Posts filed under ‘Documentary’

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold

MOVIE:  The Greatest Movie Ever Sold

NUTSHELL:  Morgan Spurlock’s looksee into product placement and how marketing, like Elvis, is everywhere.

GOOD THINGS:  Pretty interesting and funny.  It is occasionally delightful despite being also horrifying and ultimately depressing. 

BAD THINGS:  I don’t need to hear from Ben Silverman, John Wells, Ralph Nader, Donald Trump or Brett Ratner anymore, even if they’re being mocked. 

FEATURES:  Noam Chomsky, Peter Berg, J.J. Abrams, Ok Go, Big Boi, Sao Paulo  

UNCOMFORTABLE MOMENTS:  Entire film is very nervous-making.  I mean, you knew the marketing was there already, right?  And yet…  Also, WTH is Sheetz?

NOTABLE:  I still kept with my original plan and went to 7-11™ afterwards to buy a Senor Chang™ (Hangover 2™) Blue Raspberry Fanta™ Super Big Gulp™ Slurpee™. 

BEST PART:  Spurlock’s continued giggling over Mane ‘n Tail

BEST LINE:  “So this is like the Inception of documentaries.”

CROWNS:  4 out of 5


May 13, 2011 at 11:33 pm Leave a comment

Ghosts of the Abyss

MOVIE:  Ghosts of the Abyss

NUTSHELL:  James Cameron’s documentary which explores the modern day wreck of the Titanic in the North Atlantic with state of the art technology, historic and marine experts and cutting edge photography.

GOOD THINGS:  Interesting, not too long, lovely to look at and fascinating. But, hey, look who you’re asking – I’m a Titanic nerd.

BAD THINGS:  Sigh. No Leo.

FEATURES:  Bill Paxton acting like a pussy. I don’t believe it for a second, big guy.


NOTABLE:  Is in 3-D. And, unfortunately for me, you can’t watch without the glasses and just have to put up with things poking out at your for an hour.

BEST PART:  The recreations edited in with the film of the wreckage

BEST LINE:  Err… it’s mostly narration and windbaggish narration at that so I’ll pass on picking best line this time.

CROWNS:  3 out of 5

May 11, 2011 at 11:23 am Leave a comment

Gimme Shelter

MOVIE:  Gimme Shelter 

NUTSHELL:  Stones, knives and guns – oh my! The Maysles’s seminal music documentary about the free concert at Altamont Speedway in 1969.

GOOD THINGS:  The music doyaaiiee, there has never been anyone that the camera loved more than Mick Jagger. (Courtney Cox is gaining, though.) Cute dogs, Keith, Charlie and Bill, Melvin Belli, Tina Turner and (boy I never thought I’d say this…) the Grateful Dead as the voice of reason.

BAD THINGS:  The Hell’s Angels, (“Ain’t nobody gonna kick my motorcycle!), gunplay, beating, kicking, knifing, you know – all that baby boomer shash.

FEATURES:  Snakeskin boots, velvet pants, Minnie Pearl, funny hats, Jefferson Airplane, the Flying Burrito Brothers, helicopter getaways and dancing in the motel room

UNCOMFORTABLE MOMENTS:  People on drugs are scary. Naked people on drugs scarier. Dirty hippies on drugs…. wait is that redundant?

NOTABLE:  I totally forgot about Mick Taylor and his bouffant hairdo.

BEST PART:  I will be killed if I don’t say one word. And that word is: Keith.

BEST LINE:  “Well done, Sonny.”

CROWNS:  5 out of 5

January 13, 2010 at 10:36 pm Leave a comment

Wisconsin Death Trip

MOVIE:  Wisconsin Death Trip

NUTSHELL:  Strange mixture of archive photographs, reenactments, and sarcastic narration about life in fin-de-siècle Black River Falls, Wisconsin

GOOD THINGS:  Great vintage photographs and present-day cinematography in the same style which allows film to blend the two seamlessly

BAD THINGS:  Sarcastic narration, lack of point

FEATURES:  Sucky modern day footage of Black River Falls, Wisconsin which touches on the same topics as the archived and recreated material

UNCOMFORTABLE MOMENTS:  This horrible, totally gay whispering narration whenever the mental hospital is mentioned

NOTABLE:  Based on a book of photos and writings that examined the fears and odd, sometimes harrowing, daily life of the German and Scandinavian immigrants in Jackson County, Wisconsin from around 1880 to 1910. While the book let the materials speak for themselves and provide a commentary about the alleged “good old days,” the movie, was made for the BBC and is mostly a freakshow about small town America.

BEST PART:  The parts with no narration

BEST LINE:  On these occasions she uses cocaine liberally. She explains that it calms her nerves.

CROWNS:  2 out of 5


January 13, 2010 at 10:25 pm Leave a comment



NUTSHELL:  Cantankerous engineers build a $1 million welding robot to repair the century old underground steam pipes beneath New York City.

GOOD THINGS:  Constant Engineer bickering, short fuse jokes

BAD THINGS:  Robots are kinda boring and I’m from the Humanities.

FEATURES:  Archival footage, three story high asbestos explosions

UNCOMFORTABLE MOMENTS:  Voice over about the dawn of the new millenium

NOTABLE:  Movie doesn’t mention that Con Edison shelved the robot anyway.

BEST PART:  Crotchety engineer named Roop

BEST LINE:  Optimism’s just a catastrophe waiting to happen.

CROWNS:  4 out of 5

January 13, 2010 at 10:23 pm Leave a comment


MOVIE:  Scratch

NUTSHELL:  Excellent personalized history of hip hop that rocks the hay-ouse.

GOOD THINGS:  Great at laying down the basics and history and being totally engaging.  Amazing clips of archival footage, interviews, and current competitions and performances.

