The last few weeks, I’ve been watching a lot of documentaries that I recorded off TCM.
Most of the selections have been docs one could consider classic or “essential”, and the thing that’s been cool about seeing selections like CANDIDATE, THE TIMES OF HARVEY MILK, ROGER & ME, and THE ENDLESS SUMMER is seeing the way the format has changed…and other ways that it hasn’t.
ENDLESS SUMMER, for instance now feels like something you’d see in The Smithsonian…or an exhibit at EPCOT Center. The visuals are still lush, the editing still lovely. However, there’s a style of narration employed that feels like something in-between a game show announcer’s and an infomercial narrator. It makes it a little tough to stay with the film since it feels a little ridiculous now…but still, the visuals pull us through and make it all seem so gloriously nostalgic.
I can’t help but wonder how this would play as a double feature with RIDING GIANTS.
Meanwhile, over with all things Michael Moore, ROGER & ME feels every bit as fresh right now as it did when it arrived 30 years ago. Perhaps, for better or for worse, that’s because Moore has had a monumental influence on the state of current nonfiction films. So the style of this movie – its cheek, its drift that brings Moore into frame sporadically, its unabashed POV – is a style that is still very much in-fashion. Actually, the style might even be more in-fashion since Moore’s BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE arrived 15 years ago.
It’s interesting to see though, the way style weaves its way into documentary. After all, these films are supposed to be very much like books, right? Documents (right there in the name). And yet, even where books are concerned, there are volumes that stand the test of time, and ones that begin to feel like a product of their age. Seldom does this hang on what they are about so much it depends on how they are about it.
Interesting to see the way that factors into films too.
Here’s the week at hand…
ELLE – No. Just no.
Streaming/Blu-Rays/DVD’s I’ve Never Seen
JULIA – Is there an Oscar that gets handed out for Best Supporting Hat?
…AND JUSTICE FOR ALL – You guys, Jeffrey Tambor in this movie…
THE ENDLESS SUMMER – When I watch this again, it will be on mute.
ROGER & ME – It’s been thirty years. The people in this movie haven’t caught a single break. Should we be surprised that America is where it is?
MEDIUM COOL – Glorious in its structure, and freakishly poignant in its message for a film that’s nearly fifty years old.
Streaming/Blu-Rays/DVD’s I’ve Seen Before
BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE – You know those bad movies that you dig despite yourself? This is one of mine.
SHINE A LIGHT – Before he calls it a day, we need Scorsese to make more concert films.
LA DOLCE VITA – Got the Criterion blu-ray for Christmas. I now want to hop a flight back to Rome.
Boxscore for The Year
18 First-Timers, 12 Re-Watched
30 Movies in Total
How’s about you – seen anything good?