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nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

There's a documentary I saw a few years ago called The Last Peasants. (And here's another article about it.) It concerns the people of a remote village in Romania, the old inhabitants clinging steadily to ancient, almost medieval ways, while the young strive and scheme to escape to somewhere, anywhere else.

While most coverage of the film focused on those who immigrated (or attempted to) and the bitter hard reality of being an illegal immigrant, what struck me was the life of the villagers. They resemble nothing so much as the Elbonians from Dilbert, wearing absurd headgear and farming a land that seemed to consist of nothing but mud. Except it wasn't comical but tragic: families labouring to eke food out of the soil, neighbourhood suspicions and feuds, a son being browbeaten into marrying a local girl so he can keep the farm going. I once met a Romanian and asked her about the area. She nodded sadly and just said, "They're animals out there."

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nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

Strangely enough, I just watched talhotblonde. It's a good documentary, but I agree there's a few parts of it that seem a bit "off":


- The narration by the dead victim. It's fine, even effective, up to the point when he starts saying what his regrets are or what he wants to tell people. To me, that crosses the line between a narrative device to just making things up.
- The doco does seem to be trying to stitch the mother up, while exercising strange restraint around marine sniper. Sure, she's unpleasant and disturbed , but the worst crimes she can be accused of are impersonation and knowledge of a possible crime. Perhaps it makes for a better story, but the demands for laws to "stop this sort of thing" are unexamined. What sort of law? To stop what?

nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

Bolek posted:

Actually most Vice documentaries are sensationalist, shrill, uninformed, hipster, American Borat bullshit. Their treatment of Liberia is an especially egregious example. Consult following links and embedded links within for less vitriolic explanation as to exactly why and for recommendation on far better and more edifying docs:

For sure. Vice stumbles upon some really interesting subjects for documentaries but seem to be unable to get over their drunken shithead schtick. There was an interesting one I watched recently on drinking and alcoholism in Uganda (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zL3UHF5SlEU‎), but the journalism was so weak. There were all these questions to ask and lines to follow, but instead we get to see another shot of the interviewer choking down moonshine and filming more drunk Ugandans.

So, for more and better content see Documentary.net (there's a plugin for XBMC) and , to pick one at random, "Anaheim, a tale of two cities": http://documentary.net/anaheim-a-tale-of-two-cities/ "Protests against police brutality were met with riot-clad gear police and rubber bullets, further fuelling violence and bringing national attention to the home of Disneyland ... it just looked like our happiest place on earth had just turned into Afghanistan"

nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

xcore posted:

Is the "Up" series of movies objectively good or are people just invested at this point?

Is there an alternative jump-in point or am I obliged to watch them from the beginning?

Only 3 weeks late, but:

The earlier ones are the best. For a variety of reasons - the participants become more guarded as the series go on, the big dramatic moments and changes in people's lives take place early on, some of the subjects have dropped out, there's not a lot of interesting comment to be made by now. By now, their lives are pretty much set in stone. Of course, maybe they'll surprise me by doing something different and unexpected - Neil, the mentally ill one, had a massive changes late in life. But I do see that coming from the other ones.

nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

penismightier posted:

I've always thought if this came out a few years later in the heat of that Spellbound/King of Kong era, it would've been a huge hit.

I saw this for the first time recently -a great documentary with great characters, but it looks like it was made in the 1980s, what with the washed-out and grainy video, tinny sound and low-tech credits. And the fashion-sense of the people they film.

While we're on classic documentaries, I just saw Grey Gardens. It's a remarkable piece but maybe difficult to recommend due to being arguably exploitative, little background or setup being given, and a bit disturbing: two slightly crazy and unhappy people tear into each and then reconcile for 90 minutes. It's exhausting.

nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

HUNDU THE BEAST GOD posted:

That's the great thing about Hands On A Hardbody. Once you leave the suburbs and big cities, you tend to forget there's places in your own country where time seems to have stopped in 1980 or so.
[quote]

True that.

[quote]
Grey Gardens does not commentate on its subjects, which is remarkable these days. Let the editing tell its lies and make up your own mind. If that's hard to recommend, Herzog, Theroux, Vice, etc are impossible to recommend.

