Documentary

Meditative Movies That Will Help You Find Yourself

Director Ron Fricke and producer Mark Magidson (the creators of Baraka) traveled to 25 countries over the span of five years, filming the 2011 non-narrative documentary, Samsara. The stunning movie arrives on Blu-ray tomorrow. Described as “a nonverbal, guided meditation,” the film was shot on 70mm and explores the interconnectedness that humanity shares with the rest of nature — from the world’s most sacred spaces, to industrial sites populated with machines. It’s the wheel of life and human experience captured with breathtaking photography. These types of contemplative, non-narrative features allow audiences to traverse every corner of the earth, immersed in a powerful, transcendent journey of self-discovery. See our picks for similar meditative movies, below. … Read More

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Watch Jay-Z’s Barclays Center Concert Documentary ‘Where I’m From’

Jay-Z’s arts and culture website Life+Times published the rapper’s 20-minute documentary (which we spotted on EW) that chronicles the behind-the-scenes efforts that went into curating his eight-night concert series at the Barclays Arena. He was the inaugural performer in the newly constructed venue, and the show was his first large-scale concert in his home borough. Jay’s from Marcy Houses. He opened the first show with 1997′s “Where I’m From,” which is also the name of this mini doc that includes clips of Hova on a subway train chatting with riders, rehearsal time, and the team who helped make the massive undertaking possible. Watch it in full past the break. … Read More

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Morgan Spurlock Has Nothing to Lose, Will Make One Direction Doc

Super Size Me director Morgan Spurlock explored manufactured masculinity in his recent documentary, Mansome. Now, he’s turning his attention to the nation’s biggest boy band One Direction for a Sony concert film, according to Variety. We hope there’s a subversive link between the two projects where Spurlock can ask the hard-hitting… Read More

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Watch a Documentary on Ziggy Stardust Narrated by Jarvis Cocker

If you have an hour to spare this holiday weekend, please allow us to suggest David Bowie and the Story of Ziggy Stardust, a wonderful recent BBC4 documentary on everyone’s favorite alter ego. Narrator Jarvis Cocker begins in appropriately heavy terms, booming out, “Forty years ago, in millions of living rooms across the British Isles, a strange alien creature was beamed onto our television screens. With bright red hair and multi-colored space suit, his unearthly appearance shocked the nation. But for many teenagers who experienced this televisual visitation, it would change their lives forever… Music on Planet Earth would never be the same again.” We can’t argue with that. Click through to watch the documentary, with talking head appearances by everyone from Elton John to the remaining Spiders from Mars. … Read More

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Watch a Fantastic Documentary on Shock Rocker Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, the bizarre shock rocker known for his insane on-stage theatrics and powerful, guttural roarings, also happened to pen one of our favorite love songs of all time, the freaky 1956 sleeper hit “I Put a Spell On You.” But since we can never get enough of Hawkins, we were psyched when Dangerous Minds clued us into a terrific documentary on the musician entitled I Put A Spell On Me, directed by Nicholas Triandafyllidis and shot during  Hawkins’ tour of Greece. As Dangerous Minds points out, it’s difficult to believe that only four months after this concert footage was shot, the 70-year-old Hawkins would die of a heart attack. Featuring Jim Jarmusch, Bo Diddley and Eric Burdon, as well as tons of one-on-one time (and philosophical musings) from the man himself. A pretty good use for any lazy Sunday afternoon, we think. … Read More

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Flavorwire’s Guide to Indie Flicks to See in June

Well kids, summer blockbuster is in full swing, and though we love a good blow-’em-up as much as the next moviegoer, it’s easy — particularly in this season — to overlook the smaller and more challenging flicks that are rolling into your local multiplexes and arthouses. So it’s time for another installment in our new monthly feature here at Flavorwire, where we take a look at some of the exciting indies of the month to a come, and a few smaller titles from previous weeks that you might’ve missed. Check them out after the jump! … Read More

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This Week in Trailers: ‘Les Miz,’ ‘Lay the Favorite,’ and More!

