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Raxivace
Sep 9, 2014



So I watched that new HBO doc Terror at the Mall today, about this event: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westgate_shopping_mall_attack. Honestly it's one of the most terrifying things I've seen in a while, and certainly one of the most violent- the filmmakers aren't shy about showing the many corpses left behind in the wake of the violence, and at one point we even witness the murder of a man futilely trying to hide from terrorists underneath the statue of an elephant.

The film keeps the focus on the events as they unfolded at the mall (With occasional interview clips) mostly through footage recorded from security cameras, and I'm not sure if that's for better or worse. It surely paints terrorism as the loving horrifying and chaotic, violent thing that it is, but I wonder if perhaps a little more of the history of how Kenya, Somalia, and the Islamist group al-Shabaab all relate would have helped contextualize the event. Honestly as it is, I questioned why I was even watching something this brutal after a while.

Anyone else see this doc yet? Am I completely off-base here?

Raxivace fucked around with this message at 04:29 on Sep 19, 2014

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Raxivace
Sep 9, 2014



What I don't quite understand is the change of heart the terrorists got after a while. Like they say in the doc, how do you go from murdering children to making "baby faces" at them? Or giving them candy? Was it some kind of guilt after the adrenaline started to wear off, or what?

Raxivace
Sep 9, 2014



Stare-Out posted:

Just saw Dinosaur 13 and thought it was really good. As someone who doesn't know much about Sue or the story surrounding it, it certainly had an impact. Pretty impressive how it made me feel bad for a creature that's been dead for 65-odd million years.

Oh snap, there's a doc about Sue? I loved seeing her at the Children's Museum as a kid in Indianapolis!

Definitely checking this doc out.

EDIT: Blah, Googling around shows what I saw as a kid was only a full-scale replica. Oh well, still definitely watching this doc.

Raxivace fucked around with this message at 15:51 on Jan 20, 2015

Raxivace
Sep 9, 2014



Cocoa Ninja posted:

Just to reiterate because I'm sure it's been mentioned in this thread already -- watch The Thin Blue Line on Netflix instant if you haven't.

I think I'd put it off for so long because I was aware of the whole case, the result and Morris' techniques. But it was even better than I'd hoped.

The Philip Glass score and repetitive recreation (with slight variation) of the scene of the crime is a home-run decision that perfectly melds form and message of eyewitness unreliability. Even KNOWING it was coming the final scene remains a gut-punch. Just excellent.

A nice post-script that I didn't know until looking it up – this movie wasn't in competition for best doc oscar because of the dramatizations (none of which have dialogue!). Which is a fascinating commentary on what we expect from our docs, which is presumably a parade of interviews and photos. And is especially hilarious given the shredding of evidentiary techniques that the movie presents.

Just in case you're not aware, Criterion is releasing the film on Blu-Ray toward the end of March. Should be pretty cool.

Raxivace
Sep 9, 2014



UltimoDragonQuest posted:

Terror At The Mall is very well made but unpleasant to watch. 4 terrorists shot up a Kenyan mall and most of the attack was caught on video. It's about 80% security camera footage with voice overs from the survivors shown on tape.

We talked about it a few months ago here. It might be the single scariest film I've ever seen, to be honest.

Raxivace
Sep 9, 2014



The worst part of it is that it took like 9 shots to actually kill the poor man.

Raxivace
Sep 9, 2014



spankmeister posted:

Yeah I enjoyed watching it but agree with your criticism. The actual dig stuff was okay because if nothing else it sort of confirmed the myth.

The whole "myth" aspect of it confuses me, because as far I knew it was an agreed upon fact that Atari buried a bunch of crap until people went and actually dug all of it up. Suddenly it was an "urban myth" that was "finally confirmed" etc.

Raxivace
Sep 9, 2014



Lurdiak posted:

My issue with it is that I've never heard it referred to as a myth before the marketing for this doc came up. Everyone who grew up in those days knew it had actually happened and there wasn't any reason to doubt that a company buried a bunch of worthless plastic in a landfill somewhere.

Exactly what I was saying. I seem to remember some video game documentary a decade or so ago (With Tony Hawk of all people hosting it!) talking about this.

Raxivace
Sep 9, 2014



mr.capps posted:

This is the age of the internet. Just like how Slenderman can become an urban legend despite it being invented on this site for everyone to see, a landfill full of video games can become an urban legend despite it being a thing that was actually reported on in the 80s. Any fact and fiction can become a "fact or fiction"

"When the legend becomes fact, print the legend" I guess. Or something like that.

Raxivace
Sep 9, 2014



Crisco Kid posted:

The tagline is "A former sheriff will stop at nothing to confront the SWAT team he founded," and that's exactly what he does.

Sounds like the tagline to a great action movie.

Really though, can't wait to check the doc out.

Raxivace
Sep 9, 2014



Lady Naga posted:

So I've seen The Sweatbox and Waking Sleeping Beauty, are there any other good animation history documentaries? Particularly ones that aren't too self-congratulatory.

