One of two recent examples of pristine cinematic journalism, Doc is evidence to the fact that—unlike popular “issue” documentaries like An Inconvenient Truth and No End in Sight, whose progressive subject matter is contrasted by equally regressive aesthetics—fact-based cinema needn’t be deprived of stylistic worth as a matter of necessity. Each through their own unrelated subject matter, the recent Indian docudrama Black Friday and the new American indie Doc are exquisite examples of real-life stories given newfound dimension through deliberate cinematic filters, the former a detail-obsessed, hard-boiled account of the 1993 Bombay bombings, the latter a delirious experiment in film-as-jazz improvisation. In Doc, the comparatively minor story of Harold L. “Doc” Humes waxes itself via interviews, decades-old audio recordings, notebook clippings, newspapers, and location footage, spun into a playful, scattershot montage and glued together by the film’s delectable soundtrack choices. The stylistic success here is so great that it’s easy to lose sight of the film’s central figure, a brilliant and inventive (and perhaps slightly insane) figure with a mind as divergent and curious as the construction of the film itself. Doc Humes was simultaneously everything and nothing: inventor, writer, filmmaker, lover, friend, politician, even bum, yet his popularity was of the exclusive kind, here recounted fondly by his friends and family, his daughter Immy Humes herself in charge behind the camera. By so expertly meshing subject and approach, Doc achieves that rare case of a person truly given new life on the silver screen.
- 96 min
- Immy Humes
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