Documentary

Amy Winehouse Documentary Confronts the Reality of Art Spawned from Self-Destruction

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The autobiographical lyrics of Amy Winehouse’s biggest hit, “Rehab,” are downright chilling in the wake of her 2011 death by alcohol poisoning. At the time of its release in late 2006, Winehouse wasn’t a big star in America, but by vividly celebrating her vices in song, Amy quickly became one of pop’s tortured greats. The line that should make your gut churn — “And if my daddy thinks I’m fine…” — alludes to Mitch Winehouse brushing off his daughter’s condition in 2005 when then-manager Nick Shymansky and others close to Amy tried to get her into rehab. The situation invites nagging “ifs,” which sit at the center of Asif Kapadia’s unflinching documentary Amy, opening in select theaters this Friday and in wide release next week.
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Flavorwire’s Guide to Indie Movies You Need to See in July

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The arthouses are positively bursting in July, which is a relief, since we’re looking at a pretty weak-looking studio slate this month (Pixels? Self/Less? Effing Minions?). In fact, there are so many good ones that we’ve busted out of our customary ten-or-so format to recommend a baker’s dozen documentaries and indies, ranging from icon profiles to no-budget dramas to star-driven comedies. Dig in:
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The Civil Rights Movement of 2015 Could Use a Voice Like Nina Simone

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“They’re shooting us down, one by one,” Nina Simone told the thoroughly middle class crowd matter-of-factly at Long Island’s Westbury Music Fair, three days after Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968. She and her band had just debuted “Why? (The King of Love Is Dead),” a worthy tribute to Simone’s great friend, written by her bass player Gene Taylor before MLK was even buried. Taylor’s response was in line with Simone’s radical and reactionary nature at the time, as captured in full swing that night on the live album ‘Nuff Said
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Courtney Love on Spending Time With Kurt Cobain Through ‘Montage of Heck,’ His Mystery Illness, and Their Sex Tape

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Brett Morgen’s Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck is shaping up to be one of the year’s biggest music documentaries, and Sunday night the film finally made its New York premiere at the Tribeca Film Fest. With it came Courtney Love. In a candid conversation following the film, Love, Morgen, and Rolling Stone contributing editor Neil Strauss discussed the film’s unprecedented access, unconventional use of mixed media from Cobain’s personal archives, and intimacy… in the form of a long-lost Kurt and Courtney sex tape the couple tried to record …Read More

‘Salad Days’ Is the Documentary That Will Make the Mainstream Understand DC Hardcore

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If there was ever a testament to punk as an evolving document, forever building on its past, it was the Washington, DC hardcore scene and the growing pains its experienced in the mid-’80s. Nothing makes that more clear than Scott Crawford and Jim Saah’s exhaustive new documentary Salad Days, which premiered late last year in DC and makes its New York premiere this week at the IFC Center. Though Crawford’s personal history with DC punk began when he was the preteen writer of MetroZine, his documentary is more for the hardcore novice — the person who recognizes the significance of the DC hardcore scene but couldn’t name more than a few Dischord bands.
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“Every Person Is a Jigsaw Puzzle”: 5 Questions With Agnès Varda, Queen of the French New Wave

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Indispensable French director, installation artist, and photographer Agnès Varda does not make general comments on her films or their subjects, because her chimerical work is ever-shifting. Varda’s films are experimental, though you can see some of the artist’s shared interests amongst the works highlighted in the Film Society at Lincoln Center‘s documentary-focused Art of the Real sidebar retrospective, The Actualities of Agnès Varda.
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HBO’s ‘The Jinx’ Is the Flipside of Our True Crime Obsession

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“I’ve never had a dismembered headless torso to investigate,” says a Texas police officer in the opening minutes of HBO’s six-part true crime documentary series The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst. A project seven years in the making, the show is also the beneficiary of good timing, in so far as it’s impossible to watch it without thinking of recent obsessions with true crime tales and atmospherics, like the podcast Serial and last year’s premiere season of True Detective.
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Too Dangerous for Television: Adam Curtis’ Afghanistan Documentary ‘Bitter Lake’

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Bitter Lake, Adam Curtis’ aesthetically sublime and politically incisive new documentary, was commissioned for BBC’s iPlayer because it is presumably, as Russia Today writes, “too dangerous for television.” After consuming the film by way of a 21st-century samizdat, I can tell you that the propaganda arm of the Kremlin is correct on one score: Bitter Lake is politically dangerous for Western states, especially the US and UK. But it’s also an affront to Russia, and virtually every other state that has attempted to force strategic advantage in Saudia Arabia and Afghanistan. And it is, literally, too dangerous for television: Curtis was given access to years of footage of Afghanistan from the BBC archives. That includes every shot they refused to air on TV.
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