Friday, April 26, 2013

A Quick Review Of 6 New Documentaries Pt. 1

Work gave me a three day weekend due to systems being shut down and updated, having time off being a foreign concept to me, I deemed this completely unacceptable and booked a shooting gig one day so as to only have a 2 day weekend.... whoooo... much better. So having updated my demo reel and website last week, I actually took the much needed time to sit my ass on the couch, and watch Netflix.

Now mind you, I couldn't handle NOT using my brain during this time, so I elected to watch six documentaries and write a two-part short review about my thoughts on them. Yeah, I know, I'm fucking lame... but whatever, seemed fun to me, quit judging.... fucker.

The Antics Roadshow:

Synopsis: A Banksy documentary about the who's who of famous public vandals, MOST of whom do so in the name of social-activism. The most notable of which are "The Yes Men" a team of two men who pose as representatives of notable corporations and make bold, self-incriminating statements publicly in an effort to expose the greed and corruption of said company.

Review: A good run of the mill doc on an extrodinary group of people. The profiles run from in depth to quick glances, but in general, they are all thought provoking and interesting character studies. Unfortunately they seem to be pulled from existing footage and a multitude of camera crews, so the footage runs the gamut from amazing to having TONS of technical issues such as stuttering image (as a result of ingesting footage at the wrong Frames Per Second.... sorry, QCing is what I do... I digress) and generational quality loss.

Suggestion: Watch it if you're into vandalism in the name of social-awareness (or just for shits and giggles), but it's a doc that easily broken up and watched over the course of a few days due to the nature of it's character studies. Give yourself a few days and break it up on this one, otherwise it becomes a bit monotonous and the stories muddle together.

Give Me The Banjo:

Synopsis: A Steve Martin narrated documentary that is a raw, unyielding look at the banjo's tumultuous history from its birth in Africa, to being used by whitey to glorify racial stereotypes through minstrel music, to it's present day use in bluegrass music.

Review: Evidently rock and roll isn't the only thing we've stolen from black folks, the banjo's origination in Africa played a big part of early music there. This documentary is amazing, true even when it hurts, and the filmmakers have a genuine love for the instrument that shines through the interviews. It is one of the best, most raw doc's I've seen in years. It is in-depth and never boring, well worthy of the incredible talents that are showcased in this film. Martin does an astonishing job at not just narrating, but actually engaging the camera, and his playing is nothing short of amazing.

Suggestion: See it immediately, watch it sober, a great early AM Sunday documentary for ANYONE who genuinely loves African, Americana, or just music in general.

New York In The 50's

Synopsis: A look at the 1950's in New York and how that planted the seeds of the huge counter-cultural movement of the 1960's.

Review: I'm a huge Beat fan, so I was immediately drawn to this as 1950's New York played a HUGE part in the movement... I mean, it birthed it afterall... the holy trinity of Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Burroughs met there... but this documentary decides to shy away from that entire movement and instead of covers less publicized elements of the time. I understand the mentality behind this, give more time to areas not covered by many other documentaries... but the results are boring and passionless.

Suggestion: If you don't enjoy the Beat Movement, watch it, maybe there is something there for you that I missed. If you do enjoy it, skip this and avoid a multitude of people jadedly talking about the insignifigance of the Beats during the 50's..... The doc is largely lazy, boring, and uninspired.

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