As has been the case since 2009, each Earth Day brings with it another tremendous, next-level nature documentary from the folks at Disneynature. The latest one, Chimpanzee, is absolutely tremendous. And while bearing the mark of Disney does bring with it the need to make the films “fun for the whole family,” kudos must be given for not dumbing the story down too much.

While Chimpanzee does have narration and a story arc that is somewhat thrust upon it, the imagery is so gorgeous that maintaining any haughty criticism in just bananas. (Ha!) In celebration, this week’s TBMYPHS is focused on nature documentaries that stand out as transformative works of art. While I love some of the BBC/PBS stuff like, say, Wild China, we’re looking for a different type of journey with this one. Read More »

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As controversial as the death penalty is, I think the one thing we can all agree on is that it’s a huge, complicated topic. Too big, definitely, for just one film, which may be why Werner Herzog is now expanding his upcoming death row documentary Into the Abyss: A Tale of Death, a Tale of Life to a limited television series titled On Death Row, which will air on the cable chanel Investigation Discovery later this year. More details after the jump.

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I imagine that most of our readers have strong feelings about the death penalty, one way or the other. It’s not the sort of topic that leads to indifference. Whether you support or protest the right of a state to kill specific citizens that are convicted of heinous crimes, I expect there will be something in Werner Herzog‘s new movie to challenge your opinion. And what good is an opinion if it can’t take a challenge?

Into the Abyss: A Tale of Death, a Tale of Life is a documentary that follows the stories of a few death row inmates in Texas. Herzog talks to the inmates, and to some of the officers who investigated their crimes, as well as others who are involved in the lives and crimes of these inmates. By many accounts the film is a very even-handed look at those sentenced to die, and I can’t wait to see the film. After the controversy over the execution of Troy Davis here in Georgia, the film seems very timely. Check out a trailer below. Read More »

I know there are people who don’t love the idea of Tom Cruise playing Lee Child‘s hulking and coldly/violently capable hero Jack Reacher. But with the addition of Werner Herzog to the cast of One Shot, the film that Christopher McQuarrie wrote and is directing based on Child’s novel, I don’t see how anyone could stay away.

Herzog will be playing a twisted old figure known only as the Zec — he’s the big bad of the film. It’s killer casting as far as I’m concerned, and something that elevates the film from ‘high curiosity’ status to ‘must-see.’ Who would have guessed that the rather resolute contrarian Herzog would end up with a major role in a studio film like this? More details are after the break. Read More »

The Telluride Film Festival, a presentation of the National Film Preserve which takes place beginning tomorrow, Friday Sept 2 and runs through Monday Sept 5, is an unusual beast as far as film festivals go. The core film lineup is not announced until the day before the festival begins, so attendees have to commit to the fest without knowing any of the movies that will definitely play.

Now the first list of films is out, and it has some expected inclusions such as David Cronenberg‘s A Dangerous Method (trailer) and the Cannes fave The Artist (trailer). In addition there are some good surprises, such as Steve McQueen and Michael Fassbender‘s reunion, Shame (pics), and the Dardenne BrothersThe Kid With a Bike.

More films will be announced at the last minute over the next couple days. One addition, for example, according to Kris Tapley, is Butter. Peter is arriving in Telluride later today so he’ll have coverage of the festival during the holiday weekend. Check out the announced lineup below. Read More »

Warning: this isn’t going to be quite the ideal easygoing Friday afternoon post. But when new info arrives on the latest documentary from Werner Herzog we’ve got to run with it, even if the subject matter is pretty dire. Specifically, Into the Abyss is a film about several death row inmates in the Texas prison system: three men convicted of murder, including one man who killed his girlfriend and her two mentally handicapped sons, and a woman convicted of kidnapping and murder. Werner Herzog talks to these people as well as to their families and victims, and by the looks of the three clips below, the result may be his most intense film in some time. Read More »

Get ready for Werner Herzog‘s next documentary, a film set in a Texas prison that he says is “a gaze into the abyss of the human soul.” The film is called, appropriately, Gazing into the Abyss: A Tale of Death, a Tale of Life. Not exactly the most subtle title, but when the subject is death row prisoners, perhaps there isn’t room for a lot of subtlety. Read More »

Last night, Stephen Colbert hosted Werner Herzog in an interview segment on The Colbert Report intended to promote the new film Cave of Forgotten Dreams. Mr. Herzog did that, certainly, explaining among other things, the artistry of the early humans who created the art that is still to be found in the caves. He said, for example, “They created ivory statuettes, Venus statuettes, way beyond Baywatch, by the way, with breasts like…” and then went on to talk about how the same people also invented God. Good stuff? You bet.

But, more important, Werner Herzog was also asked about his tendency to make stuff up in his documentaries, or to ‘intensify’ the truth. He is interested in, as he has said in other interviews, an “ecstatic truth” that is different from “accountant’s truth.” He begins talking about this by discussing the albino mutant alligators he created for Cave of Forgotten Dreams, and then goes into a spectacular rambling explanation of how he finds his own way to approach a documentary. Check the video after the break. Read More »

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