6 items from 2017
The master of absurd and idiosyncratic documentaries, Errol Morris said of his first film that, “to love the absurdity of people is not to ridicule them but to embrace on some level how desperate life is for each and every one of us.” All 11 of his documentaries ranked here, including his latest “The B-Side” out today, are challenging and hilarious films that have shaped fiction and non-fiction movies alike. 11. “The Unknown Known” (2013) With “The Unknown Known,” Morris goes down the same rabbit hole as in “The Fog of War,” but he has to contend with Donald Rumsfeld’s elliptical, oxymoronic reasoning. »
- Brian Welk
If the mark of a true cinephile is how accurately they quote a Stanley Kubrick film, it’s no surprise that Errol Morris takes the cake. The Oscar-winning documentarian behind “The Thin Blue Line” and “The Fog of War” has a new movie coming out: “The B-Side,” about large-format Polaroid portrait photographer Elsa Dorfman. Morris recently regaled The Daily Beast with with memories of interviewing Donald Trump 15 years ago, and recalled a certain scene from “Dr. Strangelove.”
Read More: Film Acquisition Rundown: Neon Picks Up Errol Morris’ ‘The B-Side,’ FilmRise Gets Two Sundance Premieres and More
“I mean, it’s hard not to be just utterly appalled by it all. And so, yes, I am utterly appalled by it all,” said Morris.
“I can’t even stand people trying to make sense out of it. There’s no point in trying. There’s a scene I’ve always loved in ‘Dr. Strangelove, »
- Jude Dry
Documentary extraordinaire Errol Morris is back with The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography. The Thin Blue Line and The Fog of War director’s focus this time is, as the title suggests, on his own friend and neighbor, portrait photographer Elsa Dorfman.
Dorfman began her career in the 1960s and 70s, photographing subjects who visited her Cambridge, Massachusetts studio, including family and friends and Beat generation poets like Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg. In the 1980s, Dorfman began using a Polaroid Land 20×24 camera, one of the largest format cameras in common use, for her work. Due to bankruptcy, Polaroid ceased production of its instant film products in 2008, leading Dorfman to stock up with a year’s supply of her camera’s last available 20 x 24 instant film.
Morris and Dorfman have been friends for 25 years, and the filmmaker hopes to shed light not just on his subject but also large-format photography. »
- The Film Stage
After expanding the possibilities of the documentary format in 1988’s “The Thin Blue Line,” Errol Morris has spent his career making movies about whatever subjects happen to interested him. Sometimes that means governmental officials with a dark legacy — his 2003 documentary about former Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, “The Fog Of War,” famously won the Academy Award that year — but just as often, Morris is drawn to shine a light on lesser-known stories.
- Matthew Monagle
Filmmakers and stars have often taken a political stance by choosing which projects to make. But when the Academy Awards ceremony began in 1929 to honor the best in film, this created a more public way to demonstrate opinions about the state of the world, the government or a cause.
Not everyone has taken this opportunity though, except for maybe wearing the odd ribbon to support awareness or using their attendance (or lack thereof) to show solidarity. Those blessed by winning a coveted statuette, however, can use their actual acceptance speech as a platform to speak out. Although the awards started being televised in 1953, it took until the 1970s until winners began to really take advantage of having a massive audience for their views. And at times, even the Academy itself got political. »
- Hanh Nguyen
In the nearly 75 years since the Oscars began awarding a documentary feature, no non-fiction filmmaker has ever been nominated for director, despite being eligible for the prize.
The most obvious reason is that “directing” seems antithetical to the spirit of nonfiction, which is about revealing unsullied truths about the world in which we live. Documentary directors have been generally regarded as observers or journalists, rather than as creative artists, and the Oscar process has, until recently, rewarded more conservative approaches to the form.
Such prominent documentary figures as Errol Morris and Werner Herzog worked for decades before the Academy honored them. Morris’ “The Fog of War” won the 2004 Oscar and Herzog’s “Encounters at the End of the World” was nominated in 2009. But even those films, as quirky and iconoclastic as they are, operated in the familiar spheres of journalistic interrogation and fact-filled nature docs. It’s always been expected »
- Scott Tobias
6 items from 2017
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