It’s time for another look at (relatively) recent Blu-Rays and DVDs aimed at the hardcore movie lover — though more casual viewers looking for something beyond Hollywood’s latest mass-market offerings are certainly allowed to kibitz at the Corner as well. Today’s selections are from Hollywood, off-Hollywood, England, and France and were made mostly in the 1930s or the 1970s, though we will be looking at one from 1998 — only yesterday!
And so we begin…(after the flip, that is.)
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Reissued by Criterion to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, this documentary from journalist-turned-filmmaker Al Reinert is comprised of truly remarkable, extremely high-quality footage from NASA’s own vaults. Featuring all 24 of the Apollo program astronauts who went to the moon, the film impressionistically leaps back and forth in time, covering both the mundane day to day preparations for the various trips by both astronauts and mission control personnel and moving forward to the ecstatic reveries brought on by traveling through space and ultimately reaching the moon. Since the only narration is provided by comments from the astronauts themselves and much of the footage has a fly-on-the-wall feeling to it, “For All Mankind” feels very much like a vérité documentary. The effect can be prettymind-blowing at times, as we realize that we are watching science fiction become living history, and with a visual clarity that the millions who watched the original Apollo landings on their television sets never imagined was even possible.
Still, for an 80-minute documentary, “For All Mankind” plays a bit long. First-time director Reinert does a solid job here of assembling the footage, but the film’s impressionistic structure makes it feel a bit more arty and, yes, spacey than it really needs to be. Also, with all due respect to the great musical innovator, musician/composer/producer Brian Eno, his atmospheric score, while often beautiful, at times lends an air of unwelcome pretension to certain scenes. Still, no space enthusiast is going to want to go through life without perpetual access to this remarkable film and some reliably awesome DVD extras from the folks at Criterion.
Click to buy “For All Mankind.”