Perhap, but I was actually getting at the point that GG just dumps you in the story ("little background or setup being given"). I watched it because I know it's Grey Gardens and I'm aware of the background, but someone would knew nothing of the picture might wonder who these people are and why we're watching this pathological and sad relationship. My partner and I had the same reaction - we thought GG was great but were hesitant to recommend it to anyone because it's hard to say why they should watch it.

But then again, I've read people describing the life of the Beales as "inspirational" and talking about "Grey Gardens style", so my own reaction may be astray.

nonathlon fucked around with this message at 19:56 on Jun 30, 2014

nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

HUNDU THE BEAST GOD posted:

Isn't that better sometimes? GG isn't trying to make a didactic point so it has no obligation to lay out the key players. It just thrusts you in and you're immersed in the world of these faded debutantes. I suppose if you'd watched Whatever Happened To Baby Jane right before, it wouldn't seem that jarring. But I really like when a documentary just drops you in and says "watch this for a while". It's like you found someone's home movies.

Perhaps. But it does make it difficult to recommend to someone. "What's it about?" Uh ...

Another classic documentary I saw recently was The Wonderful Horrible Life of Leni Reifenstahl. Arguably not without it's faults (it's old and shows it, nearly three hours long and the interviewer handles Reifenstahl with kid gloves), but it's a fascinating story: the ingenue Reifenstahl rising to become Nazi Germany's leading documentary maker, mixing with the powerful and famous, gettting flown to England to show them how to make propaganda. Then in her old age filming in the remotes of Africa and underwater.

There's a lot unsaid and skirted over, presumably due to Reifenstahl's cooperation. But she's an incredible person.

nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

Just finished watching Cropsey, thanks to recommendations from this thread. Good, solid documentary. If I had to make a complaint - and it would be a minor one - it would be that doco is structured as the story of making the documentary, which feels like a slightly worn device.

Currently ploughing my way through The Great War, the 1960s BBC series on WW1. Obviously it's a little old-fashioned (black and white, cut glass accents, men in suits talking to the camera) but it's an incredible bit of history. They could get so many first-hand accounts and the footage they have is incredible.

nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

Watched - or tried to watch - Leviathan, the recent acclaimed documentary about the sea.

It's incredibly numbing. Five minutes filming a murky indistinct sea in the dark, no idea what was happening. Then we stick a camera in a tank of dying fish and let them wash backwards and forth across the lens. Oh look, that fish is alive. Wait, not any more. Keep filming. Now lets focus on scraps of gutted fish rolling across the deck. Yup. Look at that dead fish. Yup.

I guess it succeeded in communicating the scope and alien nature of the sea, but it was just deadening. Has anyone watched this all the way through?

nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

Viginti posted:

People praise the movie as an example of ambiguity, of the fact that there are no facts, that you can never truly know the truth and it can operate as that, but I don't believe that was the intention for the film going in. It's hard to nail it down, but there's something very troubling about the way that the movie is made.

I wa going to disagree with you ... but after some thought I mostly agree. Capturing the Friedmans is enthralling because nothing makes sense and facts seem set against each other. But I think you're right in that the film-maker believes Jesse is innocent. And I'm inclined to agree with him: some of the allegations veer into the realm of fantasy. I'm not sure there's any way to objectively present such a story, or that the film would be better if it explicitly catered to objectivity.

In other doco news, I finished Leviathan. Amazing but not something that I would recommend or repeat.

nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

Just finished Korengal, which is basically the sequel to Restrepo: an army unit's tour of the Korengal valley in Afghanistan through studio interviews, field interviews, and footage in the field.

It's a good doc but largely a retread of the earlier film. Some material around the net suggests that it means to be more intimate with the soldiers experience and as a consequence is more bitter, but I think that came across in the first film fine. There's a few standout scenes, especially a firefight in which soldiers whoop and laugh, scored to raucous gaelic rock. So do you need to see both Restrepo and Korengal? Maybe not.

Just as an aside, if you've been living under a rock I'll point you towards The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst which is true crime in the "you could not make this up" territory.

nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

Mister Mind posted:

Here's a New Yorker article by Oliver Sacks about monologist Spalding Gray, his injury in an automobile accident, and his eventual suicide. If you can find it, you should definitely watch Swimming to Cambodia.

It's just a guy, sitting at a desk, telling a story about this time he had a small part in another film, and it's one of the most loving amazing movies I've ever seen.