While it is on the congratulatory side, I found Walt & El Grupo to be enjoyable.

Raxivace
Sep 9, 2014



Berlin: Symphony of a Great City and The Man With a Movie Camera are both fantastic and cinephiles should watch them, but I've always felt their inclusion among the documentary genre to feel a bit forced. They're closer to experimental films (If we can call that a "genre") IMO.

Raxivace fucked around with this message at 18:54 on May 30, 2015

Raxivace
Sep 9, 2014



Kull the Conqueror posted:

Explain the difference satisfactorily and I'll buy you a beer.

I'm still sort of working out how I feel about it, so I'm not sure I can explain how I feel to you satisfactorily to gain that elusive beer.

I guess the best way I could put it is that if you were to describe something like The Man With a Movie Camera to someone that had never heard of the film before, just calling it a documentary and than plopping it into the DVD player would be a bit misleading (Or at least, this is how I felt when this happened to me exactly). The film has such a focus on formalism that we just don't see in documentaries usually, to the point where we have footage of someone editing it together onscreen. Modern documentaries seem more about directly delivering content in an almost journalistic way. In comparison the city symphonies feel like visual poetry, where the focus is more about how they're speaking to audiences through experimental practices like extreme montage, and less about giving insight into what life was like in 1920's Russia or Berlin or whatever.

Raxivace fucked around with this message at 21:56 on May 30, 2015

Raxivace
Sep 9, 2014



Interesting post, Kull.

We both agree the Vertov film is revolutionary, but it seems we have a slightly different conception as to why! That's what makes art discussion fun!

Kull the Conqueror posted:

Everything you're saying is accurate, but doesn't it seem kind of weird to identify a movement starting from the present and then going backwards?
Sure, I have reservations about how I am defining genre. That's why I'm trying not speak authoritatively on the subject here.

quote:

It's pretty much just the notion that they're somehow negotiating with 'the real' in some form or fashion. Hell, Bill Nichols, one of the bigtime documentary scholars, doesn't even disinclude classical Hollywood fiction in his typology of documentary styles; they're still showing us something that happened, but the cultural paradigm is that we have to accept it as fantasy and performance rather than people acting insane
This quote here seems to be the heart of your post.

I guess my first question would be about what exactly you mean by "negotiating with 'the real'". I'm not directly familiar with Nichols off of the top of my head, but you mention his argument about not disincluding classical Hollywood fiction in documentary styles. Do you accept his argument, and if so to what extent? Does it merely include biographical films, like Ford's Young Mr. Lincoln? Is it extended to neorealist works that attempted to touch on "real" issues and living conditions through fictional narratives like Bicycle Thieves or that HBO show The Wire? Or what about one of the predecessors to the documentary's development, like Nanook of the North? In other words, how real is 'the real'?

If I'm understanding the argument right (And correct me if I'm not), it just seems like an awfully broad way to categorize films into a genre. Maybe it should be broad though, or perhaps redefined in a way. I kind of like the label "nonfiction" better than "documentary".

Cocoa Ninja posted:

Kull -- I was going to feel smart and make this point but then you hit on it: the history of documentary is very tied up in the history of propaganda as well.

I'm with Herzog that ultimately documentary is at its best when it takes the power of what we consider traditional fiction techniques to impart feeling, conflict and catharsis, rather than presuming DOCUMENTARY as a moving picture version of a NY Times editorial exposé.

I think most people approach fiction as something that should move them emotionally, whereas they believe good documentary should convince them intellectually without "resorting" to emotions. And yet it seems clear that, for the top works in both genres, the distinction is moot — the best documentaries leave you aware of deeper truths of the human experience, whether true as a piece of reportage or not, and the most outstanding fiction performances are convincing because they reflect our own understanding of the human experience.

We could say genre is almost always a reductive description unless we use it to easily communicate how a particular work challenges those same boundaries.

This is a good post. I really dig what Herzog has been doing with documentaries for the last decade or so, but I tend to still think even his films are kind of journalistic. Just more in the "Op Ed" sense and less of the "Serious front page story with hard reporting" sense.

Raxivace fucked around with this message at 20:28 on Jun 1, 2015

Raxivace
Sep 9, 2014



So someone a few weeks or months ago here was asking about decent documentaries on animation history. PBS just aired a two part look at Walt Disney a few days ago as a part of their American Experience series, totaling at about four hours in length. I just watched the first part and I've found it to be a pretty even-handed look at the man, showing both his accomplishments and his follies as a person.

Raxivace
Sep 9, 2014



The Paradise Lost trilogy goes really well with the slightly more detached view in West of Memphis. The first movie of the trilogy in particular is one of my favorite docs, and I think it raises some interesting questions about how involved a filmmaker can or should be in making a movie once they become involved with a story like this, even if it is in a relatively minor way.

Also I'll never look at Bojangles restaurants in the same way again.

