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.
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.
Imagine Rain Man meets Humphrey Bogart and you’ve got the eccentric gumshoe character that Edward Norton plays in Motherless Brooklyn, a film he starred in as well as wrote, directed and produced and which has the prestigious Closing Night slot of the 2019 New York Film Festival. Norton adapted his film from Jonathan Letham’s 1999 novel of the same name, changing the book’s gritty 1999 New York setting to a painterly 1950’s New York setting – an impressively ambitious if dubious decision (on an indie budget).