Category Archives: Recommendations

On VOD: THE GIFT: THE JOURNEY OF JOHNNY CASH

Coming to VOD via Hulu today, Monday, November 11:
THE GIFT: THE JOURNEY OF JOHNNY CASH

Director:
Thom Zimny

World Premiere:
SXSW 2019

Select Festivals:
CPH:DOX, Telluride, Nashville, Belfast, Melbourne, New Zealand, Mill Valley

About:
An oral history of and tribute to the legendary country musician.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On TV: VERY RALPH

Coming to HBO tomorrow, Tuesday, November 12:
VERY RALPH

Director:
Susan Lacy

World Premiere:
Rome 2019

About:
A biographical portrait of pioneering fashion designer Ralph Lauren.

Timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Ralph Lauren brand, celebrated in the film’s culmination, filmmaker Susan Lacy’s film is a handsomely mounted tribute to to the designer, as well as an exploration of how he developed his iconic brand. The more straightforward biographical elements retell Lauren’s American success story as the son of immigrants whose unique sense of style paved the way for him to become a transformative menswear designer, but the more compelling material delves a little further into his savvy understanding of brand-building. Developing a unique sense of Americana that both draws from the past but manages to remain timeless, Lauren created an aspirational brand that surprisingly resonated with a diverse audience, despite – or maybe because of – its distinct connotations of privilege. While Lacy gathers a surprising who’s who of famous admirers and fellow fashion icons to discuss Lauren’s importance and impact, it’s in the moments when this aspect of the brand is discussed that the film stands out.

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On TV: THE INTERPRETERS

Coming to PBS’s Independent Lens today, Monday, November 11:
THE INTERPRETERS

Directors:
Andres Caballero, Sofian Khan

World Premiere:
Mountainfilm Telluride 2018

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, Austin, San Diego, DocuWest, Napa Valley, Woodstock, Hot Springs Doc, Chagrin Doc, Portland

About:
Interpreters for American military forces face an uncertain future.

I previously wrote about the film for DOC NYC’s program, saying:
During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, US military forces relied on local translators to provide the communication critical for mission success. Serving side by side with foreign soldiers, these loyal interpreters, invaluable to the Americans, are deemed traitors by Islamic extremists. After US troops withdraw, interpreters confront their fates: wait for promised but long-delayed special visas into the US, risk their lives to flee as refugees, or stay in their countries, facing certain death if discovered.

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In Theatres: WATSON

Coming to theatres today, Friday, November 8:
WATSON

Director:
Lesley Chilcott

World Premiere:
Tribeca 2019

Select Festivals:
Hamptons, Biografilm, Zurich, EarthxFilm, Melbourne, Camden

About:
A profile of the controversial ocean activist, Paul Watson.

Paul Watson has dedicated his life to preserving the fragile ecosystem of the oceans from the harm that humans cause. He was one of the co-founders of Greenpeace until a disagreement with that organization’s nonviolent approach led to his departure to form the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. At Sea Shepherd, Watson and his dedicated team risked their own lives regularly to prevent illegal whaling and fishing, and used the media to chronicle their daring encounters and influence public perception. Because of the nature of his activities, and the powerful forces he has dared stand against, Watson has found himself labeled an eco-terrorist and subject to international warrants. As a result, he has had to step down from active participation in Sea Shepherd’s missions lest he jeopardize the organization’s ability to function. Director Lesley Chilcott draws on an extensive archive of Watson’s lifetime of activism, including harrowing footage of the barbaric treatment of marine life he has fought against, to craft a compelling, if at times difficult watch.

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In Theatres: THE KINGMAKER

Coming to theatres today, Friday, November 8:
THE KINGMAKER

Director:
Lauren Greenfield

World Premiere:
Venice 2019

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, Toronto, Telluride, Camden, London, El Gouna, Hamptons, Chicago, AFI Fest, Mill Valley, Warsaw

About:
A Muslim athlete fights back against a ban on the hijab.

The film is screening as part of DOC NYC’s Short List, for which our program notes read:
Acclaimed photographer and filmmaker Lauren Greenfield continues her exploration of extreme wealth with the most political work of her career. Filmed over five years, this portrait of Imelda Marcos chronicles her efforts to exert control in the Philippines through support for President Rodrigo Duterte and the candidacy of her son Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos. Greenfield includes the voices of political dissidents who give damning testimony against the Marcos family.

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In Theatres: 16 BARS

Coming to theatres tomorrow, Friday, November 8:
16 BARS

Director:
Samuel Bathrick

Premiere:
DocLands 2018

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, Miami, Big Sky Doc, Salem, Virginia, Milwaukee

About:
An acclaimed musician leads a transformative program in a Virginia jail.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On DVD: FOOD COOP

New to DVD this week:
FOOD COOP

Director:
Tom Boothe

World Premiere:
Paris theatrical release (October 2016)

Select Festivals:
Planet in Focus, San Francisco Green, Twin Cities

About:
An in-depth look at Brooklyn’s Park Slope Food Coop.

Established in 1973, the Coop is a member-run collective that is able to offer a wide range of fresh food at substantially lower than average prices because they keep down costs by having the membership work the store. Planning his own Paris version of the Coop, director Tom Boothe observes the inner workings while also interviewing various members as they fulfill their work obligations, such as composting, clean up, check out, and walking customers to the subway; follows the activities of some of the small paid administrative staff; and checks in on various committees, who handle disciplinary matters, food selection, events, etc. While the project feels a bit overlong and shapeless, it works as an institutional portrait and successfully captures how this unique entity has managed to be a sustainable, successful business in the long-term.

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