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Classic documentaries from sphinx productions
* SEE Sphinxproductions.com FOR FULL CATALOGUE
CLASSIC DOCUMENTARIES FROM Films We Like
* SEE FILMSWELIKE.COM FOR FULL CATALOGUE AND COLLECTIONS
CLASSIC DOCUMENTARIES FROM Janus
* SEE JANUSFILMS.COM FOR FULL CATALOGUE
Always for Pleasure
Les Blank, United States, 1968
An uncompromisingly independent filmmaker, Les Blank made documentaries for nearly fifty years, elegantly disappearing with his camera into cultural spots rarely seen on-screen—mostly on the peripheries of the United States, but also occasionally abroad. Seemingly off-the-cuff yet poetically constructed, these films are humane, sometimes wry, always engaging tributes to music, food, and all sorts of regionally specific delights. This collector’s set provides a diverse survey of Les Blank’s vast output, including fourteen of his best-known works and eight related short films.
A Poem is a Naked Person
Les Blank, United States, 1974
Les Blank considered this free-form feature documentary about beloved singer-songwriter Leon Russell, filmed between 1972 and 1974, to be one of his greatest accomplishments. Yet it has not been released until now. Hired by Russell to film him at his recording studio in northeast Oklahoma, Blank ended up constructing a unique, intimate portrait of a musician and his environment. Made up of mesmerizing scenes of Russell and his band performing, both in concert and in the studio, as well as off-the-cuff moments behind the scenes, this singular film—which also features performances by Willie Nelson and George Jones—has attained legendary status over the years. It’s a work of rough beauty that serves as testament to Blank’s cinematic daring and Russell’s immense musical talents.
Burden of Dreams
Les Blank, United States, 1982
For nearly five years, acclaimed German filmmaker Werner Herzog desperately tried to complete one of the most ambitious and difficult films of his career, Fitzcarraldo, the story of one man's attempt to build an opera house deep in the Amazon jungle. Documentary filmmaker Les Blank captured the unfolding of this production, made more perilous by Herzog's determination to shoot the most daunting scenes without models or special effects, including a sequence requiring hundreds of native Indians to pull a full-size, 320-ton steamship over a small mountain. The result is an extraordinary document of the filmmaking process and a unique look into the single-minded mission of one of cinema's most fearless directors.
Garlic is as Good as Ten Mothers
Les Blank, United States, 2004
In this love letter to "the stinking rose," documentarian Les Blank interviews garlic fanatics of all stripes, from cooks to members of garlic appreciation societies. The film, (a lip-smacking foray into the history, consumption, cultivation and culinary/curative powers of Garlic) features internationally renowned chef Alice Waters of Chez Panisse and a flavorful musical soundtrack.
In 2004 GARLIC AS GOOD AS TEN MOTHERS was one of 25 films, selected by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Film Registry list of films to be preserved in perpetuity.
Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe
Les Blank, United States, 1980
Yes, German film director Werner Herzog really does eat his shoe to fulfill a vow to fellow filmmaker Errol Morris -- boldly exemplifying his belief that people must have the guts to attempt what they dream of.
In Heaven There is No Beer?
Les Blank, United States, 1984
A cinematic jamboree, this film finds director Les Blank in a characteristically jubilant mode as he explores "polka happiness" and the Polish American polka subculture.
THE WAR ROOM
Chris Hegedus, United States, 1993
The 1992 presidential election was a triumph not only for Bill Clinton but also for the new breed of strategists who guided him to the White House—and changed the face of politics in the process. For this thrilling, behind-closed-doors account of that campaign, renowned cinema verité filmmakers Chris Hegedus and D. A. Pennebaker captured the brainstorming and bull sessions of Clinton’s crack team of consultants—especially James Carville and George Stephanopoulos, who became media stars in their own right as they injected a savvy, youthful spirit and spontaneity into the process of campaigning. Fleet-footed and entertaining, _The War Room_ is a vivid document of a political moment whose truths (“It’s the economy, stupid!”) still ring in our ears.