Bob Dylan

Little Edie in  Grey Gardens

I am mostly against the critical valuation of real people in documentaries. I’ve written about this in the past, specifically in response to the reviews of The Imposter that judged subject Frederic Bourdin more than the film itself. I also wondered last fall whether it is okay to highlight the “best” characters of a given year in the form of the Cinema Eye Honors recognition of “The Unforgettables.” On that, I eventually came around to agreeing that memorable documentary characters deserve recognition if not a competitive prize that puts one above the rest (and the CEH don’t mean for them to be “the best,” just unforgettable). Even calling them characters makes me conflicted at times, but within the film space and narrative, that is what they are. Ranking these characters, though, or calling them “best” or “worst,” isn’t something I feel comfortable doing. However, it is more acceptable to discuss a documentary character positively than negatively. Calling someone inspiring is fair, but calling someone despicable is not. Unless their deeds are horrible enough that calling a subject such is about considering them beyond the personality they exhibit on screen (think Hitler in Triumph of the Will, Anwar Congo in The Act of Killing and really any other genocidal leader). We can think anything we want of these people privately and even discuss them amongst ourselves as part of the audience, but there’s no place for it in film criticism. So this list, which is inspired by my ongoing consideration of the Up Series for its 50th anniversary, is not intended to be a critique of any of these people (or […]

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llewyndavis

The Coen brothers make the sorts of movies that are dense enough and interesting enough that there’s not going to be much you can say about them before you actually sit down and watch them. Are they going to be worth checking out? Of course. Are they going to be full of great performances? Undoubtedly. Is there any way to predict what they’re actually going to be about or what you’re going to end up getting out of watching them? Not a chance. So, more than being a traditional piece of marketing material, this new red band trailer for their next film, Inside Llewyn Davis, is just a little appetizer for you to take in and enjoy—something to lift your spirits after a long day.

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Mort-Shuman-and-Doc-Pomus

There are two kinds of biographical documentaries, the kind about a person we know and want to learn more about and the kind about a person we don’t know but should be aware of (according to the filmmakers, anyway). Few films are exclusively one or the other, because different viewers have different levels of familiarity with different subjects. Someone could presumably go into Marley completely ignorant of who Bob Marley was, while someone else might watch xi with full appreciation already of who Rodriguez is. I mention two music docs since the overlap likely occurs more so with this genre. And because this is a review of a doc about a notable songwriter, Doc Pomus. In certain circles, that’s a very famous name. But for a lot of us, the lyricist behind such tunes as “Viva Las Vegas,” “This Magic Moment,” “Save the Last Dance for Me,” “Suspicion” and many others is not only obscure, but we wouldn’t even have thought all were penned by the same person. We can now fix this oversight with A.K.A. Doc Pomus.

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SA/BLEAK

While the 2013 Sundance Film Festival is in full swing this weekend, we thought it would be fun to look back a decade and remember the best films of the 2003 event. The award winners that year include American Splendor, Capturing the Friedmans, All the Real Girls, My Flesh and Blood, The Station Agent, Stevie, Thirteen, A Certain Death and Whale Rider. And other major movies premiering at the fest include The Cooler, The Shape of Things, Tupac: Resurrection, Pieces of April, The Weather Underground, Northfork and the Bob Dylan disaster Masked and Anonymous. The U.S. also got its first look at 28 Days Later, In America, Bus 174, Bend It Like Beckham, Laurel Canyon, The Secret Lives of Dentists and Irreversible. To commemorate such a great Sundance (which spotlighted some filmmakers returning this year, like David Gordon Green and Michael Polish), we’re spotlighting some of our favorite scenes from some of the movies listed above. Not all have quality clips online, though, and it would be too much to include bits from all those works we love from the 2003 program, so feel free to add your own favorite moment in the comments below.

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Watchmen

Our friends at First Showing and Collider did attend the event that took place last night at the Warner Bros. lot in West Hollywood, where director Zack Snyder was on hand to show off some footage from his highly anticipated comic adaptation Watchmen.

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Say what you will about Tom Cruise, but he and partner Paula Wagner are making all the right moves with their United Artist Studios.

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Director Todd Haynes certainly has a vision with his new film I’m Not There but that vision doesn’t translate well onto the screen.

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I haven’t seen the right kind of review for I’m Not There yet. While critics struggle to shove the title into the review template that made up years ago, readers and movie-goers alike are finding out that it just doesn’t fit.

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Todd Haynes’ supposition on the life and music of Bob Dylan, “I’m Not There,” is unlike a film experience you’ll have this year.

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Todd Haynes’ I’m Not There, aka “The Bob Dylan Movie”, attacks, head-on, the hokum that is the standard Hollywood biopic.

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