Archive for documentary

Patti Smith: Dream of Life- movie review 6 August 2008

Posted in Movies with tags on August 3, 2008 by funofmovie

Patti Smith dream of life

A Thirteen/WNET New York and Clean Socks presentation. (International sales: Celluloid Dreams, Paris.) Produced by Steven Sebring, Margaret Smilow, Scott Vogel. Directed by Steven Sebring. Poetry, Patti Smith.

With: Patti Smith, Jackson Smith, Jesse Smith, Grant Smith, Beverly Smith, Tom Verlaine, Sam Shepard, Philip Glass, Benjamin Smoke, Lenny Kaye, Oliver Ray, Tony Shanahan, Jay Dee Daugherty.
Voice: Patti Smith.

The titular rocker-poet gets a suitable portrait in Steven Sebring’s “Patti Smith: Dream of Life,” which runs radically against the grain of American-made pop music docs. The result of 11 years of filming (much of it in wonderfully grainy black-and-white 16mm), pic is designed as a stream-of-consciousness experience, following Smith as she revives her music career and considers every aspect of her life. Death, too, plays a stark role, and the textured, thoughtful results may prove too cerebral and abstract for auds beyond Smith’s hardcore followers, but long-term, this will be a loss-leader that gains much respect.

What Sebring — a fashion and pop photographer, painter and commercials maker — doesn’t know about doc filmmaking never hurts the film. Starting in 1995, when Smith recorded her comeback album “Gone Again” and toured with her idol, Bob Dylan, after having not performed live for 16 years, Sebring’s project clearly developed as it went along, and the effect of watching the film is seeing something in the making — like rummaging through Smith’s closet, and stumbling across interesting stuff.

In voiceover, Smith briefly sums up her background as the daughter of Chicago parents (Grant and Beverly Smith, both lovingly seen at home) and the cultural child of ’60s art-political foment. At 23, a fledgling and serious poet, she became friends with artist Robert Mapplethorpe and teamed with him for a series of works that belonged to the early phases of performance art. Other encounters (such as with then-hell-raising playwright Sam Shepard) proved crucial, and led her into rock ‘n’ roll.

“Dream of Life” distinctively treat the particulars of her early career in only glancing references, none of them in chronological order, with Smith sometimes seen obliquely.

She sits in a corner of her bedroom amid some of her favorite personal and nostalgic objects (a childhood dress, a Persian urn containing the late Mapplethorpe’s ashes), and mock-threatens Sebring to not budge until he’s decided to finally finish the movie. She’s seen almost sentimentally at her old home outside Detroit, where she moved after her halcyon New York days in the ’70s. She visits the graves of the poets she reveres: Allen Ginsberg, Percy Shelley, William Blake, William S. Burroughs. Her manner is generally so gentle and meek that her angry, wild behavior onstage offers the impression of a woman with two different personalities.

Sebring, who operated his own camera for much of the filming, seems unsure how to lens and frame Smith onstage, as if intimidated by her animal side.

However, in the quiet of rooms and studios, or walking with Smith (and her daughter Jesse) through Central Park, or finding the right images to accompany her loving descriptions of the shocking number of people in her life who’ve died, (including her husband, Fred), the filmmaking is more assured, but also comfortably loose and able to respond to the moment. When Smith’s son (and fellow bandmate) Jackson cuts up in front of Sebring’s camera, it’s exactly the sort of flotsam that a more conventional doc would trim; here, it’s central to suggesting the world Smith inhabits.

Sebring has been supported by some fine (film) bandmates of his own, including co-d.p. Phillip Hunt, editors Angelo Corrao and Lin Polito, and masterful sound designers Margaret Crimmins and Greg Smith.

Camera (Duart color/Technicolor/B&W, 16mm-to-DV), Phillip Hunt, Sebring; editors, Angelo Corrao, Lin Polito; music, Smith; sound (Dolby Digital), Sebring, Jorgen Axelvall; sound designers, Margaret Crimmins, Greg Smith; re-recording mixer, Tony Volante. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (competing), Jan. 20, 2008. Running time: 109 MIN.

America the Beautiful – Movie release August 1 2008

Posted in Movies with tags , , , , , on July 31, 2008 by funofmovie

America the beautiful Movie

Release Date:August 1, 2008 (NY; LA release: August 22)
Studio: First Independent Pictures
Director: Darryl Roberts
Starring: Gerren Taylor, Eve Ensler, Julianne Moore, Anthony Kiedis, Jessica Simpson, Paris Hilton
Genre: Documentary
Official Website:

The United States of America is known for being one of the wealthiest nations on the planet with the most opportunities for its citizens. In 2004 alone, Americans spent $12.4 billion (yes, billion!) on cosmetic surgery. With such an abundance of wealth, why are Americans so discontent?

In almost 40,000 media messages a year, youthful Americas are being told that, unless you look like supermodels and rock stars, you’re not good enough for anyone to love. This is a message that too many people are buying.

At the heart of “America the Beautiful” is the story of Gerren Taylor, a teenager who went from being an innocent 12 year old girl to being one of America’s next top supermodels. As she and her mother head down the windy road to stardom, viewers watch the dichotomy between Gerren’s adolescent struggles and her adult “rights of passage” on the catwalks of Marc Jacobs, DKNY, Tommy Hilfiger and other top designers. Her tumultuous quest acts as a mirror to the American psyche, and it becomes apparent how the same beauty that could jump-start her career could ultimately destroy her young life.

