I like documentaries about the making of movies a lot. Empire of Dreams was one of my favorite parts of the Star Wars DVD set, and its lack of inclusion on the Blu-Ray release was something of a bummer. Similarly, each of the making of documentaries on the Prequel movies were great, even if the movies themselves had issues, and I’ve always loved the documentaries on the various Alien series boxed sets. So, when I learned an independent documentary was being made on the origins of Alien, I had to pick it up.Continue reading “Memory: Origins of Alien: Film Review”
In 2019 we lost Neil Peart, one of the greatest drummers of all time, and part of one of my favorite bands – Rush. So, when Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage came up on my Netflix recommendations, I figured it was time to check it out.Continue reading “Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage – Film Review”
A while back I reviewed the documentary film The Ackermonster Chronicles – a documentary film telling the life story of Forrest J. Ackerman. The film conveyed Ackerman’s life in a way that I compared to people talking about Ackerman at a wake, telling stories about his life, and in my view it didn’t quite get across why, necessarily, Ackerman was historically important or significant. George Harrison: Living in the Material World, from director Martin Scorsese uses the same style of presentation, but gets that point across better. Continue reading “Movie Review: George Harrison – Living in the Material World”
Back when I was getting actively into gaming again, I started reading Knights of the Dinner Magazine, and some issues of Dragon Magazine when I could. In those issues of the magazine, I encountered ads for Dwarven Forge, a company making miniature dungeon terrain out of really durable material, what I presume is plastic resin, called Dwarvenite. It was incredibly well sculpted, beautiful to look … Continue reading Documentary Review: The Dwarvennaut
If the The 8-Bit Generation was a documentary that had the unpleasant habit of painting over the truth of Jack Tramiel’s run on Commodore in an appeal to fans of the Commodore 64, Viva Amiga is a documentary that makes a much more sincere attempt to appeal to fans of the Commodore Amiga, in terms of their love for the system. However, due to a runtime that … Continue reading Film Review: Viva Amiga!
I like retro computing – I grew up on Apple II computers at my school and an Atari 800 computer at home, with a Commodore 84 & Atari ST at the houses of relatives so in addition to watching YouTube channels dedicated to old computers and games like PixelMusement and Lazy Game Reviews, I also love documentaries about the history of computing like Triumph of … Continue reading Film Review: The 8-Bit Generation
A while back I reviewed Sgt. Pepper’s Musical Revolution, a documentary on one of the more prominent albums to come out of the second part of the career of The Beatles studio-only era. A little before that documentary came out, Ron Howard came out with his own documentary on the Beatles, covering their touring years, from when they got big in the UK, to their US … Continue reading Film Review: The Beatles – Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years
It’s been a while since I did a review of a music documentary – the last one that comes immediately to mind is a documentary review on the career of Pink Floyd. Well, this year is the year that the Beatles concept album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band has it’s 50th anniversary, and the BBC did a documentary on the album, which also broadcast on PBS, which is where I saw it. Continue reading “Documentary Review: Sgt. Pepper’s Musical Revolution”
This time I’m doing a meta-review, a review of a critical analysis of film – “The Story of Film: An Odyssey” written and directed by Mark Cousins. Continue reading “TV Series Review: The Story of Film – An Odyssey”
This time I’m taking a look at the documentary, Charles Beaumont: The Short Life of Twilight Zone’s Magic Man. I was provided with a copy of this documentary at no cost for purpose of review from the film’s director at OryCon 2014. Continue reading “Film Review – The Short Life of Charles Beaumont”
This week I’m doing a documentary review of the film “The Ackermonster Chronicles” Continue reading “Video Review – The Ackermonster Chronicles”
