By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

Fifteen Nonfiction Films For 2016 (Plus 5 Blu-rays)

Fifteen slices of the truth in hard times, in alphabetical order. Will these filmmakers sustain careers, get finance for a succession of testaments, of feats of beauty like these?

KJ AIW2DARFUR0407.jpgCameraperson (Kirsten Johnson) Cameraperson illustrates that the creative process matters, but the greatest power lies in learning how to live. [More.]

brian de palmaDe Palma (Noah Baumbach, Jake Paltrow) “Being a director is being a watcher.” [More.]

Do Not Resist-swat entryDo Not Resist (Craig Atkinson)These are weapons of war, these are the streets of America. It’s infuriating, and on a big screen, nearly overwhelming. It’s terrifying; it’s terror, Atkinson demonstrates.  [More.] [Atkinson’s director’s statement.]

201614479_1_IMG_FIX_700x700Fire At Sea (Gianfranco Rosi) The images Rosi finds are bold, from the gentle to the dire, and at moments, hope is in limited supply, contrasting with the seawater that seems limitless. [More.]

HyperNormalisation (Adam Curtis) Curtis has theories, illustrated, conflated, constructed, instructed, asserted and neatly scored. This is his world. Ours? [The film is embedded above.]

i am not your negroI Am Not Your Negro (Raoul Peck) Of its moment but told in this moment, a present-tense captured in James Baldwin’s narration, from thirty pages of an incomplete manuscript, delivered by Samuel L. Jackson in one of his great performances. As Peck writes in his director’s statement, “Baldwin gave me a voice, gave me the words, gave me the rhetoric. All I knew through instinct or through experience, Baldwin gave it a name and a shape. I had all the intellectual weapons I needed. For sure, we will have strong winds against us. The present time of discord and confusion is an unavoidable element. I am not naive to think that the road ahead will be easy or that the attacks will not be at time vicious. My commitment to make sure that this film will not be buried or sidelined is uncompromising. We are in it for the long run. Whatever time and effort it takes.”

intotheinferno_01Into the Inferno (Werner Herzog) The year’s best Herzog-isms are the ones where he gleefully embraces streaming distribution; older models, he crows, cannot keep up with the prolific outpouring he is creating unto his seventy-fourth year.

Kate_plays_christine4Kate Plays Christine (Robert Greene) Kate Plays Christine is thought in action, ideas in motion and also the portrayal of a slippery, frightening slide down a rabbit hole of hurt for Sheil. The story is what is true and what is false, and it’s all true and it’s all false. Christine is haunted. Kate is haunted. Ghosts. Ghosts everywhere. [More.]

NoHomeMovie-2No Home Movie (Chantal Akerman) The film says more than this, I could say more than this, but there are so many daunting elements, down to the specificity and intimacy that Akerman ventures, through brusque low-res images, Skype, Blackberry, dares, attains. It could have been called “Goodbye to Mother,” “Goodbye to Life,” “Goodbye to Language.” Resistant, resigned. Asking, listening. Not punishing, but pained. Not deadly, but difficult. Not death, but life.  [More.]

OJAmericaO.J.: Made in America (Ezra Edelman) It’s a movie. It’s television. It’s a movie. It’s elemental.

clapperboard-lightedit-768x419One More Time With Feeling (Andrew Dominik) Nick Cave didn’t want to be asked questions about his latest recording, released after the death of a son. Self-exploitation? Dominik and his camera circle. Beauty and grief.

TOS1The Other Side (Roberto Minervini) Rich, riotous, ribald and as disturbing as it ought to be, “The Other Side” rocks in righteous embrace. [More.]

13th13th (Ava DuVernay) History in the present tense. Fleet, unflinching.

towerTower (Keith Maitland) Elemental yet expressionistic, “Tower” is an admirable attainment, a broadside from the solar plexus, and the powerhouse ending, partially narrated by Walter Cronkite commenting in the day, is magnificent. [More.]

Weiner6Weiner (Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg) A high point, flawed only by a small cut, is in the Weiner-Abedin kitchen one morning, when Abedin is asked how she’s doing. She pauses, there’s a cut, she says flatly, “It’s like living in a nightmare.” She smiles, all poise and resolve and red lipstick and white teeth and hightails it out of the frame. [More.]

