- Doc Soup: Peering Into a Character's Soul
When I watched this week’s POV program, The English Surgeon, I couldn’t help thinking about Ian McEwan‘s 2005 novel, Saturday. Both are about neurosurgeons, and they’re the best portrayals (Mel Brooks‘ Young Frankenstein doesn’t count) of those elite doctors that I’ve ever read or seen. It made me consider: how does a novel representation of […]
- Doc Soup: Women's Rights vs. Animal Rights?
There's an unwritten mandate woven into the fabric of most documentary films: to edify and to make the world a better place. That's usually a pretty straightforward proposition. Docs that champion the needy, marginalized and dispossessed connect audiences to many important social causes...
- Doc Soup: The Poetry of Short Films
Forgive me, I know I’m a week late since POV aired the shorts program (you can watch all the short films online at the above link), but I was away and I just saw them…and they were so cool! I hope that you caught them too, maybe in much the same way I have come […]
- Doc Soup: Burritos and Socially-Conscious Docs
There I was, just another guy standing on a long line of guys waiting to get a burrito at a Chipotle in Manhattan, when I noticed a poster for Food, Inc. placed right above the guacamole. I don’t usually think of socially-conscious docs and fast food chains as natural partners, so I looked it up […]
- Doc Soup: When Children Are the Subjects of Docs
I often get this conflicted feeling when I watch a documentary about children, like this week’s POV broadcast of Hold Me Tight, Let Me Go: I am immediately concerned that the subjects are being exploited in some way, since they’re not really able to decide for themselves whether or not they want to be involved […]
- Doc Soup: Subject as Collaborator in “The Betrayal”
What if Robert Flaherty had given the Inuit named Allakariallak a credit as co-director of Nanook of the North? Or if Davis Guggenheim shared the bill with Al Gore on An Inconvenient Truth? Would those films be regarded in a different light? We know that the collaboration between documentary filmmakers and their subjects is what […]
- Doc Soup: The Art of Public Service Announcements
There’s a genre of non-fiction filmmaking (if you can call it that) which has a greater impact on the national psyche than any other in the doc world. I’m talking PSAs: public service announcements. OK, they’re not really docs, but they come close. I got to thinking about them recently, partly because of the most […]
- Doc Soup: Oral History in “Life. Support. Music.”
Wow. Life. Support. Music. is quite a documentary. I think it’s hard not to be moved by this stirring story of a totally decent guy (and a great musician) who collapses onstage with a near-fatal brain hemorrhage. The man, Jason Crigler, and his family are sympathetic enough, and the narrative arc is intensely dramatic, but […]
- Doc Soup: Keeping Violence Off-Screen in “Beyond Hatred”
Truth in absence. That’s what I was thinking about while watching Beyond Hatred, POV’s stirring doc about the murder of a gay man by skinheads in France, which airs this week (check your local listings). There’s a very deliberate way this sad story is told. The fact that it’s in French, with subtitles, enhances the […]
- Doc Soup: Thinking About the Name Game and Documentaries
What’s in a name? I find myself approaching the new POV season the same way I used to love cracking the college course catalog, eating up the clever names teachers would give their courses, such as my comp-lit favorite, “Uncanny Tales.” What sounds good? Life. Support. Music., Hold me Tight, Let Me Go and Bronx […]
- Doc Soup: Fundraising Woes
Oh, the woe of the documentary filmmaker. Nothing strikes a filmmaker to the core more than that singularly sad, stress-inducing word: funding. My POV minders recently directed me to filmmaker Patrick O’Brien, who has sought out a creative way to get financing. O’Brien has joined forces with Skinny Corp, a progressive, community-based company that backs […]
- Doc Soup: The Last Word on “Dear Zachary”
I’ve always been a little bothered by what I perceive as the different standards with which film critics (and audiences) approach docs, basically giving greater leniency toward a film because of its noble subject matter. That’s partly why I’ve been talking about Dear Zachary here at Doc Soup. Well, I think it’s time to put […]
- Doc Soup: A Review of “Dear Zachary”
Last October, I wrote a post about the documentary Dear Zachary because I was so impressed by the trailer and the intensely (and perhaps suspiciously) hyperbolic raves it was getting from critics. That entry garnered quite a bit of traffic here on this blog; and I was intrigued by the slew of negative comments that […]
- Doc Soup: Best Documentary Characters of All Time
As promised, it’s time for my “Best Documentary Characters of All Time” list. You may be wondering: How does one go about compiling a list of best characters from nonfiction films? These “characters” aren’t the products of imagination and craft, after all; they are real people. But, wait, don’t we have the expression, “He/she is […]
- Doc Soup: Revisiting the New York City of “Style Wars”
Last week, as promised in a previous post, I finally sat down and watched the 1982 doc Style Wars, directed by Tony Silver and Henry Chalfant. I was really impressed by the film, and two days later, I was pleased to see the New York Times film critic A.O. Scott giving it a rave review […]
- Doc Soup: Is “Tyson” Still a Lean, Mean, Fighting Machine?
The role of art, film, and journalism — in short, the documentary — is to help the viewer better appreciate the world around him or her, right? Well, putting this very fundamental notion to the test is the doc Tyson, which hit theaters this weekend. It’s an unapologetically positive presentation of boxer Mike Tyson’s life […]
- Doc Soup: Coincidence or Codes in Nature Docs?
First, there was March of the Penguins, that outrageously successful 2005 nature doc about the life and times of penguins. Because the film’s only stars are penguins, it occurred to me that only human being who shares the, er, bill with them is the film’s narrator, Morgan Freeman. And then that was that. And then […]
- Doc Soup: Is “Bruno” a Documentary?
When is a doc a doc, and when is it not? If a film portrays real people in real situations without a script, then it’s a doc, right? But what if the film is about a fictional character interacting with real people in a real situation? These questions have been knocked around for a while […]