On DVD: Lovelace

Ordinary vs. extraordinary. Linda Boreman was the former, but she found herself in the midst of a situation that was very much the latter. Lovelace is both the name Boreman would carry throughout her adult life and the title of the, unfortunately, very ordinary cinematic chronicle of her bizarre career and horrific marriage. While it’s anchored by some fine performances, Lovelace is let down by a screenplay that feels incredibly unmotivated.

Blackfish does everything a good documentary should. It’s enlightening and thorough. It engages your emotions. And it follows the most important rule of journalism—show, don’t tell. Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite tells a tale that’s damning and infuriating by presenting horrifying footage of marine park employees mistreating captive killer whales and the whales’ acting out violently against the parks’ employees. It’s a polished film filled with a quiet rage that stems from its willingness to let the facts do the talking.

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There’s courage, and then there’s what the men and women at the center of Call Me Kuchu display.

This exceptional documentary, from directors Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worrall, chronicles the fight for LGBT rights in Uganda where homosexuality is illegal and almost became a capital offense. For these individuals, among them Uganda’s first openly gay man David Kato, leaving the country to escape persecution isn’t an option. If they leave, who will remain to protect those still in the closet or future generations who will try to live as out men and women among violent zealots? It’s a rough (but important and rewarding) film to watch. 

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Best Documentary Oscar Predictions: Digging Deep

Another year, another problem with the documentary branch of the Academy.

The Wrap’s Steve Pond reported a few weeks ago that the branch’s members have become overwhelmed with screeners. More than 150 documentaries are eligible for the 2014 Oscar according to the new rules that went into effect last year, which state that a film must screen in both Los Angeles and New York for at least one week each during the calendar year of 2013. The films must also be reviewed by a professional movie critic in either The New York Times or Los Angeles Times.

Most won’t start paying attention to the Best Documentary Feature race until early December, when the branch announces its 15 shortlisted titles, but today, I’m going to try to turn the conversation toward this massive list of 150.

Here’s a sampling of titles you might be surprised to find on the shortlist come December—titles you ought to seek out regardless of their success or lack thereof with Oscar.

Director Spotlight: Alex Gibney

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Directors like Woody Allen and Steven Soderbergh are rightfully praised for their seemingly innate ability to churn out films at such a rapid pace. But neither of these men have anything on documentarian Alex Gibney.

Some will chide the fact that Gibney seems to perpetually have a film in theaters. This year, he brought us We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks and the upcoming The Armstrong Lie.

Alex Gibney movies tend to be pretty traditional, talking-head documentaries. That’s no slight toward the director; he’s mastered the technique. He presents his information in a way that’s both clear and entertaining. Gibney’s documentaries aren’t puffed up or pretentious; they come and go in a way that makes them feel like a film version of the “For Dummies” book series. But the information usually sticks, and as such, they’re a great primer for those viewers looking for an entry point into the form.

Read more about Alex Gibney movies.

Can you connect past and future East of Eden actors, James Dean and Jennifer Lawrence, through their costars? You only get one hint—at the chain’s exact midpoint (two of the stars are from JFK).

See the answer here!

When the most calculating, clinical director of the last decade meets our great humanist actor, movie magic happens.

Read the Captain Phillips movie review here.

Oscar Predictions: The Technical Categories

Oscar talk always get serious for me when I start pondering the more technical categories. I’ve been weighing Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress possibilities for weeks now, but spending time to dig into Best Costume Design is an October task—no earlier—on my calendar.

And even in October, it’s impossible to do anything more than speculate about this stuff. Some of the movies have been seen; some are still mysteries. For now, I’m taking a very broad look at all the tech categories, trying to identify major themes we might be discussing this season. Five questions, five hopefully well-reasoned answers. 

Here are my 2014 Oscar predictions for the technical categories.

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"Parks and Rec" would be a great old school Nintendo game, especially if it had this soundtrack.

(Reblogged from buzzfeed)