A Cinema history documentary Directed by Pamela B. Green When I review a biographical documentary, I look for more than an interesting life conventionally told. I want a new way to tell the story, with innovations that help rather than distract. Pamela B. Green does all that in this telling of the first woman film … Continue reading Be Natural: The Untold Story Of Alice Guy-Blaché
C Documentary Directed by Ruth Beckermann I saw this documentary before its screening in last year's San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. I then wrote this review, but held it back, waiting until the film had a theatrical run in the Bay Area. That has not yet happened. But I have just discovered that it's streaming … Continue reading The Waldheim Waltz dances with two left feet
B Historical documentary Directed by Barak Goodman Do we really need another documentary about a certain 1969 music festival? After all, Michael Wadleigh's epic film became one of the most beloved documentaries of all time - at least for people in my generation. Well, yes, we do. Wadleigh's combination of concert film and celebration of … Continue reading Another Woodstock Documentary?
C+ Documentary Directed by Werner Herzog and Andre Singer Do you ever wonder about something you know little about, so you Google it or go to Wikipedia? I'm beginning to suspect that when Werner Herzog gets that feeling, he makes a documentary. This time, Herzog picked an exceptionally interesting subject to learn about: Mikhail Gorbachev, … Continue reading Meeting Gorbachev with Werner Herzog
B+ Biographical documentaryDirected by Ryan White Dr. Ruth Westheimer is such an interesting person that it's surprising it took so long for someone to make a documentary about her. But after documentaries about Fred Rogers and Ruth Bader Ginsburg were commercially successful, it was time to celebrate the upbeat, witty, nonagenarian Holocaust-survivor who became famous talking … Continue reading Ask Dr. Ruth and you’ll probably get a good answer
C+ Activist documentary Directed by Penny Lane Like the Satanic Temple itself, this documentary has a message to preach, and does so tongue in cheek. The message is a good one, but you get almost the whole point in the first 15 minutes. Then it's mostly repetition speckled with occasional interesting bits. Most members of … Continue reading Satan is rebellious, but not always interesting
A- Documentary Directed by Denali Tiller When I saw this film before it screened at last year's SFFILM Festival, I assumed it would have a theatrical release, and therefore wrote the review below. But that release never materialized. Instead, PBS's Independent Lens picked it up and will broadcast it on April 1. And no, it … Continue reading Tre Maison Dasan: Three children of incarcerated parents