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 Posted:   Nov 12, 2023 - 2:40 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)


The past is never dead. It’s not even past. All of us labor in webs spun long before we were born, webs of heredity and environment, of desire and consequence, of history and eternity.
-- William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun

Narrated by Academy Award nominee Eric Roberts, this biography/documentary about Nobel-Prize-winning author William Faulkner focuses on the writer’s struggle to deal with race in America. Born to a family of Mississippi segregationists, Faulkner had to confront his views about Black Americans and racial equality in his literary works. He includes more Black characters than his contemporary white writers and depicts them with a level of specificity unmatched at the time.

The film attempts an explanation as to how Faulker was able to overcome the prejudices of his time, and explores how modern audiences should approach a sometimes problematic subject and author. The film uses a combination of historically accurate re-enactment scenes created using Faulkner's words, animated recreations of Faulkner's literary world and drawings, and conversations with Faulkner's family and the world's leading literary experts.

With the focus being so much on race, Faulkner’s work in Hollywood and the film adaptations of his works is given short shrift, with only brief mentions of his screenplay for THE BIG SLEEP, his uncredited work on THE SOUTHERNER, and the film adaptation of his novel THE SOUND AND THE FURY. But there is no mention of the films TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT, THE LONG, HOT SUMMER, SANCTUARY (based on the follow-up novel to Requiem for a Nun), or THE REIVERS, among many others.

Still, the film, written and directed by Michael Modak-Truran, is a good overview of Faulkner’s life and work, and was authorized by his estate in the hopes of bringing the author’s works to the attention of a modern audience that seems to have forgotten him. While scholars have continued to voraciously write on Faulkner, the last Faulkner documentary, WILLIAM FAULKNER: A LIFE ON PAPER, was back in 1979.

In addition to narrating, Eric Roberts plays Faulkner in the recreated biographical scenes, which were decided upon because there is so little actual footage of Faulkner (who died in 1962). Reportedly every available clip was used in this film. The film is likely to air on PBS sometime in 2024.

 Posted:   Dec 2, 2023 - 9:48 AM   
 By:   msmith   (Member)

Fascinating documentary on how Hollywood agent Henry Willson transformed Rock Hudson from a clumsy, naive, and gay Chicago-born truck driver named Roy Scherer into one of Hollywood's most popular leading men to his tragic end.

 Posted:   Dec 2, 2023 - 4:23 PM   
 By:   Sir David of Garland   (Member)

Fascinating documentary on how Hollywood agent Henry Willson transformed Rock Hudson from a clumsy, naive, and gay Chicago-born truck driver named Roy Scherer into one of Hollywood's most popular leading men to his tragic end.

Does it cover some of Willson's other discoveries, or just Hudson?

 Posted:   Jan 6, 2024 - 11:21 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

ONBOARD (2023) – 6/10

This short film (39 minutes) chronicles the rise of Black women on America's corporate boards of directors, the pioneering Patricia Roberts Harris, who became the first Black woman to sit on a board in 1971, and the stories of contemporary Black women who are a part of the corporate boards. A group of women organized during the Summer of 2020 to create change. Merline Saintil, a former Tech COO and Robin Washington, a former CFO, were well-known in the boardrooms of America. During an ordinary phone call between the two women, the movement to create an organization to expand the opportunity and exposure of Black women who can impact America's boards—Black Women on Boards (BWOB)—the now global organization of 200+ members, was conceived.

The film covers the importance of diversity on corporate boards and how it can benefit businesses, and touches upon the recently overturned California law, which required minimum requirements for female directors and directors from underrepresented communities on their boards.

Despite the high-mindedness of its intentions, the film often reverts to a “You go, girl!” attitude, and assumes as self-evident that Black women on boards of directors is a plus. It would help the film a lot if just a single example had been given as to how the perspective of a Black woman made a positive difference to a company—a difference that could only have come from a Black woman.

 Posted:   Jan 9, 2024 - 4:40 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)


Documentary filmmaker Matthew Heineman’s most recent subjects have been Colombian reggaeton singer J Balvin (THE BOY FROM MEDELLIN, 2020), Tiger Woods (TIGER, 2021), how a New York City hospital dealt with COVID (THE FIRST WAVE, 2021), and the end of the war in Afghanistan (RETROGRADE, 2022). For his latest film, Heineman turned his attention to Jon Batiste, the American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, bandleader, composer, and television personality.

Batiste was the initial bandleader on “Late Night with Stephen Colbert,” as well as serving as the Creative Director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. In 2020, he co-composed the score for the Pixar animated film SOUL, for which he received an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Grammy Award and a BAFTA Film Award (all shared with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross). In 2021, he embarked on composing his first symphony, which is what Heineman wanted to focus on in his documentary.

But life intervened. Batiste’s partner (now wife) writer Suleika Jaouad, who had beaten leukemia in 2011 found out in December 2021 that her cancer had returned. Suddenly, the documentary took on a new focus, as Heineman chronicled how the couple confronted this devastating news.

The final film is a celebration of the bittersweet nature of life, juxtaposing highs (such as Batiste being nominated for 11 and winning 5 Grammys in 2022, including Album of the Year for “We Are.”) and setbacks (Jaouad having to undergo bone marrow transplants). Throughout, Batiste is shown in both his professional life and in his interactions with Jaouad, as well as in solitary moments. Batiste himself scored the documentary.

The film ends with Batiste’s “American Symphony” premiering at Carnegie Hall. This is an intimate portrait of a man with whom few of us share the talent, but with whom all of us share the vagaries of life.

