WE ♥ DOCS
"Awe-inspiring!" Among the many fantastic documentaries of 2013, one we suggest seeking out at your earliest convenience is a fun, fascinating art doc called Tim's Vermeer. The doc is the directing debut of Teller, one half of Penn & Teller, both of whom produced this film about their friend Tim Jenison, who attempts (and pretty much does) debunk the myth of artist Johannes Vermeer and how he painted such detailed artwork. The film has been receiving rave reviews from festivals all over (I saw it in Telluride and enjoyed it quite a bit) and has made the cut for the Oscar's Best Documentary shortlist, meaning it has a chance for a nomination. I'm sure a trailer is next, but until then check out the new poster below via HitFix.
"Bikini's and big booties - that's what it's all about." It's December which means we're already getting to that time of year when Top 10 lists arrive, and one of the first up is John Waters, the eccentric filmmaker (of Pink Flamingos, Polyester, Hairspray) who always has unique choices on his year end list, and this year is no exception. The list comes from ArtForum (via MCN) and includes a number of documentaries along with a number of odd picks for his favorite films. And yes, #1 is Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers, which he describes as "the best sexploitation film of the year." This is definitely going to rile up some folks. Read on!
If Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street, Ben Stiller's The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Robert De Niro & Sylvester Stallone facing off in Grudge Match or Keanu Reeves' 47 Ronin doesn't tickle your fancy on Christmas Day, you'll have another option. In an attempt to get bored teens on winter break into theaters, Open Road Films will release Justin Bieber's Believe, a second concert documentary from G.I. Joe: Retaliation director Jon M. Chu (who directed the pop stars first documentary Never Say Never). If you're not a Justin Bieber fan, this first trailer likely isn't for you, but Chu's work behind the camera looks good.
Just recently, we talked about how Netflix wants to get into the film distribution game, and not only stream feature films through their service, but make big films available day and date with the theatrical release. In the meantime, they're releasing an original documentary called The Short Game, a festival favorite executive produced by Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel that follows a group of youth golfers as they they train for the World Championships of Junior Golf. It's reminiscent of the spelling bee doc Spellbound, with the added bonus of music by Mark Mothersbaugh. The film won the audience award at SXSW and hit limited theaters in September, but everyone should check it out on Netflix next month. Watch below!
Following the devastation Hurricane Sandy brought to New York last fall, the Robin Hood Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund put together The Concert for Sandy Relief in order to raise funds to help those effected by the natural disaster. The concert featured music icons from yesterday and today including Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, The Who, Kanye West, Jon Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, Alicia Keys, Coldplay's Chris Martin, R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe, Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl and even comedians like Jon Stewart, Adam Sandler, Billy Crystal and more. A documentary called 12-12-12 was put together chronicling the efforts put into the one-night-only event, and now a trailer has arrived. Watch it!
Earlier this year, MIT held a special screening of Michel Gondry's new documentary Is the Man Who is Tall Happy?, a unique journey into the mind of American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, and political activist, Noam Chomsky. Now IFC Films is bringing this film to theaters next month, the official first trailer is here, complete with fantastic illustrations from Gondry to help bring Chomsky's thoughts and words to life. Leave it to the director of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Be Kind Rewind to do something so unique with a doc like this. It looks like it will be trippy visually and mentally. Watch below!
The sports drama is a subgenre that audiences eat up at least once every single year. And while most of those films exist as feature film narratives, every now and then those kinds of stories come from real people in the form of documentaries. One such story is Medora, which follows a high school basketball team in a small town that was once a booming rural community with prosperous farms, an automotive parts factory, a brick plant, and a thriving middle class, but now the residents say, "This town's on the ropes." But the triumph of their team, in the middle of a terrible losing streak, just might give them the little bit of hope they need. Now we have the trailer for the documentary which everyone can relate to in some way. Watch!
"You just see a master at his craft..." This will bring a smile to your face. A second trailer has debuted for Dear Mr. Watterson, the documentary about the legacy of Calvin & Hobbes, the comic strip created by Bill Watterson that remains one of the most beloved comics around. We featured the very first trailer for this doc back in July when it was about to hit film festivals after being successfully Kickstarter funded and finished. With the film's release coming up next month (mid-November), a second trailer has debuted and it's as charming as you're hoping. Whether or not you're a big Calvin & Hobbes fan, this is a must watch doc.
Sony Pictures Classics has unveiled the first trailer for Alex Gibney's doc The Armstrong Lie, telling the brutally honest and intimate inside story of cyclist Lance Armstrong and his years of lying about doping. Gibney began making this doc to tell the story of Lance's return to the Tour de France, but as the story about his doping evolved, the doc evolved into a story about his lies. It even explores the idea that Lance was lying to Alex all along and there's an interview where he asks him tough questions to finally get real answers. I just saw the doc this week and it's an intriguing exploration of the full story, but I prefer Gibney's other doc this year about WikiLeaks titled We Steal Secrets more. That said, both of his docs are worth seeing anyway.
It's October, which means it's prime time for some horror movie fun. There will be non-stop marathons of your favorite movies all over TV, even if the horror offerings on the big screen this month are rather scarce. And for all the horror fanatics out there, Filmmaker IQ (via Movies.com) stumbled upon a documentary from awhile back called Masters of Horror. The 90-minute documentary aired on the Sci-Fi channel (before it became SyFy), and is hosted by cult classic favorite star Bruce Campbell. The documentary dives into the minds of some of the most prolific horror directors and also some staple effects geniuses.
Following a debut on HBO earlier this year, the documentary Casting By, an informative chronicle of the work of casting directors over the years in Hollywood, the film is being prepared for a theatrical release. Why would a documentary that already premiered on cable head to theaters? Well, THR reports Submarine Deluxe is picking up the US theatrical rights to the film from director Tom Donahue in order to help the film qualify for a potential Academy Awards nomination in the Best Documentary category. The film would open in New York and Los Angeles in November and then expand into other cities eventually. More below!
I love being inspired. I genuinely love watching or hearing stories that inspire me, and inspire everyone else, to pursue their dreams and live their life in a way that continues to inspire others. Many people are familiar with the research facility near Geneva, Switzerland called the Large Hadron Collider, or LHC, run by CERN. This gigantic, 18-mile circle of tubes is filled with electromagnets that force the smallest particles in existence to smash into each other. A documentary called Particle Fever, showing at the New York Film Festival, tells the inside story of the LHC following a few of the theoretical/experimental physicists working on the project. It is utterly fascinating and inspiring on many levels. While not a perfect doc, I still loved it.
"A mind-expanding work of art." Now that is some great praise that makes me happy to hear. Genre festival Fantastic Fest 2013 is currently underway at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, TX. Among the many films screening at the festival is a sci-fi documentary called Jodorowsky's Dune, profiling Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky's ambitious attempt to adapt Frank Herbert's Dune in the 1970s. It's an outstanding must-see doc that first premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, where it ended up as one of my favorite films of that fest. The doc just premiered down at Fantastic Fest and is getting rave reviews from almost everyone.
Though the subject of abortion is a hotly debated topic, there aren't many parties who argue in favor of third-trimester abortions, a task that is only practiced by four doctors in the United States, following the killing of the infamous Dr. George Tiller. All of these doctors are former colleagues of Tiller's and claim an allegiance to their patients and any of their needs. Now the documentary After Tiller, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival provides information on these doctors' lives and the stance they have taken in their job about this controversial topic. But it's up to to audiences to decide how they feel in the end. Watch!