Posts Tagged: documentaries

The Missing Episode of VH1’s "Tanning Of America": Ladies Make Noise!

All my women in the house love hip hop, and yet it does often seem that hip hop has trouble loving them back. Gangsta rap and corner boy narratives aside, even the most thoughtful, most nakedly vulnerable emcees will identify a woman—if not all women, in general—as the vessel of their frustrations and fatalism. Kanye West will punctuate his "black excellence" thesis and anti-capitalist invective with poignant misogyny. In 2014, Yeezus is state-of-the-art.

But enough about the boys.

Watching VH1's four-part Tanning of America documentary—a broadcast reconfiguration of rap executive Steve Stoute's book of the same name, published in 2011—you'd never guess that women listen to [...]


Oh Those "Crazy" One Direction Fans

"The girls aren't crazy—they're just excited." Early on in the One Direction documentary This Is Us, a neuroscientist details the dopamine rush a fan feels when she thinks about the band, and provides confirmation for what Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Zayn Malik, Niall Horan, and Liam Payne have always insisted: Directioners are not crazy—and they're not to be ignored. In interview after interview over the past three years, usually surrounded by thousands of screaming young women, the band has politely corrected reporters who characterize their followers as "insane" or "deranged." "We prefer 'passionate,'" they'll demur. "Or 'dedicated.'"

There’s more to this than semantics. Possibly you don’t realize how [...]


The Best And Worst Of What I Saw At Sundance

This year I went to Sundance, saw 24 films in six days, and whew! somehow lived to tell the tale. I tried my hardest to see everything that sounded intriguing but, with more than a hundred films screening, it was inevitable that I would miss out on some good ones. I’m still upset that I got shut out of Bachelorette, for example.

But I did get to see some fantastic films, which was a nice consolation for my complete failure on the celeb-sighting-at-Sundance front. What I would have given to spot Robert DeNiro in the wintry climes of Park City! Instead, I got cut in line at a nightclub [...]


'The Loving Story': The First Couple Of Marriage Rights

The clear, steady gaze of Mildred Jeter Loving looks right at you from the photographs. Then there’s the shy, smitten glance of her husband Richard at the skinny woman he called “Bean.” In never-before-seen archival footage, their daughter, Peggy, faces down the camera as her mother pulls knee socks onto her legs, her brothers playing in the background. We’re getting a privileged glimpse into a loving family. The Loving family, who lent their name to the Loving v. Virginia decision, delivered on June 12, 1967, by the unanimous Warren Court, which invalidated anti-miscegenation laws in Virginia and 15 other Southern states.

The Loving Story is director Nancy [...]


The Vimeo Awards Documentaries

Obviously I have not watched all the finalists in the Vimeo Awards but this one struck me as excellent. There is also in the documentary category as well this video but I suspect it's a little too heartbreaking for the middle of the workday. (SPOILER: I THINK THE DOG DIES. Maybe you need a cathartic breakdown?)


Jobriath's Revenge

There is a certain type of musician who is mostly famous for being unknown. You’re probably familiar: an independent documentary filmmaker pulls a beloved musician from the ash pile of rock and roll history and—with the help of some talking heads and archival concert flyers—brings them in to the spotlight for their encore. It is a genre pioneered by The Nomi Song and Anvil! The Story of Anvil and rounded out recently by A Band Called Death and the Oscar winning Searching For Sugarman and it’s always a captivating story, a kind of final balancing of the Scales of Rock Justice.

We talk about movies [...]


This Is A Longreads On The Internet: The Inroads Of Slow Art In A Fast Culture

The British documentary 56 Up, the latest installment of the renowned 50-year-long Up Series, had its stateside theatrical premiere earlier this year. The Up Series has followed the lives of the same 14 Britons since 1964, revisiting them every seven years. This "remarkable" and "ever-evolving masterpiece" has a fervid and growing international following, and the past several installments that PBS aired after U.S. theatrical runs garnered viewerships in the millions. Every new Up installment is not just a window into the subjects' worlds, but a powerful, ruminative event, forcing us to reflect on the passage of time in our own lives in a way that no single film [...]


