Archive for the ‘Documentary’ Category

30 years of New Beat. Especially in Belgium, this is a bit of a celebration. From 1985 to 1995 the country (well, Flanders and Brussels) were at the centre of the global music scene because they released successful vinyl tracks that sounded like nothing else before and became such a hype that pop music took over and killed it. However, this ‘new beat’ became a foundation of anything else that was produced in the club scene afterwards.

It’s a fun documentary if you’re interested in the topic. It actually starts with a short (but correct) introduction of Belgium, a fabricated buffer state in between England, the Netherlands, Germany and France. It talks about the yearly fairs, the barrel organs, the invention of bakelite by Belgo-American Leo Baekeland that was used to make vinyl, the opening of dance clubs along the highways, the import of international sounds by the port of Antwerp, the dj’s from the seventies, the popularity of disco and the counter-reaction of punk. And hup we are  in the eighties, where Belgian dj’s and producers start playing aggressive, dark dance music with an edge. They spin the records at a different speed and add all kinds of sounds to the music. It’s music made by producers and not by musicians! It’s Kraftwerk and Jean Michel Jarre, but with a rebel attitude. And that’s how we got to NEW BEAT.

It’s a good documentary, but the ‘sound of Belgium’ just focuses on new beat really. It doesn’t say anything about the indie rock scene or the mishmash of cultures we put together in the music is made in Belgium. There are influences from France, England, the US and Africa…. the entire world. That mix is what makes the sound of Belgium. So, this documentary has a wrong title. It’s also a bit patriotic/nationalistic. But that suits the scene well. Maybe the new beat was the only thing that united the Flemish and the French-Speaking Belgians! You hear both languages throughout the documentary. However, there’s no mention of other influencers from other countries. They even forget to mention that Baekeland was really an American from Belgian descent. Dance music really didn’t originate in Belgium either. The UK and Germany were as influential. And let’s not forget Chicago and New YOrk! And there’s an unnecessary diss to Depeche Mode by Sven Van Hees.

So, fun to watch, but pretty superficial. Give it a shot though.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2966298

The whole movie is available on this site:

https://boilerroom.tv/recording/sound-belgium

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Dream Boat – (*)

Posted: January 27, 2018 in 1/2, 2017, Documentary, Germany, LGBT themed

Every year, the Brussels gay event La Demence organizes a cruise on the Mediterranean for their party clubbers clientele. It’s an international affair with guys form all over the world cruising during a cruise.

This documentary was shot on that cruise, but there is no mention of La Demence at all. Which is a good thing. It’s not really making the viewer want to book a cabin for next year’s journey.

This is a terrible documentary.

It sounds interesting though. A cruise full of muscle queens enjoying a themed party every night. All kinds of question arise: what does the crew think about this gay exclusive cruise? How do these clubbers get their drugs on board? How busy are the dark rooms? How many men actually go off the ship during the day and visit the ports of call? What’s been done to encourage safe sex? Where are all these guests coming from ?

Yet, the director seems to only focus on the last question. He’s following a camp Indian guy, a confused Polish stud, a confident Palestinian guy, a disabled Frenchman, an hiv positive German sucker… some of the most boring gay characters ever to have made it onto a screen. Their stories may be of interest in another kind of documentary, but if you make a documentary on a party cruise, make it a party cruise documentary!

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6627466

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

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