Daily | Top Docs, Canyon Cinema, WWI

Dziga Vertov's 'Man with a Movie Camera' (1929)

Dziga Vertov’s ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ (1929)

The story of the day would have to be another new poll conducted by Sight & Sound. Over 200 critics and programmers and around 100 filmmakers have voted up a list of “The Greatest Documentaries of All Time” and, while the special section of the site will be expanded in a couple of weeks with more commentary, we can now read notes on the top ten:

  1. Brian Winston on Dziga Vertov‘s Man with a Movie Camera (1929).
  2. Jonathan Rosenbaum on Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah (1985).
  3. Adam Nayman on Chris Marker‘s Sans soleil (1982).
  4. Philip French on Alain Resnais‘s Night and Fog (1955).
  5. Nicolas Rapold on Errol Morris‘s The Thin Blue Line (1989).
  6. Rachael Rakes on Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin’s Chronicle of a Summer (1961).
  7. Pamela Hutchinson on Robert Flaherty‘s Nanook of the North (1922).
  8. Sophie Mayer on Agnès Varda‘s The Gleaners & I (2000).

And tied for slot #9: James Bell on D.A. Pennebaker’s Don’t Look Back (1967) and Jane Giles on Albert and David Maysles, Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer’s Grey Gardens (1975).

More lists. Yes, it’s a big day for them. The Film4 team has collaborated with 30 film critics on a list of the “100 Must-See Films of the 21st Century.” The Hollywood Reporter‘s Tim Appelo has notes on the “Top 25 Film Schools in the United States.” And for the Observer, Guy Lodge has written up the “10 best summer romance films.”


Canyon Cinema‘s tumblr has been hopping in the past couple of days. For free, for example, they’re offering “the last chapter of a book edited by Peter Tscherkassky, Film Unframed, which presents the most comprehensive history of the Austrian avant-garde to date.” From Abigail Child, there’s “a poetic manifesto, outlining the theory that drives her cinematic praxis.” And Phil Solomon explains what’s been happening on his Vimeo channel lately:

These days I am involved in a long-term project entitled A Snail’s Trail in the Moonlight: Conversations with Brakhage. I am currently in the process of digitizing and notating about a decade’s worth of Stan Brakhage’s weekly Sunday salons, culled from VHS, SVHS, HI-8 and DV recordings I made between 1992 and 2012. I’m hoping that this project will eventually end up as a book of edited transcriptions from our group conversations and/or a personal film diary/essay, which may include my home movies of Stan at work painting or editing (or both of us working together), or perhaps going to the movies or out to eat, snippets of the dozens of lengthy phone message soliloquies he left for me on my answering machines, etc.

Godfrey Cheshire‘s landmark two-part New York Press series ‘Death of Film/Decay of Cinema’—originally published in July, 1999—foretold many of the changes that would later shake the medium to its core,” writes Matt Zoller Seitz, introducing his conversation with Cheshire at The series “diagnosed what was happening, technically and aesthetically” and “extrapolated what lay ahead: the end of celluloid as a medium for capturing and projecting moving pictures; a wholesale re-imagining of the theatrical experience to make it more of an event, or pseudo-event, and the aesthetic evolution (Godfrey saw it as more of a decline) of filmmaking conventions associated with cinema, the art form…. Reading over the series again recently, I was shocked to realize that nearly everything Godfrey predicted had, in one form or another, come to pass.”

LIFE WITH STAN #4: Stan painting (16mm) from Phil Solomon.

Responding to a series of tweets (1, 2, 3) in which Mark Harris argues that Hollywood is no longer making (and people are no longer going to see) decently budgeted films for adults, the New Yorker‘s Richard Brody writes, “I agree, but I think that the shift goes beyond distribution patterns or studio priorities to the world at large—and that it’s not a shift that’s unique to the movies.”


Berkeley. “The First World War holds the distinction of being America’s most popular conflict while it lasted, and the most hated as soon as it was over,” writes guest curator Russell Merritt, introducing the Pacific Film Archive series Over the Top and into the Wire: WWI on Film, which opens tomorrow and runs through August 27. For the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Cheryl Eddy talks with Merrill about his selections. And earlier this week, we ran Shari Kizirian‘s overview of “The Cinematic Legacy of World War I.” Meanwhile, on the other coast…

New York. MoMA’s series The Great War: A Cinematic Legacy opens on Monday and runs through September 21. “The program offers a wide range of superb movies, beginning with D.W. Griffith’s Hearts of the World, from 1918, the film that set the template for dramatizations of the war,” writes Richard Brody. He’s also written capsule previews of Raoul Walsh‘s What Price Glory (1926) and John Ford‘s Four Sons (1928).

The Anthology Film Archives series If You Meet Klaus Kinski, Pray for Your Death is on through August 10.

Walter Murch and Jon Favreau

Los Angeles. The local premiere of Aki Kaurismäki, Pedro Costa, Victor Erice and Manoel de Oliveira‘s Centro Histórico happens on Sunday at the Egyptian.


“Joining an increasingly-less-elite group of media types that already includes Natasha Lyonne, Gillian Jacobs, Zachary Quinto, Jason Ritter, Marc Maron and Judd Apatow’s 15-year-old daughter Maude, Spike Jonze has reportedly signed on to guest star on the fourth season of Girls,” reports Katie Rife at the AV Club.


Listening (39’25”). Mike Cahill (I Origins) and Cary Fukunaga (True Detective) have been friends for years and their conversation at the Talkhouse Film roves from science to storytelling to ghosts.

It’s Fassbinder Friday at FilmGrab.

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