Friday, February 21, 2014

Oscar Nominated Documentaries and the Monuments Men!

In feature films the director is God;
in documentary films
God is the director.
~Alfred Hitchcock

I love Docs. It seems I can't get enough of them. I had a relationship last years longer than it should have, in large part, because both of us could spend hours eating burritos and watching documentaries on P.B.S.

Anyway, this year was another great year for Documentary film making. I am by no means an expert on the subject, so let me just say that before continuing. I just happen to love watching them.

By the way, this is my 3rd in a series of posts about this years Oscar Nominees. If you want to see the others, click here and here.

Oscar Nominated Documentaries for this years awards …

20 Feet From Stardom - I LOVED this. It was so engaging and the subjects of the film were so talented and fabulous, it would be difficult to find someone who wouldn't enjoy this Doc. Seriously, I don't mean to be judgmental but if someone doesn't like this one … they must be a few chips short of a full bag. 

Here is the trailer. Enjoy!

It's available on Netflix.

These singers are crazy talented! Here's another video of one of these amazing gals, Lisa Fischer. I'm crazy about her! Her voice and spirit get me so emotional!

Here's a great interview with three of the singers and the filmmaker. 

Cutie and the Boxer - This film is a also nominated, this year, for best documentary and I rented the DVD on Netflix.

I love documentaries about art and artists. This documentary is about two artists, a husband and wife. The doc, becomes really more about a marriage, than about art, though it's still a huge part of the film. It's touching and sometimes sweet, but at other times sad and frustrating … and you feel so bad for the wife! Anyway, I don't want to give it all away, because it's definitely worth seeing. 

Here's the trailer.

Dirty Wars- Rented this on NetflixVery depressing film about what has happened behind the scenes, during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It's very involved, and took more than the years of effort and tenacity (and the possibility of physical harm) to make it, so I have to give props to the journalist and filmmakers, for that. 

But, the voice over (which was done by the journalist) drove me nuts! There was something effected and melodramatic about his read. The subject matter is dramatic enough, so I think it could have been more straightforward. It's hard to explain. It's like he really really wants you to know how it all goes down, because he lived it, but in a weird way, that makes it seem more unbelievable.

Anyway, it's very interesting and gives you the feeling we have no idea what is really going on in the government, and our military … which is scary.

The SquareNo review. I haven't seen this. It's available to stream on Netflix but not yet on DVD. Big bummer, because it's supposed to be great, and unfortunately I don't have streaming, yet!!!  Here's the trailer.

The Act of Killing - Lots of controversy involving this film. It's an amazing concept but just way too dark. For me, seeing the trailer was enough. This war criminal is basically creating reenactments of his crimes. If you want to see it, you can Google it, but I don't want to put it on my blog.

OK, so I saw two of the five Best Documentary nominees, for this years Oscars. 
If I see The Square, I'll pass on my thoughts. 

Past Oscar Nominated Documentaries, that I think are worth seeing, and that I really liked for one reason or another!

Anne Frank Remembered (1995) won
The Long way Home (1997) won
Last Days (1998) won
Into the Arms of Strangers (2002) won
Bowling for Columbine (2002) won
Fog of War (2003) won
Winged Migration (2003) -watch the special features!
Born into Brothels (2004) won - This is one of my absolute favorites.
The story of the Weeping Camel (2004) 
March of the Penguins (2005) won
Jesus Camp (2006) 
Man on Wire ( 2008) won
The Cove (2009) won
Food Inc. (2009) (very important, for anyone who eats food. ;)
Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)

More recent Docs I've rented ...

Gerhard Richter Painting- (2011)  I want to share another Doc that I recently watched and was pretty incredible, especially if you are an artist or art lover! It's not a fast paced doc, but the pace worked well for the subject matter. Sit down with a glass of wine and enjoy, this modern master!

It really was fascinating! The artist's process, especially.

Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision- (1995) This won best documentary Oscar! I really enjoyed this one, as well. Maya Lin is such an interesting and incredible artist and I love hearing her concepts behind the works that she's created. 

This documentary also covers the controversy surrounding her design of the Vietnam Memorial, in D.C. and how the narrative has changed over time, in regards to peoples response to it. 

Here is a video with clips from the film.

Available on Netflix

The Saint of 9/11 - (2006) I had heard about this man, a priest, over the years since 9/11. This documentary is moving telling of his life, and work in his community. It's wonderfully made and inspiring … and holds some unexpected stories within it, as well. I recommend this one, too!

I rented this on Netflix but it's free on Hulu.

Sort of switching gears … 

Monuments Men- I love this story!!! I had seen the greatest documentary about the art, stolen by the Nazis during WWII, called The Rape of Europa. In fact I did a blog post about it, some time back. 

Anyway, the movie was entertaining. It's not his very best directing (that, I would reserve for Good Night and Good Luck or Confessions of a Dangerous Mind) but it was still completely enjoyable and a story that I am so happy he has told, about the soldiers who did what they could to find the art, as well as protect what was left, of both important pieces of art and historic places. 

And who doesn't love a little Clooney? Plus, it was fun to see all those guys together, including Lord Grantham. ;)

I'm sure you've seen all the commercials and trailers for the Clooney movie, but here is the trailer for The Rape of Europa. I highly recommend this documentary. It's fascinating!

One of the producers of Rape of Europa, Robert Edsel, also wrote the book of The Monuments Men, as well the books Saving DaVinci (which I gave my dad for Christmas) and a new book Saving Italy. Recently, because of the Clooney movie, he has been interviewed on Charlie Rose, as well as other news outlets. Click here for that interview, if you are interested! Took me a minute to get it play, I had to click the center of the screen. Anyway, it's interesting.

You have to understand, my dears, 
that the shorts distance between truth 
and a human being 
is a story.
~ Anthony de Mello, From One Minute Wisdom

Have a great weekend!


tammy j said...

I recently watched the documentary Blackfish on CNN news.

If ever there was one deserving more exposure... this is the one.
someone HAS to help those poor glorious creatures.
it's despicable what is being done to them in the name of entertainment.
I hope you'll see it if you haven't already!

Nancy Kay said...

Thanks for blogging about these documentaries. I am particularly interested in a couple of these, so I am excited to add to my Netflix list.

donna baker said...

I'll have to see Cutie and the Boxer. Looks great. I too love docs; sometimes even ones that seem boring are really interesting. Kind of like watching Sunday Morning on CBS. They can take the most inane, common subjects and make it so interesting. I bought an old oil painting of a boy once. I reframed it and found an old German calendar as partial backing. The painting was cut out of a larger painting, so I surmise the larger piece was damaged and someone brought it back to the US. It is mind boggling to think of all the art and history that has been lost due to war.

Lucinda Keller said...

Tammy, I did see Blackfish and thought it was important, as well.

Donna … I love Sunday Morning! And yes they make all kinds of things interesting. Like toaster collecting … :)


Very interesting documentaries, thanks for sharing with us in your blog !!!
Have a nice day Lucinda !!!