never ending man hayao miyazaki

Hayao Miyazaki is one of the best living filmmakers in the world, in and outside of animation. So it was a loss for us all when he announced he would retire in 2013 — and a perplexing but exciting gain for us when he nixed that retirement and stated that he was coming back to direct a feature-length CGI animated film.

And because we got a lovely, melancholy documentary following the end of the last phase of his career — if you haven’t seen 2013’s The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness by Mami Sunada, do so now — we’re getting yet another documentary on Miyazaki titled Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki, which follows his newfound passion for CGI animation and the making of the film bringing him out of retirement, Boro the Caterpillar.

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Vladimir Putin The Putin Interviews Oliver Stone

Here’s something I didn’t see coming: director Oliver Stone (Platoon, Wall Street) sat down with Russian president Vladimir Putin to interview him for a documentary called The Putin Interviews, which will air on Showtime as a four-hour, four-night event. Watch the first teaser trailer and read all about the new doc below.
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Joshua: Teenager vs Superpower Trailer

Joshua Wong wasn’t born when Hong Kong was handed back to the Chinese government in 1997 after being under British rule and influence by western civilization. But that didn’t stop him from rallying against the Communist government for trying to take away some of Hong Kong’s autonomy that was promised in the “one country, two systems” principle that came with their return to Chinese rule.

In 2012, China attempted to implement a National Education curriculum that was aimed at deterring youth from having “unpatriotic thoughts.” It’s the institutional equivalent of brainwashing and propaganda in schools, and at 14 years old, Joshua Wong wasn’t going to sit back and let it happen. His defiance turned into an activism group that ended up rallying hundreds of thousands of students around him, putting him toe-to-toe with the entire Chinese government. It sounds like a fictional narrative, but it’s a true story, and Netflix’s new documentary Joshua: Teenager vs Superpower shows how it all went down.

Watch the Joshua: Teenage vs Superpower trailer below. Read More »

blow out

(Welcome to Now Stream This, a monthly column dedicated to the best movies streaming on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and every other streaming service out there.)

Next month offers a wealth of options for movie fans of all tastes. How about a thriller from one of the greatest filmmakers of the past 50 years? How about an Oscar-winning drama that’s as good as you’ve heard? If you’re feeling especially adventurous, how about an English TV movie so scary that it’s hardly been seen in 25 years? We have all of this and more!

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born in china

DisneyNature has been continuing the tradition Walt Disney started many years ago of producing animal documentaries filled with story, excitement, adventure, and fun. Their latest release, Born in China, ventures into the wilds of China to capture intimate moments with a panda and her growing cub, a young golden monkey who feels displaced by his baby sister, and a mother snow leopard struggling to raise her two cubs.

Whenever I’m watching a DisneyNature film, I sit there wondering how they create these films. The subjects are not as predictable and are much harder to photograph than the subjects of a traditional documentary. Are the stories crafted before the filmmakers head out into the wilds? Or is a narrative constructed in the editing room?

Last month, I talked with Born in China producer Roy Conli to find out the answers to these questions. Conli also serves on the Walt Disney Animation Studios Story Trust and has also produced films ranging from Treasure Planet to Frozen to Big Hero 6. As you’d expect, the nature documentary process is fascinating. Did you know that it took them 90 days to even get the first shot of the cubs in this movie? We discuss that and more in our Born in China interview.

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Batman and Bill Trailer

Everyone thinks Bob Kane is the sole creator of Batman. What the new documentary Batman and Bill presupposes is, maybe he’s not.

Even though Bob Kane is frequently and historically associated with the creation of Batman, the more educated comic book fans now know that many of the signature elements of Batman’s long comic book history were created by another man named Bill Finger. But why is his name not nearly as synonymous with the creation of The Dark Knight? A new documentary explores why Finger was omitted from Batman’s history and only just recently started getting the credit that he’s due.

Watch the Batman and Bill trailer below. Read More »

The Keepers Netflix

With the rise of NPR’s popular Serial podcast, HBO’s riveting limited series The Jinx, and Netflix’s wildly addictive Making a Murderer over the span of a couple of years, the true crime genre had never been hotter. It’s cooled down a bit since 2015, but it seems like the public will always be intrigued by a murder mystery, and if a story is framed in the right way, it can still become an outright sensation.

That’s clearly what Netflix is hoping for with The Keepers, the streaming service’s new seven-part docuseries about the unsolved murder of a Baltimore nun and the potential cover-up that’s been going on for nearly fifty years.
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Arnold Schwarzenegger Wonders of the Sea 3D

Ask anyone you know and they could probably pull out an Arnold Schwarzenegger impression for you. The star of The Terminator, Predator, and Conan the Barbarian has one of the most distinct voices in Hollywood, but he’s rarely done voice over work and has never narrated a documentary film before. That changes with Wonders of the Sea 3D, a doc about ocean conservation that’s co-directed by the son of famed explorer Jacques Cousteau.

See what Arnold Schwarzenegger narrating a doc looks like in the promo reel below. (Spoiler alert: it’s pretty fantastic.) Read More »

Escape from Park City - Sundance Documentary Short

We’ve been covering the Sundance Film Festival for years, watching and reviewing dozens of independent films, most of which are playing for audiences for the first time anywhere. Personally, I’ve been to the annual cinematic showcase in Park City, Utah seven years in a row, and even though it’s always exhausting, it never gets old. But not everyone is as lucky in their experience at Sundance, as a new documentary short illustrates.

Filmmaker John Wilson (aka “Johns Movies”) was hired to “uncover some of the festival’s secrets” for Vimeo while crashing on their couch during the 2017 Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. Titled Escape from Park City, this short is a truly unique look at the festival that takes away all the glitz and glamor and shows you what it’s really like to be at Sundance. Read More »

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risk documentary trailer

Showtime has picked up Risk, a documentary about Julian Assange and WikiLeaks by Citizenfour director Laura Poitras that debuted at Cannes last year.

The news of Showtime debuting Risk came along with a trailer teasing the documentary’s connection to the 2016 elections and the hacked Democratic National Committee emails — a facet that Poitras has added to Risk‘s plot even after the documentary was initially shown to audiences.

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