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Documentary Films

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Review: Neil Young Trunk Show

Traveling down no "No Hidden Path"
If a Neil Young neophyte can find himself rocking in a cinema seat to the spirited, soulful music performed in this second of a rumored triptych of Demme-directed, Young-starring concert documentaries, long-time fans are bound to break their armrests.
By BRETT MICHEL  |  March 17, 2010
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Camera obscura

Philippe Grandrieux's loaded minimalism
An acquired taste in French cinema, Philippe Grandrieux is an abstractionist who does narrative features, a post-punk artiste as comfortable making Marilyn Manson music videos as he is war-zone documentaries. But his three major features — which the Harvard Film Archive is screening this weekend and next — revel in a dangerous minimalism.
By MICHAEL ATKINSON  |  February 16, 2010
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Karen Schmeer: 1970-2010

In Memoriam
Karen Schmeer, the brilliant local film editor whose work on Errol Morris's documentary The Fog of War helped win it the Best Documentary Oscar in 2004, died January 29 in a tragic accident, struck by a getaway car as she was crossing a street in Manhattan. She would have turned 40 on February 20.
By PETER KEOUGH  |  February 02, 2010
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Review: Waiting For Armageddon

Here are all the crazies
Much scarier than 2012 is this documentary about the death grip that fundamentalist religious groups have on American politics.
By PETER KEOUGH  |  January 27, 2010
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Documentary Man

An interview with Frederick Wiseman
If you think the polemic salvos Michael Moore churns out define the modern documentary, you've either succumbed to Moore's manipulative shenanigans or are unfamiliar with the works of Frederick Wiseman. No disrespect to the Roger & Me director, he is what he is — a man with a camera and a handful of pixie dust.
By TOM MEEK  |  December 09, 2009
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Taking gay rights to Obama

All Politics Is Local
You might have seen Chase Whiteside and Erick Stoll, seniors at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, around town in the days leading up to November 3.
By DEIRDRE FULTON  |  November 18, 2009

Sound words

Letters to the Boston editor, November 13, 2009
I appreciate the positive review Jeffrey Gantz gave to Bad Boy Made Good , the documentary film I produced, which was shown this week at the MFA.
By BOSTON PHOENIX LETTERS  |  November 11, 2009
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Prodding the free market

 The Yes Men’s irreverent crisis of conscience
Yes Man Mike Bonanno on the most fun aspect of co-directing the new documentary, The Yes Men Fix the World: “climbing into an abandoned flooded quarry in a business suit with 30 pounds of rocks in the pockets to combat buoyancy for the underwater scenes.”
By CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  October 21, 2009
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Review: Good Hair

Chris Rock will make your head itch to know more
According to Chris Rock, this documentary directed by Jeff Stilson was born when his young daughter asked him: “Daddy, how come I don’t have good hair?”
By SHAULA CLARK  |  October 26, 2009
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Interview: Ken Burns

On his latest PBS documentary, The National Parks
After watching The National Parks: America's Best Idea , it would be easy to conclude that it all could have been said a lot faster. Ken Burns disagrees — but he's not just being defensive.
By CLIF GARBODEN  |  September 25, 2009
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Take the fifth

The Camden International Film Festival hits a half-decade, with momentum building
Among the issues you'll see tackled at the Camden International Film Festival this year are poverty, overfishing, peak oil, and the plight (and/or) ambition of children who grow up too quickly.
By CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  September 23, 2009

Reeling

Get ready for RIIFF's 13th Filmapalooza
If the Rhode Island International Film Festival were a monster movie, it would be something like The Blob That Engulfed Delaware . Like its dozen predecessors, the 13th annual event will be taking over the state.
By BILL RODRIGUEZ  |  July 29, 2009
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Review: Soul Power

Leftover footage from When We Were Kings yields a doc that's anything but trash
Concert flicks are quite different from deliberately political documentaries. In the latter, the perception that filmmakers are too intimate with their subjects can reek of propaganda.
By CHRIS FARAONE  |  July 15, 2009
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Pixel revolt

Burma VJ's heroic dissident journalists
Anders Østergaard's Burma VJ: Reporting From a Closed Country is paced and edited with the keen, polished urgency of a thriller — there are frantic, confused phone conversations, along with gloomy music and a healthy amount of ominous foreshadowing — but most of its footage is shaky, off-center, and drastically pixelated, even when viewed on a television.
By CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  June 18, 2009
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Greetings and salutations

