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Documentary
 

The Armstrong Lie

A portrait of a vicious cycle.


Documentary

Rod Lott

Someday, celebrity cyclist Lance Armstrong may regret hiring Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney to document his 2009 "comeback," but I doubt it. As The Armstrong Lie demonstrates time and again for two mostly gripping hours, the athlete is still unable to tell the whole truth and nothing but.

 
Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Rewind This!

Be kind, Rewind.


Documentary

Rod Lott

Anyone who recalls the days of loading up on VHS rentals at mom-and-pop video stores back in "The Day" will feel that joy return in a rush from Rewind This!, on DVD from, appropriately, the FilmBuff label. 

 
Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Unhung Hero

Does size matter?


Documentary

Rod Lott

First, watch this.

 
Thursday, December 19, 2013

Room 237

Rhetoric on redrum.


Documentary

Rod Lott
The Shining is about a novelist who goes mad while hotel-sitting over a winter break. The Shining is about the white man's genocide of Native Americans. The Shining is about the Holocaust. The Shining is about how Stanley Kubrick faked the Apollo moon landings. 

 
Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th

The men and women behind the mask.


Documentary

Rod Lott
How appropriate that a history of the Friday the 13th fits into a snug 13 chapters on Blu-ray and DVD. It makes me wonder if its running time of 6.66 hours also were intentional. 
 
Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Évocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie

Mort! Mort! Mort! Mort!


Documentary

Rod Lott
In 1987, The Morton Downey Jr. Show burst out of nowhere — New Jersey, to be precise — and became a near-instant phenomenon, turning its loud-mouthed, chain-smoking host into the titan of trash TV. Less than two years later, ratings plummeted along with Downey's career. 
 
Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Stories We Tell

Family matters.


Documentary

Rod Lott
Stories We Tell is not only one of the year's best documentaries, but one of the format's more unique exercises of our time. You may have seen a story of this type before — just not told in this imaginative a fashion. I was reminded of the rush I felt encountering Errol Morris' The Thin Blue Line or Michael Moore's Roger & Me in the late 1980s, and thinking, "Wow, a documentary can be like this, too?"
 
Tuesday, September 10, 2013

My Amityville Horror

Arguably better than most of the sequels (and definitely the remake).


Documentary

Rod Lott
Daniel Lutz doesn't like people to know he's one of the children who lived through The Amityville Horror — as Jay Anson's best-selling book and subsequent smash movie called it — and yet here he is, front and center for an entire documentary on that "unfortunate gift." Be glad he gave in; My Amityville Horror is an occasionally gripping portrait of a middle-aged man still coming to terms with a terrible childhood.
 
Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Bert Stern: Original Madman

Our snap judgment: See it!


Documentary

Rod Lott
For someone who claims to be so uncomfortable in front of the camera, Bert Stern never shuts up in Original Madman, the documentary about him. And I'm sure glad he didn't, as the story of his life is a must-absorb for anyone interested in film, fashion, photography, art, design, advertising, popular culture, counterculture ... oh, hell, let's say American history in general.
 
Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Jeffrey Dahmer Files

“Go look in the refrigerator.”


Documentary

Rod Lott
Understandably, a documentary about serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer that weaves fictional elements with fact sounds like a wretched, evil, exploitative thing. Instead, it's a small marvel of microcinema — and another argument for the storytelling power of the nonfiction format.
 
Thursday, July 25, 2013

Aroused

Porn stars are people, too.


Documentary

Rod Lott
As director Deborah Anderson states at the beginning of her documentary, Aroused is not a story about pornography, but about women. For half of its 69-minute running time (deliberate?), I believed her.
 
Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Imposter

Too good to be true, and yet ...


Documentary

Rod Lott
Although now I can’t remember the publication, I recall reading an article about con artist Frédéric Bourdin and thinking, “This would make a really good documentary.” A few years later, The Imposter is that documentary.
 
Friday, February 15, 2013

Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel

An icon of fashion takes the spotlight.


Documentary

Phil Bacharach
You might not know it, but chances are Diana Vreeland has a great deal to do with what you think when it comes to fashion, style and design. As fashion editor for Harper’s Bazaar and, later, editor of Vogue, she injected post-World War II America with an almost revolutionary sense of, as she put it, “pizzazz.”
 
Friday, February 8, 2013

Paul Williams: Still Alive

The lover, the dreamer and me.


Documentary

Rod Lott
All the love audiences have for the Oscar-nominated Searching for Sugar Man (which I wasn't crazy about) is what I feel for Paul Williams: Still Alive.
 
Friday, February 1, 2013

Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis

The one-time ‘Nutty Professor’ just wants to be loved. Is that so wrong? Well, now that you mentioned it ...


Documentary

Rod Lott
There's a long-standing joke about Jerry Lewis being loved by the French, and to paraphrase The Simpsons, it’s funny ’cuz it’s true. We even see the adulation — then, now — in Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis, a two-hour documentary about the man whom one celebrity admirer calls “The Beatles of movie comedy.”
 
Thursday, January 31, 2013
 
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