Tag Archives: documentary

Werner Herzog is Everywhere

Herzog as drawn on the Boondocks

The only way Herzog was going to be animated.

Some months ago, a friend sent me a book, Herzog on Herzog. It’s a fine book, Herzog is an interesting man with many interesting stories and thought processes. Having not heard much of him before receiving the book, I did a bit of research. I personally sought out a few of his films (less remarkable than the man, sadly), watched him eat his own shoe and get shot during an interview. And I thought that was that.

But no. Herzog is too persistent. There has definitely been a marked increase in allusions to Herzog’s work (especially Fitzcarraldo and the ship over the mountain story), and strong possibilities of references in a webcomic (gasp). More convincingly, I was referred to this short film about the environment, strongly narrated by Herzog. And now, the season premiere of The Boondocks’s third season is portrayed as a Herzog documentary, featuring the man himself.

So I’m just observing that there’s a Herzog resurgence, which is good, because he’s interesting. He is single-minded in an endearing way and, while his life is a bit of a museum piece for me, I think it’s all very charming.

On authority; documentaries

Between the last post and this one, I realized why I disdain my blog. Personally, I generally only happen upon blogs that are

  1. Not blogs at all.
  2. Webcomic-driven
  3. Authorities on a subject

Because this blog is 1) most certainly a blog, 2) presently lacking in humour and artistic skill and 3) written by someone who has no delusions of claims to authority, I realized that I probably wouldn’t find much merit in my own blog. That said, I’m going to strive to produce information on what I know/do best. At the end of winter break, I can comfortably say that my command over media (motion pictures and the like), is about as authoritative as I can afford to make it.

So now, without further ado, a brief review of some highly excellent and engaging documentaries. (with imdb links and ratings)

  1. Checkpoint (2003) – 8.1 – A must-watch documentary. No narration, just footage of the interactions between Palestinians and Israeli border police. There is very little violence, no deaths or serious injury, just a very sharp and clear image of a dynamic not seen anywhere else in the world. It humanizes not just the Palestinian plight, but also the Israeli soldiers, many of them younger than I.
  2. White Light, Black Rain (2007) – 8.4 – The film gives a very balanced and human-centered view of the 1945 Hiroshima/Nagasaki nuclear bombings. It steers clear of making too many assertions about modern-day implications, which makes it a very independent source, and it’s about time; this is likely the last generation that will have access to the human side that the film documents so well. All that said, if you’re not particularly interested in the subject, you may find some parts a bit tedious.
  3. Ralph Nader – An Unreasonable Man (2006) – 7.9  – I love me some Ralph Nader; I hate me some status quo. I found the film extremely informative and at times, even fun. It covers Nader biographically, with a particular focus on his role in the 2000 elections, where many claim he robbed Gore and stuck us with Bush.
  4. BBC Horizon – Allergy Planet – Not actually a feature-length documentary, it was probably the best BBC Horizon I’ve seen yet. Traditional, familiar style, but very engaging and interesting. Short and sweet.
  5. Walmart – The High Cost of Low Price (2005) – 6.9 – Another interesting one, but it lagged at times. The conclusion is predictable, but it might give you some perspective as to the degree. Also, it did go the extra mile by going to China and Bangladesh, which I appreciated.
  6. Who Killed the Electric Car? (2006) – 7.7 – Very nice presentation, and despite the seemingly small scope, pretty engaging. Most of the United States was and probably still is unaware of just how advanced the electric car had gotten by 1996. We probably still think it impractical, I mean, otherwise why would we only have hybrids? California had sweet electric cars because they had some interesting laws, then the car companies got the laws repealed, and then the car companies recalled the perfectly fine cars and destroyed them. If you’re into the environment and haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend.
  7. Maxed Out: Our Credit (2006) – 7.4 – This film will probably disgust you, exactly the reason why you have to see it. For anyone curious as to how banks actually make money, prepare for the enlightenment. It’s not from you and me, payin’ our bills, reading the fine print, no, but rather the people who do it all wrong. The higher the risk the better. Note the date, note the financial crisis, note that you can get a better bead on what’s going on by simply watching a movie. (Short version: the less chance someone has of paying back a loan, the higher the risk for the lender. The higher the risk, the higher the rate. Rate = return. These high-rate loans were sold on markets for beaucoup bucks and never got paid back, duh.) I surmise that the low rating was because it had a couple draggy parts and because the whole issue had very few manifestations in the economy at the time.
  8. Confessions of a Superhero (2007) – 7.3 – Semi-interesting portraits of some people who dress up and act like superheroes (with whom tourists may take pictures) in Hollywood. Not tremendously informative, but you’ll see some characters for sure.

I watched some documentaries this last semester that were pretty good and the ones I would recommend there are Breaking the Silence – Truth and Lies in the War On Terror, The War on Democracy, and Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden. I’ve only got one documentary left to watch, and that’s Taxi to the Dark Side. I’ve heard great things.