All the Beauty and the Bloodshed

BUY AT: Amazon.com Amazon.ca

See more details, packaging, or compare

Synopsis

Fearless documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras’s career-long pursuit of truth and justice finds powerful expression in an epic story of art, activism, and survival. Made in collaboration with renowned artist Nan Goldin, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed entwines the mission of PAIN—an advocacy group she founded to raise awareness about the billionaire Sackler family’s integral role in the ongoing crisis of opioid overdoses—with an intimate journey through Goldin’s life, from her rebellious adolescence and immersion in New York City’s thriving underground arts scene to her personal experiences of addiction and the AIDS epidemic. Through it all, her indelible photographs and candid reflections on memory and trauma reveal her unyielding solidarity with marginalized communities that refuse to remain silent.

Picture 8/10

Laura Poitras’ documentary about Nan Goldin, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, receives a Blu-ray edition from The Criterion Collection. The film is presented in 1080p/24hz high-definition and 1.78:1 aspect ratio on a dual-layer disc.

The movie is assembled from new material shot in high-definition digital and archival material sourced from analog video, standard-definition digital, iPhone footage, and what appears to be 8mm and 16mm film. Slideshows of Goldin’s work are also interspersed throughout the film, all of which look to come from high-quality scans. The video and digital footage, including the material shot exclusively by Poitras, all look as good as possible. The high-def digital footage looks sharp and clean with decent colors but so-so black levels, with darker shots looking noisy. This at least appears to be baked into the original digital photography. Analog and standard-def video can also look rough, with jaggies and noise appearing, but I wouldn’t have anticipated anything otherwise.

The material sourced from film looks excellent, though, only limited by their condition. Outside of that, the scans are solid, and the digital encode handles grain surprisingly well, retaining a natural, clean look throughout. For what the film is, it’s all very suiting and looks good.

Audio 8/10

The film comes with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround soundtrack. Audio is focused primarily to the front speakers, with some music and background sounds mixed to the rears, but not much. Audio quality varies, depending on the source of the footage, but that’s expected. Like the video, it's fine a perfectly works with the film.

Extras 5/10

Features are disappointingly slim, two assembled from footage filmed during the 60th New York Film Festival in 2022. The first is a 29-minute post-screening panel conversation featuring Poitras and Goldin alongside producer Megan Kapler, attorney Mike Quinn, and PAIN member Harry Cullen, moderated by Dennis Lim. The first half of the discussion focuses on how Goldin decided to focus her efforts on removing the Sackler name from various art institutions (mentioning it was a way for her to move attention from her opioid addiction) and how Poitras came to be involved. The last half then has the audience ask questions (presented as onscreen text), which leads to a discussion about the music in the film and whether the Sackler family will ever have any awareness of what they’ve done.

It’s at least an insightful talk, as is a 21-minute conversation between Goldin and Rachael Rakes about art and activism, and successfully removes the Sackler name from several institutions. The best interview, though, is probably the new one Criterion has recorded with director Laura Poitras, who talks about her previous documentary work and the subjects that attract her before talking about All the Beauty and the Bloodshed. Here, she gets a bit more into the film's construction and how much say Goldin had in it. She gets technical and talks in-depth about the film’s sound design and her favorite moments (the Guggenheim sticks out).

At 29 minutes, it’s a rather in-depth discussion, though it still leaves much open to be covered. I would have expected Goldin to show up (though it’s possible she wasn’t open to participating or felt the film said enough) and maybe a bit more about Purdue and the Sacklers for those unfamiliar with them or the opioid crisis. The film’s trailer is here, as is a short essay by Sarah Schulman about the partnership between Poitras and Goldin, which makes for a good read, but that’s it. Not even anything further exploring Goldin's work shows up, outside of a handful of photos in the insert. Disappointing, to say the least.

Closing

It’s not a particularly fulfilling edition, but the presentation was solid enough.

BUY AT: Amazon.com Amazon.ca

 
 
Directed by: Laura Poitras
Featuring: Nan Goldin
Year: 2022
Time: 122 min.
 
Series: The Criterion Collection
Edition #: 1210
Licensor: Neon
Release Date: March 12 2024
MSRP: $39.95
 
Blu-ray
1 Disc | BD-50
1.78:1 ratio
English 5.1 DTS-HD MA Surround
Subtitles: English
Region A
 
 New interview with Laura Poitras   Two conversations from the 2022 New York Film Festival, one featuring Laura Poitras, Nan Goldin, coproducer and PAIN activist Megan Kapler, PAIN activist Harry Cullen, and lawyer and PAIN member Mike Quinn discussing the making of the film, and the other featuring Goldin on art and activism   Trailer   An essay by author and activist Sarah Schulman