13 posts categorized "Docudrama"

July 05, 2012


Imposter-PosterThat least mined of all film genres — the docudrama — finds full-throated expression in the service of a true story that is, as the saying goes, stranger than fiction. Director Bart Layton puts to use the skills he polished while helming such television programs as "Locked Up Abroad." This time the subject is Frederic Bourdin, a 23-year-old European con artist who convinces Spanish authorities that he is Nicholas Barclay, a San Antonio boy who went missing over three years earlier — when Nicholas was 13. In service to the telling of one of the most convoluted stories you could imagine, is Bourdin’s candid straight-to-camera recalling of every twist in a list of unlikely decisions and events that delivered him into the arms of a "loving" family with nearly as many secrets as him.

Much of the joy of watching “The Imposter” derives from the way bits and pieces of information gradually gel into a tangible form. Interviews with Barclay’s family members, FBI officials, and a local private detective, piece together the kind of policier puzzle that most pro screenwriters would marvel at. Layton’s elegant sense of restraint and purposeful organization of a dense exposition provides a seamless storyline that gains suspense as it goes along. The less an audience knows going in, the more rewarded they will be by the time the closing credits roll. The film’s tagline, “There are two sides to every lie” couldn’t suit this material any better.

Rated R. 95 mins. (A-) (Four Stars - out of five/no halves)

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March 03, 2012


Jiro-dreams-of-sushi-3As you might imagine from the documentary’s title, “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” is a character study/biography of a master sushi chef named Jiro. The 85-year-old Jiro Ono’s 10-seat restaurant — located in the Tokyo subway system—has received dining’s highest ranking of three Michelin stars. Reservations are booked a month in advance. A true master of his craft, Jiro has taught his two sons to follow in his footsteps. Jiro’s oldest son Yoshikazu, 50, works directly under his father, preparing the most amazing sushi in the world.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi | Reading is Delicious

Director David Gelb provides a crash-course in the stratified world of Tokyo fish markets from which Yoshikazu chooses the very best cuts of fish. The master chef lives by a simple set of rules that include things such as maintaining cleanliness and taking his job seriously. Here is a man attempting to live as modestly as possible in the service of the work he loves doing.

The Masters Review | How “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” Teaches us to be Great  Writers

There’s nothing flashy about David Gelb’s serviceable rendering of a man who has achieved an unrivaled mastery of a cuisine he helped invent. You too might come away from the movie craving Jiro Ono’s sushi, whether or not you like raw fish.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a Delectable Treat | WIRED

Rated PG. 81 mins.

4 Stars

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January 22, 2012


Declaration of warA new twist on the docudrama genre, “Declaration of War” is an affecting autobiographical story about a young French couple faced with caring for their 18-month son Adam after he’s diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Director/co-writer/actress Valerie Donzelli plays out her real-life personage as her pseudonymous character Juliette, a young Parisian hipster. Juliette meets her mate-to-be, with the likely name of Romeo, at a house party. Like Donzelli, co-writer Jeremie Elkaim plays his real-life role as Adam’s father and committed partner to Donzelli’s character.

Declaration of War: The music behind the movie | Sonic Smörgåsbord

An opening scene divulges Adam’s survival from the potentially life threatening disease so as not to hold the audience hostage with unnecessary suspense. This benevolent narrative movement allows the story to breathe with the kind of naturalism the filmmakers intend. Although the movie periodically stumbles during a few off-putting moments of commentary from indistinct narrators, the heartfelt chronicle percolates with a heightened sense of authenticity.

Declaration of War: Valérie Donzelli interview | Movie News | SBS Movies

Donzelli liberates the film’s potentially cloistering hospital atmosphere in which non-actors fulfill their roles. She does so with stylized elegiac sequences that communicate the couple’s romantic connection and practical methods for working through the terrible pressures that transform their daily lives. The filmmaker’s fluid camera work and brilliant use of music, adds a level of excitement to the drama without overpowering the film as you might experience in a typical Hollywood disease movie.

Declaration of War | Independent Ethos

There are no cheap flashes of sentimentality on display. The couple’s “declaration of war” against their son’s cancer comes with heavy personal costs that are transcended during the film’s joyful closing scene.

French Film Festival UK 2012 - HOME

Not Rated. 100 mins.

4 Stars

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.

Cole Smithey on Patreon

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