Archive for the ‘Documentary’ Category

Any article about the lack of gay soccer players in major competitions mentions Justin Fashanu as ‘the first openly gay soccer player’. His basic story is known to a larger (British) audience as well: rose to fame, came out gay, was shunned by the sport competition he loved, got accused of raping a young adult and killed himself. However, this documentary tells a lot more about this peculiar celebrity. Still not enough, but it’s an intriguing story. Fashanu was abandoned by this father and mother as a kid, grew up with his younger brother John as the only two black kids in a small British town, turned out to be a talented soccer player and became the first 1 mio £ black athlete in the UK. Then he didn’t perform well at his new team and was fired because of his homosexual activities… And then his life became a mess.

It’s a good documentary. Very chronological. Well filmed. With some nice shots of places he used to live in (Toronto, LA), young actors who interpret the young brothers, interviews with family members and friends, use of old footage from interviews (eloquent Justin clearly loved the attention) and also interesting tit bits from the news that matter to the story.

Too bad that when the documentary is over, you still feel like a lot of questions are unanswered. And you can’t find the answers online.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6538102

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Trevor Noah is a bit of an overconfident arrogant dick. But he gets away with it, because he’s also really good. This documentary follows the stand up comedian during the months leading up to his first one man show. It’s a fascinating documentary. It shows a lot of Trevor Noah, who’s being interviewed one on one and who’s being filmed as he prepares for gigs, visits the places where he grew up and goes on stage for the first time in LA. They also let other people speak. Some of his family and friends, but also some of the older generation of comedians in South Africa who absolutely hate his guts.

Worth the watch.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1671547/ 

Dying Laughing – **(*)

Posted: November 6, 2017 in 2016, Comedy, Documentary, Stand Up, UK, USA, XX1/2

A great, cohesive collection of interview snippets about life as a stand up comedian. That’s all it is. For 99 cents on iTunes.

American/Australian/British stand up comedians talk about their first gig, how they deal with hecklers, bombing so hard they want to re-think their career and much more… It’s quite serious and informative. But it’s comedians who explain things, so it’s quite funny as well. At times.

Too bad you can’t watch the full interviews of each stand up comedian. Some only appear on-screen for just one answer. The editing must have been a terrible job. But the end result is good. It has a flow. A rhythm. A set up. Start of with the fun part, go to the serious part, end with the rewarding part.

Sure, the big names have interesting things to say, but it’s the lesser known ones who really get you intrigued. The ones who make hardly any money and have been going on road trips for years without getting the big break. Time to look up more of their stuff.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5068712 

Demain (Tomorrow) – **

Posted: November 5, 2017 in 2015, Documentary, France, XX

This documentary was a box office hit in France and got no attention in the US. Understandably. It’s a documentary produced by some French people who travel the world looking for alternatives to all kinds of issues that we are experiencing right now and are terrifying for the future. They do visit places like San Francisco and Detroit and even the windmills in Texas are mentioned, but it’s a movie about global issues and when people can choose between The Avengers and a lecturing documentary the choice is easily made.

It’s sad though, because it’s not a bad documentary at all. It’s an easy and soft approach and the lecturing is pretty limited. It’s quite a positive and uplifting documentary. It doesn’t make you feel like the planet is doomed, so it’s easier to appreciate the shown alternatives.

Too bad the directors didn’t stick to just one issue. The start is quite fascinating. Urban agriculture as opposed to mass agriculture. The projects of reducing the use of fuel in our societies are also intriguing. But then it starts off talking about alternatives in politics, democracy, education and that’s just a bit too much. Interesting, sure, but it’s like they tickle the subject and not tackle them.

Worth the watch.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4449576

Check It – **

Posted: August 18, 2017 in 2016, Documentary, LGBT themed, USA, XX

Check It is an intriguing documentary about the E-street prostitute subculture in DC, consisting of several african american gay men who form a gang and cause mayhem wherever they go. The movie follows three of them in particular, who are given the chance to work as assistants to a fashion event organizer.

Luckily for the documentary makers (and the viewers) those three characters are quite entertaining subjects and are easy to empathize with. It doesn’t feel like the scenes were set up. Their naturally dramatic behavior is fascinating enough. There’s definitely a lot of pretending in front of the camera. After all, they are diva’s. But the reality of their life is probably much harder than shown here.

