Pina

Pina. Visually very cool, and the talent on display is great to watch. A few troubles I had with it: it’s frustrating to see only excerpts from longer dance performances, and even those fragments are interrupted. Also, like Jiro Dreams of Sushi, there’s a ton of talking-head praise for the title heroine, but it seems you learn even less about her. It’s possible I’m missing the point, though. Great dancing, and it takes a quite a mind to dream of such spectacles and bring them to life.ume

Grizzly Man

Grizzly Man. What some call crazy, others call really living. Herzog and I disagree, but that’s totally fine. Too long, but interesting, outside most everyone’s experience, and I can’t think of any comparable nature films.

Millsin’ About: Jiro Dreams of Errol Morris

millsinabout:

I know too little about film or production to say much about this, either, but: the film used a lot of shot-techniques or whatever that I recognize from promos for films and reality TV shows. Here is the staff of the restaurant, arranged just so, staring into the camera; it is slightly slow-mo, the camera slightly pans to give dimensionality, but nothing is really happening. This is how you make ads and music videos, not documentaries, which ought to have something to impart beyond “tune in!” or “this! this! this!”

Yep. Jiro is fun to watch and makes you hungry and it’s also a complete letdown if you’re hoping to *learn* anything. Like Mills says furthermore:

A documentary about an artist which fails to even discuss what is unique about him or his work, how he works, what he is good an bad at, with what he struggles, what the nature of his excellence is: such a documentary must be a failure.

Millsin’ About: Jiro Dreams of Errol Morris

The Five Obstructions

The Five Obstructions. A documentary in which Lars von Trier puts his hero/mentor Jørgen Leth to the test. Leth has to recreate his own surrealist film, The Perfect Human, five times with five different sets of constraints, dreamed up off-the-cuff by Von Trier, who’s really just trying to get Leth to make something that sucks. Interesting to see the back-and-forth here. Rumor has it that Von Trier and Scorsese are going to do a similar project. My Lars Von Trier rankings:

  1. Melancholia
  2. Dancer in the Dark
  3. The Five Obstructions
  4. Antichrist

Visions of Light

Visions of Light. If you have the slightest movie nerd or photography tendency, this will be a treat. It’s a documentary about cinematography, told through interviews with cinematographers and lots and lots of clips – I wish I’d taken notes to track them down later. Favorite bits: early silent film and how way, way advanced they were when it comes to lighting and movement; how the dynamism of silent film was lost when the talkies came around (sound recording required isolating/insulating the camera, which was thus rendered largely immobile); how Hollywood starlets formed relationships with the cinematographers who lit them well; early color technique; New York style vs. Hollywood style; film noir roots, style, and influences; and so much more. Great stuff.

General Orders No. 9. I’m curious about this documentary. Trailer.

General Orders No. 9 breaks from the constraints of the documentary form as it contemplates the signs of loss and change in the American South.
[…] Told entirely with images, poetry, and music, General Orders No. 9 is unlike any film you have ever seen. A story of maps, dreams, and prayers, it’s one last trip down the rabbit hole before it’s paved over.

Exit Through the Gift Shop

Exit Through the Gift Shop. I wish I felt more strongly on the love/hate spectrum for this one, either direction. Hoax or not, this was a little… boring? I’ll add the disclaimer that street art isn’t really my thing. It was fun to see the gleeful rush that the artists get from making their projects come to life in the dark of night. There’s some kind of manic drive to it all, legal/ethical/logistical difficulties be damned.

Restrepo

Restrepo. This is as depressing as you’d expect. It’s also some ballsy filming, tastefully done. I’m really glad the film kept its focus on the on-the-ground experience without straying into speechy political analyst territory. People who weren’t there don’t get to talk.

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work. Rivers is awesome. This movie is not. Two things I would have especially liked: 1) longer scenes from her stand-up acts and 2) more of a plot or wrapper. It’s a “scenes from a year in the life of”-type documentary–hey let’s film famous people and see if anything interesting happens! It doesn’t always work. This one ends up more like reality TV. Which is fine, I guess, but I expect more from a feature-length. What I need is mysterious brilliance on a deadline, a story of redemption, a look into a specialized world, an insane challenge, or old-fashioned good vs evil. All that said, I am super-impressed with Rivers as a person, still going, still feisty in an absolutely brutal industry.