Oscar-winning documentarian Leon Gast (When We Were Kings, 1996) brings us Smash His Camera, a look into the life and career of paparazzo Ron Galella, who was in hot pursuit of candid images of Jackie O., Marlon Brando, and other celebrities—risking his safety (and dignity) in doing so. This film dives into the world of the paparazzi and what they go through to provide the general public with the shots they crave, all at the expense of some famous names and the privacy they begrudgingly sacrifice. For once, the camera is turned on the photographers. They’re people too, right?
This film won Gast the Best Director—Documentary prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. It’s currently airing on HBO.
Director: Leon Gast
Producers: Linda Saffire, Adam Schlesinger
Cast: Floyd Abrams, Gilbert M. Anderson, Joseph Basile, Ron Galella
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures
Runtime: 87 min.
Currently on my DVR is the 2010 Sundance award-winning documentary GasLand. This HBO film was nominated for the Best Documentary Oscar this past year and is currently nominated for four Primetime Emmys in nonfiction programming categories, including directing, writing, and cinematography. I’m not sure how a film that has both theatrical and television distribution can be eligible for the top prizes in both media, but I’m sure it’s got to be great. Here’s the synopsis from the film’s IMDb page:
It is happening all across America—rural landowners wake up one day to find a lucrative offer from an energy company wanting to lease their property. Reason? The company hopes to tap into a reservoir dubbed the “Saudi Arabia of natural gas.” Halliburton developed a way to get the gas out of the ground—a hydraulic drilling process called “fracking”—and suddenly America finds itself on the precipice of becoming an energy superpower. (Written by Sundance Film Festival)
Director: Josh Fox
Screenwriter: Josh Fox
Producers: Trish Adlesic, Josh Fox, Molly Gandour
Cast: Josh Fox
Distributor: HBO Documentary Films
Runtime: 107 min.
I’ll try to make this my last post about Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop, the new documentary that follows Conan as he embarks on his Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour after his unceremonious departure from NBC and The Tonight Show. I tried getting tickets to this show almost immediately after it was announced, but it sold out quicker than I could say “Coco.” I’m anxiously awaiting this film’s release, as those who know me know I bleed Conan orange.
(Truthfully, I was looking for a reason to use this super awesome headline, and it all seemed to come together when I received the following opening day announcement. So here she is … )
After a much–publicized departure from hosting NBC’s Tonight Show, O’Brien hit the road with a 32-city music-and-comedy show to exercise his performing chops and exorcise a few demons. Filmmaker Rodman Flender’s documentary, Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop, is an intimate portrait of an artist trained in improvisation, captured at the most improvisational time of his career. It offers a window into the private writers room and rehearsal halls as O’Brien’s Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour is almost instantly assembled and mounted to an adoring fan base. At times angry, mostly hilarious, we see a comic who does not stop—performing, singing, pushing his staff and himself. Did Conan O’Brien hit the road to give something back to his loyal fans, or did he travel across the continent, stopping at cities large and remote to fill a void within himself?
This film opens this Friday, June 24, at New York’s new Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center and Landmark Sunshine.
How fortuitous! Just a day after I posted the Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop trailer, the official poster and website launched. Check out the site here. The film hits theatres on June 24.
Following his unceremonious exit from his long-time stomping grounds at NBC, Conan O’Brien set out on a 32-city tour, titled The Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour. Mixing music and comedy, Conan’s tour played 42 shows in front of 130,000 supportive fans. Unfortunately for me, tickets to both New York City shows at Radio City Music Hall sold out faster than I could say “Coco,” and I was left shedding a tear for my dear Conan from afar. Imagine my excitement when I learned that Conan’s former Harvard classmate Rodman Flender captured the tour and all of the behind-the-scenes goodness on camera. Exposing a very real Conan O’Brien, Flender’s documentary Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop premiered at this year’s SXSW Film Festival, where it landed a unique distribution deal that sees three companies handling different parts of the film’s distribution. According to iTunes Movie Trailers, the film is scheduled for a theatrical release on June 24.
Director: Rodman Flender
Producers: Rachel Griffin, Gavin Polone
Cast: Conan O’Brien, Andy Richter, Jimmy Vivino
Distributors: AT&T (TV through U-verse and AT&T mobile devices), Abramorama (theatrical), Magnolia Home Entertainment (VOD/home entertainment)
Runtime: 89 min.
Release Date: 6.24.11
Buck is the winner of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award—Documentary. Below is the official poster and synopsis.
“Your horse is a mirror to your soul, and sometimes you may not like what you see. Sometimes, you will.” So says Buck Brannaman, a true American cowboy and sage on horseback who travels the country for nine grueling months a year helping horses with people problems.
Buck, a richly textured and visually stunning film, follows Brannaman from his abusive childhood to his phenomenally successful approach to horses. A real-life “horse whisperer,” he eschews the violence of his upbringing and teaches people to communicate with their horses through leadership and sensitivity, not punishment. Buck possesses near magical abilities as he dramatically transforms horses—and people—with his understanding, compassion, and respect. In this film, the animal-human relationship becomes a metaphor for facing the daily challenges of life. A truly American story about an unsung hero, Buck is about an ordinary man who has made an extraordinary life despite tremendous odds.
Director: Cindy Meehl
Producers: Julie Goldman, Andrea Meditch
Cast: Buck Brannaman, Robert Redford, Dan Gunter
Distributor: IFC Films
Official Site: buckthefilm.com
Runtime: 88 min.
Release Date: 7.17.11
Morgan Spurlock, the Oscar-nominated director of Super Size Me (2004), brings his latest film to the big screen—a documentary about the commercialization of movies. This is of particular interest to me because I’ve long been interested in how advertising and film merge, having written my undergraduate thesis on product placement in film and working in the advertising industry (day job).
In POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, Spurlock takes a comedic look at how advertising influences film, and he does it by breaking down the fourth wall to show how this very film succumbs to the influence (and paycheck) of marketers. The film opened on April 22 by Sony Pictures Classics.
Director: Morgan Spurlock
Screenwriters: Morgan Spurlock, Jeremy Chillnick
Producers: Jeremy Chillnick, Keith Calder, Jessica Wu, Morgan Spurlock
Cast: Morgan Spurlock
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Official Site: sonyclassics.com/greatestmovie
Runtime: 90 min.