Nuts! Screen 12 articles

Nuts!

2016

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  • I had trouble staying with the varied animation styles, and the sense of humor is all over the place, but the well-researched narrative drive pulled me through. Brinkley’s increasingly demagogic manner, somewhere between Huey Long and Donald Trump railing against big government, are unnervingly contemporary, and the film spins an increasingly hallucinatory yarn in which talking-head interviews serve as a momentary chance to relax rather than a stultifying obligation.

  • Lane has stated that she wants the spectator to become more critical about the supposed truth offered by documentaries. Her first feature, Our Nixon, was a bit too indulgent towards its subject. Nuts! strikes a fine balance between affection and critique. It respects a good con but shows the wasted lives and dollars Brinkley left in his wake.

  • Lane has a gift for finding the unexpected in the familiar, the right narrative structure, however eccentric, to tell a story... The most striking part of "Nuts!" is its extensive use of animation.

  • For Lane, Brinkley was a figure too irresistible not to put in a film. Yet by the end of the movie, it’s tough to know what is true and what isn’t—and, quite frankly, it doesn’t really matter. The story that Penny Lane weaves together is so compelling, entertaining, and engaging that whether or not it’s all true is beside the point. Playful, alive, inventive, and fun, Nuts! is a sharp examination of a media-savvy figure with an outsized personality.

  • ...Penny Lane’s uproariously unique animated docuhistory of “Dr.” John Brinkley, notorious for pioneering the transplantation of goat testicles to cure male impotency. While his story may start in an unlikely fashion, it soon becomes something fascinating and altogether unexpected, and no less than a curio of 20th-century Americana.

  • We are prepped to be on the side of “the little man with ingenious ideas” who is fighting the establishment. Fact is, Brinkley’s satisfied customers beget children after years of impotence, and worshipped him. What could be wrong in this scheme? For this, my friends, you have to see the movie. No spoiler alerts on this one. It was just too much fun to experience.

  • The astonishments of this documentary are as much in the telling as in the story told... Lane builds a grandly picaresque tale about the power of celebrity in the age of modern media, and she tells it with diabolical glee. Her extraordinary archival research—yielding newsreel footage that she allows to play at length and photographs that she treats as physical objects—restores the past to a vital immediacy.

  • Parallels between the controversial self-styled doctor John R. Brinkley and Donald Trump pop up with startling frequency throughout Penny Lane's lively Nuts!, which opens just under a century ago, as Brinkley is starting to treat impotence by surgically implanting goat gonads in men's testicular sacs.

  • As the saga enters the 1930s, the animation and the archival footage shift to bright color, but the story grows more convoluted and bleak. The movie culminates in a cinematic coup de grâce bold enough to spin your head — one that gives the movie an entirely new dimension. No sooner does the twist sink in than “Nuts!” ends on a note of genuine tragedy.

  • It's structured to withhold crucial information, which increases the “holy cats!” aspect, but makes a late-movie mood change feel awfully sudden. You may or may not connect Brinkley to a certain presidential candidate, but, either way, this is one of the most entertaining documentaries to come along in some time.

  • “Nuts!” might be the closest we get to a documentary in the vein of Charlie Kaufman: It’s a seriocomic story of passion and desperation that transforms into something far more mysterious and provocative. Actually directed by Penny Lane, [...the film] more or less takes place within its subject’s mind. Brilliantly combining archival material, voiceovers, contemporary interviews and a variety of hand-drawn animation, the movie deconstructs the process of self-mythologizing from the inside out.

  • I can't imagine anyone believing that goat glands transplanted into human reproductive organs could cure impotence, but as this lively, offbeat documentary proves, plenty of Americans did—enough to make medical charlatan John R. Brinkley a millionaire during the 1920s and '30s... A cautionary tale, the documentary demonstrates how a megalomaniac with a bully pulpit can cross over from commerce and entertainment into political demagoguery.

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