Errol Morris – The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara [+Extras] (2003)

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Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader wrote:
In The Fog of War, Errol Morris interviews an 84-year-old Robert S. McNamara, who served as secretary of defense under presidents Kennedy and Johnson and is widely regarded as the architect of the American war in Vietnam. There’s something undeniably masterful about the film, which also includes archival footage, but that mastery is what sticks in my craw: it’s a capacity to say as little as possible while giving the impression of saying a great deal, a skill shared by McNamara and Morris. I’m not sure what we have to gain from this — the satisfaction that we’re somehow taking care of business when we’re actually fast asleep? Continue reading

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John Grierson & Edgar Anstey – Granton Trawler (1934)

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Quote:
Granton Trawler follows the small fishing vessel, Isabella Greig, as it carries out its dragnet fishing along the Viking Bank off the Norwegian coast of the North Sea. Grierson used the film to teach budding directors how to analyze movement photographically and how to make use of sound for contrapuntal editing. The soundtrack is made up of crude rhythmic noises that represent the thumping of the ships engine and atmospheric sounds congenial to being present on board. There is no commentary. The sounds were all post-recorded, simulated in the studio. (One of the fisherman’s voices is Grierson’s). Although not credited, Alberto Cavalcanti is known to have created the soundtrack as one of his first creative duties after arriving at the Unit. Continue reading

Alain Tanner – Les hommes du port (1995)

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After 40 years Alain Tanner again travels to the port of Genoa, where he worked for a shipping company as a 22-year-old. On the back of his own memories he depicts the rough world of the dockworkers, another of those trades that has undergone fundamental changes as a result of recessions, modernisation and liberalisation. “The visual impression of the harbour and the city has changed very little, but what goes on there nowadays is completely different. The city is still as beautiful and alien and somewhat sad as before. But the port is dying, like so many other major ports. In Genoa, as elsewhere in Italy, the economic, social and political climate is highly explosive. But you also feel that things are in flow and the country is on the verge of some far-reaching changes. (…) In this film I wanted to explore my own memories of Genoa, uncover its present and guess at its future. Genoa, this beautiful, this sad, this alien town has become for me a metaphor for society in change.” Continue reading

Alain Resnais & Chris Marker – Les statues meurent aussi aka Statues Also Die (1953)

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Quote:
Documentary about the disintegration and desecration of black African art
by white Europeans, who have removed it from its sacred animist context
to be viewed in sterile museums.The strong anticolonialist message precipitated
a ten year ban after its premier at the Cannes Film Festival in 1953. Continue reading

Ivan Massow – Banksy’s Coming for Dinner (2009)

Synopsis

Hollywood royalty Joan Collins and husband Percy hold a dinner party for a few of their friends/acquaintances. Among the invited is the acclaimed artist Banksy, renowned for his aversion to the spotlight. Inviting him is fraught with social risk; will he come? How will he behave at table? This would, after all, be the first time he’s revealed himself on camera.

The preparations, the dinner and the goodbyes… the characters speak in the shared language of the famous. Or do they? Perhaps they are commenting on this language, creating a second film within the first; the first being a drama, the second a satire. Continue reading

Agnès Varda – Les plages d’Agnès AKA The Beaches of Agnès (2008)

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BY ROGER EBERT / March 2, 2009

Dear Agnes Varda. She is a great director and a beautiful, lovable and wise woman, through and through. It is not enough that she made some of the first films of the French New Wave. That she was the Muse for Jacques Demy. That she is a famed photographer and installation artist. That she directed the first appearances on film of Gerald Depardieu, Phillipe Noiret–and Harrison Ford! Or that after gaining distinction as a director of fiction, she showed herself equally gifted as a director of documentaries. And that she still lives, as she has since the 1950s, in the rooms opening off each side of a once-ruined Paris courtyard, each room a separate domain. Continue reading

Abbas Kiarostami – Avaliha aka First Graders (1984)

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From IMDb:
A documentary film about a boys school in Iran. The film shows numerous, funny and moving interviews of many different young pupils of this school summoned by their superintendent for questions of discipline. The man is not severe, but clever and fair. He teaches loyalty, fellowship and righteousness to these boys. Besides these interviews, we see scenes of this school’s quotidian life. Written by Jean-Louis Sauger Continue reading