“World Tours” are, anymore, a given for most rock concert tours, at least with any performer big enough to get Platinum records. However, I really don’t think that most people “get” what goes into a concert tour that goes around the world – both in terms of the toll on the performers and the toll on the crew. This leads us to Flight 666, a concert film that follows Iron Maiden’s “Somewhere Back in Time” Concert Tour. What makes this tour different from other tours, aside from the Documentary aspect, is that for the purposes of this tour, the band purchased a Boeing 757 to transport the band, the crew, and all necessary equipment from venue to venue, rather than chartering the plane. Why buy instead of charter? Because the lead singer of the band, Bruce Dickinson, is rated to pilot Boeing 757s. Continue reading “Film Review – Iron Maiden: Flight 666”
I love physics. To be more accurate, I love all the space sciences. This ties in to my enjoyment of science fiction series like Star Trek and Star Wars, and from watching documentary series like Nova on Public Broadcasting as a kid. Plus, like most people, I love underdog stories. So, when I learned about Professor Stephen Hawkings, a physicist from the UK who helped to expand our knowledge of how the universe works in spite of the disease that was slowly destroying him – Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. So, when I learned there was a film based on his book “A Brief History of Time”, where he explained the basics of quantum mechanics to a mass audience. I leaped at the chance to watch it. Continue reading “Movie Review – A Brief History of Time”
There are 4 kinds of documentary that I like. There are nature documentaries, particularly of the bent of PBS’s Nature, and David Attenborough’s wildlife programs, as well as the work of the National Geographic Society. There are Historical documentaries, particularly stuff like the American Experience, as well as stuff like the Connections series and some documentaries like One Day in September. There are Journalistic documentaries, such as the material from PBS’s Frontline series, and some of the films that are part of the POV series. Then, finally, there are documentaries that I would describe as Gonzo Journalism. Dear Zachary is one those documentaries.
First, I need to clarify something. Michael Moore’s documentaries aren’t Gonzo Journalism. Morgan Spurlock’s documentaries aren’t Gonzo Journalism. Also, you don’t need to be on drugs to make a documentary that is Gonzo Journalism. Ultimately, Gonzo Journalism, as it was when Hunter S. Thompson came up with it, is the idea that someone covering an event, or witnessing an event, cannot not become a part of the event. Thus, rather then attempt to hang on to some form of clinical detachment, you should become a participant in events. The classic example from Thompson’s work isn’t Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but rather Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail. Continue reading “Movie Review – Dear Zachary”
This review is going to differ from my usual review format, mainly because in this case, the film I’m reviewing, which is a documentary about the Genocide in Darfur, asks a few questions, and I’m going to try to give some opinion based answers.
Brian Steidle was a captain in the US Marine Corps who, after his term of service was up, left the Corps and became an unarmed monitor for the African Union, tasked with monitoring the cease-fire between the Sudanese government and rebel groups. There he observed the Darfur genocide, documenting it with thousands of pictures and hundreds of reports sent to the AUC commanders, which were ultimately classified and ignored. Continue reading “Movie Semi-Review – The Devil Came On Horseback.”
I’m back from my little vacation from blogging, and I’m returning with a review of another documentary – and not one from Frontline or another episode of a PBS program (not that there’s anything wrong with that). With historical documentaries these days, film-makers tend to go either the History Channel route (scenes with reenactors inter-cut with talking heads), or the Ken Burns route (narration and readings of writings from the time with possible scenes of reenactors). This film takes the Ken Burns route, but with different subject matter than the type of material Burns covers.
The documentary covers 1 year in Jackson County, Wisconsin in the 1890s. During which much of the county, particularly the area around the town of Black River Falls, goes more than a little bit mad. The documentary is told through articles in alocal paper in the county, read by Ian Holm. Continue reading “Movie Review – Wisconsin Death Trip”
The space program has always fascinated me, particularly because my interest in Science Fiction, particularly through series like Star Trek – which in turn lead me to an interest in the space sciences and some terrestrial sciences as well. So, when I heard about a documentary about the space program that I hadn’t seen before, and one that was coming out from the Criterion Collection, I had to check it out.
