Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Documentary: Marwencol (2010) and Promised Lands (1974)

I had a chance to catch Marwencol at the Wisconsin Film Festival a few weeks ago, and it is a very entertaining documentary that had a great response from the audience.  It begins streaming on Netflix Watch Instantly tomorrow (4/20/11).  In a sense Mark Hogancamp's story is a no-lose situation in terms of documentary subject matter (click here for a list of articles about him), so while at times the film itself could be more focused and concise, these faults are easily forgiven because the material remains intriguing throughout. 

Also added today is Susan Sontag's documentary filmed in Israel during the waning days of the Yom Kippur war, Promised Lands.  Of the four films she made, this is her only documentary, and while it received mixed reviews at the time of its release it now is often considered one of her better films. 

Marwencol (Jeff Malmberg, USA, 2010, 86 minutes)
Netflix: After a terrible beating left Mark Hogancamp brain damaged, he began creating models of a fictional town, Marwencol, to process the trauma. Jeff Malmberg's documentary explains how Hogancamp uses the elaborate dioramas as stand-ins for real life. When Hogancamp's work attracts the attention of a prestigious New York art gallery, however, he's forced to leave the safety of his make-believe world and reconnect with the real one. Netflix link.
Streaming begins 4/20/11
Promised Lands (Susan Sontag, USA, 1974, 86 minutes)
Netflix: Set in Israel during the final days of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, this powerful documentary -- initially barred by Israel authorities -- from writer-director Susan Sontag examines divergent perceptions of the enduring Arab-Israeli clash. Weighing in on matters related to socialism, anti-Semitism, nation sovereignty and American materialism are The Last Jew writer Yoram Kaniuk and military physicist Yuval Ne'eman. Netflix link.

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