Author Topic: DOCember 2017  (Read 2537 times)

oldkid

  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 18057
  • Hi there! Feed me worlds!
Re: DOCember 2017
« Reply #80 on: December 22, 2017, 02:02:19 AM »
I Am Not Your Negro - Sobering, though the inserted footage was maybe a bit too much for me at times, especially because the actual footage of Baldwin hit so hard. Top to bottom a dense, rewarding, and powerful work that had my attention throughout. It feels literary, almost to a fault at times as it delves nearly in to audiobook territory, and stands as a strong entry in my DOCember slate.

I forgot about this one.  I'll catch up with it before the year ends.
"It's not art unless it has the potential to be a disaster." Bansky

Knocked Out Loaded

  • Elite Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1366
  • All temperatures are in centigrades.
Re: DOCember 2017
« Reply #81 on: December 27, 2017, 11:58:15 AM »
Ice Guardians (Brett Harvey, 2016)

A Netflix doc about an endangered species in the National Hockey League: the enforcer. That is, the bad cop character on the team that gets out on the ice and takes a beating for the team while he tries to deliver some punches himself. As the game has gotten faster, and also because changes in the rules, the need for this type of player has lessened. This documentary investigates the change thoroughly and if you have only a little basic knowledge of the game and is unfamiliar with the most influential players all the talking heads we meet in this movie will lead you astray a little. In the end, it kind of laments the change the game has gone through and looks back on the days gone by with a tear in the corner of the eye. Personally, I can't say I share that sentiment very much.

35°
I might remember it all differently tomorrow.

FLYmeatwad

  • An Acronym
  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 26780
  • I am trying to impress myself. I have yet to do it
    • Processed Grass
Re: DOCember 2017
« Reply #82 on: December 28, 2017, 07:03:24 PM »
AlphaGO will be on Netflix starting January 1st, I think.

1SO

  • FAB
  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 30114
  • Marathon Man
Re: DOCember 2017
« Reply #83 on: December 28, 2017, 10:16:39 PM »

The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On (1987)

62-year-old Okuzaki Kenzo is one of those loose cannon crusaders, easily dismissed as nuts even if what they're doing has its own unshakable logic. With no fear of reprisals he barrels ahead with an investigation into the mysterious deaths of two soldiers back at the end of World War II. The documentary focuses as much on Kenzo as what he discovers, which is fitting because the effects of the war seems to have had a hand in his current attitude. Though elderly, he's dangerous and unpredictable, often bragging about the time he attacked the Emperor with a slingshot.

I can't say much against this film. The director doesn't present Kenzo for ridicule or uncomfortable humor, though his polite way with violence and bad social timing could've had that effect. It's interesting to come to understand what's driving him to uncover a secret everyone has buried and moved away from. The balance of subject and story is rarely so balanced in a documentary. Despite all the outrageous behavior and wild discoveries, it's an oddly polite and low-key viewing.
RATING: * * * - Okay

Sandy

  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 10967
    • Sandy's Cinematic Musings
Re: DOCember 2017
« Reply #84 on: January 30, 2018, 06:15:19 PM »
Every time I watch a documentary, I think of how much I like this type of story telling and wish to seek out more. Normally the marathon months are the impetus for prioritizing genres, but alas, December is a bust for me. Even though I'm a month late, I've been wanting to see BC:NY for a long time and grabbed a chance to do so.

Bill Cunningham: New York



"He who seeks beauty will find it."

A bicycle riding energizer bunny Buddha, Bill Cunningham spouts enlightenment wherever he goes. From not forfeiting control, by having money change hands to differentiating people by their poetic attire and not their status, he lives his creeds, all while clicking away on his camera. Burdened, or brightened by his religious devotion, it's hard to tell, but I surmise it's a mixture of both. Yet, even under set constrictions, he learned to let his flair flag fly and has lived his life in the pursuit of his one true passion -- clothing. Such an honor to learn about him and his particular beauty, and had I known who he was, I would have been on the lookout the handful of times I've been in the city and sought to capture him with my camera!

« Last Edit: February 09, 2018, 03:25:07 PM by Sandy »
"Inside you there's a strength that lies."

