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7 items from 2011


Into The Abyss – The Review

22 November 2011 9:05 PM, PST | WeAreMovieGeeks.com | See recent WeAreMovieGeeks.com news »

The application of the death penalty in the sentencing of criminal cases has been an issue that continues to divide this country. A few months ago, at one of the many Gop presidential debates, the moderator noted the number of executions performed while Rick Perry was governor of Texas. This elicited gales of wild applause from the debate audience, while many pundits were shocked at the reaction. For his latest feature film documentary, director Werner Herzog traveled to that state to take a closer look at this divisive topic by focusing in on a horrific crime and the two young men who were brought to justice and met very different fates.

In the small, sleepy town of Conroe, Texas Michael Perry and Jason Burkett were found guilty in the death of Sandra Stotler, her teenage son, and his school pal. It seemed that Perry and Burkett shot the three for a few dollars, »

- Jim Batts

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TV highlights 09/11/2011

8 November 2011 4:05 PM, PST | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

Frozen Planet | Paul Merton's Adventures | Storyville: The Thin Blue Line | Doomsdayers 2012 | Grey's Anatomy | Fresh Meat

Frozen Planet

9pm, BBC1

It's summertime now in the Arctic, with the sun never setting and the ice sheets cut up with rivulets and waterfalls like veins. Against the backdrop of this remote, indifferent grandeur, we see polar bears struggle for food, flora and fauna flourish and killer whales systematically hunt down a lone minke whale with grim, balletic inevitability. Every frame is a thing of meticulously conceived beauty; we see at the conclusion just what the film-makers went through to acquire these images, from unfeasibly intimate footage to aerial shots of the ice breaking up that are like nature's own abstract art. David Stubbs

Paul Merton's Adventures

9pm, Channel 5

Paul Merton's obsession with Tony Hancock is ratcheted up a gear as he moonlights on a seaside Punch and Judy show. This week, self-evidently, »

- Hannah Verdier, Gwilym Mumford

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Errol Morris: creating reality

28 October 2011 4:09 PM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

The documentary-maker talks to Sukhdev Sandhu about working as a private detective, breaking into a mental hospital and the spat with Us beauty queen Joyce McKinney over his new film, Tabloid

This is weird. The documentary film-maker Errol Morris says he likes the Guardian – "It's my favourite paper" – but, sitting in the lobby of a sleekly manicured hotel in New York's SoHo district to talk about his work, it's not clear if he likes documentaries very much. "This is going to get me depressed," he groans. "I feel as if I became a documentary film-maker only because I had writer's block for four decades. There's no other good reason. I don't know what I should be doing. I'm tired of everything – mostly of myself."

It's weird not because Morris is being downbeat – after all, he once had a magazine column entitled The Grump; a typical post on his Twitter account »

- Sukhdev Sandhu

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Can documentaries change the world?

6 October 2011 4:06 PM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

The Creative Impact award aims to honour those film-makers whose documentaries bring burning issues to our attention. But just how effective are they?

Movie people are forever telling the rest of us that movies can change the world – but they would say that, wouldn't they? It justifies the outrageous salaries, the decadent lifestyles and the grandiose awards acceptance speeches. Certainly, if James Cameron could point to figures detailing a fall in ocean-liner/iceberg collisions following Titanic's release, his "I'm the king of the world!" Oscar proclamation might have been more forgivable. But beyond the bluster of Hollywood and the joy of escapism, what kind of real-world impact can cinema really have?

The creators of the Puma Creative Impact award believe it can be massive. Its stated aim? "To honour the documentary film creating the most significant impact in the world." As the documentarist Morgan Spurlock, a juror for the award, »

- Morgan Spurlock, Ellen E Jones

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Errol Morris: The Hollywood Interview

18 July 2011 11:11 AM, PDT | The Hollywood Interview | See recent The Hollywood Interview news »

Joyce McKinney, the focal point of Errol Morris' lens in Tabloid.

Errol Morris Digs The Dirt With Tabloid

By Alex Simon

When Errol Morris’ documentary The Thin Blue Line hit movie screens in 1988, it helped jump-start the rather tired genre back to life again. After a renaissance of the documentary film in the 1960s through the early ‘70s from the likes of The Maysles Brothers (Gimme Shelter, Grey Gardens), D.A. Pennebaker (Don’t Look Back), and Robert Drew (Crisis, Primary), the documentary film seemed relegated to late night spots on local PBS affiliates, narrated by boozy British actors in the downslide of their careers. Morris’ tale of Randall Adams, a man not only wrongly jailed for murdering a Dallas cop in the late ‘70s, but convicted due to the testimony of the man who actually did it, was an intoxicating blend of first-person realism, film noir detective story, and very real moral outrage. »

- The Hollywood Interview.com

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Tabloid: This Beauty Queen is a Hoot

15 July 2011 6:45 AM, PDT | TribecaFilm.com | See recent Tribeca Film news »

For over 30 years, director Errol Morris has been making provocative documentaries about people ranging from the iconic (The Fog of War, A Brief History of Time) to the eccentric (Gates of Heaven, Mr. Death, Fast, Cheap and Out of Control). With his film The Thin Blue Line, he even rescued an innocent man (Randall Adams) from Death Row in Texas, which likely inspired the various 'innocence projects' that have sprung up in the 20 years since. So while his movies are hard to pigeonhole, one thing's for sure: anytime an Errol Morris movie hits theaters, it's an automatic must-see for serious fans of documentary. With his latest film, Morris - a former private investigator - U-turns from his recent serious fare (Standard Operating Procedure, Tff 2008) back to the absurd, and there's only one way to describe the result: Tabloid is a hoot. The story centers on the decades-old escapades of one Joyce McKinney, »

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The film that changed my life: Kevin Macdonald

12 June 2011 10:45 AM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

The director of Touching the Void and The Last King of Scotland on the power of 1988 documentary The Thin Blue Line

When it was released, Errol Morris's The Thin Blue Line went radically against the grain of documentary convention. The film made something artful out of a horrific real-life event – it changed the trajectory of my career. The film is about the wrongful imprisonment of a man, Randall Adams, following the murder of a Texas police officer in 1976. Morris uses a combination of interviews and tasteful reconstruction to create a full picture of the case, which ultimately ended with Adams' acquittal after 12 years in prison.

Morris's film is a minefield of complexity, one that mirrors all the grey areas inherent in a murder trial. His interviews, conducted against a neutral backdrop, expose different versions of events and their many contradictions. The result is strangely epistemological: it raises questions around »

- Mina Holland, Kevin Macdonald

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7 items from 2011


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