DocumentaryPosted by Martin 2015-02-09 20:46:43
Despotentary by Jean
Michel Carré, France 2014
Putin has been the de
facto leader of Russia since 2000, first as president for the, according to the
constitution, maximum of two terms, then as the prime minister, ruling the
country through his puppet president Medvedev. By 2012, he dropped all
pretenses and outright screwed the constitution, fashioning himself president
again. With increasing despotism and totalitarian measures, the charismatically
frightening megalomaniac continues to steer Russia back to the powerful empire
it once was.
As documentaries go,
this one is pretty straightforward; chronologically told, through narration and
archive footage, with no innovative tricks at all. However, the tone is
coloured by a sense of black humour, which functions well with the subject at
hand. I mean, with a man like Putin, should one shiver in fear or laugh
derisively? I prefer the latter, and wouldn't mind if ‘Poutine pour toujours?'
had even more sarcasm and satire.
Bechdel test: fail
3 terms of 6
DocumentaryPosted by Martin 2015-02-06 20:23:55
Reactionrecreation by Anders
Østergaard, Erzsébet Rácz, Denmark 2014
When the young accountant Miklós Németh unexpectedly gets elected prime minister of Hungary in 1988, few knew what consequences that would have for Hungary, the Eastern block and, indeed, the world. Through overdubbing, re-enactments and archive footage, the story of how the Iron Curtain fell is told.
The late 80’s and early 90’s was a period of turmoil and changes in Europe, and though I was young, I can relate. We (as in my generation and older) are all fairly knowledgable on the events in East Germany leading to the fall of the wall, and the Glasnost and Perestrojka initiative of Michail Gorbachev, but I, for one, was a bit fuzzy on the importance Hungary played, and especially their approach to the border to their long-last ally Austria. Through the innovative use of overdubbing archive footage, sometimes with voice actors, sometimes with the actual people portrayed, there’s a fresh take on documentary story-telling, and I like; the obviously bad lip-synch is noteble for about a minute, after which you don’t really give it a second thought. Probably, like all documentaries, it’s a bit lopsided, but it seems that it just might be the death of one man, an East German who tried using the Hungarian-Austrian border to flee the eastern block, who tilted the political leanings which led to the confusion that later allowed the Berlin wall to fall. Possibly.
Bechdel test: Fail
5 advisors of 6
DocumentaryPosted by Martin 2015-01-31 01:51:11
Sceptimentary by Robert
Kenner, USA 2014
Sceptics have always
existed, which is necessary to question what is being held up as truth in all
sorts of fields. However, deniers have also always existed, and their mission
is not to question, as much as vehemently stick to their preconceived versions
of truth, often in spite of overwhelming evidence. As politics and money enter
the equation, making people denying inconvenient truths is sometimes needed,
and spreading misinformation and doubt is an effective tool, having been
utilized in the tobacco industry and transgressed into the climate change
denial we see today.
Starting off by setting
the mood with a wee bit on a card magician informs us that slight of hand is
important in card tricks*, but misdirection and making people focus on the
wrong things are more important for the outcome. The same tactics are being
used by tobacco lobbyists and advocates for climate change denial; the
difference being that the magician and the audience are honest about the fact
that it's all deceit. After some of the most visually pleasing opening credits,
the lies and half-truths being used by those denying proper science are exposed
in an interesting and unforgiving manner.
I suspect that I
enjoyed this film a teeny weeny bit more because it confirms my already held
beliefs. This is of course ironic, in an Alanis Morissettean way, seeing that
much of the misinformation regarding climate change comes from conservative
American media, such as Fox news, who use the very same tactics to cater to
their demographic. Nevertheless, 'Merchants of doubt' is a thought-provoking
and entertaining documentary, and a wake-up call at that.
Bechdel test: Fail
5 cards of 6
DocumentaryPosted by Martin 2015-01-26 23:33:51
by Diana Whitten, The Netherlands 2014
In 2001, a Dutch doctor
volunteering for Greenpeace discovered the horrific figures of women
endangering their lives due to illegal abortions worldwide. As a solution, she
decides to offer legal abortions on her organization’s ship, on international
water, 12 nautical miles offshore from countries where abortion still is
illegal. Their efforts are constantly hindered by uncooperative governments and
picketers, and as such, they expand their mission to include information,
campaigns and education.
Rebecca Gomperts, the
founder of http://www.womenonwaves.org/
is a strong, dedicated woman, and her on screen personality is equally strong.
The subject of the documentary is, at least to this viewer, one of the more
poignant example of how religion causes unnecessary pain and suffering in a
question which has one very clear answer, an answer that much of the world have
failed to grasp. And as such it’s easy to side with the director and her
subjects, making for a gripping and highly interesting film. It shows that
hands-on efforts and, to an even higher degree, information and education really can make a difference for the hundreds of thousands who are shunned by
society or suffering pain or death due to illegal abortions every year.
Bechdel test: Pass
5 ports of 6
DocumentaryPosted by Martin 2015-01-24 02:56:30
Meatumentary by Franck Ribière, France
The way by which
we eat beef has changed throughout history, and the 20:th century saw a shift
towards leaner, and thereby less flavoury meat, where quality has needed to budge
in favour of quantity. Perhaps the pendulum is beginning to swing back, and Franck Ribière travels
the globe in search of the world’s best steak.
Whether the shaky camera and the
crappy and sometimes unsynced sound are deliberate to give that ‘documentary’
feeling or just a result of budget priorities I leave unsaid. However, soon enough one is pulled into the world of
enthusiastic breeders and butchers worldwide, who strive towards a future in
which cattle care not only produces tasty meat, but also one in which the
environment and small businesses thrive. Personally, as I just returned home
from Argentina, I hold the belief that the free-range, grassfed cows of the
Pampas (many hundred green miles) give the tastiest meat evah, but Ribière’s
journey shows that dedication and craftsmanship can conjure excellent meat in,
for instance, Japan, Sweden and Scotland. Some of the people we get to meet
are more colourful than others, yet it’s interesting the whole time. I now feel
that I want to, and should, raise the bar on the quality of beef I indulge in
from now on, and perchance learn a thing or two about cutting and marbling. But
first and foremost I got a big craving for a nice steak, and so had my Google
Maps out as soon as the credits had rolled, in search of a nearby steak house.
Do not watch this film on an empty stomach!
Bechdel test: Fail
4 tummies of 6