Using footage from all the Apollo missions (plus a bit of the Gemini missions), the film depicts the journey from Earth to the Moon, to the explorations of the Lunar surface, to finally the trip back home. All of this is accompanied with interview audio from various astronauts in the Apollo program discussing the program, and what it felt like to go to the moon. Continue reading “Movie Review – For All Mankind”
Most people have heard about the BBC’s excellent documentary series Planet Earth… which I must admit I haven’t seen yet, but I plan to watch in the future. However, first, I’ve decided to review the BBC’s companion documentary for the series – Earth: A Biography. Is the series a worthy companion, while still being able to stand on it’s own for those who haven’t watched Planet Earth, or does it leave something to desired?
The Premise: The documentary follows Iain Stewart, a geologist from the University of Plymouth in England, as he travels the world explaining various concepts on how Earth works – specifically relating to how we got to the earth we have now, from volcanoes and plate tectonics, to ice and the movement of glaciers, to wind and the atmosphere.
Travel documentary series, while at times they can be enoyable, aren’t necessarily my thing. Often times, like Travels in Europe, by Portland native Rick Steves, or Globe Trekker, the people hosting the show are people who travel professionally – they write about it, and often times they take the time to get to know an area, and thus they have all the tricks and tips to pass along to you to make your stay more comfortable. I’ve also found that these end up making the documentary a little less approachable. They’re being told by an old hand. So, in the course of my travels and travails through Netflix, I found a travel documentary series by Michael Palin – Around the World in 80 days. Being a fan of Monty Python (as is any self respecting geek), I watched it. Now, what did I think about it? Continue reading “DVD Review – Michael Palin: Around the World in 80 Days”
There have been many excellent documentary series about our cosmos and how it works. Many of them, particularly Cosmos, Stephen Hawking’s Universe, and The Elegant Universe, have been hosted by noted astrophysicists, astronomers and cosmologists, such as the late Carl Sagan, Stephen Hawking, and Brian Green (respectively). They’ve also generally been on public broadcasting, or on channels like the Discovery Channel or The Learning Channel – which focus on science programming. The History Channel has now started running The Universe, a series on our universe and our solar system, how it works, and what it’s like, and how we know what we know about it. So, the question is, is the show on par with the documentaries I’ve already mentioned, or does it kind of fumble the ball like The Dark Ages did?
Covering everythng from how our solar system formed, to the properties of the various planets, to the threat to our planet from Near Earth Objects and Gamma Ray Bursts, to The Big Bang and how we learned about it, the show covers a multitude of topics about our Solar System, using visual analogies, computer generation representations of planets, asteroids and events, and interviews with cosmologists, physicists, and astronomers to explain how the universe works. Continue reading “DVD Review – The History Channel Presents – The Universe: Season 1”
Thanks to the wonders of “Netflix Watch It Now”, I’ve been able to catch up on some great documentaries that I missed because I don’t have cable. I’ve also caught up on some not-so-great documentaries that I missed because I don’t have cable. This documentary fits into one of those categories, and I’m not entirely sure which.
Covering the period from the fall of Rome to the start of the Crusades, this documentary tries to cover basically all of the basics of European History during this period, using accounts from historians who are experts in the period, as well as footage of actors re-creating life during the period known as the “Dark Ages”.
The collapse of Enron is one of those incidents in business history that is certainly going to end up in the history books. The death of what appeared to be on of the strongest companies on the market changed the way the goverment, and the public, looks at business even more then the Dot Com Collapse did. The key here is, though, why? Why did Enron, which by all appearances was one of the strongest corporations on the stock market, collapse like a house of cards? That is the question that this documentary aims to answer.
Pink Floyd: Reflections and Echoes aims to be the comprehensive documentary on the history of the band, covering its history from it’s very beginnings as a Psychedelic live band to their final performance at Live 8, and it mostly succeeds. However, some serious flaws in the presentation prevent the series from achieving greater heights.