Documentaries

Why Harlan County U.S.A. Is Essential

Why Harlan County U.S.A. Is Essential

I had a chance to choose a film for a week of coverage at The Cinessential and went with one of my favorite documentaries of all time, Barbara Kopple’s Harlan County U.S.A. In my latest piece, our opening statement for the week, I outline why it’s important to include documentaries in the “canon” and what […]

Let’s Talk About 2014’s Awesome Documentaries

Let’s Talk About 2014’s Awesome Documentaries

“This has been a banner year for documentary filmmaking.” Fans of the genre—myself included—have been saying that on a yearly basis for a while, it seems, but I’d say it’s never been truer than it is in 2014. For the first time in my life as a critic, there’s a decent chance my top ten […]

The Battered Bastards of Baseball Review

The Battered Bastards of Baseball Review

RATING: (3 STARS) It’s a shame “For the Love of the Game” is already spoken for as far as baseball movie titles go. I think Chicago Cubs fans could be a little peeved at the implication that the short-lived Portland Mavericks minor league franchise are baseball’s true battered bastards… The love of the game, though, […]

Life Itself Review

Life Itself Review

RATING: (4 STARS) “A film like Hoop Dreams is what the movies are for. It takes us, shakes us, and make us think in new ways about the world around us. It gives us the impression of having touched life itself.” —Roger Ebert, 1994 There’s a really clever reflexiveness at play with the last two […]

10 Criterion Documentaries You Should Buy This Month

10 Criterion Documentaries You Should Buy This Month

My latest post for Sound on Sight (and first in a while) went up over the weekend. It’s a plea to cinephiles everywhere to consider some non-fiction when they make their half-off Criterion purchases this month at Barnes and Noble. A new Blu-grade of Hearts and Minds, the infinitely interesting Qatsi trilogy, the 3-D Pina, […]

The Case Against 8 Review

The Case Against 8 Review

RATING: (3.5 STARS) Documentaries of well-covered (or heavily covered, depending on your view on the state of professional journalism) subjects too often feel disposable because those in charge don’t use the medium to make their take on the story unique. A perfect example of this would be 2013’s complementary films about the anti-homosexual agenda in […]

Tribeca 2014: ‘When the Garden Was Eden’

Tribeca 2014: ‘When the Garden Was Eden’

Over at Sound on Sight, I’ve written a review of the latest 30 for 30 documentary, When the Garden Was Eden, which premiered at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival. The film won’t premiere on ESPN for a little while, but it’s one you’ll want to look out for. Like last week’s Bad Boys, it’s a […]

Tribeca 2014: ‘Next Goal Wins’

Tribeca 2014: ‘Next Goal Wins’

My 2014 Tribeca Film Festival continues over at Sound on Sight with my review of the sports documentary Next Goal Wins, which profiles the American Samoan national soccer team, which went 30 years without a win in international play before this film’s cameras starting rolling. Check out my review of the film, which follows well-worn […]

Tribeca 2014: ‘All About Ann’

Tribeca 2014: ‘All About Ann’

Over at Sound on Sight, my coverage of the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival began yesterday with a review of the charming political documentary All About Ann: Governor Richards of the Lone Star State. The film, which debuts a week from today on HBO, isn’t formally challenging, but Richards’ story is one absolutely worth telling. Check […]

5 Essential 30 for 30 Documentaries

5 Essential 30 for 30 Documentaries

Over at Sound on Sight, I wrote a piece on the best of ESPN’s incredible 30 for 30 series of sports documentaries in honor of March Madness and the debut of its latest film, Requiem for the Big East. I still have caught up with Requiem, but I did watch a lot of films in […]

Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse

Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse

In my latest Essential Docs piece for Sound on Sight, I took a look at the making-of-Apocalypse-Now documentary Hearts of Darkness and the trouble with chasing absolute truth through one’s art. It’s a pretty fascinating film, made up almost exclusively of archival footage from Francis Ford Coppola’s wife Eleanor’s on-set video and audio diaries. Give […]

Man with a Movie Camera

Man with a Movie Camera

I’ve begun writing a column for Sound on Sight called “Essential Docs.” It’s exactly what you think it is—a discussion of non-fiction movies, specifically the films that have endured as cultural and cinematic milestones years and decades later. My first piece discusses Dziga Vertov’s 1929 silent documentary Man with a Movie Camera, which is magical […]