Tag: Documentary

The Best Documentaries We Watched in 2017

2017 was a year much of the elemental social frameworks we’d taken for granted as indestructible took a sucker punch, but we learned two valuable things on the mat: those supports may not be unbreakable, but they’re enduring enough to hold—for now, at least—and that after a hit, something novel sometimes gets shaken loose. That was the case with the field of documentary films this year as filmmakers toyed with narrative, Netflix took a few risks that paid off, and the anger and the laughter felt so good in equal measures. These were some of our favorites that managed...

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What Abacus: Small Enough to Jail Says About Power

What does it mean for something to be “too big to fail?” That phrase vaulted into popular consciousness after the 2008 financial crisis and how the big banks at fault were bailed out by the federal government. But the term is actually a bit misleading. Big corporations fail all the time. They fail to provide the services they purport to offer to us, they fail at earning our trust, they fail at being transparent. We know better now, that perhaps the more apt phrase to describe behemoth corporations may be “too big for consequences.” There’s no such thing as...

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Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story Tells An Unexpected Story

Overview: A documentary on the life and accomplishments of actor and inventor Hedy Lamarr. Zeitgeist Films; 2017; Not Rated; 90 minutes. The Basics: From a series of interviews with Hedy Lamarr’s children, friends, and interspersed clips of an extended interview with Hedy herself, we learn the unusual story of a beautiful and intelligent woman who, though she had an active and inventive mind, found her intelligence valued far less than her beauty. Lamarr was born in Austria-Hungary and first gained recognition for the controversial film Ecstasy (1933), in which she briefly appeared nude. The same year, she married her...

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Mansfield 66/67 Is An Odd Bio With Glitter In Its Veins

Overview: A lurid, candy-coated look into the tumultuous life, death, and legacy of Hollywood starlet, sex symbol, and rumored Satanist Jayne Mansfield. Gunpowder & Sky; 2017; Not Yet Rated; 84 minutes. A Photo is Worth a Thousand Side-eyes: It’s one of the most famous photos in Hollywood history. At a 1957 Paramount dinner party honoring Italian film star Sophia Loren, Hollywood bombshell Jayne Mansfield sits down next to the guest of honor, gazes over at the camera, and flashes her million-watt smile, all the while oblivious to two things. First, that her right nipple had fallen out of her...

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VIFF: Caniba is a Thankless Endurance Test

Overview: A quiet examination of the current life of Issei Sagawa, cannibal killer. Norte Productions; 2017; Not Rated; 90 minutes. Why, Though: There is little reason to make multiple documentaries about a straightforward cannibal killer. Not only has Issei Sagawa been the subject of at least four varying documentaries about himself (Excuse Me For Living, The Cannibal that Walked Free, Interview with a Cannibal, and Cannibal Superstar) but he’s had a fair amount of pop culture influence. It’s not because new details arise about his heinous crime, or that he’s had a miraculous transformative experience, it’s simply because since the...

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