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February 08, 2011


John D

Yer bloody well right there ... great film.

Paul Sturtz

This is an eloquent summary of a great year in docs. Reading your description of Gasland especially brought it all back for me. Thanks for doing this.

Richard Drumond

Certainly "EXIT" is an interesting film and the "best" of a bad bunch. What reflects sadly on the state of self-annointed punditry like yours is the inability to deal with the more appropriate and hard questions. Rather than speculate on which of these films should win - why not question why such a poor bunch of films - from such a great talent pool- made it to the final five nominations?


nice write-up. i'd love some follow-up on this very thick paragraph:

Cut to two years later, and a film that is, at heart, a meditation on the form of documentary itself. Who would have thought that Banksy, the provocative British artist, could point such a perceptive lens at the art of documentary filmmaking, and at the consumption of art and culture, that he would find a way to mostly destroy the debate that has consumed documentary for half a century - "is it or isn't it".

similar to (though meaningfully quite different from) your critiques of writers for not detailing their suggestions of EXIT's fiction, you have above made a couple of not-so-obvious claims about the worth of EXIT: first, that it is "a meditation on the form of documentary itself", and second, that Banksy has "found a way to mostly destroy the debate that has consumed documentary for half a century 'is it or isn't it'". hopefully you'll feel these are worthy of follow-up, I'd love to read your thoughts.

for now, i'll toss this thought into the mix: if, as you claim, EXIT is a meditation on documentary, doesn't it seem that the critique the film offers on the marketplace - and what you suggest is also on "consumption of art and culture" writ-large - is a more a criticism of itself, EXIT FROM THE GIFTSHOP, and its mainstream success and instead (perhaps) ought to, in some convoluded way, champion the Thierry Guetta film?


Richard, what is the great talent pool you speak of? the shortlist? other work from same directors? while i agree with you that these five are largely underwhelming regarding contribution to the form, i wonder which films you would suggest. beyond the formal considerations, i think, contrary to AJ, that WASTE LAND offers the most valuable content/cultural commentary (and really, isn't that what is typically most worthwhile?) of valuing not only the experiences and voices of poverty but, arguably, the moral superiority of poverty itself. AJ is correct in naming the conventions it plays on, but **SPOILER?** i think an interesting twist is added in knowing that this project lost Vik his marriage (arguably a continuation of the criticism AJ raises). nonetheless, clearly the most radical social statement being made in any of these films.

also, i don't remember AJ self-anointing, though he is clearly a prominent "doc community" insider with a well-written, well-thought voice. i will agree with you that it is difficult to find rigorous criticism of the field online, but i certainly wouldn't expect it from an insider, and i'd suggest you take up the charge yourself. that said, i think AJ implicitly sides with you as he champions MAN ON WIRE and now EXIT as spotlighting a preferred direction for documentary. (have you seen his ABOUT A SON? i am a pretty critical viewer, like yourself it would seem, and i think it is quite excellent.)

lastly, i'll point out the obvious, which should go some way in answering your question - this is The Academy we're talking about, i don't expect anyone thinks they are much other than the milquetoast organization they are.

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