This week I recouped from two weeks away and then my annual day of mourning for my disappearing youth (aka my birthday). I’d like to thank Daniel Walber for all the great posts he contributed in order to compensate for any slack on my part. I did have a few offsite things, too, primarily some wrap-ups of coverage of SXSW at Cinematical. Here’s an excerpt from my roundup of favorite documentaries seen in Austin last week:
I might as well begin with the Grand Jury Winner, Tristan Patterson’s near-verité look into the life of pro skateboarder Josh “Screech” Sandoval as he returns to the sport after a hiatus, somewhat adapts to fatherhood, hangs out with a new girlfriend and otherwise wanders about, homeless and aimless. I’ve heard criticisms focused on its pointlessness, but I’m certain it would receive a lot more love if it was the exact same film, shot-for-shot, yet was a work of realist fiction rather than a documentary. Like, say, if Gus Van Sant had made it.
Elsewhere, I shared a free music track from the SXSW-winning score for the doc “The City Dark,” one of my favorites I’d reviewed in full.
Also at Cinematical, I devoted the latest Eat My Shorts column to SXSW ’11 shorts available online. I found at least 26 you can watch right now. Here’s what I have to say about one of them, which relates to that last excerpt/link:
‘Skateistan: To Live and Skate Kabul’ – It’s always interesting to see alternative subcultures spring up in places like Kabul, Afghanistan, where this documentary finds a group of young skateboarders. I’d like it more if it wasn’t so intent on being a cause doc with an important message, but it’s shot so well (by DP Ralf Dobrick) and shows me something new. Programmers should be showing it before the feature-length ‘Dragonslayer,’ everywhere.
I also look at news of a Nic Cage and John Travolta double reunion — sadly not a “Face/Off” sequel — and the possibility of a Mickey Mouse feature film from the director of “Mickey’s Christmas Carol.”
The latter was at Nothing But the Doc, where I also paid tribute, through documentary selections, to the Triangle Shirtwaist fire victims, Elizabeth Taylor and Direct Cinema legend Richard Leacock. I also contributed to Eric Kohn’s indieWIRE piece on Leacock.