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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“The sad and painful truth is that pretty much everyone in this town knew who Harvey was. I have had long talks with my most liberal friends. Did we know he was a rapist? We didn’t. But did we know that for decades he has been offering actresses big careers in exchange for sexual favors? Yes, we did — and make no mistake, that is its own kind of rape. And did we all — or did any of us — refuse to do business with him on moral grounds? No. We ALL STAYED IN BUSINESS WITH HIM. I have never done business with Harvey but I can tell you with certainty that I would have — because I was recently approached by a film festival he sponsors. They asked me to submit my short film for their consideration and I did it without thinking twice. I am a dyed-in-the-wool feminist and a vocal one at that. So why didn’t I think twice? Because this entire town is built on the ugly principals that Harvey takes to an horrific extreme. If I didn’t work with people whose behavior I find reprehensible, I wouldn’t have a career.”
~ Showrunner Krista Vernoff

From AMPAS president John Bailey:

Dear Fellow Academy Members,

Danish director Carl Dreyer’s 1928 film “The Passion of Joan of Arc” is not only one of the visual landmarks of the silent era, but is a deeply disturbing portrait of a young woman’s persecution in the face of the male judges and priests of the ruling order. The actress Maria Falconetti gave one of the most profoundly affecting performances in the history of cinema as the Maid of Orleans.

Since the decision of the Academy’s Board of Governors on Saturday October 14 to expel producer Harvey Weinstein from its membership, I have been haunted not only by the recurring image of Falconetti and the sad arc of her career (dying in Argentina in 1946, reputedly from a crash diet) but of Joan’s refusal to submit to an auto de fe recantation of her beliefs.

Recent public testimonies by some of filmdom’s most recognized women regarding sexual intimidation, predation, and physical force is, clearly, a turning point in the film industry—and hopefully in our country, where what happens in the world of movies becomes a marker of societal Zeitgeist. Their decision to stand up against a powerful, abusive male not only parallels the cinema courage of Falconetti’s Joan but gives all women courage to speak up.

After Saturday’s Board of Governors meeting, the Academy issued a passionately worded statement, expressing not only our concern about harassment in the film industry, but our intention to be a strong voice in changing the culture of sexual exploitation in the movie business, already common well before the founding of the Academy 90 years ago. It is up to all of us Academy members to more clearly define for ourselves the parameters of proper conduct, of sexual equality, and respect for our fellow artists throughout our industry. The Academy cannot, and will not, be an inquisitorial court, but we can be part of a larger initiative to define standards of behavior, and to support the vulnerable women and men who may be at personal and career risk because of violations of ethical standards by their peers.

Yours,
John