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Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You is the definitive chronicle of Mr. Lear’s life, work, and achievements, but it is so much more than an arm’s-length, past-tense biopic; at 93, Mr. Lear is as vital and engaged as he ever was. Top-notch cinéma vérité documentarians Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing (Jesus Camp, 12th & Delaware, DETROPIA) seize the opportunity to fashion a dynamic portrait that matches the spirit of their subject. Breaking down the fourth wall to create an evocative collage where past and present intermingle, they reveal a psychologically rich man whose extraordinary contributions emerge from both his personal story and a dialogue with the world.
Imagine if Frederick Wiseman and David Lynch had a bastard child, and you’ll get a sense of the movie’s off-kilter aesthetic, a potent and pointed mix of firsthand observation and surreal flights of fancy.
This haunting piece of documentary cinema tells the story of one city in economic decay; but really, as the real people in the film repeatedly state, this isn’t just a Detroit problem; it’s an American problem.
DETROPIA successfully symbolizes Detroit and nation’s anguish.
Of all the Sundance films tackling the gap between the richest 1% and the rest of the nation, the documentary ‘Detropia’ stands out for how it encapsulates the causes and potential solutions.
The most moving documentary I have seen in years. Both an ardent love letter to past vitality and a grateful salute to those who remain in place – the survivors, utterly without illusion, who refuse to leave. The filmmakers are so attuned to color and to shade that I was amazed by the handsomeness of what I was seeing. I’m not being perverse, this is a beautiful film.
Beautiful and quietly devastating.
With evocative music and hauntingly lovely cinematography, “Detropia” conveys some of the emptiness and beauty of the city while delving deeply into the economic battering it has taken.
The defeat of the middle class that has comprised the last decade of Detroit’s history. That painful story and its meaning for the rest of America is the subject of Detropia, an important, heartbreaking, and yet still occasionally hilarious documentary.
“An engaging, warmly funny tale of a bizarre Chicago experiment.”
“Powerful and provocative…. Directors Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing look at a Chicago Heights high school where kids with subpar grades are offered $50 a month if they can get straight C’s or better. Two kids who eagerly agree to the experiment emerge as lively, not easily forgotten characters.”
“Demonstrating the benefits of a patient, traditional documentary approach, Ewing and Grady get remarkable access to skate punk Kevin Muncy, an ingenious kid who can’t be bothered with school but who builds a tattoo gun out of an electric toothbrush and a guitar string, and Urail King, an extrovert whose response to seeing the inside of a Hummer limo is so unrestrained you think steam might come out of his ears.”
“Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, who directed Jesus Camp, wisely decided not to adapt one of the book’s chapters. Instead, their ‘Can You Bribe a Ninth Grader to Succeed?’ observes an experiment run by University of Chicago economists (including Levitt) at a nearby high school. This is the only segment that begins without a foregone conclusion, and thus is the most interesting.”
“Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing have once again shed a light on a corner of the American culture wars.”
“…casts a heart-rending light on the abortion divide…”
“…may just be the finest documentary film ever made about the abortion issue.”
“Filmmakers Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing have delivered something almost unimaginable– a fresh portrait of abortion that is revelatory, no matter what position you hold as you enter the theater.”
“I can’t think of another film on the subject that keeps its cool and allows both sides to be heard at medium decibel.”
“Deeply satisfying… a soaring artistically complex testament to survival, character and hope.”
“Inspirational. Rich. Poignant.”