Coming to DVD today, Monday, November 28: 3 1/2 MINUTES, TEN BULLETS
Marc Silver’s exploration of the murder of Jordan Davis had its world premiere at Sundance in 2015, picking up a special jury award. Its fest circuit also included Full Frame, Seattle, Sheffield, Ashland, RiverRun, and Human Rights Watch, among others.
My pre-Sundance profile of the doc may be found here.
Coming to DVD tomorrow, Tuesday, November 29: SOUNDBREAKING: STORIES FROM THE CUTTING EDGE OF RECORDED MUSIC
Maro Chermayeff and Jeff Dupre’s look at the modern history of recorded music had its premiere at SXSW this Spring. Screenings followed at DOC NYC and San Francisco, among other events, before its PBS debut earlier this month.
I previously wrote about the series here.
Coming to the World Channel’s Doc World series this Sunday, November 27: WALKING UNDER WATER
Eliza Kubarska’s portrait of a tribe of sea nomads near Borneo premiered at Hot Docs in 2014, where it won a special jury prize. Its fest circuit also included Traverse City, Los Angeles, Reykjavik, Vancouver, Zurich, London, Planete+ Doc, Denver, Palm Springs, and Margaret Mead, among several others.
Kubarska’s focus is on the Badjao, a vanishing people who once traversed the seas around Borneo, dependent on spearing deepwater fish using dangerous diving techniques. Her subjects, Alexan and his nephew Sari, are among the few Badjao left who are trying to maintain their traditional way of life in the face of a changing world and efforts by local authorities to normalize their existence, settling them on land and turning their talents to the service of tourism. The film employs striking underwater camerawork to capture its subjects’ watery world, creating a stark contrast with the seemingly dead-end options of land-borne modernity that they’re being pushed towards.
Coming to theatres today, Friday, November 25: MIFUNE: THE LAST SAMURAI
Steven Okazaki’s tribute to the prolific Japanese actor had its world premiere at Venice last year. Screenings followed at Telluride, London, Kyoto, Mill Valley, Hawaii, Denver, AFI Fest, and Taipei Golden Horse, among other events.
Toshiro Mifune receives a respectful if somewhat inert appreciation in Okazaki’s review of the actor’s career, which included a well-known collaboration with acclaimed auteur Akira Kurosawa which revitalized Japanese cinema in the postwar era. After an intriguing but too brief consideration of early Japanese film history sets the stage, the film begins its surface look at the actor’s career, largely through Keanu Reeves’ uninspired narration as well as from talking heads from admirers like Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese, collaborators, and family members. While some films receive more room for consideration, notably THRONE OF BLOOD, other classics like RASHOMON are given short shrift. As a whole, the doc feels too insider-baseball, likely to resonate primarily with pre-existing fans of the actor or of Kurosawa.
Coming to theatres today, Friday, November 25: THE C WORD
Meghan O’Hara’s personal exploration of the way cancer is approached in the West debuted at the Hamptons last year. Other screenings included DOC NYC, Cleveland, Martha’s Vineyard, Napa Valley, Traverse City, and Newport, among other events.
I previously wrote about the film for DOC NYC’s program, saying:
From filmmaker and cancer survivor Meghan O’Hara (producer of FAHRENHEIT 9/11, BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE, and SICKO), comes a daring and intimate film that seeks to change the way we think about cancer. O’Hara investigates the connection between the current cancer epidemic and our western lifestyle, including medical professionals’ tendency to treat only the symptoms and not the underlying causes of what ails us. Backed by personal experiences and the scientific validation of Dr David Servan-Schreiber, O’Hara asks us to reconsider the way we currently treat cancer, advocates for society-wide lifestyle changes, and tackles the institutions that stand in the way of those important changes.
Coming to VOD tomorrow, Friday, November 25: MAGNUS
Benjamin Ree’s profile of a chess champion had its world premiere at Tribeca earlier this year. Its festival circuit also included Munich, Traverse City, Moscow, Zurich, Vancouver, and the Hamptons. It now comes to iTunes.
I previously wrote about the doc here.
Coming to theatres tomorrow, Friday, November 25: BEHIND THE COVE
Keiko Yagi’s rebuttal to Louie Psihoyos’ Academy Award-winning film debuted at Montreal World last year. It has also screened in Japan.
As signaled by its title, Yagi’s film is a direct response to THE COVE, aiming to more accurately portray the Japanese side of the story, which the director, and other Japanese critics, have argued was absent or misrepresented by the earlier film. To tell her story, Yagi returns to Taiji, the town depicted in Psihoyos’ film which annually hosts the dolphin drive hunt that is so graphically shown in THE COVE, and which resulted in the scrutiny and condemnation of the international wildlife conservation community. While the filmmaker’s intent is to some extent understandable, wishing to provide a counter-narrative and defense of Japanese practices from an inside vantage point, in contrast to the earlier film’s outsider, non-Japanese perspective, the fundamental problem with Yagi’s film is that it’s frankly not at all well made unfortunately. The director is an acknowledged neophyte who barely knows how her camera works, the film lacks a clear structure, it features terrible editing and narration, and, worst of all, it couches the bulk of its defense of Taiji hunting practices in cultural differences and tradition, without ever acknowledging the key argument against the slaughter: cetacean intelligence.