Recently Released 12.8.15
Salaam Bombay! (1988) wasn’t Mira Nair’s first film, but the Oscar-nominated picture introduced her to the wider world. It’s the story of Krishna, a boy protagonist shouldering a heavy burden of poverty with grace; abandoned, he makes his way to the nearest big city (Bombay), where he sleeps on the streets, sells chai (and falls in with drug dealers). Salaam Bombay! offers sentiment without sentimentality in an unforgettable depiction of life on the streets of India.
Gil Scott-Heron: Black Wax
Gil Scott-Heron may have underestimated the power of TV in “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” No matter. Robert Mugge’s 1982 documentary shows an accomplished R&B singer whose rhymes were a precursor to rap. Scott-Heron had reasons to be angry, but his outrage was ameliorated with a sharp sense of humor, an acute awareness of irony. Primarily a concert film, Black Wax also includes scenes shot on the streets of Scott-Heron’s adopted hometown, Washington, D.C.
Seymour: An Introduction
Thriving on solitude, acclaimed concert pianist Seymour Bernstein retired from performing at age 50 but never abandoned music. Now 88, he remains a teacher with great sympathy for his students, the craft of music and the emotional worlds it can summon. Ethan Hawke directed this documentary, stating that Bernstein “helped me more than anyone in my own profession.” Unlike the mad geniuses beloved by the media, Bernstein has quietly harmonized his talent with his life.
Tabu: A Story of the South Seas
In 1929, German director F.W. Murnau and American documentarian Robert Flaherty met in Bali to make a film on the island. They didn’t get along personally or aesthetically and Flaherty’s involvement was limited to shooting only a few scenes for the Oscar-winning Tabu. It was one of the last great silent movies, telling its story of tradition-breaking islanders-in-love visually with only minimal intertitles. The Blu-ray includes a documentary and “lost” scenes.