Aging and patriotism in The Way We Get By
The film, a decidedly unlikely crowd-pleaser, has had a charmed year so far. It won a Special Jury Award upon its world premiere at Austin, Texas's SXSW Film Festival, and an Audience Award at the prestigious Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in North Carolina, becoming something of a "little documentary that could" on the festival circuit.
By CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  June 10, 2009
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Gay deceivers

Outrage isn't outrageous enough
The California State Supreme Court just upheld Proposition 8, denying gay people the right to marriage. This should disabuse the complacent of the illusion that the religious right has relinquished its death grip on America. So, too, should Kirby Dick's documentary about the homophobic power of closeted right-wing politicians in America.
By PETER KEOUGH  |  June 04, 2009
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Best in show

Making the picks at the Newport Film Festival
Tom Hall, the new artistic director of the Newport International Film Festival (June 3-7), had the usual hard time culling more than 600 submissions — some invited but most over the transom — down to 90 films — 17 narrative features (plus five Hollywood classics), 17 feature-length documentaries, and 56 shorts.
By BILL RODRIGUEZ  |  May 27, 2009

Hope city

Under the Bridge
Filmmaker looks at life Under the Bridge
By DAVID SCHARFENBERG  |  May 21, 2009



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Review: Invisible Girlfriend

Surreal
Does this documentary from David Redmon and Ashley Sabin exploit its subject? You'll be tempted to say yes.
By BRETT MICHEL  |  April 15, 2009
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Review: Shooting Beauty

Compassionate, and without pity
Sometimes just being a gifted artist doesn't mean you're the right person to tell the story.
By TOM MEEK  |  April 15, 2009
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Review: Trinidad

Vacillates between revelation and reality-show shtick
In contrast to its eloquent subjects, director P.J. Raval's documentary about Trinidad, Colorado — the "Sex Change Capital of the World" — seems uncertain about its aspirations.
By ALICIA POTTER  |  April 15, 2009
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Review: For the Love of Movies

Why do some people get to watch movies for a living?
Like Trekkies and other documentaries that examine what makes particular nerd legions tick, For the Love of Movies beams viewers to a planet that outsiders only think they know about.
By CHRIS FARAONE  |  December 09, 2009
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Review: Virtual JFK: Vietnam If Kennedy Had Lived

What would JFK do?
There's not much "virtual" in Kosi Masutani's thoughtful if artless documentary about the JFK administration — which is to its credit.
By PETER KEOUGH  |  April 08, 2009

Truth, not falsity

Keep your eyes peeled for these docos
Here are some of the documentaries you can expect to see in Maine this year.
By CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  March 12, 2009
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In a Dream

Personal collapse in impressive structure
If you find yourself groaning through the first five minutes of Jeremiah Zagar's Academy Award-shortlisted feature documentary about his artist father Isaiah, you might just be its target audience.
By CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  July 01, 2009
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Miller and Bettencourt document TB epidemic

Reel Life
You wouldn't think G. Wayne Miller would have time left to blink, considering the work he delivers
By BILL RODRIGUEZ  |  February 04, 2009
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Review: Dance on Camera at Lincoln Center

Tidal wave
Gotham was awash in dance during early January as the annual Dance on Camera Festival coincided with the conference of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (better known as APAP, the national bookers' convention).
By MARCIA B. SIEGEL  |  January 20, 2009
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Luckey in Amsterdam

Paralyzing hopelessness at the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam
Simply, there’s no more prestigious place for a documentary to debut than IDFA, rightly regarded as the very best documentary festival in the world.
By GERALD PEARY  |  January 23, 2009
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Harvard Beats Yale 29-29

Scores in nearly every department
Kevin Rafferty's 40th-anniversary documentary about the fabled Game of 1968 — when both teams were unbeaten and Harvard, after being completely outplayed by the 16th-ranked Elis, scored 16 points in the final 42 seconds to "win" — has no designs on being innovative: contemporary interviews with the players are intercut with slightly fuzzy but quite acceptable footage of the game.
By JEFFREY GANTZ  |  November 24, 2008

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