It's an uphill battle for film directors who challenge conditioned expectations--dramatic characters, coherent stories, a brisk pace and appealing art direction. Writer/director Aaron Schimberg takes the dare and faces a daunting task with "Go Down Death," pretentiously based on the writings of fictitious folklorist Jonathan Mallory Sinus. Disjointed and shallow, it fails to present imaginative or clever material.
One of the films currently showing at the IMAX theater of the St. Louis Science Center is this engaging look at lemurs. It puts the animated movies in the Madagascar franchise to shame, for this documentary, shot with the giant IMAX cameras, shows the creatures in their natural habitat.
“Jersey Boys”: the movie is not the stage play. The electricity is turned off. Never will you feel like singing along, let alone tapping your feet to the beat. That must be what Clint Eastwood wants. He has made the film his from Marshall Brickman’s and Rick Elice’s musical.
Director Andrew Rossi's documentary "Ivory Tower" critiques numerous aspects of American college education from its relevance in the 21st century to the exorbitant costs of private universities. "Ivory Tower" offers profiles from Harvard to Arizona State; from the all-male, free Desert Springs school to historically black, all-women's Spelman College; from Massive Open Online Courses to the UnCollege movement.
Whatever your political persuasion, the documentary "Citizen Koch" delivers an alarming description of democracy imperiled. Focused on the Wisconsin drama involving then Governor Scott Walker and movement for his recall, critical contributing elements include the Citizens United case and the U.S. Supreme Court, the Americans for Prosperity organization, Federal Elections Commissioners (past and present), and various Senators and Representatives.
Quietly intense and profoundly moving, Polish director and co-writer Pawel Pawlikowski's "Ida" begins with the title character, 18 years old, a novitiate in a Catholic convent, preparing to take religious vows. It's the only life Ida, an orphan called Anna, has known. What she will discover in 1960s Poland about her past comes courtesy of her aunt Wanda Gruz.
For the first two-thirds of director Aram Garriga's documentary "American Jesus" he presents a kaleidoscopic snapshot of a surprisingly diverse array of American Christian groups. Individual ministries cater to cowboys, bikers, surfers, yoga practitioners, mixed martial arts cage fighters, strip clubs, and more. Pastors characterize their religious allegiances and their congregations. Then, unexpectedly, Garriga's approach changes.
For what is a film but a duet of words and pictures? That fact automatically sets up any movie entitled "Words and Pictures" as redundant. So how to avoid cliche? Screenwriter Gerald di Pego doesn't; in fact, the film is freighted by words, essay writing lofted by pictures, the kind on canvas and film.
Director/editor Joan Grossman chronicles the 1962 origins, development, and eventual demise of Drop City in her documentary of that title, treating the subject with a lively cinematic approach befitting the inventiveness of the people who developed the community called the first rural commune. Through informative, candid interviews in a quick 82 minutes, Drop City becomes an exhilarating location.