4 Best Movies to Watch by Morgan Neville
It’s bold to make a film about a legendary icon of cinema, but it’s even bolder to make one about Orson Welles. Best known for making Citizen Kane (universally agreed upon as one of the best movies ever made), Orson Welles is the renegade filmmaker whose works and techniques form the foundation of modern narrative filmmaking today. In his eyes, he asserts that the best films are made by accident. However, armed with archival footage and interviews with those closest to Welles, director Morgan Neville dares to question one of cinema’s biggest geniuses by examining the production of his last unfinished film, the Hollywood satire The Other Side of the Wind. While Welles was undeniably genius - able to inscrutably visualize a film without scripts - it’s easy to see how his tendency to stoke conflict for art could be so self-destructive. This film presents Welles as he is - both a cinema maverick and also an overly demanding artistic tyrant.
If you grew up watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, you may find yourself now humming along: It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor, would you be mine? Could you be mine?
If you did not grow up watching this iconic children’s television program, you may still be familiar with its host, the late Fred Rogers. Rogers was an advocate for empathy and extending kindness toward people of all races, religions, and ages. He never talked down to the neighbors who paid him visits on the show, which aired from 1968 to 2001, even while tackling heavier subjects like grief, divorce, and loneliness.
Morgan Neville’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor best captures Rogers’ ability to build communities and make you, the viewer, feel less alone. Through interviews and archival footage, a clear portrait emerges of Rogers’ legacy and singular force of goodwill. Both the documentary and Fred Rogers’ spirit serve as reminders that each of us are worthy of love, exactly as we are.
For the background singers featured in 20 Feet from Stardom, music is a vocation. It is not merely an occupation or a pastime; it is a way of life, a “higher calling,” as the legendary Lisa Fischer would say. For 90 minutes, director Morgan Neville superbly maps out the development of back-up singing in the US throughout the decades, exploring its deep connection with African-American culture and women’s history. It’s fun to finally put names and faces on the oohs and aahs we hear on records aplenty, but the film always finds its grounding on the singers’ own unique voices, where its true soul lies.