CHICAGO – “Drinking Buddies” director Joe Swanberg’s latest release of the same star wattage is “Happy Christmas,” an even lower-fi story than the Olivia Wilde beer comedy, steered even more by the casting that it was able to assemble. However, with this movie Swanberg doesn’t so much worry about having a story that could be confused with a more mainstream romantic comedy if it were to have a bigger budget.
CHICAGO – Four years later, and the change that lamentably only comes from the casualties of life and livelihood has not reached the Gulf of Mexico. Director Margaret Brown’s documentary compassionately bestows a disillusioned voice to the affected individuals, from oil riggers to oyster shuckers, whose reliance on the gulf’s livelihood was devastated when BP spilled a total of 176 million gallons of oil over 87 days starting on April 20, 2010.
CHICAGO - Dan Harmon does not look very good in his documentary “Harmontown,” which is probably why he agreed to the project. The creator of NBC’s cult comedy “Community” is presented wantonly in this documentation of his tour across America to interact with his fans through live recordings of his podcast “Harmontown.”
CHICAGO – Not much is really revealed about the subject of the documentary “Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon,” co-directed by comedian Mike Myers. Shep is a rock star agent, Shep gets rich, Shep shares his Hawaiian beach condo with big stars, Shep represents gourmet chefs, Shep likes to cook and Shep strangely wants kids, despite being in his sixties and not being able to maintain any domestic relationship. There is no there in this film, only the spoils of good representation.
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.