Saturday, May 14, 2011

Movie Review - "Capturing Reality: The Art of Documentary"

“Capturing Reality: The Art of Documentary” is a documentary about documentary. The film is almost entirely talking head interviews with documentary filmmakers generally considered to be among the best, at least within the context of contemporary documentary filmmaking.

This documentary is one of those documentaries we’ve all seen where the subject matter, in this case the people being interviewed, far out shines the filmmaking. Documentary filmmakers spend so much time and energy capturing others that it is a real treat to see them getting a chance to dish on what they think documentary is, and what it means to be a documentary filmmaker. Unfortunately, the filmmaking of this documentary, as I said before, doesn’t come close to the intelligence or profundity of its subjects. The structure is unintelligible – it jumps from subject to subject without any explanations, transitions, or consistency. The structure really felt like a poorly written essay where all the body paragraphs are written in isolation to one another, and then they’re all put together into a seemingly arbitrary sequence that ends up only taking away from what by themselves were very interesting chapters. It also feels like there is the lack of intelligent awareness on the part of this film’s filmmakers that every documentary filmmaker interviewed offers up a different definition of what a documentary is. I wanted so badly for the film to draw more attention to how fluid the definition of documentary seems to be, especially among these notable documentary filmmakers, and what that means for documentary, filmmaking, and art in general. Also, the lower-thirds and typography felt very cheap and intrusive. It happened on more than one occasion where some important bit of information was being delivered in a lower third at the same time some a subject was delivering an important bit of information, and ultimately the importance of both bits of information ended up diminished and diluted. Despite all my issues with the filmmaking,

I still think anyone that loves documentary, or filmmaking in general, will be able to glean more than a few moments of interest or profundity from this film.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Movie Review - "Thor"

Thor was great. I went in with almost no knowledge of the canon crafted by the Thor comics, and I had a wonderful time. It's a very successful action flick that left me in a great mood afterwards. It does lean on a few tropes, but, and this is to the film's credit, not for too long. I was worried that too much of the film was going to be the fish out of water story of Thor trying to transition from the world of Norse Gods to the human world, but it really didn't linger to long, and kept the plot moving at an increasingly rare fast pace. I'm not sure to whom I give the credit, but this film could have come of as really silly, but the costumes, the diagetic reality, and even the very un-Earthly dialogue came through pleasantly well. I absolutely plan on seeing this again, as well as checking out some of the Thor trade paperbacks. FYI, I saw the film in 2D and did not feel like I was missing out.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Short Film Watch - "More Than You Can Chew"

A short film from director/writer Dan Trachtenberg who I was introduced to as one of the hosts of The Totally Rad Show. He's a commercial director normally, but has made a few other short films in the past. This short was made for Black Box TV, which I've heard was created with the intention of being something of a YouTube Twilight Zone.

This film is why I love short stories and vignettes. So much story is packed into so little plot. Everything feels so salient and succinct, and this handles the subject matter in such a realistic manner that it doesn't feel heavy handed. So simple, yet, in an instant, so many huge implications are revealed regarding the story world. I would also recommend watching the commentary and the making of.

More Than You Can Chew -

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Movie Review - "We Jam Econo: The Story of The Minutemen"

We Jam Econo: The Story of The Minutemen was a nice little documentary. I say "little" because the scope of the film is not very big. Within the first 10 minutes, you see pretty much everyone you'll be hearing from for the next 80 minutes. The film has a pretty dirty, hand made look to it which, once you meet "The Minutemen," makes a lot of sense. The way the filmmakers switch from interview to interview isn't particularly inspired, but the points get across to you. This is definitely one of those documentaries where it is more the subject matter, rather than the filmmaking, which will pull you through to the end. All things considered, it left me feeling inspired to both try some different things with my own work as well as try and get my hands on some music by The Minutemen.

Currently available on Netflix Instant.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Do You Think They Like Weezer?

Image taken from Mira Nair's Salaam Bombay!.

Monday, March 14, 2011

By Most Standards, It Was Not A Bad First Date

Image captured from Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Movie Review - "I Am Love"

I Am Love is one of the most wonderful films I have ever seen. I am intentionally choosing the word "film" instead of "movie," because "movie" just feels to simple and pedestrian. The actual plot is quite easy to follow, and is one that I think anyone could understand quite easily, but the characters carrying the plot are so deep, and complex, that anyone who really wants to dig in has more than enough earth in which to play. The photography is absolutely sublime, and gave me chills on many occasions. The camera just feels so effortless, and almost etherial, to the point where you could imagine if someone weren't holding the camera, it would simply float away. Then the soundtrack, which is comprised entirely of pieces by composer John Adams, is nothing if not completely arresting. With the music, there is never a moment when it is present, when it is also unwelcome, and there is never a moment when it is absent, when you feel like it should be there. In the climax, the imagery and music combine for what was, to me, one of the most heart pounding, exciting, and liberating finales ever. The film has a very meditative pace, so if you are in the mood for fast paced action, please look elsewhere. If, however, you are looking for a beautiful, dramatic film about finding one's own identity, and about what it means not only to be alive, but to be truly awake to yourself and the world around you, look no further. Currently, I Am Love is available, in HD, on Netflix Instant.


Also, only the first part of it is about I Am Love, but this really is a great interview with Tilda Swinton partially about how I Am Love came to be, and also about how she views her work as an artist, as well as a fascinating discussion about identity.