Game Changers, directed by J. Craig Thompson, is a captivating, funny and illuminating documentary that charts the history of American game shows and game show hosts. Instead of being the one to interview the hosts himself, Thompson wisely chose Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek to interview them instead, so they seem at ease when they talk. The interviews, which mostly take the form of conversations with Trebek, offer a wealth of information about the rise and fall of game shows, the Golden Age of game shows, and the new Golden Age that we're currently in. Never does the information feel dull or exhausting, though. Trebek talks to a wide range of hosts such as Pat Sajak, Howie Mandel, Alan Thicke, Monty Hall, Richard Karn, Bob Eubanks and more. If you're a baby boomer, Game Changers will be a pleasant, diverting trip down memory lane. Everyone, young and old, though, will be engaged by watching the archival footage from the game shows while learning about them concurrently. Have you ever wondered how and why Richard Dawson ended up kissing the female contestants despite his superiors telling him not to? Or how about why Jeorpady! became so popular to begin with and what led to its concept? Now's your chance. Vanna White and Merv Griffin's son, Tony, also provide some insight. Game Changers is far from a dry, academic doc; it's a lively, entertaining crowd-pleaser that the entire family will enjoy. In other words, Thompson finds just the right balance between entertaining the audience and provoking the audience intellectually, a feat that's not easy for many docs. This a must-see for anyone even remotely interested in game shows. Game Changers would be a great double feature with Quiz Show. It opens in select theaters via Parade Deck Films.
Cecil Beaton was fashion and war photographer as well as a costume and set designer for both film and theater. Love, Cecil is a mildly captivating, but forgettable introduction to the life and work of Beaton. He's best known for designing the costumes in Gigi and My Fair Lady which he won an Oscar for. Director Lisa Immordino Vreeland combines archival footage, photographs and talking-head interviews along with excerpts from his diary read in vioce-over by Rupert Everett. Beaton was an interesting, complex human being. He was witty, sardonic and blunt. He had both male and female lovers. A controversial photograph that included anti-Semitism got him fired. Vreeland briefly explores Beaton's innate struggles as he felt like a loner and regretted not focusing on one career path. There's really nothing about Love, Cecil that makes rise above mediocrity as a documentary. It never becomes dull per se, but it fails to pack an emotional punch or to be particularly memorable. Won't You Be My Neighbor? is an example of a better biographical documentary that's more powerful, moving and profound than Love, Cecil. Even The Gospel According to André, unlike this doc, manages to be entertaining even if you're not interested in the world of fashion. At a running time of 98 minutes, Love, Cecil is an ordinary doc about an extraordinary artist.
Sicario: Day of the Soldado