Alessio Rigo de Righi & Matteo Zoppis – Il solengo (2015)

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Synopsis:
Winner of DocLisboa’s 2015 Best International Film Award, Alessio Rigo de Righi and Matteo Zoppis’s documentary explores the life of Mario de Marcella, a man who lived alone in a cave for over 60 years, nicknamed “Il Solengo” (the lone boar that’s been cut off from his pack). No one knows for certain why he decided to become a hermit. Still, hunters from his home village (who would occasionally encounter him in the wilderness) offer conflicting reasons about his solitude through elaborate stories. The negative space created by his absence is filled with gorgeous imagery of the Italian countryside. Continue reading

Frederick Wiseman – Juvenile Court (1973)

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PLOT SYNOPSIS
From Allmovie
by Bhob Stewart

This 1973 Frederick Wiseman documentary, filmed at the Juvenile Court in Memphis, Tennessee, won the Columbia University School of Journalism’s 1974 Dupont Award for “Excellence in Broadcast Journalism.” In 144 minutes, Wiseman shows a wide variety of cases before the Memphis Juvenile Court, from child abuse and sexual offenses to armed robbery and foster home placement, and it examines such issues as the range and limits of choices available to the court, psychology of offenders, constitutional points, procedural questions, and community protection vs. the desire for rehabilitation. Continue reading

Douglas McGrath – Becoming Mike Nichols (2016)

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Anyone who ever spent any time alone with Mike Nichols will tell you he was one of the most charming men who ever lived. I had that experience once, long ago, over a four-hour lunch. Thanks to HBO’s Becoming Mike Nichols, a splendid new documentary debuting on Monday night, everyone can have their own tête-a-tête. Most of this fine film is drawn from an extended conversation between Nichols and his good friend, theater director Jack O’Brien. Their talk took place in an empty – and then filled – Golden Theater, the Broadway venue where Nichols’ fame began, with An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May in 1960. The film is the product of a chance encounter between O’Brien and the writer Alex Witchel at a Manhattan dinner party in 2014. O’Brien told Witchel the celebrated director was looking frail and was never going to write a memoir. Wouldn’t it be great to capture his best memories before he was gone? Witchel repeated the idea to her husband, writer Frank Rich, who also happens to be an HBO executive. His bosses embraced the idea. O’Brien agreed to interview, Douglas McGrath was hired to direct, and within weeks they were off to the Golden. Four months later, Nichols died of a heart attack aged83. It was Nichols’ idea to do at least part of the interview in front of a live audience, and that makes his performance much more vivid than in any of his other filmed interviews. Continue reading

Ross Sutherland – Stand by for Tape Back-up (2015)

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FROM THE GUARDIAN:

It’s extraordinary how potent cheap videotape is. That’s one of the lessons borne out by Standby for Tape Back-Up, a witty, resourceful and emotionally intense show by the 35-year-old performance poet Ross Sutherland. The stage is bare but for a chair, a TV and a wheezing VCR machine. Looking like a lone Reservoir Dog in his black tie and white shirt, Sutherland paces the stage brandishing a remote control, zipping back and forth through the images projected on the wall behind him. Continue reading

Kent Jones – Hitchcock/Truffaut (2015)

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From theguardian.com
In 1962, director François Truffaut conducted a series of in-depth interviews with Alfred Hitchcock, published in a lavishly illustrated book, which became something of a film-makers’ bible. Truffaut’s aim was to reclaim Hitchcock as an artist – an “auteur” rather than just an entertainer. Kent Jones’s documentary, which draws on audio tapes of those conversations along with new interviews with Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, Wes Anderson et al, is no less evangelising, arguing that Truffaut’s book should be viewed and valued on a par with his movies. The documentary certainly makes for fascinating viewing; although most cineastes will already know the source text inside out, it’s great to hear audio of these exchanges, and the new interviews that make up the bulk of the film are entertaining, erudite, and (most importantly) refreshingly enthusiastic. Continue reading