This is a 2013 documentary about thirteen well-known New York photographers, looking at their photos and how they go about getting them.
Some of the photographers are interviewed, and we follow some of them as they terrorise the streets of the city, quite literally in some cases. One dude by the name of Bruce Gilden basically jumps right in front of people, camera in right hand, a flash in his left hand and quickly takes a photo of them before they realise what is happening, then walks off. You can see him at work here. The other photographers are not as extreme, some of them are quite subtle yet get some fantastic shots. A few of them have been roughed up, which is not surprising at all. One guy spent time with young gang members getting shots of them playing around with guns and pointing them directly at the camera, risky stuff.
We also meet Ricky Powell, you will recognise his name from the lyrics of the Beastie Boys song “Car Thief”. He was their photographer for a while, and considered by the band to be the unofficial “fourth Beastie Boy”. He also worked with Run DMC.
The photography by all of them is fantastic, really makes me want to go out with my camera and take some snaps in the central city. I might just do that.
The documentary itself is very well made. The photographers themselves do all of the narration and tell their own stories.
An excellent watch.
Date watched: October 6th
Film count 2017: 113
I have seen this before but it is totally worth watching again, top stuff. Great story, amazing filmmaking and just great all around. By Alfonso Cuarón, the chap who made Gravity. Clive Owen (what happened tom him?) and the great Julianne Moore star, plus a bunch of other recognisable faces, including Michael Caine of course.
Date watched: 14th September
Film count 2017: 52
Italians really know how to make darn good films, and this one is no exception, especially as this is virtually free of dialogue.
It is split into four distinct parts. The first part follows an old goat herder who goes about his daily rituals but is very sick. With him is his trusty dog who causes a bit of mischief and provides some humour in the film. The second part follows a kid goat literally from birth, and again we are given a bit of comedic relief because kid goats are just so much fun to watch. The third part follows the final days of the life of a tree which is cut down by the village folk for use in some kind of religious festival (this was filmed in a very remote mountain village in Southern Italy). And the last part follows some villagers as they make charcoal, which is a very interesting thing to watch.
There is of course a lot of meaning behind these different parts which is all explained if you look it up, but it is not hard to figure it out yourself, and I guess each person has their own interpretation of it all.
The cinematography is superb and mostly involves fixed shots or slow moving pans. A scene involving the mischievous antics of the dog was done very well. It was just a series of right-to-left, then left-to-right pans, all done slowly and timed very well. I was also impressed by the dog’s acting, it did not seem as though it had been trained at all to do what it did.
Despite not having dialogue and being slow moving it was a mesmerising film and constantly thought-provoking, and just plain fun to watch. I will be watching this again some day.
Date watched: September 9th
Film count 2017: 102
This is a superbly made documentary about a musician I knew almost nothing about, which is the reason I decided to watch it.
Nina was a brilliant but troubled person, and she had a very difficult life at times. She was also bipolar, and had quite the temper. She once attempted to shoot a record producer because she thought he was taking her royalties, and in one scene in the film she stopped playing during a concert and shouted at a woman in the audience who was not sitting down.
She was however a brilliant musician. There was a story in the documentary about how Miles Davis was watching her play and could not understand how she was doing what she was doing, which if it stumped Miles Davis must have been something very special.
The film was very well told, and featured interviews with her ex-husband (he beat her a lot), and her daughter who also produced this documentary. There was plenty of archive footage, including some rather shocking footage of the unbelievable treatment that African Americans were subject to back in the 60’s, especially from the police. She was a staunch activist for many years.
A very worthwhile watch if you are a lover of music history.
Date watched: July 24th
Film count 2017: 82
I felt like watching a music documentary and came across this on Netflix.
It follows Glen Campbell and his family as they do a final tour in the U.S., and tells the story of his Alzheimer’s disease. There is some past history told throughout as well, and he was a much bigger star back in the day than I thought. It was interesting to know that he was a respected session musician, and that he filled in for Brian Wilson:
From December 1964 to early March 1965, Campbell was a touring member of The Beach Boys, filling in for Brian Wilson. He also played guitar on the band’s Pet Sounds (1966) album, among other recordings. On tour, he played bass guitar and sang falsetto harmonies. – Wikipedia
His Alzheimer’s got progressively worse throughout the documentary, but what was impressive was that he didn’t forget how to play guitar, which he was an ace at. He needed a teleprompter for the lyrics sometimes though. On tour with him were two of his sons and his daughter, all superb musicians too. I was impressed with the whole band, they were very professional and seemed to play flawlessly.
The documentary was very well told and filmed, no complaints at all.
This was released two years ago, so I checked up on him to see how he is now. He is now in a “memory care facility” and is in the late stages of the disease. He cannot communicate at all, but his daughter says he is happy.
Excellent stuff, even if it is hard to watch at times.
Date watched: July 16th
Film count 2017: 78
The next film I watched on the plane was this Ron Howard documentary about the touring that The Beatles did, which was a lot.
And Ronnie did a darn good job of it I must say. There was lots of footage of course, some of it I had never seen before, and plenty of interviews with Paul and Ringo, along with old interviews with George and John.
There was also plenty of back story about each member, as well as George Martin and Brian Epstein.
I knew The Beatles were big in their day, but I learned from this documentary that they were much more than big, they were jolly-well liked.
Date watched: March 8th
Film count 2017: 47
I watched this on my flight from Japan to New Zealand last week, somewhere over the Pacific.
And there is not much to be said about this really, it has all been said before, brillo stuff and that bear attack was brutal.
Leonardo and Tom were excellent in their roles, and the photography was most excellent too. Leonardo certainly earned the $20 big ones he was paid for this, some scenes looked pretty hard.
From Wikipedia: On his experience filming, DiCaprio stated: “I can name 30 or 40 sequences that were some of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do. Whether it’s going in and out of frozen rivers, or sleeping in animal carcasses, or what I ate on set. [I was] enduring freezing cold and possible hypothermia constantly.”
The entertainment system on the Qantas plane was pretty good, lots of films to choose from, and the headphones provided were very decent, so could hear most of the dialogue, unlike some flights in the past on other airlines.
Date watched: March 8th
Film count 2017: 46