DocFridays: Bert Haanstra

In honor of my extremely short trip to Amsterdam I am posting this week about one of my favorite Dutch directors, Bert Haanstra.
A few of my favorites: Glas, Spiegel Van Holland, and Zoo

So much joy and simplicity and rhythm in each one.



Spiegel Van Holland: Images of Holland reflected in the varied surfaces of water. Beautiful, poignant and satisfyingly mystifying. It will make you dizzy.

Spiegel Van Holland

Spiegel Van Holland

Zoo: Exactly what you would expect, but exceptional. Priceless moments.


DocFridays: For All Mankind

For All Mankind
Directed by: Al Reinert
Running Time: 80 minutes

Spectacular footage from the Apollo missions, punctuated with crew members’ recollections and philosophies, and set to a Brian Eno score. Watching these guys just fooling around on the moon, skipping and singing and filled with awe – it’s pretty irresistible.

Available on DVD

Doc Fridays: Jean Painlevé

So I missed last week’s Doc Fridays. The holidays will do that to you. But I am going to start the new year off right, with one of my top top 50.
This entry is in reference to the collective short works of Jean Painlevé. If I had to pick one documentary director that I admire above all others, it would probably be Painlevé.

Love Life of the Octopus

David Attenborough meets Salvador Dali. Astounding science, music, storytelling and witty and subtle commentary on the animal within us all.
A few of my favorites:
Love Life of the Octopus
The Vampire
The Seahorse

Love Life of the Octopus

The Seahorse

The Seahorse

The Vampire

Available in a stunning set from Criterion.

DocFridays: Toccata for Toy Trains

Toccata for Toy Trains
Directed by: Charles and Ray Eames
Running time: 14 minutes

A sweet celebration of toy trains, complete with charming atmosphere, endearing characters and pure joy.
Oh, Charles and Ray, how I adore you!

Available from Netflix.

DocFridays: From the East

From the East
Directed by Chantal Akerman
Running time: 110 minutes

A beautiful and somber ride through Eastern Europe. Simple, stark and incredibly personal and cold in the same breath.

I hadn’t watched this film in several years, but re-watching it this past week, it was startling how much of the imagery is shared with my yet-to-be-completed film, The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yaga.

Available on DVD from Icarus Films.

DocFridays: Images of the World and the Inscription of War

Images of the World and the Inscription of War
Directed by: Harun Farocki
Running time: 75 minutes

A thick and complex meditation on the act of looking (and much more). Another major inspiration for Beetle Queen. Like many of my favorites, it takes more than one viewing.

Available on a French DVD from Survivance.

DocFridays: High Steel

High Steel
Directed by: Don Owen
Running time: 14 minutes

I saw a gorgeous print of this little gem about Native American iron workers a few years ago. Watching these men scramble across iron beams several hundred feet in the air, with the New York skyline as a backdrop is pretty unbeatable. But add an intimate narrative, historical tragedy, and the complex wrestling of tradition and modernity and, well, it’s even better.

Available online at the National Film Board of Canada website.

DocFridays: Connections

Connections Series
Directed by: James Burke
Running time: 45 minutes per episode

Humor, mystery, history, science and a white bell-bottom suit. Need I say more?

Available on DVD or in very small pieces on James Burke’s YouTube Channel.

Doc Fridays: Tokyo-Ga

Director: Wim Wenders
Running time: 92 minutes

Part tribute to the great Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu, part city symphony, part personal diary. I probably watched this film 4 times while making Beetle Queen.
No film soundtrack will ever be as cool.

Available as an extra on Criterion’s Late Spring DVD.

DocFridays: Microcosmos

Directed by: Claude Nuridsany and Marie Pernnou
Running time: 75 minutes

This one is almost too obvious. Unprecedented macro-photography of insects set to music. What’s not to like?

Available on DVD.