Movies - Documentaries postsThursday July 14, 2011
Bye-Bye Tabloid; Hello “Tabloid”
Errol Morris is one lucky bastard. His most recent documentary, “Tabloid,” played the Seattle Interntional Film Festival last month. Here's its synopsis:
Morris’ latest mind-boggling study of boundless obsession takes as its jumping-off point the notorious 1978 kidnapping in the U.K. of a Mormon missionary by former Wyoming beauty queen Joyce Kinney. The lurid details made headlines across the world and turned her into a one-woman media circus. ... Moving beyond the sick, sad, and smirk-inducing aspects of the film, director Morris makes some serious points about the power of the yellow press to shape and destroy lives ...
“Headlines all over the world?” I remember thinking. “I was around in the 1970s. I like stories about sex. How come I don't remember it?”
Then I saw the film and realized, “Ohhh, because it happened in England, with the British tabloid press. Yeah. No wonder I didn't know about it.”
Then I thought, “Too bad for Morris. Probably no market for it. Americans just aren't as interested in British tabloid stuff.”
The doc opens in limited release in the U.S. tomorrow.
Tim Hetherington, Co-Director of Restrepo, Dies in Libya
I just heard the news about Tim Hetherington.
A year ago I saw him at the Harvard Exit in Seattle, tall and thin and British, a photojournalist mostly, standing next to Sebastian Junger, short and broad and American, an author mostly, and his co-director on the documentary we'd all just watched: “Restrepo.” Both calmly answered questions from the partisan Seattle International Film Festival crowd about the politics of war and the politics of documentary. A few in the crowd, like Jeff Wells later, wanted “Restrepo” to be more political: the how and the why we're in Afghanistan. They felt “Restrepo” somehow lacked. I was stunned. I was stunned by the stupidity of the questions and by the power of the film. I've urged it on everyone since. I doubt there's a movie I mentioned more in the last year. I was a broken record.
- I posted my “Restrepo” review at the end of May 2010.
- From early June: Me, I've only been seeing SIFF (Seattle International Film Festival) movies the past two weeks. Thus far? “Restrepo.” Repeat: “Restrepo.”
- In late June, I talked about how it was the best of SIFF.
- Still in June, in a lengthy post, I slammed Jeff Wells for his take on “Restrepo,” and, in the process, sharpened my own.
- In early July: a link to a New York Times Q&A with Junger.
- From August: There are still good movies to see, people. Restrepo is still playing in 44 theaters, and two new docs, “The Tillman Story” and “A Film Unfinished,” just opened in NY and LA. One hopes they go wider.
- From September: Have you seen 'Restrepo'? DO! It's playing in 37 theaters around the U.S., has grossed $1.2 million, and is one of the best movies of the year.
- From October: Somebody, in this case “The Independent,” likes “Restrepo,” the Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington documentary about a platoon in Afghanistan in 2007-08, as much as I did. Hell, they go further. They ask: Is it the greatest war movie ever made?
- From January 2011: Michael Cieply writes of the strong slate of documentaries in 2010 without once mentioning the best of the lot: “Restrepo.”
- More from January: The Producers Guild of America announces its 2010 nominees. Six documentaries and no “Restrepo.” The world gets dumber by the day.
- Even more from January: I celebrated “Restrepo”'s Oscar nomination.
- In February, I finally get around to posting my list of the top 10 movies of 2010. “Restrepo”? No. 2.
- From Live-blogging the Oscars: The main one I want to win apparently has no shot: “Restrepo.” Maybe someday people will know.
Maybe someday they will.
Rest in peace, Mr. Hetherington. Emphasis on peace.
Junger, left, and Hetherington during the filming of “Restrepo”
The PGA Got It Wrong
The Producers Guild of America released their short list for best documentary feature yesterday. Thus:
- CLIENT 9: THE RISE AND FALL OF ELIOT SPITZER
- EARTH MADE OF GLASS
- INSIDE JOB
- SMASH HIS CAMERA
- THE TILLMAN STORY
- WAITING FOR ‘SUPERMAN’
Hopefully the Academy won't make the same mistake.