Two of this week’s new theatrical releases for documentary involve married couples trying to make things work in spite of great obstacles. Not that these films are anything alike, whatsoever. One is dealing with physical struggle, the other financial; the former seems truly in love, the latter not as much. Together, Planet of Snail and The Queen of Versailles should have you looking at your own marriage to determine what really matters.
And then there’s the third film, Wagner’s Dream, a “making of” doc about an opera, which only relates if you consider the part of Fricka, goddess of marriage and fidelity, and what she stands for in the production. But also, all three films entail some level of the theatrical, two of them of the staged variety.
Some of the significant expansions worth noting this week are Bill W., which seems to be doing a special multi-city one-night event on Thursday, the continued film/concert tour for Music from the Big House (a great idea) and Ballplayer: Pelotero and China Heavyweight, both of which follow young and hopeful athletes.
Film festivals featuring docs going on this week include: Durban International [7/19-7/29]; Wroclaw International [aka T-Mobile New Horizons, 7/19-7/29]; Maine International [7/13-7/22]; Nantucket Atheneum Dance Festival [7/23-7/28]; Berkshire Jewish [7/9-8/13]; Outfest - LA LGBT [7/12-7/22]; Philadelphia QFest [7/12-7/23]; and Frame Out [7/6-8/25].
Here are your three new theatrical releases followed by the weekly list of docs still in cinemas:
There is often discussion of documentary’s void when it come to real life love stories. Well, this wonderful, comforting and vigorous film from director Yi Seung-jun (Children of God) helps to fill that gap with a quiet and seemingly simple verite look at the marriage of Young-Chan, a deaf and blind writer, and his diminutive wife, Soon-Ho. It’s a beautiful and lyrical little doc that feels larger for not resting on or succumbing to sentimentality or gazing upon the characters as eccentric others. Yes, its main address is the couple’s physical disability but the real point is their physical affinity, how they fit together, perfectly, chemically and emotionally suited for one another. It’s incredibly sweet and romantic.
Winner of the VPRO award for Best Documentary-Feature at the 2011 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA).
Recommended If You Like: Children of God; Monica & David; poetic science fiction.
Starts on Wednesday at Film Forum in NYC. For upcoming openings in other cities, including Seattle and Albuquerque, see the film’s playdates page. Also currently playing in the UK.
One of my favorite surprises of the year. In spite of deserved high expectations for the work of Lauren Greenfield (Thin), I feared this film about a family building the nation’s largest home would be sensational, probably because on the surface it looks like a trashy reality series about one of the wealthiest and tackiest families in the country. But the “riches to rags” tale is presented as a phenomenally smart, sympathetic, relevant and entertaining document of the American dream and our collective awakening during the financial crisis. I agree with the filmmaker that it’s about all of us, only focused on an extreme example.
The strange thing is that I’ve now seen the film twice and feel like I’ve watched two different movies, if I’m to go by what I wrote in my True/False dispatch at Movies.com. I don’t know that I’d still consider it a “superficial” good time or “exploitative” or a depiction of “clueless” people, though I definitely get where I was coming from initially. If you still completely despise the Siegels — not just their money and what they do with it — see it a second time. At least see it once, regardless, because it is one of the most important and reflective films of our time for a multitude of reasons.
Winner of the Directing Award in the Documentary Competition at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Winner of the Jury Prize for Best Director of a Feature Film in the Documentary Competition at the 2012 RiverRun International Film Festival.
Recommended If You Like: Inside Job; Real Housewives of…; Citizen Kane
Now playing in NYC at the Angelika Film Center and the Elinor Bunin Monroe Film Center and in West Los Angeles at the Landmark 12. For upcoming openings in other cities, check the film’s play dates page.
This is a behind the scenes look at the Metropolitan Opera’s recent productions of Richard Wagner’s The Ring of Nibelung (all parts of which are returning to the stage in 2013), which many had considered impossible to do perfectly. Don’t think it’s dismissable as just any “making of” doc, however. The film is by Susan Fromke, the Oscar-nominated co-director of LaLee’s Kin: The Legacy of Cotton and a producer/editor on Grey Gardens (it’s a big year for her, as she’s also co-director of the acclaimed new healthcare doc Escape Fire). I know nothing of opera, and yet this film looks enticingly compelling to me.
