WE ♥ DOCS
These are the documentaries everyone needs to see; you must see them, they are worth your time. These are not the only documentaries that matter, but of course, nor are they the only good documentaries this year, but if you're looking for a list of some documentaries to start watching - well, start here, with any of these. This week, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announced (list via Deadline/Variety) the "shortlist" of documentaries that made the cut from 134 eligible submissions down to just 15. From Roger Ebert to Alejandro Jodorowsky, from Edward Snowden to Sebastião Salgado, the selection this year is fantastic, and I'm glad that all of my favorites made the cut. Many of these are already out on VOD + DVD.
After making a surprise appearance on the big screen at the conclusion of This is The End last year, the once thriving boy band Backstreet Boys will return to theaters with a feature length documentary called Backstreet Boys: Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of. The film has been picked up by Gravitas Ventures for release in theaters and on VOD on January 30th, 2015. The documentary follows two years in the lives of the singing group's members: Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell, AJ McLean and Kevin Richardson. The group rose to fame in 1996 as the first big boy band, beating *NSYNC to teenage fandom.
"'Amazed' and 'excited' would be good words when you came across new work by Ralph [McQuarrie]." With Star Wars on everyone's mind, there's no better time than now to feature these five segments of a mini-documentary about concept artist Ralph McQuarrie. McQuarrie's work on the Star Wars series is iconic, representing much of the look and feel of the world that was later translated into celluloid by George Lucas and his crew. There's a feature-length doc about McQuarrie in the works already, but in the meantime Lucasfilm (via Gizmodo) has posted separate 7-minute segments, featuring interviews with Lucas' crew. As a solid recap of the man who imagined the sci-fi world we all love, this is quite engaging/fascinating to watch.
"As for me, I'm done making movies." Here's something to make you smile. GKids has released an official US trailer for The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness, a documentary about legendary animation house Studio Ghibli in Japan. From director Mami Sunada, the doc provides an unprecedented inside look at the inner workings of Ghibli and the daily life of animator Hayao Miyazaki, who has officially retired from making features. I've seen this documentary and it's absolutely wonderful, I was refreshed and felt so happy by the end. There's a certain magic to Studio Ghibli and they capture some of that, then again I just could go on spending days watching footage of Miyazaki-san smile and laugh. This doc is a real gem - don't miss it.
We first wrote about this documentary a few months ago, originally posting a video of Banksy showcasing his own work, not actually a trailer. HBO has, finally, launched a trailer for the documentary Banksy Does New York that they're airing in November. It'll actually be available starting this Friday via the HBO GO app, so if this captures your attention there isn't too long of a wait to see it. The trailer shows a doc that seems to be indeed based on "user-generated footage", with pop up tweets and videos, but there's not much to it. I honestly was expecting to see more, especially with Banksy putting together a three minute trailer. Maybe more will come, then again I want to watch this doc right now anyway. More on Banksy's NY show.
We're still waiting to see when the latest film from director Spike Lee, a non-traditional vampire flick called Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, will hit theaters, but there's still plenty of work the filmmaker has done that you can see right now. Lee directed the stand-up specials Katt Williams: Priceless and Jerrod Carmichael: Love at the Store (both are available on HBO right now), and he was also behind the camera for a great little documentary short called I Throw Like a Girl. The 16-minute doc focuses on Mo'ne Davis, a 13-year old Little League pitcher who made waves at the Little League World Series this past summer. She's awesome.
Earlier this year, we heard rumblings that Martin Scorsese might be working on a film about legendary punk rock band The Ramones, but there's yet to be any official confirmation that will happen. However, another iconic rock band will have Scorsese's attention as THR reports he is executive producing a documentary about the psychedelic rock group The Grateful Dead. The documentary will arrive just in time for the 50th anniversary of the band once led by the late Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir, and it will cover the entire career of the beloved band. Sounds like the ultimate must-see for the Deadheads out there.
