Susan Sontag seems to be having a moment 15 years after her death. Or at least in my personal life there has been a moment of Sontag convergence that has led me to write this article. Mostly my intent is to write a film review of the newly remastered re-release of “Duet for Cannibals,” written and directed by Sontag, released in 1969 and screened at the New York Film Festival, and brought back to gorgeous, lush black-and-white life by New York’s Metrograph theater.
“Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes,” a film by Sophie Huber, tosses you straight into a stylish mood poem. It’s medium-raucous to medium-mellow jazz with soft shots of “cool cats” opinionating on a range of topics – improvised jazz-chat. Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Robert Glasper, Norah Jones, Don Was, and more, these jazz musicians cross an interview-portal to play in dimensions of possibility beyond the dilemmas of yes or no. Consequently, they have a points of view more engaging than your Average Joe
A common criticism often heard in reviewing documentaries is “it’s more of Dateline segment than a movie;” even good investigative journalism does not in itself make a movie. Sometimes “advocacy documentaries” can be forgiven their school-bookishness because the subject is so urgently relevant; their social or political importance overrides their artistic mediocrity. But how do you justify “The Spy Behind Home Plate,” written and directed by Aviva Kempner? This documentary, in theaters now, is more of an answer to a Jeopardy question than it is a movie. Or maybe it’s an entire Jeopardy episode – as chock full of rapid-fire bits of quirky trivia as it is.
It’s Gay Pride month, and we’re coming up to July 4th and Independence Day, so HelenHighly discusses three new documentaries whose hearts beat the drums of freedom, passion and change, and how in each film, art is the catalyst that brings those concepts to life. Helen Highly Recommends “A Night at Switch n’ Play,” “Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes,” and “Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation.”
Walking on Water, directed by Andrey Paounov, is a new documentary about the latest exhibit / production by Christo, the renowned installation artist who transforms environments into experiential artwork, on an epic scale. The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, was acquired by Kino Lorber and is getting a theatrical run in the U.S. this spring (beginning this weekend at Film Forum in NYC). Helen Highly Recommends you see it – in a theater, ideally, on as large a screen as possible.
Netflix surprised Quentin Tarantino fans when it announced in March that an extended version of the director’s 2015 wild-west-thriller-mystery-horror flick, The Hateful Eight would be available for streaming. The movie is now available on Netflix as planned, although with an even bigger surprise: The movie has been uploaded as a miniseries with four episodes, each running approximately 50 minutes. The film’s theatrical edition continues to stream on Netflix as a feature film, as well