Eco-friendly independent documentaries are sometimes a hard sell to the general moviegoing public. Unless you have pre-invested interest in the subject matter (in this case, fracking) or the film’s guiding hand (in this case, indigenous activist Caleb Behn), these movies can come across as droning strolls through textbooks of material. It’s a shame since so many of these films are thoughtful and important.
The Masked Saint has a premise you’d expect in a Saturday Night Live sketch: a former wrestler takes to preaching, but turns to the past when he realizes how the sport can help himself and his community. It’s a near impossible sell despite being inspired by true events, but it’s a set-up that hooks curious audiences toward a satisfying film.
Every so often, I would pull myself out of Nintendo Quest because it made me either gasp loudly or smile until my face hurt. Robert McCallum’s documentary wasn’t just connecting with me on a nostalgic level, it’s also an entertaining thrill ride.
Stonewall quickly came and went. It was played at TIFF last year, and screened in the U.S. markets for a short time. Critically and popularly reviled, Roland Emmerich’s pet project is completely different from his usual disaster films like Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow. Indeed, Stonewall is a heavily whitewashed take on the famous New York riots that played an integral part in formalizing the LGBTQ equality movement.
I’m glad I watched Cosima Spender’s Palio in private. The graphic crashes during the valuable Palio horse race in Siena, Italy had me wincing and moaning. It was enough to make me shush myself.
Norm of the North will certainly appeal to the two-to-five-year-old crowd (aka. the “too young to realize how terrible this movie is” demographic).
The works of people like Norman McLaren (Pas de Deux, Ballet Adagio, Narcissus) and Wim Wenders (Pina) have shown that ballet can be useful subject matter for beautiful cinema. Unfortunately, for some strange reason, this pleasurable quality somehow cannot find its way into documentaries. The most recent example of this failure to showcase ballet in the genre is A Ballerina’s Tale, Nelson George’s portrait of noted ballerina Misty Copeland – the first African-American woman to be…
I remember watching Hany Abu-Assad’s terrorism drama Paradise Now, and feeling genuinely moved by it. I was on edge and even heartbroken at times. Even though I can’t recall the 2005 Oscar contender beat-for-beat, I can still recognize those emotions years later as if I saw the movie last week.
Though Svengali is a fun film with a few genuinely emotionally affective moments, it is difficult to predict whether or not it will be appreciated by North American viewers who – unless they have a pre-existing investment in British Rock ’n’ Roll – will probably feel like they’ve seen this kind of film before.
Stig Björkman has the right ingredients to chronicle a psychological side of acclaimed actress Ingrid Bergman in his award-winning documentary, Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words. But then, almost as if another director hijacked the project, the film chooses a generically trodden formula.