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6:00 PM on 07.23.2014

Review: Kill Team

The war in Afghanistan is the longest military conflict in which the United States has been involved. The operation is nowhere near as successful as hoped, which is part of the reality of fighting a war in Afghanistan, a less...

Hubert Vigilla




Review: Particle Fever photo
Review: Particle Fever
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

I like physics. I probably have as good a grasp of the field as any film critic, and I frequently read articles about things like the Large Hadron Collider and the revelation of the mass of the Higgs Boson and how that revelation has impacted supersymmetry theory.

You've probably heard of the Large Hadron Collider (possibly as that thing that didn't actually destroy the world) and the Higgs Boson (sometimes called the God particle), but it's less likely that you know what supersymmetry (affectionately called SUSY) is. If you don't understand what I'm talking about, much of the science in Particle Fever is going to fly right over your head. 

But that doesn't mean you shouldn't see it. Because Particle Fever succeeds not because of its discussion of this particular science, but that of what science means and why it matters.

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11:00 AM on 06.12.2014

Trailer for Turtle Power: The Definitive History of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

As a young lady whose favorite childhood toys were a garbage bag full of Ninja Turtles action figures and who arrived at the theater for 2007's TMNT dressed up as Michelangelo, I will pretty much sit through anything th...

Isabelle Magliari

9:50 PM on 05.30.2014

New trailer for whimsical soccer movie This is Not a Ball

Leading up to the 2014 World Cup, (which is taking forever, am I right?) artist Vik Muniz has created the quirky, tongue-in-cheek documentary This is Not a Ball. This is Not a Ball follows Muniz all over the world as he expl...

Liz Rugg

2:00 PM on 05.01.2014

Woman replaces the dead with dolls in "The Valley of Dolls" documentary

Filmmaker Fritz Schumann visits the mostly abandoned village of Nagoro in his creepily sweet short documentary The Valley of Dolls. Schumann profiles 64-year-old Nagoro resident Ayano Tsukimi, a woman who constructs lar...

Isabelle Magliari



Tribeca Review: Mala Mala photo
Tribeca Review: Mala Mala
by Isabelle Magliari

Mala Mala is the type of documentary that you feel privileged having watched. The Puerto Rican drag scene and transgendered communities are endlessly fascinating, and watching them thrive through Mala Mala's respectful lens cements this documentary as one of my favorites. Mala Mala is hugely educational and the stories of the transitioning men and women it profiles are funny, frank, and honest. This is one documentary that doesn't pull any punches with its editing or its message. Mala Mala's candid portrayal of the trans and drag community is refreshing and somehow hopeful, even when their stories are full of struggle. 

[For the remainder of April, Flixist will be covering the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival. Click here for more information and here for all of our coverage.]

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Tribeca Review: Maravilla photo
Tribeca Review: Maravilla
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

One of the most significant differences between a documentary and a film based on a true story is that documentaries can be about things that failed. Documentaries about big events are often started during the setup, and it’s always possible that the subject of the documentary will fail and render the whole thing moot. But even if there won’t be a fictional retelling of the story, that documentary could still see a release.

Even if you hadn’t heard the story, you knew that Miracle was going to end in a win. That’s the whole reason it exists. Maravilla, though? I was less sure… and a lot more excited.

[For the remainder of April, Flixist will be covering the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival. Click here for more information and here for all of our coverage.]

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Tribeca Review: Super Duper Alice Cooper photo
Tribeca Review: Super Duper Alice Cooper
by Isabelle Magliari

As a child, my parents lived and breathed Alice Cooper. My father had a particularly terrifying poster of his made-up, screaming face thumbtacked into the cork-board wall of his office that scared me too much to ever listen to his music. Now, at the ripe old age of twenty four, I was excited to see Super Duper Alice Cooper and learn all about the bizarre man who enraptured my parents and haunted my nightmares. Unfortunately, Super Duper Alice Cooper is a rock doc that plods more than it intrigues. And that's not super duper.

[For the remainder of April, Flixist will be covering the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival. Click here for more information and here for all of our coverage.]

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5:00 PM on 04.17.2014

Short trailer for Ukrainian protest documentary Maidan teases tension

Ukrainian filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa's newest documentary Maidan will follow in the footsteps of other uprising and protest documentaries and chronicle the events that happened in Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine leading up to ...

