Mr. Fish: Cartooning from the Deep End (2017) [Doc NYC 2017]

The life of cartoonist Mr. Fish has seen through his eyes and those of his loved ones, co-workers, and a few other people.

From director Pablo Bryant, this documentary mixes interviews with a lot of visual material, giving a good idea of who Mr. Fish is, how he thinks, and how he creates. The film covers his life from childhood until now and shows not only how he works but also his home life which has an influence on his work and vice versa. This is done in a way that gives a good, unobstructed view of things and lets the viewer make their own mind as to if Mr. Fish is doing things right or not. Of course, the film does come at the subject from a specific angle and has its own agenda, but that does not keep it from having an openness about its subject.

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44 Pages (2017)

“44 Pages” isn’t just an important documentary, but it’s perhaps one of the most life affirming and entertaining made in a while. Centered on the “Highlights” magazine writing team as they prepare for the 70th Anniversary issue of the publication, “44 Pages” is a long overdue exploration of the classic children’s magazine. Director Tony Schaff brings us along to discover how the magazine was created, and how it’s created today. There’s also an interesting exploration in how the magazine has managed to stay alive in the age of digital media, and what it’s done to remain relevant and a key tool in educating children around the world.

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American Masters: Richard Linklater — Dream is Destiny (2017)

Louis Black and Karen Bernstein’s Richard Linklater: Dream is Destiny is a remarkable documentary and biography of one of the most acclaimed and innovative filmmakers working today. More of a tribute by Austinites to a hero from Austin Texas who made good and managed to claim success without sacrificing too much of his own artistic vision, Richard Linklater: Dream is Destiny takes an interesting and new look at the work of one of my favorite directors working in film today. I’ve made no secret that Linklater is one of my personal film heroes and easily my favorite writer working in cinema right now, and I’ve found most of the documentaries and work surrounding his legacy and career to be absolutely entertaining and often times stimulating.

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She Makes Comics (2017)

Its ironic how closely “She Makes Comics” has tied in to a key event in history, as Marisa Stotter’s documentary was released almost at the same time Joan Lee, wife of Stan Lee died. Stan Lee is of course widely considered one of the godfathers of the comic book medium and superheroes. After Lee died, husband Stan was widely quoted as crediting much of his success and the success of Marvel to his wife, who acted as his muse and advisor for decades. So without Joan’s influence comic books would have looked wildly different from today and “She Makes Comics” celebrates the female influence of the medium.

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24×36: A Movie About Movie Posters (2016)

Back in the eighties and nineties, I spent much of my youth in and out of video stores. During the weekends when there was a guarantee there’d be nothing on television we’d trek to the video store in our neighborhood and I always drifted to the horror section. One of the highlights of going through the horror section was perusing through the boxes and gaping in disbelief at all the amazing and often creative box art. Back then artists had to sell a movie with one striking image, and they often did it very well. The box art was only a small result of the art of movie posters, and how once upon a time movie posters were a symbol of a movie that were used to sell their respective cinematic properties, and create lasting memories.

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Working Class (2011) [San Diego Film Week 2017]

Using A Tale of Two Cities, this documentary tells the story of Mike Giant in San Francisco and Mike Maxwell in San Diego who are both artists and friends who connected through tattoos the first put on the second.  Throughout the film, their lives are paralleled and compared until it eventually brings them together.

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Art as a Weapon (2012) [San Diego Film Week 2017]

Made in 2012, Art as a Weapon is a documentary about using street art to publicly send a message, may it be of peace, hope, a political one, or any other messages sent to the mass public by way of graffiti, paintings, etc.  The film follows an art class in Burma learning to use art with the most effectiveness and contrasts this with American street artist Shepard Fairey.  Directed by San Diego documentarian Jeffrey Durkin, the film mixes the Burmese school students’ scenes with scenes shot in San Diego while artist Shepard Fairey was in town painting a Buddhist monk on the side of a building.

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24×36: A Movie About Movie Posters (2016) [Blood in the Snow 2016]

24x36Illustrated movie posters are explore here through their beginnings, history, the artists behind them, and their recent resurgence started with Mondo and their artist posters of older films that have become highly collectible and wanted. Directed by Kevin Burke, this documentary starts with the history of the medium and interviews with knowledgeable people and artists.  This part of the film is filled with historical facts and anecdotal stories.  The film spends a bit of time on the history, where posters can from, why are they the sizes that they are, why they look a certain way, their evolution, etc.

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