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Old
03-20-2017, 04:11 PM
  #1
kook10
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Review Your Fave/Recent Documentaries

Newman (currently on the Audience Network) 8.25/10*
I just finished this surprisingly interesting one: Newman - produced and aired by the Audience Network - about Joe Newman who struggled to promote his perpetual motion energy machine in the early 80s. I enjoyed the man vs world aspect of it, as well as the sort of misunderstood/mad scientist subject. It was fascinating and a bit sad to see him in more modern times. Overall the doc was well done, but the end could have been wrapped up a bit better. It could have used a coda.

City of Gold (currently on Hulu) 7.25/10*
This is the story of famed Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold. The film follows him around to some of his favorite restaurants, delves into his philosophy of food as culture in LA, examines his approach to his work, and tells the story of his life. His love affair with LA is infections (for a local), but I found myself less interested in his earlier life story. I think a lot of this is because of how the film was constructed. I think if they peppered his story throughout the film rather than segmenting it I would have been more engaged. As it stands I spaced out towards the end. Still an enjoyable watch, although it probably is less interesting to those not from Los Angeles.

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Old
03-20-2017, 08:34 PM
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The Act of Killing (2012) Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer 10B

As one of the former death squad leaders in Indonesia points out, you are not a war criminal if you win. The Act of Killing focuses on several Indonesian mass murderers who carried out the slaughter of over a million people (perhaps far more) in 1965. The carnage was exceptionally brutal and, for the most part, up close and personal. Because their conduct was encouraged and condoned by the government of the time and because even today they are revered in much of Indonesia as heroes, these men have never been brought to justice. Nor will they ever be. Director Joshua Oppenheimer somehow enticed a handful of these butchers to participate in this project by telling them that they could recreate their killings in any dramatic form they chose, and he would film the results of their endeavors exactly to their specifications. Talk about venturing into the heart of darkness. The Act of Killing is one of the most powerful documentaries that I have ever seen. Disturbing as it is, I recommend it without reservation to anyone who has the stomach to watch it.

Senna (2010) Directed by Asif Kapadia 9A

Senna covers a ten year period in the life of Brazilian Ayrton Senna, the three-time Formula One racing champion who died in a crash at the San Marino Grand Prix in 1984. We watch transfixed as Senna, making a few enemies along the way, rises to the top of his dangerous profession. In a key decision, director Asif Kapadia chooses exclusively to use archival footage to tell Senna’s story. Restricting the documentary in such a manner is a very risky move. However it pays off brilliantly as Senna ends up being more gripping than most thrillers. That we know from the beginning how the story will end doesn’t diminish its force in the least. Senna is easily among the most dazzling documentaries of the century.


Maidentrip (2013) Directed by Jillian Schlesinger 9A

Laura Dekker is a Dutch girl, just barely 15-years-old, who decides to sail solo around the world on her relatively small boat, The Guppy. Her parents allow her to do so, a fact which completely blew my mind when I first read about it. Many people in the Netherlands tried legally to stop her but failed. Turns out, the worrywarts needn’t have troubled themselves. While some attention is paid to the court case, to her parents, and to the people whom she meets along the way, this documentary primarily consists of Dekker’s own footage that she herself shot during her lonely voyage. While repetition is sometimes a problem—lots and lots of waves—we nonetheless really get to know Dekker whose calm, honest commentary is one of many amazing things about Maidentrip. Pretty as a picture and tough as nails, Dekker experiences significant change in the nearly two years of her voyage. Without question, though, she is born to sail. When she hits dangerously rough seas, her response is to whoop with joy. Veteran sailors nearly three times her age marvel at her seamanship. She loves solitude but isn’t quite the lone wolf she pretends to be. Mere weeks after her circumnavigation of the globe—the youngest person ever to do so—she sails out to sea again, heading for New Zealand, her recently adopted homeland. She brings her new boyfriend along for the ride. Is that guy too trusting? Nope. He really has absolutely nothing to worry about.

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03-20-2017, 09:34 PM
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x Tame Impala
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APEX: Story of the Hypercar

Even if you're not into cars it's a stunningly cool documentary. It goes into detail about the epitome of technology, style, optimization, and ultimate expression of what humans can do.

10/10

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Old
03-20-2017, 10:29 PM
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kook10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kihei View Post
The Act of Killing (2012) Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer 10B
I am curious about your grading - what does the number+letter combo mean?

