Tag: Documentary

A Truth Told Lean: The Act of Killing

In 1988, Errol Morris took ownership of a truth.  Morris had set out to make a documentary about Dr. James Grigson.  Grigson was a court psychiatrist whose testimony had helped put over 100 inmates on death row.  A fascinating subject, for sure.  But in his interviews with the doctor and with the inmates against whom Grigson had testified, Morris grew suspicious of the subject, and specifically, developed concerns about one particular case.  Errol Morris went back to the drawing board and refocused his film’s ambition. Morris chased his instinct to its furthest conclusion and used his film to present...

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Jesus Camp (2006)

Overview/Rating/Length: A documentary of an evangelical christian summer camp in North Dakota, run by passionate children’s minister Becky Fischer. Rated: PG-13; Magnolia Pictures; 85 minutes. Honestly: It’s easy to watch Jesus Camp expecting to feel horrified while enjoying your own sense of superiority, comfortable in the fact that you’re smart enough to believe in evolution and well read enough to feel that the Bible says too many contradictory things to be taken literally. I recommend, however, approaching this film as its creators did: as objectively as possible, given the strength of your current beliefs. The documentary focuses on one...

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Blackfish

Overview: Blackfish is a startling and unsettling exposé of SeaWorld and the very idea of captivity. It’s also an example of viewer manipulation at its finest. Magnolia Pictures; 2013; Rated PG-13; 83 minutes. The Blackfish High: When I first saw Blackfish, I was incredibly moved by the cause. Like most who watched the movie, I immediately became convinced that captivity of these aquatic creatures is evil and SeaWorld needs to be destroyed as soon as possible. I told everyone I knew to watch the film, and I know that I’m not the only one who felt this way. One...

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Room 237

Overview:  A documentary presenting the complex interpretations of Stanley Kubrick’s horror masterpiece The Shining. IFC Films; 2012; Unrated; 102 Minutes. What Are We Looking At Here:  We never see the talking heads or the director.  With very little exception, the film is entirely constructed of scenes from Kubrick’s movies, with the obvious majority of screen-time assigned to images and scenes from The Shining.  It creates the feel of an academic film-study.  A scene by scene dissection of a singular piece of film history. Hold on a Minute:  The first indication of the absurdity in the theorists’ certainty comes when...

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The Crash Reel

Overview: The Crash Reel chronicles snowboarder Kevin Pearce’s road to recovery after a traumatic head injury with grace and a touching focus on family. Phase 4 Films; 2013; 109 minutes. Not Just Another Sports Documentary: In 2009, while training for the Olympics, snowboarder Kevin Pearce suffered a traumatic brain injury after a horrific crash on the slopes. The Crash Reel tells his story beautifully because director Lucy Walker refuses to shy away from the hard stuff. The film shows Pearce’s triumphs, along with his downfalls and lapses in judgement. With slick editing and plenty of shots of impressive snowboarding tricks,...

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