Documentaries I Like: Sherman's March

Sherman's MarchThis post is the start of a new occasional feature on my favorite documentaries. I'm a huge documentary fan, and will share some of my favorites with you, perhaps once every week or two. If you have a documentary suggestion, please post it in the comments!

First up, Sherman's March by Ross McElwee (1986). This film carries the rather long secondary title: "A Meditation on the Possibility Of Romantic Love in the South During An Era of Nuclear Weapons Proliferation," and that begins to give you an idea of its scope. The basic gist is that Ross McElwee set out to make a film about the lingering effects of General Sherman's March to the Sea during the Civil War (read about it at Wikipedia). However, as soon as McElwee began shooting, his girlfriend dumped him, and his preoccupation with women took over the film.

(Much more after the jump.)

As McElwee gamely attempts to make his documentary about Sherman's March, he travels through the American South, following Sherman's historical path and shooting occasional bits of historical narrative. But along the way, McElwee meets a string of Southern women, and the film covers this series of developing relationships as McElwee seems to bring his camera to every personal event in his life. The women McElwee meets, and the way he relates to them, are the main content of this film. Sherman's March itself (the historical event, and its aftermath) is used as an allegory about another lonely, bearded, misunderstood man traveling through the South (although McElwee doesn't exactly practice "total warfare").

Here's the first three minutes of the film (please stick around until after the 'historical narration' concludes):

Soon, McElwee meets Pat. Here's a snippet about her:

After Pat we meet Claudia (and her daughter Ashley, then Claudia's father):

Sherman's March is funny, touching, and above all, personal. This is really McElwee's life, and he is truly struggling to figure out what's going on and what choices to make. His constant documentation of his life adds to the struggle, as he tries to create and maintain personal relationships despite the camera constantly on his shoulder.

McElwee has made a series of equally excellent documentaries in recent years, continuing in the spirit of Sherman's March -- I'll likely cover several of them in this series. To see Sherman's March, you can rent it from Netflix, rent it from Blockbuster, or buy it from Amazon. Or you could just come over to my place in Portland and we'll have a viewing party.

Dominique Faget, AFP/Getty Images
David Lynch's Amazon T-Shirt Shop is as Surreal as His Movies
Dominique Faget, AFP/Getty Images
Dominique Faget, AFP/Getty Images

David Lynch, the celebrated director behind baffling-but-brilliant films like Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive, and Twin Peaks, is now selling his equally surreal T-shirts on Amazon.

As IndieWire reports, each shirt bears an image of one of Lynch’s paintings or photographs with an accompanying title. Some of his designs are more straightforward (the shirts labeled “House” and “Whale” feature, respectively, drawings of a house and a whale), while others are obscure (the shirt called “Chicken Head Tears” features a disturbing sculpture of a semi-human face).

This isn’t the first time Lynch has ventured into pursuits outside of filmmaking. Previously, he has sold coffee, designed furniture, produced music, hosted daily weather reports, and published a book about his experience with transcendental meditation. Art, in fact, falls a little closer to Lynch’s roots; the filmmaker trained for years at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts before making his mark in Hollywood.

Lynch’s Amazon store currently sells 57 T-shirts, ranging in size from small to triple XL, all for $26 each. As for our own feelings on the collection, we think they’re best reflected by this T-shirt named “Honestly, I’m Sort of Confused.”

Check out some of our favorites below:

T-shirt that says "Honestly, I'm Sort of Confused"
"Honestly, I'm Sort of Confused"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with a drawing of a sleeping bird on it
"Sleeping Bird"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt that says Peace on Earth over and over again. The caption is pretty on the nose.
"Peace on Earth"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with an image of a screaming face made out of turkey with ants in its mouth
"Turkey Cheese Head"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with an odd sculpted clay face asking if you know who it is. You get the idea.
"I Was Wondering If You Know Who I Am?"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with an image of a sculpted head that is not a chicken. It is blue, though.
"Chicken Head Blue"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with a drawing of a lobster on it. Below the drawing, the lobster is labeled with the word lobster. Shocking, I know.

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with an abstract drawing of what is by David Lynch's account, at least, a cowboy

Buy it on Amazon

[h/t IndieWire]

S-Town Podcast Is Being Turned Into a Movie

S-Town, a seven-part podcast from Serial and This American Life, has all the trappings of a binge-worthy story. It all started when a man from the tiny town of Woodstock, Alabama asked a reporter to investigate a local man from a wealthy family who allegedly boasted he had gotten away with murder.

As for what happens next, “someone else ends up dead, sparking a nasty feud, a hunt for hidden treasure, and an unearthing of the mysteries of one man's life,” reads the 2017 podcast’s synopsis, without giving too much away.

Now, that riveting story is being turned into a movie with This American Life’s participation, IndieWire reports. Participant Media acquired the rights to the S-Town podcast, and negotiations are underway to get playwright Samuel Hunter and director Tom McCarthy on board. McCarthy is perhaps best known for directing and co-writing 2015's Oscar-winning Spotlight; he also co-wrote Up and was an executive producer and director for the controversial Netflix series 13 Reasons Why.

S-Town was downloaded over 10 million times over a period of four days after its release, and it received a Peabody Award for the radio/podcast category, according to IndieWire. Just last month, HBO and Sky announced they would be releasing a documentary series about Adnan Syed, the focus of the first season of the Serial podcast, which is developed by This American Life.

In case you missed S-Town when it premiered, you can go back and listen to it here.

[h/t IndieWire]


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