What's up with the rush of interesting documentaries in recent weeks? On second thought, make the years.
Many have called this the golden age of documentaries ever since Errol Morris and, to a larger extent, Michael Moore broke through and had relatively robust box-office and critical success in the late 1980s, cresting with the unprecedented frenzy that surrounded Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 and continuing with Davis Guggenheim's An Inconvenient Truth, March of the Penguins and a flood of other unique contributions to the genre.
More recently, the last few weeks alone have given us such diverse docs as Catfish, Restrepo, I'm Still Here, Guggenheim's Waiting for Superman and even Jackass 3D, all of which are presented via different perspectives and techniques that challenge what a documentary is and should do.
Our movie-house winning streak continues, as this week delivers yet another collection of worthwhile options — from Davis Guggenheim's eye-opening documentary Waiting for Superman and Sam Taylor-Wood's John Lennon docudrama Nowhere Boy to the latest works from the irrepressible Jackass crew and the ceaselessly prolific Woody Allen. Even the right-wing “documentary” about the role government should play in our lives, I Want Your Money — which (not so) curiously didn't have an advanced press screening — looks intriguing/amusing if likely one-sided.
After months of sparse and, more importantly, mediocre (if not abysmal) movie options, recent weeks have give us a bounty of worthwhile offerings in a variety of genres — from art-house fare like Catfish, Jack Goes Boating, Lebanon and A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop to multiplex stuff like The Social Network and Let Me In and Easy A. And this week delivers yet more of both: Buried, It's Kind of a Funny Story, Secretariat and Never Let Me Go.
Add in the Cincinnati Film Festival, which opens today and runs through Oct. 16, and we have a smorgasbord of cinematic offerings from which to choose.
What's up with David Fincher? After giving us only one film (2002's Panic Room) in the eight years following 1999's gleefully subversive, zeitgeist-capturing Fight Club, the notoriously meticulous filmmaker is back with The Social Network, his third effort in four years following 2007's excellent Zodiac and 2008's out-of-character — it's essentially a straight-up love story — The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. And he's not done yet: Fincher's American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is currently in production and will be out by the end of 2011.
Not that we'd ever want to steer you away from the pleasures of the movie house, but this weekend we won't be upset if you forgo the new cinematic releases — which, for the second straight week is rather robust — to hit the MidPoint Music Festival, which is also offering a few documentary films to complement its smorgasbord of musical options.
I've emerged from the darkness. After catching nearly two dozen films in six days at the Toronto Film International Film Festival, I've finally returned to life as we know it, still buzzing more from the gallons of coffee I ingested than TIFF's cinematic offerings.
The fall movie season gets underway this week with a curious quartet of options: a languid character piece about a mysterious hit man played by George Clooney; a reasonably effective romantic comedy featuring a pair of real-life lovers; a B-movie homage packed with a crazy-quilt cast; and an intriguing documentary about our ill-advised adventure in Afghanistan.
Before a recent Saturday matinee screening of Alexandre Aja's Piranha 3D — which, for the record, is a unabashedly bloody excursion into B-movie mayhem — I took in trailers for no less than five new 3-D movies: Resident Evil: Afterlife, Tron: Legacy, Green Hornet, Jackass 3D and Saw 3D, all of which and more (including the next installments in the Harry Potter and Chronicles of Narnia series) arrive on the heels of this summer's avalanche of like-formatted fare.
The final episode of At the Movies aired last weekend, marking the end of an era that began more than 30 years ago.
Featuring a pair of geeky Chicago-based film critics — Roger Ebert from The Sun-Times and The Tribune's Gene Siskel — the long-running show debuted as Sneak Previews in 1975 before switching to At the Movies in 1977. The premise was simple: two people talking about that week's releases with passion, intelligence, wit and personality.
With the rise of Netflix, Redbox and ever-expanding streaming-video options, old-school brick-and-mortar video stores are likely to be extinct by the end of next year. Say what you will about the evils of a behemoth like Blockbuster, but this can't be a positive development. And I don't say that from a purely nostalgic point of view — though that's part of it.