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Entries Tagged 'Documentary' ↓

Capitalism: A Love Story

It’s difficult to review a Michael Moore movie because it’s hard to separate the film from the message.  Most people who write a review on his movies end up dissecting what they agree or disagree with what he’s trying to say.  But that’s not what a movie reviewer should do.  What we should do is judge the movie based on how well it was executed as a piece of cinema, as a documentary.  That’s what I plan on doing.  It is interesting to me that one of the harshest criticisms of Moore is that his movies are biased.  Well, of course they are…they’re documentaries.  ALL documentaries are biased.  They all start with a thesis or a opinion and then the movie sets out to prove it true.  In “Capitalism,” Moore’s thesis is that Capitalism is a corrupt and evil system that has replaced Democracy in our country and devastate many for the gains of a few.  I happen to agree with that, but as a reviewer I’ll refrain on diving into my thoughts and how they differ from his on the matter.  Moore is one of the best documentary filmmakers of all time.  His movies are refreshing, edgy, revolutionary, funny, heartbreaking but above all…entertaining.  He uses archival footage from How To films, propaganda movies, news reels and more to create this fast-moving, brightly colored world of examples of how things were (for the good or bad).  As in all his films, he has his sarcastic at times, somber at others and always monotonous voice to narrate us through it.  He does however cast himself as a more visible player in “Capitalism” than he has in past, such as “Fahrenheit 9/11.”  But it moves too slow and it’s too long.  At over 2 hours, it’s exhausting after a while trying to keep up on such a complex and confusing subject.  Most of us, including me and HIM, don’t understand the concepts of what made Wall Street collapse or why financial de-regulation happened or even what the hell a derivative is!!!!  So to try and cram all that into a movie is really a jagged pill to swallow.  But besides that aspect, it’s still very good.  Moore is great at telling stories; he lets things get really sad but then is sure to pick you up with something funny.  He makes sure you get angry over what he claims is wrongdoing, but then inspires you to do something about it.  In fact the last 15 minutes of the movie, which is nothing but a Call to Arms, will give anyone goosebumps on the arms and inspirational tears in the eyes, unless you’re rich.  The only problem is that I hope you’re brain isn’t fried by the time you get there.  I do have to say that it bothers me that most people who hate Michael Moore just because they’ve been told too by radio pundits, cable blowhards or politicians.  Most of these people have never and will never see one of his films.  I do firmly believe that if they did form an educated opinion about him by doing that, they’d change their tune once they find out that his movies are not only entertaining, but they’re made for us little people…well, and for him so he can make money too.
Capitalism: A Love Story
Gavin Grade: B

Tyson

Tyson (Rated R)
Gavin Grade: B+

It’s a widely accepted theory that Mike Tyson is one of two or three greatest boxers to ever live.  I remember being a kid and watching him fight on TV and thinking that he was unstoppable.  Of course as I and Tyson got older I found out that not only was he stoppable, but he stopped himself.  I became less and less of a fan of his.  But what this documentary, by director James Tobak, did was show exactly what it would be like if you were a trusted friend of Mike Tyson’s and he invited you into his home and told you his life story as honestly as he could.  I guess in a lot of ways, that’s what a true documentary is suppose to be.  But this movie doesn’t cover one man’s life really but covers one man talking about his life.  Tyson, who doesn’t stop talking through the entire film, doesn’t spare us any major milestone.  He talks about growing up in Brooklyn as a little criminal, his climb to fame, his scandalous marriage, his horrible money management, and even why he bit off Holyfield’s ear during a fight.  He talks about his rape conviction, to which he still insists that he’s innocent of and does a good job of convincing you of that.  Even though he was found guilty, it makes you wonder why a guy who’s being so honest that he would admit to his STDs he’s caught, would still lie about committing a crime he already served jailtime for.  What was one of the most insightful moments was watching him talk about his first coach, Cus D’Amato.  This is a man who saved him from the ghetto and a life of crime and was the only father he ever had.  Tyson breaks down and cries while talking about him and you get the feeling that you’re watching a rare sight of a dangerous wild animal be tender to its young.  You feel for Tyson at the same you feel uneasy around him.  The movie isn’t made for fans nor does it attempt to make you a fan.  It just is what it is…and so is Tyson.  It’s a portrait of a complex, scary, frightened and insecure man who shares in his own words every win and every loss…and what happened inside the ring as well.  It’s sad, tragic, scary and inspiring, which mirrors the man himself I feel after watching it.

