There has been a wave of political documentaries released over the past few months as we inch closer to the 2020 election. "The Accidental President" takes a look back at the 2016 election and how exactly Donald J. Trump became the 45th President of the United States. But what makes this one in particular stand out, is that it is the rare documentary that bothers to tell its story from all angles. Whether you consider yourself on the "left" or "right," you must agree that almost no one saw Trump becoming President until he actually did.
Review: Documentary 'Totally Under Control' a scientific yet stuffy attempt to explain how COVID-19 was so terribly mishandled
It didn't have to be this way.
That's the consensus from the scientific community when it comes to explaining COVID-19 and how an outbreak in China led to a global pandemic and a crippling economic disaster in the United States. In the new documentary, "Totally Under Control," we are given a thoughtful, meticulously-detailed account as to what happened and in what order, and it more than just points a finger at the Trump administration for its failures in handling the virus, as well as how it shaped information for the general public.
In the doc, we hear from scientists and from former administration personnel who were in the know. Partially, this is the problem with the film...scientists aren't usually known for creating excitement or for explaining things in just a few simplified words or phrases. Match that with the absolute saturation of coronavirus news that we are all exposed to on a daily basis, and "Totally Under Control" becomes a real bummer to sit through and has trouble resonating the way it probably should. Let me explain.
Back at the 1968 Democratic Convention, anti-war protesters clashed with law enforcement over the Vietnam War. In a move that reeked of politics, several unattached and independent men were charged with conspiracy and inciting riots, despite none of them (or most of them) having ever met.
The "Trial of the Chicago 8" as it was called, received national attention and put the Vietnam War itself on public trial. In the new Netflix film, "The Trial of the Chicago 7," (streaming on October 16th), profound wordsmith, writer and director Aaron Sorkin ("The Newsroom," "West Wing," "Molly's Game") gives this dark moment in American history his usual insightful spin, mixing in humor to fill-in-the-blanks between moments of real outrage. It's a courtroom drama for sure, but what makes it special is that it's a courtroom drama from Aaron Sorkin.
Be careful what you wish for. Yes movie theaters in Michigan are re-opening this weekend, but you'd have to be crazy or quite desperate if you're going to take that calculated risk just to see "The War with Grandpa." It's one of the worst films of the year and one of the worst screenplays in several years.
People have been waiting for a long time for the newest Christopher Nolan film, and that was before the pandemic. Since the pandemic, "Tenet" hype and momentum has taken on a life of its own, as it represented not only Nolan's latest feature, but as the first big-budget movie that was supposed to relaunch the movie theater industry when it opened in mid-July.
That release never happened. Neither did subsequent release announcements. With word that Nolan himself refused to let his film debut on streaming, it was finally announced that Warner Bros. was going to do something unprecedented with "Tenet"'s roll-out: It was going to bypass theaters altogether in the States and would be distributed first overseas, trickling back to the U.S. only in markets where the film could be shown properly on the big-screen.
Still not seeing the wide opening it once envisioned coming, "Tenet" is finally hitting theaters here in Michigan, and will be one of the first movies that movie-goers can see when theaters re-open - at limited capacity and with social distancing measures in place - on Friday, October 9th.
And while for many, the simple joy of just going to the movies again at all will outshine the substance of any film that might actually grace the screen. In the case of "Tenet," that might be a good thing, because this convoluted mess of a film is a bit of a disappointment. In normal times pre-pandemic, it might have been called a major one.
The murder of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi stands as one of the most heinous, shocking and downright frightening developments of the past several years...and that's saying a lot. In "Kingdom of Silence," a new documentary from Showtime that can actually be watched in its entirety - for free on YouTube (see below) - may be one of the most important documentaries you will see all year, spending needed time on an event that modern cable news simply didn't seem to have time to explain properly.
Gloria Steinem is one of the most influential figures of the feminist movement in the 1960s and 1970s. Her story deserves big-screen treatment and is ripe for cinematic exploration. However in Julie Taymor's "The Glorias," style gets in the way of substance, and the audience is given the story of Gloria Steinem without the film ever quite capturing her spirit.
People can't seem to get enough of video games. And with their massive popularity has come a slew of documentaries on what is a fairly recent industry: The Video Game Industry. There was the 2014 documentary "Video Games: The Movie," the 2017 doc "Easy to Learn, Hard to Master: The Fate of Atari" and just recently, the Netflix docu-series "High Score." It's now time for CBS All Access to throw their hat in the ring with "Console Wars" - their first original documentary film - that focuses in specifically on the rivalry between Sega and Nintendo that played out in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s.
The new Netflix drama "The Boys in the Band" might feel more like a stage play...that's because it basically is. With the entire cast of the Broadway revival reprising their roles on the big screen, "The Boys in the Band" stands as an engaging snapshot of the American homosexual experience.
"Kajillionaire" is the sort of quirky dramedy you'd expect to find coming out of a film festival...it did in fact have its premiere at this year's Sundance Film Festival back in January. There are some delicious performances, and Evan Rachel Wood is simply a powerhouse, but the film ekes by without ever really making an impact.
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