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The Documentary Thread


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Watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi yesterday.  I can't state how much I loved this movie.  The mans' pursuit of perfection is so engaging that I couldn't take my eyes off of it.  I respect the discipline that he has and it was good to see on the surface at least, that his sons didn't have an adverse reaction to his strictness.  Even though the movie doesn't really delve into his past(the most I think he really told us was that his father put him out of the house at age nine to fend for himself), I didn't even really think about that until after the movie was over.  Highly recommended.

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Great, now I want Chinese food. 



I guess "the Search for Orange Chicken" didn't have as much of a ring to it, because unless it's just a Southern California thing, that is the Chinese food dish that EVERYONE eats.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest The Magnificent 7

Another documentary:


Video Games: The Movie - Zach Braff produced this, the latest "history of video games" documentary.  I've been studying the history of video games for literally 30 years so the likelihood of me learning anything in these documentaries is really, really low.  I don't care.  I'm looking for good footage, nice insights and for the story to be well told.  This one...has some nice footage.  It's otherwise a big mess.  They jump all over the place with constant side track diversions into other stuff.  One second they're talking about early video games, the next they're going into a detailed explanation of pixels, color depths and so on.  Stupid.  Some nice interviews from industry folks - just ignore the typos on their job descriptions.  In the end, they leap all over the place, skip over the Sega Genesis entirely, and it all ends up a big disappointment.  But, hey, they did find an Odyssey commercial that once and for all dispels the notion that Magnavox implied in any way that the Odyssey only worked on Magnavox TVs.  4/10.


I watched this while wrapping presents last week.  It was really bad.  Felt like a puff piece by whatever the industry group is to promote all things video games, championing all good that they do. 


Plus it never seemed to end.  Every time I thought that was it, it would launch into talking about the glorious future and how video games will solve all the world's ills yet again. 


And yeah, it did gloss over a ton of stuff like the Genesis.  It was so Nintendo-centric stuck in my craw a bit.


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Funny - I was just coming to post about Video Games:The Movie.


Boy did I not like it. It was like that they knew only gamers would watch but then made a documentary for everyone who doesn't play video games.


My wife - who knows nothing about video games except Mass Effect and maybe the titles of the games I am playing - goes "Wait - I feel like they just skipped over a whole generation of consoles"

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I'm on episode 4 of The Staircase. Which I freely admit to having tracked down because it was mentioned in passing on the Serial podcast once.


An interesting story, but the guy is clearly as guilty as sin. There's not really a mystery there, but it's a interesting look at the justice system...for the rich, anyway. By episode 4, the lawyers are in a fascinating position: They seem to know the guy is guilty after the story about the friend in Germany who died in suspiciously similar circumstances to his wife comes out, but they still have to rally behind him.


It's weird: I kind of look down on them for that, but it is their job and they can get in legal trouble if they don't give him the best defense possible. It must be awful to be a lawyer for James Holmes or Ted Bundy or someone else where you know the guy is 100% guilty but have to defend him anyway.

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I'm sure there are totally amoral ones...but, come on, for all the jokes, lawyers are people like everyone else. I doubt most are OK with defending obviously evil and guilty people.


I remember a post-conviction interview with Jerry Sandusky's lawyer. He did come off as a sleazebag at points, but it was hilarious when the reporters were asking him about his plans to get his client out of jail and you could just tell, he did not give a shit and probably agreed with the decision.


Like I said, legally, Peterson's lawyers have to give him a good defense. You can be disbarred if they think you're phoning it in.

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A bunch of documentaries from my Christmas vacation:


The Short Game - a Netflix-produced documentary, this covers about a dozen youth golfers as they seek out world championships.  They're competing in the 7 & 8 year old categories.  This is actually really well done and the kids come across a lot more likeable than you might expect, the parents a lot less so.  You'll be right there with the kids, pulling for them, bummed out by their failures.  This is a well-done documentary and quite engrossing.  8/10.
King of Arcades - Richie Knucklez is a classic arcade game enthusiast.  He collects machines and painstakingly restores them to glory.  He decided to turn that into a business and opened an arcade.  The arcade is really successful initially before falling on hard times.  This documentary is the story of that rise and fall.  Along the way, there's interviews with some key players in the industry - Eugene Jarvis, Nolan Bushnell, and others.  If you enjoyed King of Kong, you'll like this.  7/10.
Informant - Brandon Darby is a/was a radical activist bent on the overthrow of the US government.  Only he sees some things he doesn't like and ends up turning FBI informant.  This documentary covers that flip flop, talking to Darby and lots of his former compatriots.  It seeks to explain his motivations for turning while also exploring the feelings of betrayal many of his former friends are having.  In the end, it does a little of both but never really makes anything clear.  Darby isn't particularly likeable, his former friends aren't much better, and this just isn't very good.  4/10.
Out of the Clear Blue Sky - Cantor Fitzgerald is a bond trading company.  In 2001, their US headquarters were at the top of the World Trade Center.  On September 11, 658 of Cantor's 960 employees reported for work.  All 658 died.  This documentary is the story of the company, the aftermath, and the utter devastation suffered.  It's a searing, heartbreaking, gut-wrenching movie.  Tough to watch, yet utterly enthralling.  You'll be right there with the CEO as he cries about the families and employees lost.  You'll be right there with the families as they become angry over a payroll decision.  You'll be livid at the callousness of Cantor's competitors.  But mostly you'll be glued to the screen for this powerful story.  This one was really, really good.  9/10.
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It makes more sense for me to put this here than the Oscar threads.


Here are the 15 documentaries shortlisted for the 2015 Academy Awards (the 5 nominees will come from these 15)



Art and Craft (Purple Parrot Films)

The Case against 8 (Day in Court)
Citizen Koch (Elsewhere Films)
CitizenFour (Praxis Films)
Finding Vivian Maier (Ravine Pictures)
The Internet's Own Boy (Luminant Media)
Jodorowsky's Dune (City Film)
Keep On Keepin' On (Absolute Clay Productions)
The Kill Team (f/8 filmworks)
Last Days in Vietnam (Moxie Firecracker Films)
Life Itself (Kartemquin Films and Film Rites)
The Overnighters (Mile End Films West)
The Salt of the Earth (Decia Films)
Tales of the Grim Sleeper (Lafayette Film)
Virunga (Grain Media)



As per usual - I am not going to even try to understand the rules for what can and can not be nominated.

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I am bored so here (some of these we have already discussed but who cares)




















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I've seen Citizenfour, Life Itself and Kill Team (which I loved, but I saw it back in like the spring of 2013, so for it to be up for consideration now is a pleasant surprise).  Certainly a lot of the other titles on there are familiar though.

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Pulling from the Oscar thread - the Nominees this year are


Best Documentary Feature
“Finding Vivian Maier”
"Last Days in Vietnam"
“The Salt in the Earth”
I am fucking stunned Life Itself isn't nominated as I know most places considered that or CitizenFour to be the favorite.
The only thing I can think of is that there are a lot of people who didn't like Roger Ebert and this was there way of getting back at him.
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