Tag: Documentary

The Homestretch

  Overview:  A documentary capturing one year in the lives of three homeless Chicago teens.  2014; Spargel Productions/Kartemquin Films; 89 Minutes. The Issue:  It’s a statement that’s been recycled and rewritten countless times:  You can measure a culture by how well it treats its elderly.  You can judge a nation by how it takes care of its veterans.  The best way to understand a society is in its treatment  of its impoverished, its handicapped, its disadvantaged.  But the least commonly heard version of this modified platitude is probably the truest:  The best way to measure a civilization is in...

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Netflix Hidden Gem # 2: No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson

No Crossover:  The Trial of Allen Iverson Director:  Steve James Genre:  Documentary, Sports ESPN Films (30 for 30 Series) Premise:  Acclaimed Director Steve James (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters, Life Itself) contributes to ESPN’s 30 for 30 Series with an entry detailing NBA star Allen Iverson’s alleged involvement in a 1993 racially instigated brawl, for which Iverson, who was 17 at the time, was charged as an adult and found guilty on felony charges. Allen Iverson and Steve James both grew up in the town of Hampton, Virginia, the oldest continual English-speaking settlement in North America.  Hampton is also where...

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Bears

Overview: A heartwarming yet unflinching look into the life of the Alaskan grizzly bears. Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures; 2014; Rated G; 86 Minutes Bare-Bear Necessities: Bears follows the trend of other Disney nature documentaries by being family-friendly, educational, and beautifully shot. That being said, it doesn’t really raise the bar for future films from this production company. What Bears does, it does well. Most of its praise is earned by its bold camerawork. I had to check after the showing to make sure no people were harmed in the making of this documentary (n0 casualties, thankfully).  From scenes...

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Mistaken for Strangers

Overview:  Tom Berninger’s attempts to roadie for and film a documentary about his brother Matt’s band, The National. Starz Digital Media/Abramorama; 2013; 75 Minutes. The Family Element: Every core member of The National has a comparably brilliant brother in the band—except for lead singer Matt Berninger.  “You know Lynyrd Skynrd? When he died…”  Tom Berninger, newly-invited roadie for The National, begins a strange anecdote before the first show, “…he had his brother take over the band.” Tom is an overweight metal-head who lives with his parents, the kind of guy who messes up the lyrics to his favorite music,...

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Stories We Tell

Overview: Stories We Tell explores the nature of truth and storytelling while investigating an unraveling secret regarding director Sarah Polley’s family history. National Film Board of Canada; 2013; Unrated; 109 Minutes. A Family of Storytellers: Pay attention to the position of the interviewed friends and family members.  They are never centered in the frame, always pushed just to the right or left, filmed at an angle.  Each testimonial is a skewed perspective of skewed perspective.  But make no mistake, this movie isn’t about dishonesty.  Having grown up in a remote backwoods community where storytelling isn’t just a pastime but...

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