Category Archives: Recommendations

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.

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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.

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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.

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In Theatres: NEVER-ENDING MAN: HAYAO MIYAZAKI

Coming to theates today, Wednesday December 13 and next Tuesday, December 18:
NEVER-ENDING MAN: HAYAO MIYAZAKI

Director:
Kaku Arakawa

Premiere:
Japanese TV (November 2016)

Select Festivals:
Nippon Connection, Singapore, SF Japan

About:
A look at legendary Japanese animation director Hayao Miyazaki after his retirement.

Less than two years after announcing his retirement from filmmaking, the Studio Ghibli icon confesses to the filmmaker that he has a nagging desire to make something new. To this end, he meets with a group of young CGI animators to develop a short film about a caterpillar and finds himself revitalized and excited to create again. Arakawa goes behind the scenes as Miyazaki confronts the possibilities – and limits – of this new technology, facing inspiration, disappointment, and new realizations as the project transforms. The film captures the animation legend with candor at both his home and in the Studio Ghibli offices, and while its production values are better suited to broadcast than to theatres, it offers his legion of fans an insightful look at his creative process.

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On DVD: MAKALA

Coming to DVD today, Tuesday, December 11:
MAKALA

Director:
Emmanuel Gras

Premiere:
Cannes 2017

Select Festivals:
Karlovy Vary, Toronto, London, Busan, IDFA, CPH:DOX, True/False, Thessaloniki Doc, New Directors/New Films, Poland’s New Horizons, Palm Springs, Goteborg, Tokyo, Hamburg, Vienna

About:
A young Congolese man embarks on a Sisyphean trek to sell charcoal.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On DVD: QUIET HEROES

Coming to DVD today, Tuesday, December 11:
QUIET HEROES

Directors:
Jenny Mackenzie, Jared Ruga, and Amanda Stoddard

Premiere:
Sundance 2018

Select Festivals:
Frameline, BFI Flare, Portland QDoc, TLVFest

About:
A tribute to the only medical professionals in Utah who would treat patients with AIDS in the early years of the epidemic.

My pre-Sundance profile may be found here.

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On TV: THE GODFATHERS OF HARDCORE

Coming to Showtime this Wednesday, December 12:
THE GODFATHERS OF HARDCORE

Director:
Ian McFarland

Premiere:
DOC NYC 2017

Select Festivals:
Big Sky Doc, SF Doc, Florida, IFF Boston, In Edit, Sound Unseen, Raindance

About:
A profile of the long-standing punk band Agnostic Front.

I previously wrote about the film DOC NYC’s program, saying:
The hardcore punk band Agnostic Front formed in 1980 and soon became synonymous with the New York punk scene. At its core were Vinnie Stigma and Roger Miret. Over 35 years later, the legendary guitarist, born and raised on Mott Street, and his Cuban-born vocalist bandmate are still going strong. Interweaving remarkable archival footage of the early days of Agnostic Front with present-day interviews and performances, Ian McFarland’s film captures the duo’s unmistakable personalities and their influential band’s enduring legacy.

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