Amoeblog

Let's Make it a Movie Night: Part II

Posted by Smiles Davis, July 1, 2009 02:22pm | Post a Comment
I’ve been sick in bed with worst pathogen known to man for the past – feels like years – week and half. I haven’t had the energy to do more than fluff my pillow and change my position every hour or so to prevent from getting bed sores. Well, it’s not that serious, but telling myself that helps me feel better about putting my significant other through brutal torture – you’d swear with the extra load I’ve put on him, he was training for a maid marathon at the Holiday Inn. With all this down time on my hands, the only thing to do to occupy my time and prevent insanity from fully setting in is watch movies. And boy, do I have plenty. Yesterday alone I think I watched some 12 flicks. Most of them were documentaries; some were hit, some were miss.

When it comes to movies, a person can tell whether a flick is going to be of interest to them or not within the first couple of minutes or so. On several occasions, I pressed the eject button before I got past the opening credits. Then, on the flip side, some of the flicks were worth another watch, a tour through the special features, and a word with the director and/or cast members. Well, I’ve made a list of the ones that were most entertaining to watch and that forced me to take a second look. So, here (in no particular order) are my top 5 documentaries, for now:
 Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser
Directed by Charlotte Zwerin
One reason to love this film other than Thelonious Monk is the exceptional footage quality.
 
The Kid Stays in the Picture
Directed by Nanette Burstein and Brett Morgen
I don't know how much of this story is actually true, but Robert Evans is one heck of a story teller.


Baraka
Directed by Ron Fricke
There are so many reasons to love this film. Visually breathtaking. 

 

Ken Burns – Jazz
Directed by Ken Burns
One reason to love this film other than the superb facts is that you can appreciate it even if you're not really into jazz.
 
Man on Wire
Directed by James Marsh
I love this film! Courageous, ambitious, and absolutely extraordinary.

'Till next time... chew the corners off

Russia to pull out of Chechnya

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 16, 2009 04:57pm | Post a Comment


Cessation of operations

Russia has announced the end of its ten year “counter-terrorism” campaign in The Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (aka Noxçiyn Respublika Noxçiyçö and ??????? ?????????? ?????????). Although Chechnya has been fairly peaceful for some time now, many allege that it is due to the ironfisted rule of Russian-approved-and-installed Chechen leader, Ramzan A. Kadyrov, who along with his private militia, Kadyrovtsy, faces widespread suspicion of kidnapping, torturing and murdering advocates of self rule.


Eliza Betirova

Russia’s president, Dmitri A. Medvedev, having vowed to make rule of law the cornerstone of his government, may in fact be attempting to distance itself from the monster many say Moscow created by installing and giving free-rein to a scandal-plagued former rebel who some have compared to a cult leader who has described Chechnya as a “zoo filled with animals” and bragged, “I will be killing as long as I live."

 
Ali Dimayev

Russia’s involvement with Chechnya
Chechnya declared its independence in 1991, alongside many of its fellow Soviet republics. In what’s become an almost comically transparent double standard, Russia recognized the independence of former Soviet republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia (since they’re within Georgia), and Georgia, which denied recognition to its breakaway republics, was one of two nations to recognize Chechnya’s independence (although the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria is a member of the Unrecognized Nations and Peoples Organization), the other being Afghanistan.

Timur Mucuraev

Yeltsin, then president, was upfront about Russia’s unwillingness to let Chechnya secede, due, in large part, to its considerable oil reserves. Russia first invaded the newly-independent republic in 1994, sending in 40,000 troops. The war ended in the humiliating defeat of the Russians two years later.

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Women's history documentaries

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 14, 2009 10:19am | Post a Comment









              

SICKO: LATEST IN LONG LINE OF US EXPOSE DOCUMENTARIES

Posted by Billyjam, July 9, 2007 06:03pm | Post a Comment
sicko
Michael Moore
's latest film, Sicko, just out in theaters, may -- as its detractors so quickly accuse it of being -- be biased and one-sided, but you know what? I don't give a damn, because, like all of Moore's films to date, it is still a hell of a unique work: one that tells the side of the downtrodden, ill-represented majority of this economically unbalanced society in which we dwell. It is a story that long needed to be told and the fact that someone as high-profile as Moore, whose films get so much attention and so many viewers, is a wonderful thing that hopefully will lead to changes in the current corrupt medical insurance system in the USA. Sicko also brings to my mind some of the other great expose documentaries that have been produced in recent years and that are available on DVD -- which means you should be able to find them in Amoeba's DVD section.


