This review, originally written in May 2019 has been reposted in Jan 2020 for the screening of the “Slay the Dragon” documentary at the NYC CineMatters Social Justice Film Festival. Please pardon the dated TV references, but the gerrymandering issue is more urgent than ever as we approach the 2020 elections.
Helen Highly Recommends “Once Were Brothers,” a documentary that was the opening-night film for DOC NYC 2019 and opens in theaters February 21st, based on the story of The Band (Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel and Garth Hudson). For those who don’t know: the Band originally formed as The Hawk, a backing band for rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins but came to prominence during its time backing Bob Dylan on tour and later grew into a legend in its own right, widely credited with being on the forefront of three different musical revolutions. Impressively, the Band was one of the first rock groups to appear on the cover of Time.
With his new documentary, “Scandalous: The Untold Story of the National Enquirer,” director Mark Landsman delves into the incredible yet accurate story of the most infamous newspaper in US history, detailing its wild history and its surprising, continuing role in shaping what the news has become and what the enquiring public wants to know. Helen Highly Recommends this film as the timely cure for what ails us all right now as a nation – just the right, ironic cocktail of sexy, smart and shocking, with a cancerous red-dye-number-2 maraschino-cherry garnish.
Helen Highly Recommends what to see at DOC NYC 2019. Now that I’ve seen a few more films, I am updating and expanding my original DOC NYC 2019 Pick List. I am also explaining my bias and process in selecting which films to include in my list. Note that even after the festival ends, it’s still worth coming back to this list of film review and suggestions and to the DOC NYC 2019 website to find which films to see; they will be debuting in theaters and online throughout the coming year.
Television thrives on the neurotic lunacy of hoarders, but rarely do we experience the passion and purpose of a methodical collector, who really made a difference. Matt Wolf’s masterful documentary, Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project takes us into the visionary psychic and cluttered physical worlds of a woman who turned her acquiring fury into a unique archive of contemporary history. Recorder had its world premiere at Tribeca Film Festival 2019 and starts its national theatrical release November 15, 2019.
DOC NYC 2019 will run from November 6 – 15 and include more than 300 films and events, with 28 world premieres and 27 US premieres. Films are curated into 21 different Sections, or categories. It’s an overwhelming amount of content to contemplate, and I’ll do my best to help you sort through it. I would have liked to offer a catchy headline such as “Top Ten Docs to See,” but ten barely scratches the surface. Even twenty seems to leave out films that warrant a mention. So… without counting, here are the films that Helen feels Highly Compelled to suggest — my DOC NYC Picks, or DOC NYC Highlights.