 Posted:   Jan 25, 2024 - 6:32 AM   
 By:   Indy1981   (Member)

Guerilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst (2004)


The 1970s were the "golden age" of left-wing terrorism (The Black Panthers, The Weather Underground, Baader-Meinhoff Group/Red Army Faction, PLO, IRA, et al.) all conveniently whitewashed by history, but the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) may have been the most infamous because they kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst, who ended up joining their murderous escapades, as the bank robbery footage perfectly demonstrated.

The documentary opens with a blatant ripoff of the Isley Brothers' version of Jonathan Edwards' "Sunshine", but in the commentary, clueless director Robert Stone credits composer Gary Lionelli with making his film work.

The film does a good job showing the media failing to do its job to find the perpetrators. Instead they followed the ongoing tale like devoted camp followers.

The worst aspect of this story is that both sides of the American political coin (Carter and Reagan) pushed for Hearst's pardon. Hearst, who clearly got fat in prison, comes off as an empty-headed idiot who willingly went along with her terrorist kidnappers' actions.

Interestingly enough, by 1980 the actions of the aforementioned groups were already viewed by the media as ancient history!

 Posted:   Jan 28, 2024 - 9:33 PM   
 By:   ANZALDIMAN   (Member)

Seaver (2019)

Executive produced and narrated by Edward Burns (The Brothers McMullen) this is the story of Tom Seaver. An icon of New York sports history. Of baseball history. A 1969 New York Mets legend. "The Franchise". And in his later years the sage of his beloved sprawling grape vineyards in California. Released shortly before Seaver's death on August 31, 2020 at age 75.

 Posted:   Jan 29, 2024 - 2:03 AM   
 By:   Rameau   (Member)

The documentary channels in the UK are full of history docs (but about 60% of the output is WW2), I saw a great three part series last week, Chivalry & Betrayal: The Hundred Years War. Great stuff, & all very bloody & nasty, & as all the battles & village/town burning/sackings took place in France, I'm thinking that England were the bad guys in this one.

 Posted:   Jan 29, 2024 - 2:33 PM   
 By:   Indy1981   (Member)

Plastic Galaxy- The Story of Star Wars Toys


Most here who wasted their childhood obsessing over all things Star Wars will know most of the anecdotes tood here, but this doc is worth seeing in that Kenner personnel are interviewed to tell the tale, along with a lot of guys who are just like us.

Most inadvertently funny term used in this doc? "Mushroom tip", which was the end of the early "telescoping" lightsaber feature on some of the early bird toys and prototypes.

 Posted:   Jan 29, 2024 - 5:51 PM   
 By:   Moonlit   (Member)

The Columbine Iceberg on YT. Just to be clear it's the Columbine school shooting. The detail is something else. Clocks in at 6 hours though.

 Posted:   Jan 30, 2024 - 5:58 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

DIVIDED HIGHWAYS (1997) – 7/10

This PBS documentary looks at the creation of the Interstate Highway system from a number of angles. First it gives a history of American roadbuilding—from 1900, when the nation had about 8,000 automobiles, through the end of WWI, when a young Army officer, Dwight Eisenhower, was in a convoy of military vehicles that took 62 days to travel from Washington D.C. to San Francisco, over some of the worst roads imaginable. It then covers FDR’s roadbuilding program, designed to create jobs and improve the economy. WWII stopped both roadbuilding and auto manufacturing, so by the time Eisenhower was president, the country was clamoring for more of both.

The film then contrasts the straight-forward aims of the Interstate Highway program—building a lot of roadways as inexpensively as possible—with all of the social and cultural effects that weren’t even considered at the time. These include the destruction of poor inner-city neighborhoods to bring the freeways into the city, the development of the suburbs and car culture, the protests against all of the land takings and environmental effects, the diminishment of the railroads and mass transit, dependence on foreign oil due to the huge increase in auto travel, etc.

Roads were supported by a lot of people and groups with political power—automakers, oil companies, construction unions—and the negative effects were felt mainly by people with little political power—minority communities, farmers, railroads.

I was disappointed that the film didn’t spend more time on the design and engineering of the system, but that turned out to not be the film’s primary purpose. The film focuses on the “divided” part of its title. The film was produced by Ken Burns’ Florentine Films, although he did not have a direct hand in its making, and it won a Peabody Award—two signs as to its high-minded intentions. It’s a good primer on why roadbuilding remains so controversial yet today.

 Posted:   Feb 2, 2024 - 1:00 AM   
 By:   Indy1981   (Member)

The 1999 Beeb series "Human All Too Human", 6.5/10. It's a three-part series with entries about the life and philosophy of Nietzsche, Sartre, and Heideggger. I would have preferred more philosophy and less biographical info and talking head commentary.

 Posted:   Feb 5, 2024 - 10:22 PM   
 By:   ANZALDIMAN   (Member)

Dawn of Day:Stories From The Underground Railroad

This film is a standout. Superb.

The host/narrator of this project Mr. Richard Pitts has sadly since passed away, but he has certainly left a piece of his legacy in this film. The film now has over 2.5 million views on YouTube. It deserves many more.

 Posted:   Feb 11, 2024 - 8:32 AM   
 By:   Indy1981   (Member)

Dada Germany- Alphabet of Dadaism (1968)

This was randomly, then incessantly (intentionally?) included in my YouTube sidebar. I finally yielded and gave it a chance. It is ideal 3 A.M. viewing; I absolutely loved it. The world could use some Dada-styled madness today.

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