Something always felt a bit out of place for me in Martin Scorsese’s brilliant “The King of Comedy”, just released on Blu-ray for the first time. I couldn’t put my finger on it but chalked it up to it being thematically ahead of its time in its investigation of the cult of personality that defines modern entertainment.
CHICAGO – The funny thing about documentaries is that any goal of truly replicating reality, or the truth, is impossible. Unless a documentary film were to convey an experience with 360 degrees and 24/7 coverage (AKA life), it will always be a subjective endeavor. Documentary storytellers are always creating a point of view, simply by choosing where to point a camera, and where to cut a sequence.
CHICAGO – As modern life becomes more toxic and technology uses more chemicals within everyday foodstuffs and products, the consequence for disease and sickness as a result is an increasing threat. Ed Brown, a filmmaker and concerned family man, explores this phenomenon in a new documentary, “Unacceptable Levels.”
CHICAGO – We see the public service ads often – dogs and cats in captivity after neglect and abuse. The images parade by, and the sadness in their expressions are heartbreaking. The same can be said for killer whales in captivity, used for SeaWorld shows and exploited in “Blackfish.”
CHICAGO – It was all so innocent. Filmmaker Gabriela Cowperthwaite was curious about killer whale performances – think Shamu at SeaWorld – and began to do research. What she uncovered, to her total surprise, that there was a pattern to accidental deaths traced back to one whale. The result is her new documentary, “Blackfish.”
CHICAGO – What did you do during the 1970s, Daddy? After this Father’s Day, many adult kids might be asking that question after seeing “The Source Family.” This documentary is about a commune that began in California (naturally) in the 1970s, even after the infamous Manson Family.
CHICAGO – “The history of wine is fascinating” – This is only one of many things in the frustrating “Somm,” opening today in Chicago at the Music Box and accompanied by actual wine tastings in the theater, that we’re told but not really shown. I love wine. I drink it too often.
CHICAGO – There has been an attitude shift in America in a couple of generations toward the poor and unlucky in life. What was once a campaign to end poverty and take care of that part of the population, has turned into a demonization of them. This is one of the main themes in “A Place at the Table,” an overview of the continuing hunger problem in America.
CHICAGO – One of the strangest problems in the United States, the richest country in the world, is “food insecurity.” Millions of Americans, lost in economic or working poverty, can’t keep pace with their food needs. The new documentary “A Place at the Table” dissects this social problem, and is co-directed by Kristi Jacobson.
CHICAGO – Normal job justification makes most people defensive. Imagine justifying an anti-terrorist organization. What weapons – besides the physical variety – would be available to you? Fear, jingoism and marginalizing of the “other” are a few of the defensives used by “The Gatekeepers.”
CHICAGO – One of the five documentaries nominated for an Oscar this Sunday is the incendiary story of “The Gatekeepers.” The film goes inside “Shin Bet,” the Israeli secret anti-terrorist agency. By interviewing ex-agency leaders, director Droh Moreh was able to gain insights into the moral failings of their activities.