Movies

Doc Talk

Primates, porn, and police

French adult film director Ovidie looks at why pornography is failing as a business when online viewing of porn is booming in his documentary “Pornocracy.”
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French adult film director Ovidie looks at why pornography is failing as a business when online viewing of porn is booming in his documentary “Pornocracy.”

There’s the empathic research of Jane Goodall, whose devotion to studying chimpanzees is chronicled in Brett Morgen’s Oscar-shortlisted “Jane.” And then there’s the research seen in Frederick Wiseman’s documentary “Primate” (1974), which is reminiscent of the Inquisition and standard procedures at Abu Ghraib.

Wiseman’s camera prowls the concrete corridors, past the rows of cages and into the frightening laboratories of Emory University’s Yerkes Primate Research Center in Lawrenceville, Ga. There he observes the shocking and heart-breaking treatment of the great apes and monkeys subject to arcane, often unexplained experimentation. Frequently including close-ups of the animals’ faces, Wiseman makes them more relatable than the clinically detached and sometimes ridiculously pompous staff.

He sometimes injects an element of dark humor. Mostly, though, he lets the images speak for themselves.

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“Primate” screens Monday at 7 p.m. at the Harvard Film Archive.

For more information go to hcl.harvard.edu/hfa/films/2017decfeb/wiseman.html.

‘The Force’ is with you

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Peter Nicks won the directing award for US documentary from the 2017 Sundance Film Festival for “The Force,” a challenging and electrifying look at the recent issues of abuse, racism, and corruption facing law enforcement from the point of view of the Oakland Police.

Nicks started filming at a time when the department was responding to charges of corruption and the events in Ferguson, Mo., had created an uproar and given rise to the Black Lives Matter movement. Employing candid cinéma vérité methods, the film shows the steps taken to improve the force, including the hiring of a forward-looking, reform-minded chief. Among the highlights is a police academy class in which students view a dashcam clip of a policeman shooting a suspect. The following analysis and heated discussion by the students about the incident emphasizes the legal complexity and emotional explosiveness (one cadet is nearly in tears) of the issue.

“The Force” can be seen Monday at 9 p.m. on PBS Independent Lens and is available for online screening beginning Tuesday.

For more information go to www.pbs.org/independentlens/films/the-force

Porn again

French adult film director Ovidie’s documentary “Pornocracy” claims that over the past 10 years consumers have viewed more than a trillion pages of pornography online. Despite that, the industry has seldom been in worse shape financially.

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The reason? Shadowy, maverick corporations have been stealing profits by using amateur video and pirated material. And the real business of these outfits is money-laundering.

Sounds like a good time for Paul Thomas Anderson to make a sequel to “Boogie Nights” (1997).

“Pornocracy” is available on Amazon Video, iTunes, Google Play, and Vudu and on Blu-ray for $24.95.

For more information go to amzn.to/2DijYCu.

Peter Keough can be reached at petervkeough@gmail.com.