Some of my personal favorites include OutFoxed, which takes a humorous but scathing look at Rupert Murdoch's Fox News network (an easy target for sure...but a well worth looking into one), presenting some of the shameless attempts at "fair and balanced" reporting that the TV "news" station practices.

Other documentaries in the whistle-blower style include Robert Greenwald's must-see 2005 documentary Wal-Mart: The High Price Of Low Cost (see clip below), which exposes the retail giant for the shady, exploitive, corrupt employer and corporation that it really is -- one that has the audacity to wrap itself in the image of the American flag when its practices (ranging from exploiting medicare, destroying small businesses and communities within the United States and exploiting overseas workers) are the most un-American that any entity could possibly execute. This documentary exposes the retail giant from the perspective of its hard-working employees and along the way exposes facts such as theenron high crime rate in the under-protected Wal-Mart parking lots.

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UNDERDOGS, COMMON THEME IN DOUG PRAY'S FILMS

Posted by Billyjam, June 18, 2007 08:31am | Post a Comment

Los Angeles based documentary film-maker Doug Pray (Hype!, Scratch, Infamy)'s latest release is Big Rig, a documentary about the subculture of contemporary truck-drivers. The film premiered at Austin's SXSW fest in March. Pray's latest production, Surfwise, is a documentary about the dynamics of a unique surfing family. The filmmaker says that the distinct common thread between each of his documentaries is that each tells the story of misunderstood individuals. "They're all subcultures... groups (that) have been misperceived. I see their characters as underdogs," he said. His first film was the 1996 documentary Hype!, which was literally about the hype behind the North West's underground "grunge scene" and how exactly that music was transformed, neatly packaged, and sold to the gullible masses. His next and even better known film (which won numerous awards) was Scratch, about the the rise and history of the hip-hop DJ/turntablist. It was followed by Infamy, a documentary about six graffiti artists plus one anti-graffiti activist.


To director Pray there is an obvious common thread between each of the films' subjects. Speaking of Hype!, Scratch, and Infamy, he said, "They're all subcultures which I never set out to do but it is interesting how things turn out. All three groups were misperceived in general and I think that's what's in common with all three. Like the way people in Seattle felt that their movement had been packaged and kind of sold to the masses as something that it wasn't -- that was a reason to make a movie because I was there and I thought 'You know what?' What the world thinks about this music community is not what they're saying it really is!' Same thing with the deejays in Scratch. It was sort of like everybody, as in mainstream America, thought they knew what hip-hop was and what the hip-hop DJs were saying was really different from this perception...It's all the same thing -- same thing with Infamy about the graffiti artists."

 
Before he began shooting the director mistakenly thought that Infamy would turn out to be an upbeat celebration of bright, beautiful graffiti art. Instead, it turned out be an engrossing, dark portrayal of obsessed artists who commit felonies, constantly risking jail time just to create their art. "Graffiti artists are manic depressive," confesses graffiti artist Saber in one engaging scene. Infamy is unlike other graffiti films. "Most graf films are made in such earnest from a graffiti art fan's perspective that they often overlook the human element," said Pray, who deliberately limited the number of subjects profiled in his film. "I didn't want to have 30 artists in there and just get to know a little about (each of) them. I wanted to really focus on just six artists. I wanted to make a movie where you really got to know the person, their family, their peers, their crew...One of the differences with graffiti and others is that it is really demented...It is an obsession and it is both very stimulating and it leads to trouble...it is unlike any other art because it is a felony."  

Infamy didn't get nearly as warm a reception as its predecessor (Scratch) and outside of a handful of screenings (mostly at small film fests), it went straight to DVD last Fall. Nonetheless, it is a wonderful film and well worth seeing for both graffiti and non-graffiti fans alike. Also recommended for all audiences is the critically acclaimed aforementioned Scratch, which truly is an amazing film that captures the soul of the dedicated hip-hop DJ. (Full disclosure: the writer of this AMOEBLOG is one of the subjects in the film and also credited for giving the film its title.) The DVD version boasts an additional disc with four bonus hours, including the ever engaging turntable instructional "How To Rock A Party" with Z-Trip. Scratch, which can still be seen occasionally on the Sundance Channel, can be found both as a single DVD at Amoeba and other new and used DVD outlets and also in the nicely packaged hip-hop DVD set along with the film Freestyle**

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