January 23, 2013 |
PITTSBURGH - FrackNation is a new documentary that attacks opponents of fracking for oil and gas, but it also raises a bigger question: Is it possible to criticize environmentalists without being a tool for big industry? Fracking - or hydraulic fracturing - is a method of stimulating oil and gas from deep underground that has led to a historic boom in U.S. production while also stoking controversy over its possible impact on the environment and human health. FrackNation , an independent documentary produced by Los Angeles-based filmmakers Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney, addresses the issue from an unusual perspective.
January 6, 2013 |
On the first day of 1863, as the Civil War raged on, President Lincoln proclaimed all the slaves in the rebellious Confederate states to be "forever free. " With his Emancipation Proclamation, whose 150th anniversary the United States celebrates this week, Lincoln made the end of slavery a Civil War goal. As PBS's ambitious documentary miniseries The Abolitionists shows, Lincoln's words came at the end of a decadeslong antislavery campaign led by a tiny group of activists whose fervor alienated them from the mainstream of American life.
January 6, 2013 |
JERUSALEM - The Mideast conflict has done little to help Israel's image in the world, but the way local filmmakers deal critically with the Israel-Palestinian issue has won wide international praise - and this year, recognition from the top of the movie industry. Two Israeli-produced documentaries about the conflict have been shortlisted for possible nomination in this year's Academy Awards. Few Israeli films have contended in the Best Documentary category before. The shortlisted films represent rare recognition of foreign entrants in a category dominated by American productions.
December 14, 2012 |
"THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE" makes the sardonic point that exoneration rarely gets the same frenzied publicity as conviction, and takes a small step toward redress. Its documentary subjects are the five boys-turned-men (Yusef Salaam, Korey Wise, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Antron McCray) railroaded in 1989 for the beating and rape of the so-called Central Park jogger, and of course there is much shame to be conferred in this story on police and prosecutors. They buried evidence, coerced confessions, and proceeded with prosecution even when it must have been obvious to them (the DNA didn't match)
December 11, 2012 |
New box sets are always plentiful this time of year - appropriate and pleasing gifts for the music lover on your shopping list. This season, though, we sense extra urgency in the release patterns as the "packaged goods" music business continues its decline. Labels are bundling more crown jewels into "complete" collections of CDs. And dishing some true-blue rarities, music and music videos (on DVD and Bluray) so long gone, there'd been speculation the stuff might not even exist anymore.
December 4, 2012 |
LOS ANGELES - The anti-bullying film "Bully," the climate-change study "Chasing Ice" and the AIDS chronicle "How to Survive a Plague" are among 15 features on the short list for the Academy Award for best documentary. Other contenders announced Monday are the Ethel Kennedy documentary "Ethel," the health care exploration "The Waiting Room" and the music portrait "Searching for Sugar Man," tracing the fate of acclaimed but obscure 1970s singer-songwriter Rodriguez. Members of the academy's documentary branch will narrow the list to five nominees.
November 16, 2012 |
AN UNDERFUNDED New York City middle school is the main focus of "Brooklyn Castle," the uplifting documentary story of how a chess program transforms the lives of inner-city students. Director Katie Dellamaggiore profiles Intermediate School 318, where teacher Elizabeth Vicary's after-school chess program had such a powerful effect on children that it became part of the curriculum and produced national champions. What becomes of a program so demonstrably successful and obviously effective?
November 15, 2012 |
We tend to think that our cultural icons arrive fully formed. We forget how much thought and work goes into becoming a legend. Crossfire Hurricane is about the early image-molding of the Rolling Stones. Of course tonight's HBO documentary (9 p.m.) also works exceedingly well if you're a fan of the band, love rock music, or just get off on the seedier side of spectacle. But since the subtitle is The Rise of the Stones , let's consider the film first as creation story. Directed and written by Brett ( The Kid Stays in the Picture )
November 11, 2012
Movies Brooklyn Castle This documentary looks at the struggles and successes of a Brooklyn junior high school chess team. Lincoln See Steven Rea's preview on this page. A Royal Affair An 18th-century Danish queen falls for the doctor treating her insane husband. Various languages with subtitles. Silver Linings Playbook See Steven Rea's preview on this page. Skatopia: 88 Acres of Anarchy This documentary looks at an Appalachian farm where hardcore skater, punk rock, and hillbilly culture collide.
October 19, 2012 |
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - In the thick of the presidential campaign, a documentary about a political wife wouldn't seem to offer respite from the clatter. But that's exactly what Ethel , an intimate, affectionate look at Ethel Kennedy by her youngest child, manages to do. It's a heartfelt reminder of public service's rewards and heaviest demands, elements that can be lost in the moment's rough-and-tumble. It also honors a rarely interviewed Kennedy wife who was eclipsed by her more glamorous sister-in-law and sister in tragedy, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy.