6 items from 2015
There are a few titans of narrative cinema - Martin Scorsese and Spike Lee come first to mind - who make documentaries that rival their feature film work. Another example is Werner Herzog, a filmmaker whose non-fiction films are still celebrated, but it's his docs that (deservedly, in my opinion) get the lion's share of praise. From the same school of filmmakers as the iconoclastic Herzog, Wim Wenders shares his compatriot's ability to seamlessly switch between doc and feature. If the only non-fiction film Wenders ever shot was Buena Vista Social Club, than he'd be rightly lauded as one of the best non-fiction directors of the last half century. In The Salt of the Earth, Wenders, along with his co-director (and son of the subject)...
[Read the whole post on twitchfilm.com...]
Over the course of four decades, German filmmaker Wim Wenders has directed more than 30 feature-length films of all different types. There’s the Palme d'Or-winning “Paris, Texas,” the Criterion-minted “Wings of Desire,” and he's a three-time Oscar nominee for the documentaries “Buena Vista Social Club,” the visually striking 3D “Pina,” and his upcoming film, “The Salt of the Earth,” about Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado, which opens this weekend (our review from Telluride). Overshadowed to some degree by Werner Herzog, as they came of cinematic age during the 1970s German New Wave movement, Wenders has been getting his due recently thanks to a gigantic retrospective of his work at Moma that just finished. Underappreciated gems getting a second look there were "The American Friend" starring Dennis Hopper, the director's long form cut of "Until The End Of The World," and the documentary about dying filmmaker Nicholas Ray, “Lightning »
- Rodrigo Perez
From photography to warfare, conservation to whistleblowing, this year’s five Oscar nominated documentaries are united by overlapping themes and topics of interest, but remain uniformly distinct in their approach.
Leading the quintet is Laura Poitras’ “Citizenfour,” the highest-grossing and highest-profile nominee. The verite-style portrait of Nsa whistleblower Edward Snowden gives audiences a voyeuristic peek inside Snowden’s week in Hong Kong when the information he leaked started going public, and shows the human side of a man who the media nearly turned into a myth.
The pic has cleaned up in Oscar precursors, garnering best doc wins from the Gotham and Intl. Documentary Assn. awards, the four top critics groups (New York, Los Angeles, London and National Society) and nominations from BAFTA and the Spirits. It also marks Poitras’ second Oscar nom. She was in contention in 2007 for “My Country, My Country” but lost to heavyweight “An Inconvenient Truth. »
- Geoff Berkshire
By Anjelica Oswald
German director Wim Wenders received his third Oscar nomination Thursday morning for The Salt of the Earth, a documentary about the life and career of Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado, which he co-directed with Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, Sebastiao’s son. Wenders had become a fan of Sebastiao’s work after discovering some images in a gallery, which led him to pursue the documentary. It won the Un Certain Regard Special Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, where it premiered.
Wenders’ first Oscar nomination was for Buena Vista Social Club (1999), a documentary about Cuban musicians gathered together by American music producer and guitarist Ry Cooder after he traveled to Havana. The musicians recorded an album under the name of the Buena Vista Social Club and toured in Amsterdam and New York City. The film won best documentary from the National Board of Review and also landed three BAFTA nominations. »
- Anjelica Oswald
By Anjelica Oswald
Keep on Keepin’ On, director Alan Hicks’ debut film, follows four years of the friendship and mentorship between jazz legend and trumpeter Clark Terry, who played with Count Basie and Duke Ellington and taught a young Quincy Jones how to play, and Justin Kauflin, a talented 23-year-old blind pianist. The two musicians support each other as Terry begins to lose his eyesight due to health issues and as Kauflin deals with stage fright as a semi-finalist in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition. The film is one of 15 films on the Oscar documentary shortlist, five of which will be nominated on Jan. 15.
The Academy is particularly fond of music-related documentaries, nominating 17 since 1942, with eight winning. Keep on Keepin’ On could join the following Oscar-nominated films:
Director Murray Lerner’s black-and-white documentary offers a glimpse into three years (1963-1966) of the Newport Folk Festival, which »
- Anjelica Oswald
My knowledge of Cuban cinema is limited to a handful of films — one or two native productions and works by foreigners like Wim Wenders’ Buena Vista Social Club and Michael Rubbo’s Waiting for Fidel. So my interest was aroused when President Obama announced his administration’s change in policy regarding Cuba. The political ramifications of the President’s policies are, of course, extremely personal for Cuban-Americans, and discussions about the politics of the announcement and human-rights issues in Cuba are occurring across the nation(s). While not disregarding these discussions, I wanted to take a moment to look at the possibilities normalized relations might create […] »
- Randy Astle
6 items from 2015
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