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Doc & a Drink

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Tag Archives: Katy Jones

So I was really stoked when “Between the Folds” came out last year, I tried to see it twice, and both times the screenings were totally full. It’s the story of origami as art. And how scientists are interested in how origami works.

I was personally interested because I actually like origami, a holdover from a childhood in Japan. Really the only thing I ever fold is paper cranes, and I only do it when I’m feeling sick, because I really believed in that story “1,000 paper cranes” when I was a kid. But, nevertheless, I still like to think I know something about origami.

Also, I was interested because, hello, I’m a science groupie, and every scientist I talk to is totally stoked on origami, so I thought it would be awesome. I love that intersection between art and science.

But I was pretty let down. This just was not awesome at all. It was a bunch of semi-boring interviews, and precious-sounding narration that made origami look less cool than it actually is.

I couldn’t put my finger on it for a while. The interviews sounded like there were interesting soundbites. I still think origami is cool. Why isn’t this documentary awesome?

Maybe it’s that part of artists that take themselves too seriously. Like one guy made weird gnomes as his expression of art, and the interview made him seem like he just had no sense of humor whatsoever – like these artists were just overearnest all the time. It’s strange, their earnestness about their art made them seem – flat. One-noted. And the structure of the film, so modular. Not awesome.

I actually got bored.
I’m giving it a three. I still learned something, and the camerawork and lighting was nice if not overly creative. I just had really ridiculously high expectations.

—3 out of 5 Cheers

—Katy J.

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Hello readers, I have an apology to make.

I have mentioned in several blogs how generally off-putting I find first person narration in a documentary, particularly when the narrator is the filmmaker.  I believe that I was in error.   Particularly after watching the vastly compelling Dear Zachary, which is narrated in first person, I feel that I must grovel a bit and apologize to first person narration.

Lately, I have been forced to admit that several of the films I most loved since starting this blog involve first person narration.   I enjoyed Kurt and Courtney, which was entirely narrated by filmmaker Nick Broomfield.  Bigger, Stronger, Faster gets you to care about steroids due to the personal story of the filmmaker.  And while Living Downstream wasn’t narrated by the filmmaker, it was narrated by the author on whom the film was based – and I loved it.

But the most poignant and touching use of first person narration is definitely Dear Zachary.  I don’t think I can properly explain to those who have not seen this movie how effective it is.  The personal voice of the filmmaker lets you experience the unfolding of tragedy along with him, and leads you to care about the characters in such a personal way that at the end of the film you feel as if it has happened to you.  It was an extremely effective way to frame the story, and I don’t think a third person narrator would have done the same job.

So I feel that I need to make an apology to first person narration.  I am sorry that I doubted your usefulness.  I was being an idiot. Early in my documentary career I was exposed to films that used you poorly and that wasn’t your fault.

My eyes have been opened. You are a useful dramatic and structural tool in a documentary filmmaking arsenal.  I look forward to seeing you used by talented filmmakers in the years to come.

Cheers,

–Kathleen (Katy J.)

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The Silverdocs are coming, the Silverdocs are coming!  The documentary community in D.C. gets a shot of adrenaline every June when one of the world’s best documentary film festivals opens at the AFI Theater in Silver Spring.  Becks and I are counting down till our moment to rub elbows with filmmakers and critique our little hearts out.  A whole film festival dedicated to documentaries, right in our hometown…yes!

This year’s Guggenheim winner is Frederick Wiseman.  This is the big honor of the festival given to an Important Documentary Filmmaker.  It’s the big deal.  And among the other events, one of the major Silverdocs screenings that will be massively difficult to get into will be the special screening honoring his prolific career.

I looked through his list of over thirty films and humbly realized that I haven’t seen a single one of them. How embarrassing.  What will I say to everyone I run into at doc events who will be talking about him?  Quick note on to do list – Must. Watch. Frederick. Wiseman.

And in the meantime, I turn to one of my favorite filmmakers – Errol Morris – who had a recent blog post about the illustrious Frederick Wiseman.  And makes him sound like not just an illustrious filmmaker, but an interesting, surreal, and perhaps irreverant one too.

