Posts Tagged ‘documentary’

The Lazarus Effect

Published May 24, 2010 by Graham

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Lance Bangs and Spike have joined forces with the (RED) foundation to make The Lazarus Effect, a fascinating and emotional portrait of the AIDS crisis’ human impact in sub-Saharan Africa. Tracking a number of HIV-positive individuals’ journeys back from the edge of death as they receive Antiretroviral treatment, The Lazarus Effect offers an optimistic look at the effects of these medicines and the impact of organizations and individuals fighting to make them accessible.

“(RED), Spike and I went into this film wanting the people in it to tell their own stories,” says Lance. “Connie, Bwalya, Concillia and Paul represent people who now have a chance at a future when only seven years ago, a diagnosis of HIV for them would have been a death sentence. This film is a hopeful one, yet still a reminder that almost 4,000 people still die every day from AIDS in Africa, because not all people who need access to the treatment have it.”

The Lazarus Effect will be broadcast tonight on HBO at 9pm EST, in UK on Channel 4 at 11pm GMT, and globally on YouTube starting at 9:30pm EST.

Tell Them Anything You Want at IFC

Published February 23, 2010 by Molly

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Tell Them Anything You Want, the amazing-amazing documentary about Maurice Sendak by Spike and Lance Bangs, is playing at New York’s IFC Center this Wednesday at 8PM, followed by a Q&A with the two directors. If you missed it on the small-screen, now’s your chance to catch the film and lob a question or two at Lance and Spike!

William Eggleston’s Stranded in Canton

Published February 19, 2010 by Graham

Veritable patriarch of contemporary photography William Eggleston is essentially the king of color. But this feature-length film, Stranded in Canton, demonstrates just how masterful of an aesthete Eggleston is– color or no color, frozen images on film or slices of life on video tape.

Shot in the early ’70s on Sony’s revolutionary portable video recorder, Stranded in Canton is a marvel of documentary cinema. It strings together a wildly diverse set of scenes with no narrative thread to speak of, and yet leaves you with an impression of intimacy and voyeuristic thrill.

Tell Them Anything You Want

Published September 25, 2009 by Graham

As if being an artistic genius weren’t enough, Maurice Sendak is an endlessly fascinating man. His candid, acerbic wit is underscored by a generous intimacy. The shocking jokes spilling out of his mouth come off as invitations to share in a special rapport. And as sharp as his fangs seem to be, most of his jabs are directed inward in hopelessly self-deprecating dismissals. When Sendak gets serious, it’s like listening to a wise sage. He’s verbose yet understated, naturally paring even his conversational speech down into economically worded insights.

Tell Them Anything You Want is Lance Bangs and Spike’s compelling personal document of Sendak’s life during the five years of Where the Wild Things Are’s production. The film airs October 14th on HBO. A special advanced screening will be held at Cinefamily in Los Angeles, this Wednesday, September 30th. Expect the unexpected!

A Tribute To Maurice Sendak

In 1963, with just 10 short sentences, a dark and dreamy emotional landscape of hairy monsters and tropical jungles, and one wannabe feral child, Maurice Sendak created one of the most critically acclaimed and popular childrens’ books of all time– “Where the Wild Things Are”. In this loving tribute to everyone’s first favorite author, the Cinefamily will show original animated adaptations (on 16mm!) of “Where the Wild Things Are” and “In the Night Kitchen”, along with new short films made by Lance Bangs and Spike Jonze while the new live action adaptation of “Wild Things…” was in production. Jonze had been friends with Maurice Sendak for more than five years before he began working on his feature film, and these new short films capture a sometimes melancholy but always wickedly funny Sendak as he reflects on his Depression-era childhood in the Brooklyn shtetl, a joyous day at the World’s Fair, the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby, his books “In The Night Kitchen” and “Higgledy Piggledy Pop!”, his two beloved Hermans (Melville, and his German shepherd namesake), and a long-buried secret. Lance Bangs, co-director of Tell Them Anything You Want: A Portrait of Maurice Sendak will be in attendance!