Liz Rugg

12:00 PM on 04.10.2014

Trailer for Fed Up takes a look at America's food industries

It's no secret that America has some pretty big food problems. Genetically modified crops, fast food, and of course, tons of sugar. In documentary Fed Up, producer Katie Couric takes a hard look at the big businesses behind ...

Liz Rugg

8:00 PM on 04.04.2014

Trailer: Heaven Adores You - an Elliot Smith documentary

You've probably heard of Elliot Smith before. Maybe you've heard his music, maybe you've heard about how he died, maybe you've heard about the Elliot Smith memorial mural in Los Angles. Heaven Adores You is a documentary abo...

Liz Rugg







SXSW Review: Que Caramba es la Vida photo
SXSW Review: Que Caramba es la Vida
by Nick Valdez

Growing up as a young Latino boy in San Antonio, Texas, I've had quite a few experiences with Mariachi groups. There was a Mariachi club in my high school, and on several occasions, my great uncle would hire groups to sing at his parties. While I know little Spanish myself (being 5th generation Mexican, Spanish, and Native American), there's always been something special about Mariachi music. It helps me feel closer to the culture years of assimilation have separated me from. 

But there's one perspective I shamefully admit I've never considered: the women. How do the women of Mariachi exist within this male dominated field? And as bad as it is to say, men are and have always been a dominant part of Mexican culture stemming from some passed down belief that women are supposed to stay home and raise the children. 

Que Caramba es la Vida paints a new picture of the previously homogeneous term "starving artist" with wonderful results. 

[From March 7th - 15th, Flixist will be providing coverage from South by Southwest 2014 in Austin, TX.  Prepare yourselves for reviews, interviews, features, photos, videos, and all types of shenanigans!]

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SXSW Review: Doc of the Dead photo
SXSW Review: Doc of the Dead
by Nick Valdez

Zombies are some of the most divisive creatures in the horror genre. They've become such a big entity, the zombie film has grown into a genre all its own complete with multiple variations, multiple looks, and multiple medias. Their influence has spread through all sorts of movies, books, comics, videogames, and even television. 

Doc of the Dead seeks to document the story of the zombie genre from beginning to its undead end. Does it succeed in all the right areas? Somewhat, yes. 

[From March 7th - 15th, Flixist will be providing coverage from South by Southwest 2014 in Austin, TX.  Prepare yourselves for reviews, interviews, features, photos, videos, and all types of shenanigans!]

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5:00 PM on 02.25.2014

New, epic trailer for nature documentary Watermark

Watermark is a new feature length documentary about humans' relationships with water, and presumably with our planet on a global scale. Watermark is a collaboration between filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nick de Pencier, a...

Liz Rugg



Review: 12 O'Clock Boys photo
Review: 12 O'Clock Boys
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

I've never felt so totally lost watching a film spoken in my own language as I was watching 12 O'Clock Boys. It's bizarre, really, just how difficult to understand many of these characters are. The only close approximation I can think of would be Trainspotting, but at least I can feel like that one is foreign-ish, since it's from a different country. But 12 O'Clock Boys is not. It's just set in a culture that I am not a part of and have no connection to. In fact, I would venture to guess that 90% of the festival-going public who has seen this film so far can't really relate to the characters it follows.

That would be bad enough in a narrative film; it's potentially ruinous for a documentary.

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1:00 PM on 01.21.2014

The Act of Killing returning to theaters in February

The Act of Killing is a stupendous documentary. It's chilling, gripping, and even slightly humorous. I even liked it enough to put it on my Top 15 of 2013 list, and it's got an Oscar nomination now! It's all with good reason....

Nick Valdez

8:00 AM on 11.18.2013

First trailer for Justin Bieber documentary, Believe

In a spiritual sequel to Justin Bieber's Never Say Never documentary, Believe, oh wait Justin Bieber's Believe sorry, this documentary catalogs the sad and terrible life of the fallen teen idol. Wait, little girls still like...

Nick Valdez



Review: The Pervert's Guide to Ideology photo
Review: The Pervert's Guide to Ideology
by Hubert Vigilla

Slavoj Žižek is one of the most popular public intellectuals in the world, though maybe in a "big in Japan" sort of way. (Most public intellectuals who aren't Noam Chomsky or a member of the Four Horsemen of New Atheism have "big in Japan" appeal.) If you're not familiar with him or his work, he's a Slovenian philosopher influenced primarily by Karl Marx and Jacques Lacan, the notoriously difficult psychoanalytic thinker.

