Coming to theatres tomorrow, Friday, August 16:
COLD CASE HAMMARSKJÖLD
Nantucket, True/False, Hot Docs, Thessaloniki Doc, Göteborg, One World, Movies That Matter, AFI Docs, Docville, It’s All True, Moscow, Docs Against Gravity, DocsBarcelona, Seattle, Transilvania, Greenwich, Encounters, Biografilm, Docaviv, Munich, Melbourne
A provocative investigation of the 1961 death of the United Nations Secretary-General.
My pre-Sundance profile of the doc may be found here.
Coming to theatres tomorrow, Thursday, August 15:
SCARED OF REVOLUTION
Full Frame, Nederlands, Docs Against Gravity
A frank portrait of Umar Bin Hassan of The Last Poets.
Part of the influential collective of African-American poets and performers known as The Last Poets, Umar Bin Hassan espoused Black Power, struggling against the legacy of slavery and racism in America. Seeking to raise the consciousness of his people, his was a direct, confrontational style that also called out personal responsibility, such as his best-known, provocative piece, which lends Daniel Krikke’s film its title, “Niggers Are Scared of Revolution.” In this brutally honest profile, Hassan looks back on his life and on his personal demons that have led him to continue a cycle of neglect passed on from his own father. As he owns up to his shortcomings, the artist seeks to make amends for his past and repair relationships and trust with his family.
New to VOD via Netflix this week:
ROLL RED ROLL
Nantucket, New Orleans, Hot Docs, Traverse City, Hamptons, Denver, Göteborg, Guanajuato, Globe Docs, Sidewalk, Santa Barbara, Double Exposure, Bend, Tallgrass, Hot Springs Doc, Big Sky Doc, SF Jewish, Human Rights Watch
An exploration of rape and its cover-up in a small town.
I previously wrote about the doc here.
Coming to NYC’s Rooftop Films tomorrow, Thursday, August 15:
Sheffield, DokuFest, Big Sky Doc, Slamdance, DOXA, Indielisboa, Chicago Underground, Revelation, Sydney Underground, In-Edit Spain, Cork, Freep, Florida
A look back at underground happenings stemming from the 1980s LA punk and industrial scene.
Years before Burning Man, a like-minded community of outsiders left their ordinary lives behind to experience music and performances in the desert – as well as one gathering on a cruise. Though lasting only a couple of years, Stuart Swezey’s Desolation Center events left their mark on organizers, attendees, and performers alike. In his directorial debut, Swezey recounts the origin and history of this undertaking, born of the surprisingly inclusive early 1980s LA scene and the resistance it experienced from the LAPD. When the latter made it virtually impossible to stage larger events within the city, Swezey, then in his early 20s, and his collaborators rented buses and headed out to the Mojave Desert. Aside from his first-hand account, Swezey draws from other organizers, attendees, performers, and musicians to supplement a wealth of archival recordings and material to tell a fascinating, little-known chapter of music history.
Coming to HBO tonight, Wednesday, August 14:
ALTERNATE ENDINGS: SIX NEW WAYS TO DIE IN AMERICA
Perri Peltz and Matthew O’Neill
Aspen Ideas 2019
An exploration of how Americans are confronting death and celebrating life.
At the beginning of Perri Peltz and Matthew O’Neill’s film, it’s noted that last year was the first in which cremation was the preferred choice of Americans. With traditional burial-focused funerals losing favor, alternative and unconventional end-of-life choices are on the upswing, as represented in a brief walk through an annual funeral directors convention and a look at a drive-through viewing. While the film maintains a survey approach for its remainder, it’s a more respectful and considered one, putting the spotlight, each in turn, on six alternative ways of recognizing the dead or dying: environmentally-minded memorial reefs and green burials, freedom of autonomy-focused death with dignity/medial aid in dying and living wakes, and unorthodox ways of honoring the wishes of the recently departed, including space burials and celebrations of life – in the latter case, a Batman-themed party for the friends and family of a young boy who died of cancer. The filmmakers offer sensitive profiles in each of these cases, inviting in the audience to experience the love and loss felt by family members – in one case, watching a subject pass on camera. The result is a fitting and affecting tribute to life.
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images | Courtesy Vision Films
New to VOD today, Tuesday, August 13:
MANSON: MUSIC FROM AN UNSOUND MIND
VOD release (August 2019)
An exploration of how Charles Manson’s failed music ambitions informed his criminality.
Tackling similar terrain as that in Karina Longworth’s acclaimed 2015 You Must Remember This podcast series on Manson’s surprising connections to Hollywood and the music industry, director Tim O’Dell traces the cult leader’s aspirations to become a successful singer-songwriter. Even before he began his infamous “Family,” Manson wrote songs in prison, gaining the attention of his fellow inmate, who connected him with a Hollywood insider. Once out, he pursued music as a career while pimping out young women, eventually coming into the circle of Dennis Wilson of The Beach Boys and Terry Melcher, music producer and son of Doris Day. While already possessed of his strange obsession with The Beatles and delusional fears of a race war, Manson’s directing of the Tate/LaBianca murders and others were, it is argued here, in part, a result of his frustrations around not being taken seriously as a singer-songwriter. Even after his arrest, the deluded killer believed that the release of an album of his music would somehow vindicate him. Drawing on interviews with a handful of insiders – including a former Family member and musicians involved in the proceedings – as well as recordings of Manson performing his songs, the otherwise fairly engaging film is unfortunately cheapened by excessive narration and an occasionally irksome score.
Coming to theatres tomorrow, Wednesday, August 14:
Bettina Perut and Iván Osnovikoff
CPH:DOX, Film Comment Selects, DocPoint, Göteborg, Montclair, Biografilm, Miami, Portland
A portrait of two stray dogs living in a Chilean skatepark.
Skateboarding teenagers are not the only regulars in Santiago’s first skate park. The site also is home to Footbol and Chola, two beautiful stray dogs who spend their time running around and fetching balls, soda bottles, and other objects. As filmmakers Bettina Perut and Iván Osnovikoff capture these furry friends on camera, they also eavesdrop on the youth of the park. Revealed through their offscreen voices, the skater kids display the brashness and braggadocio of teenage boys, telling stories of girlfriends, getting high, selling weed, and rebelling against parents and other authorities. Ultimately, however, the canines take center stage, drawing in the audience to their rhythms and companionship while smartly resisting overt anthropomorphism that easily could have turned this bittersweet, exceptionally warm project into a schmaltzy affair.