Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

My favorite piece of narration in Werner Herzog’s tremendous 2005 documentary Grizzly Man goes like this: “[I]n all the faces of all the bears that Treadwell ever filmed, I discover no kinship, no understanding, no mercy. I see only the overwhelming indifference of nature. To me, there is no such thing as a secret world […]

10 years ago, YouTube teamed with producer Ridley Scott to produce the documentary Life in a Day, which compiled clips sent in by people all around the globe, recording what was occurring in their lives on July 24, 2010. Producing a sequel ten years later only makes sense, even without the global pandemic that rocked […]

Categories: documentaries

You might recall Carrie picking the documentary Searchers as one of her Top 5 most anticipated films on Alternate Ending’s Sundance preview episode. I was inclined to agree with her, which is why I jumped at the chance to check out this particular entry. Speaking as someone who has met and started dating someone entirely […]

Categories: documentaries

Camilla Nielsson’s 2014 Democrats is one of the best documentaries of its kind, an unblinking look at the unsexy, downright ugly deal-making that goes into the compromises that fuel democratic governments, as experienced by politicians in Zimbabwe during that country’s writing of a new constitution that would help it transition to something that could actually […]

Try Harder! is one of the documentaries in competition at Sundance this year. While it’s certainly not the splashiest or most immediately relevant (it has been scooped by Homeroom, which also features high school kids, but focuses on hot-button 2020 pandemic issues), if you’re someone to whom college admissions meant anything at all, it has the […]

Categories: documentaries

Boys State, a documentary by Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss (who’ve worked together and apart in the world of “let’s look at this thing with a journalist’s eye” PBS-esque documentaries for years; their chief collaboration prior to this was 2014’s celebrated The Overnighters), is interesting or less-interesting for any number of different reasons, but I […]

Kirsten Johnson’s 2016 feature-length documentary Cameraperson is one of the great non-fiction films of the last decade, a personal memoir that doubles as an inquiry into the “meaning” produced by the photographic moving image. For a while, it seems like her follow-up, Dick Johnson Is Dead, will end up splashing in similar thematic waters, as […]

When I was first given the task of reviewing Derek DelGaudio’s In & Of Itself, I wasn’t quite sure how to approach it. This new documentary from Frank Oz is for the most part a recording of storyteller and magician DelGaudio’s titular stage show, specifically the version which ran for 552 performances in New York […]

Categories: documentaries

Karin’s Face is the very definition of a minor work, a 14-minute photo montage cut together by director Ingmar Bergman and editor Sylvia Ingemarsson by the end of 1983 that didn’t see the light of day until 1986, when it was broadcast on Swedish television. Even so, I have the impression that it is one […]

I haven’t done anything even slightly resembling the legwork it would take to prove or disprove this hunch, but I suspect that there might be more footage of Ingmar Bergman working on the set of his movies than any other filmmaker of the pre-home video generations. He has been the subject of a remarkable number […]

Frederick Wiseman, who persists in making some of the most sophisticated and effective documentaries in the United States even as he enters his 90s,* is well known for his films all being about “institutions”: he goes so a specific kind of place (a hospital, a museum, a cabaret), plops his camera down, sits behind it, […]

Of all the subgenres that I would never have been able to predict in advance, I think I can safely say that “unusually well-shot documentaries about aging Europeans who use traditional methods to find luxury food items in the wild” is among the unlikeliest. Yet here we are with The Truffle Hunters, only a year […]