Monday, January 7, 2013

Favorite Non-Fiction Films of 2012



1
The Battle of the Ancre and the Advance of the Tanks (Geoffrey H. Malins, 1917)

The official record of the British army’s winter campaign on the Somme in 1916 sees the light of the screen in great restored print after 95 years. The images are so powerful, and the humanity of cameramen, in depicting foe and enemy alike, so moving that after this, the long row of soldiers of the Great War parading to the fields of mud and death in anything between All Quiet on the Western Front to Path of Glory look pale. There is no quiet and glory in this masterpiece of early documentary film.


2
The Rolling Stones – Charlie Is My Darling – Ireland '65 (Peter Whitehead, Mick Gochanour, 2012)

In spite of the controversy over The Rolling Stones’ overpriced tickets for the 50th anniversary concerts and the banality of the specially commissioned documentary, Crossfire Hurricane, this first rate rockumentary, in its truth-revealing, aggression and humor can only be compared to Don’t Look Back. While the official Crossfire Hurricane shows Stones in a sloppy collage of famous films we have already seen - without daring to include any explicit footage from the dark side of the band in Cocksucker Blues - this cine-vérité piece serves the purpose in explaining "How Stones" or "Why Stones: as a brilliant portrayal of five naïve people, growing fast and transitioning from blues covers to strong personal statements about sex and death.


3
Jerry and Me (Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa, 2012)

Not only a master class on the art of Jerry Lewis, but a highly confessional autobiography of an Iranian-American woman who, adoringly, sees her life projected in the films of a Jewish American comedian.


4
Reconversão (Thom Andersen, 2012)

A pleasant portrait of the Portuguese architect, Eduardo Souto de Moura whose fascination with ruins and transforming them into modern buildings is the main theme of his works, as well as this film's. Anderson, deliberately, avoids interviewing Souto de Moura till nearly the end of the film, but, still, the Andersen’s autonomy and personal vision allows him to draw an accurate plan of the architect’s thoughts and methods without limiting the outcome to direct statement from Souto. At the end, and after 65 minutes of still shots from Souto’s architectural works, the film, nearly, implies that Souto is a passionate Mies van der Rohe who idolizes Miles Davis and Ahmad Jamal.


5
The Pervert's Guide to Ideology (Sophie Fiennes, 2012) + Room 237 (Rodney Ascher, 2012)

If you take them as comedies, you’ll find them hilariously enjoyable. If you take them as dramas, you’ll have a chance to see the dark side of film studies and cinephilia in the age of digital. In both cases, it’s difficult to stay unimpressed with the massive comedy potentials of Slavoj Žižek and also those who have found a new Messiah in Kubrick.

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