Anvil! The Story of Anvil

Anvil! The Story of Anvil (Rated R)
Gavin Grade: A+

I am not a fan of Hair Metal.  Musically, I could care less about this band from the ’80s named Anvil.  In fact, I was only 4-years-old when they reached the brief height of success.  But now it’s 2009 and this Canadian band is STILL playing music and STILL trying to make it even though 30 years have gone by.  This movie is about that journey.  But as it turns out, it’s about much more than music.  The documentary is a better version (which is no easy task) of the 2000 documentary “American Movie” but it’s failed musicians this time and not failed movie makers.  It’s directed by Sacha Gervasi, who fought to get the movie made since he is and still has been a loyal Anvil fan all these years.  I would think that the urge to make this movie and throw yourself in front of the camera and become part of the story (a la Michael Moore) would be overwhelming, but Gervasi doesn’t do that.  In fact that is part of the reason why it’s such a charming film.  That type of subjective filmmaking would’ve made the core of the film seem less authentic and that is the human relationships that the two main characters have with each other and their families.  Lead Singer, “Lips” Kudlow and Drummer, Robb Reiner (not the Director/Actor) are more than bandmates, they’re lifelong friends that share a bond that most brothers don’t even have.  It honestly made me miss my best friend (who lives on the East Coast) even more than I already did.  Through the strength of their friendship and the impressive and moving love of their families the band is able to go on.  Because of that soulful impression they make on the audience, you find yourself routing for these guys even if you think their music is crap.  “Anvil” is one of those rare movies that is hilarious, heartbreaking and triumphrant but even more importantly…real.  It’s the perfect movie for anyone who’s still chasing the American Dream…which is ironic because they’re Canadian.

Earth

Earth (Rated G)
Gavin Grade: B-

This is the first film in what is going to be a series of eco-themed movies from a new studio called Disney: Nature.  The next one is called “Ocean” and it comes out next year on…you guessed it, Earth Day.  I wanted to see this movie since the first time I saw the moving trailer for it, but it was disappointing that the trailer was far better.  Disney teamed up with the BBC to make this film, but the BBC had basically already filmed most of it.  In fact, you may have already seen it on TV under the name “Planet Earth.”  Now, that shouldn’t take anything away from this considering that it’s one of the most beautifully shot pieces of film I’ve seen in maybe a decade.  The Time-Lapse photography is jaw-dropping in the way that it captures entire seasons as it shows everything from plants growing to entire landscapes changing.  The craft that went into the use of High-Speed cameras to capture the Slow Motion shots of such things as a cheetah hunting, are stunning and gorgeous!  But that leads me to the first problem, don’t let the “G Rating” fool you; this is not a film for the whole family.  An alternate title of this may by “Adorable Baby Animals Get Eaten for 90 Minutes.”  And since so much of the film follows families of animals, this makes parts of it really hard to watch with kids…or my 20-something year-old girlfriend for that matter.  The other flaw with it is that it’s kind of boring.  Yes there are thrilling sequences of narrow escapes (or almost-escapes), amazing scenery that you would never see if these directors didn’t show it to you and incredible stories of nature, but it doesn’t move very well.  James Earl Jones narrates it (of course) and at times he almost sounds bored.  However it is an important movie to see.  It doesn’t get preachy about global warming, pollution or over-crowding at all.  But it stands as a monument that this planet is punishing and rewarding; and that life is bigger and more connected than you can imagine.