It’s not a nice story. It’s grim and shocking at times. Sure, it has an uplifting feel to it and an indication of hope. But in the end, as a viewer, you’re being a voyeur to the miserable life of others. The intentions of the documentary makers are not really clear. Sensationalism or raising concern?

The movie can be best described as a combination of Tangerine (the indie comedy about transsexual prostitutes in LA), the VICE documentary about gays living together in the gutters of Kingston Jamaica, a bit of Moonlight (kids being raised by crackhead mothers), Rocky (expressing your anger via boxing), a reality tv show on Fashion TV for aspiring fashion event organizers and a video of Mykki Blanco, the extravagant NY rapper who was performing today not so far away.

Check out Check It. 

The movie poster is brilliant as well.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5299014

Fuocoamare

Posted: March 22, 2017 in 2016, Documentary, Italy

This is the kind of documentary that critics and festival-goers around the world love because of its subject, not because of its merits as a documentary. A good documentary gives you a better insight in something that you don’t really learn about otherwise. A good cinematic documentary shows you great images that make you feel involved. Unfortunately all of these elements are absent in this award-winning document of life on Lampedusa, the Italian island on which most refugees arrive from the African continent.

It’s sad, because the thousands of refugees arriving in Europa via a dangerous sea trait is a present-day topic that doesn’t seem to go away any time soon.

The idea of just showing images and limiting the amount of interviews is great! However, almost 80 % of the images are futile. We get it: there’s a contrast between the bored life of young fishermen’s kids and the enormous humanitarian crisis happening near their home. But what does it help to constantly see them being bored. The kids play with slingshots. So what. One kid needs to wear a patch in front of his good eye to have his lazy eye work a bit. Big deal. A mother requests a song for her son who’s at sea fishing. Yawn. The radio host plays it and reads the news about a collapsed refugee boat nearby. A doctor gives info to a refugee about her unborn twins. Then explains about the horror he’s seen in the boats that arrived on the island. Some refugees sing a song about their struggle. Some refugees pose for their first picture in Europe. Some refugees lie dead in the bottom part of a shabby boat.

But again. The images aren’t really telling anything more than what we know from reading the news. The images are boring as hell. And a documentary on a serious subject like this shouldn’t be boring. Ever.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3652526

My Scientology Movie – *(*)

Posted: February 20, 2017 in 2015, Documentary, UK, USA, X1/2

Famous (and notorious) documentary maker Louis Theroux  is unable to interview anyone of importance inside the Scientology cult. So he needs to interview SP’s  (‘Suppressive Persons’) to get an inside of how the ‘church’ is run. It’s a term to define the enemies of the church, especially those who had worked for the church for years, know a lot of details about its organization and stepped out.

One of them is Marty Rathbun, who used to hold a very important position within the organization and is now more than welcome to help Theroux depict an ugly image of the sect he used to belong to.

Louis Theroux came up with the idea of making a movie about certain things that happen in the organization. The movie was never really going to be finished, but auditions were done for the key roles (church leader David Miscavige and Tom Cruise a.o.) and rehearsals were held as well. Marty was asked to be present to give advice. And in doing so, giving more details he otherwise wouldn’t express in a plain interview.

It’s a clever and unique way of trying to find out hidden thoughts and opinions. But in the end it looks too much like framing the guy. And that’s where this documentary kind of goes wrong. Theroux is cocky. He’s unreliable. He will use any trick to gain the trust of the person he’s going to interview. He has the cool and the charm to do so. His laid-back, funny attitude makes people open up easy in his presence. His pretended naiveté has done miracles in the past. But this time it’s too premeditated.

It’s an entertaining documentary though. The problem is: who is it for? People who don’t care about scientology aren’t going to watch. People who are scientologist will probably watch it as proof that it’s an evil world full of SP’s out there. And then there are the people who are interested in religious organizations in general and want to learn more about scientology. Well, the later group will be disappointed. You don’t really get to learn anything, let alone more about it.

It’s not an educational documentary. It’s not even all that controversial. It’s a one-sided story about a certain (violent and aggressive) aspect of the church. When you think of Theroux making a document about scientology, you want him to actually spend some time with them and just ask the quirky, played childish questions he always does.

And that’s not the case.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5111874/