Spent and the power of film

As an author I believe in the power of the written word. The written word, however, is rarely as powerful as film. For anyone with a story to tell, it is a constant battle for people’s attention. There are only so many hours in a day. If given the choice between learning about a subject […]

My Oscar pick for best documentary

For the first time ever I’ve had a chance to view all five best documentary films before the Oscars. Netflix has four of the five. The one film they didn’t have — Twenty Feet From Stardom — is available on Amazon Prime as a rental. First a quick look at the five nominated films: The […]

West of Memphis an Examination of Incompetence

West of Memphis directed by Amy Berg written by Amy Berg and Billy McMillin Rating ***** This documentary covers the same ground covered by the three Paradise Lost films concerning the wrongful convictions of Jason Baldwin, Damien Wayne Echols, and Jessie Misskelley. As good as those other films were, this film stands on its own […]

Review of Hot Coffee

Review of Hot Coffee directed by Susan Saladoff Rating **** Lady spills hot coffee on herself and then sues McDonalds for millions and wins. Remember that story? I certainly do. I thought it was a ridiculous claim and a perfect example of a frivolous lawsuit. So just based on that limited amount of knowledge I […]

Our broken justice system: The Central Park Five

Review of The Central Park Five written by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon Rating ***** This film should be required viewing for anyone who works in the justice system. This story is a textbook example of how wrongful convictions occur. There are common elements with every wrongful conviction. They most often involve males […]

Review of The House I Live In

Review of The House I Live In Written & directed by Eugene Jarecki Rating **** 1/2 It used to be that I would hear about a film or documentary and try in vain to find a venue where I could see or rent that particular film. This is changing with on demand video streaming. I […]

Review of Farmageddon

Review of Farmageddon written and directed by Kristin Canty Rating **** This film tells the story of how the USDA is using its power and resources to harm small farmers. This is a topic I have written about before. Mostly I have written about the harmful effects of the industrialization of food. It’s a topic covered […]

Review of Five Broken Cameras

Review of Five Broken Cameras written and directed by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi Rating ***** I’ve seen a lot of documentaries from the slickly produced films like The Imposter to homemade movies like Catfish. And the best ones all have one thing in common – they tell compelling stories. This film is one of the five […]

Review of Craigslist Joe

Review of Craigslist Joe directed by Joseph Garner Rating **** A lot of people come up with great ideas for stories. But few actually take the next step and actually put in the work to tell that story. Joseph Garner and cinematographer Kevin Flint put in the work. The result is this entertaining look at […]

Best of Everything Nonfiction 2012

It’s been a busy year for me. I haven’t been able to see as many films as I would have liked. I haven’t been able to read as many books as I would have liked. And it looks like going forward in 2013 I’m going to have even less time as I work on my […]

Review of The Imposter

Review of The Imposter directed by Bart Layton Rating ***** This is the best documentary I’ve seen this year. It’s a fascinating story told in a unique style. This is a story that would be impossible to believe if it weren’t true. A down on his luck Frenchman, whose entire life seems to have centered […]

Review of Into the Abyss

Review of Into the Abyss written and directed by Werner Herzog Rating **** This is a film about the death penalty. The filmmaker, Werner Herzog, makes no attempt to conceal the fact that he opposes capital-punishment. Normally, I would consider that a mistake because it prejudices the film. You know that the filmmaker is going […]

An Absolute Must See Film

Review of Frontline: The Confessions written & directed by Ofra Bikel Rating ***** This is one of those films that tell a story that would be hard to believe if it wasn’t true. If you have any doubts that our justice system isn’t flawed – watch this film! If you have any doubt that the […]

Chasing Madoff: A Story of Indifference and Incompetence

Chasing Madoff Written and Directed by Jeff Prosserman Rating ***** I found this documentary while browsing the shelves at my local Blockbuster. There was one lone copy hidden among a slew of worthless titles like Bad Teacher and Cowboys and Aliens. This film has more originality and entertainment value than those two movies put together. […]

Review of The Back Nine

Review of The Back Nine directed by Ron Vignone and Jon Fitzgerald Rating *** 1/2 The premise for this film is what caught my attention. A fifteen-handicap golfer about to tuen 40, wondered if it would be possible, with the help of technology and professional coaches, to get good enough to compete professionally. It sounded like an […]