Reviews

Top 10 Documentaries of 2013

Tim's Vermeer

Things have been quiet around these parts as of late. I haven’t had much time (or inspiration, to be honest) to do much posting lately but I figured I’d join in with rest of the internet and share my ‘best docs of 2013′ list.

Feel free to agree/disagree in the comments!

10. Northern Light (Dir. Nick Bentgen)

9. At Berkeley (Dir. Frederick Wiseman)

8. Bending Steel (Dir. Dave Carroll)

7. The Crash Reel (Dir. Lucy Walker)

6. The Last Station (Dir. Cristian Soto & Catalina Vergara)

5. 12 O’Clock Boys (Dir. Lotfy Nathan)

4. Maidentrip (Dir. Jillian Schlesinger)

3. Jodorowsky’s Dune (Dir. Frank Pavich)

2. The Expedition to the End of the World (Dir. Daniel Dencik)

1. Tim’s Vermeer (Dir. Teller)

Honourable Mentions: 15 Reasons to Live, Beyond the Edge, The Unknown Known, Blackfish, Dragon Girls, NCR: Not Criminally Responsible

Kickstarter Campaign: ‘Jesse Heiman: World’s Greatest Extra’

Most people might recognize Jesse Heiman from Go Daddy’s controversial Super Bowl commercial in which he tongue kissed a model. For me, he’s the guy that popped up in the background of practically every movie made in the last 10 years, providing a ‘spot THAT guy’ mini-game while simultaneously breaking down my suspension of disbelief by inadvertently connecting otherwise disparate movie universes that should remain separate. Try watching Old School and The Social Network back to back and watch for Heiman looming around in the background. Suddenly I find myself picturing Vince Vaughan throwing the Final-Clubs parties and Will Ferrel streaking through Harvard’s campus grounds.

Old School

Social Network

Needless to say, Jesse’s status as a ‘cult extra’ and his sudden rise in popularity thanks to Go Daddy has put him in an interesting position in his career. Documentary filmmaker Nick Weis has recognized this new trajectory and has been filming Heiman for the upcoming feature documentary Jesse Heiman: World’s Greatest Extra.

Jesse Heiman, an unlikely star, has since worked steadily, on hundreds of films and television series alongside some of the most prominent names in the business. Directors from Spielberg to Fincher have placed him in the center of the frame for their highest profile projects – albeit as a wholly anonymous presence. From Old School to The Social Network, Catch Me If You Can and Spiderman — Jesse has offered up the face dreammakers sought: homely, earnest, innocent, and brave. Over time, Jesse’s pure determination has made him an unlikely, irresistible worldwide face.

Weis and his crew are looking to raise $65,000 for the film and they have about 16 days to go. Check out the trailer above and then head over to their Kickstarter page and help these guys and girls tell Jesse’s story.

‘Blood Brother’ Director Launches Kickstarter For Follow-Up Film ‘Gennadiy’

Steve Hoover, director of the Sundance favourite Blood Brother has just kicked off a Kickstarter for his follow up documentary titled Gennadiy. Unfortunately I’ve yet to see Blood Brother but the teaser for this follow up looks to be a beautifully crafted, character driven story that poses some complex questions.

Gennadiy works through the political system as an activist, and he runs an orphanage, but the system doesn’t work fast enough for him—or for the thousands of street kids who live in his city of Mariupal, Ukraine, most of whom are addicted to a lethal cocktail of injected cold medicine and alcohol. So at night, he goes on raids for the lost children in the ruins of this empire.

The plan is to use the money raised from the Kickstarter to pay for travel arrangements for the crew and additionally, the cost of hiring Trent Reznor/Nine Inch Nails collaborator Atticus Ross (The Social Network, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) to compose the score. Head over to the Kickstarter page to learn more about Gennadiy.

‘Oxyana’ Official Trailer

Some of you have surely seen Sean Dunne’s work. I’ve posted about many of his documentary shorts here at The Documentary Blog so be sure to make use of the search bar if you’re not already familiar. Recently he started up a Kickstarter campaign for his feature film debut titled ‘Oxyana’, and it turns out it was a success. The film is completed, has played Tribeca, and is now available for digital download via Vimeo and DVD/Blu Ray. An official trailer has popped up as well and I think the film looks amazing. Here’s the synopsis:

Tucked in the Appalachian mountains of Southern West Virginia, Oceana, is a small, once thriving coal-mining town that has fallen victim to the fast spreading scourge of prescription painkiller Oxycontin. As the coal industry slowly declined and times got tough, a black market for the drug sprung up and along with it a rash of prostitution, theft and murder. Soon its own residents had nicknamed the town Oxyana and it began to live up to its reputation as abuse, addiction and overdoses became commonplace. Oxyana is a harrowing front line account of a community in the grips of an epidemic, told through the voices of the addicts, the dealers and all those affected. It is a haunting glimpse into an American nightmare unfolding before our eyes, a cautionary tale told with raw and unflinching honesty.

Be sure to check out the trailer above and then head over to Vimeo and buy/rent/download ‘Oxyana’. It’s also available on DVD and Blu Ray here.

Documentary Short: Luke Meyer’s ‘Unlocking the Truth’

Filmed for The Avante Guard Diaries, Darkon co-director Luke Meyer’s Unlocking the Truth looks at twelve year old Malcolm Brickhouse and eleven year old Jarad Dawkins’ heavy metal band of the same name. When they’re not planning make believe world tours in their basement, they’re performing around the streets of New York City and pontificating on the creative and emotional release that heavy metal has afforded them.

These kids seem to be getting a lot of attention lately, including an appearance on America’s Got Talent. Meyer’s short doc is a succinct and inspirational look at one of the heaviest preteen metal bands in the world.

‘Evocateur: The Morton Downey, Jr. Movie’ Redband Trailer

Yes!! Very excited for this one:

Before entire networks were built on populist personalities; before reality morphed into a TV genre; the masses fixated on a single, sociopathic star: controversial talk-show host Morton Downey, Jr.

In the late ’80s, Downey tore apart the traditional talk format by turning debate of current issues into a gladiator pit. His blow-smoke-in-your-face style drew a rabid cult following, but also the title “Father of Trash Television.” Was his show a platform for the working man or an incubator for Snooki and The Situation? Ironbound Films’ ÉVOCATEUR: THE MORTON DOWNEY JR. MOVIE dissects the mind and motivation of television’s most notorious agitator.

‘Evocateur: The Morton Downey, Jr. Movie’ hits theatres and On Demand June 7th from Magnolia Pictures. As a bonus, here’s a favourite Morton Downey Jr. clip of mine featuring Lloyd Kaufman from Troma!