Corndog

  • FAB
  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 16307
  • Oo-da-lolly, Oo-da-lolly, golly what a day!
    • Corndog Chats
Re: DOCember 2017
« Reply #85 on: January 30, 2018, 08:43:00 PM »
What a lovely doc that is.
"Time is the speed at which the past decays."

pixote

  • Global Moderator
  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 32667
  • Up with generosity!
    • yet more inanities!
Re: DOCember 2017
« Reply #86 on: June 17, 2018, 07:33:25 PM »
Forgive the six-month delay between when I watched my DOCember films and when I got around to posting reviews for them.





The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson  (David France, 2017)

This documentary's title is a bit of a curveball: Marsha's life is barely glimpsed, and her death is practically a MacGuffin — an excuse to paint a more general portrait of three-plus decades of transgender lives, marginalization, pride, and victimization. It's when the film commits to telling that larger story that it really excels, especially in capturing the sense of community history and the occasional marginalization of that community even within the already marginalized LGBT alliance.

The film's production company was called Marsha and Sylvia, and that might have been a better title for the movie itself, one that might have encouraged a more cohesive structure. The filmmakers have much better archival footage of Sylvia to work with, allowing her to really come alive as a great heroic and tragic figure. However, a title of Marsha and Sylvia would have unfairly left out Victoria, who, with her came and short hair and discolored eye and beaded headband, is the perfect detective protagonist of a neo-noir. I hope there's a three-hour director cut that lets her emerge more as a flesh-and-blood presence rather than a somewhat anonymous figure inhabiting the role of amateur sleuth investigating Marsha's death (an angle that is probably played up a bit too much, sometimes feeling like performance for the camera's benefit).

Grade: B-

pixote
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

pixote

  • Global Moderator
  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 32667
  • Up with generosity!
    • yet more inanities!
Re: DOCember 2017
« Reply #87 on: June 18, 2018, 04:05:49 PM »


I Called Him Morgan
Kasper Collin, 2016

A bit slight, for my tastes. About 15% of the film is random archival B-roll set against a jazz soundtrack that I assumed was Morgan but not positive until the end credits. The details of this history are very sketchy, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but there are too few follow-up questions and too little acknowledgement of the things left unanswered. As described here, I'm not sure that Lee is truly more interesting than Helen. The black-and-white photos are nice at first but gain a repetitiveness to them as the film moves along. Pet peeve: that PBS style of recycling soundbytes in the prologue and using it as a trailer for the movie you're already watching.

Grade: B-



Citizen Jane: Battle for the City
Matt Tyrnauer, 2016

I struggle with documentaries where the content could seemingly have been condensed to a short magazine article. For much of Citizen Jane's running time, it falls into that category. The talking heads all seem of one mind, which is unfortunate, and the archival images are just vaguely illustrative of the ideas being discussed, with no epiphanies. I really could've used more nuance and argumentation, not just Jane, the Common Sense Saint, versus Moses, the Arrogant Devil.

Grade: C+



Tickled
David Farrier & Dylan Reeve, 2016

The first half is really good, with the story instantly turning in a surprising direction; and then turning again; and then again. Things stabilize in the second half, and, while it's still an interesting story, I felt my engagement slipping, possibly because things stay rather general and superficial while more tantalizing details seem to lie undiscovered, along with more interesting thematic elements such as the intersection of homoeroticism and homophobia. It's a very good story, but the presentation could use more critical thinking on display.

Grade: B-



The Other Side
Roberto Minervini, 2015

I was tempted to dismiss this completely on account of the vagueness of its veracity (is it nonfiction?) and some of its unpleasantness (racists ahoy!), but there's too much of interest here to dismiss. Minervini's documentary is far superior to Three Billboards in its exploration of the nuances of character within racists and of paths to redemption. The shift in focus in the final third is interesting, I guess, but also pretty wtf. All told, one of the more successful horror films of the last couple years.

Grade: B-



Kedi
Ceyda Torun, 2016

I watched this with my dogs, and we were unimpressed. I can't tell if the problem was with the film or just with us, but I couldn't maintain any focus on it. There's some good footage of the cats, though it's not quite as polished as the trailer had me hoping it would be. I wanted more an artful, National Geographic feel, but the cinematography here felt amateur by comparison. Also, cats ultimately aren't that interesting. With every new interview with a human, I became increasingly reluctant to return to seemingly arbitrary montages of cat cuteness.