Swimming to Cambodia is pretty good. Spaulding Gray is a racouteur, and I still remember from years ago another monologue of his where he gets a contractor to survey a house he has bought. The contractor returns and says, "Welp, it's not good. You see, what we have here is cancer of the house."

"Cancer of the house".

nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

Steve Yun posted:

Yeah I should probably eat those words. The thought just occurred to me as I was browsing weird documentaries on Netflix, but I guess now that I looked at them again a lot of them were around for a few years.

I mean, I like his work and I think he's semi-interesting but it was kinda weird that someone made a whole documentary about Dan Harmon.

A lot more niche documentaries are showing up because it's getting a lot easier to find them, when previously they used to show at a few film festivals and then disappear. Hell, I remember going to see a set of early Errol Morris documentaries at the cinema, because there was no way I was going to see them otherwise.

Is the Harmon dock any good? I mean, to non-fanatics?

nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

It's been recommended multiple times but I finally caught up with The WIld and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia. Engrossing, sympathetic to its subject without making them heroes and kinda heartbreaking in parts. It's on Youtube, so no excuse.

nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

DeimosRising posted:

Restrepo has a sequel, sort of, called Korengal.

I saw that a few months ago. I think that if you've seen Restrepo, you don't need to see Korengal, although the latter is maybe bleaker and more pessimistic about the war and fate of the combatants.

nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

SpitztheGreat posted:

I've not had a lot of experience with raging alcoholics, but she seemed to have it together enough to physically not drink while driving. I admit that I'm probably being naive, but if she was actually drinking while driving then it would strike me as a massive fall from grace. It's one thing to be an alcoholic, another to be an alcoholic that can effectively hide it from friends and family, and yet another thing to be an alcoholic that justifies physically drinking vodka while driving. Even if she was experiencing incredible pain it would have been a crazy admission for someone who, apparently, was devoted to being in control that they were stooping to drinking behind the wheel.

I've always thought that explanation was a little lacking too. Which is not to suggest conspiracy - her inebriation is clearly what caused the accident - but as you said, it seems something is missing from the timeline and motivation to have someone who seemed previously functional to suddenly become utterly drunk halfway through a trip and persist (and succeed) in dangerous driving for a few more hours, endangering their children. Maybe it's as simple as a mental condition or suicidal tendencies that the family hasn't spoken about.

nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

blood_dot_biz posted:

Yeah, that's been the first movie in a long time that gave me actual shivers as I was watching it. I had to stop it a few times and I considered not finishing it at all. I had a few night terrors as a kid extremely similar to some of the scenarios in the movie, and they got the recreations so, so accurate to what I remember. Though I've seen a lot of comments from people who have never had night terrors saying the recreations were more goofy to them than anything, so your mileage may vary I guess.

I had a pysch lecturer say that just about everyone had night terrors, only infrequently, maybe once a year. I certainly had them at about that frequency as a kid (mine tended to be about ants and snakes swarming over the bed) but when I put this observation to some friends, they vehemently denied ever having episodes. First year lecture anecdotal rubbish or truth? I dunno.

nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

Late to the party, but I've just watched Tickled: a super-strange and interesting story, made in a ham-fisted way. Too much of the documentary is "here's how the documentary was made" with an excess of illustrative shots (e.g. "We went to New York" followed by a montage of traffic in Manhattan) and awkward, stumbling interviewers. It could have been a much tighter and better 1 hour documentary.

Cartel Land by contrast was very well made, mixing characters with the wider story, even if it gave the feeling that the situation is hopeless.

nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

Something I stumbled across on Prime, which went in a direction I didn't expect:

Pornocracy (2016) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6503230/

* Perhaps unsurprisingly, the adult video business has been overturned in the last decade, with the online aggregators overthrowing established studios. A director at an adult expo in Berlin: "We used to come here to do business, now we come here to see old friends."
* One company, Mindgeek, has an effective monopoly over pornography globally with the subsequent workforce abuse and strongarming you'd expect.
* No one knows who really runs this company and it consists of a tangled series of holdings scattered across the globe, including empty offices that are never used.
* Choice quote: "They don't make money from porn. Their business isn't porn. Their business is moving large amounts of cash around the globe ..."

nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

bort posted:

It's interesting and I'm glad you pointed it out. I found it doesn’t really have a thesis and doesn’t get anyplace with uncovering its vast conspiracy theory. It has some good gets (Stoya, Pierre Woodman, Rocco Siffredi), but sorta gets lost in the “Hot Girls Wanted” angle in Hungary that has almost nothing to do with the Marwin/Mindgeek angle. The documentarian is horribly uncharismatic and glosses over her story so quickly that I had no sympathy for her angling for this story. If she cornered some big porn business guy, or found some partner he'd screwed royally along the way, or found incontrovertible evidence that made the businesspeople duck her over and over, it would have all hung together.

