If there’s one thing that should be less cinematic than the act of writing about dead people, it’s people talking about the act of writing about dead people. Nevertheless, director Vanessa Gould finds a compelling documentary subject in the New York Times staff writers tasked with summarizing the lives of the famous, important and often under-appreciated for the paper of record. She covers a variety of individually interesting topics—from the embarrassment of getting facts wrong to the decisions made regarding who warrants major coverage—while hooking the story to one specific assignment, as writer Bruce Weber researches the life of a pioneering media consultant. Mostly, however, it becomes a unique combination of celebrating the art of nuts-and-bolts journalism and recognizing the many fascinating details that can make a single human life noteworthy. It may inevitably get pokey in its reliance on talking heads and archival footage, but it’s always fascinating learning about people and the things that make their lives unique—and that applies both to these writers’ subjects, and the writers themselves.
Director: Vanessa Gould
Producer: Pamela Boll, Geralyn White Dreyfous, Caitlin Burke and Vanessa Gould