Raxivace fucked around with this message at 13:07 on Sep 22, 2015

Raxivace
Sep 9, 2014



While I think that same dude might have done it (Terry Hobbs seems more likely to me), part of me also wonders if I'm just falling victim to the same mentality that caused the West Memphis Three to be accused in the first place. Is being convinced because of a movie or two really enough reason to think somebody murdered three children?

Raxivace fucked around with this message at 16:57 on Sep 22, 2015

Raxivace
Sep 9, 2014



No one knows who the Bojangles guy is, though apparently he was black according to witness descriptions.

Hobbs is the one that Paradise Lost 3 points to, as well as West of Memphis. His hair was found on one of the dead kid's bodies. He tried to sue a singer or something too, and generally had problems with spousal abuse.

http://wm3.wikia.com/wiki/Terry_Hobbs

FWIW the Byers dad thinks Hobbs is guilty too.

Raxivace
Sep 9, 2014



Yesterday I caught Living With Lincoln, a doc that HBO put out last year that kind of got lost in the hype around The Jinx and Going Clear.

It's pretty neat- it follows five generations of a family that got obsessed with being into Lincoln memorabilia and eventually Lincoln biographers, starting with a Union soldier that personally met the Lincoln after a battle in the American Civil War, and focusing mainly on Dorothy Kunhardt and the hosed up life she lead while trying to do both Lincoln research and also writing children's books. While there are some cool tidbits about the former President here, in the movie it serves more as a kind of a parallel to the main topic- the biographer family itself, and the joy and toll their interest took on them. Some of them are even eventually killed by it- on the other hand, their obsession also made some invaluable contributions to history.

It's like 70 minutes long so it's pretty brisk, but if this topic at all sounds interesting to you I highly recommend it.

Raxivace
Sep 9, 2014



Just watched the avant-garde doc/essay film Heart of a Dog from HBO and Laurie Anderson. Still kind of processing it so I'm not sure what to make of it, though generally I think I liked it.

Anyone else see it?

Raxivace
Sep 9, 2014



Kull the Conqueror posted:

I did. Did you catch it in theaters? The soundscape was the best part. After watching that movie all I could think was "Dang, maybe I should become a Buddhist."
Nah I watched it on my iPhone at like 4 AM because I couldn't get to sleep, which was an interesting experience in its own right. I ended up crying myself to sleep by the end of it, though that may been because my own dog only passed away last September, and the hospital stuff at the end paralleled some of my own life experiences with my brother pretty hard, though not quite exactly the same.

It was oddly effective how Anderson moved between topics, I thought. 9/11 starts out as just a contextualizing line about when her life with her dog is happening, but then it sort of dominates the movie for a few minutes and continually keeps getting revisited. The Buddhism thing kind of happened the same way, and formed this sort of nice contrast with "spiritual" and more internal attempts at understanding people vs. the American government's reliance on nearly omniscient capturing of data.

When Laurie decided not to just euthanize her dying dog was when I knew I could never really be on board with Buddhism as a philosophy (Or at least her brand), though that's just me. I also don't quite know to describe her mix of recreated footage, home movies, and well just avant-garde imagery I guess but I found that super effective too. Even just on my headphones the sounds were cool, almost kind of unsettling at times in a David Lynch sort of way.

Anyways props to HBO for helping put something like this out there, and props to Laurie Anderson for making this (Also RIP Lou Reed. I didn't expect him to be her husband... I wonder if his influence as her husband had anything to do with how the movie sounded. I only have a little bit of experience with the Velvet Underground but it still makes me wonder).

EDIT: Grammar.

Raxivace fucked around with this message at 07:41 on Apr 30, 2016

Raxivace
Sep 9, 2014



The Smash Brothers was pretty fun I thought, though I already knew who a lot of the subjects from that were from when I paid a little attention to competitive Smash Bros. back in the day.

Raxivace
Sep 9, 2014



Unsolved Mysteries is still good. :colbert:

Raxivace
Sep 9, 2014



So I did a double feature of Citizenfour and Herzog's new Lo and Behold and now I can't decide if the internet is going to destroy us or save us.

Hell it will probably be something else entirely.

Raxivace
Sep 9, 2014



It's not quite what you're asking for, but Herzog did a good one called La Soufriere but that's about a volcano that didn't end up erupting.

Raxivace
Sep 9, 2014



Popelmon posted:

Yeah it was good and really beautiful. I even liked the long North Korea tangent he went on.
I was a bit surprised that this movie was already available to watch. When you said "tangent", I figured you just meant that Herzog started talking about North Korea for a little while, similar to how he started going on about black magic or whatever in Encounters at the End of the World.

No no, it turns out Herzog straight up went to North Korea and filmed there. :stare:

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Raxivace
Sep 9, 2014



ruddiger posted:

At home in Chicago this Christmas, and Hoop Dreams was on cable today.

It's amazing how little we've progressed in our attitudes as a country for the past 20 years. Still as powerful today as the day it was released.
Unfortunately, it's one of those movies that will remain relevant for the rest of our lives. Reminds me a lot of Do the Right Thing.

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