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Old
03-21-2017, 11:49 AM
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I don't wanna review it but everyone should see Darkon because that movie is really, really, really...good.

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03-21-2017, 12:02 PM
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Red Army was an absolute blast.

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Old
03-21-2017, 01:55 PM
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x Tame Impala
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^^^^
Yup. Required watching for any hockey fan

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03-21-2017, 02:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kihei View Post
The Act of Killing (2012) Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer 10B

As one of the former death squad leaders in Indonesia points out, you are not a war criminal if you win. The Act of Killing focuses on several Indonesian mass murderers who carried out the slaughter of over a million people (perhaps far more) in 1965. The carnage was exceptionally brutal and, for the most part, up close and personal. Because their conduct was encouraged and condoned by the government of the time and because even today they are revered in much of Indonesia as heroes, these men have never been brought to justice. Nor will they ever be. Director Joshua Oppenheimer somehow enticed a handful of these butchers to participate in this project by telling them that they could recreate their killings in any dramatic form they chose, and he would film the results of their endeavors exactly to their specifications. Talk about venturing into the heart of darkness. The Act of Killing is one of the most powerful documentaries that I have ever seen. Disturbing as it is, I recommend it without reservation to anyone who has the stomach to watch it.
The Act of Killing left a bad taste in my mouth and continues to do so, and I had trouble pinpointing why until I read this, and I wonder if you wouldn't mind reading it and giving your thoughts:

http://www.popmatters.com/feature/17...rming-madman3/

Spoil:
My problem is that ultimately, the entire film hinges on whether or not you believe Anwar experienced some kind of epiphany or self-realization by Oppenheimer's methods...I am extremely skeptical that he did. And if he didn't, the film feels like little more than 2-hour glorification of or pandering to a monstrous killer. Time that, I felt from my own personal standpoint, would have been better spent learning about the actual atrocities and the victims instead of watching gangsters and murderers play dress-up.

Then again, I only saw the movie once upon release, so maybe I should revisit it and see if I feel the same way.

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03-21-2017, 11:05 PM
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kihei
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hototogisu View Post
The Act of Killing left a bad taste in my mouth and continues to do so, and I had trouble pinpointing why until I read this, and I wonder if you wouldn't mind reading it and giving your thoughts:

http://www.popmatters.com/feature/17...rming-madman3/

Spoil:
My problem is that ultimately, the entire film hinges on whether or not you believe Anwar experienced some kind of epiphany or self-realization by Oppenheimer's methods...I am extremely skeptical that he did. And if he didn't, the film feels like little more than 2-hour glorification of or pandering to a monstrous killer. Time that, I felt from my own personal standpoint, would have been better spent learning about the actual atrocities and the victims instead of watching gangsters and murderers play dress-up.

Then again, I only saw the movie once upon release, so maybe I should revisit it and see if I feel the same way.
Ms. Dadras' article is certainly interesting reading, and she could be right. I find her theory plausible but not convincing. Plausible in that Anwar may be a master manipulator who outsmarted Oppenheimer, but I just don't buy it, primarily on cultural grounds. Let's start with this quote from her essay: "One answer is that the secret of Anwar’s success is his ability to tap into our – and Oppenheimer’s – desire for recognizable narratives of cinematic redemption; that is, films that validate our deeply held belief in the power of stories and their ability to illuminate, in this case, the entanglements of history, guilt, and truth in the horror-show of post-‘60s Indonesia." She then extends her theory by including Anwar's supposed similarities with Nabokov's Humbert-Humbert, a child molester of such guile he is able to "use the language of law, psychoanalysis, and romantic literature to convince his reader of the morality of his relationship with the pre-teen, Lolita Haze." This is an elaborate argument, one that I think would be lost on Anwar, entirely. I don't get a sense that any of those guys are exactly movie buffs or gifted in matters of literary and cinematic analysis. Anwar may have been taping into something, but I certainly don't think he was tapping into, or likely even aware of, "our...desire for recognizable narratives of cinematic redemption; that is, films that validate our deeply held belief in the power of stories and their ability to illuminate...'. To me this seems very much like a Western academic placing thoughts in the consciousness of an Eastern man who probably has very different views on narrative, if he has any views at all. Likewise I really don't really see the connection between Anwar and Nabokov whose way with words beggars the abilities of not just Indonesian assassins but all of us. As tricksters playing with the audience go, Anwar on the wiliest day of his life and Nabokov on his least persuasive are not remotely in the same league. In short I think Ms Dadras is applying a very Western way of analyzing what she thinks is going on that an Eastern man, especially of Anwar's years, might perceive dramatically differently.

