Thursday, November 27, 2014

Netflix Documentary Hits and Misses Vol 4 (November 2014 Edition)

It's Thanksgiving green bean casserole time [Tangent: I mean really...isn't that what the season is really about? Mushroom soup shrouded, French cut goodness?] , and I guess by now you are either looking for something to do with your family or looking for some way to avoid I guess that means you need something to fill your time...a means to  avoid black Friday or even just permeate your eye holes as you fill your mouth hole with pie.

It's November Netflix recap time! I have tried to really offer a varied smorgasbord of documentaries this month, so I think there will be something to tickle your pickle, but please let me know if there is some non-fiction gold that I am overlooking.

Time Zero:The Last Year of Polaroid Film- A
I didn't expect a movie about the closing of the Polaroid production factories to pack such heart. DAMN! I pulled it up around midnight one night in a fit of insomnia...and long story short, by 2 AM I was fighting back strange tears and putting "watches" on multiple Polaroid SX-70 land cameras [Tangent: I am mildly obsessed with that pretty camera even though the film it would require costs as much as a tank of gas, I'm sure. I strongly recommend against drunken or sleep-derpived online purchases.] Multiple photographers who specialize in the medium were spotlighted, including a special segment with a very sentimental John Waters. If John Waters can't get you to watch a movie...then get off my blog!

The Final Member- A
This is probably one of my picks of the month, judging solely on the fact that I have recommended it to several groups of people. Ok, once you get past the basis: It is about an actual penis museum in Iceland looking for the its crown jewel(s?), their first human specimen. Two men are in the running and they are both completely batshit and perfect. One wishes to donate while he is still alive, with some strange caveats. I feel like hesitant to reveal too much, because the element of surprise is important, but rest assured- you will forever think of the word "Elmo" differently.

TallHotBlond- B-/C+
 This movie is a true crime style account of a very creepy  love affair between a middle aged man and an 18 year old girl, who met in an online gambling room. It was chocked full of interviews and photos and of course, awkward scrolling text of their cyber sexing.  I have a slight confession that maybe disqualifies me to give this an unbiased review and may make you think less of me: I knew what was going to happen because I saw the Lifetime made for TV movie by the same name that is based on this case. [Tangent:...starring the dad from Raising Hope (with a creepy moustache) and directed randomly by Courteney Cox.] Anyway, things get dicey and as is the case when old dudes with porn staches decide to mess with young ladies, shit hits the fan and flies in unexpected directions. 

Bettie Page Reveals All- A
Why has it taken me so long to watch this? Since I started this monthly feature, it has been suggested over and over and I am pleased to say, you all didn’t steer me wrong. I now love Bettie Page. I mean I knew the idea of her, but had no idea she was so sassy and smart…and a NASHVILLIAN!??! I’m sold. What’s not to love? If I wasn’t a lazy human, this movie would have inspired me to become one of those rockabilly chicks because Bettie Page is gosh danged adorable, but unfortunately I am terribly flat chested, shudder at the idea of heels and feel that baby bangs are too much of a  commitment for a gal like me.

A Brony Tale: A Film About Men who Love My Little Pony- B
The title of this film does a pretty thorough synopsis on it's own, but really, in my opinion, this topic cannot be delved into and researched nearly enough, because no amount of analysis will explain why this is a thing that exists. [Tangent: This is at least one of two documentaries on Netflix on the topic...and yes, I have watched both. For the record the other one is called Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony and they are about equal as far as enjoyability!] The bronies they profile are varied and very unexpected [Tangent: read...they are not sterotypical: not all anime kids or young gay gents. There are bikers and frat boy types in the mix.] One of the main voice over artists from the show,  is the central storyteller in this doc as she is attending her first Brony-Con, and is kind of horrified at the prospect. The production value is pretty impressive given the subject, mabe because it is done by Morgan Spurlock, [Tangent: who has really mixed up his portfolio recently with things like the One Direction concert doc, which I have seen...and it is good. I'm not ashamed.] the only real criticim is that I could have done with a little less of the VO girl's band. It was distracting.
Dear Zachary- A+
Good sweet lord. I haven’t seen this movie in a couple years, and thank heavens the Netflix overlords have kept it on  streaming so that the maximum amount of people can be floored by it. This time, I decided to take my mother along on the emotionally unstable roller coaster of feeling feelings. I don’t want to tell you too much about it, but if you like heartfelt true crime stories and filling many a Kleenex with your snotty tears, then this is the film for you.  Maybe not the most uplifting holiday film, but I have yet to meet anyone that has seen it and that didn't recommend it.

Burt's Buzz- A
This one was a random late night decision, [Tangent: Do you see a reoccurring theme that the choice to watch documentaries usually hinges upon my shitty sleeping habits?] and one that I am very happy that I made. It had made me mildly obsessed with the Burt behind Burt's Bees....yeah, that bearded dude on the label a real person, and he is a delightful kook at that. Becoming a global brand was never really this hermit's intention and the politics behind the company's thriving is a little cut throat. There are so many good moments in this movie, but my favorites are anytime he is basically forced into doing public appearances. Cinema gold.