"We thought of it as: man the tool-maker vs man the artist." If you're looking for a short film that makes you think, don't miss this one. Nate Silver's blog FiveThirtyEight has premiered the full short film The Man vs. The Machine, directed by legendary producer & filmmaker Frank Marshall of Kennedy/Marshall, telling the story of chess champion Garry Kasparov battling IBM's computer Deep Blue. The short explores the setup behind why this challenge was presented to begin with and the implications of the outcome, which most thought might go the other direction. Knowing that machines are more powerful than humans, does it really make a difference? Maybe not. Find out more in the fascinating short doc The Man vs. The Machine.
"I always liked Hollywood very much, it just wasn't reciprocated." Cohen Media has debuted the official trailer for a new documentary titled Magician about the one-and-only Orson Welles, the legendary filmmaker/actor/producer who left quite a legacy. While many of us are already very familiar with Orson, this doc spans his entire career looking at his tumultuous relationship with Hollywood and his impact on it featuring interviews with Richard Linklater, Peter Bogdanovich, Frank Marshall, Anthony Perkins, Martin Scorsese, Sydney Pollack, Steven Spielberg and many others. This also comes on the same day as Welles' F for Fake hits Blu-Ray and we near his 100th birthday. It looks like a fun and fascinating doc for all to enjoy.
If you're into documentaries, or even if you aren't, this is a must watch trailer for a must watch film. A few years ago, filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer unveiled his remarkable, shocking, profound documentary The Act of Killing, confronting the murderers behind the Indonesian killings of 1965-66. Oppenheimer is back with his follow-up documentary The Look of Silence, in which he returns to Indonesia and focuses on an optometrist who confronts the men that killed one of his brothers, addressing the same tough topic in a completely different light. It's another incredible documentary that we highly recommend taking a look at, it says so much through silence and emotions. It's a powerful film and this trailer provides a good hint at that.
Doesn't everyone deserve a second chance? We're excited to debut the brand new poster for Jesse Moss' highly acclaimed, extraordinary documentary The Overnighters which was just released in theaters last weekend by Drafthouse Films. It's a must see doc this year. The poster features a handful of quotes from critics all over, praising the "masterwork" doc calling it "riveting", "powerful" and "explosive". It is all of these things and much more, an incredible discovery out of Sundance this year hoping to go all the way at the Oscars next year. We're lucky to be quoted on this as well, out of my own Sundance review, where I call it a "wildly captivating real world ride." Take a look at the new poster below and catch this in theaters now.
Over the last few weeks we've written a few articles about Quentin Tarantino taking over managing the New Beverly Cinema, the repertory 35mm theater in Los Angeles. However, there's an interesting development on the other side today and it involves one of the theater's longtime employees speaking out about the new changes. It seems things have taken a turn for the worse, and after being told to keep quiet, Julia Marchese (@juliacmarchese) has written a blog about her experiences and being unfairly forced to quit. Marchese is also the filmmaker behind the documentary Out of Print about saving 35mm film made mostly at the New Beverly. But due to this break-up, she has released the doc in full online immediately for everyone's viewing.
Along comes a documentary that may change your life by showing humanity in its most honest form. That documentary is called Citizenfour, with that title coming from the username Edward Snowden used to initially contact reporter/filmmaker Laura Poitras, who put this together over the last year. The footage she shows, the story she tells, it's as if they have captured lightning in a bottle. Citizenfour is like watching history unfold in front of your eyes, showing Snowden before and after he was revealed to the public as the whistleblower behind the NSA's mass surveillance conspiracy. Except it's not a conspiracy. It's out there, it exists, it's real. This documentary captures what happens when one person tries to tell the world the truth.
"Everybody tries to create their idealized image of how they want to be seen and who they want to be…" Today's trailer is for a riveting documentary about humanity called Point and Shoot, the latest work from Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Marshall Curry (of Street Fight), telling the fascinating story of a young American who ends up fighting in the Libyan revolution while on a motorcycle adventure through Northern Africa and the Middle East. Described as a "wild and dangerous coming-of-age tale", this doc looks like it's so much more than just a story about one lone fighter, and I'm intrigued to delve into this and learn more about his story. This is a beautiful trailer that should make you interested in catching this doc soon.