Frederick Wiseman’s Best Scenes by Errol Morris.

Frederick Wiseman is Found at Zipporah Films.

–Katy J.

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In case you missed the opportunity to watch Afghan Star in theaters, here’s your chance to watch it on television. Havana Marking‘s film about the “American Idol” of Afghanistan begins airing on HBO on Thursday, March 18th. This fascinating film profiles a pop television show that elicits death threats for its female contestents, receives more votes than the presidential elections, and gives its long-warring ethnic groups the chance to see each other as something other than enemies. We loved this film when we saw it in theaters, and I’d love to hear what you guys think.

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Being a doc-obsessed human being I was watching Academy Awards tonight to find out who won in the Documentary categories. (Well, and for the fashion, and the mindless entertainment value).

It was “The Cove” for Best Feature Doc.  No surprise there.  “The Cove” just broke new ground in its stylistic presentation and story structure.  It was an action film documentary and it was so compelling and scary and amazing.

The surprise of the night came during the Best Short Doc. The winner was “Music by Prudence.” Nominees were Director Roger Ross Williams and Producer Elinor Burkett.  The award was announced and gracefully Mr. Williams, the film’s director, begins his speech “I never dreamed, when I got on a plane to Zimbabwe…” and then in a Kanye-style bitch slap, suddenly was CUT OFF by the red-headed producer who hoists herself onstage and swan dives in front of the microphone.  Dude, what?!

You can see the video at Mediaite

Rumors abound, some say that she and Williams had agreed earlier that he would give the speech, some say they raced each other for the stage.  It sure appears there was some kind of personal issue between the two of them. But it might have worked out of the best. Whatever happened there’s probably more press about the Doc Short Film category due to Kanyeish controversy than anyone would have expected. I mean, when else would MTV blog about a doc that isn’t even about MTV?

See who Roger Ross Williams would have thanked if he had had the chance:

More blogs about here:

Salon.com got the behind the scenes story. – Wow.

Lehigh Valley gets some comments from Williams’ sister, who refers to Ms. Burkett as “Ms. Pain-in-the-Ass”

Nowpublic pulls in some of the twitteryammer about it.

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Total Film has compiled a list of the Top 18 Cult Documentaries You Must See.

This list has some hilarious and heartwarming favorites including  Heavy Metal Parking Lot and the King of Kong and as well as older docs like The Endless Summer.

There was a bunch of stuff I’ve never seen or heard of – including a wannabe Mountain Clog Dancer (Dancing Outlaw) and a man who died chasing stallions (Zoo).  Where have I been?  I have a lot to add to my Netflix queue!

Five of five cheers!

Katy

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Flock of Dodos Movie Poster

FILM: FLOCK OF DODOS
FILMMAKER: Randy Olson
REVIEWER: Katy B. Jones

I was so looking forward to watching this movie, it’s been on my Netflix list for weeks. It’s got stuff I like – sciency goodness, humor, and friend recommendation. The story is about the fight between evolutionists and those nutty folks who want to teach Intelligent Design in science class.

Unfortunately, it had three major “ugh” factors:

1. Ugh for being our second film in as many weeks with a first person narrator. I just generally dislike first person narrators, they’re usually annoying. I didn’t care about his mother, I didn’t care about his background as a scientist, I didn’t care about his friendship with his crew. Get yourself out of the way and tell the story.

2. Ugh, for really poorly directed camerawork. It was shot like a student film – with weird two shots because you just HAD to frame the filmmaker in the shot during an interview, and poor planning during action scenes. If a character so much as wiggled during a sequence, boy, the whole thing was a mess.

3. Ugh, for cleverness at the expense of storytelling. Funny animated dodos aside, there just wasn’t a carefully constructed story. It was just loosely constructed thing with a filmmaker a little too in love with being funny without construction. Really used that poker game gag too much and should have edited more tightly. It was a bit student-filmy.

It was kooky, yes, and clever, yes,

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