Out Late- A-
Truly, based on some of my previous viewing choices [Tangent: From this post, you may remember Ping Pong and Gotta Dance...] I am surprised that there is not a genre on my Netflix queue called: "adorable elderly people doing surprising things". [Tangent: Instead my Netflix thinks I am a gay male, and this movie is probably just helping along the algorythm. ] Out Late, which is about people who came out of the closet at 60+ and not just people staying out past curfew,  profiles a very feisty 80 year old lesbian [Dear god! I love her so much!], a transgendered individual and a gay couple. I really enjoyed this one, and to be honest, I could watch a whole series based on their stories. It needed to be longer. Please HBO, answer my prayers. 

Teenage- D
Boo. I wanted this to be better...I mean look how fun the cover looks! Well, I guess you can't always judge things by their covers, because this meandering movie made me doze off so many times that I stopped watching altogether.  The concept was interesting, I'll give it that. The film illustrated through archival footage how the whole idea of teenage and adolescence evolved through history, because"Teenage" is apparently a 20th century term. The movie just didn't grab me, and given the subject matter- it really should have.  

Stuck- B+
Since I was wee and watched specials on Romanian orphanages, I have wanted to adopt a baby from overseas, so this whole movie was disheartening and upsetting. The doc addresses all the red tape and terrible bureaucracy that surrounds international adopting. From friends who have undergone the process, I have heard first hand how exhausting, expensive and futile it can be and this movie only confirmed this. The profiles were really touching and sad, many of these families waited for years to meet their children. It upset me to see them, with the nurseries all set up but not being able to bring them home, all the while watching that child share a crib with several other children in a third world orphanage.

I Escaped a Cult- D
Yawn. Let me preface this by saying my boyfriend and I love cults…like not in a weird “I wanna be in one” kinda way…but more in a “I am fascinated by them kind of way.” [Tangent: Jamie spends a lot of his time listening to Last Podcast on The Left or hanging on their message boards, which revolves around crazy stuff like cults and weird phenomenae….and as a 16 year old, I was given the choice to write a research paper about anything and I chose Cults. Most girls in my class chose rabbits or Mariah Carey or something.] I think this makes us more discriminating when it comes to things like this…and this was like a Dateline expose, only with much crappier production value and terrible pacing. Jamie fell asleep multiple times, and it was only 44 minutes long. 

Reel Injun- B
Something you have probably gleaned from my viewing choices is that I go a little buckwild for anything that dissects race/gender/class/disability, and their depictions in the it was inevitable that I would watch this movie about Native Americans on film. [Tangent: Just in time for Thanksgiving!] Parts of this I really loved and found terribly interesting, and other parts went nowhere fast. The filmmakers did a stellar job of archiving footage both old and recent. I loved learning more about that infamous Marlon Brando Oscar acceptance , how the Native American community really saw Dances with Wolves and a segment about Iron Eyes Cody, easily Hollywood's go to Indian performer...who was indeed Italian.

The World Before Her- B/B-
There are a ton of movies in my Netflix queue right now that all revolve around the same idea- basically what it means to be female in other cultures. They are seemingly interesting enough, but I have a heard time pulling the "watch" trigger for some reason. This was my baby step into that sub-sub-genre of socio-cultural documentaries. This particular one was about modern Indian that is more western and much like American pageantry and one that focuses on traditional Indian values. Being that I am white as Bunny bread, I always find these things very eye-opening.
Being Elmo- A
This is a really good family pick, because it is a fun story about seeing a young man, Kevin Clash, seeing his  puppet dreams come true [Tangent:...that is if you try to totally ignore the molestation allegations that befell him a couple years ago. That news puts a whole uncomfortable spin on the picture of a man with his hand up a red monster. I watched it both both prior and after the diddling story hit the presses, and I will say that it was considerably more entertaining beforehand.] Who doesn't love Elmo? It also gave a lot of insight into how the whole Henson universe works, so if you are too distracted by that scandal, just focus on that.
Bound by Flesh - A
As someone with a disability, I have always been interested in freak shows and sideshow performers. [Tangent: I know within the community, that is a very scandalous stance to take, but at the time if the options were to be a circus performer or be institutionalized, I would be learning to juggle in no time. Also, it's a part of history- freak shows happened. There is no point in ignoring that they existed or dwelling on how unscrupulous they were now. Look forward not back, folks.] This interest has only been exacerbated lately by my love of AHS: Freak Shows, so naturally when I saw a new movie about conjoined twins hit my queue, I was into it. This one is about the Daisy and Violet Hilton, who rose to fame in the sideshow circuit in the early 1900s, going on to appear on various variety shows and in Tod Browning's cult classic Freaks. Their story is really interesting and terribly sad at points, they went from being unwanted by their mother to being in high demand to poverty again. The ass kicker is that they were only connected at the hip by a small band of flash; in today's medical world they would have been easily separated at birth. [Tangent: Also, even though I have never given birth, even the thought of naturally delivering two sizable babies side by side makes my vagina hurt.]

Ok, now that I have left you on a really unsavory note, what should I watch in December? Also, I am interested in those 30 for 30 docs. I don't like sports, but I think I will like those. Thoughts?

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