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Indie Snapshot: Tim’s Vermeer

by Ethan Alter January 31, 2014 5:50 am
Indie Snapshot: Tim’s Vermeer

Art history comes alive in Tim's Vermeer, a wildly entertaining, appropriately thoughtful and genuinely inspiring non-fiction account of one man's attempt to do the (apparent) impossible: recreate one of the many masterworks to emerge from the brushstrokes of renowned Dutch painter, Johannes Vermeer -- he of "Girl with the Pearl Earring" and "The Milkmaid" fame. Vermeer's particular genius was recreating life so vividly on his canvas that his paintings almost resemble photographs, with a clarity and level of detail that pull you into the frame. For centuries, art scholars and appreciators have contemplated how he achieved that remarkable effect. And now, one such amateur armchair enthusiast -- a computer engineer named Tim Jenison, who had no formal artistic training -- has not only come up with a compelling theory… he actually puts it into practice.

Indie Snapshot: 20 Feet From Stardom

by Ethan Alter June 14, 2013 11:27 am
Indie Snapshot: 20 Feet From Stardom

The new documentary 20 Feet From Stardom makes a nice companion piece to the 2002 rock doc, Standing in the Shadows of Motown, which profiled the life and times of the previously unheralded Funk Brothers, the session band that played underneath so many Motown hits. Likewise, 20 Feet, seeks to spotlight a group of musicians whose contributions so often go unheralded: backup singers -- the men and women who stand in the recesses of the stage, providing vocal support to the frontmen and frontwomen whom the audience is screaming for.

Doc Watch: 56 Up

by Ethan Alter January 4, 2013 6:00 am
Doc Watch: 56 Up

With 56 Up, Michael Apted's long-running documentary series officially leaves middle age behind and enters its autumnal years. For close to five decades now, the Up films have followed the same group of British men and women, checking in on their lives every seven years since they were just wee lads and lasses back in 1964. It's the cinematic equivalent of a photo album, albeit one that always aspires to mix some social commentary into its trip down memory lane.

Indie Snapshot: Hyde Park on Hudson

by Ethan Alter December 7, 2012 6:00 am
Indie Snapshot: Hyde Park on Hudson

Bill Murray goes from Caddyshack to the White House in Hyde Park on Hudson. Also, our reviews of In Our Nature, Yelling to the Sky and more indie titles.

Shining Through: Rodney Ascher Checks Us In To Room 237

After we first saw Rodney Ascher's documentary Room 237 during its world premiere at Sundance back in January, two thoughts ran through our heads: 1) This movie is terrific; and 2) There's no way anyone else will be able to see it, right? A thoughtful, innovative and hugely entertaining dissertation about Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, narrated by a quintet of individuals with very particular (and peculiar) theories about this horror classic, Room 237 is made up entirely of clips from the original movie, which posed a variety of potential copyright and licensing issues. Fortunately, since its Sundance debut, Ascher has toured the world with his film, showing it a variety of prestigious festivals (including Cannes and Toronto) and even scored a distribution deal with IFC Films, which will release it in theaters in March of next year. Before then, Room 237 can still be seen at a few festivals, including the New York Film Festival this week and Chicago's film festival the week after. While in town for the movie's NYFF premiere, Ascher spoke with us about his own love for The Shining, why he considers himself a walking, talking Rotten Tomatoes and what Stephen King might make of Room 237.

Indie Snapshot: Josh Radnor Takes a Crash Course in the Liberal Arts

The How I Met Your Mother star tries to sweet-talk his Liberal Arts leading lady, Elizabeth Olsen, into playing his love interest this season. Also, our reviews of Arbitrage, Solomon Kane and two documentaries.

Indie Snapshot: The Queen of Versailles

Lauren Greenfield's new documentary The Queen of Versailles begins like a promo for the next big Bravo reality serial... call it, Timeshare Royalty. In this case, the subjects who are opening their lives (and their two houses) to the camera are David and Jackie Siegel, who up until recently were one of the wealthiest couples in Florida, if not the nation. David Siegel made his fortune via the timeshare titan Westgate Resorts, which offers lavish condo units to prospective part-time owners. Following two previous failed marriages, he wed former model (and diploma-carrying computer engineer) Jackie in 2000 and four years later they started construction on their dream house: a 90,000 square foot estate modeled after the Parisian palace for which it's named: Versailles.

Indie Snapshot: Morgan Spurlock Goes to Comic-Con

You don't have to be in San Diego to get your geek on.

Indie Snapshot: Bully and Goon

by Ethan Alter March 30, 2012 5:02 pm
Indie Snapshot: Bully and Goon

Hey teacher, leave them kids alone!

Jackass 3-D: Are Bowel Movements What 3-D Technology Has Come To?

After a long life as a cheap horror-movie gimmick, 3-D has experienced a second act as a way to add thrills (and box-office heft) to a big-budget event picture. But as the high-profile side of 3-D descends into political debate (to convert or not to convert?), Hollywood continued to crank out low-budget 3-D schlock like My Bloody Valentine 3-D and Piranha 3-D. Well, we've officially found something lower than 3-D schlock: Jackass 3-D has given us the world's first 3-D crap. Literally.

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