Sheila writes: Sports fans and ice dance enthusiasts are all focused on Sochi right now for the Winter Olympics. The Olympics always comes with some strain of controversy, and Sochi has been more intense than most. I came across a post about Sochi's well-known history as the "Florida of Russia", where Stalin himself would summer. His vacation home still stands. Messy Nessy Chic has a post with a lot of great images of that vacation home as well as vintage photographs of the holiday resort in its heyday: Postcards from Sochi: Summering with Stalin.
Why not fold documentaries into my list of the "Best Films of 2011?" After all, a movie is a movie, right? Yes, and some years I've thrown them all into the same mixture. But all of these year-end Best lists serve one useful purpose: They tell you about good movies you may not have seen or heard about. The more films on my list that aren't on yours, the better job I've done.
That's particularly true were you to depend on the "short list" released by the Academy's Documentary Branch of 15 films they deem eligible for nomination. The branch has been through turmoil in the past and its procedures were "reformed" at one point. But this year it has made a particularly scandalous sin of
Was Spike Lee's "The Original Kings of Comedy" red-lined? Lee doesn't think so. His concert film starring four black comedians opened last Aug. 18 to astonishingly good business, and some believed it was prevented from winning the number one spot at the nation's box office because it was released on only 847 screens, grossing $11 million. The weekend's winner, "The Cell," was on 2,411 screens, grossing $17.5 million.