtime tomorrow, Thursday, December 13:
GG ALLIN: ALL IN THE FAMILY

Director:
Sami Saif

Premiere:
CPH:DOX 2017 (under original title THE ALLINS: ONE HELL OF A FAMILY)

Select Festivals:
Melbourne, Bergen, Cinedelphia, L’Étrange, Doc’n Roll, Rokumentti, Sound Unseen, Sydney Underground

About:
The mother and brother of the infamous punk musician keep his memory alive.

Notorious for his outrageous gross-out behavior onstage, punk rocker GG Allin developed a cult following which was only bolstered after his death by heroin overdose in 1993. Twenty-five years later, fans regularly desecrate his grave to show their appreciation – something that Allin’s mother, Arleta is sick of dealing with. She wants people to know her son’s sweeter, more sensitive side, rather than the extreme public persona he created. Arleta’s other son, Merle, on the other hand, seems more than happy to perpetuate that character and his music through their band The Murder Junkies. Sami Saif’s film is most intriguing when focused on Arleta and Merle, and exploring Allin’s personal side, but gets a bit too caught up in revisiting the by now more familiar public story of the performer, losing focus and its unique perspective in the process.

Leave a comment

Filed under Documentary, Film, Releases

On DVD/VOD: SOCIAL ANIMALS

New to DVD and VOD this week:
SOCIAL ANIMALS

Director:
Jonathan Ignatius Green

Premiere:
SXSW 2018

Select Festivals:
Newport Beach, SF DocFest, Kansas City

About:
An exploration of the impact of social media on three teenagers.

The only thing that immediately links the protagonists of Jonathan Ignatius Green’s semi-cautionary tale is their interaction with Instagram. The likeable NYC-based Humza has achieved social media notoriety with his urban exploring posts, though he attracts a level of unwanted attention as well. Irritating LA rich girl Kaylyn obsessively builds up her “brand.” Ordinary girl Emma, meanwhile, faces online bullying in rural Ohio. Green’s project is well-produced and fittingly well-shot, but as a whole it suffers from its split focus. While Humza’s thread potentially could have carried the movie on its own, Kaylyn’s is simply vapid, and Emma’s overly familiar, lessening the doc’s overall affect.

Leave a comment

Filed under Documentary, Film, Releases