Tag Archives: documentary

Paris Tower 13 by Thomas Lallier (2016)

Documentary on cultural event of the year in Paris in 2013.

A gallery owner invites over 100 street artists to convert an abandoned block of flats set for destruction into an art gallery that will only be open to the public for one month.

The author became one of the artists involved in the project being the filmmaker among them.

A beautiful story – very vivid imagery and a statement that art is an important element of our lives.


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Filed under film reviews, Warsaw Film Festival 2016

Mistaken for Strangers (2013) by Tom Berninger #WFF2013

The author and main protagonist of the film is Tom Berninger, who happens to be the brother of lead vocal in The National – an American indie rock band.
What sets off as an ordinary documentary, where a camera follows a band on a tour, soon it becomes more and more obvious that nothing is ordinary, or regular, or normal in this particular case.
The film could be perceived as a mockery, as a grotesque approach and recipe how a documentary should not be made.
The relationship between two brothers is presented as pretty stressful and glitter free.
Perhaps this was intended, but it didn’t seem to be. The whole plot looks like a series of unfortunate disasters. All in all, the film brings loud laughters to the audience – hard to say if it’s caused by the comic intent or the comic outcome, but it is great fun to watch.

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Filed under Warsaw Film Festival 2013

Global Home by Eva Stotz (2012) #rdff

I love a good documentary, I love travelling and I love German cinema. I used to Couchsurf and I had an opportunity of watching this film with a visiting Couchsurfer sitting next to me. Perfect conditions for a documentary about the phenomenon of Couchsurfing one would say.

Unfortunately for the film makers of Global Home, both myself and my friend have a sense for film. I write and critique, my friend composes music and soundtrack.

Usually the above paragraph would never have made it to the review. But this seems necessary this time given we did not manage to watch this film. My friend fell asleep 15 minutes into it, whereas I gave it a full 40 minutes and gave up.

I always give a film 20 minutes and then decide if I will watch it in full or leave the cinema/switch it off. I was full of hopes for this one and gave it 40 minutes. As an exception. Because of the topic, because I love documentaries, because I love German cinema.

The good sides of this film are: topic (it’s about Couchsurfing!), cinematography (nice colouring, lighting).

The rest is hard to describe.

The unbearable voiceover motioned in the style of a 3-year old recounting a holiday to their 90-year old grandma. Surely this is not a film intended for Couchsurfers. Although the idea sounds entertaining at first, although the characters selected for interviews are great personalities – this film is unwatchable and insanely boring. It is  long paced, has no atmosphere I expected it to have and although it is against my general rule to overly criticise a piece of work such as this, which required effort, funding and certainly a lot of planning, I cannot begin to describe how much this one is a failure on all fronts. Stay away! Save your time, respect yourselves.

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Filed under Raindance 2012

Ballroom Dancer by Christian Bonke, Andreas Koefoed (2011) #rdff

How often does a documentary watch like a love story? Not that often in my experience.

This is a love story.

Camera follows Slavik – a Russian ballroom dancer, who works on returning back to fame, back to the good old days when he was the World Champion. He starts anew with new young partner and competes against his old flame, who kept the title – winning with her new partner.

This film is so amazingly photographed and scored, that only for those two elements it is worth a watch. And on top of that you have a great true story of one man fighting for his career, his love, his life. Amazing film.

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Filed under film reviews, Raindance 2012

The Lottery of Birth by Raoul Martinez, Joshua van Praag (2012) #rdff

Another document at this year’s Raindance.

Touching upon the subjects of choice in our everyday lives. Illustrated on the striking example of professor Milgram’s experiments at Yale university in 1960’s, where consistently 65% of participants of diverse backgrounds do not hesitate to blindly follow the rules deadly injuring other participants of the experiment (unaware that the subjects of the experiment are hired actors).

The main message of this picture filled with talking heads – amongst whom are experts in diverse fields – economy, sociology, history, seems to be – act, don’t be the idle watcher. Quite a challenge in the contemporary world when we have gradually become indifferent to social inequalities and injustice in general.

Too drastic at times – I understand this is for audiences who have no idea Holocaust ever happened but I would be satisfied with numbers/statistics rather than gory images from concentration camps, of piles of dead bodies and starving children.

Although the purpose of this film is righteous – it seemed a bit too blunt and too claustrophobic.

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Filed under Raindance 2012

Sunset Strip by Hans Fjellestad (2012) #rdff

Sunset Boulevard is probably one of the most famous street names in Los Angeles. It is 1.5 mile long and the authors of this heartful documentary have put a visible effort into recreating its  history throughout the 20th century.

The Sunset Strip is presented gradually through archival material of non-existent today clubs, joints and meeting points. We witness personae such as Keanu Reeves, Johnny Depp, Sharon Stone, Sophia Coppola, the Osbourne family. They are usually talked about in documentaries, whereas here they are the narrators sharing their side of the story experienced in this strip of land.

Quite successfully the viewers get delivered a crafty cut of interviews, of archival footage all summed up by a juicy animation.

A great journey enabling those not lucky enough to be located in LA, California, to appreciate and visit the famous places.

Probably one of the strongest points of this film is that no-one is put in the position of an omniscient narrator, but rather all the participants learn about the history of the boulevard from each other – in arranged conversations.

Good one! Thanks Raindance!

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Filed under Raindance 2012

Senna by Asif Kapadia

Sundance 2011 winner, documentary on the career of Brazilian Formula 1 driver Ayrton Senna.

Given I am not an F1 fan or connoisseur, part of the film reminded a video game to me.

Also, it is one of those documentaries where you are aware of the manipulation of building the tension. Obviously everybody knows what is the end of the story, and to that climax, we are led at the astronomical speed of Formula 1.

Definitely worth a watch if only to admire and appreciate the amount of footage that the film authors had to go through to cut a convincing story.

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Filed under 2011 cinema releases, film reviews