The Best Documentaries Of 2016: Salutes To Older Women


Note: click on the links below to watch trailers and find out where these films are available.

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Older women are the bomb.  It’s great that they have been given some overdue respect in the world of fashion, and documentaries like Advanced Style and Iris capture that with aplomb.  Style evolved from Ari Seth Cohen’s blog about “capturing the sartorial savvy of the senior set,” while doc veteran Albert Maysles lensed Iris, a profile of 93-year-old fashion maven Iris Apfel.  When it comes to the latter it’s one of the brightest trips into fashion eccentricity since Grey Gardens, and that’s saying something.

Queen Mimi is a funny and complicated film about Marie “Mimi” Haist, a homeless woman who took up residence at a laundromat in Santa Monica and became a fixture of the neighborhood.  It explores her past as well as her relationships (including a decades-long friendship with Zach Galifianakis), creating a portrait of a woman who is as plucky as she is funny and mysterious.

In the case of A Family Affair, I would also use the word “mysterious,” but apply it in a much more disquieting fashion.  30-year-old Tom Fassaert receives an invitation to South Africa from his estranged 95-year-old grandmother; everything that happens after becomes increasingly fraught and uncomfortable.  Marianne Cilliers is a master manipulator and her intentions become increasingly confusing and chilling as their painful family history comes into focus.  Watching this is an experience you won’t soon forget, and the closing shot is a poignant knockout.


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