WE ♥ DOCS
"There's so much more to unpack in the Brazilian Amazon. I'm very interested in trying to find a way to express extremely, deeply complex things by looking very carefully at these loaded landscapes…" Another fascinating new short documentary film to watch. Richard Mosse: What the Camera Cannot See is the latest in an "Extended Play" series of short films made for Art21. This film introduces us to a renowned photographer named Richard Mosse (his website), who talks us through some of his latest projects over the last few decades. "My power, if I have any," says Mosse, "is to be able to show you the things that I've seen in a more powerful way than perhaps the pictures you've seen in the newspaper of the same thing." Many of his most recent projects involving using special cameras or unusual techniques that show us more than what we expect to see - whether using infrared or ultraviolet or other tricks. It's a clever way of going beyond photography as we know it, allowing us to understand more about what's happening on this planet.
"Excelsior!!" Disney has revealed an announcement teaser trailer for a new Stan Lee documentary titled, well, Stan Lee of course. Everyone already knows and loves comic book mastermind Stan Lee, who passed away in 2018. He would've been 100 years old this week, hence the reveal of this trailer. His legacy still lives on and he still makes appearances, popping up digitally in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. There's no details on what exactly the Stan Lee doc will cover, aside from examining his early life in comics and later his iconic role as the comic book hero who has appeared in every single Marvel Cinematic Universe movie as a cameo. There's also a 2010 movie about Stan Lee, called With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story, which is available to watch for free on Crackle and Pluto TV. I just hope they don't try to digitally recreate him for centuries using his likeness, but they probably will. We'll update with the final trailer when it lands in 2023.
"It was my responsibility to teach Tupac how to survive his reality." FX has unveiled a teaser for their new doc series titled Dear Mama, which will be out on Hulu in early 2023. The series is about the relationship between musician Tupac Shakur and his indomitable mother, Afeni Shakur, who was a Black Panther. The story told in the upcoming series, other than being an exploration of two significant figures in American history, is also a reflection of our own times. Dear Mama comes from the rapper's 1995 hit song. The song explores his relationship with his mom and serves as a tribute to all of the hardships she went through in having and raising him. The song also addresses her struggle with drug addictions, which led to hardships in both of their lives. Tupac was killed in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas in 1996, only the year after releasing Dear Mama, and Afeni Shakur passed away in 2016 after carrying on his legacy for all these years. This is a short first look teaser, but it's a nice reminder to keep an eye out for this series when it debuts in 2023 soon.
"You start asking yourself: 'why am I doing this?'" Good Deed Ent. has revealed an official trailer for a documentary film titled Running with Speed, available to watch on VOD in early January - starting next week. The film is actually a full 2 and 1/2 hours long, as it's a combined cut of a docu series about these gamers. Narrated by "Summoning Salt" (on YT @SummoningSalt), Running with Speed is the definitive documentary on the video game speedrunning phenomenon. It tells the fascinating story of how the most dedicated and ingenious video game players in the world compete to set the fastest records of all time, and how they unite at an annual event called Games Done Quick to raise millions of dollars to fight cancer. It's just a very nerdy story about how hardcore gamers have helped turn this small, geeky thing into something more meaningful and empowering. I enjoy the trippy neon graphics used in this trailer, more of that please.
Two of the best documentaries of 2022 are films set in the jungles of South America. The first is a doc from Sundance 2022 called The Territory (read my review), about a tribe of Natives defending their land from invading "farmers" in Brazil who are coming in and slashing/burning the rainforest they live in. The second one, titled Wildcat, initially premiered at the Telluride Film Festival and is launching on Amazon Prime Video for viewing at the end of December this year. Wildcat is co-directed by filmmakers Trevor Frost and Melissa Lesh and it's a beautiful little film about the relationship between a wild ocelot being rescued in the jungles of Peru, and a young Australian man struggling to deal with intense PTSD and depression. In both films, the big bad villain is capitalism and humans addicted to taking resources without any care or concern for Mother Nature or the land they're stealing the resources from. They're evil schmucks, every one of them.
"We basically look the same - but in different shapes." This fantastic short documentary film is actually an animated story about a group of kids growing up "on the block" in Brooklyn in the 1970s. The Originals is a 10-minute short produced by and released by The New Yorker magazine - available to watch online (view below). It's made by the director of the doc films Science Fair, Mucho Mucho Amor, and Own the Room. In this short, "Matty Square" Ruggiero and his childhood friends, the Union Street Boys, tell their story of what it was like to grow up in South Brooklyn, where money was tight but friendships were tighter. It's a classic throwback to the "heyday" of Brooklyn, with the neighborhood watching over, even though they go on to say how violent it was then. The animation adds another layer to the storytelling, because they can't recreate these scenes with real people, but this paper characters style has its own charm. It's worth a watch - enjoy.
