The Actuality Dramas of Allan King [Criterion Collection] [5 Discs] [DVD]

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Now almost forgotten, Warrendale brewed up a storm of controversy when it first emerged in 1967. Canadian documentary filmmaker Allan King takes us within the walls of an institution for emotionally disturbed adolescents. It is the philosophy of Warrendale that the best therapy for the young charges is to allow them as much personal freedom as possible. Thus, the kids smoke, swear and discuss sex in the frankest terms. Though Warrendale was originally made for television, neither the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation nor London's BBC, appalled by the film's scatology and frighteningly detailed therapy sequences, wanted anything to do with this hot-potato property. King arranged for the film to be released theatrically; as a result, Warrendale shared the International Critics Prize (with Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow-Up) at the Cannes Film Festival. Producer-director King later utilized outtakes to expand the film into the 18-part TV documentary series Children in Conflict. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

A Married Couple
Director Allan King filmed the Edwards family for 70 hours to tell this story of marital difficulties. Advertising exec Billy is married to Antoinette and have a son named Bogart. Their time is mostly spent arguing, but there are some lighthearted moments to this real life drama. After the release of the film, the Edwards had another child (a daughter) and briefly calmed their once-stormy relationship, then eventually divorced once and for all. In subsequent years, Antoinette remarried and Billy perished in a tragic automobile accident. ~ Dan Pavlides, Rovi

Memory for Max, Claire, Ida and Company
Dying at Grace
Canadian filmmaker and cinéma vérité pioneer Allan King directs the documentary Dying at Grace. The film follows the final events in the lives of five terminal patients in the palliative care unit at the Salvation Army Toronto Grace Health Centre. Using neither voice-over narration nor interviews, King just spends time with the patients, their loved ones, and their caretakers. Subjects include Italian immigrant Carmela, lonely survivor Joyce, hopeful Eda, former biker Rick, and cancer patient Lloyd. King also spends much intimate time with the hospital staff working under the direction of chaplain Phyllis Bobbit. Dying at Grace was shown at the 2003 Toronto Film Festival. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, Rovi

Come On Children
In order to set the scene for this Canadian film, the director rounded up 10 troubled youth and placed them together in a farmhouse, filming their interactions for ten weeks. One of the boys is a speed freak, and recounts the story of how he broke the news to his parents. In another scene, two parents visit and quietly scold their children for doing nothing with their lives; amusingly, in identical ways the two youngsters manage to show their bashfulness and resentment of this dressing-down. This somewhat contrived cinema verité documentary was shot at about the same time as the U.S. television documentary An American Family, which unveiled the workings of the Loud family. ~ Clarke Fountain, Rovi

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