“The B-Side” left me in a weird place. I get that the film opened last week, but most people weren’t going to have the chance to see it opening weekend. So, what does one do with a rather short documentary about a niche photographer? Elsa Dorfman is a fascinating entry point to a story about the death of film stock. However, Morris also wants to explore an almost “Outliers” style tale of her past with Ginsberg and other poets. In a way, it plays like a throwback to his early documentaries.

In another way, it feels like Morris should’ve found another venue for this film. But, I get the irony in not letting a film about saving filmed art go to a major film venue. Do you see why I have been having trouble with this movie? There is a serious message hidden behind Dorfman remembering her family, her portraits and her brushes with fame. It’s just that this giant Polaroid of a tangent keeps dangling in the background.

I don’t get why Morris didn’t address the elephant of technological process. The master documentarian dances around it and we get its impact on Dorfman. However, it feels like an exercise in denial for an audience. One can find peace in the fact that the torture was incredibly short. It’s just that I felt disappointed. I expect more from an Errol Morris documentary. This felt like watching a George Lucas film that didn’t sport a CG fetish.


  • R
  • 1 hr and 16 mins
  • NEON


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