3 items from 2017
Documentaries about the current state of America, as good as some of them are, often have the effect of news headlines: They come and go, leaving a slight blur. But “Promised Land” isn’t like other politically and socially inflamed documentaries. Written and directed by Eugene Jarecki (“The House I Live In,” “Why We Fight”), it’s a meditation on the current American crisis (and if you don’t think we’re in one, you should probably stop reading now) that’s built around a revisionist portrait of Elvis Presley. The two elements — America and Elvis — come together in ticklish, surprising ways that expand and delight your perceptions.
If “Promised Land” has a thesis, the short version of it — it’s declared in the opening 15 minutes — is that America has entered its Fat Elvis period. We’re bloated, addicted, going through the motions, coasting on our legend, courting self-destruction. Yet »
- Owen Gleiberman
What It Is: Arby’s new venison sandwich
Who Tried It: Alex Heigl, People.com associate editor
Arby’s, as you may or may not have heard, has the meats. In their latest effort to offer the flesh of every beast under the dominion of man on a bun for popular consumption, this now includes venison.
Topped with crispy onion straws and served on a pillowy-but-crunchy bun, Arby’s venison sandwich is—spoiler alert—surprisingly tasty. Confession time: Despite growing up in central Pennsylvania, a state which James Carville once described as “Pittsburgh in the west, Philadelphia in the east, »
- Alex Heigl
Anthony Weiner made headlines for a lot of unseemly reasons in 2015, but it started with a documentary. When “Weiner” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last January, it was an instant sensation. Directors Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg provide a jarring closeup on the scandal-ridden congressman’s ill-fated mayoral campaign, which started as a tale of redemption and climaxed in embarrassment, with Weiner’s sexting addiction stifling his momentum.
More than that, the movie — currently on the shortlist for the best documentary Oscar — gained in relevance as the year continued, with Hillary Clinton aide and Weiner spouse Huma Abedin separating from her husband in the midst of Clinton’s presidential campaign as more allegations came to light. Later, news of an FBI investigation into Weiner’s emails led to a public letter from FBI director James Comey that many believe to have played a key role in the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. »
- Eric Kohn
3 items from 2017
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