Category Archives: Film

On DVD: WEINER

weinerComing to DVD today, Tuesday, August 23: WEINER

Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg’s immersive look at an infamous political campaign had its world premiere at Sundance this year, where it won a grand jury prize. Screenings followed at True/False, New Directors/NewFilms, Hot Docs, Full Frame, Sarasota, RiverRun, Nashville, IFF Boston, San Francisco, Montclair, and Sydney, among other events.

I profiled the doc before Sundance here.

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In Theatres: KATE PLAYS CHRISTINE

kate plays christineComing to theatres tomorrow, Wednesday, August 24: KATE PLAYS CHRISTINE

Robert Greene’s provocative exploration of performance and empathy made its debut at Sundance this year, where it won a special jury prize. The film went on to screen at Nantucket, Berlin, True/False, Indielisboa, DocAviv, Sydney, BAMcinemaFest, New Zealand, Melbourne, and Sydney.

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

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On DVD: TAB HUNTER CONFIDENTIAL

tabhunterconfidential006tabswimsuitComing to DVD tomorrow, Tuesday, August 23: TAB HUNTER CONFIDENTIAL

Jeffrey Schwarz’s look at the screen icon’s secrets made its bow at SXSW last year. Its fest circuit included Cleveland, Seattle, Maryland, Provincetown, Revelation, and LGBT fests all over the world.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On DVD/VOD: THE OTHER SIDE

other sideComing to DVD and VOD tomorrow, Tuesday, August 23: THE OTHER SIDE

Roberto Minervini’s hybridized look at life on Louisiana’s margins debuted at Cannes last year. It went on to screen at Toronto, Karlovy Vary, Biografilm, Bergen, Rio, Palm Springs, True/False, Goteborg, Docs Against Gravity, and the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Art of the Real.

I previously wrote about the film here.

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In Theatres: MAKING A KILLING: GUNS, GREED, AND THE NRA

making a killingComing to theatres today, Friday, August 19: MAKING A KILLING: GUNS, GREED, AND THE NRA

Robert Greenwald’s polemic against the pro-gun lobby debuts this weekend around the country.

Like his previous films about Halliburton, the Koch brothers, and Wal-Mart, Greenwald’s latest exhaustively trumpets that the core motivation of the National Rifle Association is not some principled desire to protect a constitutional right but instead a far simpler one: profit, at any cost. With its pointed subtitle, this won’t come as a surprise to anyone, and will just serve to confirm the viewpoint of its likely audience of like-minded gun control advocates – it’s hard to imagine that the NRA membership would bother to watch. In practice, the film falls short of its intended goal – beyond noting the annual salaries of key NRA officials and the profits of notable gun companies or gun sellers, it doesn’t dig deeper than listing NRA campaign contribution amounts to legislators who have blocked sensible gun laws and, in a big misstep, flashing pictures of mansions, yachts, and private jets as some kind of indictment against profit – as if these trappings of success are somehow unique to this industry. Instead of investigating the money trail further, Greenwald instead spends the bulk of his film on several stories related to gun violence, including a woman shot by her estranged husband, a teenager accidentally killed with a family’s unlocked gun, a suicide enabled by an impulsive gun purchase, a broader consideration of illegal guns in Chicago, and the Aurora CO movie theatre mass shooting. While overlong, particularly the Chicago segment, these episodes illustrate textbook examples of the problems with America’s lax gun laws, from the lack of background checks and waiting periods to the gun show loophole. Hammering the point home, Greenwald overlays statistic over statistic over statistic, so much so that they sadly become numbing after awhile. Ultimately, the film has the best of intentions, but is hampered by its execution.

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In Theatres: LAMPEDUSA IN WINTER

Lampedusa-in-WinterComing to NYC’s Anthology Film Archives today, Friday, August 19: LAMPEDUSA IN WINTER

Jakob Brossmann’s portrait of an Italian island’s Sisyphean struggle with the international refugee crisis had its world premiere at Locarno last year. Since then it has screened at IDFA, Sydney, New Zealand, Stockholm, Watch Docs, BelDocs, DOXA, DocPoint, CPH:DOX, and Ischia, among other events.

Located on Europe’s outer edge, the small island of Lampedusa has long been the destination for African refugees seeking an escape from poverty, persecution, and conflict. In the face of the ongoing refugee crisis, residents have seen a constant stream of desperate people crossing the Mediterranean, often needing to be rescued by the Lampedusian coast guard – or, tragically, losing their lives at sea. Brossmann chronicles two winters on the island, painting a portrait of the community as it contends with its unenviable position at the center of the refugee crisis and the pressures this brings to bear on daily life. In this observational study, various figures emerge – the local radio station’s acerbic DJ, the town’s embattled mayor, a concerned woman who tries to help refugees stuck in processing limbo, museum curators who comb though the detritus of a refugee ship graveyard for items to display, and factions of fisherman who protest inadequate ferry services to the mainland. This is a quiet, but impactful, microcosmic look at the greatest humanitarian crisis of the present day, as experienced by those who have no choice but to respond.

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In Theatres & On VOD: LO AND BEHOLD, REVERIES OF THE CONNECTED WORLD

lo and beholdComing to theatres and VOD today, Friday, August 19: LO AND BEHOLD, REVERIES OF THE CONNECTED WORLD

Werner Herzog’s far-ranging musings on the impact of the web debuted at Sundance earlier this year. Its fest circuit has also included Nantucket, San Francisco, Seattle, Cleveland, AFI Docs, BAMcinemaFest, Florida, Traverse City, and Hot Docs.

I profiled the doc before Sundance here.

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