Sunday, October 17News That Matters

Tag: Documentary Films and Programs

Selma Blair Wants You to See Her Living With Multiple Sclerosis

LifeStyle
Selma Blair could only talk for a half-hour in our first session. That was as long as she trusted her brain and her body to cooperate — any longer and she feared that her focus might start to wander or her speech might begin to trail. “We’re being responsible in knowing that smaller moments will be clearer moments,” she said.For Blair no day is free from the effects of multiple sclerosis, the autoimmune disease that she learned she had in 2018 but that she believes began attacking her central nervous system many years earlier.This particular Friday in September had started out especially tough: She said she woke up in her Los Angeles home feeling “just bad as all get out,” but she found that talking with people helped alleviate her discomfort. Blair said she had had good conversations earl...

The Surveillance Apparatus That Surrounded Britney Spears

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Britney Spears’s father and the security firm he hired to protect her ran an intense surveillance apparatus that monitored her communications and secretly captured audio recordings from her bedroom, including her interactions and conversations with her boyfriend and children, according to a former employee of the security firm.Alex Vlasov, the employee, supported his claims with emails, text messages and audio recordings he was privy to in his nine years as an executive assistant and operations and cybersecurity manager for Black Box, the security firm. He came forward for a new documentary by The New York Times, “Controlling Britney Spears,” which was released on Friday.Recording conversations in a private place and mirroring text messages without the consent of both parties can be a viol...
Dianne Whelan on Trekking the Trans Canada Trail

Dianne Whelan on Trekking the Trans Canada Trail

Travel
In 2015, the independent Canadian filmmaker Dianne Whelan set out on what is now known as the Trans Canada Trail, a nearly 17,000-mile recreational trail that spans green paths, roads and waterways from the Atlantic to the Pacific and north to the Arctic Ocean. On Aug. 1, in the company of her parents, partner and friends, Ms. Whelan, 56, walked the last few feet to become the first person to complete the continuous trail (minus a few spur trails) that links all three oceans by land and water. She plans to produce a documentary, “500 Days in the Wild,” detailing her six-year experience.As the director of documentaries on the base camp of Mount Everest and an expedition in the Arctic, Ms. Whelan had experienced extreme climates. But the Trans Canada Trail proved a test of her mental and emo...
The Woman Who Captured ‘Jaws,’ Then Worked to Undo the Damage

The Woman Who Captured ‘Jaws,’ Then Worked to Undo the Damage

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Steven Spielberg needed a real shark. Before the young director began filming “Jaws” with his famously malfunctioning animatronic beast in Martha’s Vineyard, he hired two underwater cinematographers to film great white sharks off the coast of South Australia.Skilled divers and well-known in their home country, the Australian couple Ron and Valerie Taylor set off to capture the footage that would be used in the climactic 1975 scene in which Richard Dreyfuss’s Hooper, seemingly safe in a shark cage, confronts the monster terrorizing beachgoers.But, as Valerie Taylor, the subject of a new documentary, said in a recent video interview from her home in Sydney, “You might be able to direct a dog or a human or a horse, but you can’t direct a shark.”It quickly became clear that the Taylors were ba...
Anthony Bourdain Documentary ‘Roadrunner’ Seeks to Understand His Death, Career and Struggles

Anthony Bourdain Documentary ‘Roadrunner’ Seeks to Understand His Death, Career and Struggles

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Around that time, Mr. Bourdain wrote to his friend and artist David Choe: “David, this is a crazy thing to ask, but I’m curious,” describing his life with an expletive, “You’re successful, and I’m successful, and I’m wondering: Are you happy?”In the film, the email is read in Mr. Bourdain’s voice, which was created with artificial intelligence technology, according to The New Yorker.“I know how hard that must’ve been for him to even write that email,” Mr. Choe said in the documentary, “to reach out to someone and be like, ‘Hey man, I’m not doing well.’”One of the film’s most powerful scenes happens at a restaurant, where Mr. Bourdain is sitting across from the musician Iggy Pop, and he asks him a curious question: “What thrills you?”Iggy Pop answers, “It’s really embarrassing, but being lo...
Plane Crash Complicates HBO Max Documentary on Diet-Inspired Church

