Tag: Documentaries

Spike Lee and the ‘Bipolar Parlance of Life’ in New Orleans

Spike Lee’s new documentary, If God is Willing and da Creek Don’t Rise, is airing on HBO this week. It’s a follow-up to his award-winning 2006 Katrina documentary, “When the Levees Broke,” and Salon’s Billy Sothern, a NOLA resident, says it nails the voice of the city. Money quote:

The people telling the story in this documentary are many of the same people whose names appear in the paper. Some are policy wonks; others, activists or artists; but nearly all are fervent New Orleanians. Some of them speak in a strongly held hyperbole that hints at madness or mania, both about the good and the bad here. There are angry words, never precisely defined, about “the powers that be” and their efforts at “ethnic cleansing” on the one hand, and on the other, references to the Saints’ Super Bowl win that suggest a local belief that the victory was an act of God, as if New Orleans, like the long-suffering Job, had been rewarded for its faith. This is the bipolar parlance of life here, stemming from the widely held belief that the city is vastly better than, worse than, and not really a part of the rest of the country.

(Via The Atlantic)

Travel Movie Watch: ‘180 Degrees South’

180 South looks like a great new outdoorsy travel documentary. In it, Jeff Johnson retraces a 1968 road trip from Ventura, California, to southern Patagonia undertaken by Yvon Chouinard and a few others. The film features surfing and climbing, and, it seems, a healthy dose of philosophizing about travel and life.

It’s touring the country now—dates and locations are listed here—and it comes out on DVD in June. Here’s the trailer:

Interview With Bela Fleck: A Banjo Virtuoso in Africa

Interview With Bela Fleck: A Banjo Virtuoso in Africa Photo courtesy of Bela Fleck

David Frey asks the acclaimed musician about a new documentary and album

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Travel Movie Watch: ‘Pelada’

When I interviewed Gwendolyn Oxenham and Ryan White in 2007 they were packing for Trinidad, the first stop in a journey to play pick-up soccer around the world. They, along with Rebekah Fergusson and Luke Boughen, planned to chronicle their experiences in a documentary.

More than two years later, a rough cut of their film is finished. Soon they’ll be pitching “Pelada” to film festivals. In the meantime, here’s the trailer: 


Travel Movie Watch: ‘Paper Heart’

Travel Movie Watch: ‘Paper Heart’ Publicity still via IGN
Publicity still via IGN

The genre-bending new romance/comedy/documentary stars comedian Charlyne Yi as she travels North America interviewing strangers in an effort to understand what love’s all about. An assortment of celebrity buddies pop up as she goes—Yi is a peripheral member of the Judd Apatow crew—and, eventually, she runs across Michael Cera, of “Juno” and “Superbad” fame. The “doc” takes a new direction as the two strike up a relationship and the crew struggles to capture it all on film—but, as CBC’s Lee Ferguson points out, it’s not clear how much of the footage is genuine, and how much staged.

Genius meta-movie or hipsters gone too far? I’ll look forward to finding out, hopefully in between some armchair travel goodness. Here’s the trailer:

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‘The Cove’ Takes Aim at Dolphin Encounters

‘The Cove’ Takes Aim at Dolphin Encounters Photo by Just Taken Pics via Flickr (Creative Commons)

A new documentary hopes to dampen the demand for “dolphin encounters,” the ever-popular swim-with-dolphins attractions found worldwide. “The Cove,” which won the Audience Award at Sundance before opening in theaters this past weekend, examines the killing and capture of dolphins in coastal Japan—and its star, Ric O’Barry, says explicitly that one of the filmmakers’ goals is to make tourists “think twice before buying a ticket.”

Picturing a staid moralizing tale? Think again. The movie is being billed as part “Flipper” and part “Bourne Identity”—here’s the surprisingly dramatic trailer:

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Travel Movie Watch: ‘Soul Power’

Most folks have heard of the Rumble in the Jungle, Muhammad Ali and George Foreman’s 1974 showdown in Kinshasa, but the accompanying concert—in which James Brown was one of several starring acts—is less well remembered. Now, though, Brown’s time in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) is the focus of a new documentary, “Soul Power.”

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Brook Silva-Braga on ‘One Day in Africa’

Over at Brave New Traveler, Ian MacKenzie interviews the creator of the backpacker documentary A Map for Saturday about his latest project and the challenges of telling a story about Africa. Brook Silva-Braga had the idea for his new documentary, One Day in Africa when he was offered the chance to cross the continent from north to south. “The trip offered a great chance to visit a large part of the continent but the disadvantage of moving through each place pretty quickly,” he said. “So the solution I came up with was to profile people throughout Africa but only for a single day.” In choosing his six subjects, Silva-Braga said he “wanted to avoid the easy traps of filling stereotypical boxes like ‘the guy with AIDS’ and ‘the woman in a refugee camp.’ Instead I was looking for people who could articulate what was important to them and give a sense of what life in their community is like.”

“One Day in Africa” will be making the rounds on the spring festival circuit; it premieres at the Cleveland Film Festival next week. Check out the wanderlust-inducing trailer:

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Humor in America: You Know You Live In ...

Humor in America: You Know You Live In ... Photo by cindy47452 via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by cindy47452 via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Thanks to the must-see series and must-read companion book, Make ‘Em Laugh: The Funny Business of America, I’ve got 50 states’ worth of ha-ha on the brain. The series’ creators offer up six genres of American comedy; some are riffs on humor birthed in lands far far away, and others are distinctly American. Until you can get home to watch them (‘cause we all know you’re reading this on company time), here’s a good guffaw or five (which are, most definitely, not part of the series). They’re “You Know You Live In ...” videos, a brand of humor that, I’m pretty sure, is all-American. I mean, seriously, can you imagine the French or the Germans laughing at themselves in such a good-natured and charming manner. (Kidding. Kidding. Ish.) Prepare to be entertained.

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Gwendolyn Oxenham and Ryan White: ‘The Soccer Project’

Gwendolyn Oxenham and Ryan White: ‘The Soccer Project’ Photos courtesy of The Soccer Project.

The pair is part of a team playing pick-up soccer around the world. They plan to turn their experiences into a documentary. Michael Yessis talks to them about the power of the game to unite and taking to the pitch in Brazil with real bulls.

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Chris Doyle: The Art of Jumping on Beds and the ‘50,000 Beds’ Project

chris doyle Photo of Chris Doyle, courtesy of the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum.

Forty-five artists shot videos and films in hotel rooms. Michael Yessis asks the man behind the effort what intrigues him about hotel rooms, as well as the seductiveness of jumping on hotel room beds.

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