10 items from 2016
We return with a look at Soul Power, enjoy!
From Masters of Cinema:
Soul Power is a vérité documentary – compiled entirely from footage shot in 1974 – of the astonishing back-to-Africa 3-day music festival “Zaire ‘74”. It was held in Kinshasa ahead of the biggest boxing event of all time: the Muhammad Ali–George Foreman “Rumble in the Jungle”. Directed by Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, editor of Leon Gast’s Oscar®-winning (Best Documentary) When We Were Kings, and sourced from the same archival pool, Soul Power features a legendary line-up of African and African-diaspora musicians – all of whom are at the very peak of their creative powers.
Alongside Ali’s wit and wisdom – profoundly lyrical in its own right – vibrant street scenes of downtown Kinshasa, and “fly-on-the-wall” footage of the festival’s staging, rehearsals, and jams, the three nights of concerts (lensed by Albert Maysles and a host of other legendary cameramen) offer electrifying performances by James Brown, »
- Tom Jennings
There is hardly such thing as an underground movie anymore — except, perhaps, for the ones that have to go underground because they aren’t allowed to be shown. The rough, grainy, outlaw king of those is “C—sucker Blues.” Not because you can never see it, but because on the rare occasions when you can, it has acquired the aura of an unholy testament: the ultimate down and dirty peek behind the curtain of 1970s rock & roll excess. It’s the time capsule that keeps on giving because it’s still semi-buried.
In 1972, the Rolling Stones recruited photographer Robert Frank to shoot a fly-on-the-wall film of their up-and-coming U.S. tour after the release of “Exile on Main Street.” Frank had created the extraordinary cover art for “Exile,” that tawdry collage of photographs that merged the Stones in all their let-it-loose glory with an homage to the rootsy mysteries of Americana. »
- Owen Gleiberman
Last week we looked at Chantal Akerman's final film, and this week completely by accident I am reviewing another final film by another towering name in documentary filmmaking. In a career that includes Grey Gardens, Salesman, Gimme Shelter, and Monterey Pop, Albert Maysles has made many films that are considered among the greatest non-fiction titles ever made. And while last year’s glimpse into the life of aging fashion icon Iris Apfel, Iris, was billed as his last work, it is in fact this deeply searching piece of cinema verite made in collaboration with Lynn True, David Usui, Nelson Walker III, and Benjamin Wu that is his last work and an incredibly fitting one, too. It’s the »
- Glenn Dunks
What does it take to succeed in a man’s world? A Los Angeles Film Festival panel of women cinematographers ivealed what it took to make it to the top of a competitive industry.
1. A shot of LSD. Cinema verite shooter Joan Churchill (“Last Days in Vietnam”) started out by recovering from an eight-hour acid trip, she admitted, to shoot some of the most iconic images from the Rolling Stones Altamont doc, “Gimme Shelter.” That led to the assignment of shooting the Louds in PBS’s “An American Family.” A documentary cameraperson, often working with a hand-held camera and natural light, has to have “people skills,” she said. “You have to be interested in your subjects.” When she moved to London, she couldn’t get work until she joined the Asc—and became its first woman member. Her membership card read: “Lady Cameraman.”
2. Read and reread the script. French-born Maryse Alberti »
- Anne Thompson
If there is one blemish in Jim Jarmusch’s exceptional filmography, it’s his first foray into documentary: 1997’s little-seen Year of the Horse, a surprisingly insipid portrait of Neil Young and Crazy Horse on tour. He gives it a second try with Gimme Danger, another homage to a legendary rock band, The Stooges, which, though more enjoyable and informative, nevertheless confirms that the director should stick to fiction.
Those hoping for something in the line of the Maysles brothers’ and Charlotte Zwerin’s Gimme Shelter will be sorely disappointed, as similarities don’t extend much beyond their titles. Unlike that canonical masterpiece, Jarmusch’s film is a strictly conventional affair that resembles any number of TV documentaries.