Now playing at the Walter Reade Theater and other Lincoln Center venues. For showtimes, see the website for the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
Expanded releases this week (older films, new cities, festivals, some also still playing elsewhere). Links go to screening calendar listings:
5 Broken Cameras - Waterville, ME [7/20, for Maine International Film Festival]; Jamestown, NY [7/24-7/26]
Ballplayer: Pelotero - Brookline, MA; Denver, CO; Minneapolis, MN; New York, NY; Washington, DC
The Beat Hotel - Miami Beach, FL [7/20-7/22]
Bill W. - Albuquerque, NM [7/21-7/22]; Auburn, NY [7/20-7/21]; Irvine, CA [7/20-7/26]; Las Vegas, NV [7/20-7/26]; Long Beach, CA [7/21]; Santa Monica, CA [7/21-7/22]; Guelph, ON [7/23-7/26]; Winston-Salem, NC [7/25]; Berkeley, CA [7/26]; Boston, MA [7/26]; Chicago, IL [7/26]; Denver, CO [7/26]; Minneapolis, MN [7/26]; Milwaukee, WI [7/26]; San Diego, CA [7/26]; San Francisco, CA [7/26]; Seattle, WA [7/26]; St. Louis, MO [7/26]
Bully- Normal, IL [7/20-7/22]
Call Me Kuchu - Durban, ZA [7/26 & 7/28, for Durban International Film Festival]
Chely Wright: Wish Me Away - Rosendale, NY
China Heavyweight - Beverly Hills, CA; Brooklyn, NY [7/20-7/22]; Pelham, NY [7/20-7/26]; Washington, DC [7/20-7/26]; Pasadena, CA [7/21-7/22]
The City Dark - Laramie, WY [7/22]
Color Me Obsessed - Atlanta, GA [7/23-7/29]
Crazy Wisdom - Berkeley, CA [7/20-7/26]
Fat Chance - Toronto, ON [7/20-10/11]
A Fierce Green Fire: The Battle for a Living Planet - Glen Rock, PA [7/20]
First Position - Carlisle, PA; Nantucket, MA [7/25, for The Nantucket Atheneum Dance Festival]
Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu Story - Lenox, MA [7/23, for Berkshire Jewish Film Festival]
Gerhard Richter Painting - Bloomington, IN [7/20-7/21]; Fort Worth, TX [7/20-7/22]; New York, NY [7/22]; Memphis, TN [7/26]
Girl Model - Waterville, ME [7/20-7/22, for Maine International Film Festival]
Gorgeous - Toronto, ON [7/20-10/11]
Granito - Portland, OR [7/23]; Steamboat Springs, OR [7/23]
Hit So Hard: The Life & Near Death Story of Patty Schemel - Atlanta, GA [7/23-7/27]
The Imposter - New York, NY
Indie Game: The Movie - Ottawa, ON [7/20-7/22]; Utrecht, NL [7/24]
Inni - Wroclaw, PL [7/20-7/29, for Wroclaw Film Festival]
The Interrupters - Chicago, IL [7/20]
The Invisible War - San Diego, CA; Salt Lake City, UT; Tucscon, AZ
The Island President - Bridgeport, CT [opens 7/22]
Jiro Dreams of Sushi - Bethlehem, NH
Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance - Calgary, AB; Victoria, BC [7/25-7/26]
Kumare - New York, NY; Bend, OR [7/20-7/25]; St. Helena, CA [7/25 & 7/27]; Los Angeles, CA [7/26]
The Loving Story - New York, NY [7/20-7/22]
Marley - Quebec City, QC; Toronto, ON
Music from the Big House - Miami, FL [7/20]; St. Petersburg, FL [7/20-7/26] West Palm Beach, FL [7/20-7/25]; Gainesville, FL [7/23]; Tallahassee, FL [7/24]; Mobile, AL [7/25]; Baton Rouge, LA [7/26]
Nostalgia for the Light - Riverside, CA [7/20-9/11]
Otter 501 - Key West, FL [7/20-7/26]
Paul Williams Still Alive - Portland, OR; Santa Fe, NM
Payback - Beaufort, SC [7/20]; Seattle, WA [7/20-7/26]
Pink Ribbons, Inc. - Atlanta, GA; St. Louis, MO
Portrait of Wally - Encino, CA; Seattle, WA
Regular or Super - Charlotte, NC [7/20]
Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview - Houston, TX [7/21]; Waterloo, ON [opens 7/25]
Strong! - Atlanta, GA [7/21]; New York, NY [7/23]; San Diego, CA [7/24]; Pasadena, CA [7/25]; Savannah, GA [7/25]
Tahrir: Liberation Square - San Francisco, CA [7/26 & 7/28]
Teeth - Toronto, ON [7/20-10/11]
United in Anger: A History of ACT UP - Washington, DC [7/25]
Zorro’s Bar Mitzvah - New York, NY [7/20-7/22]
Also still in theaters:
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