Author Archives: Dan Heaton

April 29

Hot Docs 2015: Seth’s Dominion

We’ve seen countless documentaries about artists that use talking heads to describe their greatness. Some of them are very good, but there’s a sameness that often limits their effectiveness. It’s difficult to really understand what makes them tick, no matter how eloquent the speakers explain the work. Seth’s Dominion avoids these traps by giving us […]

April 25

Hot Docs 2015: How to Change the World

When you choose a grandiose title like How the Change the World, it brings expectations of earth-shattering moments that permanently modified our thinking. It’s a tall order to come close to matching those aspirations. The idealistic guys who started Greenpeace and energized the environmental movement might fit the bill, however. A shot of Paul Watson […]

April 25

Hot Docs 2015: (T)ERROR

It’s easy to expect familiar patterns when watching films, even with less mainstream fare. Veteran moviegoers understand the normal structures for how genres function. It’s jarring to encounter a documentary that sidesteps the conventions it sets up from the start. Despite the clever title, (T)ERROR initially appears to be a fairly standard profile of an […]

January 14

Netflix Pick: Bill Cunningham New York

It’s a challenge to wrap your mind around the singular focus of Bill Cunningham. The longtime New York Times fashion photographer spends his days shooting everyday people on the streets of the city. He stands at intersections with his camera and scans the crowds to find interesting looks. A Schwinn bike (his 29th) is his […]

November 05

Netflix Pick: I Know That Voice

Voice acting can be a pretty thankless job with limited recognition, and the people involved wouldn’t want it any other way. When you venture beyond the celebrity voices that can sell a project, there are many skilled professionals working daily to make animated films and TV shows click. Their stories reach the forefront in I […]

October 08

Netflix Pick: Walking and Talking

The film industry is still a world dominated by men, and we’ve seen little progress in recent years. This is especially true in the directing field, where successful women are an exception. Kathryn Bigelow, Sofia Coppola, Kelly Reichardt, and others have done well, but it’s a short list. This landscape doesn’t make it easy, but […]

September 03

Netflix Pick: Smoke

There’s a relaxing charm to Wayne Wang’s Smoke that’s a real challenge to create on the big screen. Characters glide in and out of this airy Brooklyn world, yet it feels natural. The Brooklyn Cigar Co. at the center of the action feels lived in and doesn’t look like a movie set. Its owner Auggie (Harvey […]

August 06

Netflix Pick: Gimme the Loot

We’re living in a blockbuster culture dominated by franchises, so it’s easy to grow disillusioned with movies’ future. Thankfully, there are more outlets than ever before for stories that aren’t involved with saving the world from massive destruction. Sometimes just following characters for a day in their lives is enough to leave a strong impression. […]

May 01

Hot Docs Review: The Immortalists

We’ve been obsessed with discovering eternal youth for centuries. From the searches for the Fountain of Youth by explorers to the plastic surgeons of today, humans are obsessed with combating aging. Is this just a pipe dream caused by fear of death, or could we actually become immortal? The Immortalists chronicles two guys who believe […]

April 30

Hot Docs Review: The Pink Helmet Posse

It’s easy to look at the advancements for female athletes in the 21st century and think we’ve made great progress. The improvements have occurred, but strong perceptions remain that can direct girls away from athletics. This is especially true at an early age, when adults shape their ideas for what is possible. My older daughter […]

April 26

Hot Docs Review: Pine Ridge

When we think of Native Americans in movies, the images that appear frequently go back to one-note characterizations from westerns in their heyday. Revisionist films have shown the awful treatment from the U.S. government, but it’s still within a historical perspective. We rarely learn about what’s happening in our present day on the reservations. The […]