Plane Crash Complicates HBO Max Documentary on Diet-Inspired Church

Business
On May 29, a single-pilot jet plane crashed into a lake near Nashville, killing all seven people on board. Among them were Gwen Shamblin Lara, a weight-loss guru and the founder of the Remnant Fellowship Church of Brentwood, Tenn., and her husband, William Lara, who was known as Joe and had once portrayed Tarzan in both a television series and the movie “Tarzan in Manhattan.”The leader of a midsize congregation, Ms. Lara, 66, had for the past several years been the main subject of a documentary project that sought to get beyond the gilded veneer of the Remnant Fellowship and investigate its inner workings. Set to debut on HBO Max in the fall, the multi-episode project, “The Way Down,” details the church’s origin in Ms. Lara’s religious-based weight-loss program, the Weigh Down Workshop.The...
Lydia Lunch’s Infinite Rebellion

Lydia Lunch’s Infinite Rebellion

LifeStyle
For nearly two hours on a recent afternoon, Lydia Lunch sat in her bright Brooklyn apartment and spoke with bracing speed, and at an alarming volume, about rape, murder, incest, genocide, racism, sadism, torture and — for a thunderous encore — the apocalypse. Because she has spent more than four decades broadcasting her belief that such brutal subjects lie at the heart of the human experience, critics have often cast her as a nihilist.“It’s the problems that are nihilistic, not me,” said Lunch, 62. “I’m the most positive person I know. To me, pleasure and joy are the ultimate rebellion. For some reason, few people seem to know that.”“The War Is Never Over,” a new documentary about the artist opening Friday, will offer more people the chance to get a fairer sense of Lunch’s life and work. D...
Rita Moreno: Pathbreaker, Activist and ‘A Kick in the Pants’

Rita Moreno: Pathbreaker, Activist and ‘A Kick in the Pants’

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Sitting on a couch in a Midtown hotel one recent morning, legs angled at a position only a lifelong dancer could achieve, Moreno was vivacious despite having been on an interview blitz (the documentary had just screened at the Tribeca Film Festival). Her gray hair was flecked with silver tinsel, like a disco ball crown, and she wore a striped dress that she had knotted low at the center, giving it an uneven, gam-level hem.Growing up, her mother, Rosa, an accomplished seamstress, made all her clothes, and then her dance costumes. They were a conjoined but complicated pair: They came to New York from Juncos, P.R., when Rita — then known as Rosita Alverío — was 5, abandoning both the girl’s father and the younger brother she doted on, Francisco. Moreno never saw him again: her first heartbrea...
The Britney Spears Testimony, as Heard From Outside the Courtroom

The Britney Spears Testimony, as Heard From Outside the Courtroom

LifeStyle
[Follow live updates on Britney Spears’s conservatorship hearing.]LOS ANGELES — Hours before Britney Spears was scheduled to address a judge in Los Angeles about her conservatorship arrangement, breaking over a decade of silence on the matter, more than 100 people gathered outside the courtroom in a show of support.Some had traveled from as far as Las Vegas; Detroit; and Charlotte, N.C., to be present for what many in the #FreeBritney movement saw as a potential turning point in Ms. Spears’s story: the moment when she would speak publicly.“I never expected this,” said Kevin Wu, 36. “I would have continued to fight no matter what. We thought the conservatorship would end much earlier. We thought public pressure on things would set it in motion.”Mr. Wu, a data analyst living in Hollywood, or...
Now Sparks Can Confuse Fans on the Big Screen

Now Sparks Can Confuse Fans on the Big Screen

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Sparks is a band unlike any other. Ron and Russell Mael — the brothers who have made up the eccentric, unclassifiable duo for more than 50 years — have played a pivotal, if unheralded, role in multiple musical movements, from glam rock to new wave to synth-pop.Their witty, hyper-literate songs, along with the singer Russell’s good looks and keyboardist Ron’s deadpan, glowering stage presence, made Sparks icons of a sort in Europe, but never more than a cult band in the United States. With 25 albums to their name, they have often followed up their biggest moments with radical shifts in style that thrilled loyal fans but baffled more casual listeners.In 2017, the music-obsessed director Edgar Wright, fresh off the success of “Baby Driver,” went to see Sparks perform in Los Angeles. For years...