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Critical Consensus: "Page One" Narrowly Tops "Buck" In Strong Weekend For New Docs

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire June 15, 2011 at 5:16AM

For the second time in the three month history of this weekly column, a documentary has topped criticWIRE as the pick of the week (though the first incidence, Clio Barnard's "The Arbor," blurred the lines between documentary and narrative filmmaking). More over, it was actually a very tight race between two documentaries Andrew Rossi's "Page One: A Year Inside The New York Times," and Cindy Meehl's "Buck." Both premieres at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, the former works as a fly inside the walls of The New York Times, while the latter takes on a living legend in the horse world, Buck Brannaman, who was the inspiration for "The Horse Whisperer."
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For the second time in the three month history of this weekly column, a documentary has topped criticWIRE as the pick of the week (though the first incidence, Clio Barnard's "The Arbor," blurred the lines between documentary and narrative filmmaking). More over, it was actually a very tight race between two documentaries Andrew Rossi's "Page One: A Year Inside The New York Times," and Cindy Meehl's "Buck." Both premieres at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, the former works as a fly inside the walls of The New York Times, while the latter takes on a living legend in the horse world, Buck Brannaman, who was the inspiration for "The Horse Whisperer."

In the end, "Page One" narrowly had the highest average, though both fell in the B+ range. indieWIRE's Eric Kohn discusses both films - and a less acclaimed other weekend release - below:

The future is a major concern for many of the subjects of new releases this weekend. In "The Art of Getting By," which was originally called "Homework" when it premiered at Sundance until Fox Searchlight picked it up and added the snappier title, a feisty teen (Freddie Highmore) nearly flunks high school and gets one last chance to set things right. Highmore is entirely serviceable as a bright kid unsure what to do with himself, but the script suffers from a "Juno"-lite feel, loaded with snark but not enough wit to justify its hip pose.

You're better off checking out the story of a guy who has truly mastered the art of getting by: Buck Brannigan, the even-headed horse whisperer at the center of "Buck," also opening this weekend. Having survived an abusive childhood, Buck has found a way to control his world. Meanwhile, in "Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times," filmmaker Andrew Rossi explores how the paper of record struggles to find a stable existence of its own in a world dominated by cutbacks and new technologies. His conclusion: The Times has found its Buck in the form of trenchant media reporter David Carr. Of course, Rossi doesn't put it that way, the implication is clear enough.

Check out the links below for more extensive takes on "Buck," "Page One," "The Art of Getting By," and more. Also offered is the top 10 criticWIRE scores for films already in theaters, which is currently topped by Clio Barnard's aforementioned "The Arbor" for the sixth week running.

iW Film Calendar & criticWIRE:
criticWIRE | Opening this week | Opening this month | All Films A - Z

criticWIRE: Films Opening This Week
NOTE: The averages listed here are current as of the publishing of this article. They are subject to change as new grades come in, and will be updated in next week's edition of this article.

Page One (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

Buck (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

The Art of Getting By (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: C

Late Autumn (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: TBA

Jig (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: TBA

criticWIRE: 10 Best Bets Already In Theaters

1. The Arbor (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: A-

2. Meek's Cutoff (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

3. The Tree of Life (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

4. Tuesday After Christmas (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

5. The Trip (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

6. Submarine (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

7. Incendies (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

8. Beginners (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

9. Midnight In Paris (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B-

10. Cave of Forgotten Dreams (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B


Previous Picks of the Week:
June 8: Michael Winterbottom's "The Trip"
June 1: Richard Ayoade's "Submarine"
May 25: Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life"
May 18: Woody Allen's "Midnight In Paris"
May 11: Lu Chaun's "City of Life and Death"
May 4: Koji Wakamatsu's "Caterpillar"
April 27: Clio Barnard's "The Arbor"
April 20: Denis Villeneuve's "Incendies"
April 13: Janus Metz's "Armadillo"
April 6: Kelly Reichardt's "Meek's Cutoff"
March 30: Michaelangelo Frammartino's "Le Quattro Volte"

This article is related to: In Theaters