Every Friday here at Flavorwire, we like to gather up the week’s new movie trailers, give them a look-see, and rank them from worst to best — while taking a guess or two about what they might tell us (or hide from us) about the movies they’re promoting. It’s a bit of a light batch after last week’s Cannes-fueled riches, but we’ve got new titles from Anne Hathaway, Robert DeNiro, Bruce Willis, Russell Crowe, Sigourney Weaver, Hugh Jackman, and Catherine Zeta Jones, as well as a Cannes winner and one of our favorite docs of the year. Check ‘em all out after the jump, and share your thoughts in the comments. … Read More

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Dave Grohl Will Direct and Produce Documentary ‘Sound City’

Back in February we reported that Foo Fighters’ frontman Dave Grohl would be producing an FX sitcom about a troubled band trying to keep it together while on the verge of becoming famous. While we wait to hear an update on the TV comedy project, Ain’t It Cool delivered more news about Grohl’s offstage career.

It looks like he’ll be directing and producing a feature-length documentary called Sound City — which we heard chatter about not that long ago — centering on the legendary Van Nuys, California recording studio. He conceived of the project after buying a Neve 8028 recording console — built in 1972 — from Sound City last year. For those unfamiliar with the famous device, a press release describes it as the “crown jewel of analog recording equipment,” having been used by many musical legends over the past 40 years. Grohl’s connection to Sound City really began with the 1991 recording of Nirvana’s Nevermind, however. The film will take a look at the studio’s history via interviews with the artists that spent time there, and hopes to “discuss the human element of music in an age of technology, and feature performances from many of the artists that called it ‘home.’”

Grohl wrote a letter to fans sharing more about his personal connection to the doc, calling Sound City “America’s greatest unsung recording studio … home to a special few, intent on preserving an idea.” Read the rest of the letter, and watch a trailer teaser past the break. Grohl hopes to release the film early next year. … Read More

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So, We're Over James Franco Now, Right?

Thank God, the joke is finally over. On Sunday, the Tribeca Film Festival premiered Francophrenia (Or Don’t Kill Me, I Know Where the Baby Is), actor/artist/writer/student/whatever James Franco’s look at his stint on General Hospital, as seen through a prism of navel-gazing and self-conscious artiness. It’s a bad film, pretentious and irritating, mistaking preening for candor and self-indulgence for insight. But it’s more than that. Arriving when it does — a good year-plus after our Franco saturation point — it’s like looking at a shameful old yearbook, where you can’t believe that you used to do your hair like that, or wear that sweater-vest. We used to care about this?

The film was shot entirely on the evening of June 24, 2010, as Franco made the final episode of his General Hospital arc at a staged event at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. “The episode was never completed,” the opening crawl insists, ominously. (That’s false, by the way.) On the show, he was playing a deranged artist named “Franco” (presumably so he could adopt the habit, in interviews, of referring to himself in the third person); the episode concerned the opening of “Franco”’s big art show, which was happening simultaneously with a kidnapping or something back at the GH. Roughly the first half of the film is comprised of Franco going to the shoot, getting into hair and makeup, having awkward conversations with fans (“I love your signature!”), and wandering around in his tux. It’s all walking and waiting; the camera holds on Franco’s face, often in dead silence, looking intense. It’s a voyeur’s dream — the movie basically consists of the opportunity to stare at a celebrity for 78 minutes. … Read More

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Watch a Damning Behind-the-Scenes Documentary About Disney

Disney’s forgettable 2000 film The Emperor’s New Groove came with a lot of baggage. Originally titled Kingdom of the Sun, inspired by The Prince and the Pauper, and directed by Roger Allers, it was completely overhauled midway through production. Allers quit, the script was rewritten, and Sting — who had already recorded several tracks tailored to the movie — was told that his songs had been cut. Meanwhile, Sting’s wife, Trudie Styler, had been following the production for a making-of feature that was intended to be a DVD extra. Styler documented the project’s devolution into chaos, portraying a pair of Disney executives as the main villains. Of course, Sweatbox, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, never saw release alongside The Emperor’s New Groove or otherwise, because Disney owns the rights to it. The full, 95-minute version has, however, appeared on YouTube and is bound to make fascinating viewing for those who are curious about how their Mickey Mouse sausage gets made. … Read More

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