Results tagged “Documentary”

Director Alexandra Dean Discusses 'Bombshell' Hedy Lamarr

Director Alexandra Dean sits down to talk about Hedy Lamarr and her documentary, Bombshell.
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Between the rise of the #metoo movement and Time Magazine naming "the Silence Breakers" as their Person of the Year, the role of courageous women has only intensified in 2017. Adding onto the pile is director Alexandra Dean's investigative documentary on Hedy Lamarr, Bombshell. In the last 24 hours it took home the Best Documentary prize from the New York Film Critics Circle in what's hoped to be the first of many awards. Dean sat down to talk to Cinema Sentries about researching her complex subject and Lamarr's renewed place in history. What was your history with Hedy Lamarr before

Free to Rock DVD Review: Documentary Explores Music's Role in Toppling Communism

The film tells a lesser-known part of rock history, but the hour-long format barely scratches the surface.
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“Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose,” Janis Joplin sang in “Me and Bobby McGee.” For teens living behind the Iron Curtain in the 1950s, rock itself became a symbol of freedom. The documentary Free to Rock explores the role the rebellious music played in ending the Cold War, ending with the Berlin Wall coming down in 1989. Through interviews with Western musicians as well as Russian artists, the film makes the case that rock ’n’ roll’s attitude changed culture and helped bring about changes that reverberate today. Executive producers Nicholas Brinkley and Douglas Yeager spent ten years

Dawson City: Frozen Time (2016) Blu-ray Review: Uncovering Cinematic Buried Treasures

This documentary about a 1978 find of a cache of "lost" silent films traces the history of Dawson City.
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In an industry that is lately obsessed with making films available in multiple different versions, both in medium of delivery and in the actual content, it's astounding to conceive just how disposable film was in its early days. Cinema was more curiosity than art form, and it's estimated that nearly 75% of all the films made in the early, silent era are lost. There's a number of reasons for this (not least of which that early film stock, made with silver nitrate, was highly flammable and could even spontaneously combust in the right conditions) but in the end it means

The Tragically Hip: Long Time Running Blu-ray Review: Beating the Inevitability of Death Just a Little Bit

A fantastic behind-the-scenes look at how the band, their team, and their fans dealt with this farewell tour.
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On May 24, 2016, it was announced that The Tragically Hip's lead singer Gord Downie had incurable brain cancer. In spite of that, they intended to tour in support their thirteenth studio album, Man Machine Poem, set for release a few weeks later. They played 15 shows across Canada in just under a month, concluding with a hometown show on August 20, 2016, at the Rogers K-Rock Centre in Kingston, Ontario. It was an unofficial, though presumed, farewell tour, which became official with the passing of Downie on October 17, 2017. The final concert was broadcast to nearly 12 million

Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story Movie Review: A Beautiful Story of a Brilliant Mind

Alexandra Dean's documentary tends to follow a familiar path but does a fantastic job of reexamining an underrated talent.
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"Any girl can look glamourous. All she has to do is stand still and look stupid." Never one to mince words this opening quote from actress Hedy Lamarr illustrates how actuely aware she was in recognizing what was expected from female stars of her era. And yet regardless of this fact Lamarr refused to adhere to it, using film as a means to an end when her real passion was creating items that are now household items. This remarkable woman finally gets her due in Alexandra Dean's documentary Bombshell. Focusing on Lamarr's career, both on and off-screen, Bombshell isn't just

8-Bit Generation: The Commodore Wars DVD Review: The Real Halt and Catch Fire

Documentary chronicles the rise and fall of Commodore Business Machines.
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Trivia time: what is the top-selling single computer of all time? If you guessed something in the Mac or IBM families, you’re wrong. No, the all-time champ is still the Commodore 64, first released 35 years ago and ultimately notching upwards of 17 million units sold. Led by the scrappy Jack Tramiel, Commodore made it their mission in the 1980s to popularize the concept of home computers, delivering competent product at reasonable prices to stimulate sales to casual users (including me) instead of just hardcore hobbyists. At the height of their popularity, the company imploded after the forced departure of

Mansfield 66/67 Movie Review: Jayne's Life Would Have Made a Great Reality Show

A playful, gossipy look at the not-so-unlikely pairing between publicity-seeking actress Jayne Mansfield and Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey.
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Directors Todd Hughes and P. David Ebersole take a quirky approach to the life of actress Jayne Mansfield with the documentary Mansfield 66/67. The film explores the last two years of the actress’ life, a chaotic time marked by a floundering career, rumors of satanic worship, and a gruesome end in a car crash at age 34. Mansfield 66/67 begins with a dance sequence with sequences throughout the film. I’ve never seen interpretive dance used as a storytelling tool in a documentary before, but somehow it fits right in with the "kooky bombshell meets devil worshipper" theme. Like Monroe, Jayne

