Category Archives: Uncategorized

Tribeca Film Festival 2018, April 18 – 28 “Bathtubs Over Broadway” (Seth Shire)

bathtubs over broadway

April 22, 2018. The April 21 premiere screening of director, producer and editor Dava Whisenant’s new documentary “Bathtubs Over Broadway” was outrageous, electric and exciting.  It was a hilarious, joyous and heartfelt event about a sub-culture and a piece of entertainment history about which almost nothing was known…that is until now. Read the rest of this entry

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Tribeca Film Festival 2018, April 18 – 29 “Tanzania Transit” (Seth Shire)

tanzania transit

April 22, 2018. Class, gender, Jesus, Red Bull and a will to survive, might be the best terms to describe “Tanzania Transit,” an incisive documentary, by director Jeroen van Velzen, about travelers on a train crossing Tanzania. This is a very well edited film that depicts the train as a self contained world in which an unusual collection of passengers, just three people out of many on the train, tell their stories. Read the rest of this entry

Tribeca Film Festival 2018, April 18 – 28 “The Man Who Stole Banksy” (Seth Shire)

1260571_banksy

April 22, 2018. In the college sociology classes which I teach we talk about something called an “objective reality.” An “objective reality” is the thing that just is without adding any meaning to it. How people interpret an “objective reality” is called the “social construction of reality.” I would be hard pressed to think of better examples of “objective realities” and the “social constructions of reality” put to them than those portrayed in the documentary “The Man Who Stole Banksy.”

The film actually has two “objective realities.” The first is the large, highly controversial, wall that Israel built, which has attracted international attention. To the Israeli’s the wall represents security. To the Palestinians the wall represents repression. Entering into this debate about the meaning of the wall is the secretive and controversial artist Banksy, someone who, apparently, no one has ever seen. His identity is a mystery. Read the rest of this entry

Animation First, NYC’s Festival of French Animation (Wendy Moscow)

French animation

February 13, 2018.  Think “animation,” and most people conjure up images of cute anthropomorphic animals cracking wise, and good winning the day over evil. But animation, especially offerings from other countries, can be complex, deal in adult themes, and utilize the fine-art aesthetics of sculpture, collage, pastel, watercolor and ink. The films I was lucky enough to see at “Animation First,” the first ever French Animation Festival in the U.S. (presented by the French Institute Alliance Française) were all of this and more. Read the rest of this entry

Quest (Seth Shire)

Quest

December 8, 2017.  As a film critic who writes primarily about documentaries this may sound sacrilegious, but, I don’t usually care for “fly on the wall,” verite style, documentaries.  I am referring to documentaries that will show a situation and then leave it up to the viewer to interpret it. I gravitate toward documentaries that have stories, points of view and interesting subjects that make me care about something or someone.  Call me shallow, but I want to be guided through a film.  That having been said, I am a bit amazed, and, at the same time, quite gratified, that I truly enjoyed, and was very intrigued by, the new, verite style documentary “Quest.”  Read the rest of this entry

Jane (Wendy Moscow)

jane - wendy

December 2, 2017.  There’s no lack of documentaries about Jane Goodall and her lifelong work studying the wild chimpanzees of Gombe National Park in Tanzania – but the latest one, simply called “Jane,” is astonishing in its depth, beauty and insight. Drawing from 140 hours of never-before-seen footage shot by Hugo Van Lawick for National Geographic, a contemporary interview with Dr. Goodall, and narration created from an audio recording of an earlier memoir, director Brett Morgen offers the viewer an immersive experience that the previous documentaries cannot match. Joshua Paul Johnson (Assistant Supervising Sound Editor), sound designers Odin Benitez and Peter Staubli plus a crew of six (!) re-recording mixers have much to do with this. Read the rest of this entry

Bombshell: the Heddy Lamarr Story (Seth Shire)

Bombshell_01_preview

December 2, 2017.  Multiple marriages, frequency hopping, scandals, dehydrated Coca Cola, nudity, a villa in Aspen, drug addiction, guided missiles, GPS, wi-fi, Bluetooth and one of the most iconic and beautiful actresses in Hollywood, from the 1930’s to the 1950’s, all come together in director Alexandra Dean’s fascinating new documentary, “Bombshell: the Hedy Lamarr Story.” Dean has created a kaleidoscopic portrait of Lamarr, both as a drop dead gorgeous movie star and as an important inventor, whose work was the basis for guided missiles during World War II, wi-fi, Bluetooth technology, GPS and secure military communications to this day. Who knew? Read the rest of this entry

“Big Sonia” at the Quad, NYC (Seth Shire)

big-sonia

Sonia Warshawski, the subject of “Big Sonia.”

November 18, 2017.  For this past two weeks this blog has been devoted to documentaries presented as part of DOC NYC 2017.  Therefore, I can only call it a wonderful accident of timing that one of my favorite documentaries from DOC NYC 2016, and the one that has stayed with me the most over the past year, “Big Sonia,”  will open at the Quad Cinema on Friday, November 17.  “Big Sonia” is not only a fascinating documentary with a terrific main character in Sonia Warshawski (yes, even documentaries must have great characters) but a documentary that should be seen in light of our current political climate. In other words, those who forget history will repeat it.
Sonia Warshawski is an 89-year-old Holocaust survivor, who lives in Kansas City. She takes every opportunity to tell her story of survival.  She was in a series of concentration camps, from ages 13 – 19, starting in Poland in 1939. Sonia’s inspiration comes from having seen a modern day skinhead. She realized then that she had survived the Holocaust in order to tell others what had happened to her.

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“David Bowie – The Last Five Years,” at DOC NYC, by Wendy Moscow

 

David Bowie

November 8, 2017.  One of the most haunting images I’ve ever seen in a music video is David Bowie lying in a hospital bed, his eyes, swathed in surgical gauze, replaced by buttons. His arms rise upward, as if, Peter Pan-like, he could fly toward some Neverland in defiance of impending mortality. The song is called “Lazarus.” Bowie died on January 10th, 2016, two days after the video’s release.

Director Francis Whatley has crafted a remarkable documentary that celebrates the last five years of this electrifying singer-songwriter-actor’s career, during which some of his most brilliant work was produced. Read the rest of this entry

“What Haunts Us” – at DOC NYC – by Seth Shire

what haunts us