American Teen (2008) – release 25 July 2008

Posted in Movies with tags , , on July 24, 2008 by funofmovie

Starring: Hannah Bailey, Megan Krizmanich, Jake Tusing, Colin Clemens, Mitch Reinholt
Director: Nanette Burstein
Studio: Paramount Vantage
Rating: PG-13 (For some strong language, sexual material, some drinking and brief smoking-all involving teens.)
Genre: Documentary
Release Date: July 25, 2008 (Limited)

AMERICAN TEEN is the touching and hilarious Sundance hit that follows the lives of four teenagers – a jock, the popular girl, the artsy girl and the geek – in one small town in Indiana through their senior year of high school. We see the insecurities, the cliques, the jealousies, the first loves and heartbreaks, and the struggle to make profound decisions about the future.

Filming daily for ten months, filmmaker Nanette Burstein (ON THE ROPES, THE KID STAYS IN THE PICTURE) developed a deep understanding of her subjects. The result is a film that goes beyond the enduring stereotypes of high school to render complex young people trying to find their way into adulthood.

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July 9 2008 – Movie releases – Full Battle Rattle

Posted in Movie releases, Movies with tags , , on July 7, 2008 by funofmovie
full battle rattle movie

Full Battle Rattle Movie

Genre: Education/General Interest, Documentary
Director: Jesse Moss, Tony Gerber
Producer: Tony Gerber, Jesse Moss
Composer: Paul Brill

Release Date: July 9, 2008 (NY)

Production Companies :
Mile End Films
Market Road Films
Tapwater Media
Pop’s Paper Route

If you still haven’t watched any of the million documentaries about the Iraq War because you’re still not quite ready for that kind of subject matter, you might want to check out Full Battle Rattle. It is a documentary, and it is related to the Iraq War, but you may consider it more like a simulation of a documentary about the Iraq War than an actual example. Think of it as like a practice piece until you can handle the real deal.

How is Full Battle Rattle different from the rest, you ask? Well, it’s not set in Iraq or even in the Middle East. It takes place in America, in California’s Mojave Desert, to be exact. It’s there that the U.S. military has built a bunch of fake Iraqi towns, complete with fake Iraqi people, some of whom are played by actual Iraqi immigrants, others of whom are played by soldiers preparing for combat before being deployed overseas.

And then there are the other thousands of soldiers who basically play themselves on the unscripted side of partially scripted training exercises designed to simulate possible scenarios that they’ll be faced with once they’re shipped out to Iraq. In a way, watching the simulations documented in the film is like watching Civil War reenactments, except that in this case it’s more like pre-enactments.

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Gunnin for That #1 spot movie. June 2008

Posted in Movies with tags , , , on June 23, 2008 by funofmovie

Gunnin for That #1 spot

Genres: Documentary and Sports
Running Time: 1 hr. 30 min.
Release Date: June 27th, 2008 (limited)
Distributors: Oscilloscope Pictures

Gunnin’ For That #1 Spot is a 2008 documentary directed by Adam Yauch, founding member of the Beastie Boys. The movie will premiere at the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival in April 2008 and will open in theaters June 27th, 2008.

Starring: Bobbito Garcia
Directed by: Adam Yauch
Produced by: Adam Yauch, Jon Doran
Company: Oscilloscope Pictures

It’s hard to imagine the basketball junkie who won’t fall madly in love with Adam Yauch’s new documentary, Gunnin’ for That #1 Spot, simply because it’s a very sincere and admirably straightforward story about eight young men and their passion for the game. Sure, all eight of the high school basketball wizards have their dreams set on NBA fame, but at this early point in their career, these guys just enjoy the game that much. At this point it’s not about money, contracts, or endorsements. It’s almost time for all that jazz, but what’s most important right now, in these formative years, are teamwork, dedication, and talent.

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Trumbo Movie 2008

Posted in Movies with tags , , , , , , on June 21, 2008 by funofmovie

Starring: Michael Douglas, Joan Allen, Paul Giamatti, Danny Glover, Nathan Lane, Liam Neeson, David Strathairn, Donald Sutherland, Kirk Douglas, Walter Bernstein
Director: Peter Askin

Genres: Documentary, Adaptation and Politics/Religion
Running Time: 1 hr. 36 min.
Release Date: June 27th, 2008 (limited)
Distributors: Samuel Goldwyn Films

Trumbo tells the remarkable story of Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, one of the famed Hollywood 10, who were indicted and convicted for contempt of congress during the HUAC trials of the late forties. Adapted from the play created by Trumbo’s son Christopher Trumbo, the film chronicles Dalton’s life, from his rise to being one of the most sought after screenwriters working in Hollywood to being placed on the Hollywood blacklist to writing under pseudonyms and winning an Academy Award. All in all, Dalton Trumbo is responsible for some of the great film works of the 20th century including Spartacus, Roman Holiday, Johnny Got His Gun and Papillon. Many of the stories he wrote strongly mirrored his own life often involving characters that were alienated from society and that stayed true to their morals and beliefs in the face of adversity. Director Peter Askin weaves together stock footage, interviews and most importantly the reading of some of Dalton Trumbo’s beautifully crafted letters by a tour de force ensemble of actors to tell a great story of a great man.

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