Tickets - $12

Please Vote For Me

Published August 31, 2009 by Graham

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Capturing an intimate look at China’s first ever elementary school class election, Weijun Chen’s 2007 documentary Please Vote For Me is a surprisingly enthralling and emotional little film. Thankfully avoiding the easy route of superfluous historical exposition and grandiose politicizing, the film focuses not on the nation of China but on three very different children who have been thrust into an unfamiliar political framework.

While each candidate struggles for power, they exhibit familiar dark human impulses that are somehow rendered shocking in their tangibility. These are children old enough to think complex, sometimes manipulative thoughts, and yet too young to be covert about them. As a result, we’re treated to a brutally honest peek at the mechanics behind human relationships, and a portrait of childhood that’s at once adorable and disheartening.

If you have a Netflix account, Please Vote For Me is available to stream instantly for free.

Lance Bangs’ Family Portrait

Published August 26, 2009 by Graham

Lately, it seems like all the rad creative people and places in L.A. have become closely intertwined, like a cat’s cradle of overlapping awesomeness. Sure, an extensively detailed flow chart might help you get the picture– or you could just watch this astute new documentary from Lance Bangs! Family Portrait centers on the bookstore Family and spider-webs outward from there, touching on some of our favorite places in Los Angeles, like The Smell, Hope Gallery, and Ooga Booga, as well as the people who make those places great. Watch the rest of Family Portrait after the jump.


Part 1: An intro to Family Bookstore, the crazy range of items they stock, and the origin of the store’s name.

Read the rest of this entry »

Movies You Should See : Billy the Kid

Published June 15, 2009 by Dallas

Jennfier Venditti’s critically acclaimed 2007 documentary about an off kilter adolescent boy making the best of his small town life is probably one of the most thought provoking glimpses into childhood committed to film in recent years. Like similar small town outsider stories and to a degree this genre of documentaries as a whole there is a certain element of “woah this kid is unbelievable” sympathy/humor that draws you in but it is the pure relatability which keeps you watching. A profundity in the simple. Revelation in the mundane. A true reminder of just how close we all once were to being swallowed up by school, dating, being accepted and trying to escape.  

David Lynch’s Interview Project

Published May 18, 2009 by Graham

So apparently David Lynch went on a 20,000 mile road trip throughout the United States and did a bunch of interviews with random strangers. Kinda like This American Life, but without the dulcet tones of Ira Glass to contextualize the rambling storytelling of everyday folk, and with explicitly Lynchian aesthetics thrown in for good measure. In the first clip from this 121-part series, note the conspicuous presence of a white picket fence and the droning refrain of shunting boxcars in the background. All we need is a dwarf and a backwards-talking blonde to make this real-life tale of one man’s triumph over cancer into a searing Inland Empire-esque nightmare. Check out the Interview Project website for the official trailer.

Abandoned Opulence: Mike Tyson’s Sad Pad

Published May 1, 2009 by Graham


In honor of Tyson, James Toback’s acclaimed new documentary (it won a prize at Cannes called “Un Certain Regard Knockout Award”– which I guess is a real thing?) about the titular heavyweight boxing champion’s fall from grace, we’re posting images of Mike Tyson’s abandoned Ohio mansion. These photographs are the result of various intrepid explorers’ pilgrimages to the melancholy ground zero of Tyson’s downward spiral. Less of a house and more a cavernous, hollow reminder of the volatile boxer’s former glory, the space remains frozen in time, eerie in its emptiness.

Might this forsaken estate, with its vacant tiger cages, be foreshadowing the inevitable decline of American indulgence? Could scenes like these become common in the wake of our current financial woes? Is this a harbinger of doom for excessively extravagant cribs? Probably not– there’d be a full-on civil war before the upper upper crust ditches their cribs– but it’s still a stunning, humbling experience to set eyes upon photographs of such massive, tangible loss.