Ultimately, a measure of doubt must remain, although, I suppose, that is always the case. I think a better measure of determining Anwar's sincerity, the extent of his epiphany, though, may be to find out what his actions have been since taking part in the film. Has he continued to show signs of remorse or regret? Has he spoken further about his experience? Has he given any indication that his feelings are anything other than what he portrayed in the documentary (quite convincingly as far as I am concerned). Actions would speak louder than theories in this case, though, ultimately the insights the movie provides are really not just about him.

Several of the Indonesian mass killers are interviewed. Most show no signs of regret at all. The one with the best command of English states quite calmly and clearly that he sleeps like a baby at night. The other killers show no real remorse either. By showing remorse, does Anwar risk losing face, something that might be more important to him than manipulating a sophisticated Western narrative? If so, that is taking a risk, too, is is not? Especially given the extent of his reaction. PTSD among Western soldiers who have served in combat occurs with frequency. Is not possible that in Oppenheimer bringing these memories back up to Anwar's consciousness, he might not experience something similar to guilt for what he had done. Or that with time and age, his defenses about his actions no longer held the comfort of certainty that they once may have possessed. I don't think his reaction in the film is beyond the bound's of being human. Perhaps it is a lesson of what happens when one stops trying to be human. Will I ever know for sure? No, but he convinced me that his epiphany was very real at the moment we were observing him.

If it is a question of Western story telling, it is the right ending as far as I am concerned, because ultimately I believe that the scariest thing about the world's mass killers is not that they are monsters, but that they are human. For one to recognize his humanity does not absolve Anwar of his crimes. But it does show that to perpetrate great suffering upon others, to divorce yourself from those acts, to justify to yourself that those acts are necessary, can only be done at the expense of one's own humanity. That realization in no way equals the suffering of their victims, but it is not nothing either.


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Old
03-22-2017, 06:05 PM
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Posted this in the movie thread a few months ago.

Some documentaries I've recently watched and enjoyed. I'm not much of a movie critic, so I'll link a trailer clip.

SURFWISE - Dr. Paskowitz and his wife and 9 kids surf and live in a camper
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uw4sUEV8lL0

ALL THIS MAYHEM - the rise and fall of the Aussie skateboarding Pappas brothers
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wDiszmA2o8

FOR NO GOOD REASON - Johnny Deep interviews gonzo artist Ralph Steadman
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MHEu6ZYOUM

CRUMB - the odd life and works of cartoonist Robert Crumb
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sdwibrYkUU

LAMBERT & STAMP - about the men that managed The Who
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fxv9fvhmFI



FLOORED - Story of the Chicago trading pits and the transition to electronic trading

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04-25-2017, 11:59 PM
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A few music documentaries I've enjoyed recently


Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me 7/10

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04-26-2017, 12:03 AM
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Searching for Sugar Man 8/10


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04-26-2017, 12:07 AM
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Muscle Shoals 10/10


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04-26-2017, 12:12 AM
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Plank - If you haven't seen it, you may want to check out Mistaken For Strangers. It is a film by the brother of the lead singer of the band The National. He is sort of a goofy unfocused shlub who followed the band around in their semi-employ while trying to figure out how to make a film (which in the beginning he is clearly unqualified to do). It is pretty amusing. 8.5/10

I love music documentaries (and books). Other good ones:

Tom Dowd and the Language of Music - about longtime legendary genius Atlantic Records recording engineer 8.5/10

Gimme Shelter - Maysles brothers classic film of the Stones '69 tour culminating in the disastrous Altamont show 11/10 (goes to 11)

Beware of Mr. Baker - documentarian tracks down notorious jerk Ginger Baker, former drummer for Cream, Blind Faith, Fela Kuti and examines his life 10/10

The Wrecking Crew - about the legendary sessions musicians who made countless LA pop and rock recordings in the 60s - 8.5/10

Standing in the Shadows of Motown - similar to the above about the Motown session musicians 8/10

Stop Making Sense - really a concert movie of the Talking Heads (a friend of mine was the music supervisor!)