Blu-ray Editions

outonealternatethree613x463OUT 1 (Jacques Rivette) modesty of its gestures and the grandeur of its madness, mingling conspiracy adapted from Balzac’s “History of the Thirteen,” notions of performance, galling acting exercises of the era performed by double, warring troupes, impacted jealousy, labyrinthine intrigues, counterculture quiddities, sudden gunfire and remarkable experiments with time and duration that are almost unaccountably moving. [More]

dekalogDekalog (Krzysztof Kieslowski) In the end, we are left with tenderness, ambiguity and a sense of the possibility of still being able to ask moral questions in everyday life. [More]

BB32.tifA Brighter Summer Day (Edward Yang) The screening began early and afterwards was the first warm afternoon in Chicago in weeks, and I walked through the Loop, circling, circling, amid faces and figures turning in their own fashion, to their own fates. I was lost yet I was found. It was as if the movie I had seen, its ninety-two locations would not dissipate. All one-hundred-plus characters. They weren’t ghosts. [More.]

In A Lonely Place (Nicholas Ray) “I was born when she kissed me. I died when she left me. I lived a few weeks while she loved me.” All the love. All the hate. All the Nick.

John-McCabeMcCabe And Mrs. Miller (Robert Altman) Inspired subversions like McCabe were staples of studio ambitions way back when. Now? [More.]

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“You know, I was never a critic. I never considered myself as a film critic. I started doing short films, writing screenplays and then for awhile, for a few years I wrote some film theory, including some film criticism because I had to, but I was never… I never had the desire to be a film critic. I never envisioned myself as a film critic, but I did that at a period of my life when I thought I kind of needed to understand things about cinema, understand things about film theory, understand the world map of cinema, and writing about movies gave me that, and also the opportunity to meet filmmakers I admired.

“To me, it was the best possible film school. The way it changed my perspective I suppose is that I believe in this connection between theory and practice. I think that you also make movies with ideas and you need to have ideas about filmmaking to achieve whatever you’re trying to achieve through your movies, but then I started making features in 1986 — a while ago — and I left all that behind.

“For the last three decades I’ve been making movies, I’ve been living, I’ve been observing the world. You become a different person, so basically my perspective on the world in general is very different and I hope that with every movie I make a step forward. I kind of hope I’m a better person, and hopefully a better filmmaker and hopefully try to… It’s very hard for me to go back to a different time when I would have different values in my relationship to filmmaking. I had a stiffer notion of cinema.”
~ Olivier Assayas

A Spirited Exchange

“In some ways Christopher Nolan has become our Stanley Kubrick,” reads the first sentence of David Bordwell’s latest blog post–none of which I want or intend to read after that desperate opening sentence. If he’d written “my” or “some people’s” instead of “our”, I might have read further. Instead, I can only surmise that in some ways David Bordwell may have become our Lars von Trier.”
~ Jonathan Rosenbaum On Facebook

“Jonathan has written a despicable thing in comparing me to Trump. He’s free to read or not read what I write, and even to judge arguments without reading them. It’s not what you’d expect from a sensible critic, but it’s what Jonathan has chosen to do, for reasons of a private nature he has confided to me in an email What I request from him is an apology for comparing my ideas to Trump’s.”
~ David Bordwell Replies

“Yes, I do apologize, sincerely, for such a ridiculous and quite unwarranted comparison. The private nature of my grievance with David probably fueled my post, but it didn’t dictate it, even though I’m willing to concede that I overreacted. Part of what spurred me to post something in the first place is actually related to a positive development in David’s work–an improvement in his prose style ever since he wrote (and wrote very well) about such elegant prose stylists as James Agee and Manny Farber. But this also brought a journalistic edge to his prose, including a dramatic flair for journalistic ‘hooks’ and attention-grabbers, that is part of what I was responding to. Although I realize now that David justifies his opening sentence with what follows, and far less egregiously than I implied he might have, I was responding to the drum roll of that opening sentence as a provocation, which it certainly was and is.”
~ Jonathan Rosenbaum Replies