Late last year, there was a very brief New York run of the amazing Israeli documentary The Gatekeepers, it’s now getting a more proper release courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics. My full review is at Film Journal International:
Director Dror Moreh’s first coup lies obviously in the get: convincing the six men who led Shin Bet—Israel’s secret service which deals with cases of domestic terrorism—from 1980 to 2011 to come on-camera and talk with seemingly complete frankness about what they did. Moreh’s second coup is so thoroughly defying expectations…
The Gatekeepers is opening in limited release on Friday, hopefully it will soon be playing at a theater near you.
You can watch the trailer here:
Writers need editors, and vice versa. Of course, from the vituperative correspondence between the two sides, you might never know it. Some writers see editors as meddling parasites, while there are more than a few editors who like writers as long as they shut up and do what they’re told.
Consider this anecdote, courtesy of Scott Stossel:
Michael Kinsley, a longtime editor at magazines like Harper’s, the New Republic and Slate, is reputed to have said that the ideal writer is the one who files his piece and then gets run over by a bus, so the editor can rewrite with impunity.
The latest Martin McDonagh movie, Seven Psychopaths, comes out today on DVD and Blu-ray. It starts promisingly, with a cast ranging from a murderous Woody Harrelson to a bunny-stroking Tom Waits, not to mention plenty of McDonagh’s patented acerbic sarcasm. Unfortunately, it’s no In Bruges.
You can read my review at PopMatters:
At one of the quieter moments in Seven Psychopaths, Hans (Christopher Walken) tells his friend Marty (Colin Farrell) that the female characters in his screenplays are horrendous. Each gets only a few minutes of terrible dialogue before ending up dead. “It’s a tough world for women,” Marty stammers.
This is a multifaceted joke for Seven Psychopaths’ screenwriter and director, Martin McDonagh, who indeed makes sure that none of his female characters speaks an intelligent line or escapes suffering grievous bodily harm. One could argue that purposeful clichés are only worth citing if they help to unpack some of the prejudices or lazy thinking that gave rise to those clichés. Otherwise, it’s just the same old garbage with a smirk…
You can watch the trailer here:
Back in 1962, the 36-year-old Mel Brooks was watching an avant-garde film when an old man behind him wouldn’t stop with his grumpy and frustrated running commentary. Brooks turned this experience into his own short film, The Critic, in which he ad-libbed over some abstract animation; borscht belt meets the downtown art scene.
The result was a three-and-a-half-minute piece of genius that won the 1963 Academy Award.
You can watch the whole thing here:
(hat-tip: Open Culture)
Every 7 years since 1964, director Michael Apted has been checking in on the same group of 14 British subjects he first interviewed for the groundbreaking (though it didn’t seem it at the time) documentary 7 Up. Now, everybody is 56 years old.
My full review is at PopMatters:
Eight films on, director Michael Apted (who worked as a researcher on the first film) has created something for the ages. The Up series is like a living, breathing cinematic experiment. (More than a few of the people appear to feel they are being watched under a microscope, and resent it.) But after each seven-year delay, when Apted and his crew returns to interview those of the original 14 still talking to them, the drama of it increases in small increments almost scientific in tone. We see person turn not just from children into adults, but from characters into people. By the time that 56 Up comes around, most involved have left so much of themselves on the screen that the impending clouds of sickness and mortality begin to carry an almost unbearable weight…
56 Up is playing in limited release right now, and should be available on DVD later in the year. It’s best to catch up on the earlier installments first.
You can see the trailer here:
The 2011 dance documentary from Wim Wenders, Pina, was a refreshing new usage of the 3D format for nonfiction film. (Werner Herzog tried to use it to much less effect in Cave of Forgotten Dreams). The film is available today from Criterion Collection in DVD and Blu-ray. My full review is at AMC Movie Guide:
Joy isn’t a feeling that one associates with Wim Wenders all that much. Wonder or ennui, maybe irony, but not joy. But nevertheless that’s the first thing that springs to mind with his electric new 3D dance documentary, his first feature to get a real Stateside release since 2005′s moody, downbeat Don’t Come Knocking. There are other feelings and moods wrapped up here, tragedy and loss, but with all the sunlight (has the man ever shot a brighter film?) and sweeping movement, the joy prevails. This is filmmaking as glorious music…
You can see the trailer here:
Stan Musial, the greatest St. Louis Cardinal that ever put on the red, and one of the greatest pro athletes of the 20th century, died Saturday at the age of 92. Born in Donora, Pennsylvania (where he played ball with Buddy Griffey, father to both Ken Griffey and Ken Jr.), Musial spent his entire professional career with the Cardinals, a legacy that would be nearly unthinkable today, particularly when you consider he played 22 seasons in the majors.
According to his New York Times obituary, Musial actually received his nickname in Brooklyn:
Musial thrived at the Dodgers’ Ebbets Field, plastering the right-field scoreboard and hitting home runs over it, and winning the grudging admiration of the notoriously tough Brooklyn fans.
“I did some phenomenal hitting there,” he told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “The ballpark was small, so the seats were close to the field and you could hear just about anything anybody said. Then I’d come to the plate and the fans would say, ‘Here comes that man again.’ And a sportswriter picked it up and it became Stan the Man.”
- That old haunted-house discount in Hong Kong is facing up to cold, hard reality.
- How the NRA and the GOP kneecapped the ATF.
- From the annals of bad science: How conspiracy theorists think that even the Newtown massacre was faked.
- Searching for the fabled white city in Honduras.
- “Education occurred only by accident.”
- The quasar group that’s a mere 4 billion light years across.
- The French are now a little more popular in its old colony of Mali.
- Dennis Kucinich to be the “rooster in Fox lair“.
- Are you as well-read as a 10th grader?
- Pity the sad-faced rich, for they are taxed.
- No Death Star or Terminator robot: Some notable items from the White House’s petition Web site rejection pile.
- Denby: Has Hollywood’s obsession with high-tech murdered movies?
- Print and read: Israel’s version of the Tea Party, only far more organized and likely to succeed.
- Print and read bonus: The Civil War-era slave who seized a slave ship and later joined Congress.