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04-26-2017, 12:16 AM
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Plank - If you haven't seen it, you may want to check out Mistaken For Strangers. It is a film by the brother of the lead singer of the band The National. He is sort of a goofy unfocused shlub who followed the band around in their semi-employ while trying to figure out how to make a film (which in the beginning he is clearly unqualified to do). It is pretty amusing. 8.5/10
Sounds good, plus I like the National. Thanks for the recommendation.

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04-26-2017, 01:00 AM
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04-26-2017, 06:48 AM
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If you're into docs, have a good familiarity with some historically significant ones and want some laughs, I highly recommend the series Documentary Now. Both seasons are streaming on Netflix. Each episode works on its own, but several ape famed docs from the past (Grey Gardens, Salesman, Stop Making Sense, The War Room, Thin Blue Line ...). Not every episode works (the Grey Gardens riff, for instance, is funny but not representative of the rest of the series). But creators Bill Hader, Fred Armisen and Seth Meyers have a clear love and knowledge of the form. Entertaining stuff.

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04-26-2017, 12:36 PM
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No-one has mentioned it, but The World At War is one of the greatest, and most influential documentary series of all time.

Made in the 70s when many of the key military and political leaders were still alive (as well as ordinary soldiers and civilians), it combined interviews with archive footage, all narrated by Sir Laurence Olivier. It didn't shy away from the horrors of war, or the holocaust, but managed the trick of doing it without devolving into virtue signalling sentimentality on the one hand or dumbed down simplifications on the other.

26 x 1 hour episodes that everyone should watch at least once in their life.

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04-27-2017, 11:46 AM
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Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father

If this is still on Netflix, I would recommend checking it out. One of the saddest things I have ever seen, and one of the most infuriating things I have ever seen. Never before has a film made me feel such extreme anger towards a person I've never met.

Technically a movie, but its shot like a documentary

Keep tissues handy

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04-27-2017, 02:09 PM
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Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father

If this is still on Netflix, I would recommend checking it out. One of the saddest things I have ever seen, and one of the most infuriating things I have ever seen. Never before has a film made me feel such extreme anger towards a person I've never met.

Technically a movie, but its shot like a documentary

Keep tissues handy

I've read about this story and there's no way I'd ever sit through the documentary on it, no matter how well it's crafted.

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04-27-2017, 02:30 PM
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I've read about this story and there's no way I'd ever sit through the documentary on it, no matter how well it's crafted.
I don't blame you one bit. Its every bit as heart wrenching as you think it can be

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04-28-2017, 03:46 PM
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Senna (2010) Directed by Asif Kapadia 9A

Senna covers a ten year period in the life of Brazilian Ayrton Senna, the three-time Formula One racing champion who died in a crash at the San Marino Grand Prix in 1984. We watch transfixed as Senna, making a few enemies along the way, rises to the top of his dangerous profession. In a key decision, director Asif Kapadia chooses exclusively to use archival footage to tell Senna’s story. Restricting the documentary in such a manner is a very risky move. However it pays off brilliantly as Senna ends up being more gripping than most thrillers. That we know from the beginning how the story will end doesn’t diminish its force in the least. Senna is easily among the most dazzling documentaries of the century.
My favourite. And super agree on the bolded, the tension in the last 30 minutes is like nothing I've ever felt from watching something.

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04-30-2017, 12:21 AM
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Watched Tower recently which is about the University of Texas Sniper. Pretty interesting with the rotoscope animation. Didn't know the stories of those involved. Worth a watch.

Watching the Documentary Now series on Netflix and I really enjoyed the Nanook of the North and Thin Blue Line spoofs. Both were really good.

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04-30-2017, 01:53 AM
  #24
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The Jinx - HBO

The Imposter - Netflix

Chasing Madoff - Netflix

Zero Days - really good on Showtime

Deep Web

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05-21-2017, 10:15 PM
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This looks fascinating - coming out June 9th on Showtime (which I don't currently get)

BECOMING CARY GRANT
Quote:
In the late 1950s, at the height of his fame, Cary Grant set off on a trip in search of his true self, unpicking the myth he had spent three decades perfecting. He tried hypnosis and yoga and felt that they both came up short. So he began dropping acid and claimed to have found inner peace. “During my LSD sessions, I would learn a great deal,” he would later remark. “And the result was a rebirth. I finally got where I wanted to go.”


https://www.theguardian.com/film/201...sd-documentary

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