"I don't want you to be like me, I want you to be better than me." VMI Worldwide + Verdi have revealed an official trailer for a documentary film titled My Father Muhammad Ali, a profile of the world famous boxer and his son. This is opening in theaters in January and will also be out on VOD for everyone to watch. This doc films tells the story of champion boxer Muhammad Ali through the eyes of his only biological son, named Muhammad Ali Jr, who appears in this to discuss his father's legacy and his own life. Muhammad Jr struggled with bullying, abandonment, addiction, family and heartbreak to ultimately find peace many years later. The film also includes appearances by Khalilah Camacho Ali, Rahman Ali, and Chuck Wepner, in addition to Ali Jr. This seems like a really sad story, but not unexpected unfortunately, as it's hard to be so incredibly famous while making time for raising kids in the shadow of all that fame and success. Take a look.
Netflix has revealed a first look teaser for a documentary sports series coming in 2023, one of their major sports offerings next year. Break Point is the official title of this docu-series, which includes 10 episodes in total. "Following a golden age of greatness, tennis' next generation is ready to take over." It's exec produced and showrun by two acclaimed doc filmmakers - Paul Martin (of Make Us Dream, Diego Maradona) and James Gay-Rees (of Amy, Senna) also known for their recent popular F1 doc series "Formula 1: Drive to Survive". Break Point follows a select group of top tennis players on and off the court as they compete in gruelling Grand Slams and tournaments. Featured players include Felix Auger-Aliassime, Matteo Berrettini, Ons Jabeur, Thanasi Kokkinakis, Nick Kyrgios, Aryna Sabalenka, Maria Sakkari, Ajla Tomljanovic, Sloane Stephens, and Stefanos Tsitsipas. Break Point gets up close & personal with top players on the tennis circuit through an entire year traveling across the globe for all four Grand Slams and ATP / WTA tours. Get a look.
"My mother lived with us. Her devotion to the children gives me freedom." Kino Lorber has unveiled the official US trailer for an acclaimed French documentary film titled The Super 8 Years, which is landing in very limited US theaters starting this month. The film first premiered at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival in Directors' Fortnight, and it also recently played at the New York Film Festival in the fall. The Super 8 Years tells the early story of French writer and 2022 Nobel Prize awardee Annie Ernaux, best known for her acclaimed novels. She directs the film with her son, David, looking back at her time in France with two kids in the 1970s. It's made up entirely of home video footage (from a Super 8 camera!) shot by Ernaux and her family from 1972 to 1981, which feeds directly into the themes of her work over the past 60 years. "Takes us from holidays and family rituals in suburban bourgeois France to trips abroad in Albania and Egypt, Spain and the USSR." This looks like a very humble, thoughtful look back at one's life and how everything changes.
"You ever feel like you've gone too far down the rabbit hole, man…?" HBO has revealed the official trailer for a documentary film titled This Place Rules, the culmination of years of intense field work by a popular comedian-journalist named Andrew Callaghan, originally from Seattle, WA. Callaghan makes his feature directorial debut, after becoming a viral sensation online running a new site called Channel 5, interviewing people on the street. This film is about the events leading up to the Capitol riot on January 6th, following all of the intense aspects of America's politics in the few years just before this happened in early 2021. Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim executive produced; Jonah Hill produced, and A24 produced this, which is a clear sign he's got some strong support behind him. I'm hoping Andrew and this film properly skewer the right wing jackasses who participate in this idiotic event, showing us just how totally nuts these people are. This is an intriguing trailer, offering up just enough of a taste of his footage to make me curious to see more.
"People think they know this story… They think it's a story about one man." Netflix has revealed an official trailer for a compelling new documentary series titled Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street, with a title that should make you want to find out what this is all about. It's arriving for streaming just after the New Year in January on Netflix. With an innovative visual approach, Madoff: The Monster of Wall Street is a four part edge-of your seat financial thriller series which reveals the truth behind Bernie Madoff’s infamous multibillion-dollar global Ponzi scheme and the ways in which a willfully blind financial system allowed it to flourish for decades. It looks like most of this footage is actually a recreation / re-enactment, with an actor playing Madoff in various scenes to help contextualize and understand his role in the Wall Street game. "If you're getting good returns, people knew not to ask too many questions." This series looks like a chilling & infuriating look at how almost everyone was in on the con, and most are still out living the high life after it.
"There's only a few things in life that are ever worth giving a #@%! about." Universal has unveiled a trailer for the documentary film called The Subtle Art of Not Giving A #@%!, a cinematic adaptation of the best-selling book of the same name. The film will explore society's obsessions with the pursuit of happiness and will be presented by Mark Manson alongside Disappointment Panda, a character from the book whose superpower is to tell people the harsh truth. "The author himself, Mark Manson, cuts through the crap to offer his not-giving-a-f*ck philosophy: a dose of raw, refreshing, honesty that shows us how to live more contented, grounded lives." This sounds great! I'm in. "Filled with entertaining stories and profane, ruthless humor, this movie is a much-needed grab-you-by-the-shoulders-and-look-you-in-the-eye moment of real-talk to remind us that there are only so many things we can give a fuck about, so we need to figure out which ones really matter." Really looking forward to watching. This funny and honest trailer hooked me, for sure.