A Conversation With Chris Perkel, Editor of 'Pearl Jam Twenty'

It was never easy being a Pearl Jam fan. The explosion of hype and overexposure that came with Ten and Vs. fueled an instant mainstream backlash by the "cool indie kids." If you were going to listen to grunge, Nirvana was the band you were supposed to like. The experimental, less radio-friendly Vitalogy and No Code—as well as the annoying rise of Eddie Vedder sound-alikes—slashed the fan base even further. In terms of popularity then, they occupy a strange, contradictory place in music: They’ve been one of the biggest bands in the world for two decades but comparatively little is known about them. Which is why the Cameron Crowe-directed love [...]


Ghana's Email Scams are Hard Work

"We kind of liked the idea of living off the back of American stupidity, so we hooked up with a Sakawa gang"! The email fraud industry may or may not die out in the wake of Ghana's oil discoveries, but it's definitely fascinating.


'Inside Job' Trailer

I really don't know yet what to think about Inside Job, the forthcoming documentary about Wall Street and the financial crisis. (The most recent one, I mean!) The trailer sort of reads like a cross between Michael Moore and one of those 9/11 Truther movies. But a trailer is designed to get people to a movie and, that being said, Singapore and Iceland are well-represented in the film, which speaks of good things. Also the movie's press kit has a timeline of deregulation in the U.S., so at least it promises to be somewhat fact-based!


"Weekend Of A Champion": Roman Polanski's Elegant Bromance

Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars had long been the only documentary from my infancy that I can imagine watching over and over again, or even at all. I like my early 70s laced with enigma, androgyny and ambiguity and tightly packaged in flamboyant space frocks.

The thought of a non-fictional account of the Monaco Grand Prix shot two months after I was born hardly registers a yawn. I don’t give a lick about the leisure class in couture leisure suits slurping vintage champagne and snorting copious amounts of coke as tiny cars whirl around in a circle spewing bravado in a contest of testosterone on overdrive.

Sure, there’s [...]


San Francisco's Baffling Jejune Institute Gets A Documentary

The toughest part of writing about San Francisco's Jejune Institute "thing" was trying to describe it, something I attempted to do for this site twice. In a first piece about the citywide game, which was put on by a group called Nonchalance, I went with "[p]art public-art installation, part scavenger hunt, part multimedia experiment, part narrative story." For the follow-up, I added "underground alternate reality game" to the mix. Both summaries missed the mark, partly because of my own inadequacies as a writer, but also a symptom of the project's sprawling originality—it wasn't like anything else out there, and that was part of what made it [...]


Beirut, "Santa Fe," And The New Movie "Bombay Beach"

Do you like that guy Zach Condon's band Beirut? I sure do. He wrote a very nice new song recently (with especially nice horn parts, as you might expect), and played it in Norfolk, Virginia on Monday. (It's funny that a band named after city makes a song named after a different city. Beirut has done this before, though with a less famous city for the song. Some other band must have done it, too. But can't think of any other examples. Does Boston have a song called "Helsinki?" Did Berlin ever cover Seger's "Katmandu?") Oh, Beirut has a new album coming this summer, which is [...]


'Waiting for Superman' Not Just Full of Lies, It Also Has a Fake Scene

Not only are the facts and premise of the documentary Waiting for Superman not at all right, but now we learn that at least one scene was staged for the film. This touching scene from the documentary (the overall storyline of which is: poor people desperately yearning to get into charter and private schools), in which a mother first tours the Harlem Success Academy and oohs and ahs, was actually staged after her child was rejected. Here's the director, Davis Guggenheim, telling the Times about that: "So that scene is real; her reaction, her talking to kids touring the school, is how she would play it." So [...]


Bruce Springsteen, "The Promise"

Man, I'm psyched to see The Promise, a documentary about the making of Bruce Springsteen's 1978 album Darkness on the Edge of Town, my favorite Springsteen album (which is a little bit like saying, "the favorite part of my heart.") Directed by longtime Springsteen cinematographer Thom Zimmy, it's set to premiere at the Toronto Film Festival next month, along with interesting-sounding documentaries by Errol Morris, Alex Gibney, and Werner Herzog (whose Cave of Forgotten Dreams is about prehistoric cave paintings and is for some reason shot in 3D.) HBO will be airing The Promise for me in October-and for you, if you want to see it too.