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Documentaries Opening Theatrically in November, 2012

An Annotated List of Documentaries Opening Theatrically During November, 2012

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November 2
  • A Liar's Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python's Graham Chapman - Directed by Bill Jones, Jeff Simpson and Ben Timlett - This film is more a compilation of antics than an autobiography, and it doesn't lay claim to being 'nonfiction,' even in its title. That said, it does capture the spirit of the late Graham Chapman, beloved Monty Python player and is a tribute to his widely appreciated and sublimely (some would say) tasteless sense of humor. The film is a holy grail for Monty mavens.

  • A Man's Story - Directed by Varon Boronicos - A rather predictable and puffish biodoc about Saville Row celebrity designer Ozwald Boateng, focusing more on his roster of clients and his personal glamor and lifestyle than on his creative process and fashion savvy. He's handsome. He's impeccable. He's adept. But it's his fascinating perspective on design, fabric and fit that has catapulted him into fashion star status, and it would be nice if the film, shot over twelve years of career and personal development, showed more of the artistic vision that propels Boateng.

  • Bone's Brigade - Directed by Stacy Peralta - Skateboarding superstars Tony Alva, Steve Caballero and Shepherd Fairey join director Stacy Peralta, who's knowledge of and personal involvement in the sport are legendary, in this entertaining recap of the early history of the sport and their careers. Great archival footage of thrilling feats of the young and fearless.

November 10:

  • The Met: Live in HD: The Tempest - If you can't get to the Metropolitan Opera, let it come to you -- in HD. This is one in a series of live performances transmitted to theaters. The production is The Tempest, featuring Thomas Adès, William Burden, Iestyn Davies, Simon Keenlyside, Isabel Leonard, Audrey Luna, Alan Oke, Alek Shrader and Toby Spence.

November 14:

  • The Law in These Parts - Directed by Ra'anan Alexandrowicz - Like the complex issues it investigates, The Law in These Parts demands that a lot of attention be paid to it. Director Ra'anan Alexandrowicz questions -- interrotron style -- several of the lead Israeli decision makers in regard to the law and administration thereof in the Israeli occupied Palestinian territories for over 45 years. Archival footage is used as a backdrop to the discussions. The result is a provocative consideration of a pressing civil rights issue and a serious moral dilemma for Israel. Read my full review.

  • Chasing Ice - Directed by Jeff Orlowski - The documentary follows the work of National Geographic photographer James Balog, who set up cameras in Greenland, Iceland, Alaska and Montana that would automatically record images of glaciers throughout the year, thereby showing the rate at which they are shrinking. The documentation is part of the 'Extreme Ice Survey,' which engages glacier researchers and other experts to track the effects of environmental change, particularly global warming. The film shows how the cameras were set up, and chronicles James Balog's commitment to the project. Visually exquisite, extraordinary time lapse sequences are completely convincing -- glacial retreat is rampant, and its just an example of natural climate cycles. It is a result of Earth's endangered environment, and steps must be taken to relieve it. Read my full review/

  • Hitler's Children - Directed by Chanoch Zeevi - Using penetrating interviews with the progeny of the Third Reich's high command -- including Bettina Goering, Katrin Himmler and Monika Goeth, among others -- director Chanoch Zeevi shows what life is like for the children of those who were key perpetrators of the holocaust. Riddled with guilt and shame, they live with a legacy that they cannot escape, although they were not responsible for it. This is a fascinating, surprisingly moving psychological study. Read my full review

  • Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God - Directed by Alex Gibney - An investigation of the issue of pedophilia in the Catholic Church

November 23

  • The Central Park Five - Directed by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon - The documentary investigates the wrongful conviction of Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Korey Wise, and Yusef Salaam -- aka the Central Park Five -- for the rape of a woman jogging in NYC's Central Park in 1989. The case was front page day after day, fanning the flames of racial tensions in the city by using terms like 'wilding' and 'wolf pack' to describe the actions of young black and Latino men. Law enforcement and the general public were hungry to catch and punish the rapists. Unfortunately, they got the wrong guys, and five Harlem-raised black and Latino teens were convicted for the crime -- although there was never any real evidence linking them to it. This meticulous researched, well-structured and gripping documentary exposes the terrible miscarriage of justice that sent five innocent youths to jail.

  • Gottfried Helnwein and the Dreaming Child - Directed by Lisa Kirk Colburn - Citing a strong affinity for the themes explored by Israeli author Hanoch Levin in his play entitled The Dreaming Child, acclaimed Austrian artist Gottfried Helnwein agrees to design an opera based on the play for its premiere in Tel Aviv in 2010. Using rehearsal footage and interviews with Helnwein and others, the film documents the production, and shows how Helnwein had to fight for his vision to be realized on the stage.

November 28

  • Beware of Mr. Baker - Directed by Jay Bulger - This compelling biodoc follows the life and career of Cream's Ginger Baker, one of the baddest of rock 'n roll's bad asses. Still widely acclaimed as the world's best -- and possibly unsurpassably so -- rock drummer, Baker was an alternatively sad and terrifying fellow who suffered from violent mood swings and a disabling heroin addition that made him hellish to live with and work with -- as is described in the film in no uncertain terms by his four wives, three children and numerous musicians, including Eric Clapton, Charlie Watts, Stewart Copeland and Lars Ulrich. Fascinating behind the scenes and on stage footage of Baker and Cream on the road around the globe. Opens wider January 25, 2013.

November 30:

  • Addicted to Fame - Directed by David Giancola - An entertaining documentary that goes behind the scenes of the making of Illegal Aliens, the 2007 horror film that starred the notorious Anna Nicole Smith and set standards for schlock. David Giancola, who directed Illegal Aliens, helmed this nonfiction about his experiences with Smith and a whole list of celebrities and others on the Aliens set and off. A spiffy spoof of the glories of Hollywood lore and gore, it's much better than an Aliens sequel would be.

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