Žižek is a cult figure and a divisive one. Hip-to-it humanities students dig on books like Violence or The Sublime Object of Ideology, while Žižek critics like John Gray publish lengthy and intelligent critiques of his thought in The New York Review of Books. He has been dismissed by some as "the Borat of philosophy," which is kind of true for all the good things and bad things that label entails.

This may sound boring and esoteric, but Žižek's a fascinating thinker even if you don't buy into what he's saying. One example: he's mentioned in lectures how the national character of a country is manifested in the way they design their toilets. (Yes, that's included after the cut.) It's this kind of thinking -- at once absurd, persuasive, entertaining, and even enlightening -- that drives The Pervert's Guide to Ideology.

[This review was originally posted as part of our coverage of the 2012 DOC NYC film festival. It has been reposted to coincide with the theatrical release of the film.]

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Review: These Birds Walk photo
Review: These Birds Walk
by Hubert Vigilla

Many people who hop into documentaries casually expect a certain amount of overt filmmaker guidance -- voiceover narration, talking head interviews, infographics, archival footage; anything to help impart information. Yet the vérité doc resists those impulses in order to record reality as it happens. Filmmaker guidance occurs through the editing rather than with voice or outside imagery, and I think that's why these kinds of documentaries can be the trickiest to pull off.

I'm starting out by saying this because These Birds Walk is a documentary that really pushes the vérité elements as far as they can go. There is minimal hand holding in the film, and I think that'll put off people who don't watch many documentaries or have an aversion to the vérité style.

And yet even with that caveat, I think These Birds Walk is an extraordinarily beautiful film about runaways and abandoned children in Pakistan. The documentary has a subtle narrative structure (as much as real life can have a narrative structure, at least) that helps accentuate both the heartbreak of their existence and the brief moments of exhilaration when they seem the most alive.

[This review was originally posted as part of our coverage of South by Southwest 2013. It has been reposted to coincide with the theatrical release of the film.]

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Review: The Square photo
Review: The Square
by Alec Kubas-Meyer

It’s easy to ignore what’s going on half a world away. By the time the Egyptian people were fighting to take down Mohammed Morsi earlier this summer, I had forgotten all about the 2011 revolution. Of course, hearing about it brought back memories, but even those were pretty fuzzy. The whole thing sounded important, but I was too busy dealing with less important things to understand what was going on.

I paid a lot more attention to this summer’s events, and I went into The Square hoping that it would fill the gaps in my knowledge about what had been happening over the past few years. It doesn’t really do that, because it’s mainly focused on the events of 2011 and 2013, but it does give context for what kept bringing these men and women back to Tahrir S   quare. And now I feel like I have a grasp of what has happened.

That may actually be a dangerous thing, empowering the ignorant to believe they aren’t ignorant, but it doesn’t change the fact that if there is going to be a definitive document of the Egyptian revolutions, Jehane Noujaim’s The Square may well be it.

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12:00 PM on 10.11.2013

Dear Mr. Watterson trailer explores Calvin and Hobbes

I actually know a person who doesn't like Calvin & Hobbes. Sometimes I think he may be Satan himself. It's possible. There's just something magic about the boy and his stuffed tiger that never gets old. The strip aren't ...

Matthew Razak



NYFF Review: The Missing Picture photo
NYFF Review: The Missing Picture
by Hubert Vigilla

At last year's New York Asian Film Festival I saw a documentary called Golden Slumbers, which focused on the lost cinema of Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge had destroyed cinema houses and film negatives throughout the country, wiping out an entire cultural history in their criminal attempt to remake the country as a communist utopia. While I had issues with that film and the way it approached it's subject matter, I think that Golden Slumbers gave me a fascinating entry point into Rithy Panh's documentary The Missing Picture.

Both films are about trying to discuss something that isn't there. While it was Cambodian cinema in Golden Slumbers, in The Missing Picture it's the past realities obscured by the Khmer Rouge. Pahn attempts to find the truth of what happened during Pol Pot's regime through spoken text and clay figurines and through film -- since reality isn't available, art will have to suffice and supplant.

[For the next few weeks, we'll be covering the 2013 New York Film Festival, now in its 51st year. Flixist will provide you with reviews, video, news, and features on some of the best films on the festival circuit. To check out all of our coverage of NYFF51, click here.]

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