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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“Let me try and be as direct as I possibly can with you on this. There was no relationship to repair. I didn’t intend for Harvey to buy and release The Immigrant – I thought it was a terrible idea. And I didn’t think he would want the film, and I didn’t think he would like the film. He bought the film without me knowing! He bought it from the equity people who raised the money for me in the States. And I told them it was a terrible idea, but I had no say over the matter. So they sold it to him without my say-so, and with me thinking it was a terrible idea. I was completely correct, but I couldn’t do anything about it. It was not my preference, it was not my choice, I did not want that to happen, I have no relationship with Harvey. So, it’s not like I repaired some relationship, then he screwed me again, and I’m an idiot for trusting him twice! Like I say, you try to distance yourself as much as possible from the immediate response to a movie. With The Immigrant I had final cut. So he knew he couldn’t make me change it. But he applied all the pressure he could, including shelving the film.”
James Gray

“I’m an unusual producer because I control the destiny of a lot of the films I’ve done. Most of them are in perfect states of restoration and preservation and distribution, and I aim to keep them in distribution. HanWay Films, which is my sales company, has a 500-film catalogue, which is looked after and tended like a garden. I’m still looking after my films in the catalogue and trying to get other people to look after their films, which we represent intellectually, to try to keep them alive. A film has to be run through a projector to be alive, unfortunately, and those electric shadows are few and far between now. It’s very hard to go and see films in a movie house. I was always involved with the sales and marketing of my films, right up from The Shout onwards. I’ve had good periods, but I also had a best period because the film business was in its best period then. You couldn’t make The Last Emperor today. You couldn’t make The Sheltering Sky today. You couldn’t make those films anymore as independent films. There are neither the resources nor the vision within the studios to go to them and say, “I want to make a film about China with no stars in it.”Then, twenty years ago, I thought, “OK, I’m going to sell my own films but I don’t want to make it my own sales company.” I wanted it to be for me but I wanted to make it open for every other producer, so they don’t feel that they make a film but I get the focus. So, it’s a company that is my business and I’m involved with running it in a certain way, but I’m not seen as a competitor with other people that use it. It’s used by lots of different producers apart from me. When I want to use it, however, it’s there for me and I suppose I’m planning to continue making all my films to be sold by HanWay. I don’t have to, but I do because it’s in my building and the marketing’s here, and I can do it like that. Often, it sounds like I’m being easy about things, but it’s much more difficult than it sounds. It’s just that I’ve been at it for a long time and there’s lots of fat and security around my business. I know how to make films, but it’s not easy—it’s become a very exacting life.”
~ Producer Jeremy Thomas