Grade: C+



Zero Days
Alex Gibney, 2016

One of the Symantec guys is an especially good interview and should have his own show on NPR. He's the movie's strongest asset. Otherwise, I had the same problem I have with a lot of Gibney's films: the interesting content seems better suited for a ten-page New Yorker article than a two-hour film. He's a fine interviewer, but B-roll is not his strong suit. The first-person narration caught me off-guard, like I was suddenly watching a Ross McElwee film instead; I could've done without it.

Grade: B-



Icarus
Bryan Fogel, 2017

A bit of a muddle. I realize I have issues with docs that track the uncovering of the story — it's like watching a rough draft. I understand the appeal of the investigatory style, but part of me is always like, "Get your facts together first and then present them to me succinctly; I don't need to see your leg-work." Grigory is a wonderful character — though I'm not convinced he was real and not just another fantastic performance by Gary Oldman.

Grade: B-

The Work
Jairus McLeary, 2017

The Work remains my favorite film of 2017, a beautiful song for fatherless sons. Sometimes the stars align a bit too neatly in a documetary, and the footage seems like it can't possibly be genuine. The Work feels like a really well-written play. It's too neat to be real life. And yet, it never feels inauthentic, and that's amazing. The casting is fantastic, and there's no real exploitative overtones. I liked last year's Tony Robbins documentary, but The Work is more life-affirming in every way.

Grade: B+

Progress!

pixote
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

pixote

  • Global Moderator
  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 32667
  • Up with generosity!
    • yet more inanities!
Re: DOCember 2017
« Reply #88 on: June 19, 2018, 01:40:49 PM »


Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992  (John Ridley, 2017)

Like The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson, this film's title is a bit misleading. The time from 1982-1991 is really just prologue (40 minutes of the 143-minute running time), acting as something of a refresher of material covered in O.J.: Made in America. The bulk of the film is a thorough recounting, through interviews and archival footage, of the beating of Rodney King, the trial of the officers involved, and the uprising that followed the verdicts. It's a very engaging historical narrative, strengthened by well curated archival footage and a diverse array of insightful interviews. One especially cool touch is that it's not clear initially what role each interview subject played in the drama, and every slow reveal carries the satisfaction of a puzzle piece snapping into place.

There are some very involving sequences, especially in the last third, at 71st and Normandy, and the editing provides the film with strong shape and flow. Oddly, though, the actually cutting of the interviews often feels amateur and even rushed, as if they ran out of time on the final cut before the planned distribution date. Sound bytes are repeated (presumably by accident), sound bridges are poorly used, in distracting fashion, and the fades of both audio and video feel inept at times — as if they were placeholder transitions that they forgot to fine-tune. Very odd in a film that is otherwise very polished.

Those technical issues do little to detract from the engagement offered by the documentary. It's a good watch that doesn't feel nearly as long as it is. I don't know that it's especially revelatory or politically inspiring, but it's a good story, well told. I'm hoping to compare LA 92 sooner than later.

Grade: B

I was getting some Pampers.

pixote
« Last Edit: June 20, 2018, 04:02:10 AM by pixote »
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

smirnoff

  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 24429
    • smirnoff's Top 100
Re: DOCember 2017
« Reply #89 on: June 19, 2018, 08:53:48 PM »
The Work
Jairus McLeary, 2017

The Work remains my favorite film of 2017, a beautiful song for fatherless sons. Sometimes the stars align a bit too neatly in a documetary, and the footage seems like it can't possibly be genuine. The Work feels like a really well-written play. It's too neat to be real life. And yet, it never feels inauthentic, and that's amazing. The casting is fantastic, and there's no real exploitative overtones. I liked last year's Tony Robbins documentary, but The Work is more life-affirming in every way.

Grade: B+

There must be hundreds of hours of footage on the cutting room floor, and I imagine several of those hours would be just as compelling as what made it into the doc. I wish there was a way to see more of it. Or get a follow up. I felt like I could just keep watching. Much the same way I felt after the Tony Robbins doc you mentioned.

It's right up there for 2017 films for me as well.