[EXPRESSO] Moonage Daydream (2022) | Sovereign Supreme

There are many kinds of films based on and featuring music behemoths, but when we step outside of fully fictionalized retellings with a proper plot, we often see two specific kinds prevail, the docufilm, the mixture of live recordings with some talking heads providing hindsight and opinions on the importance of the band/artist at various points in time.

Sometimes it will be something else entirely, be it the full lenght silent anime film/music video of Interstella 5555, or the mix of a music video-style narrative wrapped around live recordings done in Metallica: Through The Never.

But usually, the promotional pieces will tut about this not being another docufilm based on a popular, world-beloved music legend, as if the word “docufilm” itself has become dirty.

Though, in the case of Moonage Daydream, the claim of this not being labeled as “just another music docufilm” is actually true, as this it’s a full on experience, a proper spaceborn roller coaster into the life of David Bowie, trying to understand the nature and intimate essence of the chameolonic rockstar, helped by the privileged access of director Brett Morgen (Crossfire Hurricane, Kurt Cobain: Montage Of Heck) to the complete catalogue of archive footage and with full blessings from Bowie’s estate.

It’s a tall order to make justice of the incredible, majestic and ever transforming figure of David Bowie, but Moonage Daydream actually manages to do it, marrying rare archive footage, previously unreleased live performances, stunning visuals (that i feel benefit from the IMAX treatment) and depth without being bond to a strict linear narrative or having things overexplained by other people telling what they think David Bowie was as a person and rockstar,

It’s also incredibly well edited, with a delightful smorgasboard of movie references that are just the cherry on top. Masterpiece? Masterpiece.

[EXPRESSO] Tutankhamun: The Last Exhibition (2022) | Here Comes The Centhury Boy

Docufilm time!

This one is an italian production directed by Ernesto Pagano, with some narration by Manuel Agnelli in the original italian release, and by Iggy Pop in the english/international one.

The documentary goes into the early discovery of the tomb of pharaoh Tutankhamun in 1922 by english aristocrat Howard Carver, talking about the impact on western popular culture the discovery had (including popularizing the “pharaoh’s curse” in various medias) and showing the preparations made for a London based exhibition that started in 2019 to put on the display the many treasures and relics found inside.

All with commentaries by various “talking heads” from the egyptian, italian and british side of things.

It’s not a bad documentary, necessarily, but it’s one that feels like it has to appeal to everyone, so it doesn’t quite committ to a certain direction nor goes into any detail. For example, in a docufilm about Tutankhamun you don’t learn much that wasn’t already common knowledge, you’d think they took the opportunity to actually go further and try to depict who this young pharaoh was a person (more than in a couple of passing lines, anyway), his lineage, the historical background he lived in…

Heck, i would have preferred some more footage of the exhibition itself (since due to COVID pandemic the tour stopped and Egypt decided not to move the artifacts out of the Giza museum), but nope, we have a cool narrating voice trying to fashion some kind of fictionalized “epic” scenes… only to then move to scenes of people slowly misuring, cataloguing and inspecting the artifacts.

It’s not “offensive” nor a complete bore, and it’s short, just 80 minutes long, but that exacerbates the feel this was made just to have something out celebrating the 100th anniversary of “King Tut”’s tomb being discovered.

[EXPRESSO] The Eyes Of Tammy Faye (2021) | Gospel Canonicus

Kinda had to review this one as it drops here just now… and it’s the only big international release in theathers. Incredibly slow week.

I will preface i wasn’t really familiar with the subject itself… because we aren’t obliged to know every cultural phenomenon America experienced, and the idea of “televangelist” it’s pretty odd, maybe it’s just that i happen to live in the country where the Pope has its own enclave state.

I just knew it was a biopic fashioned out of a previous documentary (as the movie itself says) about this couple of televangelists that between the ’70s and 80s created a media empire by estabilishing the most popular religious TV broadcasting network in the world, with all the rivalry, obstructions and scandals that are bound to happen in the television business.

At the center of it is Tammy Faye, portrayed as a woman with incredible natural charm that genuinely wants to spread joy to all people but ends up used and attacked by people that want to bring her down.

On the plus side the cast it’s great, with Jessica Chastain in the title role, Andrew Garfield as her husband (and Vincent D’Onofrio)… but it’s clearly a case where the movie was entirely built on the singular premise of “Jessica Chastain is Tammy Faye”, there’s really nothing else to this obvious surface level selling point, it’s structured as a very by-the-numbers biopic, with no intention to dwelve to any depth into its own themes.

It’s a movie that feels made to make the cast and costume designers win awards more than actually saying anything of substance about the true story and people it’s based on.

It’s not boring or awful, but it’s definitely a movie held together by the admittely amazing performances more than any real vision.

[EXPRESSO] Exhibition On Screen: Sunflowers (2021) | Now Available On CDi

Yeah, i changed my mind and on a whim went to see this limited screening event release.

This is actually the latest in the Exhibition On Screen gallery series of art documentaries, which already featured the dutch master painter Van Gogh twice (Van Gogh In Japan and Van Gogh: A New Way Of Seeing), which makes sense as many other films (documentaries and fiction) based on the life of Vincent Van Gogh and his art were and are still made regularly, with various degrees of quality.

So i was surprised by this one, as it centers on an apparently both specific and banal subject of Van Gogh’s output, his series of Sunflowers paintings, often mistaken as a single work but actually consist of 11 variations-iterations, and exploring the reasons why these prove to be incredibly iconic and popular for decades, the factual events (and theories) under which Van Gogh painted them, and some narrative inserts with actor Jamie de Courcey as Van Gogh.

Honestly, it explores the subject quite well, avoiding most of the obvious and beyond well known facts, and it being just a glorified advert for a museum (as they can be, like that one documentary about the Hermitage narrated by Jeremy Irons), while we do travel across the globe to see the 5 publicly owned pieces of the series (one in the Amsterdam Van Gogh Museum, of course), in what they differ from each other, and we go a bit deeper in the matters of restauration, of critique and preservation of these painting, as well into connected topic of botany, and the persisting popularity of what are – at first glance – very simple and almost banal in terms of subject.

Not great, but definitely a good art documentary, one coming in a comfortable 90 minutes package.