Below are fifteen docs we suggest seeing, from the grisly to uplifting. Click on the name of the film to read its review.
Summer 2013 was a strong season for that oft-maligned genre, the romantic comedy. Excellent films like The Spectacular Now and Drinking Buddies for the most part avoided rom-com cliches, and reinventions like Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing made timeless story lines seem fresh. Still other on-screen romances were held in unorthodox settings: A horror film (The Conjuring), a martial arts movie (The Grandmaster) and even in an edition of the Fast franchise.
Compiled by Alan Scherstuhl and Stephanie Zacharek of The Village Voice and Amy Nicholson of L.A. Weekly.
Director Shola Lynch has been mining the rich terrain of black American history for a while now, notably in the award-winning 2004 documentary Chisholm '72: Unbought & Unbossed, about the 1972 presidential campaign by the late Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American and the first woman to mount a serious, credible run for the office, and most recently with last year's Free Angela Davis and all Political Prisoners, her soulful, illuminating documentary about the activist icon's notorious 1971 trial on charges of conspiracy, kidnapping, and murder. (The DVD was released last week.)
An average episode of the 1989-1999 cable show Mystery Science Theater 3000, in which a man and his robot buddies heckle bad movies, runs about 90 minutes. The 1955 film This Island Earth is 87 minutes. The 1996 feature Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie, in which the man and his robot buddies heckle This Island Earth, and which also includes 18 minutes of non-This Island Earth material, runs a total of 72 minutes.
The following is a re-print of a Village Voice interview that ran on July 25, 2013. Lee has since hit his goal.
On July 22, filmmaker Spike Lee joined the legions of artists on crowd-funding site Kickstarter, from Zach Braff funding a Garden State-like vehicle all the way to the writers printing poems with construction paper and glitter. The 3-minute long video is light on details about Lee's newest project, just that this latest addition to his "jointography" will be about the "addiction to blood." Just two days into the campaign Lee has managed to raise nearly $150,000 toward his $1.25 million goal. There's 27 days to go.
Runnin' Scared dropped by Lee's studio in Fort Greene to ask him about the project. We talked about the importance of crowd-funding to independent artists, his upcoming remake of the Korean blood ballet Oldboy, and his upcoming date with Steven Soderbergh at the Garden.
The original Maniac hit theaters in 1980, and quickly became a slasher classic by heralding a new era in on-screen depravity. The grimy, gritty film about a serial killer who scalps women and collects mannequins famously depicted a close-up of a shotgun blast to the head, multiple scalpings and other radical -- for the time -- images of violence and gore. Although the movie still has a dedicated following, it's fallen into relative obscurity, with modern-day movies like Saw making its once-shocking kills look relatively tame. But that just makes it ripe for a remake, which is what producer Alexandre Aja and director Franck Khalfoun have done, updating the story to the present day and resurrecting the heart of Maniac with a new style and daring approach.
Elijah Wood is a Maniac.
We caught up with Khalfoun to talk about why horror fans are the best film fans, how L.A. is the new New York and bringing something fresh to a classic horror film.
Among the revelations you're likely to experience during the course of Gideon's Army, Dawn Porter's vital, moving new HBO documentary (premiering July 1) about the struggle of conscience waged by public defenders in the deep South: "Everyone is so young." Not just the suspects -- mostly black and mostly broke -- whom we see ground through the criminal justice system in places like Clayton County, Georgia, where posting bond on a shoplifting charge can run an unconscionable $40,000.
|© 2013 - Sony Pictures Classics|
|Pedro Almodóvar (center), Javier Cámara and Carlos Areces in I'm So Excited.|
"The whole world has changed for the worse," Pedro Almodóvar says, a sentiment that's apparent in his latest comedy, I'm So Excited!. The film is reminiscent of another time, one the director admits he feels some yearning for: the 1980s, and, more specifically, Almodóvar's films from that era. "The thing I miss the most about the '80s is my own youth," he says, "but I also miss the feeling of freedom when Spain was coming out of the Franco dictatorship. There was an explosion of liberty. Right now, socially speaking, Spain is going through a regression. If people don't keep fighting for their rights, we're going to be in danger of losing some of them."
By 1975, many acts had walked through the doors of Don Davis's Groovesville Productions offices in Detroit. None of them were quite like this, a band of three related-by-blood African-American brothers who played louder, faster, and weirder than anything anyone in the city that gave birth to Motown had ever seen. They were called Death, and they were—as the New York Times article that more or less announced them to the world more than 30 years after they'd played their last note together put it—punk before punk was punk.
With Friday's release of The Heat (Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy), another buddy cop movie joins a film library filled with explosions, oddball pairings and broad humor. While the genre's been compacted into a cliche over the years (especially immediately following its heyday in the late '80s and early '90s), and also justly satirized for it, the fundamentals of the buddy cop film return each summer to theaters.
Here are twenty films from the genre that's been a mainstay in theaters and weekend cable programming.