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DOC NYC 2022 Roundup

DOC NYC 2022
Online streaming, in-person screenings in New York City
Through November 27, 2022
The annual documentary series DOC NYC—which returned to movie theaters after being relegated to online only in 2020—again includes the option of online watching for those who can’t get to the in-person screenings in Manhattan; anyone can access the films from anywhere through November 27.

As always, there are dozens of features and shorts to pick through; of the features I saw, most covered the art and entertainment world. Ennio Morricone, the great Italian film composer, is the subject of Giuseppe Tornatore’s loving Ennio, a 2-1/2 hour exploration of the incredible career of an artist who worked with so many different directors—including Sergio Leone, Marco Bellocchio,  Bernardo Bertolucci Roland Joffe and Tornatore himself, for whom Morricone composed the music for his international breakthrough, Cinema Paradiso—and in so many different styles, from conservative to postmodern, that it’s exhilarating to simply watch Morricone himself discuss his music so casually and charmingly. Of course, the film is also crammed with paeans from adoring colleagues and admirers, including Bellocchio, Clint Eastwood and Oliver Stone to Pat Metheny, Hans Zimmer and even Bruce Springsteen.
The End of the World

In The End of the World, Vermont’s progressive Bennington College is the locale for a snappy if slick journey through the memories of some of the trendy writers (Brett Easton Ellis, Jay McInerney, Donna Tartt) who attended the school, which was an literary hot spot for decades until it became a scholastic shadow of its former self following sex scandals and subsequent budget slashing. 
Splice Here—A Projected Journey

A very entertaining slice of movie history, Australian director Rob Murphy’s Splice Here—A Projected Journey takes us through decades of memories of theater projectionists (of which Murphy is one), who proudly discuss the unbeatable sensation of watching films on huge screens, especially in comparison to the chopped-up pan-and-scan versions so many of them grew up watching on television. When Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight is shot in 70mm, a cinema in a small Australian town scrambles to have a workable projector to be able to screen it. For film buffs, Splice Here is manna from heaven.
Immediate Family

In Immediate Family, director Denny Tedesco follows the long and winding careers of the best session musicians of the rock era—drummer Russ Kunkel, bassist Lee Sklar, and guitarists Danny Kortchmar and Waddy Wachtel—as they get together to form the group Immediate Family, playing many of the songs they originally recorded. All four men (along with Steve Postel, another longtime session player who’s part of the band) have wonderful stories about working with the likes of Jackson Browne, Don Henley, Linda Ronstadt, Carole King and James Taylor, all of whom also chip in with revealing anecdotes of their own. 
Idina Menzel—Which Way to the Stage?

Idina Menzel—Which Way to the Stage?, director Anne McCabe’s portrait of the Tony-winning Broadway star on tour supporting Josh Groban, culminates with the singer’s first-ever solo appearance at Madison Square Garden, the ultimate performance space for any native New Yorker (which she is). By turns funny and whimsical as well as serious and introspective, Menzel provides behind the scenes glimpses of a veteran performer showing her nerves at what she’s taking on and the working mom’s protectiveness of her teenage son, who travels with her.
In the Company of Rose

In the Company of Rose is director James Lapine’s valentine to Rose Styron, the still-effervescent and talkative 90ish widow of author William Styron, who wrote the classic novels The Adventures of Nat Turner and Sophie’s Choice. Rose, an accomplished poet and writer herself, is unfailingly honest as well as amusing as she recounts how she and William met, their rocky marriage and difficulties raising a family—their grown children confirm this—and Lapine (who collaborated on several shows with Stephen Sondheim and so knows the prickliness of great artists) keeps Rose chatting, to our benefit.
1946: The Mistranslation That Shifted a Culture

Other DOC NYC tries tackled provocative subject matter that touched the personal and the political. The revelation that one word in the Bible was mistranslated to make homosexuality the bigoted focus of religious zealots is the fascinating subject of 1946: The Mistranslation That Shifted a Culture, director Sharon “Rocky” Roggio’s revelatory examination that tracks that occurrence to her title’s year. With expert testimony from scholars who burrow into the original languages and explain why and how bible thumpers got their preferred interpretation, 1946 unveils a headshaking moral tragedy. 
The Corridors of Power
It’s tough to condense decades of American foreign policy failures into a gripping narrative, but director Dror Moreh achieves just that in The Corridors of Power, a spellbinding examination of how the U.S. has only paid lip service to stopping genocide worldwide over the past several decades. Moreh talks with seemingly nearly every American diplomat involved, from Henry Kissinger, Madeline Albright and Colin Powell to James Baker, Lesley Clark and Samantha Power, and their firsthand insights (especially Power’s), along with well-chosen archival footage, give the film its sadly still-relevant substance. 
Last Flight Home
Depicting the last days of her father, 92-year-old Eli, Ondi Timoner’s Last Flight Home is as heartbreaking as any film I’ve seen. But despite its profoundly sorrowful subject matter, Timoner’s film is so much more than merely heart tugging. Dad Eli uses California’s End of Life Option law to die on his own terms, while daughter Ondi unflinchingly records the emotionally fraught days that the entire family deals with once he sets things in motion. As desperately saddening as the subject matter is, Last Flight Home never gets maudlin. Eli’s the dynamic center of the family, even while being bed-ridden, and has words of wisdom for everyone, sometimes laced with sardonic quips. The final takeaway in Ondi Timoner’s insightful documentary is a family bound by love and commitment remaining united through difficulties they wouldn’t wish on anyone else.

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