WE ♥ DOCS
Plenty of cinephiles love what the folks at The Criterion Collection do with films that deserve meticulously crafted special edition releases on Blu-Ray and DVD. But they may not know the hard work that goes into restoring films from decades past with negatives that may not be in the best condition for a high-definition transfer. Well, a nerdy little documentary short from Gizmodo (via The Playlist) takes the time to discuss the painstaking technical process with technical director Lee Kline. It's definitely very technical, which makes it perfect for any fans of real film, and it's an eye-opening look behind the scenes.
Just after yet another awesome poster hit the web over a week ago for the festival favorite documentary Jodorowsky's Dune, the first trailer has arrived, giving us a glimpse into the film about the sci-fi adaptation that never came to be. The film has played at a slew of big festivals like Cannes, Toronto and Fantastic Fest, and it's not hard to see why. This looks like a truly fascinating look into a project that would have featured Mick Jagger, David Carradine, Salvador Dali, Orson Welles and more people you would never expect. Just Jodorowsky's enthusiasm makes me sad this never fully came together. See below!
As a sucker for coming of age films, a new documentary produced by actor Jason Schwartzman about the dawn of youth culture has caught my eye. At one time, the idea of teenagers didn't exist, but they are now a coveted demographic and audience as kids grow into adults and are easily influenced and building their tastes. The documentary Teenage focuses on the rise of these young people and their culture during the late 19th century and early 20th century by way of archival footage from history. Complete with voiceovers from Jena Malone and Ben Whishaw, this adaptation of Jon Savage's novel looks pretty interesting.
We're happy to report that one of our favorite indie distributors has picked up yet another innovative, award-winning documentary (following the Oscar nominated The Act of Killing last year). Drafthouse Films has acquired North American distribution rights to 20,000 Days on Earth, the documentary about Nick Cave, a look inside the mind of the musician. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and is also playing at the Berlin Film Festival, where THR broke the news from. I was at the world premiere of the film at Sundance and enjoyed it quite a bit, it's poetic and mesmerizing, an utterly fascinating one-of-a-kind doc.
Magnolia Pictures has already picked up Happy Christmas from director Joe Swanberg and Frank starring Michael Fassbender from the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, but now they have a documentary from the indie fest under their wing. THR reports Magnolia has just picked up Life Itself, the documentary from Hoop Dreams director Steve James about the late legendary film critic, Roger Ebert. Borrowing the title and stories of the critics book of the same name, the film chronicles Ebert's career and life story interspersed with glimpses at Ebert's final days as he underwent hospital care following the removal of his jaw. Read on!
While attending a film festival it's always exciting to hear buzz about films that may not have been on our radar before. One film in particular at Sundance 2014 that I kept hearing my colleagues raving about was actually a documentary, one called The Overnighters. It took a little while but I finally caught up with the film after the fest and was so taken aback, so impressed and surprised and genuinely moved by what I saw, I couldn't help but write about it. Overnighters is a refreshingly modern documentary, an utterly compelling, nuanced film that precariously balances the big questions of one of the great dilemmas of this day and age.
My city, my home, my love. In late 2012 I moved to New York City, one of the best decisions in my life, and I've fallen madly in love with the city and everything it has to offer. Many prominent filmmakers call NYC their home as well, and one of those filmmakers is Martin Scorsese, who has made a number of films set in/around New York. House of Nod has put together a quick 3-minute video featuring clips from 14 of Scorsese's movies, from After Hours to Gangs of New York to Goodfellas to Mean Streets to Raging Bull to Taxi Driver in a piece they call "Scorsese's New York". It's a wonderful tribute to the place I now call home.
If you're interested in science at all, then you've likely heard of the Large Hadron Collider, an enormous particle accelerator that allows physicists to test the predictions of different theories of particle physics and high-energy physics, and particularly prove or disprove the existence of the theorized Higgs particle, or God particle as it's better known. Now for those who may want to know a bit more, there's a documentary about the collider coming called Particle Fever, and it follows six of the 100,000 scientists who help put the ambitious project together as they attempt to find the origin of life, the universe and everything. Watch it!
Last spring, the cinephile community and film industry lost the legendary film critic Roger Ebert. But thankfully, he leaves behind a legacy of profound film criticism and inspiration for generations of aspiring filmmakers, writers and more. While a film called Russ & Roger Go Beyond will follow the friendship between filmmaker Russ Meyer and Ebert while working on the film Beyond the Valley of the Dolls for Fox in the late 1960s, the newly premiered documentary Life Itself talks about that time in Ebert's career, but more importantly, focuses on the man himself, his passion for film, and love of life and those closest to him.
Last year, student debt in the United States hit a milestone $1 trillion, with no signs of slowing down as admission and tuition are steadily increasing and have been for decades. Enter director Andrew Rossi (Page One: Inside the New York Times) and his documentary Ivory Tower, which looks at the inefficiency and shortcomings in university education, more specifically, the lack of government funding causing a rise in tuittion, but also the unwise spending on amenities that seem to hinder, more than bolster, their students' education, and the quality of it too. While the documentary seems one-sided to the point of beating a dead horse for the first half, it does move into more neutral and analytical territory. More below!
While the Marvel comic Fantastic Four has already come to the big screen by way of 20th Century Fox (who is working on a reboot), there was another attempt just 11 years before that from legendary producer Roger Corman. Back in 1994, the producer of fare such as Piranha, Children of the Corn, Death Race 2000 and Rock N Roll High School, was working on The Fantastic Four. The adaptation was trying to cash in on the early comic book boom following Batman, Dick Tracy and other adaptations, but the film ended up being a nightmare and never saw an official release. Now the documentary DOOMED! The Untold Story of Roger Corman's "The Fantastic Four" shines a light on the problems and more. Watch the trailer!
While the iconic director Alfred Hitchcock is primarily known for being the master of suspense with classic films like Vertigo, North by Northwest, The Birds, Psycho and Rear Window in his filmography, many have forgotten one project that was outside of his comfort zone in more ways than one. In 1984, a Hitchcock directed Holocaust documentary called Memory of the Camps was unveiled at the Berlin Film Festival and also on PBS. Now Open Culture (via The Playlist) has found the 53-minute cut of the dark documentary which has footage of Nazi concentration camps as seen by the British Army Film Unit in 1945.
At the 2013 Sundance Film Festval, the documentary Life According to Sam (shortlisted for the Academy Award for Best Documentary) highlighted Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome as it afflicted teenage boy Sam Berns and his medical doctor parents as they attempted to take all the right steps to research, test and implement a cure. For those who don't know, progeria is an extremely rare genetic condition (one in 8 million children get it) that accelerates the aging process in children from birth until their premature death around 13 years old. Sadly, THR reports the charming Sam passed away this past Friday at the age of 17.
"Everything seems amazing in retrospect." At Sundance, we'll see a documentary looking at presidential candidate Mitt Romney as he embarks on and fails to take position in the Oval Office. But later this year, a former White House employee gets a different kind of documentary. The Fog of War documentary director Errol Morris is back with The Unknown Known, which focuses on Donald Rumsfeld, and his viewpoint of certain periods during his political career, including his highly criticized time spent as the Secretary of Defense when the US decided to invade Iraq. Rumsfeld almost seems creepily jolly. Watch now!