Laura Dunn‘s The Unforeseen, executive produced by Terrence Malick and Robert Redford, tells the story of massive real estate developments near Austin, Texas and their impact on the environment. The film, called “part straight-ahead land-war documentary and part elegiac contemplation of the earth and what humans do to it” by Salon, has received positive reviews from most critics (including our own Tom Roston). The Onion’s A.V. Club says that “the movie wavers between Sundance-friendly issue film and spiritual reverie,” while Entertainment Weekly gives the film a B in its short review.
The Chicago 10 by Brett Morgen chronicles the anti-war protests outside the Democratic National Convention of 1968, and the conspiracy trial of the demonstrators that followed a year later. Morgen, who also made The Kid Stays in the Picture, takes an audacious approach to The Chicago 10 by re-creating the trial through motion-capture animation, and using music by the likes of Rage Against the Machine, Eminem, and the Beastie Boys. In a rave review, The Washington Post says “Morgen plunges viewers completely into the anarchic, exhilarating, finally ambiguous world of 1968 America.” The Chicago Tribune, however, says it’s “inconsistent,” praising the film for its use of news footage and resisting the urge to provide “outright commentary,” while admonishing it for not taking its subject seriously enough. (See the trailer on YouTube.)
The documentary The Monastery: Mr. Vig and the Nun, by Pernille Rose Grønkjær, showed at a number of documentary film festivals and was nominated for various awards. The film follows Mr. Vig, a never-married 82-year-old man living alone in a ramshackle castle in Denmark who wants to donate his home to the Russian Orthodox Church so that it can become a monastery. A young Russian nun arrives to supervise the extensive repairs on the castle, and their contest of wills take unexpected turns as Mr. Vig and the nun begin to find common ground. The Village Voice praises the film as a “fantastic little character portrait… [which pays] prudent attention …to aesthetic nuances.” TV Guide says that despite the strangeness of the subject, filmmaker Grønkjær has crafted “a fascinating picture” and calls The Monastery a “remarkable film.”