Addressing the camera, Iggy Pop (née James Osterberg) narrates the history of The Stooges, starting with a childhood living in a cramped trailer with his parents in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He describes »
- Giovanni Marchini Camia
Mubi is exclusively showing two new, brilliant and unconventional films from Spain: Luis López Carrasco's El Futuro (April 11 - May 10) and Ion de Sosa's Androids Dream (April 12 - May 11). We asked the two filmmakers—friends and collaborators—a few questions about their work. For an in-depth exploration of the two films, we recommend Michael Pattison's article, Back to the Future: Androids Dream and El Futuro.Spanish directors Ion de Sosa (front left) and Luis López Carrasco (back right).Notebook: How did you each manage to bring your projects to life?Luis LÓPEZ Carrasco: After living in Berlin for a few months through a scholarship program, I came back to Spain in 2010 fully energized with the aim to set up a production company, finance my own projects and support friends whose work I deeply admire. The international success of Los Hijos Collective led me to believe »
Above: Us poster for Salesman (Maysles Brothers & Charlotte Zwerin, USA, 1968). Designer: Henry Wolf. Courtesy of Film/Art Gallery.Starting today, Film Forum in New York is hosting The Maysles & Co., a comprehensive two-week long retrospective of the work of the legendary “Direct Cinema” documentarians Albert and David Maysles—best known for Gimme Shelter (1970) and Grey Gardens (1976)—and their various collaborators, most especially Charlotte Zwerin. Grey Gardens, a film whose title has entered the lingua franca, is the only documentary ever to be turned into a Tony-winning Broadway musical, an Emmy-winning TV dramatization, and an SNL-alumni parody, but its poster, a simple framing of a photograph by Herb Goro, doesn’t really do the film justice. Gimme Shelter, on the other hand—the Maysles’ biggest international success—has inspired a wide variety of designs. For me, the stand-out is the stark black and white one sheet with all-Helvetica type, the first one featured below. »
- Adrian Curry
“The President’S Reality Show”
Robert Drew was a pioneer who changed the way we think about the documentary film. As first a writer/editor at Life Magazine in the 1950s, and then the head of a unit that produced short documentaries for Time Inc., Drew knew how to tell a story visually. When he formed his own company, Robert Drew & Associates, he was the guiding force for other talented (and later, more well-known) filmmakers such as D. A. Pennebaker (Don’t Look Back, Monterey Pop), Albert and David Maysles (Gimme Shelter), and Richard Leacock, among others. Together they invented a novel way to present a documentary film, something historians coined “direct cinema.”
Documentaries had previously been scripted, usually shot to order, and more often than not, were textbook dull. Drew and his colleagues developed the you-are-there style of following subjects around as they did their business, »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Cinema Retro)
While we're just a few months away from Warner Bros. launching their DC Comics movie universe, a new project is moving forward on the small screen, which puts a new spin on the superhero landscape. Back in August, NBC issued a pilot production commitment for a workplace comedy entitled Powerless. Now TV Line reports the potential series has added its first cast member, Vanessa Hudgens. The series is set at one of the worst insurance companies in America, which is set within the DC Comics universe.
Vanessa Hudgens will play Emily Locke, a claims adjuster who loves her job because it gives her the ability to help people in need. She becomes increasingly frustrated by the destructive antics of various DC heroes in her city. The project will be a half-hour single-camera comedy series from creator Ben Queen, who previously created NBC's short-lived sitcom A to Z.
Deadline's report on »
Tomorrow night, the Northwest Film Center kicks off their 39th annual Portland International Film Festival. They’ll be screening Klaus Härö’s The Fencer as the opening night film (unfortunately the screenings are sold out, but there will be an additional showing on Sunday the 14th). Over the course of the next sixteen days there will be over 90 feature films shown around town at various theaters.
This is one of my favorite festivals that I’ve had the privilege of attending, and I cannot wait to see a some of the films that they have programmed.
As usual, we here at the site will be covering a number of the films throughout the festival, but I wanted to make sure that any local Criterion Collection fans were alerted to some of the treats that we have in store. While there are many films at the festival that will align with »
- Ryan Gallagher
10 items from 2016
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