Tag Archives: documentaries

Bonfire of the Vanitas: De Palma, reviewed.

de-palma-De Palma Still - MI 4_rgbFor NPR, I reviewed Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow’s documentary De Palma, wherein the man behind Carrie and Dressed to Kill and The Untouchables and about three dozen other features walks us through his long, idiosyncratic career. This film won’t change anyone’s mind about the guy, but it’s a candid, briskly edited retrospective. I enjoyed it.

(Dis)honesty: The Truth About Lies, reviewed.

Dan Ariely_2My review of (Dis)honesty: The Truth About Lies, a new documentary based on the research of “behavioral economist” Dan Airely, is up on The Dissolve today.


Enter the Drag: Kung Fu Elliot, reviewed.

Elliot Scott, Blake Zwicker, and Linda Lum in "Kung Fu Elliot," a documentary by Matthew Bauckman & Jaret Belliveau.


Kung Fu Elliot, a documentary about a man who aspires to be the Canadian Chuck Norris, turns nasty enough quickly enough to calls its makers’ intentions into question. I reviewed the 2014 Slamdance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize-winner for Documentary Feature for The Dissolve.

Cruel to Be Kind: The Homestretch, reviewed.

Roque (center), one of the three subjects of "The Homestretch," is too lucky to make a good poster child for homeless youth.

Roque (center), one of the three subjects of “The Homestretch,” is too lucky to make a good poster child for homeless youth.

Here’s my review of the disappointing Kartemquin Films’ documentary The Homestretch for The Dissolve. I made a boneheaded mistake in the version of this where I filed wherein I ascribed the phrase “cruel to kind” to Nick Lowe, not to Hamlet — even though I’d already referenced Hamlet earlier in the review, and in fact, the other piece I filed the day I filed this one was a review of King Lear. Embarrassing. Editors sometimes save your neck.

The Spirit of 77: To Be Takei, reviewed.

Hikaru Sulu and George Takei at Midtown Comics in Manhattan.

I am acquainted through DC theatre with Marc Okrand, the man who developed the Klingon language to for Paramount Pictures. I was surprised to seem him make a very brief appearance in Jennifer M. Kroot’s documentary To Be Takei, which I reviewed for The Dissolve.

Hikaru Sulu and George Takei at Midtown Comics in Manhattan.

The Jerk from 20,000 Fathoms: Deepsea Challenge 3D, reviewed.

The Deepsea Challenger (Mark Thiessen/National Geographic)

The Deepsea Challenger (Mark Thiessen/National Geographic)

My review of Deepsea Challenge 3D, the new National Geographic documentary about James Cameron’s historic March 2012 dive to the bottom of the deepest part of any ocean on the planet in a one-of-a-kind sub he co-designed himself, is on The Dissolve today. When he isn’t busy being a real-life Steve Zissou, Cameron is still one of my favorite filmmakers. And I didn’t even like Avatar all that much.

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Dear Doctor: Code Black, reviewed.

Danny Cheng, M.D., Dave Pomeranz, M.D.,  Ryan McGarry, M.D., Billy Mallon, M.D. at bedside in McGarry's documentary "Code Black."

My review of physician Ryan McGarry’s documentary Code Black is up today at The Dissolve.

This was one of those instances when what you already know about a subject can color your perception of a film. An ex-girlfriend of mine is a physician who did her residency at a country medical center 65 miles west of the one documented in Code Black, and we lived together during those years, 2000-2003. She was at the hospital all the time, and I became well acquainted with her classmates, who were exactly like the young doctors whose voices McGarry features: idealistic, accomplished, adventurous, easily bored. Many of them had done other things before medical school, like working on a fishing boat in Alaska or spending a few years as a forest firefighter. One of them was a nun who swore more crudely than any Marine I’ve ever met. They were all friendly, and I found them all intimidating. I was in awe of them.

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Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man: Llyn Foulkes: One Man Band, reviewed.

