Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Best Of Enemies

Documenting the 1968 political conventions and the televised debates between conservative William F. Buckley and liberal Gore Vidal, Best Of Enemies illuminates the fact that even after almost 50 years, very little in politics has changed. Dry, cerebral, and academic, this riveting documentary contains amazing images of the unrest in America at the time, and the income disparity, racism, riots, and wars both real and cultural of 1968 seems incredibly timely. Unfortunately, the witty and caustic verbal sparring between two gifted debaters simultaneously shows exactly how far discourse in the media has deteriorated and how low those engaged in discussion of some of the most pressing problems in America can sink.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Paranormal Cases

Various tales of eerie stuff occurring in Asia is examined in this speculative paranormal documentary. Consisting of several vignettes of occult rituals, punctuated by awkward interviews, Paranormal Cases is a lurid, grisly documentary. A practitioner of 'menstruation witchcraft' bites the head off a chicken, and mixes its blood with something suspiciously known as 'corpse oil', then the two hosts of the film travel to Corpse Island, scattered with broken dishes, human bones, and open air burials. In the vignette entitled Spirit/Hooking Witchcraft, someone uses a phone app to detect EMFs, and to sense a spirit under a rock, and in the inexplicable and somewhat risqué vignette entitled Romance Witchcraft, prostitutes try to keep their clients returning for business by inserting a tiny metallic ailment under their skin. The hosts briefly visit a shrine for a headless ghost, the Fukushima Reactor, the infamous Suicide Forest, and conduct a Ouija board session trying to locate resentful spirits with grudges. Featuring bad camerawork, bad editing, and corny music, Paranormal Cases is strictly for the die hard paranormal enthusiast who's seen just about everything else.

Sorry, no trailer.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Alien Origins: UFOs On The Moon

The Hollow Moon Theory is is examined in this speculative paranormal documentary. Alien Origins: UFOs On The Moon preposes the pseudo-scientific theory that the moon is hollow, older than the Earth, filled with metallic alien constructs, piloted by reptiles, and placed in Earth's orbit roughly 13,000 years ago. Featuring scenes of Egypt, Stonehenge, and other ancient sites, photos of moon craters, and CGI flying saucers, Alien Origins: UFOs On The Moon is strictly for those looking for a hearty laugh.

Sorry, no trailer.

The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young

The ultra-select, elite running event is examined in this documentary. Featuring five 20-mile loops through mountainous, treacherous Tennessee back country, 120,000-foot elevation all told if the runner manages to finish, through briars, streams, and through a tunnel beneath a penitentiary, the course is impossibly difficult. Some years, no one finishes this comically grueling trail run. To prove they've reached certain spots, runners must pull pages corresponding to their bib number from hidden books in areas known as the Pillars Of Doom and The Testicle Spectacle. Limited to 35 runners who must write an essay to be considered, the competitors drag themselves up and down mountains, often completely lacerated from thorns and covered in blisters. The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young is a fascinating, humorous look at the limits of human endurance.


The psychological Milgram experiments are examined in this docudrama. How far will people go to inflict torture? Apparently, defiance is the anomaly, as nearly all the participants in the infamous study reluctantly continued to apply torture to an unseen victim because they were politely asked to. Breaking down the 4th wall and literally ignoring the elephant in the room, Experimenter is a well-shot and acted film that asks some tough questions on obedience, conformity, and fascism. In a nod to the period, obvious sets and rear projections give a vintage look and an avant-garde feel to the story of Stanley Milgram and his life's work, while shedding light on some chilling aspects of the human condition and the Banality Of Evil.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Finding Vivian Maier

The enigmatic street photographer is examined in this documentary, written and directed by the discoverer of her posthumous photographic legacy. After purchasing a box of negatives at a Chicago auction house, John Maloof scanned the images and posted them on the internet, causing a sensation. Knowing little about the photographer, he investigated further, and found she was a reclusive nanny who casually photographed life on Chicago's city streets. Purchasing almost every piece of film associated with her, he ultimately gathered nearly 100,000 negatives, and hundreds of undeveloped film canisters. Initially being rejected by the established art world, including a rejection from MoMA, her photographs are now displayed in museums and galleries to sold-out crowds around the world.

Featuring Maier's belongings laid out in pleasingly aesthetic displays of hats, shoes, costume jewelry, and unwashed checks, entertaining interviews with former employers and children under her care who reminisced about her, often contradicting one another, and gorgeous, intimate, and often slyly humorous photographs, Finding Vivian Maier is a bittersweet look at a master photographer who went unappreciated during her lifetime. A hermit-like hoarder who invented fake names and fake accents to distance herself from the outside world, Finding Vivian Maier attempts to illuminate a mysterious, complex individual, and succeeds as well as it can, in spite of the obstacles constructed throughout Maier's lifetime by her own camera-clutching hand.