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We spout opinion, comment on the current zeitgeist and overanalyze pop culture and mainstream movies. Whether in the form of lists, survey questions or straight editorials, we hope to make thinking deeply about film a fun and stimulating activity for all.

Spout

Slamdance 2012: Alexandra Berger Talks “Danland,” Finding a Narrative in Verite Style and Being a Woman Documenting the Porn Industry

  • By Christopher Campbell
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  • January 26, 2012 4:13 PM
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  • 0 Comments
One of the highlights at this year’s Slamdance Film Festival is the documentary "Danland," which follows the romantic pursuits of a well-known producer and star of amateur pornography. The film begins with this man, ‘Porno’ Dan Leal, on his wedding day, but we can’t really see who the bride is. Then we go back a few years and watch his relationships grow and die, some resurrected, others gone for good. It’s truly a movie for equal enjoyment among couples. There’s the porn stuff for the guys and the romance for the girls. And for just general doc lovers it’s an entertaining look into a strange and complicated world. 

Sundance 2012: Managing Cynicism - This Year’s Great Crop of Sundance Online Shorts

  • By Daniel Walber
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  • January 26, 2012 11:15 AM
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Maybe I’m a bit cynical. That’s not true. I’m excessively cynical. I could claim it comes naturally once you’ve seen too many movies, but that doesn’t seem like a good enough excuse. And the 2012 Sundance Film Festival’s online shorts are a perfectly illustrative example of why any exhausted approach to new movies is a bad idea.

Sundance 2012: Top Online Shorts "Long Distance Information" and "The Debutante Hunters"

  • By Daniel Walber
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  • January 25, 2012 7:23 PM
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  • 1 Comment
All of the nine shorts Yahoo and the Sundance Film Festival have put on the web are pretty good. It’s an impressive crop, and I’d say more consistent than a lot of the stuff festivals have put online in the last year. Yet in any batch of films a few rise to the top. I’ve rounded up the other seven, and the oddly consistent problem they have. Here are my two favorites and some gushing about why I think they’re absolutely worth your time.

Which Documentaries Could Be Remade as Narrative Films?

  • By Christopher Campbell
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  • January 24, 2012 4:02 PM
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  • 4 Comments
It doesn’t happen that often, but sometimes documentaries are adapted, or remade, into narrative films. That’s what we call the fully dramatized versions anyway, ignoring the fact that docs have narratives too. Past examples include Werner Herzog’s "Little Dieter Needs to Fly," which the filmmaker turned into Rescue Dawn, Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato’s "Party Monster," which the duo made into a film of the same name, and I include biographies like Rob Epstein’s "The Times of Harvey Milk" even though it wasn’t directly related to Gus Van Sant’s biopic Milk.

2012 Oscar Nominee Discussions

  • By Spout
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  • January 24, 2012 12:05 PM
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First, obligatorily, we don't care about the Oscars. Second, we really haven't seen or at least haven't written about enough of the Oscar nominees this year. Part of the reason is that a lot of the films of last year weren't that interesting, discussion-wise. Even films that were being talked about elsewhere, like "The Help" and "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" didn't seem worthy of review for us. But we're going to try to be better in this next year. We also notice that we could be a little less negative. Even the one discussion post on "Hugo," one of our favorites of the year is about its one notable flaw. Anyway, in response to the 2012 Academy Award nominees, here are those recognized that we've spouted about: Best Picture

Sundance 2012: "Teddy Bear" is a Sweet Drama With a Lovably Large Breakout Performance

  • By Christopher Campbell
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  • January 23, 2012 3:28 PM
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The main conceit of Mads Matthiesen’s “Teddy Bear” (aka "10 Timer til Paradis") which was previously established in his 2007 short film “Dennis,” is that its protagonist is a bulging bodybuilder who ironically isn’t macho at all. The idea that this guy, Dennis, is introverted, awkward with women and for all we know a 40-year-old virgin is expanded upon in the feature, and though it’s a simple idea with little extra going on the film never overextends its welcome.

Short Starts: Watch "Dennis," Short Source of the Sundance Drama "Teddy Bear"

  • By Christopher Campbell
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  • January 23, 2012 12:23 PM
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Short Starts is a column devoted to kicking off the week with a short film, typically one tied to a new release. Today, in honor of Sundance rather than a new release, we present a 2007 short that has now been adapted for a feature film.

Sundance 2012: "Compliance" is a Bloodless Horror Film That I Couldn't Resist

  • By Christopher Campbell
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  • January 21, 2012 3:06 PM
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  • 2 Comments
For a good portion of Craig Zobel’s twisted new single-setting drama, “Compliance,” I had difficulty believing what was happening. The film, which is based on a true story, depicts a busy night at a Midwest fast food restaurant during which a teenage employee is accused of theft, detained in a stock room and consequently strip searched in the process of investigating her alleged crime. The problem is there’s no police detective in sight, though there is supposedly one on the phone dictating irregular procedures to the chicken joint’s manager and staff. And to them it all seems a strange yet acceptable idea to conduct such an outlandish probe by proxy with only the word and authority of an unfamiliar “cop.”

"Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston" is a Casual Celebration of the '70s Fashion Designer

  • By Christopher Campbell
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  • January 20, 2012 2:41 PM
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There are few kinds of documentaries I dislike more than the amateur first-person film that pretends to be about a famous person (or persons) but really ends up being primarily about the self-involved director and his or her fandom (or investigative journey). The sort that begin with redundant narration from the director along the lines of, “I always wanted to make a film about...” Exceptions do occur, and I’d cite docs like “Sherman’s March” (and Ross McElwee’s other works), “Roger & Me” (and some of Michael Moore’s subsequent work) and “Gasland” as classic successes of the style. And the recent Toronto hit “Paul Williams Still Alive” proves miraculously that they can even work when the filmmaker is a pest -- something that typically hurts these films.

The Doc Option: Instead of "Red Tails" Watch "Wings for This Man"

  • By Christopher Campbell
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  • January 20, 2012 11:21 AM
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  • 0 Comments
George Lucas is back with his first non-"Star Wars" or "Indiana Jones" production in nearly 20 years, and it's a World War II actioner about the African American pilots and crewmen known as the Tuskegee Airmen. If you're already familiar with the history of these heroic men, by all means go see the guy behind "The Phantom Menace" and "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" seem to do for the sky over Europe (with help from Cuba Gooding, Jr.) what Michael Bay did ten years ago for Pearl Harbor (with help from Cuba Gooding, Jr.). If you're not, then I have another Doc Option for you.

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