BAD THINGS:  Nope.  Okay maybe I could have heard “Rockit” a couple of less times.

FEATURES:  Qbert, Mix Master Mike, Jazzy Jay, Afrika Bambaataa, GrandMixer DXT, DJ Shadow, Rob Swift and the X-Ecutioners, DJ Babu and The Beat Junkies, DJ Shortee, DJ Premier, Steve Dee, DJ Craze and the Allies, Cut Chemist, Numark and Jurassic 5, and as they say on the KTEL commericials “much more!”

UNCOMFORTABLE MOMENTS:  DJs’ alien fixation, unnerving interviews with Naut Humon and the voices in his head

NOTABLE:  I think I have a crush on Cut Chemist now, contains individuals who go by “GrandWizzard Theodore,” “DJ Faust,” and “Steinski”

BEST PART:  the Invisibl Skratch Piklz final show

BEST LINE:  I took clarinet in the fourth grade.

CROWNS:  5 out of 5

January 13, 2010 at 10:21 pm Leave a comment

Photos to Send

MOVIE:  Photos to Send

NUTSHELL:  Dierdre Lynch’s incredible documentary retracing Dorothea Lange’s photojournalism travels in Ireland in 1954

GOOD THINGS:  Just go see it.

BAD THINGS:  Nothing.  Go see it.

FEATURES:  Ireland, Dorothea Lange, visits a half a centry later with the same people featured in Lange’s 1954 Life magazine article

UNCOMFORTABLE MOMENTS:  It’s moving.  But I am okay with that even though emotions are for ethnic people.

NOTABLE:  Dierdre Lynch is talented, intelligent AND cute as a dozen buttons.

BEST PART:  Finding Michael riding by on a bike.

BEST LINE:  It’s Michael!

CROWNS:  5 out of 5

January 13, 2010 at 10:19 pm Leave a comment

The Kid Stays in the Picture

MOVIE:  The Kid Stays in the Picture

NUTSHELL:  Nanette Burstein and Brett Morgen’s inventive documentary about <insert 5 or 6 adjectives here> film producer Robert Evans, based on his autobiography.

GOOD THINGS:  The techniques used to make the film more than your average talking head/film still documentary work pretty well and are interesting to concentrate on when you are particularly embarassed for Evans during certain parts of the narrative. Contains Steve McQueen pics and Jack Nicholson anecdotes.

BAD THINGS:  The narration is oddly gripping and melodramatic. Plus the unwavering point of view of Evans and lack of objectivity is troubling at times.

FEATURES:  Robert Evans. Probably insanity-inducing levels of Robert Evans.

UNCOMFORTABLE MOMENTS:  I think I strained myself trying to feel sorry for Evans as he tells about how he tragically got trapped after checking himself into a mental health facility and then had to call his chauffeur Jean-Paul to come get him. I know you can’t see it but I am rolling my eyes right now.

NOTABLE:  I had the worst flashback ever during the anti-drug TV special sequence. I had wiped that entire portion of my childhood out of my brain and now it’s back. It definitely gave me that simultaneous dolly in, zoom out feeling. I’m also additionally creeped out because I’ve since found that no one else seems to remember it besides me. If I could get the image of Cheryl Tiegs dancing with Bob Hope out of my head, I would have given this movie 4 crowns.

BEST PART:  Did I already mention the Steve McQueen pics? Shoot.

BEST LINE:  When you own the property, you’re king.

CROWNS:  3 out of 5

January 13, 2010 at 10:16 pm Leave a comment

John Lee Hooker: That’s My Story

MOVIE:  John Lee Hooker: That’s My Story

NUTSHELL:  Documentary about the life and music of legendary Master of the Blues who was actually pretty well-adjusted and happy thanks.

GOOD THINGS:  Music and the most adorable 80 year old bluesman EVER. Plus great stuff from his manager Mike Kappas who managed the formerly-ripped-off musician into a millionaire.

BAD THINGS:  One video subject who kept making faces, stock footage, segregation, rip off artist producers, stuttering, Peter Wolf being a goon

FEATURES:  Bonnie Raitt, Carlos Santana and his hat, John Mayall, John Hammond, Eric “Gucci” Clapton, Boom Boom (the bar and the song), luxury cars, Robert Cray, a barely understandable member of Canned Heat, Buddy Guy, Charlie Musselwhite, Eddie Kirkland, hats, friend chicken, cotton, and pancakes

UNCOMFORTABLE MOMENTS:  This was made by a German and I’m thinking that is why there are long shots of American streets that are unrelated to the film.

NOTABLE:  Some astonishingly horrendous grills. If you’re a dentist, please take smelling salts with you to this film.

BEST PART:  Flirting with the pancakes waitress. Okay shut up, the best part is the music. Duh!

BEST LINE:  You can’t get enough of that.

CROWNS:  3 out of 5


January 13, 2010 at 10:15 pm Leave a comment

Go Tigers!

MOVIE:  Go Tigers!

NUTSHELL:  Documentary about an Ohio town whose enthusiasm for their high school football team may be too extreme and a detriment to other things like… education

GOOD THINGS:  Some funny parts and the main kids profiled are interesting. I was glad to find out what happened to them at the end of the film.

BAD THINGS:  Mostly typical and manipulative, I have had it up to here with aren’t-small-towns-just-so-wacky???? documentaries.

FEATURES:  Projectile vomiting and a lot of it, a really insane senior citizen lady, pep rallies, parades and large coaches. Maybe that should be in caps – LARGE coaches.


NOTABLE:  It’s astonishing that a documentary about a town’s obsession with their high school football team is not about some place in Texas.

BEST PART:  Naysayers montage!

BEST LINE:  He had colic as a babe and it just never stopped.

CROWNS:  3 out of 5

January 13, 2010 at 10:13 pm Leave a comment

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