There are times when I hesitate giving any work (an album, movie, or book) "5 stars." In fact, I try really hard not to do it. The idea that a work is "Perfect" and therefore deserving an entire constellation seems somewhat counter-productive to critical thinking and writing about whatever work a person has experienced: Does the White Album REALLY need all of those songs? Did Han Solo REALLY have to live? Objective correlative, indeed!
Based in Roman Egypt, Agora is about a female professor and philosopher, Hypatia, who teaches young men about science. Encouraged by her father, she surrounds herself with information in the great library of Alexandria and is constantly testing new scientific theories.
This movie shouldn't be any good. And yet, it is.
Zachary Heinzerling’s debut documentary about Japanese artists Ushio and Noriko Shinohara is a film that astonishes viewers not because Ushio and Noriko are wonderful artists—and they are—so much as because they’ve managed to stay married to one another. Forty years ago, a beautiful young woman came to America to study art and met Ushio, a hell-raising iconoclast who gained a bit of fame as a performance artist. Noriko fell in love.
This film is the perfect antidote to the evening news. Rather than dwelling on the grim or sensational, it magnifies the beauty of the quotidian as it follows a single day in the life of people all over the world. Not only visually stunning, it is also emotionally impacting to see the human race in all its variety and realize how different, and how very much the same, people can be.
Looking for a feel-good movie? Babies is a must-see documentary. Watch as four newborn babies from around the globe grow, learn, and love during their first year of life on this planet.
Each baby is born into a world full of different customs and opportunities, yet their universal humanity busts through cultural boundaries. Follow Ponijao from Namibia, Bayarjargal from Mongolia, Hattie from San Francisco, and Mari from Tokyo as each baby navigates his or her place in the world.
Kathleen Hanna, the subject of this documentary, pretty much embodies pure energy. Whether or not you like her voice or music is beside the point, as is usually the case with punk music. Hanna is unapologetically feminist, never anything less than direct with a willingness to be confrontational. Again, this is what punk rock is all about. So what makes Hanna documentary-worthy? Her music is cathartic and brutally honest. She’s fearlessness and charismatic. She’s the leader of the Riot Grrrrl movement, which has endured and grown over the past twenty-five or so years.
Tragically beautiful and real, Amour is a profoundly honest depiction of how a stroke can affect both members of a marriage. Though a French film and in subtitles, one hardly needs the translation to follow the emotions—shame, embarrassment, frustration, loss, fear, and above all, love—that both parties go through throughout the movie.
When This Is Spinal Tap was released in theaters in 1984, many audience members were convinced they were seeing a documentary of an actual British rock group, Spinal Tap, fumbling its way through one last tour across America despite the fact they hadn’t had a hit song in nearly two decades. In reality, the film is a mockumentary directed by the great Rob Reiner, and Spinal Tap is a fake band made up of three brilliant American actors. Christopher Guest, who went on to direct and star in other hilarious mockumentaries such as Waiting for Guffman, Be
What would you do if you found out that your father, grandfather, or great-uncle was responsible for the murder and torture of thousands of men, women, and children? Would you change your name? Live in isolation? Deny what your family members had done? This dilemma has been faced by the descendants and relatives of Hitler’s top officials.
In Hitler’s Children, Hermann Goring's and Heinrich Himmler's great-nieces, Hans Frank's son, Rudolf Hoess’ grandson, and others discuss how their lives have been impacted by having such infamous relatives.