“Untitled Amazing Johnathan Documentary” is a riveting, twisted examination of non-fiction filmmaking

“Untitled Amazing Johnathan Documentary” is a riveting, twisted examination of non-fiction filmmaking

Source:  The Playlist

The unbelievable strangeness inherent in truth has made for some incredibly destabilizing documentaries about the blurred lines of fact and fiction.

Films like “Dear Zachary,” “Catfish,” “Exit Through The Gift Shop,”’ and “The Imposter” all blow themselves up in the middle featuring twists so disarming, so surprising that they make one question the very reality and existence of what you’ve been watching.

So prepare to be fooled, thrilled, and surprised with a new classic of this upending subgenre with “Untitled Amazing Johnathan Documentary,” a doc that uses the integral subject of magic and artifice to create a riveting meta-story about the illusory nature of truth, trust, and the self-examining questioning of what you thought to be real.

Directed by Ben Berman, who has worked on some crazy shows as an editor and director like “Tim and Eric,”and the gonzo “Lady Dynamite,” his film is wild too, a discombobulating rabbit hole within rabbit holes, but likely in a way he never ever imagined.

It’s the story of magician Amazing Johnathan (real name John Szeles).  Johnathan has been given a devastating diagnosis; he has a terminal heart condition and is going to die.

But as Berman goes out to follow Jonathan on a comeback tour, nothing is quite what it seems, and soon the director finds himself at the center of his own documentary, unintentionally having to Michael Moore himself into the story.

Hulu recently acquired “Untitled Amazing Johnathan Documentary” at the Sundance Film Festival.  A premiere date has not been announced.

Read the story at The Playlist.

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HBO releases trailer and announces premiere date for controversial Michael Jackson documentary “Leaving Neverland”

HBO releases trailer and announces premiere date for controversial Michael Jackson documentary “Leaving Neverland”

Source:  Variety

HBO will premiere the controversial two-part Michael Jackson documentary, “Leaving Neverland,” on Sunday, March 3, and Monday, March 4.

The Dan Reed directed film, which made its world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, is a four-hour exposé in which two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, allege that the iconic singer sexually abused them when they were children.

HBO is sticking with its decision to release the film in the face of criticism from the late pop singer’s estate.

“It doesn’t change our plans,” HBO programming president Casey Bloys told Variety. “We announced the air date. It will air as planned.”

Read the story at Variety.

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Ken Burns’ “Country Music” gets a premiere date

Ken Burns’ “Country Music” gets a premiere date

Source:  Pitchfork

Ken Burns’ new eight-part, 16-hour documentary about country music has received a premiere date.

The first episode of “Country Music” will premiere on PBS on Sunday, September 15.  The next three episodes will air from Monday, September 16 through Wednesday, September 18.  The final four episodes will air from Sunday, September 22 through Wednesday, September 25.

Produced by Burns and his longtime collaborators Dayton Duncan and Julie Dunfey, “Country Music” will follow the history and evolution of the quintessentially American music genre — from the hills of Appalachia to the honky-tonks of Texas and Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry — over the course of the eight episodes.

“Country Music” is only Burns’ second documentary to focus on music, following 2001’s “Jazz.”

Read the story at Pitchfork.

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A new “Alien” documentary reminds us that video essays are a legitimate art form

A new “Alien” documentary reminds us that video essays are a legitimate art form

Source:  Polygon

“The reek of human blood smiles out at me.”

The line, from the Greek tragedian Aeschylus’ trilogy, The Oresteia, haunted painter Francis Bacon over the course of his life. In 1944, the artist synthesized his nightmare into “Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion,” a triptych that reimagined the Furies as a set of jagged mandibles bursting through splashes of red.

Like a nightmare whispered down the lane, “Three Studies” later inspired another artist, Ridley Scott, who coated them in obsidian for his 1979 masterpiece, “Alien.”

In “Memory – The Origins of Alien,” which premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, filmmaker Alexandre O. Philippe travels into the nebula of behind-the-scenes “Alien” anecdotes to break down how the voices of Scott, sci-fi writer Dan O’Bannon, and artist H.R. Giger melded to create the iconic motion picture.

Straddling the line between behind-the-scenes documentary and modern video essay, “Memory – The Origins of Alien” is a deep, deep, deep dive into the film but rarely an information dump.

The joy of Philippe’s film is that it’s a stunning work of art in its own right.

Read the story at Polygon.

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Peter Jackson signs on to direct new Beatles documentary from unseen “Let It Be” footage

Peter Jackson signs on to direct new Beatles documentary from unseen “Let It Be” footage

Source:  Variety

Sir Peter meet Sir Paul. “Lord of the Rings” filmmaker Peter Jackson has come aboard to direct a project that Paul McCartney had previously hinted was in the works: a new Beatles documentary using the 55 hours of in-studio footage that were shot in early 1969 for the 1970 feature film “Let It Be.”

The announcement is being made today — on the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ rooftop concert atop the Apple Records offices in London — by Apple Corps Ltd. and WingNut Films Ltd., Jackson’s production company.

No release date or plan has been set, but sources say there’s every reason to suspect that the still-untitled film will come out in 2020 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the “Let It Be” album and movie.

“The 55 hours of never-before-seen footage and 140 hours of audio made available to us ensure this movie will be the ultimate ‘fly on the wall’ experience that Beatles fans have long dreamt about,” Jackson said in a statement. “It’s like a time machine transports us back to 1969, and we get to sit in the studio watching these four friends make great music together.”

Read the story at Variety.

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The Amen break is the most sampled loop in music history

The Amen break is the most sampled loop in music history

Source:  Great Big Story

What do Skrillex, David Bowie, Salt-N-Pepa, and basically every drum and bass track have in common?

They’ve all used the Amen break, a four-bar drum solo that has become the most sampled loop in music history.

Recorded in 1969, the six-second sample originates from the song “Amen, Brother” by The Winstons, a funk and soul group from Washington, D.C.

For many years, the solo was buried deep in musical archives—that is until hip-hop pioneer Lou Flores, aka “Breakbeat Lou,” featured it on his compilation, “The Ultimate Breaks and Beats.”

Once producers caught wind of the solo, it took off, going on to change music forever.

Read the story at Great Big Story.

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