The Real Beauty and The Beast- B
Can I be completely transparent and tell you something embarrassing that makes me sound like a heartless monster? No, well too bad! I started watching this one night when I couldn't sleep and (per usual) fell asleep after 5 minutes...it gave me weird nightmares about hairy faced men being captured. I may have woken up in a cold sweat from a budget reenactment... so I had to take a brief hiatus before take 2. Even though Beauty and the Beast is probably my least favorite of the Disney renaissance (*Bracing for retaliation*), I love all things freak shows and birth defect- hence my being on board with this one from the jump. It clocks in at under an hour, and is completely fascinating and sad. You're not gonna get master class film making...it's basically like a PBS special (Maybe because it's a Smithsonian channel special), but I did find myself wanting to discuss it later. It'll leave you with some good anecdotes as long as you realize that it will ruin a cartoon classic. [Tangent: As if historical accuracy hasn't already ruined Pochahontas for you!!]
Welcome to Leith - B+
Because I have never lived in one, I am completely fascinated with the concept of tiny, one stoplight towns. Not fascinated in an "I want that unencumbered life" kind of way, more like in an "I can't imagine that nightmare" kind of way. So not only was I incredulous that a town existed in North Dakota with a population under 30, but that such a small population can be upended when 1 person [Tangent: Which by my crap math skills is about 5% of it's population] is a white supremacist with a mad chip on his shoulder. I appreciated that the movie seemed to exist in real time, and it documented koo koo Craig Cobb's vigilante escapades leading up to his arrest. I think I tend to tune out awful hatred like that in my day to day so it was jarring at times. Be prepped to see some human darkness.
Enter the Battlefield- C-
This movie about Magic the Gathering and it's superstars was not as great as I had hoped. God, how I love a doc about people who participate in something a little nerdy finding their place in the universe among their peers...Spellbound....Air Guitar Nation...King of Kong...Magic Camp...THERE ARE SO MANY GOOD ONES! [Tangent: They always remind me of the Blind Melon video where the bee girl opens the gate to find the other black and yellow brethren.] Unfortunately, this was not one of them and I can't help but compare and think of how much more entertaining/engaging it could have been.. I couldn't get into it, and got bored. Additionally, I still don't understand how the hell to play Magic!
Winding Stream: An Oral History of The Carter and Cash Family- C
[Tangent/explanation:I may have had some ulterior motives when selecting this doc. After helping Jamie with his ancestry online (trying to decipher what breed of white bread he is), I found he had some Carters in is family and the singing family were from the same mountain area of East Tennessee/Virginia as his people. Throw into the equation that his is aunt owns a home that the Carter Family would sometimes stay in, assuming they were of relation is not a huge stretch.] Basically I was watching this doc to confirm my suspicions, and so I could see if my boyfriend was due some of that sweet Walk The Line royalty money. I found nada and still can't bind those branches together. What I did find was a documentary that was just kinda 'meh'. It had a hard time settling in tonally to what it wanted to be. I dug the cool animation [Tangent: It was very much stylistically like the Smashing Pumpkins 'Tonight, Tonight' video...but with Johnny and June] interspersed with interviews and archival footage. Honestly, I couldn't make heads or tails of it, and found myself wishing we were watching Orange is The New Black instead. As a native Tennessean, I wanted to like it more, but I would rather just watch Walk the Line for the 1000th time or listen to my dad's copy of Live from Folsom Prison.
Prescription Thugs- A-
If you have gotten to your 30s and haven't crossed paths with someone with a painkiller addiction, than I assume you live in a bubble...or in some kind of cloistered nunnery. I'm really glad I listened to my friend Beth and gave this one a go, even though (as expected) it was hard to watch at times and was far from uplifting. What made me more invested was that the narrator was himself close to the issue, given he had struggled (and was struggling) against an addiction. [Tangent: I love to see the voice of a film be immersed in the world it is discussing, even if it is unsavory. It becomes instantly more personal.] It does a great job of muckraking (Michael Moore Light) on why the epidemic has gotten out of hand. Taking on the issue from multiple angles, the doc points the fingers at the drug companies and the doctors for basically keeping their patients sick and making them dependent on the very thing that is trying to heal them. True, you could probably yield this same info from an episode of 20/20, but still I think it's worth your time. c
Attacking the Devil: Harold Evans and the Last Nazi War Crime- A
Speaking of drugs and birth defects [Tangent: Best introductory clause ever!!], this movie is a doozie. My knowledge of Thalidomide was limited to me hearing about it in the lyrics to We Didn't Start the Fire and doing some googling many years ago. What I learned from that Internet query was reinforced by this doc- Thalidomide was a drug given to pregnant mothers in the late 50s and early 60s to stave off nausea. Mothers-to-be who were prescribed this "miracle drug" gave birth to children with missing body parts...and it happened en masse. It was a time when people who were born different didn't exactly have a leg up in society [Tangent: NOT A BAD JOKE...Just a poor choice of words.] so the sudden appearance of disability was often catastrophic resulting in child abandonment or even death. This was also way before social media paranoia and the information age was way in the distance, so it was a journalist that ultimately fought to bring out the truth and get compensation for families who didn't know what they were getting into with that RX. I'm pretty sure I liked it because a writer basically saved the day! [Tangent: After you watch, read this article about why it was a far superior movie than Spotlight. It's an interesting take.]
So what's next that will not be such a bummer?!?!
Tell me what to watch, guys!