Director Steve Loveridge has been a friend and collaborator with the rapper M.I.A. since they met as film students, but what saves his first documentary Matangi/Maya/M.I.A. from the pitfalls of an adoring, glossed-over portrayal is the simple decision to take her seriously.
Miriam Makeba is an artist, a symbol, and a woman in the fractured documentary Mama Africa, but never all three at once. Mika Kaurismäki toggles between these roles in his 2011 biography of the South African singer and civil rights activist.
Love Beats Rhymes is more of a showcase for star Azealia Banks than director RZA, but his influence is still felt in this formulaic hip-hop romance, which exudes the generosity of an experienced artist putting a young musician in the best possible light. Banks’s first film isn’t a self-congratulatory star vehicle.
The way director Luke Korem introduces his subject in Dealt is the documentary equivalent of the magician’s practiced patter, with ardent testimonials introducing audiences to the astounding art of card mechanic Richard Turner.
Michael Almereyda’s Escapes is a rough sketch compared to polished Hollywood portraits like The Kid Stays in the Picture. That’s partly because Hampton Fancher is not a well-oiled raconteur like Robert Evans.