Land of Silence and Darkness begins as a portrait of Fini Straubinger, who had been deaf and blind since adolescence. After spending decades in bed, she began to experience life and to help others in the same situation. Central to her awakening was learning about finger spelling, which provides a means of communication for those… Read More A Look into the ‘Land of Silence and Darkness’
Best Worst Movie (Michael Stephenson, 2009) opens with an extended sequence about the life of affable dentist George Hardy. Everyone likes him, he enjoys his job, and even his ex-wife likes him. Then, right around the five-minute run-time mark, we hear the key question posed to his mother: “What do you think of your son’s… Read More Taking Fans Behind the Scenes in ‘Best Worst Movie’
Many filmmakers can probably relate to one of the opening scenes in American Movie (Chris Smith, 1999) as Mark Borchart sorts through bills and collection notices. As the amounts add up, he comes across a new credit card and momentarily gets excited about it. American Movie follows Borchart’s passion project in the making of the… Read More No Title is Good Enough for a Post about the Awesome ‘American Movie’
Like almost all of Werner Herzog’s documentaries, Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2011) operates on two levels: in this case the important discovery of the cave and the attempts at finding greater meanings therein. The important discovery is the Chauvet caves found in France in 1994. These caves featured paintings on the wall that were dated… Read More ‘Cave of Forgotten Dreams’ Seeks a Deeper Meaning
Unless you watched the opening credits, you would not recognize From One Second to the Next (2013) as a Werner Herzog film. This short is a public service announcement sponsored by the four major cell phone companies in the United States about the outcomes of texting and driving. This short features a series of interviews… Read More Werner Herzog Produces Anti-Texting and Driving PSA
Into the Abyss (2011) is a look into the capital punishment system in Texas through the case of two teenagers who murdered three people for a car. Of the two teens, one entered a plea and received a lighter sentence, while the other received the death penalty. Into the Abyss is not a race-to-prevent-execution documentary,… Read More Herzog Delves ‘Into the Abyss’ of Capital Punishment
Ballad of the Little Soldier (1984) is a German-language documentary short about the situation facing the Miskito Indians in Nicaragua against the Sandinistas. Co-directed by Werner Herzog and journalist Denis Reichle, the documentary focuses primarily on the Miskito people’s stories. This short balances two parts, though neither is wholly separated from the other. Through interviews… Read More ‘Ballad of the Little Soldier’ Tells Stories of the Child Soldiers
My Best Fiend (1999) is Werner Herzog’s tribute to the infamous Klaus Kinski, arguably one of the most difficult actors to work with in cinematic history. While Burden of Dreams somewhat downplays Kinski’s antics, My Best Fiend offers an unflinching look at the man through the eyes of someone who saw him as just that:… Read More ‘My Best Fiend’ or My Favorite Enemy?
Warner Herzog Eats His Shoe (1980) is a fun documentary short directed by Les Blank. In this short Herzog makes good on a promise that he made to Errol Morris to eat his shoe if Morris ever finished his film. Morris completed Gates of Heaven, and Herzog dined on shoe leather at its screening. In… Read More ‘Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe:’ What More of a Title Do You Need?
Making-of documentaries have long since been co-opted as public relations vehicles and as DVD extras, but some truly amazing documentaries show what really went on behind the scenes in some epic productions. Les Blank’s Burden of Dreams (1982) is one of these documentaries. Burden of Dreams follows the making of Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo, a fiction… Read More Making-of Documentary Shows the ‘Burden of Dreams’