Documentary

[7.5] Documentary filmmakers Albert and David Maysles (Gimme Shelter) bring us inside the isolated world of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ eccentric aunt and first cousin, ‘Big’ Edie and ‘Little’ Edie Beale. The women, 79 and 57 respectively, live in squalor at the title mansion, a dilapidated house full of garbage, cats, and raccoons. As former socialites and entertainers, they spend their days reminiscing about the past, …

[6.0] Disney Nature presents this kid-oriented documentary about the lifestyle of Adélie penguins in Antarctica. Ed Helms (The Office) narrates and provides what is essentially voiceover for our hero penguin, affectionately named Steve. Steve begins the movie on his way to the penguins’ mating grounds, where he’ll build a nest of stones and try to attract a mate. He hits it off with a lady …

[7.0] This documentary about a Milwaukee indie filmmaker trying to finish his ultra-low budget horror movie is equal parts sad and hilarious. The filmmakers, Chris Smith and Sarah Price, follow Mark Borchardt as he flyers the town for cast & crew, scouts locations, records sound effects, and tries to pry more money for the budget from the pocketbook of his aging uncle. His dad thinks …

[4.0] A maudlin pseudo-documentary about a socially awkward girl’s quest for true love. Um, gag? Charlyne Yi, adorable in her weird Knocked Up cameo, is tediously boring here. The concept for this movie is confounding — part of it is Yi interviewing people (badly) about love, and part of it is about her real-life relationship with actor Michael Cera. But some of their scenes are …

[6.5] Michael Moore’s latest isn’t as witty or well-crafted as his previous work, but it still provokes an interesting conversation about its subject matter, the dark side of capitalism. The most interesting (and horrifying) parts are a segment about blue chip companies taking out life insurance policies on their employees and naming themselves as the beneficiaries (ie, making money off their employees’ deaths), and the …

[6.5] This no-budget documentary is better experienced without knowing much about it. All I’ll say is that it’s about Facebook stalking. For its modest scale and home video production values, it’s a surprisingly engaging little mystery with a satisfying payoff. I was expecting it to be a faux-reality horror movie or thriller, but that’s not the case at all. It’s more of a quirky true-life …

[8.0] This documentary focuses on the negative impact of keeping Orca whales in captivity for amusement park entertainment. It specifically focuses on the story of a whale named Tilicum and how he came to be a breeder and performer at Sea World in Orlando, Florida. The primary interview subjects are former Sea World trainers, who talk about breaking up family units, withholding food from the …

[6.0] This documentary centers around the lasting influence of a week-long interview Francois Truffaut conducted with Alfred Hitchcock in 1962, and the book that encounter produced, 1966’s Cinema According to Hitchcock. Sprinkled throughout the run-time are snippets from interviews conducted with some of today’s top filmmakers about their affection for both the book and the work of Hitchcock, including Martin Scorsese, Wes Anderson, David Fincher, …

[7.0] How they shot Winged Migration is almost more fascinating than the film itself. The filmmakers rigged camera equipment to ultralight planes and imprinted with hatching birds of various species to get as close to their subjects as possible. The resulting cinematography is breathtaking, especially if you love birds. The film focuses solely on the migratory patterns of birds all around the world, so the …

[7.0] The Reluctant Dragon is an odd but interesting hybrid of anthology feature and behind-the-scenes documentary. It’s about a man whose wife convinces him to take a children’s storybook titled The Reluctant Dragon to Walt Disney so that he can make it into a new cartoon. Once the man, humorist Robert Benchley, arrives on the Disney studio lot, he continually evades his tour guide and …

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