David Lynch: The Art Life Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: With Chemicals, He Points

A must own for any fans of David Lynch.
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I remember my first encounter with a David Lynch film was in 2004 during my Introduction to Film class at Butte Community College in Oroville, CA. As part of the curriculum, we were required to watch Lynch’s debut film, Eraserhead, of which I wasn’t aware until then. I remember being disturbed by the movie, and a lot of my classmates walked out shortly after the film had started. I stayed, and I ended up falling for this odd film, even though I had trouble eating chicken afterward because of one particular scene. I swore I wouldn’t watch the film again,

The Creep Behind the Camera / The Creeping Terror Blu-ray Review: Creepshots, Redefined

Synapse Films releases a docudrama about one of cinema's most inept movies, along with a new 2K scan of the original creature feature.
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Sometimes, the most interesting aspect of a movie is its production history. Especially when the movie in question is something as legendarily awful as Vic Savage's 1964 magnum oopus, The Creeping Terror ‒ a film so bad, it makes even the worst Ed Wood flick seem like fine art by comparison. Indeed, the story behind the infamous black-and-white no-budget monster movie messterpiece has garnered the interest of several twisted minds throughout the years, most notably by the honorably dishonorable mentionings of said in two of Harry and Michael Medved's books, The Golden Turkey Awards (1980) and Son of Golden Turkey

With Great Power...The Stan Lee Story DVD Review: A Look at This Legendary Comic Creator

With Great Power tells the story of Marvel Comics' biggest name.
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When Stanley Martin Lieber took a job as an assistant at Timely Comics in 1939, little did he know that 78 years later, he’d arguably become the biggest name in comic-book history. Yet that is exactly what happened, with a little help from some equally legendary artists, of course. The documentary With Great Power…The Stan Lee Story takes a detailed view at Lee’s life, attempting (and generally succeeding) to tell his story in 80 minutes. Originally released in 2010, and winner of numerous awards such as “Best Directors Docufest” at Atlanta 2011 and the “Special Jury Prize” at the 2011

Gospel According to Al Green DVD Review: A Career at a Crossroads

An R&B legend's struggle with the spiritual and sensual is chronicled in this electrifying portrait.
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In 1977, R&B legend Al Green signaled to fans that he was undergoing a life—and career—transformation. “Belle,” a track off his LP The Belle Album, contains a telling lyric: “It’s you that I want, but it’s Him that I need.” Green’s struggle to reconcile the spiritual and sensual, the sacred and profane, is chronicled in the newly reissued 1984 documentary Gospel According to Al Green. Originally produced for the BBC, this Robert Mugge-directed film has been remastered for DVD and Blu-ray, and features extras such as updated director commentary, previously unaired outtakes, and the full audio of Mugge’s two-hour interview

Long Strange Trip Movie Review: All a Dream They Dreamed One Afternoon Long Ago

Ladies and gentlemen, the Grateful Dead...
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Like America itself, the Grateful Dead were a great melting pot of cultures, genres, and styles. Take a close look at the songs they chose to cover in their 30 years of existence and you’ll see nearly every brand of American music of the last century. From Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Cannon’s Jug Stompers, the Reverend Gary Davis to Howlin’ Wolf, Bob Marley, Blind Willie Johnson, Leiber and Stoller, Martha and the Vanillas?, the Dead played jazz, folk, blues, rock and roll, Appalachian folk music, reggae, and everything in between. They took all those styles and more, blended

Buena Vista Social Club Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review: Cuban Musicians Get the Recognition They Deserve

A landmark and infectious documentary about the joy of Cuban music and the great individuals who brought it to life.
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When it comes to music, there are many styles and cultures: Mexican, Spanish, Portugese, etc. However, Cuban music seems to be for only certain tastes, and even sadder, the singular individuals who created it have become virtually forgotten. Thankfully, Wim Wenders' 1999 influential documentary, Buena Vista Social Club, gives new life to these all-but-ancient musical talents and gives the recognition they extremely deserve. It is also a documentary of how music, in general, can be a lifelong desire and reason for living. Wenders' camera and the legendary Ry Cooper, along with his son Joachim, travel to Cuba to find and

