Baraka

IMAX Blue Planet DVD Crop

Earth Day was set up in conjunction with the growing environmental movement, and after 44 years that remains the main purpose of the occasion. But we can also think of this day as a time to celebrate the planet like it’s her birthday. Happy 4.54 billionth, Earth! Again! Therefore I’d like to not just devote the day to listing environmental issue films. Instead, I’ve compiled the best documentaries about Earth, as in the planet is the subject and these are portraits of her, both negative and positive. It’s a fairly brief list, because there aren’t a whole lot of nonfiction films qualified as being about or of the whole world. And I don’t want to just include them all just to fill the space, even though most of them are pretty good. I highly recommend all seven of the following nonfiction films to everyone living on Earth, which should be all of you (if not, hello extraterrestrial readers!), because it’s a good idea to know your home. READ MORE AT NONFICS

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Because so many great films have their world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, it’s not surprising to see a lot of documentaries celebrate anniversaries around this time. For instance, Ron Fricke’s Baraka turns 20 years old today, having debuted at TIFF back on September 15, 1992, when the event was still known as the “Festival of Festivals.” It’s a special time to celebrate the non-narrative, non-verbal masterpiece, and not just because Fricke’s follow-up (he doesn’t consider it a sequel), Samsara, is currently wowing audiences around the country in a just-expanded theatrical release. Thanks to a fashionable interest in 70mm exhibition right now, Baraka (the first movie in twenty years shot in the Todd-AO 70mm format) also just finished up a week-long re-release at the Alamo Drafthouse and has screened recently in other cities in the format, as well. If you missed or are unable to see Baraka on the big screen, though, the film’s Blu-ray is a more than acceptable substitute. It was on FSR’s list of the 15 must-own discs of 2008, where it was called “the best Blu-ray transfer, ever.” That status possibly remains unchallenged. Fricke and producer Mark Magidson are perfectionists when it comes to digitally scanning their works. They even recommend seeing Samsara projected digitally as opposed to on celluloid, despite the fact that the new film was also shot in 70mm.

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In 1982, Ron Fricke wrote, edited and directed photography for Koyaanisqatsi, a movie that’s become a modern experimental classic that sought to create a pure sensory experience beyond what narrative storytelling could do. It’s the kind of film that audiences have to yield to, letting it wash over them like color-wrapped sound waves, and it seems likely that Samsara will be artistically related to Fricke’s early work. He re-teams here with Mark Magidson to create something that – if the movie delivers on its trailer – has to be seen and heard to be believed. The pair are most known for their work on the short doc Chronos and the feature Baraka, and their style is one that mashes moments together in order to find a sense of meaning. They’re incredibly good at it. Plus, the imagery! It’s amazing. The kind of stuff that steals your heart right out of your chest and makes you wish your whole body were made of eyeballs. See it and marvel:

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Mortal Kombat: Legacy has done a great job of changing things up and staying interesting so far. The first two episodes of the series looked like excerpts from a big budget action film. Then the third was a parody of celebrity news and reality TV. This episode keeps up the intrigue by starting out with some animation. It begins with a fairy tale voice over telling us about the history of some sort of mystical land. We get castles and mountain backdrops, and it’s all presented in a stylish, almost water color looking animation. I thought it was an interesting thing to do for a series that has been, up to this point, all about keeping things set mostly in our modern reality. But then the animation transitions into live action and everything goes bad. So bad that, by the end of this episode, I was left feeling a lot less confident about the direction Mortal Kombat: Legacy is going in.

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Culture Warrior

Synesthesia (syn-es-the-sia, Brit. syn-aes-the-sia): “The production of a sense impression relating to one sense or part of the body by stimulation of another sense or part of the body.” Synesthesia is a neurological disorder in which the experience of one sense motivates an involuntary association with another sense. Those who experience synesthesia, known as synesthetes, are able to either perceive letters or numbers as inherently colored, hear movement, or – in probably the best-known cases of the disorder – see music in the form of colors and/or associative shapes. Now, cognitive sciences seem, on the surface, to have little to do with the study of cinema, but the topic of synesthesia can be particularly helpful in understanding the way in which we interpret the interaction of the two senses most available in watching movies: the aural and the visual.

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2008review-dvd

As part of our Year in Review, we’ve asked our resident DVDologist Brian Gibson to lay down his 15 favorite releases from 2008.

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DVDs I Bought This Week!

Brian Gibson loves to buy DVDs. Come with him on his weekly journey into the depths of credit card debt as he tells you what to buy, rent and avoid.

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published: 12.18.2014
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published: 12.17.2014
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published: 12.15.2014
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published: 12.12.2014
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