That said, it's fun to watch and I really enjoyed disliking it. So many docs are not enjoyable while they’re screwing up their film.

Porn is bad, it’s worse than you think and shaaadowy figures run those streaming sites! :iiam:

I'm a lot more positive about it, but it does have its foibles: moody shots of the narrator walking through airports, sinister desaturated pictures of large buildings, a subject and direction that's fairly vague (porn in the 2010s?) and wanders from topic to topic. Editing might have constructed a stronger story or 2 or 3 separate documentaries from the same material. But it's undoubtedly interesting and bizarre how such a dodgy business can operate in plain sight.

nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

A long time ago, I wrote about watching Pornocracy (which I liked, despite it feeling somewhat half-finished). Someone recommended Jon Ronson's The Butterfly Effect podcast, which covers a lot of the same issues. Thanks - interesting to get a different take. It's weird to see that the enigmatic company behind most of the world's porn, Mindgeek, is also behind the age verification scheme that the UK government is planning to introduce. As is: Mindgeek films the porn, markets the porn, pirates the porn and now is becoming the gatekeeper? The plot thickens.

On other matters, I'm getting tired of the usual crime documentary format: the moody music, sepia tones, the twists, the crew talking their way through a solution, the whole fly-on-the-wall see-how-we-made-this mode as beautifully satirized by American Vandal. I first noticed it in The Keepers, which didn't add up to much in the end except a whole lot of circumstantial evidence, finger-pointing and slice-of-life. Any recommendations about recent crime docos that don't do this?

nonathlon fucked around with this message at 09:37 on Mar 13, 2019

nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

Kojiro posted:

Was? She's still the front page headline for the Express most weeks, her or Princess Di. It's been going on since the poor kid went missing and it isn't going to stop any time soon.

It may have been the Express (or the Sun) that had Madeleine McCann on the front cover every day for over a year.

I don't know what happened to her, but the case is just full of strange behaviour and weird occurrences that point in all sorts of directions. Absent an actual body, it's not ever going to be solved.

What's the state of the Theranos documentary. Is it actually available?

nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

Syed is probably guilty. But there's a boatload of weird further and unexpected things going on in that case. Which makes you wonder how safe most prosecutions are.

nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

Perhaps from this thread, I heard out Looking For Mike which is on youtube:

In short, in 2002 the film-maker was working with a guy "Mike" who turned out to have grown up near the same small town. They become friends and then Mike suddenly dies of apparently natural causes. The mystery then starts:

* Mike was making preparations for his death beforehand
* And every bit of ID he had was fake

On one hand, it's polluted by a lot of the true crime cliches and styling. The length could have been halved had they cut out the fake drama and the film-maker getting emotional about the case. On the other hand, it's not very long anyway. Not a must-see but interesting:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLQp1c4Ql00

nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

MrBling posted:

Just want to say that the Apollo 11 documentary is extremely good. I watched the IMAX version and it really drove home how huge everything was.

I watched it on this huge dome screen in a planetarium where the seating is very steep, so an early shot panning down the rocket made it feel like I was going to tip out of chair.

Tragically, it's not showing on any big screens near me and so I ended up seeing it in a shoebox-size cinema. Still well worth seeing. Random thoughts:

* I liked that there's no narration or explicit forcing of a story here. The footage is allowed to talk for itself.

* It's wild how much footage they have and how good it is. Given the number of cameras you can see in shot, NASA must have blanketed the event with photographers.

* There's some music but it's effective and not overbearing. The credits note that it only uses instruments that were available at the time of Apollo 11. I think there was some direct inspiration from Public Service Broadcasting, especially during the "Go" sequence.

nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

InfiniteZero posted:

Hopefully one day Lazar comes clean because a documentary about how he made up a story in the 80s that went on to dominate most of his adult life would actually be interesting (much more interesting than the tired story itself).

