In Moonrise Kingdom Suzy finds a book called Coping with the very troubled child, I knew I’d seen the image on the cover before… It’s in reference to this film by Otto Preminger. Apparently Wes Anderson found a very similar book when he was a kid.
It looks pretty cool, it has sequences in colour and in black and white, not to mention a heckload of Jean Seberg! Here’s a little clip of Bonjour Tristesse
Long Live The Kings, a new motorbike road short film
“Long Live The Kings” is an original short documentary by Frenchmen Clement Beauvais and Arthur de Kersauson featuring a bevy of beautiful old Beemers courtesy of Blitz Motorcycles. It’s shot on super 16mm film, and is about “relating the hopes and desires of those who go for a motorcycle road trip.” It’s a feel-good flick that’s very well-edited and super-easy on the eyes with breath-taking scenery and badass bikes. Edwin Denim supported the making of this film, and good for them for not jamming product down our throat, and allowing the film to remain pure. Enjoy.
Historians often say the past is a foreign country but in East Timor it’s a thread that runs through the fabric of daily life.
Reminders of Indonesia’s brutal 24-year occupation are everywhere: burnt-out buildings in central Dili; the absence of men of a certain age; a memorial at the city’s Santa Cruz cemetery to the victims of the 1991 massacre by Indonesian soldiers.
It’s no surprise then, that East Timor’s first feature film, A Guerra da Beatriz (Beatriz’s War), focuses on the horror of those times and how the Timorese coped with and resisted the occupation.
Due for release early next year, part of the film is set in 1983, in the village of Kraras where every male – estimated to be at least 200 men and children – was killed by Indonesian soldiers in retribution for an earlier attack by the Timorese resistance.
A Guerra da Beatriz, a co-production between local film company, Dili Film Works, and Australian outfit FairTrade Films, has a Timorese cast, a majority of Timorese in the crew, and was shot in several stunning locations in East Timor.
It is a love story set during the occupation, about a young Timorese couple, Beatriz and Tomas. Tomas disappears after the Kraras massacre only to return years later, almost unrecognisable. The inspiration for the story came from a true 16th-century French tale about a peasant, Martin Guerre, who returned to his family after years away only to have his identity challenged.
Aiming to stoke outrage through observation and first-person testimony, not via overheated rhetoric, Tears of Gaza documents the Israeli offensive in the eponymous territory during the winter of 2008 and 2009 with a relentlessness rarely seen from the overly conciliatory strain of current-event docs.” Andrew Schenker in Slant: “There’s no coddling the audience in Vibeke Løkkeberg’s verité heave of disgust as the full consequences on the Palestinian people of Operation Cast Lead are made sickeningly clear.” More from Nicholas Bell (Ioncinema; “more chilling and definitely more visceral than any fictional horror you’re apt to see”) and Jeannette Catsoulis (New York Times; “a tapestry of human misery that’s impossible to shake off”). At the Cinema Village.
“It may well be the best so far of all the German films made in recent years on the still very much contentious subject of the defunct German Democratic Republic (GDR),” writes Film International editor Daniel Lindvall. “Generally speaking, such films, at least the ones that have reached an international audience, tend to fall into two categories: those tinted by nostalgia (in German the term Ostalgie—combining the words for ‘east’ and ‘nostalgia’—is the label used for cultural expressions of nostalgia for the GDR) and those who, on the contrary, portray the GDR as a place of undiluted evil. Good Bye, Lenin! (2003) and The Lives of Others (2006) are probably the best-known examples of the respective category. Barbara treads a path beyond these ideological dead-end alleys.”
Louis Theroux’s named Twelve Terrific Documentaries, i’d agree with all of them except Catfish, it’s surprising there’s no Maysles… (I’ve linked all the trailers with exception of the first, as the full film is available)
I’m often asked to name my favourite documentaries. I’m much too indecisive and changeable to be able to nail down a definitive list. But here are twelve I like a lot. (I was going to do ten, but then I thought of two more…)
A Question of Consent Superb disturbing doc made by the team that did Cocaine Cowboys, it recounts the alleged rape of a stripper at a fraternity party in Florida, much of which was filmed by the party-goers themselves. I watched it on a plane and had to keep minimizing the screen due to the adult content. I suppose I could have stopped watching but I was too engrossed.
A Letter to Zachary A posthumous love letter from the filmmaker to his murdered friend, it has one of the most explosive and upsetting twists two thirds of the way through. I recently saw this was on the IMDB as one of the most popular documentaries of all time, it’s number two right after Night and Fog. So it’s not exactly obscure but it is totally riveting.
Thin Blue Line I love this film. I can still hear the distinctive musical cadences of the principal character, Randall Dale Adams, and his palpable sense of bafflement at the course his life had taken: convicted of killing a cop in cold blood. If you haven’t seen it you’re in for a treat. And this one has a happy ending.
American Movie Chris Smith followed a filmmaker called Mark Borchardt and his monosyllabic sidekick Mike Shank over the course of several years to create this beautiful portrait of a man attempting to make a low-budget masterpiece. Full of accidental comedy and poignant moments.
The Monastery: Mr. Vig and the Nun This one’s also about a man with a dream: an eccentric Danish bachelor who wants to convert his house into a home for Russian nuns. I saw it at Sheffield Docs Festival and never heard much about it afterwards. There’s something very special about a film that’s driven simply by actuality as it unfolds, as this one is.
This trailer is particularly funny!
TV Junkie My friend Freddie Claire turned me onto it. The central character is a news reporter who obsessively documents his own life, to the point of filming his own spiraling drug addiction, the loss of his career and the breakdown of his marriage. The footage he films of his argument with his wife in front of the kids is unbelievably harrowing.
The Queen of Versailles This is on at the cinema at the moment! Go see it! A wonderful portrait of a family as their dream of building America’s biggest private house crumbles in the wake of the credit crunch. It’s a riches-to-less-riches tale, very humane, very funny.
Don’t Look Back Dylan’s 1965 gets the cinema verite treatment at the hands of documentary pioneer D.A. Pennebaker. Dylan comes across as both tremendously beguiling and also callow and slightly cruel. It’s black and white and looks beautiful. So many great scenes. I like the fans disagreeing about whether Dylan going electric made him just another pop band.
Hoop Dreams I remember coming out of a screening of this in New York maybe fifteen years ago and just thinking Wow. The level of intimacy and the filmmaker’s commitment to the lives of their subjects: it’s like a novel.
Catfish Some people said they found this fake but I bought it. There’s maybe one scene that’s a bit too good to be true, but overall I loved the strangeness of the quest and the amazing reveal when they find what they find. It’s hard to say too much without giving it away but basically it’s about an Internet romance gone awry.
Exit Through The Gift Shop I used to find Banksy a bit annoying but I had a new respect for him after seeing this. It has that wonderful thing of a contributor slightly taking over the film and going in a strange and unexpected direction.
Deep Water I just like this story a lot. I read the book when I was a kid, The Strange Voyage of Donald Crowhurst, about the solo round-the-world yachtsman who lost his mind at sea. But I didn’t realize there was so much archive. Very sad, too.
Chasing Ice is the story of one man’s mission to change the tide of history by gathering undeniable evidence of climate change. Using time-lapse cameras, his videos compress years into seconds and capture ancient mountains of ice in motion as they disappear at a breathtaking rate.