2019 Film Reviews – 49: The Great Hack [dir. Karim Amer & Jehane Noujaim; 2019]

I realise that various news sources have already covered the information this documentary presents about the activities of Cambridge Analytica (and if you’re not aware of the organisation, I suggest you look it up with delay), but Amer and Noujaim’s documentary encapsulates and presents it all in frighteningly compelling fashion. From the work of The Guardian’s Carole Cadwalladr, to the not-unproblematic involvement of Christopher Wylie, … Continue reading 2019 Film Reviews – 49: The Great Hack [dir. Karim Amer & Jehane Noujaim; 2019]

2019 Film Reviews – 47: Hitsville: The Making Of Motown [dir. Benjamin Turner & Gabe Turner; 2019]

You don’t really need an excuse to spend two hours in the company of some of the most irresistible music ever recorded. But if you insist on having a documentary backdrop to the likes of Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson doing their thing, then Hitsville fulfils the role with great charm. Taking its inspiration from Motown founder Berry Gordy’s policy of approaching the … Continue reading 2019 Film Reviews – 47: Hitsville: The Making Of Motown [dir. Benjamin Turner & Gabe Turner; 2019]

2019 Film Reviews – 41: Apollo 11 [dir. Todd Douglas Miller; 2019]

What’s most extraordinary about Miller’s Apollo 11 documentary is that even though you know the beginning, middle and end of the story before you watch the film, even though Nasa’s moon-landing mission was relatively unproblematic and even though the proceedings aren’t character led, you are rooted to your seat and glued to your screen from the moment the movie begins. One event follows another in … Continue reading 2019 Film Reviews – 41: Apollo 11 [dir. Todd Douglas Miller; 2019]

2019 Film Reviews – 39: Inquiring Nuns [dir. Gordon Quinn & Jerry Temaner; 1968]

In late 1960s Chicago, directors Gordon Quinn and Jerry Temaner decided it might be interesting to give two young nuns a microphone and tell them to ask passersby outside a church a very simple question: “Are you happy?” The result is this documentary, which has just been reissued and is available in the UK through Curzon’s On Demand service. Fascinating on several levels, it offers … Continue reading 2019 Film Reviews – 39: Inquiring Nuns [dir. Gordon Quinn & Jerry Temaner; 1968]

2019 Film Reviews – 37: Diego Maradona [dir. Asif Kapadia; 2019]

Asif Kapadia has a facility for showcasing and explaining the skills of talented individuals even to people who aren’t particularly interested in the individuals’ field of expertise, whether it’s Ayrton Senna’s Formula One racing or Amy Winehouse’s trademark modern soul singing. He displays it to full effect again in Diego Maradona, a documentary which makes it clear even to non-football-fans, such as myself, precisely why … Continue reading 2019 Film Reviews – 37: Diego Maradona [dir. Asif Kapadia; 2019]

2019 Film Reviews – 32: Amazing Grace [dir. Alan Elliott & Sydney Pollack; 2018]

Aside from the impassioned music and Aretha Franklin’s unquestionably powerful vocal skills (although personally, I can take R&B warbling only in small doses) what’s most remarkable about this footage of the recording of the much-lauded, 1972 Amazing Grace album is the casualness of the whole set up. Franklin herself wanders on with little fanfare. The audience move around the auditorium, dancing, clapping and singing as … Continue reading 2019 Film Reviews – 32: Amazing Grace [dir. Alan Elliott & Sydney Pollack; 2018]

2019 Film Reviews – 14: RBG [dir. Julie Cohen & Betsy West; 2018]

In a documentary concerned with the power of laws to shape our lives, it’s appropriate that a great deal of screen time is devoted to words. On several occasions, they literally flash before our eyes, illustrating one development after another in Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s tireless attempts to purge the USA’s statutes of their many biases towards sexual inequality. What’s more, the words serve to … Continue reading 2019 Film Reviews – 14: RBG [dir. Julie Cohen & Betsy West; 2018]