July 15, 2011 |
In late November 1973, a young woman from New York went to Norman, Okla., to adopt the newest and youngest member of her family. It wasn't a human baby she was bringing home to Manhattan, however, but rather a 2-week-old chimpanzee, destined to be part of an audacious experiment to see if a member of another species could be taught to communicate with humans. The unforeseen ways that notion played out over the next two dozen years is the subject of James Marsh's unsettling "Project Nim," which won the best directing award for world documentary at Sundance.
February 5, 2012 |
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part I Summit, $30.99; Blu-ray, $33.99 The "Twilight" saga's supernatural soap opera reaches a ludicrously high pitch in the first half of concluding volume "Breaking Dawn," which includes a wedding, an accelerated pregnancy and a major transformation for a major character. All that would be fine if the franchise's creative team had any sense of fun about what they're making (a la "True Blood"). Instead, new "Twilight" director Bill Condon continues what his predecessors started, making a movie that's dreary and self-serious.
December 16, 2011 |
On Thursday, Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, said he would follow the advice of the Institute of Medicine and limit the number and types of biomedical research experiments that involve chimpanzees. Ultimately, he said, the number of studies that use the animals would fall from 37 to about 20 or fewer. Chimpanzees were first recruited for use in biomedical research because they share all but 200,000 of the 3 billion chemical letters that make up humanDNA.
December 22, 2011 |
As often happens with documentaries and the Oscars, the world's zeitgeist (of tenacious individual power doing battle with various corporate, governmental and other Goliaths) has found its way onto the 2012 shortlist. This year, many of the films unspool David stories that show the strength of a single person or group to effect real change against powerful odds. Here's a quick look at the 15 shortlisted films for feature documentary: "Battle for Brooklyn" — directors Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley We see a rabble-rousing passionate and public fight against the building of the controversial Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, where a small group of residents put up massive resistance.
April 22, 1986 |
Silent Partners: The Legacy of the Ape Language Experiments by Eugene Linden (Times Books: $17.95) Most working scientists belong to the mainstream, agreeing more than they disagree with each other about the basics of their fields. The system is maintained by the pressures of academic promotions, peer review, government grants and, happily, the truth. In the shadows is fringe science, where a few renegades keep alive ideas that establishment scientists pooh-pooh.
April 29, 1993 |
Talking head documentaries are only as involving as the head doing the talking, and "Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media" has the great advantage of having as its subject America's most controversial intellectual, a soft-spoken provocateur whose radical theories clash with the norm at every turn.