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Docs are the best reviewed movies of the year; so why don't you see them?

by Anthony Kaufman
August 1, 2012 12:23 PM
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According to review aggregation sites Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, documentaries consistently rank among the best-reviewed movies of the year. According to Metacritic, Jafar Panahi’s filmmaker self-portrait This is Not a Film currently tops 2012, while Rotten Tomatoes ranks The Invisible War and Planet of Snail with perfect 100% ratings, followed closely behind by Jiro Dreams of Sushi, The Island President (each with 98%) and The Imposter (97%). But they're still considered second-class citizens in the marketplace. In my latest Docutopia column at the Sundance Now website, I address this lingering and unfortunate situation.

"Searching for Sugar Man"

Here is an excerpt below:

"These days, when “reality” is a common trope across most of our popular media entertainments; when Katy Perry, Justin Bieber and chimpanzees can make tens of millions of dollars at the box office showing off their real-life experiences; when the worst kept secret at the Sundance Film Festival is how documentaries are, by and large, superior to the narratives, isn’t it time to throw out the old-fashioned meme that docs are somehow inferior?

Last weekend’s new releases Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry and Searching for Sugar Man are the latest testaments to the strength of the form. They are informative and entertaining­­—as compelling as any narrative indie feature—and should remain in theaters throughout the rest of the summer. (Each earned solid $9,000-plus per-theater averages in their opening weekends). They are the kinds of documentaries that hit the art-house audience’s sweet spot, splitting their screen time between hot-button politics, narrative thrills, and even some humor."

Check out the rest of the column at the link.

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  • Jessica | August 2, 2012 1:04 AMReply

    Um actually Rotten Tomatoes also gives THIS IS NOT A FILM 100% rating but for some reason
    lists it as 2011 film. It opened in the US and the UK in 2012. Despite nothing but raves from critics ( it literally does not have a bad review) the box office is soft but it continues to play around the country. As the booker I can tell you that in 25 years plus in indie film I have never had so many venues thank me for being able to show the film even if despite the rave reviews it did not draw a big audience. I don't know if I am depressed or elated by this, probably a little of both.

  • Daniel | August 1, 2012 6:11 PMReply

    To answer your question:

    I think most people view movies as a way to escape reality. Documentaries ask us to confront it.

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