documentary

The Next Rembrandt

This is fascinating. The Next Rembrandt is a project that deconstructed Rembrandt van Rijn’s paintings and used the data to construct a new painting.

Reminds me of the fascinating documentary: Tim’s Vermeer about Tim Jenison’s attempt(s) to copy a particular Johannes Vermeer painting.

Interesting that both of these guys were Dutch artists and both of them are famous for their depiction of light.

[via Devour]

Andrew Wiles and Fermat’s Last Theorem

I saw this headline this morning:

Professor Who Solved Fermat’s Last Theorem Wins Math’s Abel Prize

I’m not a mathematician (more of a mathephobe) but this is a fascinating story and years ago PBS’s Nova repackaged a BBC documentary on Andrew Wiles in a piece called “The Proof” which I have on VHS tape but which, no doubt because of licensing issues with BBS, never got transferred to DVD and sold through the PBS web site.

The entire video is embedded below and it’s simply amazing, watch it even if you’re not into mathematics, it’s just a fantastic story with great characters.

I love the interview with the Japanese mathematician Goro Shimura where he describes his late friend and partner, Yutaka Taniyama (around 11:15 in):

“Taniyama was not a very careful person as a mathematician. He made a lot of mistakes, but… he made mistakes in a good direction, so eventually he got right answers. I tried to imitate him but I found out it is very difficult to make good mistakes.”

This video is a treasure and I hope Nova and BBC make it available as a remastered DVD and/or a downloadable video.

Mike Nichols, an American Master

Mike Nichols, an American Master

This is a brilliant biographical documentary on the late director Mike Nichols done by his early standup improv partner, Elaine May.

Mike Nichols is best known as both a theater and movie director and he’s directed some incredible movies including: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf (his first film), The Graduate, Silkwood, Heartburn, Biloxi Blues, Working Girl, Postcards from the Edge, Regarding Henry, The Birdcage, Charlie Wilson’s War, and many more.

The American Masters documentary is based in part on an interview Nichols did with the producer Julian Schlossberg where Nichols tells the story of his life. May has taken the interview and added all of the relevant contextual information including interviews with many of the people Nichols knew and worked with, period photographs and video, and much more. It’s an incredible story of an incredible life and even if you’ve never seen his films or plays, my guess is you’ll find it fascinating.

This show aired on PBS in the United States January 30th (last night) and you can watch the entire thing here on the web at the above link. The web video will expire on February 27 so I highly recommend watching it soon. I’m not sure how and where this video will be available in the future.

Here’s a small tidbit on the making of the documentary: Filmmaker Interview with Producer Julian Schlossberg.

Ringo Starr: Photographer

Very nice piece by Rolling Stone on Ring Starr’s photography. His images of The Beatles are fantastic and worth watching this or alone.

The Beatles… wow, what a group. And, if you never saw the Concert for George at Royal Albert Hall, I highly recommend it. It’s a tribute to George Harrison a year after his death with an incredible cast of characters. I’m amazed the full concert is now on YouTube.

Update: I forgot to add a link to Ringo’s book up at Amazon: Photograph. Apple also has this book in the iBooks bookstore: Photograph. $36 at Amazon for the hardback, $9 from Apple on the iBook store made for iPad. I just bought the iPad version. It’s big, downloading now.

[via PetaPixel]

Pedro E. Guerrero: A Photographer’s Journey

Pedro E. Guerrero: A Photographer’s Journey

I thought I could embed it but it didn’t work, just follow the link above to see the full video on the PBS site.

This is a brilliant American Masters documentary on the photographer Pedro E. Guerrero who worked with Frank Lloyd Wright, Alexander Calder, Louise Nevelson and other artists as well as on Madison Avenue doing interior architectural photography for the advertising world.

It’s an hour long so give yourself time to watch it or, keep track of the time code so you can watch it in shorter segments and get back to the place you left off.

Everybody Street

I blogged about this (before) but it can now be streamed from youTube (link below) so I thought I’d post it again.

“Everybody Street” illuminates the lives and work of New York’s iconic street photographers and the incomparable city that has inspired them for decades. The documentary pays tribute to the spirit of street photography through a cinematic exploration of New York City, and captures the visceral rush, singular perseverance and at times immediate danger customary to these artists.

Covering nine decades of street photography, “Everybody Street” explores the careers and influences of many notable photographers––a number of whom have never been documented, featuring: Bruce Davidson, Elliott Erwitt, Jill Freedman, Bruce Gilden, Joel Meyerowitz, Rebecca Lepkoff, Mary Ellen Mark, Jeff Mermelstein, Clayton Patterson, Ricky Powell, Jamel Shabazz, Martha Cooper, and Boogie, with historians Max Kozloff and Luc Sante.

Valley Uprising

Valley Uprising is a well produced, entertaining, and informative history of rock climbing in Yosemite Valley, California.

I climbed there in the mid to late ’70s, know this history well and I think they got it right which is amazing for an old “trad” like me to say.

Excellent archival images and footage, great interviews with many of the historic figures (Steve Roper is hilarious), toward the present show extreme free climbing and free soloing on big walls, timely given what Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson have just accomplished on the Dawn Wall on El Capitan.

If you’re a Yosemite climber from any part of it’s history, you’ll enjoy this excellent documentary. Even my wife watched the entire thing and I was pretty much done with climbing by the time I met her, although we visited Yosemite Valley in 1990 as a family.

You can buy the DVD from Sender Films or on Amazon.

Welcome to Union Glacier

Welcome to Union Glacier from Studiocanoe on Vimeo.

This most excellent film was made by Temujin Doran who is also the film’s narrator.

Union Glacier is located in the southern Ellsworth Mountains of West Antarctica. This is a documentary about a small team of people who live and work on the glacier during the Antarctic summer.

This is without a doubt one of the best documentaries I’ve seen on YouTube or Vimeo. It’s got everything: great story line, great people, great cinematography, great editing, great narration, great music. This is high art and I hope the likes of Netflix picks it up.

What makes it work for me is the fact that the filmmaker focussed on the day to day details of living in this remote and harsh environment. This may sound weird but it has a bit of a Wes Anderson feel to it. This is not to belittle what the filmmaker has done, but his narration juxtaposed with the harsh environment gives it a lighter feel than it might have had otherwise and this is really works.

I highly recommend watching it full screen on the biggest screen you’ve got and play the sound through something nice. It takes about an hour so take some time and watch it right, you will not regret it.

[via Devour]

The Battered Bastards of Baseball

I saw this trailer on Devour, found the documentary on Netflix and Anne and I watched it the other night.

The jaw-dropping true story of a real-life “Bad News Bears,” this inspiring documentary recounts the history of the Portland Mavericks, an independent professional baseball team that broke attendance records in 1973 with a roster that included a blacklisted former Yankee pitcher, a left-handed catcher, the sport’s first female general manager, and young movie star Kurt Russell, whose actor father Bing was the scrappy team’s owner.

I’m not a big sports fan and even though I lived in Eugene, Oregon during the time this team played in Portland, I’d never heard of them. That said, this documentary is a must. An amazing story, well told, about an amazing time and an amazing team.