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ENTERTAINMENT
December 6, 2013 | By Susan King
Jehane Noujaim's "The Square," Netflix's first major film acquisition that chronicles a group of Egyptian activists as they battle leaders and regimes, won the best feature award at the International Documentary Assn.'s 2013 IDA Awards on Friday evening at the DGA. Josh Izenberg's "Slomo," which looks at neurologist turned roller blader Dr. John Kitchin, won for short film. CNN's "Inside Man," hosted by documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, earned the limited series award.
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ENTERTAINMENT
December 6, 2013 | By Robert Abele
For a documentary extolling the friendship between two icons of minimalist persuasion - soft-spoken movie star Gary Cooper and stripped-bare wordsmith Ernest Hemingway - John Mulholland's "Cooper & Hemingway: The True Gen" sure does talk a lot. Not to mention repeat itself and traffic in sentimentality. Exhaustive at more than two hours, with rapid-fire narration from Sam Waterston over a cascade of animated graphics, text, photos, archival footage and interviews (with those still alive and long dead)
ENTERTAINMENT
December 6, 2013 | By Gary Goldstein
"A Journey to Planet Sanity," Blake Freeman's comedic documentary and purported quest for "truth," proves a tedious, half-baked outing. It mostly plays like a slapdash mockumentary crossed with a bad reality TV show. The engine here is director-star Freeman's mission to make things right for 69-year-old LeRoy Tessina, a food delivery man whose unfounded fear of aliens and ghosts has caused him emotional and financial distress (he's supposedly spent his life savings on psychic guidance, among other forms of "protection" from the paranormal)
ENTERTAINMENT
December 6, 2013 | By Gary Goldstein
The inventively shot and constructed documentary "For No Good Reason" is an absorbing look at the unique, surreal work of British cartoonist Ralph Steadman. Yet, the film, directed by 'Charlie Paul and narrated by - and also co-starring - Steadman's friend and admirer Johnny Depp, proves more successful at examining a lifetime's worth of an artist's output than at revealing much about the artist himself. Fortunately, Steadman's blotchy ink drawings are captivating; bold, weird, satirical and highly identifiable, often from their appearances in special editions of such classics as "Alice in Wonderland" and "Animal Farm," in Rolling Stone magazine and alongside the work of famed gonzo journalist and novelist Hunter S. Thompson.
ENTERTAINMENT
December 6, 2013 | By Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times Television Critic
For a short and breezy documentary narrated by Adam Sandler in which a group of famous comedians talk about themselves, "The Improv: 50 Years Behind the Brick Wall" packs a surprisingly provocative punch. In these days of digital "stardom," when fame is tweet-fleeting and the goal too often seems more Simon Cowell-approved branding than original voice, the rigors of an old-fashioned comedy club seem historically artisanal, like candle-dipping at Colonial Williamsburg. In the post-"Seinfeld" years, stand-up comedy, once the province of the scruffy and outrageous, has become increasingly sleek and well fed. Ray Romano, Jay Leno, Bill Maher, Judd Apatow, Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David, the Wayans brothers, Sarah Silverman, Kathy Griffin, Jimmy Fallon - the people reminiscing here about the Improv are among the media elite, with studio deals and television shows, car collections and famous divorces.
ENTERTAINMENT
December 6, 2013 | By Annlee Ellingson
When Patrick Moote's girlfriend rejected his proposal on the Jumbotron at a UCLA basketball game, his mortification wasn't complete until later, in private, when she told him why: She wouldn't marry him because his penis was too small. So in "Unhung Hero," Patrick sets out to fix his problem, documenting the pumps, pills, exercises, accessories and procedures he's willing (and not willing) to endure to increase his penis size in full-on Morgan Spurlock mode. Director Brian Spitz's documentary travels the world asking the question, "Does size matter?"
ENTERTAINMENT
December 5, 2013 | By Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
We know too much about Mexico's drug war and not enough. We hear about it constantly, about the 60,000 murders and the slaughter of innocents, but getting a sense of what that means on the ground - and how pervasive its cultural influence is - is harder to come by. The potent documentary "Narco Cultura" is an excellent place to start. This dispassionate but devastating film looks at the drug wars from two very different but chillingly complementary perspectives. As directed and shot by Shaul Schwarz, an accomplished photojournalist who spent two years in this world as a still photographer before starting to film, "Narco Cultura" benefits from the access Schwarz earned through his time on the ground.
ENTERTAINMENT
November 25, 2013 | By Gary Goldstein
Steven-Charles Jaffe's first-rate documentary "Gahan Wilson: Born Dead, Still Weird" appears right on the heels of "Dear Mr. Watterson," another enjoyable cinematic profile of a famed cartoonist ("Calvin and Hobbes'" Bill Watterson). But Jaffe's film has a distinct advantage: Wilson, unlike the reclusive Watterson, happily and thoroughly participates in this highly dimensional recap of his life and career, to compelling effect. The jaunty, eccentric Wilson, 83, has been generating his unique brand of humorously macabre cartoons for more than 50 years.
ENTERTAINMENT
November 24, 2013 | By Irene Lacher
Teller, the usually silent half of the renegade magician duo, Penn & Teller, recently perched on a couch at the Geffen Playhouse, where he had a lot to say about two projects he has helmed as director - "Play Dead," magician Todd Robbins' one-man creep show, which runs through Dec. 22 at the Geffen's Skirball Theater, and "Tim's Vermeer," about inventor Tim Jenison's quest to unearth the Dutch painter's techniques and re-create his work in a Texas warehouse....
ENTERTAINMENT
November 21, 2013 | By Sheri Linden
In the half-century since the Korean War, an estimated 200,000 Korean children have been sent to adoptive homes in the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia. Graphic novelist Jung Henin became one of them in 1971, at age 5, and he has turned his story into a captivating coming-of-age documentary, "Approved for Adoption. " His first film, co-directed by Laurent Boileau, is a vibrant example of hybrid nonfiction filmmaking, using hand-drawn animation, live action, home movies and newsreels in a rich synthesis of personal and historical memory.
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