The best we'll have until then is Mirage Men https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirage_Men which is pretty drat good.

nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

I finally watched the documentary about the rise and fall of Theranos, "The Inventor". It's good, very good. Some random thoughts:

* Elizabeth Holmes is weird. People are quick to read strangeness after the fact (you wonder how all those serial killers, dictators and embezzlers get away with things for so long if their dysfunction is so obvious) but Holmes has a strange slightly stopped walk, awkward arm movements and a series of slightly stiff facial expressions. Every time she's on camera, you're stuck by how strange she acts. She reminds me of Zuckerberg.
* While the Silicon Valley gets some examination, I think SV and startup culture gets off light. How did so many (male) investors and board members ask do few questions? How did Wahlgrens get conned into a shifting deal?
* Dan Ariely the pyschologist makes quite a few appearances, and makes astute observations about a slide into deception and lying to yourself
* I can't understand why there hasn't been a flood of civil law suits about fraudulent test results and unsafe work conditions.

nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

Groovelord Neato posted:

I've said it before but when Theranos was the hot thing I felt like I was on crazy pills because nobody in the media was pointing out how obviously fake Holmes's voice was.

It is drat weird, like a valley girl with a frog in her throat. If you heard her speak, you'd be transfixed by it.

I think it was something that everyone ignored ("geniuses, huh?") until the wheels came off Theranos. Then everyone commented on it, to the detriment of all the other things she did. Like, a weird voice is nothing compared to threatening employees, safety violations, fraud, the desperate aping of SV tropes, lying to investors ...

I know a few people doing startups and some of them do have this strange ultra-optimization to their lives: playing podcasts at +50% speed to save time, reading only book summaries, doing "hot" yoga to improve their thinking, scheduling every minute of their day.

nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

Combat Pretzel posted:

Uh, like the back of a book?

No, there's this whole universe of services that condense books for executives because they "have no time to read". Like 5 page summaries of the latest business tomes and how-to-disrupt best-sellers. I tried a free trial for some books, it was really helpful: I got the broad outline of where they were going and could decide if I did or didn't need to read them. For others, the condensed outlines were just nonsensical garbage and bald assertions. To be fair, maybe that just exposed the original texts.

nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

Waltzing Along posted:

Is The Inventor the Theranos movie you are talking about?

It is

nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

Fleetwood posted:

Curtis has been adding a ton of his work onto YouTube lately. I've been slowly making my way through The Century of Self and it's wild.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAWxZyfEPejhGJv8Z4wbKBw

Good catch. I was thinking about The Power of NIghtmares and how it's no longer a hypothesis or even surprising, it's the world we live in.

nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

Ages ago, someone recommended the IDFA website (which has loads of documentaries) and in particular Ukrainian Sheriffs. Caught up with it last week and it's fabulous.

The pitch is that somewhere in rural Ukraine, in the absence of any proper police two guys have been appointed as ad hoc town sheriffs. SO they rattle about in a decrepit Lada, settling domestic abuses, clearing up rubbish, talking the town drunk into cleaning up his act. Meanwhile, Russia is invading the Crimea ... bleak, but oddly heartwarming too, with some deadpan humour.

nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

Groovelord Neato posted:

Kinda wonder if they want to draw people in with the length because if you're aware of the case your first thought is going to be "how the gently caress did they drag this over four episodes?"

That was my first thought: it's a case that's pretty much as resolved as it could be. You try get a series out of it, that's thin gruel

nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

teacup posted:

This thread is long and old.

I’ve been binging some of the crash course history YouTube’s and also listening to the history of rome podcast. I love the serial format of them and was just wondering if there’s any decent history documentaries on p much anything older than the last 100-200 years that delve into a topic or society or civilisation. Preferably ancient history but either way.

I can see a ton of movies on Netflix for example but just who knows what is trash or good.

Fall of Civilisations and History Time on YouTube both do a lot of ancient history. Fall is the better produced one but HT has a lot of (to me) odd topics uncovered elsewhere

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nonathlon
Jul 9, 2004
And yet, somehow, now it's my fault ...

BiggerBoat posted:

I started a WM3 thread several years ago and am considering a new one. I'm very well versed in the case and have even had correspondence with some of those involved, including Byers.

If anyone's interested, I start one but not sure where to put it. Ask/Tell I guess?

Do it. It's an insane case that never stops developing new angles - but I'm not reading the armchair detectives and wine mom's on true crime boards to understand what's going on.

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