Shadowman Movie Review: A Beautiful Mind Fraught By Invisibility

The story of tortured artist Richard Hambleton is short of depth but long on intrigue.
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Since Van Gogh cut his ear off it's well-known that the mind of the artist is a tortured one. This isn't a new assertion nor does director Oren Jacoby's new documentary, Shadowman, do anything to debunk it. What Jacoby does capture is the story of a man whose tortured mind allowed him to create amazing works of art while simultaneously destroying his chances for success. Jacoby's subject is one of the last few artists out there, one uninterested in commerce, but who needs to rely on it nonetheless. Peppered with ironic asides that would be comical if they weren't so

Mifune: The Last Samurai DVD Review: Japan's Greatest Actor Profiled

Informative, engaging overview of the actor's life and work, both with Akira Kurosawa and beyond.
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Toshiro Mifune is one of the most dynamic actors who's ever played on the big screen. He was an animal presence that made it difficult to look away. Even in one of Akira Kurosawa's more staid productions, the stagy and fairly drab The Lower Depths, comes to life when his character comes on screen for an unfortunate few times. In combination with Akira Kurosawa, he made one of the definitive actor/director teams who shaped the future of Japanese cinema, helping to bring it to international attention for the first time in 1950’s Rashomon. Mifune: The Last Samurai, a feature-length documentary

We Are X Blu-ray Review: Hair Metal and Heartache

This story of the enormously successful Japanese metal band is steeped in both triumph and (near constant) tragedy.
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Early in We Are X, Yoshiki, the leader of the band is asked in an English-language interview why the band broke up in 1997. He says, “My vocalist got brainwashed” in his heavily accented but perfectly fluent English. Is it a joke, or a cultural misunderstanding? Absolutely not - in 1997 Toshi quit X Japan, an enormously successful band, because a cult leader had convinced him it was wrong. Six months later, the band’s lead guitarist was dead in an apparent suicide. Yoshiki, the band’s founder, drummer, and lead composer tells about finding his own father dead on the floor

For the Love of Spock DVD Review: Perfect for Both Those Who Love and Those Who Don't Know Spock

A great example of how a documentary should be constructed.
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We all know that there are people that don’t like or simply don’t get Star Trek. Nonetheless, it’s hard to argue with the success of the franchise. A great deal of credit for the success can be bestowed upon Leonard Nimoy. His life and career are chronicled here by his son Adam who started the project of telling the story of Spock with his father before the elder Nimoy passed away. When Leonard Nimoy died, the project became much more than originally intended. Available now, the DVD release still manages to leave you wanting more at 111 minutes plus some

The Creeping Garden (Arrow Academy) Blu-ray Review: An Intriguing Look At Slime Mold

A documentary that is insightful, beautifully shot, and fun to watch.
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The Creeping Garden opens with a 1973 newscast that reports on some “blobs” being found in the backyards of some people’s households in Texas. This makes it seem like something had leapt from the horror-movie genre and made its way to reality. The fact of the matter is, these so-called blobs that were found in people’s backyards are called slime molds, and they’ve been around for quite some time. Unfortunately, not many people know about it, and, for a while, it was considered to be another type of fungus based on its look. But the difference between fungus and a

Robert Klein Still Can't Stop His Leg Movie Review: He's Got His Mojo Working

The comedians’ favorite comedian gets an affectionate if overlong portrait that is loaded with laughs.
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I should actually recuse myself from reviewing Robert Klein Still Can’t Stop His Leg, the Starz documentary debuting March 31, 10:00pm ET/PT, because I’m in it, though I don’t have a speaking part. Let me explain: I saw Robert (I feel I’ve known him long enough to call him by his first name) a few years ago in Dix Hills, N.Y. at one of the many performance clips featured in this documentary. There I am with three of my oldest friends, laughing and laughing and laughing and laughing. I haven’t laughed that loud, for that long, since. So the other

I Am Not Your Negro Movie Review: A Film That Needs to Be Seen and Taught

Director Raoul Peck gives the audience a lot to consider and to question.
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I think about James Baldwin quite a lot. I think about his writings and his teachings. I think about the fact that he could have just stayed in France and ignored what was happening to Black Americans in the United States. Baldwin could have actually turned a blind eye and not returned to the country that he actually loved so much. But James Baldwin was not that kind of man. One of Baldwin's most famous quotes is "I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize
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