‘News from Home’ Review: Finding Solace in the Alienation from Your So-Called Home

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Chantal Akerman was a filmmaker who didn’t simply want to be seen as another “great woman filmmaker.” Yet to talk about the sort of things that she had pushed for when in control of the medium is a whole other topic entirely. In her best known film, Jeanne Dielman, she tells a story of a housewife doing her chores over the course of three days over a period of a little over three hours – how exactly must one follow up such a feat? There we have News from Home a significantly shorter film, but also one that carries a unique sort of beauty to it too. While it may not have a story in the traditional sense of the word, News from Home still remains so stunning on the ground that it remains ever so personal for the Belgian filmmaker, with so little being said so explicitly.

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Another Side to a Familiar Coin in Werner Herzog and André Singer’s ‘Meeting Gorbachev’: Tribeca Review

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For director Werner Herzog, it’s easy to see how a story like this would be incredibly personal for him. But one can only set their expectations high enough when talking about a film director like Werner Herzog because he has always remained one of the most fascinating people of his own kind, both in general and when discussing his work as a filmmaker. It’s hard enough to point out what makes his style so distinctive but he has also maintained such a distinguishable personality over the years and seeing him take on the role of a documentarian would also prove a treat when you’re being subjected to listening to him speak. When talking with someone like Mikhail Gorbachev, Werner Herzog already seems like the perfect person to discuss how the career of one man whose influence went far beyond the Soviet Union, especially as its final leader. But if anything else makes Meeting Gorbachev feel all the more meaningful, all that one would really need is the sort of message that Herzog would want to share in the current political climate – because there’s a whole lot that we could learn from the way Gorbachev speaks about how his political career has impacted his personal life too.

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Faces Places Review: The Wonders of Cherishing Memories of the Ordinary

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You’d be hard pressed to find another documentary filmmaker much like Agnès Varda out there today. But at 90 years old, she still manages to remain every bit as unstoppable as ever, now with Faces Places – her first film to be nominated for the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. Collaborating with mural artist JR, Varda’s Faces Places is a film that is built upon seeing the beauty in the small facets of ordinary life, showing itself to be starting out from a friendship that takes the two of them moving from one place to another, seeing new faces along the way, and even musing about what to do with their life at the very moment. In watching a film like Faces Places you see that all of this is happening right in front of your eyes, as if you are together with Varda and JR – and within that very moment, it just feels so invigorating. But in looking back at Varda’s own life achievements in Faces Places as someone who’s far beyond seventy years younger than she is, I sit here wondering what I have left with my own life the way it is, remaining an introvert who plans without executing – perhaps this film may have provided a wake-up call I may have needed for so long already.

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Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Review: You’ll Feel Welcomed by Fred Rogers

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I never watched Mister Rogers growing up. Yet as I sat there, watching Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, I still felt that he was right there next to me, guiding me through all the roughest points of my life, like I was a child once again. It’s one thing to watch Mr. Rogers growing up, but also another to acknowledge everything that he stood for, and brought out in just about any person – but sitting there, I thought to myself about how someone has helped me in even the slightest ways through all my life. It felt like remembering a piece of the puzzle thought to have been missing from me for so long, and even in these years long past the life of Fred Rogers, it was in what he wanted out of children that touched many in the ways that many other children’s entertainers would do so, because it didn’t need to be an elaborate puppet or creature in order to relate with so many audiences the way that Fred Rogers did. It was just simply Fred Rogers being Fred Rogers, and he showed audiences that it may have been everything that one needed. Because he was always there to listen, just as we were there for him.

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Supersonic – Review

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I wasn’t particularly grabbed to check out this documentary because I’ve never been a fan of Oasis (I had always preferred their “rival” Britpop group Blur). I don’t like their music, nor the offstage personalities of Liam and Noel Gallagher so naturally I wouldn’t be the right audience for Supersonic. Nevertheless the height of their own popularity had otherwise left a great influence on many bands that had followed afterwards so I was hoping to have gotten a taste about what the Gallagher brothers themselves feel about what they had done for music from their years together before their well-known feud. If I really had much to say, I didn’t pick up anything else from this – my views about the Gallagher brothers only had ever remained the same.

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Shut Up and Play the Hits – Review

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A good deciding factor in what you will end up thinking of Shut Up and Play the Hits is your own opinion of LCD Soundsystem. With the release of american dream last month (a great album if you were to ask me), I figured that I would go ahead and watch them deliver a final blow for many fans to see them for the last time in 2011. The whole time I watched Shut Up and Play the Hits, to say the least, I would have wanted to be there to see an incredible show being put up – just as I can only imagine an LCD Soundsystem concert would be like. But knowing they were bound to reunite, it would still be interesting enough to see what they had done for fans one last time. To say the least, it really seemed just like what any final show should have been like, a truly great live performance.

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No Direction Home – Review

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It shouldn’t be any secret that Bob Dylan is one of my all-time favourite musicians. Inevitably I’ve already watched D. A. Pennebaker’s Dont Look Back years ago and only found myself appreciating his music all the more, but he wasn’t merely just a fantastic singer and songwriter. If anything, No Direction Home only reaffirms the light in which I’ve always seen Bob Dylan as over the years of great music that he has produced, he was a poet. And yet from all the highs and lows his career has faced, there was always something more about Dylan himself that makes him a fascinating enough case study, because like all the best artists he refuses to stop: always taking a new direction just as the film’s title would say, taking itself from a lyric from one of Dylan’s very best songs: “How does it feel, to be on your own, with no direction home? A complete unknown, like a rolling stone.” And maybe it’s that feeling of freedom that only granted Bob Dylan to express himself so powerfully without losing that touch of grace in his music.

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Stop Making Sense – Review

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“Home is where I want to be / But I guess I’m already there” I thought as my favourite Talking Heads song was playing in Stop Making Sense. I first watched Stop Making Sense without any knowledge of Talking Heads despite having sporadically heard their songs on the radio, but after watching the film, they became one of my all-time favourite bands in a flash. Nevertheless as I watched Stop Making Sense I was in awe of its production: I could never have imagined any other concert film out there much like it. Among many things that I’m fairly certain of, Stop Making Sense is truly a flawless production on all grounds but it seems that there is also a greater force of life coming out of the screen from watching this. This was one of those rare instances I immediately watch a film once again after my first viewing many years ago, because this sort of music could never possibly make me feel more alive.

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The Thin Blue Line – Review

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One among many things that can ever be expressed about Errol Morris’s The Thin Blue Line is that as both a testament to the screen and against the society it is depicting, it has still remained one of the most important films ever made. This documentary film plays private detective with a case that has fascinated director Errol Morris for the longest while, so within the process of making the film, The Thin Blue Line soon becomes a documentary more than just one about finding out who was truly the perpetrator – but it feels more like a legal testament that only has grown more important as time had gone by. For many reasons to come along, The Thin Blue Line is a gripping, albeit essential watch.

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Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party – Review

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Convicted felon Dinesh D’Souza invades the screen a third time now at an election year after he tried jumping against a second term for Barack Obama. While I don’t intend to change anyone’s political viewpoints whether you tend to be more left-leaning or more right-leaning, there’s a degree to which one side can make propaganda that can only sink down to an unbelievable degree of lunacy. It was something that I already managed to pick up from another Dinesh D’Souza piece I’ve watched, America: Imagine the World Without Her and it certainly seems that nothing has changed over these years and Dinesh D’Souza only remains a pseudo-intellectual nutcase for conservative ideals at the wrong times.

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