Llyn Foulkes' painting "The Awakening," 1994-2012.It’s been a few years since I was way out of my depth trying to write about “visual art” — by which I mean stuff that hangs on walls, that is, not cinema — but reviewing the documentary Llyn Foulkes: One Man Band for The Dissolve brought me right back. I enjoyed the visit.

Llyn Foulkes’ painting The Awakening, 1994-2012.

Planet Bard: NOW: In the Wings on a World Stage, reviewed.

Kevin Space as "Richard III" at the Old Vic, London, 2011.

Over on The Dissolve today, I review the documentary-with-pretentious-title NOW: In the Wings on a World Stage, about the Bridge Theatre Project’s globetrotting Sam Mendes-directed, Kevin Spacey-starring Richard III. Continue reading

The Shape of Things: Exposed, reviewed.

Burlesque artist Mat Fraser in Beth B's "Exposed."I reviewed Exposed, Beth B‘s documentary about New York City burlesque artists, for The Dissolve.

Then, the night after I filed, I ran across a reference to B —  a documentarian whose work I’d never previously encountered — in “Something Nice,” a short story in Mary Gaitskill‘s 1988 collection Bad Behavior.

The world broadens.

Burlesque artist Mat Fraser, from Exposed.

When The Dissolve asked me to review a film outside of my wheelhouse, I Winged it.

GCWH_TrophyWith this review of The Great Chicken Wing Hunt, I am honored to begin contributing to The Dissolve, the best movie site on the Internet. I’m not even that much of a bar-food type or any kind of a foodie. My wheelhouse is broader than a dame, a moll, and a skirt all standing three abreast, is all. Seriously. It costs a fortune to heat this place.

Documentaries Documented

Jessica Oreck's "Aatsinki" is beautifully photographed and almost wordless.

Jessica Oreck’s “Aatsinki” is beautifully photographed and almost wordless.

In this week’s Village Voice, I review the documentaries Mercedes Sosa: The Voice of Latin America, Life Is Strange, and Aatsinki: The Story of Arctic Cowboys. That last one, which is about reindeer herders in Finnish Lapland, probably sounds like the hardest sell subject-wise but it’s the best of the trio by a good margin.

Patterson Hood, waiting for a Happy Ending

That’s not KISS, it’s the great and good Drive-By Truckers, having a little fun last Halloween. My interview with frontman Patterson Hood about The Secret to a Happy Ending, the new DBT doc by Maryland filmmaker Barr Weisman that will have its world premiere Sunday at the American Film Institute’s Silver Theatre, went up over at DCist yesterday. Patterson and I spoke on Jan. 29 of this year, as the film was supposed to debut three weeks ago, but it snowed a little.

As always, Patterson was a delight to speak with, giving up more good material than I could possibly use at one time. I’ve heard The Big To-Do, the Truckers album due on March 16, and it’s predictably superior. (Sample cut “This Fucking Job” is representative.) As ever, Mike Cooley’s songs have emerged as my early favorites.

SilverDocs: Supermen of Malegaon


I’m off the AFI to catching the screening of Facing Ali in about an hour-and-a-half, even though Ali, sadly, has bailed. Meanwhile, DCist has posted my Supermen of Malegaon review.

Enter SilverDocs!

silverdocs_logoI’m just getting going on the screeners for the 2009 SilverDocs entries I’ll be reviewing for DCist, but my first batch of reviews was in today’s CityPaper. All but one are shorts: Behold my notices vis-a-vis Voices from El-Sayed, My White Baby, The Solitary Life of Cranes, and The First Kid to Learn English from Mexico.

Next week, I’ll have reviews up of (at least) Best Worst Movie, Winnebago Man, Supermen of Malegaon, and Facing Ali. I’ll be attending a screening of the latter next Tuesday with Muhammad Ali himself in attendance. He’s so bad he makes medicine sick! Can’t wait.

Raging Bear: Kassim the Dream at SILVERDOCS

Reviewed for DCist.

David Segal had a great WashPo feature about Kassim in the paper on Monday.

Iron Man: Bulletproof Salesman at SILVERDOCS

I reviewed Paula Epperlein and Michael Tucker’s smart, fast SILVERDOCS entry for DCist.