Coldplay's been hibernating, but will begin work on a "surprising" new album next year 

Coldplay’s never really gone. Even when they’re not recording, touring, or tabloiding, Chris Martin and company are memorably hobnobbing with celebrities, forecasting their collapse, or seeing their tunes reimagined in zeitgeisty flicks. Case in point: As an epilogue of sorts to their A Head Full Of Dreams album…

Terrence Malick to tap into the spirituality of SoundCloud rap as producer on upcoming Lil Peep documentary

In a superficial sense, there couldn’t be a starker divide between artists like Terrence Malick and Lil Peep. The former is the reclusive 74-year old filmmaker behind spiritual American epics like Badlands and The Thin Red Line, while the latter was a young, face-tattooed rapper who injected an earnest sentimentality…

The wonderful Shirkers reclaims a lost film by chronicling its rollicking DIY production

A-

The do-it-yourself ethic that drove numerous underground artists in the tail end of the 20th century had as much to do with determination as it did with self-sufficiency. Though certainly ideological—especially in an anti-corporate 1980s punk context—and often financially necessitated, DIY was still rooted in the…

Hale County, This Morning, This Evening finds beauty in the small moments of black Southern life

B-

Hale County, Alabama, which has a population of just under 16,000, is best known as the subject of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, James Agee and Walker Evans’ classic and influential book about the white rural poor. One can presume that this fact played a role in the conception of RaMell Ross’ Hale County, This…

The shallow Hal skims the career of the director behind Harold And Maude and Being There

C

The story of Hal Ashby, the New Hollywood’s designated hippie, ended unhappily—a dispiriting 1980s comedown of forgotten features and high-profile legal problems before his death from cancer at the age of 59, having never made a comeback. But even in his ’70s heyday, Ashby cut an unlikely figure. He didn’t direct his…

A documentary muckraker takes on the tech sector of health in The Bleeding Edge

B

The business of health is built on other people’s problems. This simple fact is reiterated in one form or another throughout Kirby Dick’s muckraking exposé of the medical devices industry, The Bleeding Edge; we see it in regulatory buck-passing, excruciating side effects, and a level of corporatization that, in Dick’s…

Joe Dante, Keith David, and Jello Biafra kick off our coverage of the Fantasia Film Festival

Twenty-two years into its run, the Fantasia International Film Festival is the grande dame of North American genre film festivals. And like any institution, it has its milestones—Fantasia was the first festival to screen Takashi Miike’s work in North America, and arguably launched the J-horror trend…

The director of The Queen Of Versailles takes a shallow look at materialism in Generation Wealth

C+

The photographer Lauren Greenfield, whose documentary The Queen Of Versailles profiled a mega-rich Florida family and their unfinished 85,000 square foot house, offers a career survey in Generation Wealth, revisiting her earlier books, photo assignments, and short docs in a purported overview of our global culture of…

In a pop star’s life and death, Whitney finds an American tragedy

B+

The Houstons were as classic an American saga as the Ambersons or the Glass family, and the life and untimely death of their golden child, the global pop diva Whitney Houston, bore the weight of their ambitions and failures. John Houston, Whitney’s imperious father, worked in zoning for the corrupt mayor’s office of…

Humanity continues to dream of adding Werner Herzog's voice to all documentaries

Werner Herzog is an endlessly fascinating filmmaker, having pivoted from helming some of film’s most daring productions to exploring our world with vital documentaries about cave paintings, grizzlies, and the internet. It’s not just Herzog’s boundless curiosity that enraptures audiences, but also the ways in which his…

The frustrating Did You Wonder Who Fired The Gun? ponders racism and erasure by way of true crime

C+

Ed Vaughn, a civil rights activist in his 80s, laughs as he remembers the first time he ate at a newly desegregated five-and-dime in Dothan, Alabama. He had fought for years for the right to be served at the whites-only lunch counter, but it turned out the food there was slop—nowhere as good as home cooking, anyway.…

The gorgeously humane Quest documents a tumultuous decade in one family’s life

A-

There’s no real attempt at a thesis or story arc in Quest, Jonathan Olshefski’s long-in-the-making documentary about a decade in the life of a black family in an impoverished Philadelphia neighborhood. It’s bookended, with subtle political overtones, by the 2008 and 2016 presidential elections, but there’s nothing as…

The most famous movie scene ever deserved a closer look than what Psycho doc 78/52 offers

C+

Five years ago, Vertigo dethroned longtime champion Citizen Kane in the once-per-decade Sight And Sound poll, becoming film critics’ consensus choice for the greatest movie ever made. Survey those same critics about the single greatest scene in cinema history, however, and a different Hitchcock movie would almost…

Arthouse icon Agnès Varda takes a wise and whimsical road trip in Faces Places

B

Driving a box truck disguised as a giant camera, Agnès Varda and Jean “JR” René tour the French countryside in Faces Places, visiting farms, coal towns, factories, tiny cemeteries, and a toppled German bunker that sits like a Brutalist monument on a Norman beach. The odd couple pairing is almost too cute: the arthouse…

The Death And Life Of Marsha P. Johnson is more than just another true-crime documentary

B

In the earliest days of the gay rights movement, the sight of a man wearing a dress was one of the most visible and shocking symbols of queerness. It’s what a lot of sheltered Americans thought of as “gay”—a man who wanted to live as a woman—and it’s what many of them mocked and feared. Political activism and popular…

School Life documents the school you wish you’d attended

B+

The documentary School Life originally had a much more provocative title, In Loco Parentis, which is a legal term that means “in the place of parents.” It implies, however vaguely, something lacking in a child’s mother and/or father—and School Life doesn’t spend much time on parents at all. Instead, the focus of this…

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