Monday, October 17, 2011

Documentary: Armadillo, Winnebago Man, Art Star

A few notable documentaries have been added to Netflix Watch Instantly in the past few days.

Janus Metz's Armadillo is an amazingly well shot war documentary produced while Metz was embedded with Danish troops in Afghanistan.  This would make an interesting double feature with Restrepo by Sebastian Junger and the late Tim Hetherington.  At the time of the release of Armadillo Metz was interviewed by Aaron Hillis at the GreenCine Daily Podcast, where he goes into some detail about the production of the film.

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Armadillo  (Janus Metz, Denmark, 2010, 101 minutes)
Netflix: Documentarian Janus Metz hunkers down with a platoon of Danish soldiers on a six-month Afghan tour of duty, and his exceptional access yields a field-level view of the boredom, adrenaline and confusion that comprise their daily routine. Shot in assorted digital formats on cameras at times fixed to soldiers' helmets, the film records the recruits on patrol and at rest and witnesses their transformation when finally called to combat.  Netflix link.

Ben Steinbauer's Winnebago Man takes as its starting point a widely seen viral video of outtakes from a Winnebago promotional video.

Winnebago Man (Ben Steinbauer, USA, 2009, 85 minutes)
Netflix: This entertaining documentary explores the phenomenon of Jack Rebney, who became an Internet sensation after a grainy, nearly 20-year-old video of him furiously swearing up a storm while filming a Winnebago sales video made the rounds online. Traveling to a mountaintop, filmmaker Ben Steinbauer tracks down Rebney -- who's become known in underground circles as the "Angriest Man in the World" -- and tries to discover what makes the loner tick.  Netflix link.

Pietra Brettkelly's The Art Star and the Sudanese Twins is one of those interesting documentary experiences where you have decidedly mixed feelings about both the subject and the filmmakers.  Your response to the film might depend on your feelings about the art world in the first place, but even if you are sympathetic to the conceptual side of contemporary art, you might find yourself squirming awkwardly watching certain sequences here.  Personally, I like have those kinds of conflicted viewing experiences, so I recommend the film even though I'm not always sure about ethical issues in the film.

The Art Star and the Sudanese Twins (Pietra Brettkelly, New Zealand, 2007, 98 minutes)
Netflix: Contemporary artist Vanessa Beecroft's passionate attempt to adopt Sudanese twins Madit and Mongor Akot is the focus of this documentary. As Beecroft works tirelessly to fulfill her dream of adoption, she places her marriage and her career at risk. Known for pushing boundaries through her art, Beecroft wants to be the first foreigner to legally take South Sudanese children out of the country, an action certain to have far-reaching implications.  Netflix link.

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