Wolf of Wall Street Scorsese 4

Martin Scorsese just released The Wolf of Wall Street and is gearing up for Silence, but he’s sneaking one more movie in between them. The director is headed to the Berlin Film Festival next month for a work-in-progress screening of his as-yet-untitled documentary about the New York Review of Books. David Tedeschi co-directed. Get all the details on Scorsese’s new movie after the jump.

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Kurt-Russell-The-Battered-Bastards-of-Baseball

How great is the story at the heart of the doc The Battered Bastards of Baseball? Only a handful of people have seen the film so far, which documents the history of independent baseball team the Portland Mavericks, which had a Hollywood pedigree and earned a huge fanbase thanks to earnest, accomplished play. The film just premiered at Sundance. There isn’t even a distribution deal set for the doc. Nevertheless, it is already set to be adapted into a dramatic feature, with Fast and the Furious director Justin Lin producing and set to direct.

Update: Actually, Todd Field (In the Bedroom, Little Children) will write and direct, with Lin producing, contrary to the first report about the project. That’s actually a very appropriate call, as we explain below.

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Mark Hamill on Star Wars Empire Strikes Back set

Get your glasses on, because we’ve got a lot to look at in this edition of Star Wars Bits. After the jump:

  • Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toys hits DVD
  • Peruse some gorgeous fan-made posters for Episode VII
  • … and some others for Episodes IV through VI
  • Check out more making-of photos from the original trilogy
  • See Darth Vader ride a unicycle while playing the bagpipes

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TheBatteredBastardsofBaseball

Everyone knows Kurt Russell as one of his generation’s most recognizable and badass actors. Some might even know that he was once a professional athlete. What most people don’t know, however, is that Russell’s father, Bing Russell, was even more eclectic. A famous actor in his own right, the elder Russell eventually used his Hollywood fame to start an independent minor league baseball team called the Portland Mavericks.

That incredible story acts as the epicenter of The Battered Bastards of Baseball, a documentary that premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Co-directed by Chapman Way and Maclain Way (Two of Bing Russell’s grandsons), it’s a fascinating and fun look at one of baseball’s hidden and heartwarming stories. Read More »

Life Itself

A movie about the life of a film critic might sound a tad indulgent, but there’s never been another film critic with the influence and character of Roger Ebert. Almost anyone who’s ever seen a movie in the US (and many other countries) has heard his name or taken one of he and partner Gene Siskel’s patented “Two Thumbs Up” recommendations to the box office. As a young film fan, I remember scouring the TV Guide searching for the Sunday morning broadcasts of Siskel & Ebert, and devouring every episode. In particular, I’ll never forget an episode where Ebert dissected Quentin Tarantino’s camerawork in Pulp Fiction. It opened my eyes to a whole new world of film language. Ebert had that effect on a lot of people.

If Ebert opened up that world to people then Steve James‘ latest documentary Life Itself opens Ebert to the world. Based on Ebert’s autobiography of the same name, the film tells Ebert’s life story, yes, but it does so via the framework of our own love of the movies. Great care is taken to specifically illustrate not only how Ebert changed the face of film criticism, but how he helped us all discover our own passion for the movies.

Make no mistake though, this isn’t some simple love letter. Life Itself is a warts and all dissection as well as a beautiful tribute. Issues such as alcoholism, struggles with weight, ego and sex are all part of his story. This is a vast, entertaining and thought-provoking look at Ebert the man and Ebert the icon.

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fantastic-four-doc-header

The Roger Corman-produced version of The Fantastic Four, from 1994, is like an optical illusion. Every time I try to watch the thing, I get about five minutes in before my eyes and brain resolutely decide to look at anything else. The term “unwatchable” gets thrown around a fair bit, but Corman’s Fantastic Four is a great candidate to define the term.

With a wave of superhero movies in full swing, two studio-made Fantastic Four movies behind us and a new one slated to shoot in March, it is inevitable that people will go back to Corman’s movie. It was never officially released, but the enterprising viewer can easily find it online. Now there’s also a documentary, called Doomed! The Untold Story of Roger Corman’s ‘The Fantastic Four’. A trailer has hit, and you can have a look below. Read More »

rumsfeld-unknown-known-trailer

We probably shouldn’t have anticipated that Donald Rumsfeld would open up to documentarian Errol Morris in the same way that former defense secretary Robert McNamara did for the film The Fog of War. But that doesn’t make the Morris conversations with Rumsfeld — presented in the new film The Unknown Known — any less fascinating. While reviews out of festivals talked about how little Rumsfeld deviates from prior statements about intelligence and the latter Bush administration, significant aspects of his personality and mindset are still revealed in the interviews.

Check out a full-length trailer for the doc, below. Read More »

Toms Restaurant Seinfeld

When something becomes as ingrained in popular culture as Seinfeld, anything the show touched became larger than life. George Steinbrenner, the Soup Nazi, “faking it,” the list of things Seinfeld defined or changed forever is long. Near the top of the list has to be Tom’s Restaurant, a diner in New York City that was shown in nearly every episode as the primary hangout of Jerry, Kramer, George and Elaine. Though it opened in the 1940s, fifty years later the show turned Tom’s into quite the tourist attraction.

Now, director Gian Franco Morini is exploring the history of that restaurant, both related to Seinfeld and not, in a documentary called Tom’s Restaurant. Check out the trailer below. Read More »

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