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Post-Soviet Descent into Capitalist Chaos: Alex Gibney’s Citizen K

By Michael Sandlin. After narrowly avoiding being nicked by the UK authorities for supposed “document theft” during the filming of his Troubles documentary No Stone Unturned, Alex Gibney is back tear-assing around the world with his camera crew making controversial films. In his latest, Citizen K, his subject is someone who did get imprisoned for […]

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Babenco’s Swansong: My Hindu Friend

By Ali Moosavi. Death has been a popular theme for filmmakers to explore almost ever since cinema was invented. Some of the films dealing with mortality have contained some autobiographical elements. In Blue (1993) director Derek Jarman, as he was close to death from AIDS complications, made a cinematic diary which consisted of a blue […]

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Marion Davies: Gifted Actress and Impossible Boy

By Thomas Gladysz. I rejoice in this opportunity to record something which today is all but forgotten except for those lucky enough to have seen a few of her pictures: Marion Davies was one of the most delightfully accomplished comediennes in the whole history of the screen. She would have been a star if Hearst […]

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The Best Iranian Films of the Year: A Personal Selection

By Ali Moosavi. Among the many Iranian films that I have watched this year, six have stood out for me. If we don’t consider the purely commercial and state-funded films which dominate the screens in Iran, the Achilles heel of most independent Iranian films is their screenplay. If there is one common factor in my selection, […]

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“When There Are No Good Answers”: Barbara Kopple’s Desert One (2019)

By Kate Hearst. At the New York premiere of Desert One at the DOC/NYC film festival, Barbara Kopple recounted how the History Channel provided her with a list of topics to choose for their “History 100” project. That Kopple decided to make a documentary about the unsuccessful 1980 rescue operation to save American hostages held […]

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Richard Jewell and the Damn Yankees

By Christopher Sharrett. I have had sympathetic interest in the work of Clint Eastwood over the years, but such interest has been hard to sustain with antics like his talking to an empty chair – as a mock of Obama – during the 2012 Republican National Convention. In retrospect, it compares to former Trump errand […]

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This is the End: 63 Up

By Michael Sandlin. “Give me the child until he is seven, and I will give you the man,” is the bit of ancient philosophy that serves as the abiding impetus behind Michael Apted’s five-decades-long documentary series. The participants in this ongoing sociological experiment are both male and female, privileged and poor, filmed from the time […]

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Much to Remember: Chris Wade on Memories of Lindsay Anderson

By Tony Williams. Leeds-born Chris Wade is one those unique talents thankfully outside the existing psychologically dysfunctional terrain of higher education. A highly creative and prolific artist, filmmaker and musician, he has distinguished himself in so many areas. His name came to my attention when reading one of my favorite Facebook pages Talking Pictures Discussion […]

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Real-Life Libertarian Nightmare: Luke Lorentzen’s Midnight Family

By Michael Sandlin. From a strictly academic point of view, 26-year-old boy wonder documentarian Luke Lorentzen’s Midnight Family affecting ticks all the boxes of a classic “observational” mode of nonfiction film. No soundtrack, no incidental music, no voiceover — just simple unobtrusive camera work and a sharp eye for detail. It’s hard to imagine a more […]

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John Waters’ Polyester: The Suburbs Arrive (Criterion Collection)

By Christopher Sharrett. Anyone viewing Polyester for the first time might be a little confused: hasn’t all this been done before? Satires or eviscerations of the suburbs have been standard fare for at least forty years. But if the viewer is watching this splendid new Criterion Blu-ray, s/he might turn the box over. The film […]

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